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Controversial Comments Lands Philippines Presidential Candidate in Hot Water; New York Votes; Controversial Bill Puts Strain on President Obama's Trip to Saudi Arabia; Aid Workers Frustrated Over Slow Delivery to Ecuador's Needy; President Dilma Rousseff Fights Back; Death Toll Over 400 In Ecuador. Aired 11:00a-12:00p ET

Aired April 19, 2016 - 11:00:00   ET


[11:00:15] BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Under pressure but defiant. Brazil's Dilma Rousseff takes to the airwaves to defend herself against the

critics. This hour, how the political scandal facing the president there might overshadow the Rio

Olympics just months away.

Also ahead tonight...


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A schism that grew to rupture with the U.S.-Iranian nuclear deal. The Saudis were furious.


ANDERSON: Testing times for old friends. U.S. President Barack Obama heads to Saudi Arabia amid fury over a controversial 9/11 bill. We're live

in the Saudi capital of Riyadh for you.

And hoping to take a bite out of the Big Apple delegates, how the battle for new York could shape the race for the White House.

Well, from our programming hub here in the Middle East at just after 7:00 in the evening, you're watching Connect the Word with me, Becky


Well, the Summer Olympics in Rio are just months away, as you know, and there's growing concern Brazil's political crisis could affect planning

for the games.

Now embattled President Dilma Rousseff spoke just moments ago from the capital Brasilia. And she says she's the victim of a coup and has done

nothing to warrant impeachment.

Well, meanwhile, Brazil's government is essentially on hold while the senate decides if it accepts the impeachment vote in the lower house.

Our Latin American affairs editor Rafael Romo joining me now with more.

A country, Rafael, rocked by political turmoil, a president who says she's essentially facing a coup. What does this mean for things going

forward for the country, particularly for the Rio Olympics?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, if you ask the International Olympics

Committee, they had say that the Olympic Games are going to go on as scheduled and that the political crisis currently playing out in Brazil is

not going to have any effect, the same thing is being said by the local Olympics committee, saying about 98 percent of the venues are completely

finished and that the venues are in good shape, some problems with transportation.

But at this hour, we're hearing from the president herself. She has been speaking with international press in Brasilia trying to explain the


I have been listening to the speech and among the things that she has said, Becky is for example, impeachment, she said, has been an instrument

against elected presidents in Brazil. She was making the point that some of her predecessor, including Luiz Inancio Lula da Sila and also Fernando

Henrique Cardoso, they were impeached under similar circumstances and she also said the opposition started a process with the goal of destabilizing

the country, essentially blaming the opposition for the situation she is in right now

However, she's facing very serious accusations. She's being accused of breaking budgetary laws in order to cover shortfalls in the government's

deficit, especially when it comes to the popular programs to help people to extend welfare to the people.

So at this hour she's defending herself. This speech is meant for the international community. Last night she spoke to the national audience,

saying again that she's innocent and saying I will fight like I have always done in my life. So very defiant, Becky, and still vowing to go on.

ANDERSON: The jury's out, of course, on what will happen next and whether this will have an effect on the Olympics.

All right, thank you for that.

Let's -- before we move on from this story, just take a look at this man

Fernando Collor de Mello. He was the last Brazilian president to face impeachment proceedings in 1992. He resigned, though before the trial

started. Collor de Mello was later convicted of corruption and barred from holding office for eight years.

But in an ironic twist, he became a Senator. And he will be participating in the impeachment proceedings against President Rousseff.

The twists and turns of politics.

Well, U.S. President Barack Obama leaves for Saudi Arabia today. And when he steps off the plane, he could be stepping into a diplomatic storm.

Saudi Arabia is furious over a proposal in the U.S. congress that could expose the kingdom to lawsuits related to the September 11th attacks.

Well, the Saudi government denies any connection to 9/11 and is threatening to retaliate economically if that bill passes.

Mr. Obama himself opposes the legislation.


OBAMA: This is not just a bilateral U.S.-Saudi issue, this is a matter of how generally the United States approaches our interactions with

other countries. If we open up the possibility that individuals in the United States can routinely start suing other governments, then we are also

opening up the United States to being continually sued by individuals in other countries.


ANDERSON: Well, CNN's Nic Robertson is in Riyadh tonight with much more on this story. I'm going to get to him live later in the show.

First, Nic gives us this background on what is the often tense relations between two important, strategic allies.



OBAMA: I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): 2009, and just in office, President Obama came to Egypt.

OBAMA: We meet at a time of great tension between the United States and Muslims around the world.

ROBERTSON: Talks of reshaping U.S. relations with Middle East nations.


