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Trump White House Directly Blames Assad Regime for Chemical Attack; What will Trump, Xi Jinping Talk About in Mar-a-Lago?; Yo-Yo Ma Advocating for a Multi-perspective World Through Music. 11:00a-12:00p ET
Aired April 6, 2017 - 11:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:09:27] BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Well, you've been watching coverage on the Russia
investigation in the U.S. House. I want to bring you new details now on what is that apparent chemical attack in Syria that they were just talking
U.S. President Donald Trump directly blaming the Assad regime. And international officials say evidence is growing that chemical weapons were
used to attack a city in Idlib province on Tuesday.
The Turkish justice minister says autopsies on the victims indicate banned weapons and said, quote, Assad used chemical weapons.
The Syrian government continues to deny responsibility for the attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALID AL-MOUALEM, SYRIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): All these statements confirmed the absolute rejection that our army has used chemical
weapons in the past, present, future or anywhere. We condemn such a criminal act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDEROSN: Well, the Syrian foreign minister blaming terrorist groups for smuggling chemical weapons into the country, and allied Russia says it is
premature to blame the Syrian government.
Well, statements like that often no comfort to the survivors of the attack. They are receiving treatment in our Turkish hospital right now. And their
suffering is likely to continue for a long time after the physical scars heal. Ben Wedeman reports from the Turkish-Syrian border. And I warn you,
some of the material in Ben's piece is graphic and may be disturbing.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was the latest in a long series of horrors that is the war in Syria. Early Tuesday morning, the
town of Khan Shihoun was rocked by explosions. And suddenly there was pandemonium. Hundreds, including many children struggling for breath,
foaming at the mouth.
What exactly happened Tuesday morning isn't clear. The result, however, is. For the lucky who survived like 55-year-old, Aysha Tilawi (Ph), now in a
Turkish hospital, the memories return.
"There was an airstrike," she says. "I saw yellow and blue. We felt dizzy and fainted." Ahmed Adrahim (ph) still has trouble breathing or reconciling
Tuesday's events. "I don't know what happened to my children," he says.
Turkish teams in full chemical suits are deployed in no man's land to wash down those coming to Turkey for treatment. While the Turkish mobile lab for
nuclear biological and chemical weapons detection heads across the border.
Thirteen-year-old, Masin Youssef (Ph), Aysha's grandson, is back on his feet in the hospital, but the trauma has seared his soul. "I saw the
explosion in front of my grandfather's house," he recalls. "I ran to their house barefoot. I saw my grandfather sitting like this, suffocated. Then I
became dizzy." How many of his relatives were killed? "Nineteen," he responds.
ANDERSON: 19 family members killed in a single day.
Ben Wedeman joining me from the Turkish-Syrian border. And our Paula Newton has the view from Russia.
Ben, firstly, how does a young boy like that deal with the trauma that he is experiencing?
WEDEMAN: It's really hard to say, Becky. I mean, I don't think any of us can really put ourselves in his position.
But let's keep in mind, that the civil war in Syria is now into its seventh year. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed. And when you talk
to people like Masin about their experience, they talk about air strikes the same way you and I might talk about a rainy day, it's something they've
seen time and time again.
And clearly you can see from his eyes, you can hear from the way he speaks, this is a boy who's
been deeply, deeply traumatized. And unfortunately, he's just one of so many who are in a similar position - Becky.
ANDERSON: Ben Wedeman is on the ground.
Paula's in Moscow. And the Turkish authorities are absolutely definitive in their assessment, as Ben's report suggested, of evidence on the ground.
They say chemical weapons were used and they squarely blame Assad, and the Syrian regime.
Of course, that completely contradicts what the Syrians and the Russians are saying. What are you hearing in Moscow?
PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, two things. First off, what you're referring to is the fact that the Russian military came
out right away from this attack and said this was caused by a rebel chemical-making facility that they were trying to take out.
And they blame that.
