Return to Transcripts main page


What Will Tillerson's Foreign Policy Look LIke?; Rebels on Verge of Collapse in Eastern Aleppo; Rodrigo Duterte Admits to Personally Killing Suspects While Mayor of Davao City; U.S. Tech Giants to Meet with Donald Trump; U.S. to Halt Some Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired December 14, 2016 - 10:00   ET


[10:00:14] BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Evacuations that never happened and a ceasefire that never was: there are reports of the rebels and Syrian forces

shelling each other this hour with deadly effects.

We're going to have the very latest on eastern Aleppo for you in just a moment.

Also this hour.


RODRIGO DUTERTE, PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES: I go around Davao with a motorcycle, with a big bike, and I would just patrol the city and looking

for trouble or something.


ANDERSON: An alarming admission, the Philippines controversial president says he's killed suspects as part of a drug war.

Plus, talking tech without Twitter. President-elect Donald Trump meets top executives in New York.

Right, hello and welcome to Connect the World. Tonight, once again in Abu Dhabi, I'm Becky Anderson at just after 7:00 in the evening here.

Well, a ceasefire that gave hope to those in the battered districts of eastern Aleppo, Syria disappeared as quickly as it appeared.

Well, Russia and Turkey brokered a deal which never really materialized.

All you can hear, is said to be shelling in this video posted by an activist on Facebook. Both sides blame the other for the failed ceasefire.

Well, those trapped inside the rebel-held neighborhoods just want out. The evacuations of fighters and civilians that were promised have yet to

happen, buses sit empty. Frederik Pleitgen takes a look at the desperate situation that is not over yet.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After years of holding out against Syrian government forces, and months trying to

fight off a massive final assault, the last remaining rebels and civilians are set to leave Aleppo, allegedly guaranteed safe passage in return for

full government control of this ancient city.

The past weeks have been among the most brutal in the five-year civil war. As pro-Assad forces kept taking chunks of territory away from the

opposition, tens of thousands of civilians fled. A mass exodus under fire that I witnessed firsthand.

(on camera): There is a massive, almost avalanche of people trying to make it to safety. As you can see, there's 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 time.

(voice-over): Aleppo is among the oldest cities in the world, Syria's cultural center, and was the country's economic powerhouse. A melting pot

of cultures with a pre-war population of more than 2 million people, the thriving cosmopolitan city was a source of pride for Syria. It was also one

of the first places where the rebels managed to hold any territory in the face of a government crackdown.

After years of fighting, what is left in many places is complete destruction. Whole neighborhoods flattened, including most of the ancient

old city. The rebels' retreat from Aleppo won't end Syria's civil war. Opposition fighters still hold large parts of the country and ISIS is

advancing in others. But the opposition's defeat would mark a major victory for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian backers, cementing

their grip of what is left of this war-torn nation.


ANDERSON: Well, with the ceasefire collapsed, the fighting has resumed with both sides of the conflict claiming casualties.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen was in Aleppo to see that devastation firsthand. Tonight, he is in Beirut.

And Fred, what are you hearing about why this ceasefire fell apart.

PLEITGEN: Well, it's like usual in these situations where both sides are blaming each other. You have the opposition that says that it was regime

fighters who fired first, and then you have the Syrian government saying that they believe that the rebels tried to undermine this ceasefire.

But it seems as though the really big problem on the ground is that there are so many different factions involved on all sides. You have obviously

the Syrian military on the one side, you have the rebels on the other, but then on the side of the Syrian military you still have various Shiite

factions from Lebanon, from Iraq, from Afghanistan. And then you also have the Iranians as well, and Palestinian fighters fighting for the government,

too. And of course the Russians.

And then you have various factions on the rebels side, including some Islamist and some moderate factions. And it really seems as though some of

them wanted to undermine this truce and so therefore it's very difficult to bring all of them inline.

Now, we know, Becky, that this ceasefire was brokered by the Russians and the Turks. And both of them are saying they want to try and get it back on


But of course with every minute that goes by and every shell that's fire, it becomes less likely, Becky.

[10:05:32] ANDERSON: What do we know of these reports of mass killing?

