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CONNECT THE WORLD
Death Toll in Twin Istanbul Bombings Rises; Turkish President Vows Revenge for Terrorist Attacks; Syrian Government Troops Race to Retake Rest of Aleppo; Trump Attacks Credibility of CIA Over Russian Hacking Allegations. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired December 12, 2016 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:44] BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Forty-four lives lost: the death toll from the twin
bombings in Istanbul rises.
And Turkey mourns, paying respects to the victims while the Turkish president makes good
on his promise to avenge them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRESIDENT OF TURKEY (through translator): They need to know that we will not let this go unpunished and that they'll pay a
higher price for which they need to understand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Acting swiftly, Turkish jets pounded Kurdish fighters in Iraq, and over 200 people have been charged with terrorism.
Well, with all of that happening, welcome to what is a special edition of Connect the World
live from Istanbul at just after 6:00 in the evening. I'm Becky Anderson.
Well, you can see the Bosphorus River flowing through the city behind me, just as clearly here, you can feel anger and despair running through all of
turkey after what are just the latest in a bloody chain of terror attacks on the country.
Two bombings here in Istanbul on Saturday left 44 people dead. Friends and families of those
victims have been burying them while the Kurdish militant group, TAK, a splinter group of the
PKK, is claiming responsibility.
Well, now Turkey is out for revenge. The retaliation, including bombing a dozen Kurdish targets just across its border with Iraq.
CNN's Muhammad Lila has more.
MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There are scenes of utter grief -- a hand of comfort to a mother in pain, a solemn salute from brothers and sisters in arms, and family members making their way for an
emotional farewell for some of the police officers killed in this weekend's heinous attacks.
But there were civilians killed, too. Salim Akbash (ph) flew to Istanbul to collect the body of his 19-year-old son. He just passed his exams in
"They call him a martyr," he says. "I don't want my son to be a martyr. My son was slaughtered. That's all i have to say."
Tributes are now pouring in from around the world. These diplomats visiting the site of the blast, now a memorial, leaving flowers and support
for a nation increasingly targeted by terror.
The grief even extending to the world of sports. One of Turkey's top teams, Galatasaray, observing a moment of silence before their match. And
then this touching image, a player embracing police officers before the game.
Turkey's president saying they will fight until this ends and won't let this get away. Today, already, that grief is starting to show itself as
revenge. Overnight, Turkish jets pounded what they say are Kurdish militant strongholds in northern Iraq. As local officials detained over
200 people they say incited terror propaganda in favor of Kurdish groups.
The concern here for some is that the government could use this weekend's terror attacks as a pretext to further clamp down on opposition groups.
It is something the government has been accused of in the past, but strongly denied saying they are only targeting terrorists bent on taking
more innocent lives -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Well, that was Muhammad Lila.
CNN's Arwa Damon, based out of Istanbul, of course, and is with me here now. And to quote the interior minister, the blade of the state stretches
far and wide. The government vowing revenge, and it seems that wasn't an idle threat.
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, it wasn't. And it never is when the government vows revenge after these kinds of attacks. Not only
did they pound, as you were mentioning there earlier, Kurdish PKK positions in northern Iraq, but
they also launched operations where they detained around 200 individuals, if not more, people who they say were part of these attacks or individuals
who are part of the pro-Kurdish Party, the HDP, that did fairly well in these last elections.
Based on things that, for the most part, were said on their social media and Twitter feeds, and that's what's causing some concern here, is that
when it comes specifically to the fight between the Turkish government and the PKK, this is not necessarily one that is going to be resolved
militarily, it is one that requires a political solution, one that Erdogan himself came close to achieving before the violence was renewed around two
And the question that many people have is what does the country risk in alienating the HDP Party, because it as a party has always come out and
said it does not support the PKK, it does not support the talk or these kind of violent attacks against the Turkish state and the civilians.
[10:05:33] ANDERSON: The controversy aside about what some will see as a significant crackdown by the president, we've seen that perhaps more since
the failed coup in July of this year -- 17 attacks in 2016. This has to be one of the most tumultuous years in modern Turkey's history. You live
here. You grew up here. Just explain what is going to be and where Turkey is headed.
DAMON: When it comes to the people, no matter what side of this you're on, whether you support the government or you oppose the government, it has
such a profound psychological impact. Because this is, at the end of the day, the very stability of the country that is at risk.
