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Russia Denies Striking Medical Centers in Syria; George W. Bush Campaigns for Jeb; Republicans Trade Insults; Oil Prices Give Up Gains; Eagles of Death Metal Reprise Concert in Paris; Schools Linked by Internet; Pope Visits Mexico; US Presidential Race; Grammy Awards; . Aired 3-4p ET

Aired February 16, 2016 - 15:00   ET




HALA GORANI, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: pointing fingers while people die. The latest high stakes back-and-forth between Russia, Turkey

and all players at war inside Syria. We're live in Damascus and in Moscow.

Then: "nasty," "lying," "cheater" -- and that's just what Republicans are calling each other. We'll discuss how low the race is stooping.

Plus, the Eagles of Death Metal headline a stage in Paris for the first time since terrorists attacked their concert in November.

And later, Lady Gaga honoring David Bowie, Adele singing off key, the highs and lows of the Grammy Awards.

Hello everyone, I'm Hala Gorani, we are live at CNN London and this is THE WORLD RIGHT NOW.


GORANI: We begin with potentially promising news for Syrian civilians under siege. We are learning that the U.N. is announcing the Syrian

government has agreed to allow aid convoys into seven besieged areas, possibly as early as tomorrow.

Now this comes amid international outrage over the bombing of civilian targets in Syria on Monday, including hospitals and medical centers.

Here's the reaction from all parties involved. Russia is, quote, categorically rejecting accusations that its warplanes carried out the

attacks that killed dozens of people.

Turkey and France were among the countries who are saying that they amount to war crimes and pointing fingers at regime allies. Let's bring in two of

our senior international correspondents for more.

Fred Pleitgen is in Damascus; Matthew Chance is in Moscow.

Fred, let's start with you.

What is the government in Syria saying about these attacks on medical facilities?

Some aid groups are saying this is an unprecedented number of direct attacks on hospitals and medical facilities in the last several weeks.

What is the government saying?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, there certainly was a lot of carnage in those attacks. If you look at some

of the things that happened, especially in that hospital, in fact, in Azaz, where apparently the hospital was struck. Then there were rescue workers

who went in to try and save people from there and then it was struck again. It certainly is something that has caused a lot of outrage.

The regime, for its part, has said that it was not part of any of these attacks. Of course we know that the United States has said that it holds

the Syrian government responsible, at least for the attack that happened on the hospitals in Azaz.

Now the regime itself, through the media network that it has here, the Sanaa News Agency, has said that it believes that the U.S. conducted at

least one of the strikes in Idlib province.

The U.S., of course, for its part is saying that none of its planes were anywhere near that area.

So as you point out, there certainly is a war of words over this, there's a lot of finger pointing. So far there is no one who has claimed any sort of

responsibility, but certainly this is something that's causing international outrage among not only these aid organizations and activist

groups but certainly among the wider international community, as, of course, at the same time, there's a very fragile attempt to try and get

some sort of cessation of hostilities going and also a distribution to those most in need.

GORANI: And, Matthew, the Americans said yesterday, we weren't even flying sorties over Idlib, this cannot be us, implying essentially that it has to

be some sort of regime ally or Russia conducting these airstrikes on these hospitals.

Russia still denying that it's involved on any level.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and they're using that line as well, saying that their warplanes were not flying

anywhere in that region, either. And they didn't strike any targets that were closer than 20 kilometers away from those hospitals. That coming from

a defense ministry briefing earlier on today.

But you're right, I mean the Kremlin is insisting that it had absolutely nothing to do with this. It said that it hasn't seen any evidence that

this was linked with any Russian airstrikes, which is, of course, an extension of the usual line of argument that we get from the Russians when

they're confronted with these allegations that they call civilian casualties or they've committed some other kind of war crime.

The Russian position has been consistently that not only do we not target civilians but no civilians have been killed in the airstrikes that began

last September, despite the fact that thousands of sorties have been carried and despite the evidence we've been hearing on the ground from

eyewitness and the very compelling video, of course, that's come from the ground as well.

The Russians, sticking to their line, civilians not being killed by their airstrikes.

GORANI: Someone is bombing these hospitals and both sides are denying that they are, even though Western countries are saying there is --


GORANI: -- more evidence, certainly, that it is regime allies.

And I've got to ask you, Fred, about these aid deliveries because if there is one sort of -- if you need to find one, brighter spot to all of this, is

that it appears as though some deliveries are going to go ahead to seven areas, tell us more about that.

PLEITGEN: Well, it could, yes, it could actually, it could be a bright spot in a sea of darkness, if you will, Hala, because of course one of the

things that not only activist groups say but world powers say as well, is that even in a war that's as brutal as this one, one thing that should

never be used as a weapon, and that is food and medicine and the denial of food and medicine.

But, of course, the United Nations accuses the Syrian government, many rebel groups and also ISIS of denying food and medicine to many of the

areas that are besieged here in this country.

