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CONNECT THE WORLD
Clinton Health Questioned; Syria Ceasefire Set to Begin Shortly; . Aired 11a-Noon ET
Aired September 12, 2016 - 11:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:09] BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Rumors denials and a distinct lack of clarity: just what is the state of health of Hillary Clinton? Candidates
for arguably the most powerful position in the world.
Also this hour we are just 45 minutes away from the beginning of a promised cease-fire in one of the most brutal conflicts in recent history. A war
the U.S. is being dragged into, a war the next president of the United States will have to take on. This hour, we are focusing on these two
stories, both of which raise more questions than they provide answers at this stage.
Welcome to Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson. A health setback is keeping Hillary Clinton off the campaign trail less than two weeks before
early voting gets under way in the U.S. presidential election.
Her doctor acknowledged that she has pneumonia after she stumbled while leaving a September 11th commemoration on Sunday. Now, that disclosure
came just two days after she was diagnosed and apparently was a well guarded secret as many people inside her camp and her campaign didn't even know about it.
Well, a spokesperson says Clinton feels better today but the incident is raising questions not just about the overall state of the candidate's
health, but also about her campaign's transparency. Much more on this story ahead this hour.
Well, to Syria now, where as the sun sets this hour, its weary guns will be the first to rest. In just 45 minutes from now, a hard won cease-fire will
take hold in the country, pausing its brutal civil war.
If the deal goes ahead, here's what we can expect to happen right away.
Many of Damascus' warplanes will be kept on the ground. They won't be allowed to fly over areas where rebels are operating. Now, this move is
expected to help protect a lot of civilians.
And food and medicine will begin to move around a lot more easily to the millions who so badly need it. Well, to the surprise of some, Syria's
government has been welcoming this deal. A little earlier, the country's president, Bashar al-Assad, toured his latest prize, the Damascus suburb of
Dariyah (ph). His regime effectively strangled the opposition stronghold there for four years until in the last few weeks they gave up and struck a
deal to leave.
We are across this story in only -- in a way only CNN can be. Our Arwa Damon is along the Turkish-Syrian border for you. And Elise Labott is
getting the inside track from Washington. Arwa, to you first, this promised truce slated to begin in the next 45 minutes at sundown over Syria
has a very, very, very big question to it, doesn't it: will it hold?
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No one can really answer that at this stage, Becky. The opposition, the armed opposition, by and large,
has been to a certain degree forced to accept this deal because they basically don't have any other choice at this stage. And they are very
skeptical about it. There's a number of key points that they have issue with and they feel at the end of the day this really very severely risks
swinging the battlefield in the regime's direction, but what is of most pressing concern at this stage is as you mentioned there allowing
humanitarian aid to get through to besieged areas.
But part of the problem with this deal is that it doesn't necessarily guarantee access to all
besieged areas. It focuses very much on the eastern part of Aleppo, but the stopping of bombardment
countrywide, if this does, in fact, materialize, is going to, at the very least, Becky, bring quite a bit of psychological relief, even if just for a
short period of time. People have been under constant bombardment for the better part of five days, even though there's not necessarily a lot of
confidence that this is going to hold, there still is that small measure of hope that at least they might have a few hours, a few days, without the
kind of bloodshed we've seeing over the last five years.
ANDERSON: Arwa, as we speak I want to bring some very rare pictures up. These are on the screen. The cease-fire will perhaps be most welcome right
here, the city you were just talking about, the city of Aleppo. That was - - the war has devastated so much of this city. These live pictures giving you a very rare look inside the city, viewers. Many people there a sure to
be sitting at home patiently waiting for the silence of the ceasefire to come, hoping it is not punctuated by violence.
Let's get back to both of you. And Elise, I just want ask you, this has been a tortuous negotiation. We feel as if we've been here before back in
February. How does Washington expect to enforce this deal they have cut with Russia? And let's remind our viewers, they support opposing sides in
this conflict -- the Russians of course supporting the Syrian regime, and the U.S. supporting those rebels who back that regime.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's very unclear, Becky. And there was nothing announced on Friday with Secretary Kerry and Foreign
Minister Lavrov in Geneva that talked about any kind of enforcement or implementation mechanism. And in deed both ministers were very skeptical
in terms of announcing it. Whether it will work, I think, even more skepticism than you saw in February when that cessation of hostilities was
Now the question is how much leverage at this point does the Russian government have on this regime? That's really an open question. Foreign
Minister Lavrov says that President Assad has agreed to this deal and indeed the government is making positive signs that they do, but that's
still an open question. And on the U.S. side, the real responsibility of the U.S. is to
make sure that opposition groups are separated from other extremist groups such as the al-Nusra
And it doesn't really show how the U.S. is going to do that.