ROBERTSON: The crowds loved him. Less than two years later --


ROBERTSON: ...the same city, his host, President Mubarak, overthrown in the Arab Spring uprising. How Obama responded to the fall of his allies,

set the tone of his relationship with the region next.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It wasn't so much how they failed but how the U.S. went by it. That's really the beginning of this schism.

ROBERTSON: A schism that crew to rupture, with the U.S./Iranian nuclear deal. The Saudis were furious.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They believe that Barack Obama sold him at the altar of Iran, their arch enemy.

ROBERTSON: In response, Saudi Arabia has ramped up its armed forces...



ROBERTSON: ...overtaking Russia, to become the world's third-largest defense and security spender. And last year, formed a 34-nation Sunni

Muslim coalition to follow Saudis' lead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a result of the mistrust of Barack Obama, the Saudis have a more muscular foreign policy. On the attack in Yemen and

other places. And they're trying to counterbalance Iran in the region. The Americans have lost control.

ROBERTSON: Where they needed control the most, solving Syria. Saudi's new king is a very impatient ally. He wants Assad gone now. And Iran's

influence removed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is going to change if there's a new president that is more amenable to Saudi interest? I don't think so. The ship has


ROBERTSON: But for all the strains, both sides need each other. Saudi Arabia needs weapons. Obama wants regional stability. This time in Riyadh

will not be about divorce but easing the estrangement.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


ANDERSON: Well, some of the other stories in our radar right now. And U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with his Iranian

counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif in New York today. Now, they will discuss implementation of the Iran nuclear deal as well as the civil war in

Syria, among other regional issues.

French President Francois Hollande visited Jordan on the last leg of his Middle East tour in the capital Amman. He met with King Abdullah. On

the agenda, the fight against ISIS and the war in Syria.

Hollande expressed concern over the suspension of Syrian peace talks in Geneva.

Well, it appeared like an apology for comments that outraged much of the

Philippines, but presidential candidate Rodrigro Duterte is now distancing himself from a statement issued by his party. The back and forth comes

after days of defending his controversial remarks about a 1989 gang rape.

During a rally, Duterte apparently was making a joke and commented on the

attractiveness of the victim.

Chief correspondent for CNN Philippines gave us this update.


PIA HONTIVERES, CNN PHILIPPINES CHIEF CORRESPONENT: That's Rodrigo Duterte for you. He himself admits that he sometimes cannot control what

he says, and he says the most colorful things.

And there's the issue of an apology. After one whole day of hemming and hawing about making an apology for his rape remarks, of saying he would

apologize to the Filipino people, but not to those who demanded an apology from him, Rodrigo Duterte now disowning a statement that his own political

party put out for him.


[11:10:14] ANDERSON: Well, a powerful bomb ripped through the heart of the Afghan capital killing as many as 30 people earlier, more than 300

are wounded. The Taliban have claimed responsibility. A security team that protects government officials was targeted.

Well journalist Sune Engel Rasmussen joins us now live via Skype from Kabul with the very latest. What are the details of exactly what happened?

SUNE ENGEL RASMUSSEN, JOURNALIST: Well, at around 9:00 in the morning local time, a truck loaded with explosives drove up to the gate of the

security base that you mentioned in the intro and detonated.

After that, gunmen stormed the base and shot (inaudible) and then got into a gun battle with security forces.

We don't know exactly what happened inside the bases, sort of a glaring omission from the reports coming from the authorities. But we do

know what happened outside. As you said, 28 or 30 people were killed and several hundred wounded. Those casualty numbers can go up, especially the

death toll as the night wears on here.

I've spoken to several people at hospitals to say there are civilians among the patients.

ANDERSON: The Taliban earlier this week announcing the beginning of their summer offensive or their latest offensive, the 15th year in a row.

Just how insecure do you feel things are both in Kabul and around the country at this point?

RASMUSSEN: Well, generally the Taliban have been growing stronger, at least bolder since the withdrawal of foreign troops a year and a half ago.

And there are still foreign troops in Afghanistan. There are still some who are engaged in a counterterrrorism mission, but in general foreign

troops have withdrawn from the battlefields.

That's given the Taliban an opportunity to try and take some territory, which they've done to some degree of success over the past year

or so. How strong they will be in the long-term still remains to be seen.

I think attacks like the one we saw today in Kabul, it's important remember that they are very difficult to prevent as long as we're dealing

with an insurgency of the size of the Taliban. We're talking maybe, 40,000, 50,000, 60,000 fighters that they can mobilize if they have to.

And they have a lot of money. And they have manpower and then people willing to carry out these attacks.

There are security checkpoints and so forth in place of course in the capital and the attack today happened where we refer to as the ring of

steel, but that doesn't mean you can't, for example, bribe your way with a truck full of explosives through these checkpoints.