Because Turkey doesn't just face this threat from the PKK, it also faces a very significant threat from ISIS. Remember, they launched that complex
attack on the airport. They've launched numerous other attacks against tourist destinations, against demonstrations as they were taking place.
But then you also had this additional threat that came about in the form of a military coup.
People right now, when you talk to them -- and you really sense this especially in cities like
Istanbul and Ankara, there is a certain sense of uncertainty. There's a sense that they don't know exactly how long they can hold on to the lives
here that they cherish so much, or where the country is actually going.
What is Turkey going to look like? There's so many factors that play into this. And there's so many points where the country is actually changing
ANDERSON: all right, Arwa for the time being, thank you for that excellent analysis.
And we are going to be looking at Turkey throughout the hour. Thank you. On the show tonight.
Just ahead, I'll bring in a prominent professor here in Istanbul to try and to find the answers to the questions that Arwa just posed and so many of us
Why is Turkey being attacked so often? And what can it do about it?
And then afterwards, toward half the people here are under the age of 25. So, I wanted speak to two students for you to get their take on what the
youngsters here are thinking. That is all ahead this hour on Connect the World.
All right, the situation changing in Syria but for civilians there, it is more of the same. Syrian government has tightened their grip on Aleppo as
rebels lose more areas of what is that battered city. Rebels are one enemy of the state. ISIS, of course, is the other. ISIS militants have retaken
the acient city of Palymra, the city ISIS held in 2015.
Now, caught between the three sides, thousands of terrified Syrians fleeing for their lives. Many of them, however, have nowhere to go.
CNN's Fred Pleitgen was just in Aleppo and he joins us now live from Beirut. And Fred, the Syrian regime calling this the final phase. How
close is Aleppo to falling altogether?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly from the information that we're getting both from opposition monitoring groups,
as well as from sources within the Syrian government, and also close to the Syrian military, they
believe that it could be a matter of hours before that last, final, small enclave that the rebels are holding in eastern Aleppo, before that falls
And there's people trying to put percentages on the amount of territory that the rebels still hold. Some people saying maybe 5 percent of what
they used to hold, some saying down to 2 percent. At this point in time, it is impossible to tell, but certainly, it really seems as though the
rebels are rapidly losing territory and could collapse all together very, very soon.
Now, you're absolutely right, caught in the middle of this are all of these civilians. And I was on the southern front line in Aleppo, which is one of
the main places where civilians try to get out of that besieged city. And we saw some absolutely devastating scenes. Here's what we saw.
PLEITGEN: This is as close as journalists can get to Aleppo's southern front line. Airstrikes, artillery and gun battles, the shrinking opposition
enclave is getting pounded by Bashar al Assad's forces.
For tens of thousands of civilians trapped inside, the only escape is to walk right through this front line. In a situation, the rebel area is so
bad that many are an exodus under fire.
There is a massive, almost avalanche of people trying to make it to safety. As you can see, there are people who are carrying their children but also a
lot of children left to make the trek themselves. It's so difficult for many of them. Of course, they've been under siege for such a very long
This is what total exhaustion from starvation and war looks like. This woman wounded when her house collapsed during the fight.
"It is indescribable inside," she says. "Hunger, suppression and everything bad you can imagine. No medicine, we have nothing. Literally we couldn't
get any treatment for our injuries."
All of this, of course, as the rebels continue to lose control of those eastern districts of Aleppo and also while the fighting is going on here.
We're hearing constant barrages of artillery. We're hearing rockets being fired. It's a very dangerous trek that these people are making and it's a
trek also into a very uncertain future.
We found this family about half a mile from the front line, too tired to walk any further. "I left my house in there," the father says. "I don't
want my house. I want to be safe. I want my children to be safe."
And thousands like them are also risking their lives going through one of Syria's most violent front lines hoping somehow to reach a safe place.
[10:11:20] PLEITGEN: But as you can see, Becky, even the basic things are difficult to come by for many of those people fleeing there in eastern
Aleppo. Of course, first and foremost what they want is safety. But then, of course, we also have to keep in mind that right now, it is very cold in
the Aleppo area. Many of them don't have enough blankets, don't have enough mattresses.