Over the weekend, the U.S. sent a letter to the Syrian group saying -- calling for, quote, dire consequences if they don't separate themselves and
stop fighting together, because a lot of these groups are fighting along al-Nusra Front. But it's unclear what those dire
consequences are and whether the U.S. will really be able to separate some of that responsibility might go to the Turks or to the Saudis who are supporting those groups and might
have more leverage.
ANDERSON: It's 6:07 p.m. in Aleppo in Syria. And viewers, just to remind you, you have a very rare glimpse on an international network of the city
of Aleppo. So besieged, so tortured by this six-year conflict. And as the son goes down, the people of aleppo and those across Syria hoping that this truce that has been cut between the
U.S. and Russians,signed up to by the Russian government, will hold.
Arwa, clearly, we will need to wait to see what unfolds in the coming hours. Should this truce hold, some of the aid that will be expected to be
dispatched into Syria will be dispatched from north of the border in Turkey, a key player, as Elise was pointing out, an increasingly
influential one, of course, on the Syrian battlefield. Any evidence that aid is already on its way? You are on the border in Turkey at this point.
DAMON: Well, we've been speaking with a number of aid organizations, Becky, and yes, there are preparations under way -- trucks being loaded and
prepared, should, in fact, this cease-fire hold, and should they be able to make what would have been up until the point that the cease-fire goes into
effect a fairly dangerous journey. But it is quite tricky, because these various different aid convoys have to go through various different rebel
checkpoints, regime checkpoints, before reaching their actual final destination.
There's also a few other tragic dynamics that we end up witnessing in the days leading up to these types of cease-fires or hostilities. And that is
an intensification and bombardment. And, in fact, since the cease-fire agreement was announced, around 200 people have lost their lives, most of
those in the rebel-held areas. And the deadliest attack, Becky, happened in Idlib Province over the weekend when a marketplace was struck that was
packed with people who were going out and trying to do their shopping before the Muslim holiday of Eid that began today.
The other problem that this agreement is going to face moving down the line is what you
and Elise were talking about earlier, and this issue of trying to separate out the group that was formerly
known as the Nusra Front from other opposition fighters.
The other opposition fighters are very skeptical about this and don't necessarily think that it's a good idea at this point in the battle to try
to separate out the Nusra Front, because front lines are not clearly defined, they do often overlap in areas that they're controlling. And this
group that was known as the Nusra Front is the most effective rebel fighting force taking on the Assad regime.
So from their perspective, this agreement, brokered between America and Russia, is effectively going to end up taking out their most effective
fighting force and leaving them with nothing, which is why they think at the end of the day it is only going to benefit the regime.
[11:10:37] ANDERSON: Government-controlled -- the government-controlled side of Aleppo is what you are seeing live tonight from a feed we are
bringing to CNN. Keep your eyes on that city as we speak.
Elise, we talked about effectively how Washington believes they might enforce this deal. Should this truce hold, the plan is that Russia and the
U.S. will then establish this joint center to combat jihadest groups, including ISIS and Syria's al Qaeda affiliate there on the ground.
Only a week ago, the U.S. president was describing gaps of trust with the Russians. Why trust them now? A country that the U.S. sees as an
existential threat? What's changed?
LABOTT: Becky, I don't think this is about trust. And indeed Secretary Kerry on Friday said
this is not based on trust, this is based on verifying and whether the Russians are going to live up to the
The U.S. feels that Russia really wants this agreement with the U.S. for a couple of reasons; a, that they ultimately do want to extricate themselves
from the conflict; and b, they want some kind of legitimacy to their actions in the Middle East and Syria and try to end their isolation that
they felt for years, really, because of the conflict in Ukraine. And so they're betting that the Russians will abide by this agreement.
But clearly, everybody is very skeptical, specifically the Pentagon who is not enthusiastic about this agreement at all. Even after it was announced,
the Pentagon kind of made a lukewarm statement about whether the agreement would be enforced and that they're going to be watching. No one --
everyone is really skeptical of the Russians, whether they'll make good on it. The Pentagon not eager to work in a military partnership with Russia.