PLEITGEN: Well, this is something that the United Nations brought forward yesterday. They said that they had gotten reports of at least 82 civilians

being killed as government -- pro-government forces went through those districts of eastern Aleppo. Because we have to keep in mind we still have

that rebel enclave there right now, but the government in the hours before that managed to take a lot of territory away from opposition forces, and

this is where the UN said they heard that some of these atrocities took place.

Now, they say they got this information from sources that were credible in the past. They say they haven't been able to independently verify this,

but these are people who have told the truth to them in the past. The government, for its part, has not commented on this yet, but of course

there is grave concern with the United Nations and, of course, with the U.S. and other powers as well calling on the Assad government, calling on

the Russians, especially also, to prevent things like this from happening.

ANDERSON: Fred, we also saw footage of people celebrating in parts of Aleppo, the government controlled part. And one assumes this is a sense

that those there see the opportunity of returning to some sort of semblance of peace, correct?

PLEITGEN: Well, you know, I think you're absolutely right. You know, the western part of Aleppo has always been under government control. The

western part of Aleppo, there really was never any sort of uprising against the Assad government.

And we also have to keep in mind that that part of Aleppo itself was encircled by opposition forces for a very long time. The siege was by far

never as bad as what's going on -- or what happened in the eastern parts of Aleppo. Food was always allowed in, of course, to the west of Aleppo. But

certainly these people have also been through a lot as well.

And being on the government side, you really get the sense that many of them are just sick of having this conflict in their city. Many of them

want to move on. They want to start rebuilding. They don't want to worry about the conflict in those areas. So, there were celebrations.

And I've actually been on the phone with pro-government people that we know on the ground in west Aleppo. And they say that these were genuine

celebrations. This is not something that was orchestrated by the government, is that most people in western Aleppo really happy to this,

they hope, ending soon.

ANDERSON: It really is so dramatic to see the juxtaposition between the images coming from there and those, of course, of the eastern part of the

city. Fred, thank you. That was Fred Pleitgen reporting.

Let's, viewers, just take a look at how small what is this rebel-held part of the city now. The dark red inside the city, the area retaken by the

government. And that small, very small gray area at the city limits is what is still held by what the government would presume to be rebels.

All right, I'm going to move you on at this point. The president of the Philippines, often courts controversy, doesn't he? Well, now, Rodrigo

Duterte's comments appear, at least, to have reached a new level. He has admitted to killing suspected criminals during his time as the mayor of

Davao City while speaking at a business forum in Manila. Have a listen.


DUTERTE: But in Davao, I used to do it personally just to show to the guys that if I can do it, why can't you?

And I go around Davao with a motorcycle, with a big bike, and I would just patrol the city and looking for trouble or something.


ANDERSON: Well, since he took power in June, Mr. Duterte has waged a brutal crackdown on drugs, leaving nearly 6,000 people dead.

He earned praise from U.S. President-elect Donald Trump. Well, Matt Rivers joins me now with more details from Beijing for you this morning.

This is a man, let's just remind our viewers, who is hugely well supported by Filipinos both in the country and without.

Should we be surprised by anything that he says at this point?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERANTIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And, well, I think for those of us who follow what this president does and what he did while he was

mayor of Davao City in the Philippines, no, this really doesn't come as a huge surprise. This is a man who during the presidential campaign,

campaigned on bringing these drug users and drug pushers, as he calls them, to justice. This is a man who is uncompromising when he talks about what

he's doing, despite the fact that the international community basically as a whole has come out and accused him of violating human rights in this a

man who is uncompromising when he talks about what he's doing despite the fact that the international community basically as a whole has come out and

accused him of violating human rights in this push, his war on drugs which he calls completely justified.

But when it comes to these comments that me made on Monday, he admitted to killing suspects. But this isn't the first time that we've actually heard

him talk about killing suspects of crimes during his time as mayor. In fact, it was in a radio interview in 2015 that he said back in the late-80s

he personally killed three people who were accused of rape and kidnapping, that was during his first term. And then he continued to do those kind of

things while he was mayor.

And so this is a guy who does not shy away from even bragging about what he did during his time as mayor. And so to your question, perhaps, no, there

shouldn't be a lot of surprise here that he comes out and continues to make these kind of statements.

ANDERSON: Matt, let's just step back. Can you contextualize for us, if you will, just briefly. What is going on in the Philippines? Just how bad

is the situation with drugs? And what sort of war is it that the president is waging? What's the scope of it?