There are some aid groups that are trying to provide for them. But with this massive exodus that's going on right now, that is, of course,
something that is very difficult to do, as once again, we could be witnessing the final days, the final hours, of that uprising there in
ANDERSON: Fred is in Beirut for you this evening. Fred, appreciate it. Thank you.
Well, the Kremlin calls the allegations absolutely baseless, and Donald Trump dismisses them
as another excuse, quote. But there is growing concern on Capitol Hill over U.S. intelligence findings that Russia directed a campaign of cyber
attacks to influence the presidential election.
Now, the CIA believes that Moscow wanted to help Trump defeat Hillary Clinton. Trump fired off some tweets this morning, casting doubt on the
claims. One says, quote, "unless you catch hackers in the act, it is very hard to determine who was doing the hacking."
CNN's Jason Carroll has more for you.
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT: I think it's ridiculous. I think it's just another excuse. I don't believe it.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fiercely attacking the credibility of the Central Intelligence Agency, the president-elect
dismissing the intelligence community's assessment that Russia meddled in the election to help him win.
TRUMP: They have no idea if it's Russia or China. Could be somebody sitting in a bed someplace.
CARROLL: And claiming, without offering specifics, the analysis is politically motivated.
TRUMP: I think the Democrats are putting it out, because they suffered one of the greatest defeats in the history of politics in this country.
CARROLL: But it's not just Democrats. A group of bipartisan senators are joining forces, calling for Congress to launch an in-depth probe into
Russia's tampering, saying the reports "should alarm every American" and urging cyberattacks "cannot become a partisan issue."
GRAHAM: I think they did interfere with our elections, and I want Putin personally to pay a price.
CARROLL: This as speculation continues over Trump's nomination for secretary of state. Multiple sources familiar with the transition telling
CNN ExxonMobil chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson has emerged as the frontrunner.
TRUMP: He's much more than a business executive. I mean, he's a world-class player.
CARROLL: The possible nomination already sparking sharp criticism from some in the GOP establishment, concerned about Tillerson's own ties to Russia.
In 2013 Tillerson was awarded Russia's top honor for foreigners, the Order of Friendship, from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It's a matter of concern to me that he has such a close, personal relationship with Vladimir Putin.
CARROLL: Florida Senator Marco Rubio blasting Trump's pick, tweeting, "Being a friend of Vladimir is not an attribute I am hoping for from a
secretary of state."
And the president-elect, again, showing his willingness to challenge China, questioning whether the U.S. should keep its long-standing position that
Taiwan is part of one China.
TRUMP: I fully understand the one-China policy, but I don't know why we have to be bound by a one-China policy, unless we make a deal with China
having to do with other things, including trade.
CARROLL: Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.
ANDERSON: Well, we're live in Russia and in China for you tonight. Matthew Chance joining us from Moscow, and Matt Rivers is in Beijing.
And what's the reaction from there, Matt?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Moscow...
CHANCE: Sorry, we're both called, Matt..
ANDERSON: Apologies. Let's start in Beijing.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I guess I'll go then.
Starting in Beijing, the policy there is that the one China policy, given how sensitive it is here in China, the reaction from Beijing has been very,
very aggressive. In fact, at a regularly scheduled press conference at the foreign affairs earlier today, the spokesperson said this was of serious
concern. Let's play you a little bit of that sound.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GENG SHUANG, SPOKESMAN, CHINESE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (through translator): Adhering to the One China principle is the political bedrock
to the development of U.S./China relations. If it is compromised or disrupted, the sound and steady growth of the bilateral
relationship, as well as bilateral cooperation in major fields, would be out of the question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RIVERS: And so very, very strong words there, but measured in tone. But the Communist Party has other ways of getting across its viewpoints, most
notably in state media that it controls. And it was this morning in a tabloid newspaper, state-run, of course, called the Global Times, in an
editorial that the newspaper said Trump is like a child in his ignorance of foreign policy.
So, there's very consistent, negative words being used by the Chinese government and their media arms about the president-elect's comments.
And the question about why this is so sensitive goes back to the policy itself. The One China policy here in Beijing holds that the Chinese
government views Taiwan as a renegade province. The United States only has formal diplomatic ties with Beijing and not with Taipei.
If the Trump administration, when it takes office, either ignores that policy or goes so far as to establish formal diplomatic ties with Taipei,
then the Chinese government would view that as the Trump administration endorsing an independent Taiwan, and that is something that China refuses
to accept. The government here views that as an absolute step too far.