So, that's still a concern. How strong the Taliban are long-term. I think we'll have to wait and see. But they're definitely on the front


ANDERSON: Your correspondent in Kabul this evening. Thank you.

think our correspondent in Kabul this evening. Thank you.

Well, as the race for the White House rolls into New York, we are live there. Up next, a look at how the leading candidates are holding up. That

is next.

Plus, we'll look at the bigger impact the race is having on ordinary American Muslims.

And in Ecuador, the search for survivors continues as rescue workers race against the clock. A live report from the earthquake zone is coming

up. Take a very short break. Back after this.


[11:15:50] ANDERSON: You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World with

me, Becky Anderson. Welcome back. At 15 minutes past 7 here.

15 minutes past 11 in New York, which is in the spotlight in the race for the White House.

The voters are heading to the polls to choose a nominee for president. Now, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton hoping to score

decisive victories in what is the Empire State.

Clinton has to Shake Bernie Sanders in New York to prove that she can unite the party, while Trump has to win big to clinch the Republican

nomination before the convention this summer. He has escalated his harsh criticism of the party and the nominating process itself as his rival, Ted

Cruz, gains ground. And then there's John Kasich, who is still in the race.

Miguel Marquez joins me now from a polling station in Lancaster, that is in upstate New York just east of Buffalo -- Miguel.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENt: The second largest city in New York. and New York is so important to this election, because for the first

time in about 40 years, about 40 years, New York actually matters to both parties for the

presidential primary. That hasn't happened in a long time.

Also, three New Yorkers -- Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump all running in this election, so very, very high interest and high

turnout here.

We're in Lancaster, which is a very busy polling station. We've seen a steady stream of folks come in here, checking in all day and then they go

and check in with their voting district there, and then they vote at these little privacy folders right here. And then they run their votes through a

machine so that they get counted.

Voting officials telling me here that they have already seen about 15 percent of the overall number of people eligible to vote voting. They

expect that to be a very high number of voters by the end of the day. Usually they get about 35 percent. They expect they will see upwards of 50

percent. Tthey have printed out extra ballots here, because they expect that here in Eerie County, it is going to get very, very busy -- Becky.

ANDERSON: We're three months out from the end of this phase of the campaign, of course, with the conventions for both parties in July. How

are things stacking up at this point?

MARQUEZ: Well, they're very close. Obviously, Hillary Clinton is up in the pledged delegates by about 200. But if you factor in the super

delegates, those that can just be named essentially, she is much father ahead. Donald Trump is up in pledged delegates on his side.

Both of those candidates, those front-runners, want to seal their advantage in places like New York, then they move on to Pennsylvania, other

east coast states like Maryland and then into California later on.

Huge, huge hauls there of delegates that they can get.

Keep in mind not all of these states are winner take all. In New York on both the Democrat and the Republican side, they apportion them by how

they win. If you win over 50 percent of the entire state, then you win a certain number of delegates. If you win just a simple majority in your

congressional district, then you win a different proportion.

So, they have to win in each voting district and statewide at the same time in order to really rack up those delegates. That's why they want to

win across state, really run the table basically -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Big, big night in New York for everybody. All right, thank you for that.

Well, there has been, hasn't there, a lot of inflammatory rhetoric thrown around the U.S. election season, some of it towards Muslims. And

that could be contributing to what some say is a wider sense of Islamophobia.

Take this example, imagine sitting in your seat on a plane calling your family before you take off. Then moments later being hauled off and

questioned by the FBI.

Well, that is exactly what happened to Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, certainly it's what's claims to have happened to this man.

You can see him wearing glasses there. He says another passenger felt scared after she heard him speaking in Arabic while plane was still on the

tarmac. Makhzoomi was then taken off the plane, questioned and then let go.

Well, joining me now from New York to discuss all of this is Dean Obeidalah. He is a comedian and a contributor at The Daily Beast.

Dean, as-salamu alaykum.

DEAN OBEIDALAH, COMEDIAN: Alaykum as-salam. How are you, Becky.

ANDERSON: And you say? We've just exchanged, and I'm very well -- I'm very well -- we've just exchanged a very common greeting here in the

Middle East. Easily like just saying hey. Yet the environment now seems charged enough, and frankly it seems it's been that way for a while, that

you could raise a few high brows even as just exchanging that greeting, for example. Just using Arabic.

What's your take on all of this? Dangerous, inflated trend or an unfortunate and isolated incident?

OBEIDALAH: No, I think it's part of a bigger trend, frankly. And I think that we've seen other muslim families thrown off a plane a couple

weeks ago, because some people concerned. They were moving around with their baby seat. And they told a flight attendant who told a captain. He

comes out. He goes, you have to leave the plane now. It's my decision.

