Return to Transcripts main page
CONNECT THE WORLD
Pope Francis Delivers Mass to Morelia Residents; Syrian Rebels Getting Squeezed on all Sides; Taylor Swift Comes up Big at Grammy Awards; Pope John Paul II's Surprising Friendship; Donald Trump's German Roots. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired February 16, 2016 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:00:09] JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: After weeks of heavy fighting, Syrian rebels last month withdrew from the small
strategic town that lies on the important supply route for government forces.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: The changing shape of these Syrian battlefield. What the government's latest gains mean for the war and for the country's
We've got this story covered the only way that CNN can: live reports from Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Russia coming up this hour.
Also ahead, we are watching the oil markets, major oil producers strike a deal. So, could it be a game changer. More on that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, 2016 REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have great German heritage. I'm very proud of it. Great place, but we all love the United
States the best.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Tracing the family tree. We'll look at U.S. presidential hopeful Donald Trump's German heritage.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.
ANDERSON: Well, first up, at just after 8:00 in the evening here in the UAE. And to Mexico for you where Pope Francis is leading mass at a stadium
in Morelia in Mexico this hour. We get live pictures for you. The capital in the western state of Michoacan, which has been ravaged by gang violence
liked to the methamphetamine trade.
And thousands of people expected to attend the mass. And we will get back to the pope's visit to Mexico later this hour on Connect the World.
First up, though, tonight to Syria where government troops and allied fighters are reportedly advancing north with the help of Russian air power.
Now, the military says it has captured two villages in Aleppo Province as it pushes towards rebel strongholds near the Turkish border.
Meantime, Russia strongly denies that it bombed Syrian medical facilities on
Turkey among those blaming Moscow for the attacks that killed dozens of people. A Turkish official today said his government is asking allies to
help launch a ground operation, then, to end the Syrian War.
All of this happening as a truce negotiated by world powers is due to take effect later this week.
Syria's president has clear doubts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BASHAR AL-ASSAD, SYRIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Until now, we hear about them requesting a cease-fire within a week. Okay. Then who is capable of bringing together all these conditions within a week? No one.
When does the west speak about cease-fire? I think the answer is clear, it's when the militants are hurt, when their defeats begin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: The Syrian president speaking earlier.
Well, many developments to cover tonight. Let's get right to our senior international correspondents Frederik Pleitgen is in Damascus for you.
Nick Paton Walsh is in Beirut.
Fred, to you first. And a skeptical president, Assad, then earlier on. What evidence, if any, is there on the ground that his government troops
and those supporting him, mainly the Russians and the Iranians are actually doing anything to help the prospect of a halt in this conflict?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly if you look at the developments on the ground over the last couple of days and
weeks, Becky, you can see that it appears as though there's very little to indicate that the Syrian military would stop its move that it has right
now. They have a clear objective at this point in time. And I did speak to a senior commander just a few days ago. And they said their main
objective for now is to seal the border between Syria and Turkey because they believe that way they can cut all of the rebel supply lines. It
doesn't appear as though before that happens there is really much of a prospect of a cease-fire going into place.
Now, could it still happen? Certainly it could. Certainly diplomats here on the ground are trying to do that. We know that UN's special envoy to
the Syria crisis is here in Syria at this point in time. He says he's doing his best to
try and get that in order. Nobody really believes such a cease-fire could happen by the end of the week. It could, however, go into place a couple
days later if, in fact, all parties are willing to make that happen.
But of course, as we know from pastimes in the Syrian conflict, that is a very big if to get all parties here to silence their weapons even if it is
for a short period of time, Becky.
ANDERSON: Nick Paton Walsh you don't have to be a war historian to know that generally violence will intensify ahead of any cease-fire, any planned
ceasefire, as everybody tries to gain a strategic advantage.
So, what chance at this point of a secession of violence do you think in Syria?
[11:05:07] NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hard to tell. The momentum violence we're seeing at the moment makes that pretty
Remember, the one people who were not at the table during these talks for cease-fire were the Syrians. It was the people supporting their proxies
One particular pocket of intrigue, where this violence is escalating in the north of the country, we should look at, Becky. And that is absolutely key
for the future potentially of moderate Syrian rebels who have got Turkish support
in the past, you've had American support in the past as well.
Now, they have for a long time occupied an area just south of the Turkish border near a key crossing near a town called Azaz. We've seen lots of
those refugees gathering recently and where that rocket attack against a hospital was yesterday.