A, because they don't think that they will live up to the agreement, b, because they don't want to share any type of targeting information or
indeed any type of military tactics with the Russians.
So this agreement not only is it tentative, but I think everyone's very skeptical. But they also agree that unless they're going to work with the
Russians, there's really no way out of this. And so, as Arwa said, that the opposition feels that they don't have any choice. I think the U.S. has
kind of concluded that the only way out of Syria is through Russia, Becky.
ANDERSON: Elise is in Washington for you today. Arwa is on the border of Syria on the Turkish side. To both of you, thank you.
An apocalyptic wasteland, that is how my colleague Clarissa Ward has described some parts of
Syria. Year after year Clarissa has gone under cover to bring us exclusive reports from inside the country. She'll join us in about half an hour's
time to give us her unique take on this deal, that is only here on CNN. So do stay with us for that.
I want to get you a couple other stories at this point.
And to another story on our radar today, all eyes on the hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia where close to 2 million Muslims are performing religious
rituals. It was during this day last year when the kingdom witnessed the worst hajj disaster in decades. Some estimates suggest more than 2,000
people were killed in what was a stampede. Hundreds of them were Iranian.
Well, this year, there are no Iranian pilgrims in Mecca. Tehran and Riyadh could not reach an agreement on their protection. There are hundreds of
thousands from Iran have descended on Karbala in Iraq instead, a holy site in Shiite Islam. We'll get a view from Tehran
later in the show. That is in about 30 minutes time.
Hillary Clinton will be spending the day at home following the revelation she has pneumonia. Now we are hearing some of her top aides have been sick
with respiratory issues in last month. CNN's Jeff Zeleny has more on the health questions shaking up the Clinton campaign.
[11:15:02] JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hillary Clinton off the campaign trail this morning as she recovers from pneumonia, canceling a
two-day trip to California. His health thrush into the spotlight after her aide said she became overheated and dehydrated while attending the 9/11
ceremony at Ground Zero.
This video shows Clinton leaving early and as she tries stepping into her van, she wobbles and slumps. Secret Service agents and aides quickly grab
her and hold her up.
Two law enforcement sources telling CNN she appeared to faint. Then Clinton taken to her daughter Chelsea's apartment three miles away. More than an
hour later, Clinton emerged smiling.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's a beautiful day.
ZELENY: Even taking a picture with a young girl before climbing into her motorcade and heading home. Her campaign says she was even playing with her
two grandkids inside.
Yet hours later, her doctor revealed the 68-year-old was diagnosed with pneumonia two days earlier after an evaluation for her prolonged cough.
Despite the diagnosis on Friday, she continued a grueling schedule, holding two fundraisers in New York City, a large national security briefing and
press conference along with an interview with our own Chris Cuomo and other media outlets.
Donald Trump just feet away from his rival at Ground Zero unusually quiet over her diagnosis after speculating about her health for months.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think she doesn't have the stamina. Hillary Clinton does not have the stamina.
I watched Hillary who doesn't have the strength or the stamina.
ZELENY: Trump addressing Clinton's health this morning and towing a respectful line.
TRUMP: Something's going on, but I just hope she gets well and gets back on the trail and we'll be seeing her at the debate.
ZELENY: Telling reporters that he is planning to release records about his own health soon.
TRUMP: This last week, I took a physical. And I'll be releasing when the numbers come in. Hopefully they're going to be good. I think they're
going to be good. I feel great, but when the numbers come in, I'll be releasing very, very specific numbers.
ANDERSON: Well, Jeff Zeleny joining us now. He's near Clinton's home in a suburb north of New York City. Rumors, denials and a distinct lack of
clarity about Hillary Clinton's health at this point.
What can you tell us from there, firstly, before we analyze how this might affect her campaign?
ZELENY: Well, Becky, we do know that at this hour she is at her home near here in Chappaqua, New York, a quiet suburb. She's resting and she's doing
a lot of campaign work but by telephone, talking to advisers and preparing for her debate, which is two weeks from tonight.
But she is still getting that rest that her doctor ordered. She clearly did not follow the orders of her doctor to, you know, stay hydrated and get
rest over the weekend so that's what she's doing today.
