Return to Transcripts main page


Five States Vote Today In Super Tuesday 3.0; Inside Rebel-held Syria; Explosive Device Set off in Car in Berlin; Russia Announces End of Major Military Operations in Syria; Two Belgian Police Officers Injured in Raid on Brussels Home. New Aired 11:00a-12:00p ET

Aired March 15, 2016 - 11:00:00   ET



[11:00:14] BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Hello. I'm Becky Anderson. We begin with breaking news. The Belgian prosecutor's office tells CNN shots were

fired during a raid on a house in Brussels. That raid said to be connected to the deadly attacks

in Paris back in November.

For more, let's go to Nima Elbagir who is in London and has been following the story for you.

What are your sources telling you at this point?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we understand that three policemen have now been confirmed as being lightly injured, that's

the quote we're getting, in two separate shooting incidents at the same property in a district south of Brussels.

What makes this so notable, Becky, is that the Belgium authorities have been

very good post-Paris at keeping a very tight lid on most of these ongoing operations into the continuing investigation into the Paris attack.

So, we only really hear of anything to do with this investigation when things go not quite to plan, and that appears to be what happened here with

the injury of these police officers.

The spokesperson in Belgium says that this is part of the ongoing operation investigation into the Paris attack, but he wouldn't give us any more

detail than that. Who was in this house? Whether those within the house were apprehended and whether this was specifically a location where that

eighth attacker Salah Abdelsalam (ph) might have been.

All of those questions they're deflecting, Becky, because they really learned their lesson. During the aftermath of that Paris attack, we were

there. It was very much all out in the open. And Belgian security sources say that they felt that those within that ring, within the broader Paris

attack network really benefited from that. So, they are still being very, very cagey about what they are releasing to the public.

ANDERSON: Nima, as you rightly point out you were there back in November. We're four months on. Give us some context for this, then. What do we

know about this ongoing investigation?

ELBAGIR: Well, when we actually went back quite recently to get a sense exactly of that. And unfortunately, and this was a direct quote from the

minister of interior there, he said sadly they didn't feel that much closer to apprehending Salah Abdelsalam (ph) who described as possibly one of the

most wanted men in Europe.

What solace they did glean was that the sense that perhaps those within ISIS weren't so keen to support Salah Abdelsalam (ph) themselves. That

Salah Abdelsalam (ph) had essentially, as the ministry of interior put it, fled the battlefield. And this is really one of the aspects that they felt

was in their favor.

But unfortunately that doesn't seem to have brought us any closer to an apprehension. They are still weighing whether to release any further

information to the public in case this ongoing situation is of a broader security concern to members of the public and we are of course monitoring

it very closely, Becky, and we'll bring you anything we learned.

ANDERSON: OK. Absolutely.

And we're looking at live pictures as you speak to me. Let's bring those pictures up. For viewers who may just be joining us, what do we know at

this point?

ELBAGIR: It is an ongoing situation. Three police officers lightly injured as it's being characterized for us, two within the same property.

The authorities will only say that this is part of the broader operations into the investigation in the Paris attack. They are so far not giving any

specific detail whether this incident was directly linked to that ongoing operation to apprehend the so-called eighth attacker Salah Abdelsalam.

ANDERSON: Nima Elbagir is in London. She is following the story for you.

We're going to move on at this point, but I'm going to see whether we can keep pictures up in the corner of the screen. This is a live picture

coming to us from Belgium. And as and when of course Nima gets more information, we will bring that to you.

Meanwhile, I'll move on and see if I can get those pictures kept up on the screen for you in a small box on your right-hand side. There is some

activity there.

Let's move on for the time being.

And we're following two other very important stories this hour, the push for peace in Syria and the U.S. presidential election. It's a make or break

day for all the candidates in the race for the White House as voters head to the polls on Super Tuesday 3.0.

A huge number of delegates up for grabs. And we're going to break down the latest numbers for you in just a few minutes.

First up, though, the winner of the presidential election will certainly have to deal with the turmoil in Syria. Russia says it's pulling its

warplanes out of the country after months of intense bombing raids. It says these are the first group of jets to leave their air base there and

President Vladimir Putin has abruptly ordered most Russian troops to leave as well.

Well, earlier I spoke to one of President Bashar al Assad's top advisers.


BOUTHAINA SHAABAN, SENIOR ADVISER TO SYRIAN PRESIDENT: We were not surprised, because the decision was made in coordination and consultation

with us. So, we knew beforehand that that -- this is what's going to be announced because the Russians came here to achieve certain jobs and we and

they agreed that most of the jobs had been achieved.


ANDERSON: Well, meanwhile peace talks are now in their second day in Geneva. And the UN's envoy to Syria is welcoming the Kremlin's moves

saying they could be, quote, significant.