And I think on some level, that emboldens more people to say, hey, I don't like Muslims. I don't want them on the same plane as me, and pilots

are listening to one person, or two people on a plane saying I don't like this Muslim person near me, and they're being thrown off the plane.

But that's really a symptom of a bigger problem, and Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, as you noted earlier, these Republican-leading candidates have

demonized Muslims, or at least made people more fearful of Muslims, and it makes

people frightened. And the result is you see what's going on. Thrown off a plane for saying in Charlotte, the guy said in Charlotte, which is god

willing, which Muslims say all the time.

I was on a flight in the Middle East, the pilot said we're going to Cairo (inaudible). That would have -- he would had to be escorted off the

plane if he was Southwest Airlines.

So, that's -- it's a difficult challenging time.

ANDERSON: All right, yeah. Why does it seem so easy to get Muslims thrown off a plane? It doesn't make sense.

OBEIDALAH: I think -- because I think the captains of the plane want to have no chance of anything bad happening and god forbid something did

happen bad, oh, look, we didn't throw that person off the plane.

You know, statistically in America, frankly, since 9/11 on U.S. soil more

Americans have been killed by right-wing terrorists or those animated by anti-government motives than being Muslim. But you don't hear about right-

wing people being thrown off a plane that -- the reality is that the politicians add it up, they ginned up the fear and this is the result.

ANDERSON: Yeah. All right. Look, a few months ago Republican front- runner Donald Trump called for Muslims to be banned from entering the U.S. Let's remind ourselves exactly how he went about saying this.


DONALD TRUMP, 2016 REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of muslims entering the United



ANDERSON: And one of Trump's rivals in the Republican race, Ted Cruz, had this message last month saying, and I quote, "we need to empower law

enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized."

Sir, in a day and age where the threat of Islamic terrorism looms large, are ordinary Muslims easy targets?

OBEIDALAH: Very much so.

We're only 1 percent to 2 percent of the country. We're an easy group to demonize and to bully.

Thankfully, we have allies outside of our community standing with us, but still, Donald Trump wants to ban Muslims here. Meanwhile, he has

business interests with numerous Muslims, including in Dubai. And when he's there, and I've written about it from The Daily Beast, he loves

Muslims. We're the greatest people in the world when he's making money with us. But in America he demonizes us to get votes here, very

conservative Republican base.

Ted Cruz, now his new adviser, national security adviser is a man named Frank Gaffney, one of the nations most -- biggest anti-Muslim bigots

out there. And Ted Cruz has hired the guy to give him advice.

So sadly, it doesn't matter if it's Trump or Cruz on the Republican side, going through November we'll probably here more and more anti-Muslim

or at least fear mongering about Muslims by the two leading Republican candidates,

regardless who is the nominee.

ANDERSON: I want to go back to the way we started this conversation, alluding to Southwest Airlines. They gave CNN a response to this incident

and they said, and I quote, "we wouldn't remove a passenger from a flight without a

corroborative decision rooted in established procedures," they said. "Southwest neither condones nor tolerates discrimination of any kind. Our

company could not survive if we believed otherwise."

What's your response to that statement?

OBEIDALAH: Well, it's a nice statement. I'd like to know what the corroborative process was other than, hey, there's a guy who is brown here

saying words in Arabic and it's scaring me. Throw him off the plane.

You know, that's outrageous when you really think about it, when it comes down to it.

People are afraid, but I think people in positions of power, like pilots or flight attendants, have to be there on the front lines fighting

against bigotry.

If someone is really saying something alarming, regardless of their heritage, their background, the way they look, yes, escort them off a

plane. But just because you're saying the guy looks Muslim and he said a Muslim word like ensharlan (ph). I want him off my flight. That's wrong.

It's no different than saying I like black people, I don't want a black person on my flight, because I'm afraid he might commit a crime.

It's just as ridiculously, outrageous and morally wrong.

[11:25:39] ANDERSON: I want to finally play chicken and egg on this, which came first, the chicken or the egg. Is this about Donald Trump and

others and how they feel, or is this about how they believe they are simply reflecting the will

and the thought of many of their supporters when it comes to Muslims in America?

OBEIDALAH: That's a great question. That's a debate we've had internally a great deal here in the States.

To me it doesn't matter if Donald Trump is playing on anti-Muslim bigotry or himself as an anti-Muslim bigot. He's still just as guilty,

just as responsible.

But his supporters, he didn't make them 70 percent of them support the idea of banning Muslims, they were already there. Donald Trump just

emboldened them to say, hey, this is an OK thing to say.

You know, on some level the silver lining is here, perhaps we can connect with our fellow Americans who have concerns about Muslims and try

to address their concerns and tell them, look, we're fellow Americans. We're in this together.

But Donald Trump to me is truly playing from the bottom of the deck and will say anything to get elected and he's a scary, alarming figure in

this country.