Now, in the areas to the south of that, they've had strongholds in the past. What has happened, is in the last ten days, as we know, the Russian-
backed Syrian forces have swept across the north of Aleppo, cutting off rebels inside Aleppo from that border.
What we've seen in the past few days is a group of Kurds who have normally stayed out of this, and have seen a lot of American support recently, well
they've decided to move into that territory traditionally held by those moderate Syrian rebels. They have moved very fast, very effectively, and
it does appear they might even be right close to the edge of that territory that's right on the front lines, those moderate rebels have been defending
Remember, ISIS have the Kurds on one side and moderate rebels on the other and the pocket of land they control inside of Syria.
Who is backing this southern motion? It isn't clear. One rebel under attack said, well, they think that the Kurds are getting Russian support.
And it has massive geopolitical implications here. Because it basically puts everybody at
odds to some degree.
The Turkish do not want to see any Kurdish advance along their border. The Russians may be very happy to see that because they frankly want to
irritate Turkey as much as possible after their fighter jet was taken down.
The Americans, well they are split everywhere. They have Turkey wanting the Kurds to stop, but they are, in fact, America an ally of the Kurds.
They have been an ally of the moderate rebels the Kurds are attacking. Their loyalties split everywhere.
But things are changing very fast there. And the absence of this key territory for those moderate Syrian rebels, could spell huge damage to U.S.
policy here. They needed these Sunni moderate rebels on their side to take over Sunni towns and they finally kick ISIS out if that ever happens.
Things changing so fast now, Becky.
ANDERSON: Yeah. And viewers, if you thought this wasn't complex enough before, five years in, it seems, it's getting even more so.
Nick, thank you.
Let me go ahead back to you, Fred. Because lest we forget, this is a conflict that has real impact on the people of Syria, those who have been
displaced out of the country and those who remain. Correct?
PLEITGEN: Yeah, absolutely, Becky. You know, so many people have already been killed in this conflict. And we saw those two attacks on the
hospitals and schools that happened in the north of Syria, many people killed there as well, many people displaced.
Now, one of the things that world powers want to do is they want to try and at least get aid to people who are in besieged towns. There are towns who
are under siege from the Syrian government, some by rebel factions, some by ISIS who are not getting any help at all. And one of the things that world
powers have decided, is that they say those towns must receive aid.
Now, the UN here on the ground in Syria is gearing up for a major relief operation. All they need now is the permission to move in. Let's have a look.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): These images shocked the world. People starving in the besieged Syrian town of Madaya (ph). Aid groups say dozens have
succumbed to hunger in the winter months.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This child here is very ill. He eats leaves, tree leaves, and he get sick in ill and his stomach -- his stomach is really,
really hurting. He needs immediately go to hospital outside in Madaya.
PLEITGEN: World powers have started an urgent push to get aid to those most in need.
At this U.N. distribution center outside Damascus, the World Food Program is gearing up to escalate its relief effort.
Hussam al Saleh shows me the facility.
HUSSAM AL SALEH, WORLD FOOD PROGRAM: We receive the commodities in large quantities and we package it into small individual portions. Each portion
is enough to feed five people for one month.
PLEITGEN: But while the World Food Program is working to get its aid ready, the problem is many of the warring parties in Syria are not willing to
allow relief goods to be delivered.
The U.N. has accused the Syrian government, many revel groups and ISIS of using the denial of food and medicine as a weapon.
The World Food Program says it could get to places like Madaya quickly if it's allowed.
Workers are already stacking boxes into trucks.
(on camera): Once this vehicle is loaded the folks here are going to seal it which makes it easier to get through check points and the World Food
Program tells us they have many trucks like this one loaded ready to go and are just waiting for permission.
[11:10:25] PLEITGEN (voice-over): Most of the parties involved in the fighting here have agreed in principle to allow aid to besieged areas, but
ISIS has not. The group has surrounded the eastern Syrian city of Deir ez- Zor. Syrian and Russian military aircraft have dropped some food and
medical supplies and soon the U.N. wants to do the same.
AL SALEHL: Unfortunately we couldn't reach it. However, Deir ez-Zor, there is plans to do an air drop and hopefully we'll soon manage to do an air
drop as well to assist them.
PLEITGEN: The World Food Program is still waiting to get the green light to enter many besieged areas. Until that permission comes, all they can do is
keep packing the goods ready to move when they can.