Well, CNN senior international correspondent Clarissa Ward recently went under cover into rebel-held Syria where virtually no western journalists

have gone for more than a year. This is her exclusive report.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You can tell when you're getting closer to Aleppo. The streets are pockmarked with the

aftermath of fresh air strikes. Berms of earth flank the road to protect the way from enemy fire. It's a dangerous journey to a city few dare to


We now have to drive extremely quickly along this portion of the road. Because on one side you have the regime and on the other side you have

Kurdish fighters who are now fighting against rebel forces, and there are snipers all around here, but this the only road now to get into Aleppo.

As you arrive in the city, the scale of the destruction is breathtaking. Stretching on and on, entire residential neighborhoods reduced to rubble.

Aleppo was once Syria's largest city, a bustling economic hub now an apocalyptic landscape.

Russian war planes have bombed these areas relentlessly, allowing government ground forces to encircle rebel-held eastern part of the city.

Still, we found pockets of life among the devastation. A fruit market huddled in the shadow of a bombed out building, a line of people waiting

patiently to collect water, now a precious resource here.

This is basically what is left of rebel-held Aleppo. After months and months of thousands of Russian bombs raining down on here, the streets are

largely deserted. The buildings have been destroyed, and the people who once lived here have been pushed out. And the very few residents who are

still here who we've spoken to have told us that they don't expect the situation to get any better. In fact, they're convinced it will only get


Seventy year old Souad has lived in this city for 40 years. Her grandson Farouq is a fighter with the Islamist rebel group Ahrar al- Sham. In all,

nine members of her family have been killed in the fighting, including two of her three sons.

SOUAD, ALEPPO RESIDENT (via translator): They all died on the front line. We raise our heads high for them. God willing, they are in paradise.

WARD: What would it take for you to leave Aleppo?

FAROUQ, AHRAR AL-SHAM FIGHTER (via translator): It is true, there is shelling and Russian planes, and Iranian militias, and every day there is a

massacre, but it is enough for us to express our religion and our faith as free people without anyone stopping us. It is enough for us to fight as

mujahadeen and defend our honor and our women.

SOUAD (via translator): Should we leave our country and go to another country? No. This is our country, and we will remain in this until we die.

WARD: The people clinging onto life here feel that the world has abandoned them, leaving them only with God. Their existence becomes more precarious

with every passing day, but surrender is unthinkable.


ANDRESON: Well, Clarissa is now back in New York. And Matthew Chance standing by Moscow with all the latest from there.

And I also want to give you just a shot of what is going on, you see here on the right-hand side of your screen, the Belgian prosecutor's office

tells CNN shots were fired during a raid on a house in Brussels.

And you are looking at live pictures here coming to us as we get more on exactly what is going on in Brussels, we will, of course, bring that to


Clarissa, let me get back to you. I know you've been in touch with the people you talked to on the ground in your reporting. How are they

reacting to the Russian withdrawal announcement?

WARD: Well, I think there's a mixture of disbelief. Most people I spoke to, like me and like most people it seems everywhere, were sort of taken

aback by this. It seemed to come out of nowhere.

Obviously people on the ground, particularly in that rebel-held part of Aleppo that we showed you in this story would welcome this Russian

announcement that it will withdraw militarily, that it will cease and desist from this relentless aerial bombardment that has obviously been the

cause of much suffering for them.

But at the same time I would say there's still a large degree of skepticism. People want to know more details. Well, when is this

withdrawal happening exactly? How long will it take? Does it mean that there will be no more bombardment?

Because of course we do know that Putin will remain some forces and that air base inside Syria.

So, dare I use the cliche, I would say there is cautious optimism, but there's also the very real

sense that Assad's forces have made significant gains in Aleppo under the cover of that Russian air power. And you saw in our piece, there is just

that one road leading in and out of rebel-held Aleppo. And people there are still very concerned that Assad forces could at any moment make a push

to take that final road.

ANDERSON: Clarissa, the devastation on the ground, as your reports have exposed, is massive. And we're just looking at some of those pictures now.

What's is it going to take to rebuild Syria?

WARD: That's an excellent question, Becky. And I think that sometimes our cameras can't even really show you the scale of the devastation, because

it's 360 degrees.

I have read some research that indicated before the Russian intervention began that it would

cost nearly $300 billion to try to rebuild Syria, obviously in the wake of six months of relentless bombardment, that figure is supposed to be -- will

likely be significantly higher.

And also one has to take into account the scope of how much money is being lost with every day fighting in Syria. $4 billion a month being lost. If

the fighting continues until 2020, we're talking a trillion dollars. Obviously these are numbers that are so high they cease to have any real


But beyond the money and the infrastructure, what it will take to rebuild Syria in terms of trying to get it back to a united multi-sectarian, multi-

ethnic state, I think that's probably even the tougher question to answer, Becky.