And how China would react, both economically and militarily, really is the big question. And that's why this is such a big deal: the implications of
what the president-elect said are really very wide ranging.
ANDERSON: All right, well, that's the view in Beijing. And the perspective from Moscow,
Matthew, if you will?
CHANCE: Yeah, well, I mean, when it comes to this issue of hacking, Donald Trump, like on so many other issues, is on the same page as the Kremlin.
In the sense that he is just coming out there and saying, look, there is absolutely no sense whatsoever linking Russia with this hacking that took
place during the height of the presidential campaign.
Obviously, he's got a domestic -- his own reasons for wanting to distance himself from any kind of assistance that the Kremlin may have offered,
legitimately or otherwise -- or illegitimately or otherwise -- in the sense that he wants to distance himself from anything that suggests that his
election was not completely legitimate.
It just happens to tally with what the Kremlin is saying, as well, because they don't want to be caught red-handed hacking the U.S. presidential
election. And so they've made the point also that there is no evidence that anyone can point to that would implicate a Russian individual in this.
And of course, they've both got, you know, a very good point. There aren't any digital footprints that have been made public. There isn't any
concrete evidence that anyone can point to, that Russia was involved in this. It is just an allegation. It is just suggestion.
There is the circumstantial evidence. I mean, anybody who was hacked was effectively perceived as being anti-Russian, anybody who was perceived as
being friendly toward Russia was not hacked. But that's really all we've got to go on in terms of evidence at
ANDERSON: Matthew Chance is in Moscow. Matt Rivers is in Beijing. To both of you, thank you.
ANDERSON: all right. We are going to take a very short break. As we do, a shot of the Bosphorus Strait for you.
Coming up, the most strategic of waterways. And we'll give you that. There you are. Apologies for misnaming earlier on. It is a chilly night
in Istanbul. Taking a very short break. Back after this.
[10:21:48] ANDERSON: At 20 past 6:00 here in Istanbul, we are in a country that has had an
extraordinary 12 months, even by the standards of 2016.
Welcome back. You're watching Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. This is a special program for you tonight. 2016, a year here which has
thrown up so many political surprises and upsets. Barely ten days into the new year, a suicide bombings rocked the heart of this city, the first of
more than a dozen attacks, including Istanbul airport in June.
A failed coup against President Erdogan shook this state to its core in July. And the crackdown that followed saw thousands imprisoned or purged
from their jobs.
A month later, for the very first time, Turkish tanks rolled into neighboring Syria to fight ISIS, drawing Turkey ever deeper into a war its
critics say it played a key role in stirring.
Well, 12 months full of turmoil, and the year is not over yet. Here to help us make sense of
these changes is Gulnur Aybet, she is professor of international relations at Bahqegehir University (ph) here, where she is the head of the Center for
Strategic Security Studies.
Come and join me. If Sunday was a day of mourning, today has been a day of retribution. The government vowing revenge on those who attacked the
stadium, or outside the stadium, which is just past the building that we are in now. Does that surprise you?
GULNUR AYBET, PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: No, not at all. I think the government has been adamant in their fight against terror, but
also from the PKK, whose sister organization, the PYD, across the border in Syria, have unfortunately both organizations, although the same
organization, have actually used the war in Syria as a means to further their ends. They are a separatist organization and a terrorist group.
So, the war in Syria has actually been an excuse for them to follow those ends.
ANDERSON: With respect for the international community, who is watching what is going on here, and Turkey's allies out of Washington and beyond,
they see the crackdown as it were, on the Gulenists, since the July coup. They see this very swift action against what they would call Kurdish
political militants and those using social media for propaganda.
And what is difficult for Turkey's allies to take on board is the strong arm, the controversy that they see through the actions of President
AYBET: No, because, again, I think a lot of this is being misreported, as the actions of the president, per se. And this is not true.
For example, take the dismissals and the arrests in the judicial system of the -- what you mentioned, the Gulenist movement. And this was a case that
was already going on for the past four years and just before the failed coup attempt, already 3,000 judges and
prosecutors were about to be removed from office.
And one of the reasons why this movement brought the coup forward, to the 15th of July, was simply because of these crackdowns that were going to
happen, the arrests that were going to happen at that time.
