Return to Transcripts main page


Obama Nominates Merrick Garland to Supreme Court; 82 Hospitals Hit Since Russian Intervention in Syria, New Report Says; Trump, Clinton Win Big. New Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired March 16, 2016 - 11:00   ET



[11:30:30] BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Hello and welcome back. I'm Becky Anderson. You're watching Connect the World live from Abu Dhabi.

Merrick Garland has just been nominated to be the next U.S. Supreme Court justice. President Barack Obama saying he could not be prouder of his work

as the chief judge for the U.S. court of appeals for the District of Columbia


The 63-year-old has been on a short list before. His confirmation is anything but a sure thing, though.

In the midst of the U.S. election cycle, senate Republicans have been threatening to block a confirmation hearing. They want the next president,

not Mr. Obama, to pick the next Supreme Court justice. More on that in the days to come.

Well, the announcement and any Republican pushback will no doubt be an issue on the presidential campaign trail where Hillary Clinton and Donald

Trump are celebrating a big night. Trump won at least three of the five states that held primaries on Tuesday and dealt a knockout blow to Marco

Rubio in his home state of Florida.

Clinton took at least four states and may end up with a sweep over Bernie Sanders if the count in Missouri ends up going her way.

Well, the success of Donald Trump, whose only loss on the third installment of Super Tuesday, may end be in Ohio where Governor John Kasich chalked up

his first primary win.

CNN's Sara Murray has more for you.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to win, win, win.

MURRAY: Donald Trump celebrating another big primary night.

TRUMP: I'm having a very nice time. But you know what, I'm working very hard, and there is great anger. Believe me, there is great anger.


MURRAY: The Republican frontrunner racking up victories in three more states, bringing his total now to 18. The race between Trump and Ted Cruz

so tight in Missouri that a winner hasn't yet been declared. Now Cruz is insisting the race is down to him and Trump.

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Only two campaigns have a plausible path to the nomination.

MURRAY: But Ohio Governor John Kasich is still keeping hope alive, clinching his first win of the race in the winner-talk-all state of Ohio.

GOV. JOHN KASICH, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have to thank the people of the great state of Ohio. I love you.


MURRAY: And in Florida Trump putting a nail in the coffin of establishment darling Senator Marco Rubio.

TRUMP: I want to congratulate Marco Rubio on having run a really tough campaign. He's tough, he's smart, and he's got a great future.

MURRAY: Rubio ending his presidential ambitions after a bruising double digit loss to Trump in his home state.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: While it is not god's plan that I be president in 2016 or maybe ever, and while today my campaign is

suspended, the fact that I've even come this far is evidence of how special America truly is.

MURRAY: Now down to a three-man race, Trump continues to call for unity.

TRUMP: We have to bring our party together. We have to bring it together.


MURRAY: While Kasich and Cruz make a pitch to Rubio supporters, both pledging to take this fight all the way to the convention.

CARLSON: To those who supported Marco, who worked so hard, we welcome you with open arms.

KASICH: Thank you from the bottom of my heart. But I want you to know something. We are going to go all the way to Cleveland and secure the

Republican nomination.



ANDERSON: All right, so let's get some context for all of this, shall we. CNN's Jason Carroll joining us out of Miami, Florida.

What went wrong for Marco Rubio firstly?

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORESPONDENT: Well, Becky, that's the question of the day, isn't it? There's so many different schools of thought on that. Some

simply say the first term senator wasn't ready for the position, maybe that's why voters didn't respond to him. Others say those who voted him

into office back in 2010 voted him in on a conservative base, wanted him to uphold those conservative values. Once he got to the senate some say he

didn't do that, especially on the issue of immigration.

Rubio disagrees with all of that. He simply says voters were simply not ready for his positive message and seemed to be responding more to this

populist movement surrounding Donald Trump. And what he calls, in his words, negative campaigning, anger and fear.

ANDERSON: Listen, Obama has described this presidential campaign as divisive and vulgar, Jason, after what was one of the biggest nights to

date, it is interesting to reflect on the latest CNN poll, which shows that most voters don't have much time for either of the likely nominees, Trump

or Clinton at this point.

What does that say about this campaign, do you think?

CARROLL: Well, I think, Becky, it says a couple things that are happening here in the United States. I think what you're seeing is a refusal in some

ways to look at these establishment candidates, like a Hillary Clinton. What you have is a populist movement that's spreading across this country.