[10:11:22] RIVERS: Well, there's no doubt that the Philippines does have a drug problem. And what the president campaigned on was eliminating that

drug problem through a brutal use of force. And so what you have seen is the president come through and really follow through on what he said he was

going to do. And so the numbers are absolutely staggering. Since July 1, 5,927 people have been killed in the Philippines as a result of the war on

drugs. But perhaps whats' more amazing in all of that is that only about a third of those killings have been conducted in police operations. Two-

thirds of those killings, approximately, have been conducted by vigilante groups going around and taking justice into their own hands. These are

extrajudicial killings.

And that's not to mention the tens of thousands of people that are now crowding Philippine jails where there is overcrowding. CNN's Ivan Watson

has been in those jails. He's seen it. He's shown us those images. It is an unrelenting war on drugs that many, many people say violates human

rights, it's outside of the scope of the law. You hear lawmakers in the Philippines actually come out. Some of them have said this isn't right.

And yet the president himself time and again refuses to apologize, refuses to accept any blame for what could be considered human rights violations

and says what he's doing is justified. It is truly remarkable some of the things that this president has said and that he refuses to back down from

what he said.

ANDERSON: Matt Rivers is reporting for you tonight out of Beijing. Thank you.

Right, let's get you some of the other stories that are this hour. And the U.S. federal reserve widely expected to raise interest rates within a few

hours. The 0.5 percent could go up to as high as .75 percent, 25 basis points. It would be the second time in a decade that the fed has raised


Well, investors keeping a keen eye on the Dow Jones average. Let's have a look. You can see it is inching closer to what is a strategically

important level of 20,000 for the first time ever. Down just slightly as we speak, down, what about an .8 percent, down 33 points. But trucking

towards that -- it will be a key psychological level that 20,000. So we'll keep an eye on that for you. Back to it if we see it go higher.

Protests in 15 Brazilian cities over a controversial amendment approved by the Senate. It voted to hold public spending to the rate of inflation for

up to 20 years. Brazil's president says the bill is a first step to getting the country out of recession.

Venezuelans who plan to travel to Colombia to exchange their money, or spend it before it becomes worthless can't, that's because the president,

Nicolas Maduro, sealed it for 72 hours. The government is printing higher value notes intended to keep up with what is runaway inflation.

Well, in just a few hours, top tech leaders are set to meet the person Silicon Valley has publicly criticized, the U.S. president-elect, Mr.

Donald Trump. It will come just a day after the billionaire philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates met with him at Trump Tower.

And musician Kanye West and former NFL stars were some of Mr. Trump's other visitors on Tuesday. That's a busy place, isn't it? Trump Tower revolving


Let's get more on the meeting with these tech execs from our senior tech correspondent Laurie Segall. She is outside Trump Tower in New York on

what looks like a very cold day in the city.

It would be fair to say that Trump had a somewhat contentious relationship with Silicon Valley during the campaign. For that read he was offered

almost no support by the tech giants.

So, tail between their legs scenario here, or a genuine attempt by Trump to let bygones be bygones, do you think?

[10:15:30] LAURIE SEGALL, CNN MONEY: Oh, Becky, to be a fly on the wall for this meeting, right. I mean, the tech community they were huge

supporters of Hillary Clinton in the past. They supported President Obama. There has been a very contentious relationship with Donald Trump, even

calling out specific leaders who are coming today -- Jeff Bezos from Amazon. He's also called out Apple for manufacturing in China. So, it

should be interesting to see what's on the agenda today.

So, before I get to the agenda, just a list of kind of the a-listers coming today. You have everyone from Apple CEO Tim Cook to Larry Page and Eric

Schmidt from Alphabet, which is Google's parent company, Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook, and the list goes on and on. The CEOs of IBM, Oracle, a lot

of folks coming today.

One notable absence and one person not invited, which is pretty interesting, is Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. And -- which is surprising if you

look at how much Donald Trump enjoys the platform that Jack Dorsey created.

And it's an interesting note if you look at that.

And on the agenda today it's all about jobs, that's what I'm told. The meeting will be, I'm told, about how to bring good jobs back into the

United States. And told also on the agenda will be how the government can work better with tech companies to become more efficient.

Now, all that said, you have these big leaders coming in today, and there's been a lot of questions about immigration, security, tax reform, trade.