ANDERSON: Clarissa Ward is in New York for you this evening.

Stand by.

Matthew Chance is in Moscow.

Matthew, what is the perspective there?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think in terms of the Russian public and in terms of the Kremlin, this was a victory

for them. It was a short, effective campaign less than six months the Russian air force has been bombarding its various targets around Syria and

they have achieved a number of things, not least they have given Bashar al Assad, their strong Syrian ally more time. They have emboldened him and

empowered him at the negotiating table.

They have effectively brought all the warring parties, and we also don't talk about this, but after five years of conflict, if it weren't for the

Russian intervention in Syria, they wouldn't be sitting around negotiating table right now. So, that's another victory the Kremlin are

pointing to.

And of course they have bolstered their image, the Kremlin that is, around the world. They are now taken much more seriously as a global player.

Now, the air force, the warplanes that have been carrying out those strikes have now started arriving back in Russia. State television has been

broadcasting pictures of pilots being greeted by crowds, there's military band music playing. They're being presented with flowers.

So, Russia is casting this very much as a victory, very much as mission accomplished.


CHANCE: With more than 9,000 sorties behind them, withdrawal of Russia's warplane from Syria is now under way.

The Russian defense ministry releasing these images of aircraft being prepped for the long

distance flight home.

The Russian president's unexpected order is being quickly implemented.

It was at this late night meeting with his defense and foreign ministers that Vladimir Putin announced his goals in Syria had been achieved,

declaring victory and pulling out.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): I believe the goal set out to the ministry of defense and armed forces has in large part

been fulfilled. That is why ordered the minister of defense to start to pull out of the main part of our military grouping from Syria.

[11:15:04] CHANCE: From the air and the sea, Russia's bombardment of Syria has been a game changer. This kind of overwhelming firepower reversing the

military fortunes of the Kremlin's Arab ally Bashar al Assad. As Russia helped the Syrian leader regain territory, there was criticism from human

rights groups that Russian planes targeted civilians, strongly denied by Russia, and that the bombing worsened the flow of refugees. But it also

forced the warring parties, including President Assad, to negotiate.

The Kremlin now says a political solution to the Syrian war is its main focus.

What we don't know yet is whether Russia will resume strikes if peace talks falter. The Kremlin says its powerful air and naval bases in Syria will


This may not be the last Syrians ever seen of Russia's military resolve.


CHANCE: And indeed, the Russians are still not ruling out the continuation of airstrikes. One senior Russian defense official telling state media

earlier that the campaign will continue against what Moscow designates to be terrorist targets, Becky.

ANDERSON: Clarissa, I want to get back to your reporting just for a moment, because as Matthew talks about the perspective from Russia, and

we'll talk momentarily to our man in Geneva as these talks continue, and interesting times given this these talks have just kicked off again and the

Russians pulling out albeit perhaps in the short-term, what do people like the old lady that you talked to

think of the millions of Syrians who leave the country?

WARD: Well, this is an interesting one, Becky, because it seemed to me on the surface that anyone who had the means or the money or the ability and

could leave Syria, particularly those rebel-held areas, would leave Syria for security, so that they could work so that they can have some semblance

of a normal life.

But what was interesting talking to people who have decided to remain on the ground in those

heavily hit areas, is that they feel very strongly that they are there for a reason, they are there to keep fighting this fight. They have no

interest in leaving the country. You heard 70-year-old say Souad saying why would I leave and go to another country? I'll be there until the day

that I die.

And while they understand fully why people have left the country by the millions, they also have a pretty cynical stance on them, which is to say

by leaving the country, while we appreciate why you've done it, you have essentially forfeited your right to have a say now in where the future of

Syria goes, because we are the ones who are fighting and dying on the ground to defend our country, and so we are the ones who should be able to

dictate what the future of Syria looks like, Becky.

ANDERSON: Clarissa Ward is in New York this evening, and Matthew Chance is in Moscow.

To both of you we thank you very much indeed for your reporting.

We'll have more on Syria throughout the hour, including the rest of my interview with one of Bashar al Assad's senior advisers. Hear what she

told me about the peace talks in Geneva and the future of President Assad.

Well, then we're live for you this hour in Turkey to get reaction to Russia's planned pullout from Syria You'll remember there's been a lot of

friction between those two countries.

And we'll introduce you to Syria's queen of kitchen. She tells CNN about cooking up a new life far from her home.

Well, a quick reminder of the top news this hour, and one story we are keeping a very close eye on for you at CNN. The Belgian prosecutor's

office tells us that shots were fired during a raid on a house in Brussels.