Now the United Nations is indicating that it has a deal in place to deliver aid to seven areas, some of them surrounded by rebels, some of them

surrounded by the government, including that place, Madaya, where we've heard of horrible starvation that's going on there but potentially airdrops

going into places like Deir ez-Zor, that are surrounded by ISIS -- Hala.

GORANI: Let me ask you, Matthew, finally about this cessation of hostilities deal that was struck in Munich. We're hearing from Assad,

saying he doesn't think the Syrian president, he doesn't think that any party can really implement this deal.

What is Russia's most likely -- what will it most likely do in the coming week or so, when this deal is supposed to be implemented?

CHANCE: Yes, it's supposed to be implemented at the end of this week but even when it was agreed last week, Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign

minister, only gave it of a 50-50 chance himself of it actually working.

Certainly from the Russian point of view, this cessation of hostilities was never going to be an end to their air campaign, it was never going to be an

end to their campaign against what they say are ISIS and the Al-Nusra Front and other smaller militant groups that it's been targeting with its air


That was always going to continue. They made that clear during the negotiations. And I think what the Russians are doing now is stepping up

their air campaign -- we've had word today that, in the past week, they've carried out 444 missions, hitting more than 1,600 targets, which, again,

they say are primarily ISIS and Al-Nusra Front, which the West accuses of being -- says is a -- are targets associated with more moderate rebels,

opponents of the Syrian regime. They're pressing ahead with that to give their ally, Assad, as much advantage on the battlefield as they possibly


GORANI: Matthew Chance, our senior international correspondent in Moscow and Fred Pleitgen, our senior international correspondent in Damascus,

thanks to both of you for joining us on this top story.


GORANI: Turning to U.S. politics now, where a former president is out in force on the campaign trail -- and we don't mean Bill Clinton for a change.

It's George W. Bush. He's now front and center in support of his brother, Jeb, and his ailing campaign.

Meanwhile, the insults are flying between the Republican candidates just days ahead of the South Carolina primary. Here's CNN's Dana Bash.


DANA BASH, CNN SR. U.S. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): George W. Bush drew a large crowd and a deep distinction between his brother and

Donald Trump.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Strength is not empty rhetoric. It is not bluster. It is not theatrics. Real strength,

strength of purpose comes from integrity and character. And in my experience, the strongest person usually isn't the loudest one in the room.

BASH (voice-over): The 43rd president never uttered Trump's name but he didn't have to.

We do not need someone in the Oval Office who mirrors and inflames our anger and frustration.

BASH (voice-over): He spoke only a few hours after Trump doubled down on criticizing him for 9/11.

DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've heard for years he kept the country safe after 9/11 -- what does that mean, after?

What about during 9/11?

I was there.

BASH (voice-over): The former president recounted what it was like for him that horrific morning, then segued to Jeb.

GEORGE W. BUSH: He's got the backbone necessary to make the tough decisions on the behalf of the American people.

BASH (voice-over): George W. Bush energized not just the crowd but his brother, the candidate.

JEB BUSH, FORMER GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I thought it was a little strange that a front-running candidate would attack the

President of the United States, who did keep us safe, while he was building a reality TV show.

I can beat Hillary Clinton. I can promise you that.

BASH (voice-over): Meanwhile Trump, the South Carolina front-runner, is waging all-out war, not just against Bush but Ted Cruz, closest to Trump in

most polls.

TRUMP: Ted Cruz is the most dishonest guy I think I've ever met in politics.


TRUMP: I think he's an unstable person. I really do.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Today, Donald Trump held a press conference, where he apparently lost it.

BASH (voice-over): Cruz is now stepping up his attacks on Trump on the stump and in ads.

TRUMP: I am pro-choice in every respect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: South Carolina cannot trust Donald Trump.

BASH (voice-over): Cruz is taking incoming from two opponents, calling him a liar.

TRUMP: I have never, ever met a person that lies more than Ted Cruz.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's lied about my position on marriage.

CRUZ: Donald Trump and Marco Rubio both have the very same pattern. Whenever anyone points out their record, they simply start screaming "Liar,

liar, liar."


GORANI: The name-calling continues among Republicans, that was Dana Bash with that report as they fight for support in South Carolina but could all

the infighting backfire with voters, could it, in the end, benefit the Democrats?

Let's bring in Ryan Williams, he's a former spokesperson for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign and he's live in Washington for us this hour.

Ryan Williams, thanks for being with us. First I want to ask you about Jeb Bush using George W. Bush to stump for him in South Carolina.

Is he going to get a bump from that because he hasn't used his family so far, in fact, quite the opposite, he's even dropped his last name from his

campaign up until now.

RYAN WILLIAMS, FORMER ROMNEY CAMPAIGN SPOKESPERSON: Well, former President Bush is very popular with primary voters in South Carolina. Polls show

that he's favored by about 64 percent of those voters. So he does provide a boost for the campaign.