So it is not something -- a lot of people have been wondering, like, where did you find the names of so many people to be arrested immediately, the
day after the coup attempt? Because they were about to be arrested in any case on the 17th of July. So, a lot of people don't know this.
ANDERSON: What about the sense people have from outside of this country, perhaps that the
government and the president's opponents are sort of lumped into one at their convenience, to a certain extent?
AYBET: Well, I think you know, this is a country where before the coup attempt, we saw a lot of polarization. Because I think in the past ten
years particularly, it's been going through a massive transformation politically and society wise. And this is expected.
But at the same time, the aftermath of the coup has actually brought people together in an
unprecedented way. And I think a lot of that spirit has not died down.
ANDERSON: Bear with me, I want to read our viewers, you will be aware of this statement.
But I want to just read to our viewers a statement from President Erdogan, bitter words in July, accusing western governments of failing to show
solidarity with Turkey. He had harsh words again after this latest attack on Saturday, quote, "we have no reason left to expect the countries that
choose to support terror organizations and terrorists rather than siding with the Turkish nation, and Turkey, which is fighting against terror, to
act any differently after this incident."
Who is he talking about? And does he have point?
AYBET: Of course he has a point, because he's actually reflecting a lot of sentiments felt by the Turkish people, and I'm talking about people who
support the opposition, as well as people who support the ruling party. And the feeling here is that our western allies have left us alone, not
just in the aftermath of the coup attempt, but also in the fight against terror, because when we look at particularly European countries, we see a
lot of propaganda that is PKK that has being wronged (ph) loose with police support.
We see countries like Germany and the United States, that have given arms to the PYD, which is an offshoot of the PKK, a lot of the arms are being
used in attacks against Turkey, just like the one you saw the other night.
So I mean, this is all making everybody here feel -- so, it is not just the president who is saying this, you know, if people are our allies, what is
going on? There's a lot of resentment and disillusionment.
ANDERSON: I hear what you're saying. And the president here does have significant support, more than 50 percent. There is, of course, a huge
cohort of people who do not agree with what he is saying.
Let me ask you this, how has Turkey, which was such a stalwart of NATO, have such a good relationship with its allies in this sort of early 2000s
and up until, certainly, the financial crisis of 2008, and was running a very efficient and very dynamic economy, how did it all
go wrong? And how did it move away from these allies that it would once have called its friends?
AYBET: I don't think Turkey alone moved away from its allies, per se. I think some of the allies moved away from Turkey. And we have to look at it
from also perspectives from both places.
If you live here, you can also see the other side of the coin. And I think what happened there is that, in particular the war in Syria has been a
sticking point between Turkey and the west. And Turkey feels they haven't been supported in the right way, particularly, support coming into the PYD.
In the early stages of the war, I remember you know a senior EU official once said to me, why doesn't Turkey go in there with its army, into Syria?
They wanted Turkey to go in. But now when Turkey is actually had no choice but to go in with (inaudible) in order to secure its border against
terrorists, then there is criticism.
So, again, this is something that is very puzzling for Turkey. We fail to -- we just don't understand why there is like these double standards that
are coming out. And I think the resentment against that is what has fueled this sort of distance.
ANDERSON: Let me ask you one very last question, and very briefly, a Trump administration out of Washington going forward and the emergence of a wave
of populism, if you will, potentially across Europe post-Brexit. How does Turkey deal with both of those going forward? And what would it mean for
AYBET: Yes. I think it is a double-edged sword to some extent. With an incoming the Trump administration, there is a feeling that given relations
were so bad in the second half of the Obama administration, particularly over Obama's policies over Syria, the general feeling is how much worse can
it get? And especially if we hear from some Republicans that they're less willing to support armed groups like the PYD in Syria, then, that's sort of
like a positive ring.
But of course, the rise of Islamophobia, the rise of racism in Europe, this is very worrying. So we're watching all of this, I think, from Turkey,
very carefully. We also want to see how the U.S./Russia relationship develops in that respect as well. How this is all going to impact the
So, it could be positive, but there are also negative connotations. So, it's something that we, as a country that's very critically geographically
placed it this region have to watch very carefully.
ANDERSON: And with that, we're going to leave it there. We thank you very much indeed for joining us. Thank you.