PLEITGEN: And it would be such an important step, Becky, for these people who are in such bad need to finally get some sort of aid. And of course it
would also be quiet important for the political process as well. There are diplomats who believe that if they can get the parties to sign on getting
relief to these people, maybe that can also be used as a stepping stone to then work towards that cessation of hostility that's supposed to happen,
ANDERSON: Fred Pleitgen is in Damascus, in Syria for you this evening, Nick Paton Walsh
in Beruit in Lebanon.
Chaps, thank you very much indeed for your analysis.
And more on the conflict in Syria later in the show. We'll explore how opposition groups are losing ground not only in the north, but also in the
south with the help of Russia, of course.
And the Russian airstrikes on rebel groups are angering Turkey, as we have been discussing. We'll break down that complex relationship with reports
from Moscow and from Istanbul in Turkey for you tonight.
Moving on, though, for the time being. In two of the world's largest oil producers, Saudi Arabai and Russia, may be on opposing sides of that war in
Syria, but they have finally agreed on a deal to control oil production.
Both nations will keep supply at current levels. Qatar and Venezuela will do the same. But not everybody is happy about this.
Eighteen months of falling prices have seen oil lose over 70 percent of its value.
Well, CNN Money's emerging markets editor John Defterios is following developments and he joins me now.
This is a freeze in production, John, as far as I understand it, not a cut in supply. What were the expectations going in to this meeting in Doha?
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: You know, it's interesting, Becky. Some disappointment, but no market panic tonight, which I find is
very interesting. I would say the expectations were here and they delivered right about here. Jst a week ago we were talking
about seeing a 5 percent cut right across the board, that's what Nigeria and Venezuela were looking for.
But the good news out of this, you have the two adversaries within the OPEC and non-OPEC community Saudi Arabai and Russia sitting at the same table
looking at each other across the eyes here and suggesting where do we go from here?
They kind of bailed out, to be candid, they left production at a freeze at record levels. We have Russia at nearly 11 million barrels a day, Saudi
Arabia at 10.5 million barrels a day, Iraq at a record, the UAE at a record and Kuwait at a record.
But interestingly, Ali al-Naimi, the oil minister of Saudi Arabia suggesting they aren't looking for higher prices right now, but stability.
Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALI AL-NAIMI, SAUDI ARABIAN OIL MINISTER: We don't want significant gyrations in prices. We don't want reduction in supply. We want to meet
demand, and we want a stable oil price.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEFTERIOS: Becky, it's interesting what he said at the end there. We want to meet demand, basically want to hold onto our marketshare that we fought
for since the end of 2014, and we don't want to push the price higher. Read into that, we're going to fight for our market share, let the higher
cost producers fall out. This is not good news for those who are suffering right now, Nigeria, Venezuela, Azerbaijan, they have all gone now to the
brink because of their finances and even some to the IMF and World Bank, Becky.
ANDERSON: Interesting to see how the markets reacted to oil effectively trading flat after
being somewhat higher on news that this meeting was happening and then falling off with the results of this meeting. So clearly not something
that has impressed investors particularly.
But John, always a pleasure. Thank you.
John is your energy expert.
Still to come tonight, five years after they first erupted anti-government protests taking
place in Bahrain with Americans potentially caught up in the aftermath
And getting you back to Mexico. Tens of thousands of people celebrating mass with Pope Francis in a city torn apart by Mexico's drug war.
[11:17:29] ANDERSON: You're back with us as Pope Francis leads mass in a city devastated by Mexico's drug war.
This hour, you're watching live pictures from Morelia, the capital of the western state of Michoacan on Saturday the pope called on Mexico's clergy
to stand up to the, quote, insidious threat of the drug trade.
Well Rosa Flores joins me now on the line -- or the phone, from Morelia.
And Rosa, it was a direct challenge to church leaders what the pope said who have been criticized for failing to protect society from drug violence.
I guess the question is what happens after the papal machine rolls out of the country? Is it clear how much more the church might get involved in
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORREPONDENT: You know, Becky, when Pope Francis spoke to bishops here in Mexico, he said I want you to fight against this violence,
take care of the priests that are out and about in the communities that are doing much needed work.
But you're right, he also directed himself to the president and to the president and to other dignitaries in saying we need to work together and
the church is here to help you.
So in essence, when the pope leaves, his bishops have been ordered to work not only with politicians, the dignitaries here in Mexico, but also in the
United States. He made it very clear to his bishops, that he wants them to work with bishops in the U.S., especially to
help immigrants -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Meantime, once again, 10,000s of people at mass in Morelia. And the atmosphere there, how would you describe it?
FLORES: It's like a party. I'm not sure i don't know if you have video, but this is a place filled with nuns and priests that are very excited to
see Pope Francis.