They had an event last night with 3,000 people, which was more than Jeb Bush has ever drawn at a campaign event thus far. So I think that the

appearance by former President Bush has put some energy into his campaign as they get to the final days before the South Carolina primary.

GORANI: But let me remind our viewers of the latest poll, South Carolina doesn't poll as often as other states, the latest poll we have puts Bush,

Jeb Bush, at 9 percent in South Carolina. I mean, he's going to need more than George W. Bush in South Carolina, isn't he?

WILLIAMS: Well, let's look at this race as it is right now, Trump is likely going to win. This is a fight really right now for the second and

third place spots. The mainstream Republican candidates, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and others, are fighting to kind of win that lane, if you will.

And at this point now, it's a tight race between Rubio and Bush and they're both trying to emerge in South Carolina ahead of one another, try to push

the others out of the race and consolidate that mainstream support heading into the other states to take on Trump.

So right now, this is really a focused on that third place and second place finish, given the makeup of the race.

GORANI: And not a great performance for someone who was supposed to be a front runner several months ago.

By the way, we've compiled a list of all the insults that have been flung one way or the other just in the Republican field in the last several

weeks. We have "liar," Rubio on Cruz; "the biggest liar," Trump on Cruz and "nasty guy," Trump on Cruz.

"Flawed," Bush on Trump; "hypocrite," Trump on Bush; "unfit to serve," Bush on Trump;" "cheater," Trump on Cruz.

I mean, at what point is this going to really start hurting Republican candidates to be insulting each other like this all the time?

WILLIAMS: Well, we're definitely in the part of the race now where tempers are flaring and the campaigns are engaging one another. This is pretty

typical though, especially in a state like South Carolina. That's used to some nasty campaigning.

But on the Democratic side, we're seeing it as well, where Hillary Clinton supporters are lashing out at Bernie Sanders, where Sanders supporters are

lashing out at the Clintons. They're obviously at a point now where Sanders is really catching up to Clinton nationally, having defeated her

handily in New Hampshire.

So this is going to happen on both sides; by the end of the day, both parties will come together and they'll get behind their nominees, once we

head towards November.

GORANI: OK, Ryan Williams, we'll see if that happens and how quickly that happens. For now, the Republican field is still quite large. Thanks for

joining us from Washington. We really appreciate your time.

And coming up this week, a unique two-night event on CNN. All six Republican presidential candidates are taking part in a South Carolina town

hall, they will answer voters' questions, spread out over two nights now, it starts at 1:00 am Thursday, 2:00 am Central European time. We will

reair it the next day on CNN International if you don't want to stay up all night.

We spoke about the Republicans; on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is hoping for a boost in support from African American voters today.


GORANI (voice-over): These are live pictures from Harlem, New York, where Clinton is set to deliver a speech on civil rights this hour, among other

things. She typically enjoys strong support among African Americans, certainly, certainly stronger than Bernie Sanders.

Take a look at the latest Democratic polling from South Carolina. Clinton has a healthy lead with 64 percent. Challenger Bernie Sanders is at 27

percent. So he has his work cut out for him.

A lot more to come this evening on THE WORLD RIGHT NOW, months after their concert was abruptly halted by a horrific attack at the Bataclan theater,

the Eagles of Death Metal, the band, are back playing in Paris tonight. That story and a live report from the French capital, coming up next.





GORANI: Here's a look at markets and the Dow is having a pretty good day, up almost 200 points, the Nasdaq and S&P in New York up as well. Here's a

look at those indices for you, the Nasdaq up more than 2 percent. European markets up and down. The FTSE was higher on the day but everywhere else,

DAX and Frankfurt, the Paris CAC 40 and Zurich SMI, all ended the day lower.

Let's take a quick look at oil prices now, Brent crude is now going for more than $32 a barrel. Light sweet crude is just around $29 a barrel and

both of those benchmarks prices, those benchmark prices for the barrel of oil are down.

Now oil prices had soared in early trading but they've since lost those gains. John Defterios is CNNMoney emerging markets editor, joins me to

break it all down from Abu Dhabi.

So we're seeing oil prices a bit softer today and still hovering at around the type of price levels that oil producing countries would like to see go


What should we expect going forward?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Well, it's very interesting, Hala, there was big expectations here of this meeting in Doha, they call it

the big freeze, the four, because you're going to freeze production. I would say it was the big disappointment for the market.

Just over a month ago, in fact, the Nigerian energy minister was here in Abu Dhabi in an interview with us. He said, look, we need emergency action

to try to raise prices. So the expectations were very high and the four that needed -- met in Doha today had it delivered below the bar, if you


We had a big rally on Thursday, Friday, of some 10 percent, then another 3 percent to 5 percent gain on Monday with hopes of a cut in production.

Basically what we saw here is just a holding pattern by OPEC and non-OPEC players. But the market did not panic.