Now, these are live pictures coming to you from Brussels. That raid said to be connected to the deadly terror attacks in Paris back in November.

An eyewitness tells CNN that he heard around 30 shots and the entire area is on lockdown.

You may recall some of the suspects in the Paris attacks were from the Belgian capital. And back in mid-February the Belgian authorities said a

suspected ISIS recruitment cell had been uncovered by a counter-terror operation in Brussels.

So we're tracking this story for you closely. We'll bring you more as it unfolds and as we move through the hour perhaps keep the pictures up for

you the right-hand screen so you can see exactly what is going on live there in Brussels.

We're taking a very short break at this point. Back after this.


[11:21:45] ANDERSON: Well, these are people of Syria, every day men, women, and

children who have impacted by five years of conflict. A staggering statistic from UNICEF. It says one in three Syrian kids has known nothing

but a lifetime of war.

They were born during conflict and have grown up in a climate of crisis.

You're watching Connect the World live from Abu Dhabi. I'm Becky Anderson. Welcome back.

And now five years on, a surprise move that could have a big impact on Syria moving forward. The sudden withdrawal of Russian forces. Is this

mission accomplished for Russia? Well, that is what I asked the Syrian President Bashar al Assad's top adviser, Bouthaina Shaaban. This is what

she said.


SHAABAN: Hundreds of villages have been liberated, many towns have been liberated from armed guns, a huge part of Syria has been liberated.

And we hope that -- and they announced today anyway -- the defense minister of Russia announced that the war against terrorism will continue. And we

are happy also to see Russian American coordination in fighting terrorism.

So all the steps which are being made by the Russians are the right steps towards political

settlement and also towards a continuation of fighting terrorism.

ANDERSON: All right. The opposition's response is quote -- the opposition's response is, quote, the Russian departure will be good for the

Syrian people and will weaken the Syrian regime, end quote. Do you agree?

SHABAAN: You know, becky, no, of course I don't agree. But you know, Becky, if you review the record of the opposition from the beginning of

the war on Syria until now, you will find that they never really were able to speak about reality as is. And they are always sending media messages

which keep their morale up, you know, and try to show that their objectives are about to be achieved.

ANDERSON: And we will certainly expect you to say that.

Let's move on. Putin has urged the Syrian president to be, quote, constructive in these latest peace talks. Now, you have a delegates in

Geneva. What is the solution to your mind? And does President Assad have a future?

SHABAAN: Our delegates in Geneva have instructions to be as forthcoming as possible for a

political settlement. And by the way, right from the beginning of the war on Syria, the Syrian government never made any effort to try and put an end

to this war on Syria. And now all the steps taken by the Russians or by the Syrian government are trying to lead to that direction to put an end to

bloodshedding in Syria and to restore peace and security to Syria.

ANDERSON: Okay. Well, as far as the opposition is concerned, Assad is a red line. To quote their chief negotiator, the transitional period cannot

start with the presence of the regime or the head of this regime still in power.

Dead or alive, they say, Dr. Shabaan, he must leave power.

Now, this conflict has killed more than a quarter of a million people and forced half of the people from the country. I put it to you again. Should

Assad at least agree in principle not to stand in future elections, give the will of the Syrian people, those who have had to leave the country,

leave their homes a chance?

SHABAAN: The Syrian people who left the country left the country because of the terror that they were exposed to. President Assad had been elected

by his people and it's only the Syrian people who decide what happens in Syria. And you know, Becky...

ANDERSON: So many people believe who have left the country say that it's Assad who

is the problem. Go on.

SHABAAN: You know, if I had the time just to talk about who this opposition is. The people who have been living outside Syria for 30 years

who are being paid by different countries in order to fight their own people and their own country. The Syrian people who are in Syria are the

ones who voted for President Assad. The political process is going on. We fully

support the political process. In the meantime, we continue along with the Russians and hopefully with the Americans in fighting terrorism


ANDERSON: So, let me get this straight. So the future of Assad as president is not up for

negotiation in these Geneva talks. Is that correct? Is that going to be the message?

SHABAAN: The future of Assad and the dialogue and all this will be decided by the Syrian people. It is not up to anybody to speak about the future of

our president or our president at all.

And by the way, the war is not about President Assad. The war was for the destruction

of our institution, of our country, of our people. They put their own logo for this war.

ANDERSON: Very briefly, you've said that Russia has to all intents and purposes continued --

promised to continue supporting Syria. How?

SHABAAN: Russia had been supporting Syria for tens of years. Our relationship with Russia is strategic. It's not current, it's not


But I want to remind the viewers that the Russian leadership does what it says. They said we were going there for a certain period and we're

withdrawing after. When they said that right from the beginning so our partnership would last for decades, not only for few

years. We all would be partners and allies with Russia.