ANDERSON; Dean, pleasure having you on. Come back. Let's talk. This campaign goes on for some time. Thank you.

ANDERSON: Well, the man who was kicked off the Southwest plane spoke to CNN

on Monday and told us how he went from asking the United Nations secretary- general a question to the next day being stopped from going home. For his full story in his own words, use You know where to find that.

The latest news world headlines are just ahead.

Plus, Israeli police investigate an explosion aboard a bus that wounded nearly two dozen people. We are live for you in Jerusalem. Back

after this.


[11:30:56] ANDERSON: Well, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls an explosion aboard a bus in Jerusalem a, quote, terrorist attack.

But police are being more cautious and would only call the explosion a deliberate attack.

Now, an explosive device went off inside a city bus on Monday wounding at least 21 people.

Details are hard to come by as a court has now imposed a gag order on the investigation.

Oren Liebermann joining us now from Jerusalem with more. Oren, what do you have?

OREN LIBERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the latest from police, and I spoke with Israeli police spokesman Nicky Rosenfeld (ph)

this morning is that all of their suspicions point toward a terrorist attack. And yet they're still a half step short of making that conclusion.

As you noted, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu as well as foreign leaders -- for example, the Canadian prime minister and even Bernie Sanders

have condemned the attack calling it a terror attack, but again, police just a half step short there.

What they're looking at at this point, and this is where the investigation is going, is to find out how a bomb got on an Israeli city

bus and, more importantly, who put it there. w We've seen Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups praising the attack and saluting the attack, but no one has yet claimed responsibility.

That at this point remains the big question. As you pointed out, Becky, details at this point are hard to come by because of a gag order put

on the investigation.

ANDERSON: Before we let you go, another conviction in the brutal murder

of a Palestinian teenager, this time the ring leader of the attack. Just explain where we are, what the case was and what happens next.

LIEBERMANN: Well, this case has been a long time in coming. This is going back to July of 2014 and the murder of a Palestinian teenager

Mohammed Abu Khdeir. There were three people, according to the courts involved in that attack, of them were minors. And they are convicted

towards the end of that last year.

But Yosef Haim Ben David, 30-years-old, ring leader, the planner here, had not yet been convicted. We expected that conviction late last year,

but at the last moment his lawyer put in an insanity defense and it took the courts a few months to first consider the defense and then reject it.

So, that's where we stand today.

The conviction has come down against the ringleader here, the plotter in the kidnapping and brutal murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir. Now we're

waiting on the sentencing.

Becky, based on the fact that one of the minors received a life sentence, the other received 21 years, it seems likely that Yosef Haim Ben

David, the planner of this attack, could also get a life sentence.

ANDERSON: Oren Libermann is in Jerusalem for you. Oren, always a pleasure. Thank you.

Well, the death toll from the 7.8 earthquake that struck Ecuador has risen to over 400, 413 to be precisely. The death toll from the earthquake

that struck Ecuador, as I say,has risen. Thousands of rescue workers are racing against the clock to find survivors. And other countries are

sending help.

Joining us now is CNN's Boris Sanchez. And Boris, you are just, as I understand it, a few hundred kilometers from the epicenter. Describe the

scene, if you will.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, right now we're actually at a relief center where aid is being prepared to be shipped out

to some of the hardest hit areas. This is typically a convention center where concerts are held, but right now as you can see behind me, there are

hundreds of gallons of water and hundreds of volunteers hoping to prepare these packages to be sent to these coastal cities that were rocked by that

7.8 magnitude earthquake.

What I can tell you, though, there's a sense from these volunteers they are getting frustrated. Part of the reason why is because they say

the trucks that are coming here to pick up these resources to send them to where they're most needed are taking too long. They've been waiting for

one since about waiting 1:00 a.m.. It around shortly after 10:00 today. And it's being filled right now, but they're feeling like a lot of this

work, a lot of these care packages may not get to who needs it most.

There were also some arguments that we heard inside about who should be given these resources.

This echoes what we heard from people in the Manavi Province, the epicenter of where this earthquake hit on Saturday evening.

People there gathered together actually to tell us that they needed help. A mother told us that she needed water and food for her kids. She

also told us that she was upset because firefighters and military crews kept passing by her neighborhood without even stopping to ask how they were


This is an area where a lot of people are homeless right now, homes have been devastated, essentially demolished and also people are opting to

sleep out on the street because they fear that their homes are structurally unsound.

So there's a lot of frustration mounting. They're hoping that these resources will eventually get to where they need to be and they can close

the gap and allocate the food, and water, and clothes and mattresses and even coffins for the deceased that are so badly needed right now.