So it suggests, Hala, that we perhaps have found a floor in the market today, $32 a barrel is now $35 where we are on Monday but it's also well

off the low of $27 that we saw last week.

In sum here, what has happened, it's the Saudi Arabian strategy to basically hold production where it is today. We have a record production

for Saudi Arabia, the same for Russia, the UAE, Kuwait and Iraq. They're making a big bet here, Hala, that production right now will hold steady at

1.75 million barrels a day, eat up that surplus and then we'll see more shale production drop off in the second half of the year.

I'm not sure if it's going to play out that way but the market seems to be pretty sanguine where we are right now.

GORANI: And what about Iran with the lifting of sanctions?

Does Iran play into this or not?

DEFTERIOS: Yes, Iran does play into it. It's interesting, a Gulf source that I spoke to that was sitting in the meetings in Doha today suggested

that this is a deal that is contingent on all the OPEC and non-OPEC players participating. So it does raise a huge question mark over Iran and I would

add there, Iraq as well.


DEFTERIOS: Now Iran, the energy minister told me in the last couple of months that they're not going to be subject to any new deal from OPEC or

non-OPEC players, they were living under sanctions for the last four years. Why would they cut? Because they were strangled by the sanctions, Iraq is

now producing a record 4.3 million barrels a day. They have aspirations to take that to 6 million barrels a day by 2020. They don't want to cut back

as well.

Now the Venezuelan minister who's been running around the Middle East and Russia, trying to rally the troops for the last 10 days, is going to go

back to Tehran tomorrow, sit down with the Iranian and Iraqi oil minister and see what they have to say going forward.

It's certainly hard to see a deal coming forward if Iraq's not part of it and Iran wants to accelerate its production in the second half of 2016;

obviously, with the tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, that would be very difficult.

Now there's a precedent, if there's a panic and prices start to go lower again, Hala, they can come back to the table like they did back in 2001 and

try to stitch together a deal. It doesn't look that way right now.

GORANI: All right. Not everyone's on the same page here, clearly, John Defterios in Abu Dhabi, thanks very much. A lot more to come this evening.

The Eagles of Death Metal are taking the stage tonight in Paris, months after that terror attack at their concert at the Bataclan. It's an

emotional night. We'll be there live for you -- next.




GORANI: Three months after the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris, the U.S. rock group, the Eagles of Death Metal, have returned to the French

capital. The band was playing, of course, as you all remember, at the Bataclan concert hall when terrorists stormed the building on November

13th, killing 89 people.

That was all part of coordinated attacks across the country.

Speaking ahead of the Paris concert that is taking place right now, lead singer, Jesse Hughes, gave an emotional interview and you may be surprised

at his comments on gun control.


JESSE HUGHES, EAGLES OF DEATH METAL: Gun control kind of doesn't have anything to do with it. But if you want to bring it up, I'll ask you, did

your French gun control stop a single (INAUDIBLE) person from dying at the Bataclan?

And if anyone can answer yes, I'd like to hear it because I don't think so. I think the only thing that stopped it was some of the bravest men that

I've ever seen in my life, charging headfirst into the face of death with their firearms.

Maybe -- I know people will disagree with me but it just seems like God made men and women and that night guns made them equal. And I hate it,

that it's that way, I think the only way my mind has been changed is maybe that until nobody has guns, everybody has to have them because I don't want

to see anything like this ever happen again.


GORANI: All right. Let's go live to the Olympia Hall in Paris, where the concert is taking place as we speak, Erin McLaughlin is there live with me


What have concertgoers been saying to you?

This is -- I can imagine this must be extremely emotional as well for those who are going to the concert, who were attending this event.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Hala, this is an extremely emotional process. The concert is expected to get underway here

at the Olympia and a reporter, Bryony Jones, who's inside, tells me that the place is absolutely packed. And at first glance it looks like a

normal concert but at closer glance she said that --


MCLAUGHLIN: -- you notice details, clues that things aren't precisely normal, people walking around carrying white flowers, some shedding tears.

There are counselors on hand, wearing white cards, to support people who may need help through what is a very emotional, no doubt, very traumatic


Now CNN Jim's Bittermann sat down with the lead singer, Jesse Hughes, earlier today and Hughes explained to him why they're having the concert

here and now.


HUGHES: I don't think chaos aptly describes what it was. It was just the most awful thing I've ever seen in my life and that I think I will probably

ever see in my life.

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: Why did you want to come back on the tour?

Why did you want to complete the tour after the event?

Some people might have just said, just leave it at that. It was such a disaster.

JOSH HOMME, EAGLES OF DEATH METAL: As they say, quitting on yourself is hardest the first time and it gets easier from there. So let's just not

start. Let's, let's be who we are.

HUGHES: And besides, we were interrupted in the middle of an amazing rock 'n' roll show. And I want to get back to that.


MCLAUGHLIN: Now some 900 survivors and relatives of victims are expected to be here tonight.