She was scheduled to be flying to California right now for a three day west coast swing including star-studded fundraisers in San Francisco and Los
Angeles as well as a big speech in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, that is off the books. She's sitting at home and her campaign is trying to figure out
how they can move beyond this. Because, Becky, without much question, it's one of the worst weeks, politically speaking, at least weekends, of her
ANDERSON: One of my colleagues was remarking on Donald Trump's reaction to this. And I think he put it this way. It's get well soon with a big
We are two weeks away from the debate, within 60 days of the election on November 8. If you would just describe how you think this has affected her
campaign and what happens next, what would you say?
ZELENY: Look, this campaign has been moving so fast and furiously without really a traditional script. It is hard to think this will linger and be
something that matters by November.
We have hurled from one sort of distraction to another. And that's what this point it looks like this is. But we simply don't know yet. I mean,
Donald Trump says he's going to release more medical records. She may have to do the same. And one thing is clear, Becky, American voters know less
about these two presidential nominees than they have in most any others in recent elections and they're the the two oldest.
He's 70 years old, she is 68 years old. So this certainly is a legitimate issue, whether her supporters like it or not. Her advisers, her
strategists, know it is.
But politically speaking, I think it's more of a challenge then medically speaking, presuming that she recovers OK. There's still questions of
transparency and how they get beyond this. And frankly, you said get well soon with an asterisk. The Clinton campaign not exactly sure how to
respond when Donald Trump is being restrained and kind, because that's something that they haven't seen ever in this very unusual U.S. election
[11:20:13] ANDERSON: Jeff, always a pleasure, thank you.
We're going to have a lot more on Clinton's health setback just ahead, including a closer look at the issue of transparency in her campaign. That
is up next. Stay with us, very short break. Back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: This has become one of their themes. Here, you take my pulse while I'm talking to you. So, make sure I'm alive.
JIMMY KIMMEL, LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW HOST: Oh, my god, there's nothing there.
CLINTON: There's nothing there.
KIMMEL: can you open this jar of pickles? This has not been tampered with. This is -- oh, oh. You did get it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Wwell, a lot of laughter there as Hillary Clinton joked with the late-night talk show host about the state of her health. That was just a
few weeks ago.
She dismissed Donald Trump's repeated suggestions that she's ill and is hiding the truth. calling it a, quote, whacky strategy.
Nobody's laughing today.
Clinton's doctor has revealed that she's got pneumonia. She was actually diagnosed on
Friday, but the campaign only made it public after Clinton stumbled while leaving an event on Sunday in New York.
Well, Clinton's health setback has forced her to take a few days off the campaign trail. A spokesman says she is now feeling better, but some
voters may have a hard time knowing what to believe given the lack of transparency about her diagnosis.
Remember, we've seen multiple signs recently that Clinton is under the weather, but her
campaign consistently brushes them off.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: And -- can I have some water?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go back to the last question.
CLINTON: Every time I think about Trump, I get a allergic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Every time I think about Trump, I get an allergic cough, she said.
Let's hear more on this story now from CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter. Good to have you on the show, Brian.
How would you rate the management of this latest episode by the Clinton campaign?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Clinton's campaign's mismanagement of this episode made a bad situation much worse. This happened around 9:30
on Sunday morning. She went missing from the 9/11 ceremony. Think about just the significance of having to leave the 9/11 anniversary ceremony
Reporters noticed she was gone and the campaign would not say where she had gone for over an hour and a half, then eventually there was a statement
saying she was feeling overheated. Not until the video came out of her almost collapsing heading into her car, not until that video came out that
we receive further information from the doctors where her personal physician said that she did -- she was diagnosed with pneumonia.
So there were a series of missteps throughout the day yesterday by the Clinton campaign. And honestly, now the campaign seems to be acknowledging
that. Jennifer Palmieri, the communications director for the campaign has just posted this on Twitter within the last hour. She says, "we could have
done better yesterday." I think that's notable. She's acknowledging a mistake there.
Then she went on to say, though, "it's a fact the public knows more about Hillary than any nominee in history."
So, she's trying to pivot again as always from Clinton to Trump saying Trump has been a lot less transparent than Clinton. But the reality is
neither campaign has been as transparent with the voters as they should be.
[11:26:06] ANDERSON: Well, Donald Trump has been fueling conspiracy theories for months by repeatedly questioning Clinton's health of course.
But now there's proof that she is ill, he's backed off the attacks. Basically he's gone silent, except to say this, Brian.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I hope she gets well soon. I don't know what's going on. I'm, like you, I see what I see. The coughing fit was a week ago So I assume
that was pneumonia also. I mean, I would think it would have been, so something's going on.