You can imagine a lot of that will come up during this meeting, Becky.

ANDERSON: Are they, do you believe, now fans as a group of the president- elect, or is this on a need to do basis, do you think?

SEGALL: You know, I think that it's funny. If you look at the tech community in San Francisco, I was just there last week. You have people

who have a lot of anxiety, people who are speaking out even against their leaders coming to the table and having this meeting. But at the end of the

day, these are some of the largest companies in the world. They need to get along with the incoming administration, and there are things that need

to be heard and need to be said. So, you know, the idea is, you know, I look at the next four years there's going to be regulatory issues, a lot of

issues that are going to come up. They need to kind of have a seat at the table. And I think today is trying to at least make this -- make it

workable and see what comes out of it.

ANDERSON: Oh, to have a seat at that table, or as you rightly described a little bit of a wall as a fly for that meeting.

Listen, stick around. I know it's cold, but it's a very important story and we'll be back to you as and when you hear more.

All right, thank you.

Still to come tonight, America set to have a new top diplomat, if all goes to plan, at least. So, what can the Middle East expect from Rex Tillerson?

Plus, the U.S. curtailing arms sales to Saudi Arabia as concerns over civilian casualties in Yemen mounts. Will Washington's latest move curb

the bloodshed? More on that later this hour.


[11:20:51] ANDERSON: Right, you're watching CNN. This is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. It is 20 past 7:00 here in Abu Dhabi.

Welcome back.

We want to take a closer look at the collapsed ceasefire in Aleppo. The aim was to end the humanitarian crisis going on there, wasn't it? So,

after the last rebel is driven out of the city, what comes next?

Nick Paton Walsh takes a look at that for you.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The hearts of the agony, where barrel bombs randomly hit doctors or children, where food

became a weapon, has fallen to its persecutors.

Eastern Aleppo in regime hands is a turning point for the war. Here are three ways how. First, the rebels lost an important home. They have two

choices to run to. A Turkish backed enclave to the northeast, where rebels fight mostly ISIS, not the regime. Or the province of Idlib, where the

Syrian affiliate of Al Qaeda play as dominant role.

This group formerly called the Nusra front are being bombed and blacklisted by the United States. It'll be hard for the west to give any help to any

rebels so physically close to Al Qaeda.

A second big change happening, what's left now of those moderates who began this fight against Assad? The Russians and Damascus haven't and won't care

either way.

This is exactly what they want. To label all rebels as terrorists. Moscow tried this in Chechnya to mixed success. Moderate separatists were

targeted, radicals committed atrocities like the Beslan hostage crisis, allowing Moscow to pursue an only military solution against a movement they

now call terrorists.

It didn't end the problem. The radicals came back nastier with ISIS now in southern Russia.


WALSH: In fact, Moscow must surely be concerned its savage role in Aleppo may make more jihadists target it in years to come.

All the same, with so many troops and so much firepower assembled now, why would the Russian and Syrian forces pack up and stop? The rebel stronghold

of Idlib whose city center was seized only last year. It's just a half hour drive away.

The third point is that there isn't much of a reason to stop. The western alternative plan for Syria is in collapse. Trump's minimal comments on

Syria have been focused on targeting ISIS. He seems to admire Putin, making a kremlin regular his secretary of state nominee.

Britain, France, the Gulf, all seem rudderless on Syria as Obama readies to leave office. And they look here for leadership on Syria, but its new

occupants may willingly inherent a fait accompli in this torturous war handed to him from elsewhere.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Beirut.


ANDERSON: Well, Syria clearly will be high in the in-box of the incoming U.S. administration and whoever takes on the State Department portfolio.

Now, we have a nomination for that job: ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson. Since Doanld Trump announced his choice for U.S. Secretary of State, much

has been made about Tillerson's ties to Russia. However, his Middle East experience and links also deserve a closer look. How would he handle the

complex conflicts in Syria, in Yemen, and in Iraq not to mention the stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians?

Well, the founder and president of the Eurasia Group, Ian Bremmer joining us now from Dubai.

Look, the next Secretary of State must be someone who views the world with moral clarity, is free from potential conflict and has a clear sense of

U.S. interests. Not my words, but the words of Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who has made no bones about his contempt for Trump's pick.

Is Tillerson qualified to do the job in the first instance, Ian.