When we arrived they were singing, dancing, jumping up and down and you know, just waiting for Pope Francis to arrive.
Now, one of the things that I'm very curious about in the past usually goes off script in speaking to nuns and priests. So, I'm going to wait here in
a few seconds, because he's going to be speaking to see if he sticks to his written remarks or if he's just going to say, you know, what, I don't -- I
don't feel like reading this. I'm going to speak from the heart. So we'll have to see.
[11:20:03] ANDERSON: All right. Well, we will be back on our coverage as and when we hear from him. For the time being, thank you very much indeed
for joining us.
And the pope's trip to Mexico will culminate with a mass in the city of Juarez on the country's border with the U.S. There he is expected to pray
for those who have crossed the frontier as well as those who died trying. That will be part of our all day coverage on Wednesday right here on CNN.
Well, a lawyer for four Americans arrested in Bahrain on Monday says they've and were heading to the airport earlier today.
Bahraini officials say the four included journalists, one of whom has been identified as
Now, they have reportedly been charged with taking part in illegal protests.
Jon Jensen following the story and joining me now live, what's the latest that you were hearing, Jon?
JON JENSEN,CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, at this hour we believe all four Americans are now in the air and they are out of bahrain.
I just got off the phone with their lawyer a short time ago who told me they were due to leave
about an hour ago.
We also understand that all four will be heading to the United States.
It appears that all four were deported, because just earlier today they were charged, all four, with taking part in an illegal gathering, that's
according to the public prosecutor. Of the four, as you mentioned, only one has been named that's Anna Therese Day. And we are learning more about
She's a freelance journalist in her late 20s and she has covered the region extensively over the
past five years.
Now, her family has declined to comment on their release. However, a spokesman for all four
families has said that while we believe while we believe that all four should not have been held at all, we are grateful to Bbahraini authorities
for facilitating their timely release.
ANDERSON: Jon, briefly, is it rare for journalists to be detained in Bahrain or not?
JENSEN: No, not at all.
There are at least six journalists in prison right now in Bahrain. We know from the families that all four of these journalists were there to cover
These are protests that were marking the fifth anniversary of a popular uprising in Bahrain going back to 2011, the Arab Spring. The country has
seen a lot of sectarian tension and divide, the same sectarian divide we've seen around the entire region.
Keep in mind in this tiny Gulf island state, the majority of people there are Shiite. And they are ruled by a minority Sunni monarchy. While many
of the protests there have been quelled by security forces, the tension still exists.
Becky, I was in Bahrain just about two years ago. And everywhere you go on the streets there are security forces, armored vehicles. We also were not
allowed to go in certain places. So, clearly, Becky, authorities there are very concerned with not only protests but the image that journalists give
these protests as well.
ANDERSON : All right, Jon Jensen out of the UAE for you this evening. Thank you, John.
Live from AbD dhabi, you're watching Connect the World with me Becky Anderson.
Coming up, it was a night of bit tribute performances and triumphant wins. We're going to get you the glitz and the Glamour of the Grammy Awards up
ANDERSON: A warm welcome back.
24 minutes past 8:00 here in the UAE. I'm Becky Anderson for you with Connect the World.
All right, let's move you on then. And it was a star-studded night at the Grammys with some of the industry's top names taking home big awards. And
the biggest of all Taylor Swift who won album of the year for 1989.
Now, much of the action was in the form of tributes. Lady Gaga was just one of them performing a medley of some of David Bowie's greatest hits.
Let's get you some reaction, CNN Money senior media correspondent Brian Stelter joins me live.
What stood out most for you at the ceremony, Brian.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Certainly Taylor Swift with that very big win you were describing, album of the year.
But in many other ways, it was Kendrick Lamar's night to shine with a provocative performance
on stage, coming out in chains, wearing a prison uniform, rapping about being an African-American, being someone from Compton, from Los Angeles,
and from coming out of that situation and his life. And you can see here with the fire, with the performance in many ways it was a stand out
performance of the night. He won a total of five awards, almost winning album of the year, but some people say Taylor Swift actually was able to
snatch that out from under him. And the White House even tweeted to Kendrick Lamar, tweeting a shoutout to him for his win.
So, it was a very big night for him. Bruno Mars, meanwhile, won for record of the year, Taylor Swift for album of the year.
Also, big wins from Ed Sheeran and Alabama Shake.
So, there was no one one dominant winner but the closest person to it was Kendrick Lamar.