But I just hope she gets well and gets back on the trail and will be seeing her at the debate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Is this a deliberate strategy by the Trump campaign do you think?
STELTER: It feels like it is. And it makes a lot of sense. Trump doesn't need gasoline to
the proverbial fire. It's already burning brightly without him. It makes sense for him to try to step back
and appear to be taking the high road. A logical, although maybe surprising, move by Trump.
This episode I think has emboldened reporters and commentators to renew calls for more transparency from both candidates. Focusing on Clinton for
a moment, more information is needed about her health records, about her health history. That was true last week, but now it's even more true this
week, because this current episode is in the news. This bout with pneumonia is in the news.
Now, of course, it's true for Trump as well. We know relatively little about Trump's health past as well. There's been a lot of talk about his
lack of tax returns released to the public. The reality is, both these candidates have not stepped up and delivered the kind of information that
both journalists and voters would like to see.
And I think that's a spotlight we're going to see shining brightly on both candidates this week.
ANDERSON: Fascinating. Always good to have you. Brian, in the house, out of New York, viewers.
The latest news headlines are just ahead, then as darkness falls over Syria, so will a blanket of peace. We are now just minutes away from the
cease-fire that is promised to take effect there at sunset. Already many are asking if it will hold. I'll break it all down with a CNN reporter,
one of my colleagues, who's often snuck behind the front lines in that country.
And the U.S. Open has a new tennis champion. I'll hear from Stan Wawrinka after he became the tournament's oldest male winner since 1970.
[11:32:35] ANDERSON: The former British Prime Minister David Cameron has decided to resign as a member of parliament. He says he risked becoming a
diversion, quote, to the important issues. Well, Cameron was prime minister from 2010 until July of this year. He stepped down after the UK
voted to leave the European Union.
Let's go live to London. Erin McLaughlin has the very latest. Was this expected? And do we know what David Cameron is stepping down to do, Erin?
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, to some this news is surprising. Keep in mind that he has been an MP in Oxfordshire in England
for the past 15 years. He originally said that he planned to serve out his term as MP until the next general election.
But after a period of reflection over the summer, changed his mind. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CAMERON, FRM. BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I thought about this long and hard over the summer. And I've decided the right thing to do is stand down
as a member of parliament for Whitney (ph). They'll be an election. I'll give the conservative candidate my full support. But in my view, with
modern politics, with the circumstances of my resignation, it isn't really possible to be a proper back bench MP as a former prime minister. I think
everything you do will become a big distraction and a big diversion from what the government needs to do for our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCLAUGHLIN: I guess that begs the question, well what does he mean by distraction? It is worth noting that since Theresa May has become prime
minister, we've seen a marked shift in policy compared to some of the policies we saw under David Cameron's government. For example, when it
comes to the economy, David Cameron was an advocate, initially, of austerity as the best way, the best thing for the British economy post
financial crisis, but under Theresa May, following the Brexit vote, which to many highlighted the disparities that many people in this country feel
like they were left behind in the wake of globalization, we have heard a shift in tone from Theresa May, saying that
she's advocating for a brand of conservativism in which the state plays a key role.
We've also seen a shift in her education policy, all things that might be awkward for David Cameron as an MP to get behind.
Nevertheless, in his announcement, David Cameron praised her leadership style and said that he plans to remain a part of British public life.
[11:35:12] ANDERSON: Thank you, Erin.
Let's get back to Syria now, viewers where we want to bring you some scenes from Aleppo, a city that the civil war has ravaged beyond almost all
imagination. These are very rare images from the international network showing a part of the city under the government's control. It looks quite
peaceful serene almost. It's a world away from just the other half of the city under rebel control where we've often seen images of destruction and
Over the weekend, Aleppo again looked like it could have been anywhere in the Islamic world as the people who live there went to the markets, buying
sweets and other things for the Eid holiday.
And this year, they perhaps have more reason to celebrate than most. We are now just minutes away from what is a scheduled cease-fire rolling over
the entire country. CNN's Clarissa Ward has risked her life to bring us exclusive reporting from inside Syria. She is with us now from London.
That clock ticking down, Clarissa, to sunset over Syria and with it the promise of a
truce. How confident are you and your sources that this time the deal is for real?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, unfortunately, Becky, I would say I'm not really terribly confident at all.