On one end of the scale you have people who are responding to people like Donald Trump. On the other end of the scale you have people responding to

folks -- to people like Bernie Sanders.

You have got this populist movement that's emerging here in this country, which seems to not want to have anything to do with the establishment,

whether it be the Rpublican establishment on one side or the Democrats on the other. Perhaps that's some of it. But

there's also a feeling among a number of people, especially when it comes to Trump, that what Trump is doing he's feeding into, according to what

Marco Rubio says, according to what Cruz says, Kasich says, Clinton says and Sanders says, that he's feeding into a lowest common denominator,

feeding into fear, e feeding into prejudices, feeding into fear, feeding in prejudices, feeding into

these types of negative things that seem to occur in societies and for some reason that seems to be

resonating with a certain segment of the population here in the states.

ANDERSON: Jason Carroll in Florida for you this evening. Thank you, sir.

CARROLL: Well, the Kremlin's surprise move in Syria to withdraw Russian forces is being met with cautious optimism. The Arab League called it a,

quote, positive step that will help ongoing peace talks in Geneva.

The United Nations, a host of those talks said it is, and I quote, a significant development.

and in Russia a homecoming as the first pilots arrived from Syria. Crowds gathered to celebrate

with flags, flowers and balloons.

We'll get you an update on what the withdrawal of Russian forces means for the diplomatic

effort to end the conflict in just a few minutes.

ANDERSON: Well, the Russian air force had been bombing Syrian rebels in the northwest of the country in an effort to strengthen their Assad

government in Damacus.

Those the rebels have also been under siege from the Syrian army from ISIS and from Kurdish forces. The war has destroyed vital infrastructure like

hospitals. CNN's Clarissa Ward went undercover deep inside rebel territory where virtually no western journalists have gone for more

than a year. They have worked with a Syrian-based film maker Bilal Abdul Karim (ph) on this exclusive report. And a warning, it contains graphic



CLARISSA WARD, CNN INTERNAITONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is an all-too-common sight in rebel-held parts of Syria, the moments after an airstrike. Dazed

survivors stagger from the rubble. Those still trapped call out for help.

The target this time was the courthouse in Idlib city, activists say the bombs were Russian.

When rebels took this provincial capital of Idlib they saw it as a crucial opportunity to demonstrate that they could build their own state and they

believe that's exactly why the Russians bombed the courthouse, to undermine that effort.

Any civilian infrastructure is a potential target, including hospitals. Last month four were hit in a single day. One, in the city of Maarrat

Numan, was supported by Doctors Without Borders. What remains of it now is ruins, and at least 25 people were killed.

Dr. Mazen al-Souad was the general manager. He says that Russian and regime forces target hospitals cynically and deliberately.

DR. MAZEN AL-SOUAD, GENERAL MANAGER (through translator): They want to kill the maximum number of people. Also they want to forbid the area from

having medical service. If there is no doctor, no nurse, no hospital, then there is no healthcare for the people and people will flee.

WARD: Is it possible that they didn't know the building was a hospital?

AL-SOUAD: Everyone knows this is a hospital. There was even a sign that said this is a hospital. But if they didn't know this is an even bigger

disaster because if you are bombing a building like this without knowing it's a hospital, it means you are hitting totally indiscriminately.

WARD: Against the backdrop of this vicious war, Islamist factions have gained the upper hand, including al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra. The

landscape is peppered with signs shunning Western democracy, and urging all men to join the jihad. And one encourages women to cover up completely.

Dr. Fera al-Jundi works at the only hospital still standing in Maarat Numan. He's no militant, but sees this conflict in black and white.

[11:40:29] FERA AL-JUNDI, DOCTOR (through translator): The whole of the Syrian people is against ISIS and against extremism but we see that the

Russians are bombing far from ISIS and they're focused on civilian areas said.

WARD: I asked him why he doesn't leave Syria?

AL-JUNDI (through translator): If I did that I would abandon my conscience. This is our country, we can't desert it. If we left then we

have sold our morals. Who would treat the people? I can very easily leave, but we will remain steadfast. I am prepared to die rather than to leave.

And I will carry on no matter what.

WARD: Carry on in the faint hope that for the next generation of Syrians it will be better.

Clarissa Ward, CNN, Syria.


ANDERSON; And Clarissa joining me again tonight live from New York.

Let's talk about some of the numbers here, Clarissa. How many hospitals were hit last year? How many kids, for example, were killed?