ANDERSON: I want to say to all the young women out there that are going to be people along the way who are going to try to undercut your success or
take credit for your accomplishments or your fame. The words last night of Taylor Swift.
We've seen issues of diversity being analyzed, chewed over at these events during this season.
And Taylor Swift taking the opportunity to point out that it's not just about being black or white, it's about being a male or female. There are
lots and lots and lots of issues when it comes to diversity.
STELTER: And she stood in front of a bunch of men who worked with her on her album. She was the one in front accepting the award. And she was
essentially sub-tweeting Kanye West.
Kanye West, of course, has started to take credit for Taylor's career over the years. Just over the weekend in a new song he said that he takes
credit, that he made her into what she is today.
I love Kanye West, but I've got to tell you he's wrong on this one. He did not make Taylor Swift. And her message of empowerment, a feminist streak
in the awards, was definitely a notable moment.
If, you know, the Oscar theme is Oscar so Shite, that's been the hashtag about criticism of a lack of diversity in the Oscars, coming up 12 days
from now, this Grammy was very diverse, impressively diverse. There's also a performance from the Broadway hit show Hamilton to round things out.
So, in some ways it was a rejoinder to the Oscars, which are coming up in a couple of weeks.
ANDERSON: Brian, thank you. Good stuff.
You can always follow the stories that the team is working on throughout the day by using our
Facebook page, Facebook.com/cnnconnect. Get in touch, tweet me @beckycnn, of course, @BeckyCNN.
We've got the latest world news headlines coming up, plus, former United Nations secretary-general Boutros Boutros-Ghali has died. We take a look
at his legacyup next.
[11:32:20] ANDERSON: Former United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali has died. The Egyptian-born diplomat took the highest
position at the UN in 1992. And in doing so, he was the first Arab to take the position.
This was the scene at the UN security council a short time ago.
Observing a minute of silence.
Boutros-Ghali was 93 years old.
Well, CNN senior UN correspondent Richard Roth joins me now from the UN.
Who was Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Richard?
RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This veteran, Egyptian government official, an academic, perhaps surprised many in the early days of his
administration. He was quite active in reviving the UN or attempting to, but his personal style was criticized over the years eventually by the U.S.
administration which blocked a second term. Thus, he became the only secretary-general to serve one term.
His role came after the Gulf War when there was a better spirit in the air about cooperation in the air by the big powers. However, major crises: the
Balkan wars, the Bosnia crisis, Somalia and the genocide in Rwanda erupted on his watch. And there was a lot of controversy and criticism over how the UN reacted. Of course the UN can be
paralyzed by its own members.
In the end, U.S. ambassador Madeleine Albright and others in the Clinton administration fought to deny him a second term.
In his own book Boutros-Ghali writes that his wife once confronted Madeleine Albright and said why are you trying to destroy my husband. He
told me in an interview in 1999 that everything was OK afterwards with Madeleine Albright, that they had dinner together, but he also created
something called agenda for peace, a revitalizing of UN peacekeeping operations, some thought he was too aloof, too imperious. It was a
different style. It did not go over in the end with the Clinton administration. Maybe he was a scapegoat and a target. He opposed bombing
in Bosnia where UN peacekeepers were stationed. The U.S. leadership eventually thought there should be a more aggressive approach -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Richard Roth on -- reflecting on a man who passed away today, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, at the age of 93. Thank you, Richard.
Let's get back to our top story for you tonight and the conflict in Syria. Now Russia has denied any involvement in the airstrikes that hit several
hospitals and a school north of the country. Nearly four dozen people were killed.
Russia has been in recent weeks ramping up its airstrike campaign allowing pro government
forces on the ground to make major gains.
Jomana Karadsheh with this report.
[11:35:10] JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Rolling through the rubble, regime forces declare victory in Sheikh Maskin, or
what's left of it.
After weeks of heavy fighting, Syrian rebels last month withdrew from the small strategic town that lies on the supply route for government forces.
And since then, another town in the south, Athman, was also lost to regime forces.
Rebel commanders say Assad's allies in the sky have shifted the balance. And with this air cover, opposition forces believe regime troops are now
moving to retake the country's border with Jordan. A move, they say, mirrored tactics and advances in northern Syria.
BASHAR AL-ZOABI, FREE SYRIAN ARMY TOP COMMANDER (through translator): We can only be the so-called friends of the Syrian people who are sitting back
as spectators and watching us getting killed day and night. The Russians are killing in the north and the south. They claim to have come to Syria
to fight ISIS, but most of their strikes have targeted the moderate Syrian opposition.