IAN BREMMER, FOUNDER, EURASIA GROUP: Oh, I think he's definitely qualified. There's no question that the appointment is problematic, but

it's more problematic because of Trump and what Trump has been saying and doing than because of Rex Tillerson himself.

I mean, you know, Trump wanted Giuliani, Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor. And that would have been a flaming disaster. Tillerson is not just

a CEO, he's one of the most capable and strong that the United States has had over the course of the past couple of decades. He knows these heads of

state. He knows the ambassadors. He knows the ministers. He knows the CEOs all over the world.

But he does take an enormously transactional view towards international policy. This is not just a guy who wants sanctions gone, as any CEO would,

but he has very limited interests in human rights in these countries. He likes working with stronmen, with strong leaders. There's a reason why

Silvio Berlusconi in Italy liked working with the CEO of (inaudible) so closely. It's the same sort of thing you're seeing here.

And it's precisely the fact that Trump, in particular, has this unusual fixation in wanting to work with Putin, not just because Obama failed on

Russia so much, though he did, but also the idea that even hacking against the U.S. election is something Trump doesn't even want to look into. That

fact combined with the notion that Rex Tillerson personally knows Putin and has a better relationship than with any other U.S. leaer does with the

Russian president, is going to raise a lot of questions in congress and in the media, and rightfully so.

[10:26:35] ANDERSON: Right, OK, look, let's assume his nomination makes it to the floor of the Senate as is expected. What sort of foreign policy

should we expect from what some are calling Trump's proxy at State?

Will he, for example, stick to the Obama script, announce today and maintain this partial ban on arms sales to the Saudis? Or, for example, is

that likely to be overturned come the new year? What should we expect in this region?

BREMMER: Well, foreign policy is nowhere near as coherent in terms of the appointments Trump is making than domestic economic policy, which is much

more pro-industry, pro-finance and the rest. So, certainly under Tillerson you would expect someone who wants to get back to business as usual in

terms of arms sales to the Saudis, though to be fair Obama had business as usual until just 24 hours ago. So, suddenly Yemen is a problem. He's a

little late to the party there.

But, let's also keep in mind that Trump himself has been extraordinarily outspoken about radical Islam and the countries that are incapable of

dealing with it. You know, you look at Mike Flynn at national security adviser and you see also someone who has been talking about Muslims in the

U.S. as wanting to proselytize and create Sharia communities.

If that -- that could easily be the direction as well. If the U.S. starts demonizing Islam, I don't think that a Rex Tillerson pragmatic and

businesslike approach in the Gulf is necessarily going to move the needle very much.

So, Tillerson is an adult, there's no question. But I mean, it's not like the Trump administration is filled with adults on foreign policy right now.

ANDERSON: Yeah. And the interesting thing is we were both at the Arab Strategy Forum earlier in Dubai. You probably heard me speak to the

foreign -- the former British prime minister David Cameron there who told me, quote, at this point frankly the goal is for countries in the Middle

East and elsewhere to do as much as possible to try to educate a new president on the issue he will confront. The more he is aware, he said,

the less he will simply resort to rhetoric rather than action.

A former head of the CIA was also with me on stage today. Earlier on, Panetta also skeptical about Trump.

We were discussing whether we were likely to see a different a president Trump as opposed to the Trump on the campaign trail. But I think the

problem is this, correct me if I'm wrong, we heard so little, really, about foreign policy on the campaign trail from either candidate. It isn't

really clear yet, is it, what this region should expect.

BREMMER: Well, you know, I do think that this America first policy, while short on policy details, you know, does have some pretty strong broad

brushes, which is that the United States is being taken advantage of allies. It has burdens that have been put on it for global leadership,

whether it's on trade or on security or even on support of values and democracy that Trump wants absolutely no part of.

It's really a repudiation of American indispensability and American exceptionalism. And it's a very unilateral policy. So, he's going to bomb

the hell out of ISIS, but he's not going to do a lot of things to support the interests of allies, either in this part of the world in the Middle

East, or in Europe or Asia. So, I mean, on the one hand if you're the Saudis, you're not going to get a lot of criticism from President Trump on

human rights problems, on the fact that women can't drive on, you know, sort of expatriate labor and the way they're treated. You really don't

have to worry about that.