And the people we have been speaking to say they're here for various reasons. Some see this as a test, a first step after some three and a half

months following the attacks, towards a normal life again. Others see this as paying tribute to the lives that were lost that tragic night -- Hala.

GORANI: All right. And, by the way, I understand that the concert has started. Talk to us a little bit about security. I mean, you know, I

imagine that it's, you know, that they have security there at this concert, certainly more so than they would at ordinary concerts, even after 13th of


MCLAUGHLIN: There has been increased security presence inside the venue and outside of the venue. I've seen -- I don't know if the camera can pan

over that way -- any number of police vans that have been lined up to make sure that things here go without incident.

And again, what's also important, can't be reiterated enough, Hala, is the emotional security for the people inside the venue. And that's why the

counselors are on hand, some 30 of them, to make sure that their emotional needs are met.

I was speaking to one survivor, Alexis, who told me that he sees this as being particularly traumatic. But he says that it's important, an

important step for him, to be able to cope with the events that he saw, the horror that he saw unfold. Very much he says it's a test for him to be

able to deal with what happened.

GORANI: All right. Erin McLaughlin, live until Paris outside the Olympia in Paris where Eagles of Death Metal are playing for the first time since

those terrible attacks on November 13th at the Bataclan and in other parts of the French capital.

A lot more ahead on THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. The fighting heats up in Northern Syria as the government gains more ground. We'll see how control of one

small area could have huge implications for the war.

Also this --



GORANI (voice-over): Well, students find common ground in music despite the devastation of Syria's civil war. London speaks to Damascus, that

story is coming up this hour as well.



GORANI: Welcome back, a quick look at our top stories, Syrian government troops and allied fighters are advancing north with the help of Russian air

power. Take a look.


GORANI: [gunfire ]The military says it has captured two villages in Aleppo province as it pushes towards rebel strongholds near the Turkish border.


GORANI: Also among our top stories and you saw it in a live report in Paris.


GORANI: The U.S. rock band, Eagles of Death Metal are performing again in the French capital three months after the deadly attacks at the Bataclan

concert hall there. 89 people were killed at the hall when it was stormed by terrorists as the band was playing. It was part of coordinated terror

attacks across the city that killed in total, 130 people.


GORANI: Former U.N. Secretary General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali has died today. He was 93 years old.


GORANI: The Egyptian became the sixth Secretary General and led the United Nations between '92 and '96. He was the first Arab Secretary General. He

sought a second term, but it was vetoed by the United States.


GORANI: Pope Francis is says urging priests to stand up to corruption and drug traffickers during a sermon attended by a huge crowd in Morelia,



GORANI: Morelia, is the capital of Michoacan, the western state has been a major flash point in the country's very long running war on drugs.


GORANI: As the Syrian army advances towards the Turkish border, a Turkish official says his country is asking allies to take part in a joint ground

invasion to end the war.

Among other things, Turkey is alarmed that Syrian Kurds are gaining ground and growing stronger by the day, all very close to the Turkish border and

for very many dozens of kilometers.


GORANI: Here's a look at the map, and you see in green, the areas of Kurdish control. This map shows what we're talking about. North of Aleppo.

Kurdish forces have been advancing on moderate rebels, both sides are supported by the United States adding to the confusing situation.

Nick Paton-Walsh says these fast-changing developments could dramatically alter the war. First, Nick, let's talk a little bit about this territory

that is changing hands. Who's in control of what? How is this all developing? Just in the last several weeks since intensified bombings in

Aleppo province?

NICK PATON-WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, if you look at that map, the area where the towns of (inaudible) sit, that used to

run all the way down towards the city of Aleppo and be the main supply route in and out of its rebel controlled East of the city.

If you look at that map now, you see a red chunk that's kind of cut off that supply route depriving rebels access to the city and leaving those

inside besieged. What's happened in the past few days, since the Syrian regime when Russian support made that advance cutting off a supply route

is, the Kurds they've moved out of that green area, heading off towards the left and started to push through that Syrian moderate rebel-controlled


They took the town of (inaudible) recently, and they may today have progressed all the way up to that gray area of ISIS control. Leading those

moderate rebels just a little bit of territory around (inaudible) potentially, right up along the Turkish border. That's vital because those

Syrian moderate rebels, ramshackled as they often have been have got a lot of U.S. support in the past, they've been looked to as potentially some

sort of force that could take on ISIS and move into those Sunni controlled areas that ISIS now occupy. But the Kurds have moved in fast and are

taking over that ground very quickly, potentially depriving their vital force of what used to be its stronghold, Hala.

GORANI: And even the U.S. is saying to the Kurds, listen, cool it, back off, I mean, you know, you don't have to start taking territory now, at

this crucial stage from these moderate rebels that we want to support to fight ISIS and against the regime.