I would say from what I'm hearing from sources on the ground, a lot of the rebel groups are prepared to participate in a temporary cessation of
hostilities, but they have huge reservations about the larger deal.
Why do they have those reservations? Well, let's go through some of the central points of this
U.S./Russian brokered agreement. The number one issue the members of the Syrian opposition, both the military wing and the political wing who I have
spoken to, what they all say, it's the same thing, Becky, over and over again, what guarantee is there that Bashar al-Assad and his regime will
hold their end of the deal? And if they don't hold up their end of the deal, if there are air strikes, if there are continued bombardment, what is
the U.S. willing to do? What leverage does the U.S. have? What guarantees have been put in place?
Beyond that, there's also a lot of concern on behalf of the opposition that there isn't much discussion about what happens in these besieged areas.
Will people who have been trapped in eastern Aleppo for the better part of two months simply be forced to go outside of their homes with the potential
of never being able to go back? What will happen to the tens of thousands of political prisoners who are locked up in various prisons in and around
Damascus? Is there a chance of an amnesty? Will they be released?
So, I would say that there a lot of questions, a lot of reservations. And finally, one of the major
concerns is the apparent hypocrisy of the deal in the eyes of the Syrian opposition who say why is it that Jaesh Fatah al-Sham (ph) or Jabat al-
Nusra, the group that was formerly tied to al-Qaeda is singled out as the terrorist organization where another U.S.-designated terrorist organization
like Hezbollah appears to be not be involved with this, or not a target I should say.
ANDERSON: I'm just going to let you put your earpiece in so you can continue to hear me.
What began as a conflict between President Assad and sections of his own people, those who oppose him have over the year become a much wider
regional struggle, hasn't it, a proxy war for so many international actors.
Syria's ceasefire, as you have been pointing out, involves a large number of groups. And it is very difficult, as you suggest, to make sense of who
are extremists and who are what are known as moderates.
Last week I spoke to Salam al-Meslit (ph), a spokesman for Syria's main opposition committee, the HNC. I asked him if Jaesh al-Islam (ph) for
example, a group many in the country do see as extremist, are in fact moderates. They were signed up with the HNC. Have a listen to what he
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SALEM AL-MESLET, SPOKESMAN, HIGH NEGOTIATION COMMITTEE: Yes, Jaesh ah- Islam (ph) is a moderate group there and they are represented. The HNC and the signed agreement with us.
We want really as (inaudible) mentioned, we want to see Democratic Syria, a free Syria. We want to really protect human rights. We want Syria for
all, you know, for all Syrians ? for Arab, for Kurds, for Christians, for Muslims.
ANDERSON: We have video of that group parading civilians around in cages in Damascus. This is a moderate group as far as the HNC is concerned, is
AL-MESLET: Who did that one? We really don't know, you know, what you are talking about.
I don't think Jaesh al-Islam (ph) or other people who are represented here wants to see, you know, killing or more bloodshed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[11:40:13] ANDERSON: Salem al-Meslet speaking to me there, a spokesman for the Syrian opposition has made negotiating committee. The point here being
that we are talking about a myriad a groups who is an extremist, who is a moderate. Most times, Clarissa, correct me if I'm wrong, these groups are
mixed in communities.
So who at the end of this process, because we know the next stage after this moment in time of this ceasefire is that the U.S. and Russia get
together and go after ISIS and those groups that they believe are al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria.
These groups are mixed in communities, how do the U.S. and Russia expect that they can protect civilians in what they say will be the next stage of
WARD: Well, I think it's very complicated, Becky, for the reasons that you just said. So many of these groups are fighting together simply because
they have a common enemy, which is the regime of Bashar al-Assad. So on any one front line you might find fighters from Ahrad al-Sham (ph), from Jubhat
Fatah al-Sham (ph) from Jaesh al-Islam (ph), from a number of different fighting groups.
I think that another thing that's interesting is you'll meet families. They have one son who fights for the FSA or the so-called moderate
opposition, another son who fights for an Islamist group like Ahrad al-Sham (ph).
So, these kinds of descriptors that we tend to use to try to categorize these groups ? Islamist, extremist, moderate, in Syria they don't really
apply in the same way. Most of these groups do have some kind of an Islamist overtone at this stage in the game, and that is for one simple
reason, Becky, which is for the first year of the Syrian uprising, while civilians were being crushed in the streets because they were protesting
because they wanted freedom, it was the Islamists who stepped in to fill the void and who went in and started to fight on their behalf while the
international community was largely standing on the sidelines wringing their hands and trying to work out what a next good step would be.