ANDERSON: The message from the Syrian government this evening.

Well, if you want to learn more about what is happening on the ground in Syria, you can go to the website. There, you will find a special section

on Syria. That is all at , You can read more about Clarissa Ward's exclusive reporting from inside rebel-held territory, and

see a 360 degree view of Aleppo as it looks today.

Plus, there is an interactive time line there of the civil war all at

We're going to be back after this. Taking a very short break.



[11:30:03] ANDERSON: Right. I want to get you more on our breaking news this hour.

You are looking live pictures from Brussels where the shots were fired in a raid on a

house. They say the raid is connected to November's terror attacks in Paris. Police telling us three officers were slightly wounded. An

eyewitness tell CNN the police currently have the whole area is lockdown.

CNN's Nima Elbagir has been following up with her sources and trying to get more on this. She joining us now live from London. I know the information

is very difficult to come by. Nima, what can you tell us at this point?

Well, we are now managing to speak to eyewitnesss in that area, Becky. And they are describing a pretty harrowing situation. One eyewitness said that

he counted around 30 shots fired by a suspect at police. Those streets are still cordoned off. Police

helicopters are flying overhead. And the situation he describes it is very, very tense.

One witness told us, whose house is very close to the scene of that raid that it was horrible. He said he felt like he was living through terror on

the streets of Brussels.

Authorities are still very much limiting that flow of information. We've been hearing throughout that they have learned lessons from the aftermath

of the Paris attack when they believe that the suspects really used much of the information that was in the public

sphere to escape apprehension.

We actually have a still from inside one of those neighboring houses that we want to show you,

Becky. You get a sense those inside the house are very much cowering. It's shot from behind a window sill looking down. And you see those police

officers carrying balaclavas carrying pretty heavy automatic weaponry, still patrolling the streets. This is very much still an ongoing

situation, Becky.

ANDERSON; Back in mid-February the Belgian authorities who, as you rightly point out, had been very reticent to divulge what has been going on since

these November attacks and since this investigation has been ongoing.

But they did at that stage, about a month ago, say that a suspected ISIS recruitment cell had been uncovered by their counter-terrorism operation in

Brussels. What more do we know about the scope and scale of what is going on in this investigation?

ELBAGIR: Well, these, as we understand them, are very wide ranging operations. The minister of interior described it really as an operation

that spans the entirety of Europe. He did seem -- he said it wasn't necessarily based on security but very much his read of the situation. He

seems to believe that Salah Abdelsalam (ph), that so-called eighth attacker, is still in Europe. He believes he simply cannot return to

Syria, because as Jan Jambon, the minister of interior for Belgium, characterizes it, he fled the battlefield. He feels that Salah Abdelsalam

(ph) is perhaps being chased almost as ferociously by those compatriots of his within ISIS. He is being searched for by westerner intelligence


But there's still the reality of the fact that there is so much that is almost uncharted territory within these communities inside Belgium, for

much of the Belgian intelligence agencies, the fact Salah Abdelsalam was able to come back into Belgium after the Paris attack carrying, we learned

later, that suicide vest with the explosives still in it, that he was able to cross the border from France into Belgium, it said so much at the time

about the shortcomings of the Belgian authorities, shortcomings that they accept, still very much haven't dealt with. While they did apprehend that

recruitment cell, they also accept that recruitment is still ongoing inside Belgium even perhaps as we speak, Becky.

ANDERSON: And this, of course, is an attack back in November, just highlighting efforts made by this group, ISIS, to export their terror

ideology as perhaps forces on the ground in Syria and Iraq were making more headway and breaking down their efforts there.

As far -- you've been on this beat now for sometime. You probably know more about it than most people. Nima, how concerned are authorities?

You're talking about this as a counter-terror operation not just in Belgium, but right across Europe.

How concerned are authorities still about a prospect of this exported terror ideology and attacks going forward?

ELGABIR: I think you really cannot in any way underestimate the levels of their concern. The fact that the threat level in Belgium remains at its

second highest, at level three, we briefly saw it at level four just in the aftermath of the Paris attacks. And the fact that they accept and they

publicly admit that that means that there remains a likelihood, a possibility of an attack, and that's what's forcing that threat level at

that level, that gives you a sense of the fact that they know that they cannot afford to take their eyes off their situation, and the ease of the

movement, the fact that so many of these networks are still very much opaque. And also the reality that so many of those we've been speaking to

both within the security networks, but also observers and experts say that the Paris attack, this wasn't a feat of extraordinary engineering in terms

of the actual attack and the way it was carried out, that is just simply how easy it is to sow terror in a modern European capital city if you have

the intent and if security agencies aren't across every single potential attack.