Having said that, we've had more commentary from the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov, the spokesperson. And this is important, Becky, he did say that it
was a dangerous and horrible crime. Why is it important that after the 2013 attacks for some time, Russian insisted that it hadn't happened. So,
they are acknowledging that this is, as you said, a horrible - as they said, a horrible crime.
Having said that, though, he said the spokesman said people should not jump to what he called snap judgments. When asked, well, why did the Russian
military put out its information about what they believe happened? He said that their information was indeed more objective.
You know, what's also interesting here, Becky, is just a little while ago Vladimir Putin and Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, had a
telephone call. In a strategic sense, and you're going to get to this now, in terms of weather or not the United States is going ot take any action in
Syria. The phone all between President Putin and Prime Minister Netanyahu is highly significant.
Again, not that's highly significant. Again, not much to report from the callout on the report on that call. But on the other hand, Becky, they did
say that, of course, they discussed Syria and the Middle East.
LU STOUT: Paula Newton is in Moscow, Ben on the ground on the border between Turkey and Syria. And one more on this story ahead tonight. We'll
be hearing about the White House response to it ahead of Donald Trump's meeting with the Chinese leader, which is in a couple of hours.
And we will look at how investigators can get to the truth of exactly what happened in Idlib
Taking a very short break. Back after this.
ANDERSON: You're with CNN. This is Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi. 18 minutes past 7:00 here. I want to get you stateside. A
number of big stories in Washington today, one of which is this: the historic showdown in the Senate over Mr. Trump's Supreme Court nominee.
Now, this hour, we're expecting the first of several votes that could trigger what's known as
the nuclear option. Republicans determined to push through Neil Gorsuch. But Democrats equally determined to block him.
Now to overcome what's known as a Democratic filibuster, Republicans are ready to change the Senate rules, lowering the number of votes needed for
Now, this quote nuclear option could change the Senate for years to come as well as the Supreme Court where justices serve for a lifetime.
19 minutes past 11:00 in Washington. A big showdown there over Trump's Supreme Court nominee.
And that we will keep an eye on for you. A very, very big deal in Washington.
That, amongst other stories, of course, going on in Washington today. It has been a very, very busy week for Donald Trump, not least, as he works
his diplomacy through Egypt at the beginning of the week and the Egypt leader, the King of Jordan, the Middle East really
the focus at the beginning of the week, and now President xi.
But he's taking a tough line - let's talk Middle East - on Syria, saying he has a responsibility to act after the chemical attack he called an affront
But Syria far from the only crisis on his plate as he gets ready for another critical summit, the U.S. president meets later today with his
Chinese counterpart, as I said Xi Jinping. The leaders of the world's two largest economies will hold two days of talks on everything from trade
policy to currency valuation to - and this is important -- the North Korean nuclear threat.
Mr. Trump has promised Americans he will level the playing field with China, selling himself as the ultimate deal maker.
So, he is facing some pretty high expectations, it's got to be said. President Trump leaves
Washington next hour to head to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida where he will meet Mr. Xi.
Senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta got a head start and is already there.
And to use a very hackneyed phrase, the stakes really couldn't be higher, could they, as these two men get set to meet.
If he is effectively told, and I'm talking he, being Mr. Trump, is effectively told by his Chinese
counterpart, do not blame us for your problems, how do you think he will react to that?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORREPSONDENT: Oh, Becky, I think that's why you're hearing from senior administration officials, and we've been hearing
them talk about this all week long, that they're trying to tamp down expectations for what is essentially going to be a 24-hour visit between
these two leaders.
There was a lot of tough talk during the campaign from then candidate Donald Trump. He talked about China raping the United States. He used
that term rape, talking about China's trade policies and what they were doing to American workers in the American heartland, for example.
And so that is why you heard then-candidate Donald Trump throughout that entire campaign say that he was going to designate China a currency
manipulator on day one his administration. That did not happen.
And in the last week, you've heard the administration say, well, you know, we're going to start looking at our trade policies across the board, our
trade relationships across the board. And that includes hina.
And so there was sort of a veiled threat in all of that, but we are not hearing anything in terms of the makings for a direct confrontation between
President Trump as President Xi when they both get together here in Mar-a- Lago.