GORANI: So how is the U.S. now going to alter its strategy in the face of such a complex situation that is getting more and more complicated by the


WALSH: Unclear. And it's not also clear what really it can do. Now, one of the moderate rebels we spoke to that's pretty close to the Americans in

that area that they're trying to defend for the Kurds, said he claimed, the Kurds were getting Russian assistance. Now this plays into the massive

geovertical mess we're talking about here.


WALSH: The Russians want to go the Turkish as much as possible since Turkey shot down their fighter jet a few months ago. Now, that would be well

achieved by allowing the Kurdish to sweep into that area and control yet more of the Turkish border. Remember, Turkey's very worries about the Kurds

trying to declare an independent state south of their country.

The Americans, well, yes, they supply assistance to the Kurds and those moderate rebels, in fact there was a video circulating which appeared to

show how in fact a missile potentially supplied by the Americans was being used by the rebels to take out a Kurdish truck that had potentially also

been supplied with U.S. assistance.


WALSH: I mean, the complicated American situation here cannot be overemphasized, but above and beyond really, we see these Syrian moderate

rebels who used to have that stronghold, now on their back foot intensely, and that's got severe worrying implications for the U.S. policy, in

particular, if Turkey decides they want to intervene and stop the Kurds from taking Azaz which they've said is pretty much a red line for them,


GORANI: All right, a complication or a miscalculation, what's next? All big questions. Nick Paton Walsh, live in Beirut, thanks very much.

Our next guest says the Assad regime has momentum on the battlefield and at the bargaining table thanks to Russia.

Fawaz Gerges, is the author of The New Middle East Protest and Revolution in the Arab World, he's also chair of the Contemporary Middle East Studies

at the London School of Economics. Fawaz, thanks for being with us.

So we sort of heard the situation here. I want to put up the map right away of what's going on in northern Syria.


GORANI: The Russians clearly are hoping the regime, they're pounding moderate rebel targets. They're doing their best. The Kurds are taking

advantage of chaos, they're trying to take over more territory. I mean, this is just more and more complicated.


GORANI: Is it?

GERGES: It really is.


GERGES: I mean if the game plan of the Syrian regime and the Russians is to basically steal the Turkey/Syrian border. They've sealed it. It's this

corridor from Turkey under Kurdish control there to (inaudible) we're talking about 20 miles. If you seal this particular border, basically

you're cutting the lifeline of the (MPS) rebels who are delivering a decisive blow. So all you're seeing now is that basically the Syrian army

is on the march, the Russians are comfort bombing the anti-Assad rebels, the Kurdish are indirectly working with the Assad regime and the Russian

indirectly coordination because the Kurds, the Kurdish coalitions along with also rebels who are supported by the United States, are walking in

tandem with the Assad regime and the Russians again to take as much territory as possible and approach the Turkish border.

GORANI: But here you have the Kurds playing both sides here against the middle. On the one hand their allied in some cases with the United States

against ISIS, but quite happy to take moderate rebel territory, you know, basically doing the bidding of the Russians in northern Syria. So what game

are they playing here the Kurds here?

GERGES: If you ask me what's the Kurdish strategical, it's to basically convince Turkey that there are a real layer to be taken into account.

Turkey strategical, I mean two goals, for Turkey; it's to topple Assad, and also to prevent the Kurds from gaining influence and more territories.


GERGES: So what the Kurds are saying to Turkey, here we are, we're gaining influence, we're working with the Americans, we're working directly with

the Russians, and we are basically on the brink - on the verge, establishing an autonomous region.

GORANI: Exactly they want to join enclaves together in order to create a Kurdish territory. And they're doing it.

GERGES: Absolutely, and that's why - that's why the Kurds are really basically gaining more and more territories, because with for the

strategically, they want to connect the Kurdish areas inside Syria and reach basically the Iraqi borders. So this would be a major game changer.

So Turkey is really finding itself in the eye of the storm now.

GORANI: But let's look at this map. I mean the Russians are calling the shots here, right? Regime control, they're going to choke off the rebels

here with just an unknown at this stage, but at least in the hundreds of thousands, number of civilians caught in the middle here that will be

starved, possibly. I mean, it seems like Russia is the one really calling the shots, not America. America's strategy has failed on every level here.

GERGES: Russia intervention - Russian intervention is (inaudible), change the rules of the game. Militarily and politically. Because there's an

organic lane, Hala, as you know, between the I mean battlefield and the politics. So the Russians are dictating the terms, not only on the

battlefield, think about what happened to Geneva, the priorities, where's the future of Assad now. Ceasefire, humanitarian aid, and then we can talk

about governs. Assad's future is no longer - so the Americans --


GORANI: -- You're not hearing calls for an immediate step down that you're used to?

GERGES: The Americans?

GORANI: Yes. Here's a map of the whole country, so Damascus there further south.


GORANI: Now there is also an effort to achieve what's going on in the north in the south as well.