Ao what ISIS really has achieved is they have created this state of high alert since the Paris attacks for almost four months now. And when we were

in Iraq, and you and I were speaking from Iraq, just during the retake of Ramadi, everybody was very clear about that

within the coalition, the U.S.-led coalition, that it has to end there before it can be solved here.

ANDERSON: All right. Nima, thank you for that. We're looking at live pictures out of Belgium where the prosecutor is telling us that shots were

fired in a raid on a house. They say the raid connected to November's terror attacks in Paris as Nima and I have just been discussing, police

telling us that three officers we're slightly wounded.

Let me get you, Philip Blenkinsop, who is a Reuters correspondent in Brussels.

Philip, we know that an eyewitness has told us at CNN that police currently have the whole area locked down. What do you know at this point?

PHILIP BLENKINSOP, REUTERS NEWS AGENCY: Well, you're quite right. There is a large area locked down, a particular street has been identified.

Obviously they were carrying out a raid earlier in the day related to the Paris attacks, during which shots were fired, as you said. We understand

that there were three police officers likely injured, but it is a developing story. This is an area in the south of Brussels, not the areas

where we've sort of previously hadn't multiple raids related to the Paris attacks.

ANDERSON: What can you tell us about the area? We're sitting on the pictures. We are just taking in what's doing on at present. Tell us a

little bit more about the area.

BLENKINSOP: Well, the area -- where it is, as I say, it's the south -- the southern part of

Brussels. There's an Audi factory very nearby. It's very close to the north/south link between Brussels and Paris, which also goes up to

Amsterdam, so near a kind of high speed railway line.

The street is -- it's not a particularly affluent area, it's not sort of desperately poor part of town. It's a sort of anonymous looking kind of

road with brick houses.

ANDERSON: We know that the Brussels authorities are being pretty reticent to release information not just about what's going on here, but what they

have been doing in the four months post the Paris attacks. Is there any more you can tell us? Certainly as we've

been reporting back in February, they announced that they were after a suspected ISIS recruitment cell in Brussels.

What more do you know about the scope and scale of the investigation at this point?

BLENKINSOP: So, you're breaking up slightly. You're asking about particular this particular, the recruitment cell or you're asking about the

Paris attacks?

ANDERSON: The wider investigation into the Paris attacks.

BLENKINSOP: Well, as you mention, it's several months, four months I think, since the attacks, they have arrested and charged 10 individuals

mostly for helping a man who is still on the run called Salah Abdelsalam. He has been a key suspect in this investigation.

He came back from Paris the night off of the attacks. His brother blew himself up during the attacks. He is Belgium's most wanted suspect, for

the time being at least he hasn't been found.

ANDERSON: All right.

With that, we're going to leave it there. We thank you very much. Very much appreciate your time this evening as we continue to monitor these

pictures coming to us from Brussels. As we get more viewers, you can count on us to bring it directly to you.

Taking a very short break. 39 minutes past 7:00 here in the UAE. We'll be back after this.


[11:42:21] ANDERSON: All right, just before quarter to 8:00 here in the UAE. And a presidential race full of critical contests.

This could be the most the most decisive day yet. Voters in five U.S. states are casting ballots right now on the third Super Tuesday. Now, even

though Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have more delegates at stake, the Republicans could have more dramatic results since

their primaries in Florida and Ohio are winner take all.

Well, Donald Trump hoping for a clean sweep while Ted Cruz is hoping to become the last Trump rival still standing.

John Kasich and Marco Rubio must win their home states to keep their campaigns alive, Ohio and Florida respectively.

Let's get more now from Mark, Preston then, who is executive editor for CNN Politics, a regular on our show. He's live in Washington for you this


Break all of this down for us, then. What is at stake here on Super Tuesday 3.0, Mark?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Becky, the future of the free world is at stake in many ways. No, I'm kidding.

Listen. there's been a lot of talk about Donald Trump and about whether Donald Trump has a chance of winning the general election in November.

First he has to get by the primary. But I think you're absolutely right. Tonight, we will be focusing on two key states for Donalt Trump, Florida

where it looks like he is doing to win, and Ohio where that will be the main battleground for Donald Trump.

If he is able to win these two states tonight, then he really is on a glide path to win the Republican presidential nomination. Couple of other states

that they are vying for right now is in North Carolina, Illinois, and Missouri.

Now, you said Ted Cruz is somebody who is trying to be the last standing Republican against Donald Trump. Ted Cruz has a good shot perhaps of

winning North Carolina and Missouri. That would give him a little more gasoline in his tank.

On the other side of the aisle as well, we also have the Democrats and we have Bernie Sanders fighting for his political life.

Here is what's very interesting about that, Becky. He could end up winning three states. He could end up winning Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri but he

still could lose the amount of delegates because Hillary Clinton is so far ahead in the crucial state of Florida and she's expected to win North

Carolina decisively. So there's a lot on the line tonight.