They're going to have dinner later on this evening. Obviously, they're going to be talking about trade issues. But from what we understand from
talking to senior administration officials, is that this is really going to be setting a framework for future talks to try to iron out what are some
very, very big differences.
ANDERSON: Yeah. And is it clear that the ratcheting up of the threat from North Korea has to a certain extent appeased Donald Trump in some of his,
what was fairly bombastic rhetoric when it came to the threats that China faces?
I mean, you know, in the end, the singular threat Sino-American relations will come from North Korea, unless they can get together on this, won't it?
ACOSTA: Right. And this has been a challenge from administration to administration. I should point out, Becky, I thought it was very
interesting, I heard from a senior administration official yesterday who tried to play down this missile launch that North Korea
pulled off in the last 24 to 48 hours. It was described as a Scud missile that was -- that went awry spectacularly in the words of this senior
administration official, only was in the air for some 60 kilometers before crashing into the ocean. And so that was an indication that perhaps the
White House is trying to tamp down, turn down the rhetoric on this talk of North Korea.
But make no mistake, when you hear the president of the United States, or see in print in that
Financial Times newspaper article that came out over the weekend where he said if China will not deal
with North Korea, we will. That is another throwing down of the gauntlet from President Trump to the Chinese president. Clearly President Prump
wants to shake up this relationship with China and send the message that the status quo is no longer going to work for the United states.
The question is, and I think a lot of Chinese political analysts are looking at this, too, does
President Xi take the bait. And as you and I both know from watching President Xi over the
years, he just isn't that kind of person.
And so that's why I think you're hearing both sides talk about a very quick visit. They're going to sit down. They're going to talk sort of on the
surface of a lot of these thorny subjects, and then both of these men are going to go their separate ways and make these conversations continue.
ANDERSON: Jim, very briefly, then, what would a win-win be out of this for both guys on what might be a very short...
ACOSTA: I think a win-win would be -- yeah, I think a win-win would be a mutual statement coming out from both China and the United States to keep
talking about these issues.
Now, you're going to hear - you're going to start hearing domestically in the United States some frustration expressed by union groups, some of these
labor organizations, you know, some of their members peeled away from the Democratic Party during that campaign to support President Trump because of
his tough talk on China.
And so if Trump doesn't start delivering on all of this, he's going to start having some big domestic political problems. But I think at the end
of the day, you're going to see at the end of this visit you're going to see some nice statements issued by both sides pledging ooperation on a
number of these issues and that they're going to continue to talk down the road.
I don't see anything sort of exploding into a big, you know, international incident in terms of, you know, nasty words exchanged between these two
leaders. It just doesn't - that is not the indication we're getting from White House officials at this point. It would be very surprising if things
were to descend into that kind of level I think over the next 24 hours, Becky.
ANDERSON: So, more than 70 days into this administration we are likely, as you point out, to learn practically nothing about where the relationship
between the U.S. and China is going.
All right, good stuff.
ACOSTA: Sometimes that's the best for both sides, yeah.
ANDERSON: Exactly. A win-win. All right.
Thank you, Jim.
Live from Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World. The latest world news headlines are just ahead. Lots more for you. Stay with us.
[11:30:18] ANDERSON: Well from Syria, to today's meeting with the Chinese leader, it's been a very busy week for U.S. President Donald Trump. Joe
Johns rounds it up from Washington.
TRUMP: These heinous actions by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump confronting multiple international crises during a week of high-stakes diplomacy,
including today's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
TRUMP: My attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much.
JOHNS: The president opening the door to greater action in Syria in the wake of the horrific chemical attack perpetrated, the U.S. says, by
President Bashar al-Assad against his own people.
TRUMP: When you kill innocent children, innocent babies, that crosses many, many lines. I do change, and I am flexible. And I'm proud of that
flexibility. And I will tell you, that attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me.
JOHNS: A significant shift for a president who, in the past, has advocated against intervention in Syria after similar attacks.