We're going to have more Istanbul voices for you just after the break, viewers. How do young people, youngsters, view their country's changing
fortunes. That and the latest world news headlines are just ahead. Don't go away. Taking a very short break. Bback after this.
[10:34:35] ANDERSON: Egypt's president is releasing new details about what swas a devastating bombing at a Coptic Christian church, as mourners pay
their final respects to the victims.
Abdul Fatah el-Sisi says a suicide bomber was behind the blast that killed at least 23 people. Many of the victims were women. It was the worst
attack against Egypt's christian minority in years.
Let's get more from our senior international correspondent, Ben Wedeman, who is following this story from Irbil in Iraq.
And for many years, Ben, you were the bureau chief in Cairo for CNN. Let's get the big picture here, because this is not an isolated event, is it?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, it is not, Becky. In fact, going back many years, there have been attacks on Coptic Christians
in Egypt. In fact, I remember on the 31st of December, 1999, in the town of (inaudible), which is in upper Egypt, there was a dispute between a
Christian shopkeeper and a Muslim customer that quickly became a massacre. 21 Christians were killed in that incident.
And there's a lot of incidents that happened, especially in upper Egypt, sort of far away from the
cameras, that start as simply personal disputes or quarrels between a Coptic Christian and a Muslim, which would quickly take on a sectarian
And certainly, we've seen a real increase in these attacks since the revolution in 2011. Since then, there have been more than 75 sectarian
attacks on Christians, and more than half of them since the ouster of Mohamed Morsi in the summer of 2013.
Now, the Egyptian President, Abdul Fatah el-Sisi, has made statements, calling for religious reform. He has attended services at the St. Mark's
Cathedral, which is the headquarters for the Egyptian Coptic Cchurch. But his message is clearly not getting down to the street level, where there is
an increasing amount of tension between Christians and Muslims in this country which, if you go back 50 or 60 years, these tensions simply did not
And many people believe they are the result of sort of an alien ideology that came from the Arabian peninsula, specifically the Wahabbi ideology, a
sect of Islam from Saudi Arabia, that had introduced a kind of sectarianism that simply did not exist in the past in Egypt -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Ben Wedeman is reporting tonight out of Irbil in Iraq for you this evening.
It's 37 minutes past 6:00 here. In a city often seen as a crossroads between east and west, and we've been hearing that this is a country that
many now think is at a crossroads, too, with one man in particular in a very powerful position to influence the direction over the next months and
years: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Well, here to give me their take on all of this are students Ali Ercan and Asli Isiktar, both of them joining me here tonight.
And you are students. Let's start with the horrific acts of this weekend. You live here.
ALI ERCAN, STUDENT: Yes.
ANDERSON: You study here.
ERCAN: Yes, I do.
ANDERSON: How does what is the 17th attack of the year make you feel?
ERCAN: Actually, before I start answering your questions, let me just convey my condolences to
the families of the victims and wish for a speedy recovery for those who got wounded. And as you mention, only in 2016, Turkey has been witness to
17 different terrorist attacks. And many guess that it is really -- really hurts us.
But it doesn't happen only in Turkey. Now, when we see -- look at the other countries, the western countries, countries in the Middle East,
countries in Africa, those kind of terrorist attacks happen -- are happening everywhere. In order to stop the terrorist attacks, we as
Turkey, Turkish citizens, our western allies, need to come together to solve this problem.
ANDERSON: Well, many people watching from around the world will say is, is the government in any way to blame for the way it has failed, perhaps,
critics will say, to engage with its opponents, or is that unfair?
ASLI ISIKTAR, STUDENT: I don't think it is fair or unfair. It is hard to judge the government for now in a situation like that, but there are right
and wrongs in every government. And we have right and wrongs here, too.
ANDERSON: So how do you feel about being a youngster living in Turkey today in 2016?
[10:40:02] ISIKTAR: Actually, I'm afraid, because of all these attacks, 17 attacks in a year. It was really hard for me to -- hundreds of people
died, also a coup attempt, it was really interesting for me, because I haven't seen something like this before.
But I want to be optimistic, because I love my country, and also, terrorism is a global trend, actually. And like our leader, Erdogan, says, peace at
home, peace in the world. So we need to fight against this threat together, I think.
ANDERSON: What is the solution? When you sit around and you chat to your mates, you must talk politics, as much as I'm sure you talk about other
things. As anybody of your age will do anywhere in the world. And you're absolutely right to point out, it isn't only Turkey.