ANDERSON: For our international viewers then, what happens after this?

PRESTON: Well, a couple things. One, as this campaign has been a marathon up to this point where these contests have been so close. It is going to

slow down just a little bit, meaning we will have contests next week and the following week but they will not be as

decisive as we've seen up to this point.

We will see the candidates certainly trying to make their case to stay in the race, such

as Bernie Sanders who has said he will stay in no matter what.

And for Donald Trump, if he wins tonight, you can expect him to act like he is the absolute front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination.

The question is if that's the case, at some point will we see Donald Trump perhaps reaching out to foreign leaders. Will he start conversations with

them to even enhance his profile even more and perhaps to chip away at what many people think is a weakness, Becky, and that is foreign policy.

[11:45:36] ANDERSON: Yeah, absolutely.

All right, Mark. Thank you for that.

As Mark and I have been discussing, today is the third Super Tuesday so far this U.S. election season, and it could be the biggest and potentially most

decisive of all then.

Clinton has the edge over Bernie Sanders in a number of states, but you may remember back when she conceded the Democratic nomination to now President

Barack Obama back in 2008.

The mastermind behind Mr. Obama's winning campaigned then was David Plouffe. So, I decided to find out what his thoughts are on this year's

race. And I got to the interview location in style.


ANDERSON: I have a great interview opportunity that's just come up in Dubai. I'm not going to make it if I drive. Thankfully here we have the

Uber chopper service, so that's how I'm going to do it.

Well, that was certainly a lot easier than trying the road.

Well it clearly helps that my interviewee today is David Plouffe, a member of the board at Uber.

Hello, david.



PLOUFFE: Good to see you.

ANDERSON: We will talk about Uber like we talk about Google these days perhaps. But how do you retain that competitive advantage?

PLOUFFE: We have to continue to innovate. So, now we have car-pooling, that means two or three people can share an Uber. You took an Uber chopper

today. So, there are different ways to innovate to bring the service to more people.

So, I think the key is for us to remain a startup, a gritty underdog.

ANDERSON: What keeps you awake at night about this organization? I can think of a number of things, not the least security. We clearly had some

headliningg stories and they were awful.

Does that worry you?

PLOUFFE: Well, obviously any incident is one too many. But I think one of the reasons people use Uber is they feel very safe. There's a suite of

technology in terms of, you know, every ride is GPS tracked fully, you rate the driver, you rate the rider, you can share your ETA with friends and

family members. We do background checks, obviously, and driving record checks. So, no background check is perfect. And there's going to be

incidents when we do this many trips.

So, yeah, that keeps us up. We're doing everything we can.

There's no doubt that now you can press a button and get a ride. You can press a button and stay at someone's home. Every part of the economy is

going to be affected by this in the next two to three years.

ANDERSON: In a shorter period than that, we have a U.S. election coming up. I hope you don't mind me taking advantage of this ride that we are

doing, to talk a little bit about your background. Because David Plouffe, you were campaign manager for Obama back in 2008.

PLOUFFE: I can't escape Trump even in Dubai.

ANDERSON: That's true.

We're going to be a partisan here. But we'll talk about...

PLOUFFE: Oh, I don't think that's partisan.

ANDERSON: Hillary Clinton has recently compared Bernie Sanders's campaign to her failed bid back in 2008. Do you agree with her?

PLOUFFE: Well, I think she was talking about the fact that she's got a delegate lead, so we have this byzantine process in the U.S. about

delegates that come from primary and caucuses.

She's got an insurmountable lead. She had a setback this week in Michigan primary. But she's got an insurmountable lead.

Yeah, I mean, Bernie Sanders is going to have to win the rest of the contests probably 70 percent to 30 percent. And that's just not going to


So, she's going to be the nominee.

Sanders has run an amazing campaign. I mean, I think it's hard to believe he's done this well but he has. So, I think he's exceeded every

expectation. But she's very strong. I mean, she was strong when we beat her in '08, even stronger now.

ANDERSON: Why is she strong?

PLOUFFE: She has got a lot of loyalty, a lot of support in the Democratic Party. She's strong with African-American voters, Latino voters. So, you

know, she's getting a bigger test from Bernie Sanders than I thought she would, but she's going to be our nominee.

ANDERSON: You were running a campaign in 2016, which you're clearly not because you're a board member at Uber. You've got better things to do.

But if you were running a campagn in 2016, what would you do differently?

PLOUFFE: So, in 2008 with the Obama campaign, you know, the iPhone had just come out. But our campaign was still foundational. It was a website,


Now think about it, the way you reach people it gets more complicated by the day.