It is disingenuous for us to pretend now that we didn't understand the consequences of that. And so when you talk to people in Aleppo, in eastern
Aleppo, and rebel-held Aleppo, whether they're extremists or not, they do not see people from Jaesh Fatah ah-Sham (ph) as terrorists in the same way
that they see the Syrian army as terrorists. It's a question of perception. Obviously, our perceptions here in the west are very different
to their perceptions on the ground.
But in order for this ceasefire to really work, it is those people on the ground who are going to have to buy into it, Becky.
ANDERSON: Syria's president has managed to cling on to power throughout this war. Now he seems more defiant than ever. Clarissa, let me just read
you something that Syrian state media quoted him earlier as saying, "the Syrian nation is determined to retake every piece of land from the
terrorists and to reestablish safety and security."
He directed the message to, quote, those who worked against Syria to those who bet against Syria, especially the countries that intervened directly in
the conspiracy against Syria and supporting the terrorists and their traitors and agents. End his quote.
Saying that he ? as he toured a part of Damascus that he just had retaken, that he suggests surrendered to him. After Gadhafi, Saddam, Mubarak, do
you think Mr. Assad feels invincible at this point?
WARD: I think he does. I think he does, and not without good reason. He has very strong allies in the form of Russia and Iran. And what I think is
so interesting about this U.S.-Russian brokered peace deal is that every person I speak to from the Syrian opposition has huge concerns, and huge
reservations about it, not matter what side of the political spectrum they fall on, but by and large people who support the regime are fairly
comfortable with this agreement. And the reason they're fairly comfortable with the agreement is because they feel that the timing of it is good for
them. They have just reconsolidated their gains in Aleppo. They have reestablished the siege of eastern Aleppo. They've taken the Damascus
suburb of Dariyah (ph), which you mentioned. He went and prayed in this morning.
So they're feeling pretty confident. And they're feeling that the time now that they would have off, essentially, during a cessation of hostilities,
while the U.S. and Russia focuses efforts on JFS, would give them a moment to pause, to resupply, to reconsolidate, and ultimately go in and finish
off the opposition altogether.
So, I think it's quite clear from President al-Assad's statement there and from looking at the larger picture on the ground that the momentum is very
much in his favor right now.
[11:45:00] ANDERSON: Clarissa Ward is in London for you this evening. As we consider the few minutes to go until the ceasefire ? in fact a few
seconds to go before the scheduled ceasefire, which should start around now at sundown in Damascus.
Let's get you some live pictures from government controlled Aleppo as the sun sets over the city, a new dawn of peace we hope would begin for all of
the residents of Aleppo, but it's the rebel-controlled other side of this city, which has been so torn apart by the constant bombardment by the
Syrian regime and its allies.
We will keep you updated on exactly what happens as this scheduled ceasefire takes hold, that having happened just second ago as sunset came
Live from Abu Dhabi, you're watching Connect the World, coming up, the war of words between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Iranians are not in Saudi Arabia
for the Hajj, and both sides blame each other. That story is next for you.
ANDERSON: Well, close to 2 million people are in Mecca, Saudi Arabia performing hajj. Pilgrims are seen here throwing stones at three pillars,
a ritual called stoning of the devil, which symbolizes the rejection of the devil's temptation.
Well, this is also the most dangerous part of the ritual with so many gathered in one spot at the same time.
You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson for you. Welcome back.
Iran hasn't sent any pilgrims to hajj this year, prompted by fears over their safety.
So, what do Iranians do? Well, many of them went on another pilgrimage, but to Karbala in Iraq, a holy city for Shiite Muslims.
For Muslims, the hajj in Saudi Arabia is a pillar of Islam and anybody physically and financially able needs to make the journey once in their
Well, relations between Saudi and Iran have been tense, as you will be well aware, after diplomatic ties were cut off earlier this year.
Let's get the view from Tehran. Scott Peterson is a journalist for the Christian Science Monitor joining you from the city this evening. Just how
significant is it that some 1 million, I'm told, 1 million pilgrims have made their own journey to Karbala when many of those might have been making
that important journey performing hajj in Mecca this year.