And the same way Putin doesn't have to worry about imprisoning or assassinating journalists. But you do have to worry about what the

attitude towards this region is. How much is he going to care if it's falling apart as long as it isn't a direct threat to the United States.

I do think he's been fairly consistent on that.

[10:30:50] ANDERSON: Ian, it's a pleasure having you on. Come again.

Taking a short break, viewers. The latest world news headlines are just ahead. Plus, some good news, a dream come true. How a young Afghan boy

walked onto the playing field hand in hand with his hero. That's ahead.



[10:35:33] ANDERSON: We've heard a lot about the city of Aleppo this hour. Russia's alliance with Syria has allowed the siege of eastern Aleppo and

for that Russia has been condemned in the international community.

I'm going to get you to Matthew Chance who is in Moscow.

We've seen Russian TV really highlighting their military's role in Syria recently. What's the message and what is behind that?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, it's been really interesting, actually, because normally the only images we see of Russia's

-- on Russian television of Russian action in Syria of naval bombardments or particularly bombardments from the air. And it's portrayed very much

as this kind of clinical, you know, kind of moralistic campaign, which has very few casualties, certainly not on the ground. I mean, the Russian

position is that they haven't killed any civilians on the ground, even though obviously the testimony from Syria itself paints a very different


But what we saw at the weekend for the first time is images of Russian special forces carrying out what could only be described as assassinations

against individuals they described as jihadis, jihadis from the former Soviet Union and from other regions of the world as well. And the motive

for that, they said -- not of broadcasting images, but of killing the people -- is to prevent the jihadis from returning home to countries like

Russia or countries in central Asia where they can carry out acts of terrorism.

Now, this speaks very much -- it moves Russia away as much as possible -- from this idea it is committing acts of humanitarian kind of war crimes in

Syria, and much more into this area where potentially there could be cooperation with the United States.

I mean, Donald Trump, as he comes to office, has made no secret of the fact that he wants to join forces with Russia and make the Islamic State the

center of both of their targets of their guns. And, you know, you get the sense that the Russians are trying to offer up that as a possible area of


ANDERSON: Fascinating. Matthew Chance is in Moscow for you this evening viewers.

All right, well the U.S. curtailing arms sales to Saudi Arabia and limiting military assistance to the Kingdom's campaign in Yemen. That, they say, is

because of concerns about civilian casualties.

Right, well, a review of the United States's support was ordered after this airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition killed at least 155 people in a

funeral in Sanaa recently. The coalition said it was responsible for the strike and, quote, incorrect information was to blame.

Well, the sale of precision guided munitions is being halted, U.S. officials say, because of systemic problems with Saudi targeting in the


Well, for more on the U.S. decision, I'm joined now by CNN's global affairs correspondent Elise Labott in Washington.

Those who have been looking for the U.S. to pull something like this for some time say too little, too late. Others are really questioning why the

U.S. would take this step now. Is it clear?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, I think you'll remember in October after that horrible bombing of a funeral hall in Yemen, which

killed I think about 140 people, the U.S. undertook a review of its assistance to Saudi Arabia in the coalition to the coalition fighting in

Yemen. There were a lot of concerns about civilian casualties and that kind of narrowed down on the Saudi targeting.

You know, senior officials tell me that this is the main problem that the Saudis are not picking their targets very well. And because the U.S. is

giving these precision guided munitions that even helps them get their bad targets even greater. And so that's where the U.S. is curbing its

assistance. On these precision guided munitions, they're also going to curtail some of the intelligence sharing with Saudi Arabia in terms of hose

targeting operations, but what they are going to do is help Saudi Arabia strengthen its intelligence about threats to the border and training of the

Saudi airforce in terms of their targeting.

[10:40:01] ANDERSON: Fascinating. All right. Thank you, Elise.

My next guest and his organization think the UK, the United Kingdom, should follow suit and stop selling arms to Saudi for the war in Yemen.

I'm joined now by Roy Isbister he is the team leader on arms transfers at Safer World. Sir, thank you for joining us. And good luck with the notion

that the UK is backing away from any business inthe Gulf. Theresa May, the British prime minister, spent the week last week courting every leader in

her Rolodex. Do you really believe that what you are hoping for is realistic at this point in this climate?