GERGES: Absolutely. So you ask about the game plan in the north is to seal the Turkish/Syrian border. What's the game plan now is to seal the

basically Jordanian/Syrian border, because the Syrian government believes and the Russian believes that it's a lifeline of the anti-Assad rebels. So

again, the same strategy and the Syrian regime has been slowly and gradually devouring areas.

GORANI: Sorry, I don't mean to jump up, but very quickly, this is not the end of anything.

GERGES: Not at all. Even as Assad succeeds in delivering a decisive blow to the rebels, the war goes on. Gorilla warfare basically suicide bombings,

the strategical of the rebels, the ambition to topple Assad would be gone. And this is really what Assad and the Russians are trying to say, Assad is

here to stay. This is their game plan.


GORANI: Fawaz Gerges, as always, thank you so much for your analysis. We always appreciate having you on the program.

It's a long, long way from London to Damascus, children in the Syrian capital attend classes in the midst of a civil war. Imagine what their walk

to school or their drive to school is like. They're all too familiar with violence and poverty. But one class right here in the British capital

reached out, and they managed to forge some common ground. Here's Phil Black.


PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A classroom in Central London. Another in the Syrian capital Damascus. Linked together by a patchy

broadband connection and the mutual desire to learn more about each other. At first they don't seem that different.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My favorite song is Roar by Katy Perry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love my friends because they have a good heart and they're very kind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My favorite sport is football.

BLACK: But it's soon clear, the daily lives have little in common.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would like to tell you about problems. The most important is poverty and early marriage for girls.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Reason why students might drop out is because they might be moving country or something like that, or usually it's not because

of young marriages.

BLACK: The children in Syria also Palestinian refugees prove they know too much about war.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You need protection. During this crisis, we are in a problem. We need security and peace for our school.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I changed three house in different places so I've changed three schools. We need safe places and return peace and security to

our country.

BLACK: (Serene) explains why she wishes her school had a psychologist.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because we need someone to talk with because we feel afraid in this world.

BLACK: But then the Damascus children shift the mood with a joyous surprise. Turns out, they're huge Adele fans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Hello, it's me I was wondering if after all these years you'd like to meet to go over --

BLACK: And all they sing the chorus together. This extraordinary experience was organized by the United Nations and a private media company.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think there's anything we could do to help you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give us some money. [ laughter ] (inaudible)

BLACK: You get the feeling.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:You have our love.

BLACK: None of these children will quickly forget.

Phil Black, CNN, London.


GORANI: And you can get all the latest news, interviews, and analysis from the show on my Facebook page. Find me at, we

will be right back.




GORANI: The Pope wraps up his trip to Mexico with a visit to Juarez on Wednesday. It's just across the border from El Paso, Texas and a few years

ago Juarez gained a reputation as the most dangerous place on earth.

Our Polo Sandoval visited a prison there where inmates are now preparing to welcome the Pope.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In (inaudible) state prison in Juarez has long been considered Mexico's most dangerous, and the men

confined behind the walls in barbed wire, a microcosm of the violence that once dominated the city outside.

During the high the cartel violence in Juarez, in 2010 the inmates literally ran the prison. Six years later, it prepares to welcome a Pope.

The man who runs (inaudible) today walks us through a part of the prison that would have been too dangerous to enter a few years ago. That's when

the prison yard served as a bloody battleground for rival street gangs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (As translated): The inmates governed the prison, let's be honest. Inmates held the keys to their cells and were armed.

SANDOVAL: (inaudible) tells us a state of lawlessness and disorder once prevailed in (inaudible) over population bred violence and repeated riots.

Inmates decided who lived and who died.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (As translated): We discovered kidnapping and extortion groups operating out of the prison.

SANDOVAL: Since then, Chihuahua state officials have regained control and likened Juarez, a delicate truth between rival gangs is in place. Many of

the inmates have been busy preparing the prison for the papal visit. Among them, (inaudible) who is currently serving a 30-year since for murder.

(Andreas) tells me the Pope's visit reinforces his faith in the Catholic church, his fellow man, and most importantly, he says, his chance for

rehabilitation. Francis will meet with correctional officials in the small prison chapel previously used by inmates to store weapons. He will then

pray with 700 prisoners in the courtyard. Among them, cartel enforcers who kidnapped and killed.

(Inaudible) hopes France's visit can help reinforce the peace among the gangs, not only in the prison, but in the city that surrounds it.

Polo Sandoval, CNN, Juarez, Mexico.


GORANI: This is "The World Right Now." You may recall John Kennedy's famous cold war line, "Ich bin ein Berliner" well, Presidential hopeful

Donald Trump has now spoken a similar line.


GORANI: A look at Trump's German roots, next.




GORANI: Let's return now to the U.S. Presidential campaign. Donald Trump is definitely vocal about his pride he says in being an American. But he's

apparently proud to be German as well. The Republican candidate has roots in one small German town and our CNN's Atika Shubert takes us there.