WARD: Well, Becky, the numbers are actually staggering the more research we did. And we

should add that the Russians have denied ever hitting any civilian targets inside Russia (sic). The regime has consistently denied ever hitting or

targeting any hospitals on the ground. But we went back through a report put out by Doctors Without Borders last year and in just the small rebel-

held area that we were in and some rebel-held areas in and around Damascus, 82 medical

facilities were bombed or damaged in 2015 -- 82. And of that 82, 12 of them were completely destroyed.

And if you look at the graph that they present in this report, you see a massive spike in the numbers in October, that of course shortly after the

Russian intervention began.

And some other horrifying statistics in that report as well. Just in the small northwestern

area, at the rebel-held are of Syria where we were, 462 children killed under the age of 5. In and around Damascus, 1,420 women and children. And

Doctors Without Borders in this report say this is just what they know, this is just based on the infrastructure they have inside the country.

It's likely a fraction of the actual totals, Becky.

ANDERSON: And Clarissa, cynical and deliberate is the accusation about the targeting of

hospitals. Let's not forget that there are schools allegedly targeted as well. This isn't the first time that

we have seen this in a conflict. That doesn't make it any more acceptable, of course.

What sort of psychological impact will this sort of destruction have on those who stay, those you have spoken to, those who say, those who think

about their future in Syria?

WARD: I think, Becky, it's impossible to overstate the level of trauma that you're talking about here. We saw one school in Aleppo that have been

bombed. We could see the twisted wreckage of children's desks. And I interviewed one woman in the city of Marit No Man (ph) and she had her

beautiful 6-year-old daughter standing beside her. She was a very shy young girl. And she said to me, I struggle every day with the decision of

whether or not to send my daughter to school because on the one hand I, of course, I want her to be educated, but on the other hand I know that every

time she goes out that door and goes to a school, there is a very real possibility that she will not come back alive.

And I think for those of us in the west it is almost impossible to really get our heads around the

enormous affect that that kind of stress and that kind of violence and that kind of trauma has on people.

ANDERSON: The Arab League has called the Russian withdrawal of air force planes, troops, whatever you want to call it, a positive step that will

help ongoing peace talks in Geneva, those ongoing this week of course.

The United Nations, the host of those talks has said it is a, quote, significant development. You have been in touch with those who have

featured in the reports that we are showing this week, and they have been the most remarkable reports.

Clarissa, what do they say about the withdrawal of Russian troops, about the ongoing peace talks in Geneva as they struggle with daily life?

[11:45:17] WARD: Well, I think with regards to the peace talks specifically, I was quite surprised by how dismissive they are of these

peace talks. They don't feel they are being represented, that their needs are being represented. They feel that as long as any conversation or any

negotiation that is ongoing does not explicitly call for the immediate removal of President Bashar al Assad. Essentially they feel that those

types of talks or negotiations are really redundant.

Now, on the subject of the Russian withdrawal, there's a mixture of emotions. Of course, people on the ground, and particularly those who have

been subjected to the relentless bombardment that the Russian intervention has brought with it, of course they welcome

any respite in this relentless bombardment. They welcome the withdrawal.

But They are also extremely skeptical in the same way that they are skeptical about the cease-fire. They are constantly asking is this a ruse?

Is this a way for the regime to take more territory while we're not expecting it? Is this a complete withdrawal? Will the bombardment really


So, you know, you mentioned before, you used the term cautious optimism, it's become a cliche in many ways, but in this case I think that's exactly

what you're seeing on the ground.

People desperately want to believe the situation will get better and can get better, but at the same time they look at what's happening in Geneva

and they don't feel that their interests are really being represented there, Becky.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. All right, Clarissa, thank you.

And we are going to have a lot more of Clarissa's reporting on Thursday with an exclusive look at the dangers aid workers face in war-torn Syria

and the daily struggle to get much-needed aid into cities like Aleppo.

Have a look at this.


WARD: Four airstrikes have hit. Sharif runs into the wreckage to see what's needed.

SHARIF: This was a house right here. Look, it's all houses.

Everybody out. Let's go. Let's go.

A tactic that they use is when ambulances turn up, they'll hit the same place again. So, we're just going to try and get to a safer place.


ANDERSON: It's all part of our exclusive coverage "Inside Syria: Behind Rebel Lines," only on CNN.

Well, to the diplomatic efforts then to end the war in Syria. Talks in Geneva, as I said, have renewed sense of urgency after Russia's decision to

remove its forces. CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is there following the talks and he filed this report for you.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This was the second meeting between the UN special envoy and the Syrian government delegation.