ROY ISBISTER, SAFER WORLD: Well, I think it's challenging, certainly, but I think what we've seen out of the U.S. just in the last 24 hours is

going to put a lot of pressure, a lot more pressure on the UK government to rethink its own policy to Saudi Arabia. It's already under a lot of

pressure from parliament, from a legal challenge in the courts, from some of its EU partners. So challenging, yes, but feasible.

ANDERSON: We do know, though, that even its reported a foreign affairs select committee suggesting to the government that it should be looking

very closely at these arms sales, those in government looking to overturn that suggestion.

So, going forward -- I know where you stand, but going forward do you believe that there is anything but business to be done for the UK in Saudi

and other states here?

ISBISTER: Yeah. I think there's plenty of other things to look at here. I mean, clearly, the economic issue is significant. I mean, Saudi Arabia

is the largest customer for UK and exports, but there are certainly a lot of other issues on the table here. And the UK has legal obligations that

has to fulfill that nationally, in terms of its position in the EU and through the international arms trade treaty.

There are steps it has to follow when it's considering whether to issue arms exports, to authorize arms exports, and it's very clear that in the

case of Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia's comment in Yemen, these standards have been broken. And as I said, there is currently a case going through

the courts, which is looking at whether the UK is making its legal obligations.

ANDERSON: Right, let's have look at the numbers shall we. According to figures from the House of Commons, there were $4.2 billion in arms sales to

Saudi in the 12 months since April of last year. And accusations of war crimes committed by the Saudi coalition bombing Yemen have led to protests

in the UK, as you rightly point out, over such deals.

Here, Amnesty International activists protest the arms being bought from Britain by Saudi for use in the war on Yemen. $4.2 billion is quite a sum,

dwarfed, of course, by that being received by the U.S.

Do you believe that public opinion in Britain is turning? And will that have a likely impact?

ISBISTER: I think unfortunately that Yemen is sometimes called the forgotten war, assuming it's taking place in the shadow of the wars that

are getting more -- conflict that's getting more attention in the same region. And so I think that's part of the problem is that I don't think

the UK public is fully aware of what's happening in Yemen and the role that UK arms are playing in the terrible devastation that's going on in the


I mean, there's the -- it's not just a case of who is actually being directly killed by the bombs that are falling from the sky, but it's also

the incredible damage that's been done to civilian infrastructure, for water treatment plants, schools, hospitals, the ports, airports, that is

making economic -- normal economic life in Yemen -- impossible causing huge health issues. There's more and more agencies are talking about how Yemen

is now kind of one step away from famine. And this can all be laid at the door of the conflict that's going on.

So, I think if the public knew more about what's happening in Yemen, then that would be quite interesting to see how that would play out.

ANDERSON: With that, we're going to leave it there. We thank you very much indeed for joining us, only because I need to take a very short break.

Back, though, after this. Thank you, sir.

Coming up, we meet a Syrian boy who is finally going after his dream, thanks to the generosity of strangers.

And remember this young boy, well, he wore a Lionel Messi jersey made from a plastic bag. Well, the story has a very, very happy ending. We're going

to explain how and why after this. Do stay with us.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a luxury African brand, infusing the distinctive flavors of the continent into its gourmet teas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In doing research, I found out that Africa is one of the top exporters of tea in the world, but actually none of the top tea

companies are from Africa, and there I saw the opportunity to create an African tea brand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eswara Teas (ph) was founded in South Africa in 2012 by former corporate executive Swadi Martin (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Africa has a reputation of producing products of low quality. And what we are trying to do is to change that perception and

showcase worldclass African products made locally.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Martin is personally involved in the creation of all the recipes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love nature. And I imagine all these flowers, all these scents, all these ingredients, and I just imagine them alive in a

cup. And that's how I make the different ingredients.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The company currently exports to 16 countries and has two product ranges -- Eswara (ph), a selection of 27 varieties of hand

blended teas and tea time accessories, and Akrafo, a wellness food brand with indigenous healing ingredients.