DONALD TRUMP, 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 the Karlstadt also.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Welcome to Karlstadt, south Germany, population, 1,200. It's local vintage, a dry

Riesling, famous sons include Henry Heinz, the ketchup king, and this guy. Yes, Karlstadt in the ancestral home of Donald Trump.

Simone Vendel a great cousin in law of Trump made the King of Karlstadt, a documentary on her home town's Trump connection just before he launched his

U.S. presidential bid.

(SIMONE VENDEL): Do you feel any (Karlstadt) (inaudible) in your (inaudible)?

TRUMP: Well, the people in Karlstadt are very reliable, strong people. And I feel that about myself. 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 Karlstadt. 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.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (As translated) 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.

SHUBERT: Karlstadt, Mayor Thomas Yarborough took us for a tour.

(THOMAS YARBOROUGH), KARLSTADT MAYOR): Hello, that's relatives to Trump.

SHUBERT: Just outside the house a car pulls up and a man leans out to say, we served Karlstadt wine at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, maybe

there'll be a Karlstadt wine at the U.S. Presidential inauguration.

(Axel Messier) family is more Heinz than Trump. They have been making wine since the 16 hundreds. He figures Trump does have one distinctive Karlstadt

trait. Karlstadters are certainly confident, he says. And Trump is not short of confidence.

A ten minute walk away, the Karlstadt country lady's association is busy making herring salad for Ash Wednesday. Inn Keeper, Veronica (Schrum) says

Trump just wouldn't fit in Karlstadt today.

"Personally, I think he's too much of a radical, we're a friendly place," she says. No one we spoke to seemed to think that Trump would visit

Karlstadt any time soon. President or not. But everyone recommended he try the local delicacy, stuffed pig stomach.

Atika Shubert, CNN, Karlstadt, Germany.


GORANI: Karlstadter. It was a star studded night at the Grammy's with some of the industry's top names taking home some big awards. The performance by

British singer, Adele was hotly anticipated, but it didn't exactly go to plan.



GORANI: A microphone fell on to the piano strings, the singer seemed a bit distracted, she wasn't singing exactly in tune. Adele wasn't the only live

performance. Many came in the form of tributes.

Lady Gaga paying tribute to the late David Bowie by performing a medley of some of his best known hits. Let's get all the reactions, CNN's money media

reporter, Frank Pallotta joins me now live from New York.


GORANI: So Frank, let's first talk about well the big winner. I mean we have to talk about the big winner, which is Taylor Swift. And she sort of

hinted at Kanye a little bit, in a not so subtle way in her acceptance speech. Tell us more.



FRANK PALLOTTA, CNN MONEY MEDIA REPORTER: Oh, she should have gotten award for throwing shade because I almost fell off of my chair. She won the big

award of the night, album of the year. She's the only - she's the only woman to ever win that award twice at the Grammy's. And during the speech,

she told young women to not let people ever tell them that they are the reason for their fame. Which is what Kanye put into his lyrics. So it was

definitely a swipe, maybe a little bit of a subtle one, but definitely a swipe.

GORANI: All right. And certainly it was interpreted that way.


GORANI: Let's talk about Lady Gaga and her Bowie tribute, because not everyone was super impressed here.

PALLOTTA: I don't know about that. I was personally really impressed.


PALLOTTA: I mean, I think you need to realize how difficult of a medley that was. First of all it was technically really beautiful. It started with

a close-up of her face and they had this projection on to her face that made her look like Ziggy Stardust, and then she just kind of went through

all of it. And I give her a lot of credit, it was a very touching moment, and I thought it was very well done.


GORANI: All right, I think it was the projection that maybe people thought OK that looks weird, her performance definitely great. Adele though, didn't

have a great night. Although I thought her reaction was pretty cool.


PALLOTTA: Well, her reaction after the fact was she had a very flat performance due to a very technical difficulties, a microphone fell on the

piano. After the awards, she tweeted, which she doesn't really do a lot of, she said that she explained what happened and said that despite all of it,

she went to In-n-Out. Which is a famed burger restaurant. So she took it the same way I would when I have a bad night at karaoke. I just go get some

fast food and I just have, I just forget I ever sang that badly.

GORANI: Right. Nothing cures a bad day or a bad night like a burger.


GORANI: And Kendrick Lamar though, correct me if I'm wrong, I think he was the biggest winner in terms of number of trophies.


PALLOTTA: He was a huge winner last night but there was a big, you know, on social media, a lot of people were very upset that he didn't ultimately win

the big award of the night. Which was album of the year, but that shouldn't take anything away from Kendrick. He had one of the most powerful and

seminal rap albums of the last few years. And 1989 is one of the best pop albums of all time.


PALLOTTA: So I really feel like we were the winners last night. Just two great artists, two great albums, you can't go wrong with the Grammy's last


GORANI: Frank Pallotta, thanks very much, thanks for wrapping up the show with us. This has been "The World Right Now," I'm Hala Gorani, we're live

in London. Do stay with us, "Quest Means Business" is next on CNN.