[11:50:48] SCOTT PETERSON, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR: Well, I think, you know, this isn't the first time that Iran and Saudi Arabia have been at
such loggerheads, nor that the Iranians have not actually attended the hajj.
But I think at this time, what's significant is that we've seen a real ramping up of rhetoric from both sides, marking that one year anniversary
of the Mina (ph) stampede last year. There were more than 2,400 people who were killed. We know among Iranians there were more than 400. And those
figures have really also, you know, they have allowed the Iranians to accuse the Saudis of mismanagement. Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei, for example, just in the last week spoke in the last week spoke about the Saudis as being murderers for their mismanagement of the hajj.
Of course, the Saudis have responded in kind by also saying that Iran's primary Shiites are not Muslims.
So, we've seen a very, very serious rhetoric. And you were just describing how one of the key moments of the hajj pilgrimage is actually throwing
stones at the devil. Well, I mean, the Friday prayer leader in Tehran just two days ago said that exactly this was the role that Saudi Arabia was
So, I think what this means is we really are very far away from any kind of a quieting down at least of the rhetoric.
ANDERSON: Let's just read for our viewers' sake ? you will have seen this ? a segment from Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. It was his hajj
message for the year. And in it, he says, and I quote, "the world of Islam, including Muslim governments and people's, must familiarize
themselves with the Saudis rulers and correctly understand their blasphemous, faithless, dependent and materialistic nature. They must not
let those rulers escape responsibility for the crimes they've caused throughout the world of Islam."
Well, two days later Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti was quoted as saying in Arab News that Iranians are not Muslims and blame them for politicizing the
Quite strong accusations from both sides there, Scott. Could their rhetoric be ramped up even more at this point? And just how dangerous are
PETERSON: Well, I think that what this reflects is a very real frustration that both sides are experiencing in not being able to actually communicate
with each other in more calm and peaceful terms.
And the reason I say that is because they are at loggerheads in several of the most important proxy battlefields in the Middle East. They are on
opposite sides, especially in Syria. They are at opposite sides in Yemen. Saudi Arabia is stuck in Yemen with a conflict that really ? very few
strategists can see that there is any kind of way out for them. The civilian toll keeps growing. They don't seem to have made a lot of ground
in terms of the Arab coalition that they're leading. They accuse the Iranians of being on the opposite side.
And of course in Syria, also the Iranians are very, very deeply involved there not only with their own advisers, but also in martialing Shiite
forces from Afghanistan, from Iraq, even as far away as from Pakistan. And yet, again, a war that has gone on for more than five years. No end in
sight, despite the possibility of a ceasefire starting literally nine minutes ago ? a temporary one.
So, I think both sides really are reflecting the frustration that they are experiencing on the battlefields.
ANDERSON: Scott, thank you, out of Tehran for you this evening, assessing the significance of the fact that the Iranian pilgrims this year are not
attending hajj in Mecca.
Live from Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World. Coming up, Eid being celebrated by Muslims around the world and it always starts with a prayer.
We're going to bring you those pictures in tonight's Parting Shots.
[11:56:15] ANDERSON: Almost one in five people on Earth are celebrating Eid al-Atta (ph), the feast of sacrifice, a three-day Islamic celebration.
Well, the day starts with an Eid prayer. And in tonight's Parting Shots, we thought we'd bring you some of those pictures from around the world.
Some of the first Muslims to celebrate Eid, of course, were in Australia. The Eid prayer usually performed early morning after sunrise. A little
girl sits behind a row of men during the prayer in Afghanistan.
In Egypt, men and women stand side by side at a prayer in the capital Cairo.
And once prayer is over, people begin greeting each other like this picture from Amman. And then head home for a family gathering.
And there's always time for a selfie.
A group of Muslim women in the Philippines pose sfor a picture after their prayers were done.
Well, if we've left you wondering why Eid al-Atta (ph) is called the Feast of Sacrifice and why Muslims are observing it in the first place, you can
find the answers on our Facebook page, along with many more things about what is one of Islam's biggest celebrations there as well. That's all that
and so much more. If you're a regular viewer you'll know that that is great content. Much of what we do on this show, much of what we haven't
been able to get into the show you'll find at Facebook.com/CNNconnect.
I'm Becky Anderson, that was Connect the World from the team here and those working with us around the world, thank you for watching. We'll leave you
with these live pictures from Aleppo in Syria.