Products can be found at high-end establishments, such as (inaudible), St. Regis (ph), and The Four Seasons hotels.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our factory is located in the cradle of humankind, just outside Johannesburg. And this location is very symbolic for us,

because it is an expression of this African renaissance, which we feel a part of.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The teas are all sourced from countries across Africa, including Malawi, Rwanda and Botswana in accordance with Fair Trade


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Most of the tea industry is actually export of low quality tea, which is bought between one and five dollars a kilo. The tea

that we buy, we buy it between 60 and 150 a kilo to our suppliers. So, this is a huge difference for farmers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To help build the brand, Martin recently opened a Moroccan inspired tea room in Johannesburg's chic (inaudible) district.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In terms of pricing, we try to have something for every budget. So, you can actually buy a cup of tea for $2 at our tea

house, but you can also by beautiful tea assortment for $300.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Future plans for the company include expanding its retail and export footprint for maximizing on social impact.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We hope to open our first franchisee in 2018. And this also I see as a great opportunity to develop more entrepreneurs.

Being an entrepreneur is extremely challenging, but it's also such a great source of great source of fulfillment. So, I see tea really as my

contribution to making the world a better place.



ANDERSON: Right. Welcome back. You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. About six or seven minutes to go, so do stay

with us.

Earlier this year, one of the world's largest scholarship programs was launched right here in the UAE, the Abdullah Al Ghurair Foundation is

investing more than $1 billion to educate thousands of young people across the Arab world and changing lives along the way.

This is one student's story. Have a listen.


SAEED AL GHABRA, SYRIAN STUDENT: When I was back there in Syria in my home city Aleppo, I've never thought about leaving school.

The situation there is very bad in Aleppo. OK, first of all, you can be killed at any moment, any place. Secondly, like we would spend weeks

without electricity or water. You cannot even imagine, unless you went there and you lived there.

It was like really hard.

We had to run out of Syria. It happened two years back in October 2014. We had to move in UAE.

I have never even imagined coming to the UAE in general, or maybe you can say leaving Syria.

My dad was jobless for this time. And there would be someone to support my family financially. It was basically me and my elder sister.

This years I spent -- it was tough years for me, but it helped me sharpen my personality and character.

Basically everyone around me, they suggested that I go and apply for Al Ghurair Foundation for education scholarship.

At the beginning I really didn't want to do that, because I felt like hopeless and I didn't feel as if I have any chance.

And it really worked out, like it's now it's awesome, like I would really regret if I wouldn't do that.

I find myself really lucky that I was able to survive and to come here and get this great opportunity, because so many others couldn't.

Anyone have friends back home. He would check on them just to like what's happening and then what are their latest news, but for me I have to check

on them, because I want to make sure that they are alive. Finally now, like my dad got a job. I got this awesome scholarship.

Me and my family we are very strong. And that really gives me a lot of strength and power. Now, I feel like I'm much stronger than I was before.


ANDERSON: And we'll be hearing more from Saeed and another student lucky enough to get what is a life changing grant in tomorrow's show. Same time,

same place, only on Connect the World on TV, on digital, and of course on social.

Right. Tonight's Parting Shots for you. We bring you a story to warm your heart. You may remember a young Afghan boy who caught the world's

attention when he wore a football shirt made out of a plastic bag. On the back of the shirt, the name, the number of his favorite player.

Don Riddell tells us how a global star gave this story a very happy ending.


DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: This is what it looks like when your dreams come true: meeting one of the world's best footballers, Lionel Messi.

The story of young Mataza Mehdi (ph) from Afghanistan pulled at the world's heart strings earlier this year. Photos of the boy wearing a plastic bag

made to look like Messi's jersey went viral.

BOY (through translator): I like football and Messi.

RIDDELL: It's the closest thing to a real Messi jersey that Mataza's (ph) family could afford. Their situation became more dire in May when they

were forced to flee to Pakistan.

When Lionel Messi himself saw the 6-year-old's story, he sent him not one, but two signed jerseys.

And now, he's doing one better, making Mataza's (ph) biggest wish come true.

And meet him, he did. The two walked hand-in-hand out onto the pitch ahead of Barcelona's match. Mataza (ph) took a photo with the team. And he

placed the ball on the center line before running back to his hero.

Don Riddell, CNN.


ANDERSON: That just makes you smile, doesn't it, that one.

Before we go, do reminder really, do check out the Facebook page at You can find more of the stories and the

interviews that we bring you every night on this show. And of course other stories from our team around the world. It's always good to hear from you,

the viewers, so be sure to pick up your phone and tweet us @CNNconnect. That is @CNNconnect.

I'm Becky Anderson, that was Connect the World. Thank you for watching.