So, when you are talking to your mates, what do you come up with, the solutions?
ERCAN: I think the first solution might be, at the moment, is regardless of our political
opinions, ideologies, et cetera, we need to be put these aside and come together as people of this
country, this lovely country, and listen to each other and work on this problem and how to solve it actually.
ANDERSON: Do you feel you have a future here?
ERCAN: Yes, I do. Of course.
Personally, I lived seven years in the United States, in New York. I received my masters degree and I returned to my lovely country a year ago.
And now I'm doing my PhD here. If I thought that way, I wouldn't come back, honestly.
ANDERSON: Well, let me tell you, Istanbul is an amazing city.
ERCAN: It is.
ANDERSON: It is one of my favorite cities in the world.
If you were addressing the viewers tonight, wherever they are watching around the world, what would your message to them be?
ISIKTAR: In my opinion, we have to make cooperation, more cooperation with all of each other and solve this problem of terrorism all together. I
think we cooperate with our western allies.
ANDERSON: Does it worry you what's happening not just here, but on the borders in neighboring countries, in Iraq and Syria?
ISIKTAR: We are living in a common world. And it's all of our problems. It's the same, I think.
ERCAN: What I think, that is the reason we're facing this kind problem in Turkey at the moment. You know, when we look at our borders, like the
countries in the Middle East, especially the Arab Springs, and when we look at the Caucuses, Balkans, et cetera, the other regions, we see this kind of
political instabilities everywhere. And in order -- yes.
ANDERSON: Go on.
My last question to you, and I was just thinking as you were talking to me there, it is clear, the way the president has set out to provide solutions,
both in Iraq and in Syria, we hear and see his foreign policy on a daily basis.
And I know that you are -- I think I'm right in saying, supporters of the current government and the president here.
For those who aren't supporters, for those who are of the opposition, do they have a future in this country? You must have friends who don't
necessarily feel the same way as you guys.
ERCAN: I mean, let me answer that. Personally, I don't support any political parties at the moment. I'm not a supporter of the government nor
opposition at the moment. That's why I think we all have a future in this country. In order to have a future in this country for all kinds of
people, from all walks of life, in this country, we have to get together, come together, and work on how to solve this
problems, because this is our country. You cannot go to another country.
ANDERSON: You're not going anywhere.
ERCAN: No, I'm not going anywhere. Of course.
ISIKTAR: I'm not a supporter of the government. In my opinion, we have to listen to minorities and we should find the solution all together. And I
think we can do that.
ANDERSON: OK, good. Well, let's leave it on a very positive note because it had been a hellish weekend this weekend, but let's hope there at the
back end of 2016 and 2017 brings better news.
Thank you, both, very much.
ISIKTAR: Thank you.
ERCAN: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.
Live from Istanbul, this is Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson. Coming up, a child's voice from the ruins of Aleppo has echoed around the world.
And you're going to hear from her after the break.
And then, this enchanting city rocked by terror again this weekend. But its people aren't just cowering in fear, as you heard. We look at
Istanbul's resilience just ahead.
[10:48:03] ANDERSON: Well, your watching CNN. This is a special edition of Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson, out of Istanbul. Now, the
young girl who captured the world's attention with her tweets about life in eastern Aleppo is speaking
7-year-old's Bana's (ph) account was deactivated last month, as the government assaults intensified. She and her mother are now in hiding, but
told their story to CNN's Jomana Karadsheh.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Becky, over the past week, we've been in touch with the family. They've been absolutely
terrified. They've been living in fear. They say that they are a target. And so they've been trying to lay low.
But there have been a lot of questions about their fate, and there are also people skeptical,who raise doubts about the authenticity of that Twitter
On Sunday, Bana's mother spoke to us to answer some of these questions.
BANA Al-ABED, 7-YEAR-OLD HIDING INSIDE ALEPPO: Hello, my friends. How are you? Stand with Aleppo.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The seven-year-old captured the world's attention as her mother Fatemah tweeted almost daily
about Bana's life under siege in eastern Aleppo. Then, this chilling tweet came last month. "Tonight, we have no house. It's bombed. I got in rubble.
I saw deaths and I almost died," with a photo of a shell-shocked Bana covered in dust. As regime forces advanced and captured their neighborhood,
the family disappeared for a while and rarely tweeted.