KARADSHEH: Bashar al-Zoabi, the top opposition commander fighting under teh banner of the Fre Syrian Army. His group, al-Yarmouk Brigade (ph) will
adapt and change tactics, al-Zoabi says, but his concern is with the civilians in and around Daraa living in a constant state of fear. Tens of
thousands of them, according to local officials, have fled in recent weeks.
With Jordan's citing security concerns, it is admitting 50 to 100 Syrian refugees a day. There are about 20,000 others massed on the country's
northeastern border. So, aid officials say it is unlikely that those fleeing the violence in Daraa would head towards Jordan.
They are moving into towns and villages within the province. But unless there is a pause in violence, they warn that could quickly change.
As for the ongoing peace talks, al-Zoabi takes a dim view.
AL-ZOABI (through translator): As rebels and then opposition we agree to go for a political solution. But where is that political solution? They
are now negotiating to allow food in? Basic human rights now need negotiations (inaudible) by world powers?
KARADSHEH; The United States needs groups like al-Zoabi's as partners in the fight against ISIS, but this commander says his fighters need more than
just words, they need weapons desperately.
AL-ZOABI (through translator): Unfortunately we are on our own with no intervention from the friends of Syria to help us. Most of the support
comes from the regime's friends to kill. We hold western countries, especially the United States, responsible for the humanitarian disaster
because only the U.S. can stop the Russians.
KARADSHEH; al-Zoabi says they have long lost faith in the international community, but with no other alternative they wait for help, he says, from
countries they still call friends.
Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Amman.
ANDERSON: Well, as we just saw in Jomana's report there, military operations have intensified in Syria. That's being driven by two key
players, Russia and Turkey supporting opposing sides, which has led to new tensions between Moscow and Ankara.
We've got Arwa Damon in Istanbul in Turkey this evening and Matthew Chance in Moscow.
I want to start with you, Arwa, at what is a critical time ahead of what was a promised cease-fire end of this week, we are seeing what was already
a complex and complicated battlefield getting even more so.
What's the strategy at this point from Ankara's perspective, do you think?
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a very good question, Becky. And they are playing their cards fairly close to their chest.
Now we did hear from a Turkish official speaking to reporters earlier in Istanbul saying
that whilst Turkey would not lead any sort of unilateral ground force into Syria, it was quite open and was trying to put together some sort of a
proposal for a coalition of forces.
It's very similar to rhetoric we have already been hearing from Saudi Arabia in the last few
weeks, this idea of perhaps a coalition of forces made up of individuals from Muslim nations.
Now, Saudi Arabia is also upping its efforts when it comes to the fight against ISIS sending in
the next few weeks by the end of the month we are being told four additional fighter jets to operate out Incirlik air base.
So it really is a very precarious situation at this stage to say at the very least, Becky, because of course launching in yet another ground force
into Syria would potentially make a phenomenally difficult situation even worse.
But the more that Turkey feels that if it is potentially being backed into a corner, whether it's because of the Russians or the gains that the Kurds
are making or the fact that it feels like its own Arab Syrian opposition allies are not getting the support that they need, this most certainly a
situation that seems to be moving more towards an escalation as opposed to a cessation of hostilities.
[11:40:04] ANDERSON: Matthew, only the U.S. can put the breaks on Russia's assault was the opinion of one of those that Jomana spoke to in her report
that we just witnessed. Is Washington in a position to do anything about Russia and its activities in Syria at this point?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think if it wanted to, if it wanted to dedicate, you know, some American forces towards doing
that, I'm sure it could have an impact.
But the real question is whether it has the appetite to engage with Russia that has its very sophisticated surface-to-air weapons on the ground,
missiles on the ground across Syria giving air cover. They've already got a large air presence there and probably a formidable ground force as well
backing up that air contingent.
And you get the sense, don't you, that Washington just does not have, along with other NATO
allies, just doesn't have the wherewithal or the appetite to compete with Russia in the Syrian theater at the moment, which is why Russia basically
has the freehand to support its Syrian ally and to back it and to make those territorial advances that we've been witnessing over the past couple
ANDERSON: What is going on with this ratcheting up of this spat between Moscow and Ankara at this point? What's the perspective from Moscow?
CHANCE: Well, I mean, it's a good question. I mean, you get the sense that it's almost a personal vendetta that Vladimir Putin is waging against
Ankara. I mean, it all started, of course, back in November when the Turkish air force shot a Russian plane out of the skies on the border
between the two, between Syria and Turkey. It's arguable which side of the border it was. Turkey says it was on the
Turkish side, the Russians deny that.