ANDERSON; And Boris, as you've been talking, we've been watching some of the

emergency services and certainly those who have Search on the back of their jackets, suggesting this is still a search and rescue operation.

How long does that go on?

SANCHEZ: Frankly, as long as possible. As long as there is hope that people may still be alive under the rubble.

Just today four people in the Manavi province (ph) were rescued out of a building that had collapsed. Yesterday, there was a 35-year-old man who

had been on a cell phone with his mom underneath the rubble, letting her know that he was still alive.

The day before that there was a 7-year-old girl rescued. Sadly, though, as each hour passes, we get closer and closer to a recovery effort

instead of a search and rescue effort. Searchers I should say are holding out hope that there are people still out there alive underneath the rubble.

ANDERSON: Boris, thank you.

We return now to one of our top stories, tensions between Saudi Arabia and the U.S. ahead of President Obama's visit to Riyadh.

Let's talk more about the political and economic impact of what is this diplomatic storm between the U.S. and Saudi. CNN Money's emerging

markets editor John Defterios is with me this evening.

We also have CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson in Riyadh.

And Nic, let me start with you, how would you describe the atmosphere there from the perspective of the Saudis ahead of this trip?

ROBERTSON: Well, even aside from this current issue of the 28 pages, the 9/11commissioned report, the tensions over Saudi threatening to

withdraw massive amounts of investment from the United States, it's already a very, very difficult atmosphere. Saudi Arabia no

longer believes that the United States under President Obama is a reliable ally. It came to this conclusion during the Arab Spring.

Subsequently, it has massively built up its own security and defenses. Now the world's third

largest defense and security spender. And on top of that, following the sort of -- and parallel, if you will, with the U.S. and the west going into

a nuclear deal with Iran, Saudi Arabia has formed a 34-nation Sunni coalition alliance to sort of further its interests in the region.

So Saudi Arabia has emerged during this period of President Obama's administration as a much more powerful player in the region and a much more

forceful one under the new king, King Salman.

So it's into this environment President Obama is coming. He is looking to improve the regional security, regional stability, but also keep

these allies here in the Gulf, he referred to them in 2002 as so-called allies, which infuriated them also, but he wants to keep them on board in

tackling ISIS and they want a missile defense shield against what they see is a growing ballistic missile threat coming from Iran.

So, it's a very tense and difficult political diplomatic environment that he's coming into.

ANDERSON: Stay with us, Nic.

John, messy atmosphere, then, that he walks into in Riyadh. There's been quite a lot of talk about Saudi Arabia selling U.S. assets that it

owns if this bill in congress were to pass.

Should this be taken as a serious threat by Riyadh?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN MONEY: Well, it's interesting, Becky, because from the outside one would say this is a war of words, or perhaps an idle

threat from Saudi Arabia. But I spoke with one who is very familiar with the asset plan that Saudi Arabia has. And he suggested if indeed this bill

did pass U.S. congress, they would proceed to sell assets then in the United States. It's not a bluff.

So, we're looking at assets here, some $584 billion, this is the central bank foreign assets. You know they make their money from oil so a

lot of that is in U.S. dollars, but we don't have the exact breakdown intentionally by the central bank because they don't want to show where

their assets are.

One suggested today they don't want to reveal more information, because they don't want to spark an asset freeze by the U.S. Treasury. You

could have pressure from the U.S. congress suggesting they're going to retaliate against us, let's freeze those assets. But it's fair to say

their bond holdings, dollar holdings, and outside the central bank assets in real estate as well.

So, very sensitive assets in the United States.

[11:40:19] ANDERSON: Fascinating times.

And the back drop, of course, one cannot ignore the pressure from falling oil prices as well.

What is the plan of the deputy crown prince who is effectively running things these days in Saudi, let's admit, to address that challenge at this

critical juncture? You've forgotten more about OPEC and the oil industry than I will ever know over the past couple of months I think? What's going

on here?

DEFTERIOS: Well, it's terrific you brought it up. Because Mohammad bin Salman, as you suggested, runs the supreme economic council of Saudi

Arabia, and the Supreme Petroleum Council. And he flexed his muscle in Doha over the weekend, even though he wasn't there.

They came into this oil crisis, Becky, in phenomenal shape, some $720 billion. But they're

burning cash at a very fast rate, $140 billion over the last year, partly because of the drop in oil, partly because of the high spending. Nic

talked about the defense spending. They are the highest spender in terms of per capita GDP on defense at 25 percent and that deputy crown

prince ratcheted it up because the of war in Yemen.

He has a master plan that you and I have talked about, the national transformation plan that's going to come out here are the highlights here.

This is quite radical. Sell 5 percent of Saudi Aramco, and with that money he wants to create a $2 trillion sovereign fund by being not a passive

investor in U.S. Treasuries and currencies, but a very aggressive investor.