FATEMAH AL-ABED, MOTHER HIDING INSIDE ALEPPO: Hi.
KARADSHEH: On Sunday, Bana and her mother spoke exclusively to CNN from an undisclosed location in rebel-held eastern Aleppo.
F. AL-ABED: I feel that we are in a really targeted from regime people, so I can't tell anyone, even my parents doesn't know where I live really.
KARADSHEH (on camera): The -- tens of thousands of people have left east Aleppo. And they've gone out. Why are you still there?
[10:50:03] F. AL-ABED: I am afraid to lose one of my kids if I flee with the -- all the people because they think I am work against the regime. I
don't belong to any side. I am just what I was speaking about, civilian people, about children.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): Fatemah says she decided to speak to us because some have accused them of being an anti-regime propaganda tool, something
she denies. But she admits helping her daughter articulate their messages to the world. Fatemah says she feels doing it in English is more effective.
F. AL-ABED: Bana can speak a little English. I help Bana to make sure that her voice reach to a lot of people in English.
B. AL-ABED: ....even at night.
KARADSHEH: Bana's answers in English are short and her mother in the background helps her. When they switch to Arabic, she clearly is more
B. AL-ABED (through translator): My brother, Noor, doesn't speak because of the bombing. We don't know what he says and we are so scared of the
shelling. When our house was shelled, we were so scared and we suffocated because of the dust and we were going to die.
KARADSHEH: Bana says she misses school, she misses her home and with barely any food available, she also misses fruit.
Two months ago, Fatemah told us she would never leave Aleppo. Now, all she wants is for someone to evacuate them to safety.
Bana sings her favorite song, a 1980s song about children of war.
B. AL-ABED: I am a child with something to say, please listen to me. I am a child who wants to play. Why don't you let me? My doors are waiting. My
friends are praying, small hearts are begging. Give us a chance. Give us a chance.
KARADSHEH: With today's developments out of eastern Aleppo, a lot of concern for the family's safety. But Fatemah has tweeted, saying that
these are her final messages. She says she doesn't know how she is tweeting. She doesn't know how she is still alive, and she says she's sad
the world did nothing to help them -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Jomana Karadsheh reporting there.
All right, well at this hour, Antonio Guterres is being sworn in as the next secretary-general of the United Nations. Let's get there for you just
momentarily. He takes over from Ban Ki-moon, whose term is over at the end of the month. Guterres, of course, the former prime minister of Portugal
and the UN's former high commissioner for refugees.
When he is sworn in, he'll be the UN's ninth secretary general. The selection process traditionally done behind closed doors, but this time
public discussions were added. The ceremony will also include a tribute to Ban's ten years in the post.
Well, from a very cold and windy Iistanbul, you're watching Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson. Coming up next, as this city mourns, we pay
tribute to its resilience. Stay with us.
[10:55:08] ANDERSON: Right.
Well, that is the team here on what is a cold, dreary day in Istanbul after what's been a bleak year for the country. But even after Saturday's
attacks, it is impossible to imagine a city as incredible as this bowing to the utter cowardice of terrorism.
Now, this city's story runs through all of our histories as constantly as the Bosphorus strait through it. A place that's witnessed once eternal
empires crumble away -- Constantinople to the Romans to Istanbul to us.
But to both a bridge between east and west by its natural geography, and that of it made by man. Under the famous domes of perhaps its grandest
mosque, a reminder that it was once a place of worship for Christians. Istanbul revels in that history. Shopkeepers flog their wares in markets
that have stood for 600 years.
So, as it has done for millennia, so Istanbul will keep on shining its lights and vibrancy, undimmed.
Your Parting Shots for you this evening. And do keep in touch with us to follow up on developments from Turkey and, of course, all of the other
stories that we are always working on as a team from the region and around the world.
You can get to the Facebook page at Facebook.com/CNNConnect. And touch base with me. Feel free to reach out to me that's at Twitter @BeckyCNN.
We do always appreciate hearing from you, the viewers. Because after all, as I always say, this is your show. I'm Becky Anderson. That was a
special edition of Connect the World, live from Istanbul this evening at just before 7:00 here. Thank you for watching.
From the team working with us here in the cold and around the world, it is a very good evening. Stay
with CNN though. The news continues after this.