But since, then the relationship between the two countries has gone from bad to worse. They were always divided politically over Syria. They're on
opposite sides of the conflict there. There's a chance now that that could lead to real sort of toe-to-toe engagement between those two armies.
ANDERSON: Thank you, Matthew.
Just back to you, Arwa, briefly. When I interviewed President Erdogan during that episode when that plane was shot down, there was a clear sort
of message from at least from his team that they were eel eager to deescalate the issue between themselves and Moscow. Are you seeing any
evidence that Ankara is prepared to do anything at this point to prevent this ratcheting up of argument and disagreement between the two capitals?
DAMON: Well, here is the main problem from Ankara, Becky, it is not just dealing with the fact that it's on opposite ends of this Syrian war when it
comes to Russia, it's also dealing with the fact that it is seeing what it considers to be one of its main enemies, this Kurdish fighting force,
gaining significant territory inside Syria, a force that has already gone ahead as we've been reporting over the
last few days and opened a political office in Moscow.
And this is clearly sending from Ankara's perspective at least a very inflammatory message to
Turkey along the lines of not only is the Assad regime gaining ground in Syria, which obviously
Ankara views as being an enemy, not only are the Kurds gaining ground in Syria, yet another enemy, they are being supported by at least when it
comes to the Kurds the United States, the Assad regime is being supported by Russia and Turkey's main allies on the ground there, the Arab opposition
to call them that as a group is significantly losing ground.
So no matter how Ankara looks at it, it is facing enemies on all sides.
And right now from its perspective at least, Moscow is supporting at least two of its enemies
ANDERSON: Arwa Damon is in Istanbul in Turkey for you this evening. Matthew Chance in Moscow appreciate it guys, thanks very much indeed.
Live from Abu Dhabi, I'm Becky Anderson, this is Connect the World at about 44 minutes past 8:00 here locally.
Coming up, Democrat Hillary Clinton appeals to black voters in New York. And we'll get the latest details on her visit with civil rights leaders and
the rest of your U.S. political headlines up next.
And as Pope John Paul II's letters exposed to a married woman will take a special look at the
[11:41:57] ANDERSON: All right. This is CNN and Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. Welcome back.
We're doing U.S. politics. There are two states to watch in the race for the White House this week and next.
The western state of Nevada holds its Democratic caucuses on Saturday. The Republican caucuses are three days later on February 23rd.
South Carolina, the Republicans will duke it out there this Saturday. Democratic voters go to the polls a week from Saturday.
Well, Democrat Bernie Sanders is getting a head start. He attended a breakfast with faith leaders in South Carolina this morning.
His opponent, Hillary Clinton, is trying to get out the black vote in New York.
All right, well on the Republican side, Donald Trump escalating his attacks on a rival Ted Cruz. The billionaire now says he is seriously considering
filing a lawsuit to challenge Cruz's eligibility to be president.
Cruz was born in Canada, of course.
Trump's roots, meanwhile lie in Germany. Atika Shubert reports.
DONALD TRUMP, 2016 REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My grandfather, Frederick Trump, came to the United States in 1885. He joined the great
gold rush. He did fantastically well.
He loved this country.
So they were from Germany. I have great German heritage. I'm very proud of it. Great place. But we all love the United States the best.
But you know what?
I love Kallstadt.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Welcome to Kallstadt, South Germany, population of 1,200. Its local vintage, a dry
Riesling. Famous sons include Henry Heinz, the ketchup king, and this guys.
Yes, Kallstadt is the ancestral home of Donald Trump.
Simone Vendal (ph), a great cousin-in-law of Trump made "The Kings of Kallstadt," a documentary on her hometown's Trump connection just before he
launched his U.S. presidential bid.
SIMONE VENDAL (ph), DOCUMENTARIAN: Do you feel any cultural (inaudible)?
TRUMP: Well, the people in Kallstadt are very reliable, strong people. A I feel that about myself. Yes, I'm strong and I'm very reliable. I'm on time.
I get things done. And that's basically a whole German culture, not just Kallstadt. I mean, that's a German culture. And you know, I'm proud to have
that German blood. There's no question about it. Great stuff.
"I wasn't surprised he decided to run for president," she tells me. "I think I always knew he was going to do something like this."
Kallstadt mayor Thomas Yaverik (ph) took us for a tour.
THOMAS YAVERIK (ph), KALLSTADT MAYOR: Hello, that's relatives to Trump.