Now, the third point that's important here, he wants to create 1.3 million jobs over the next five

years. Why? Youth unemployment of 25 percent.

Now, the outside rating agencies, like Fitch, are suggesting this is very difficult. Perhaps it's like a CEO, a young CEO, running very

aggressively out of the starting blocks. Fitch is suggesting does he have the political support or the public support at home in which to do so.

ANDERSON: Well, that's going to be fascinating. And that will come out in the wash going forward.

Nic, so John's sources tell him this is no idle threat when they say - - when the Saudis talk about selling off half a billion dollars worth of assets. Half a billion...

DEFTERIOS: Half a trillion dollars.

ANDERSON: Exactly. Hang on. I got my zeroes right. I was just looking at John going -- half a trillion dollars in U.S. assets. This is

no idle threat.

Others Saudis looking beyond this administration already, beyond Obama. This is an idle

threat -- no idle threat, sorry, to a new president, one assumes going forward, correct?

ROBERTSON: You know, for the Saudis for their part have really written off President

Obama. In 2002, he made a speech in Chicago before he was president, he called Saudi Arabia a

so-called ally. He came to office saying that he was going to pivot towards Asia. The UnSted states has become independent in terms of oil

production and doesn't need the oil it used to need from Saudi Arabia.

2011 the Arab Spring, the government here looked at the way the united states handled that and said, look, you're not looking after your allies.

They were worried and troubled by it. They increased their defense and security spending realizing they were going to stand alone.

But it's really the Iran issue that has tipped the scales and poisoned the water to a greater degree here. There's a real feeling that as

President Obama says I need to get a nuclear deal with Iran. It's far better looking forward into the future, he's also looking to sort of move

on, if you will, from the Middle East and really address the issues of China and Asia that he sees as sort of being the bigger issues in the

future. But for Saudi Arabia, the way that they see that Iran has been enabled through this deal to make more money, to sell their oil, to be back

in the world markets, threatens their market share, they see that Iran has an expanding influence in Iraq to the north and Yemen to the south, they

see Iran, if you will, hiding behind every nook and cranny everything that is bad. They feel that Iran has a hand in it.

So when the United States, you know, makes a deal with Iran, whatever the deal, the Saudis

feel that's a loss from them. It's a zero sum game for them.

So absolutely this is a very, very tough time in the relationship. Does it change when you get

beyond President Obama per se? Well, look, they've made this 34 Sunni nation Muslim coalition alliance. I mean, that's happened. They've done

it. They're moving ahead. They built and are building their defenses and security infrastructure. They've done it. It's happening. So, you don't

wind back the clock.

And the implications of that, the tensions over how to resolve the Syria conflict, that's another thing. Yemen, we've had a year of conflict

there. You don't wind the clock back on those things. They have a natural fallout. They're making a greater alliance with Egypt. They're giving

billions of dollars to Egypt while cutting back at home, talking of building a bridge across the Sinai -- across the Red Sea towards the Sinai.

So, they see a future that isn't as dependent as it used to be on the United States and that's because they feel the United States, OK, can pivot

towards Asia. We've got to look after ourselves in this region and we need to be a big player. That's what they're managing their future towards,


ANDERSON: Ahead of Obama's arrival in Riyadh, Nic Robertson on the story from that end, John Defterios joining me here in the studio. Thank

you, chaps.

Live from Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson. Coming up, from Lesbos to Rome on the Pope's plane, we visit one of the

migrant families that Pope Francis took home after his visit to Greece.

And motorbikes, but not as you know, them, we'll meet the team behind vintage electric bikes and see how the bicycle gets a boost from a motor.

That is next. And that is Connectors. Back after that.



ANDREW DAVIDGE, CEO, VINTAGE ELECTRIC BIKES: I think the concept is creating electric vehicles the inspire people and have some passion behind

them. And I realized how inefficient and loud all the gas powered bicycle stuff was. So, I decided to build an electric one.

What we want to do with our vintage electric bikes is create a beautiful product that will run and work years from now.

My name is Andrew Davidge. I'm the CEO and lead designer of Vintage electric. And this is my team.

The company is so small that everybody plays a whole bunch of different roles. I'm always trying to make the bike better and better and

better. And there's just -- the technology is moving so fast on electric bikes that incorporating all of the best technology from the batteries to

the controllers and the motors along with the materials we use throughout the whole bike is really important to me.

Every year we're trying to come out with a new, better product. And also making sure that those new components can be upgraded onto the older


The 2016 bikes were just time to take everything we learned and put it into a new package and give our customers the best bike that is on the


BRIAN HAMILTON, DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS: I'm Brian Hamilton. And I'm the director of operations at Vintage Electric Bikes.

It literally just started as something fun to do and totally transitioned into a business from there.