So, I think -- here's the -- in politics the lessons I've learned, you have got to be authentic, you've got to know why you're running. You don't poll

for your issues, you decide what you are going to run on. And you've got to inspire people.

So, I think Hillary Clinton's big challenge in the fall will be generating enough enthusiasm and getting enough Democratic turnout.

[11:50:ANDERSON: Particularly if she's running against Donald Trump, because he is what you have just described, isn't he?

PLOUFFE: My suspicion is if Donald Trump is the nominee, he is going to abandon some

of his positions and try move to the center. But he'll do it in a very transparent way. He'll wink and nod and let everybody in on the game.

I think Hillary Clinton should beat Donald Trump by a significant margin. But he's a wild card.

He's the one person even in a world of big data, obviously we build predictive models in politics today, you have a sense of how people are

going to vote, he upsets the entire apple cart. He has disrupted politics.

We've never seen anything like this. The old rules do not apply.

I think we're in the middle of this. So, I don't think we have a full appreciation for how he has

disrupted politics. He's not even running a real campaign.

ANDERSON: So, he's a game changer, right?

PLOUFFE: The question is has the game changed or has it only changed for Donald Trump, because it may be he's the only one who could pull off a

campaign like this.


ANDERSON: David Plouffe speaking to me just earlier this week.

Live from Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World. Coming up, Germans who have welcomed

many refugees from Syria, but they may not realize one of them is a celebrity chef. How she is adapting to her new kitchen and her new life.

That is coming up. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: Well, every refugee who has marched across Europe has a story and a life that they left behind. The story of one Syrian refugee in

Berlin is especially interesting, because she once hosted a popular cooking show. Her kitchen may be different now, but as Atika Shubert found out,

her passion for cooking knows no borders.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A dusting of flour, a splash of oil -- one year ago this is how Malakeh Jazmati was welcomed into

Syrian homes. As the smiling face of Queen of the Kitchen, a Syrian cooking show, whose mission was much more than

a tasty recipe.

"Today when people hear Syria," she told us, "they think only of killing, destruction, bombs, and I'm working to change that."

When people hear Syria, I want them to remember our delicious food, our smiles, and that we are honest, good people. I try to make them forget

about all that death and destruction."

Today Malakeh is a refugee in Berlin. Her husband fled here more than a year ago and she joined him in December. Now she knows the German name of

every herb and vegetable on sale.

"I'm starting back at zero again," she says, "maybe less than zero. But I'm aiming for more than 10," she says.

On the day we visit, Malakeh cooks us a light meal somewhere between lunch and dinner in the

kitchen that she shares with a dozen other residents here.

Mohammed (ph), her husband, is given garlic duty.

UNIDENTIIFIED MALE: The only thing I did before, just the prime takes. So, it's not (ph)

SHUBERT: Oh, I see. So, it's not chopped up.

MALAKEH JAZMATI, CELEBRITY CHEF: You can eat it with rice or with Arabic bread.

SHUBERT: On the menu, malakhiyah (ph) a pungent spinach-like leaf she pan fries with plenty of garlic and coriander, a Damascus specialty; and

betersh (ph), a dish from Hamaa City, roasted aubergine topped with a savory tomato and beef sauce, food from home.

Malakeh's cooking often becomes a community event. Rama (ph), another Syrian who has just moved in and Adrian (ph), a German volunteer living

next door, chop the parsley and coriander.

Malakeh is studying German now and she's already started on a cookbook, small steps to her ultimate goal of a cooking show.

"I think of things differently now," she says. "There is a saying, you can tear down a branch but not the whole tree. Now that I'm living in a shared

house for refugees, I have the benefit of living with people who encourage me and I'm stronger for it," she says.

When we sit down to eat, the table has grown to include an Afghan, two German volunteers,

four Syrians and one very lucky CNN crew.

Outside snow falls and the kitchen is warm. The sound of laughter and cooking, which is exactly how Malakeh, queen of the kitchen, likes it.

Atika Shubert, CNN, Berlin.



And if you want to catch up with anything that we've been reported on tonight, you can of course use CNN's digital platforms. And you can always

follow the stories that the team here is working on throughout the day, use the Facebook page. Lots of stuff there for you.

You can get in touch and tweet me @beckyCNN. That is @BeckyCNN.

Now, before we leave you, a reminder of breaking news this hour. And I want to get you back to these live pictures from Brussels where three

police officers earlier wounded in two different shootouts in a building in the Belgian capital. Now, officials say police were raiding the building

in connection with November's terror attacks in Paris. A witness says thirty shots were fired and the

suspect and to be firing a rifle at police.

More on that coming up on CNN after this very short break.

From us, it is a very good evening. I'm Becky Anderson. That was Connect the World. Thank you for watching.

From the team here, it's a very good evening.