They talked about procedural issues again. They wanted to make sure that the HNC, the opposition who they appear to feel doesn't fully represent

Syrians, they went back to the UN Security Council resolution, said the Un Security Council resolution calls for a broad spectrum of Syrian people to

be involved inthe talks. There seems to be an effort from the Syrian government delegation to bring other people into the negotiation. The UN

special envoy not giving ground on that, at least not publicly.

But I did ask the question of the Syrian government delegation what about the Russian troop

drawdown, does that change the red line that the Syrian foreign minister talked about at the weekend that that there will be no debate on the

removal of President Bashar al Assad? This is how he responded.

WALID MUALLEM, SYRIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: The Russian decision to withdrawal partially from Syria was taken jointly by a common decision, taken both by

President Putin and President Assad. So, it wasn't a surprise for us, it was a coordinated, joint political decision taken by Moscow and Damascus


Our friends and allies, the Russians, came to Syria by a joint decision and the day they would leave or withdraw or redeploy their forces partially or

totally it will be done again and again and again through a joint Syrian- Russian coordination action

ROBERTSON: Interestingly there, he didn't mention President Bashar al- Assad so he didn't rule him in and didn't rule him out, not indicating that red line mentioned where the foreign minister is gone or is still in place,

but significant that he didn't address that question. He was also asked would he talk face to face with the High Negotiating Committee, the

opposition delegation. He said that their lead negotiator was a terrorist responsible for killings and that the Syrian government wouldn't sit down

face to face with a terrorist.

He said unless that person apologized and shaved.

It wasn't clear if he meant that as an insult. But it does highlight the big gaps that remain and the difficulties that lie ahead.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Geneva, Switzerland.


[11:50:19] ANDERSON: Right, this is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson live from

Abu Dhabi. Coming up, some of the world's largest oil producers stay in line, one big country in the Middle East is standing firmly outside the

pack. We will explain, coming up. Taking a short break. Back after this.


ANDERSON: Welcome back. This is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. You are out of Abu Dhabi this evening.

If you're having some relationship troubles, well, it's always better to talk. It's what we're told at least. And that is what we are seeing now

after some of the world's largest oil producers have finally agreed to get together and try to work out their problems.

Now, the announcement pushing brent crude upward to just over $40 on the barrel. CNN Noney's John Defterios explains.


JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN MONEY: They were hoping to have their follow up meeting next week in Moscow. But OPEC and non-OPEC members will take

another month to see each other face to face. A Gulf source telling CNN Money, a full line up of participants has not been set yet, but in a

statement, host country Qatar said that around 15 OPEC and non-OPEC producers are supporting the effort to freeze production.

Four major players, led by the world's two biggest exporters Saudi Arabia and Russia met in February. They agreed in principle to freeze output at

January levels, but the latest oil market data revealed that both Russia and Saudi Arabia ramped up their production in February.

Crude prices have snapped back from their 12-year lows of just over $27 a barrel on hope that

cooperation will help rebalance the market.

The international energy agency expects about 600,000 barrels a day of higher cost production to be cut his year and the U.S. oil and gas count

fell to a 70-year low.

Despite this attempt at unity, one high profile player, Iran will remain outside the pack. Oil minister Bijan Zangane (ph) is holding to his

position that he wants to boost production to 4 million barrels a day this year following years of intense sanctions. So far his

stance is not derailing a deal, but we won't know for sure until they all sit down next month.

John Defterios, CNN, Abu Dhabi.


ANDERSON: Well, coming up just before we leave you this evening, I want to get you a maritime mystery being solved. Experts make the link between a

shipwreck and a famous explorer. Stay tuned for that.


[11:56:03] ANDERSON: Right. Tonight's parting shots for you I want to update you on what has been a maritime mystery for 18 years.

Archaeologists working a shipwreck site off the coast Oman say the underwater remains that they have been studying are famous indeed and

belong to one of Vasco Da Gama's ships from the early 16th Century. Have a look at this.

Absolutely remarkable. And you can always follow the stories that the team is working on throughout the day by using our Facebook page where you can

find stories that and this one, the human stories of the Syrian civil war plus some more uplifting stories. All of that is at I promise you there are some lovely uplifting stories there.

And you can tweet me @beckycnn. That's @Beckycnn.

That's it from us from the team here and those working with us around the world. It's a very good evening.