We're actually in the Andrew's parent's garage and I lived right down the street. I still remember that I built up the wheels for it. We put a

battery in and the first time we hit a throttle, it's just like, whoa, Andrew's usually really big picture future driven whereas I have to be

more, you know, how are we going to do it now. How are we going to do it in the next month, three months.

So, we kind of rub off on each other and meet somewhere in the middle. And that combines the other guys in the shop that have experienced, you

know, with different machining and production processes.

And everyone has the love and knowledge of bicycles as well.

NASH LIVINGSTON, LEAD MECHANIC: I'm Nash Livingston. I'm the lead mechanic at

Vintage Electric Bikes.

So, I actually put all the bikes together, handled every part. Basically, yeah, from scratch. When I'm building them, it's kind of like

I'm building my own bike, not just another bike that's in a line of a hundred bikes. It's like I really take pride in what I'm building and it

makes the bike kind of more come to life. And I actually get to put it together and send them a picture of their complete bike and see how stoked

they are to get a cool bike that they chose and picked out.

NICHOLAS JIMENEZ, CREATIVE DIRECTOR: I'm Micholas Jimenez. I'm the creative director and partner at Vintage Electric Bikes.

So, my role here on this team at Vintage Electric is to become involved in any of the visual

presentations of the bikes, so social media and because we all work as a team, sometimes I help with some of the designs. So all of us here on the

team really get to sort of put our own touch into what the final product, the final bikes are going to look like.

But as we sort of settle into our role and we see what we need to do as a company, sometimes getting in as a team and talking about all these

inexperiences and then bringing back that camaraderie and putting in into the shop, and intot the products, sometimes that's the best recipe for

putting out cool bikes and killer products.



ANDERSON: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World as it says on the box with me Becky Anderson.

Well, here on Connect the World, we've been covering the war in Syria and the refugee crisis since the beginning. That's five years now and

there's rarely good news to report. But tonight is different. Put yourselves in the shoes of a Syrian refugee for a moment. Imagine fleeing

war at home and then the uncertainty of trying to reach Europe.

Well, for three Syrian families, that uncertainty is over because Pope Francis brought them home with him to Rome after he visited the Greek

Island of Lesbos.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The pleasures of daily life are once more within the grasp of 7-year-old Guduz

Shakurji and her family. They fled their home in is-controlled Der Azur (ph) in northeastern Syria. First, to Turkey and then to Greece.

Their fortunes changed dramatically Saturday when Pope Francis flew them and two other Syrian families to Italy after his visit to refugees in

Lesbos, Greece.

Her father, Ahmed, is still in disbelief.

"We boarded the plane with the pope," he recalls. "We sat next to him and not in the back. And twice he came to check on us and welcome us. And

when we arrived in Rome, he greeted us again."

"The atmosphere on the plane back was unreal," says Cecilia Pani of the community of Santo Giglio, the Catholic charity tasked with helping the

new arrivals.

"They ate a good meal of lasagna. The children ate chocolate."

Guduz is basking in the attention, grabbing our microphone and interviewing her father. Her mother, Soheila, relieved the nightmare, as

she calls life in Syria, is over.

But she recalls a moment of doubt when she was told they were going to Italy with Pope Francis.

"We were afraid," she says. "We had heard many Syrians were being expelled back to Turkey."

The family was in Lesbos for 50 days. During that time I asked Soheila, did any Arab officials visit their camp?

"No. Unfortunately not. Not one," she says. "We're Arabs. This initiative should have come from the Arabs. But the pope was way ahead of

them in doing a good deed."

Adjusting to life in this strange land won't be easy. The family's first visit to an Italian supermarket was confusing enough. And this is

only their second day here.

(on camera): These are the lucky ones. They essentially came to Europe walking down a red carpet rolled out by Pope Francis himself, an important

symbolic gesture but the problem of the refugees remains.

(voice-over): Hundreds of thousands more are desperate to come to what is fast becoming fortress Europe. Pope Francis can set an example, but he

can't tear down the wall.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Rome.


[11:56:58] ANDERSON: Well, finally I'd like to congratulate our fellow journalists at Reuters and at The New York Times for winning the

Pulitzer Prize for their photography of Europe's migrant crisis. And those tonight are our Parting Shots for you.

A Syrian refugee carries his daughter through pouring rain, kissing her as he looks to march

them out of Greece.

Confusion and anguish on the faces of these migrants as they push their way under a sharp border fence to get to Hungary.

And a father struggling to keep both his children above water on a Greek beach, braving the dangers of the sea after getting off a dinghy.

And here while a picture really is worth a thousand words.

I'm Becky Anderson. That was Connect the World from the team here and those working us around the world. It is a very good evening. Thank you

for watching.