SHUBERT (voice-over): Just outside the house, a car pulls up and a man leans out to say, "We served Kallstadt wine at the coronation of Queen
Elizabeth. Maybe there will be a Kallstadt wine at the U.S. presidential inauguration."
Axel Messer's (ph) family is more Heinz than Trump. They have been making wine since the 1600s. He figures Trump does have one distinctive Kallstadt
"Kallstadters are certainly confident," he says, and Trump is not short of confidence.
A 10-minute walk away, the Kallstadt Country Ladies Association is busy making herring salad for Ash Wednesday. Innkeeper Veronica Schram (ph) says
Trump just wouldn't fit in in Kallstadt today.
"Personally, I think he is too much of a radical. We're a friendly place," she says.
No one we spoke to seemed to think that Trump would visit Kallstadt anytime soon, president or not. But everyone recommended he try the local delicacy,
stuffed pig stomach.
Atika Shubert, CNN, Kallstadt, Germany.
TRUMP: Ich bin ein Kallstadter.
ANDERSON: Exploring Donald Trump's roots.
And remember, you can always head over to CNN.com/politics for what will be the latest in the race for the White House. Of course, you can tune in
tonight on CNN for the first in back-to-back Republican town halls as the six candidates field questions from voters in
Everything you need on the race for the White House 2016. CNN.com/politics.
And don't go anywhere for the time being now. This is -- we're going to take a very short break. We're back after this coming up for you, a
remarkable story of how a married woman struck up an enduring friendship with the head of the Roman Catholic Church.
ANDERSON: Right, a couple more minutes before we close out for the evening. You're watching Connect the World of course with me, Becky
Anderson. And getting insight, new insight, into one of the most popular popes in history. Now, John Paul II was made a saint, of course, after his
death. Well, now letters have come to light showing the pope had a long enduring friendship with a
Fascinating revelations, and one man to make sense of it all CNN's religious commentator Father Edward Beck is live via Skype from New York
this evening. one Of the most famous men ever, one might suggest. What was the nature of
this friendship as far as you can understand it?
FATHER EDWARD BECK, CNN RELIGION COMMENTATOR: They had met, she's a fellow philosopher, Becky. They had met when he was going to -- she was going to
translate one of John Paul II's books. They spoke up a friendship. She was in the States. She was polish, though, in
origin, and they really got along. And they started a correspondence. And it seems from the letters that we have seen thus far. Now we've seen his
letters, not hers yet. They are being held in the Polish library.
But from the ones we have seen of him, there was a deep friendship and it was sustained for over 30 years. She was a married woman, but he reveals
his heart and soul to her, and to him. And it seems very touching from what I have read.
ANDERSON: Father Beck, it does beg the question just how deep was this friendship? And if there is nothing controversial about it, why is this
causing so much controversy?
[11:55:00] BECK: Well, I think people are always intrigued when a celibate had a deep friendship. There's a long history of in the tradition, by the
way, of spiritual friendship even between saints. If you go to read some of the letters between St. Francis de Sales and St. John -- Jane de
Chantal, you'd be surprised at the language used. He says in one letter I can't have mass being said without seeing you right in front of me.
So it's very important for celibates to have these deep friendships. John Paul II lost his mother
when I think he was about 8 years old, then his brother died a year later. By the time he was 20, he lost
everyone in his family.
So here is somebody who really needed love and affection in his life and deep friendship. And there's nothing to say that a celibate can't or
shouldn't have that. And there's every indication that he did here with this woman.
And I'm really happy to think he did, because I think it's so unhealthy to think of a life without those deep kind of friendships.
ANDERSON: Certainly the Vatican spokesman saying today, and I quote, it comes as no great revelation that Pope John Paul II had deep friendships
with a number of people, men and women alike. No one will be shocked by that. Okay. I get that.
Are you convinced that nobody in the church will be shocked by anything that's been revealed?
BECK: Well, I hope they are not shocked. I hope they would see this as something very healthy. Some people thought that John Paul II was rather
distant and removed from his emotions because he was so strong on his views with regard to sexuality. So I think for some this humanizes him even
In a very touching part of the letter, he says I send you a scapula. Now, a scapula is a religious article you wear around the shoulders in the front
and on the back. And he said this is so I can be closer to you that you will wear this scapula. And I think that's a beautiful testimony of human
Nothing sexual, and yet deep and intimate. And isn't that how we want our priests and indeed our popes to be?
ANDERSON: At 11:56 a.m. out of New York this evening, a regular guest on this show. Father Beck, we thank you very much indeed as ever, sir.
I'm Becky Anderson. And that was Connect the World.