TRUMP (via phone): Now we're supposed to get involved with Syria. I would say stay out.
JOHNS: And fought for a ban on Syrian refugees.
TRUMP (on camera): I'm putting the people on notice that are coming here from Syria as part of this mass migration, that if I win -- if I win,
they're going back.
JOHNS: United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley warning that the U.S. may take unilateral action if other countries fail to respond.
HALEY: When the United Nations consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in the life of states that we are compelled
to take our own action.
JOHNS: A starkly different tone from her comments just days ago when she told reporters, "Our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on
getting Assad out." Those comments and others from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson prompting bipartisan rebuke.
REP. ELIOT ENGEL (D), NEW YORK: The remarks that we were no longer going to go after Assad as one of our major policies, I believe caused Assad to do
what he did.
RUBIO (via phone): I don't think it's a coincidence that a few days later we see this.
JOHNS: Ambassador Haley now slamming Russia for supporting the Assad regime.
HALEY: How many more children have to die before Russia cares?
JOHNS: As President Trump also condemns the Kremlin, but in much lighter terms, telling "The New York Times," "I think it's a very sad day for
Russia, because they're aligned."
North Korea's latest ballistic missile launch presenting another major test for Trump when he meets with the Chinese president today.
TRUMP: We have a big problem. We have somebody that is not doing the right thing.
JOHNS: China's role in confronting North Korea's nuclear threat certain to be a main point of conversation during the two-day summit, which the
president has acknowledged will be difficult, particularly after his routine criticism of China on the campaign trail.
TRUMP: We can't continue to allow China to rape our country. And that's what they're doing.
ANDERSON: Let's get more on the decision of U.S. Congressman Devin Nunes to temporarily step aside from a house investigation into whether Russia
interfered with the U.S. elections.
A whole lot of stuff going on there in Joe Johns' report, of course. It has been extremely busy.
I want to start with Nunes, which is the story of the day. And I want to bring in Nicholas
Byrnes. He's a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a former State Department official, has been on CNN numerous occasions, with
us from Cambridge, Massachusetts. And it's good to have you on, sir.
This probe into Russia claiming a lot of political heads, isn't it, before it's even reached any conclusions. What are your thoughts on what's
NICHOLAS BYRNES, KENNEDY SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT: Well, this has become a crisis for the Trump administration, because the national security adviser
had to resign, the attorney general has recused himself, and now the chairman of the House intelligence committee also has to take himself out
because of the compromising statements that he made.
And so I really think that the Trump administration needs to get in front of this, by opening up all their records, making all their people available
to the Senate, and the House intelligence communities who need to investigate this very important charge that Russia interfered in our
elections in 2016.
ANDERSON: The Trump administration said they're not hiding anything. How likely are they to, as you suggest, they open anything further to this
intelligence committee, or these intelligence committees?
[11:35:07] BYRNES: Well, what we've seen is that the president himself has been trying to change the story. He made a wild accusation yesterday
against a very honorable person, Susan Rice, the former national security adviser. The president's charge was totally unsubstantiated. He didn't
back it up with a single fact. It's really cowardly behavior.
And he needs to open up his entire administration to this investigation or else I think it's going to engulf the administration in an endless multi-
month, maybe even multi-year set of investigations where the FBI and the House and Senate and the American public want to have answers.
ANDERSON: It's been a subject which is really very much overshadowed everything else that's been going on so far as far as the Trump
administration is concerned in its first 70 days. Let's just consider for a moment what we have learned on Syria. We, in Joe Johns' report ahead of
speaking to you were laying out the positions that Donald Trump had on Syria ahead of this attack in Idlib this week. Now he says he has
rethought his position effectively on Syria. And his UN ambassador suggesting effectively in the emergency session this week, unilateral
What's Trump likely to do, do you think, on Syria at this point?
BYRNES: Becky, it's very unclear. We hear some tough rhetoric that you showed on your screen from the president, and our UN ambassador. It's
unclear what their real options are.
I do think that the Trump administration now understands we cannot align our self with Russia in Syria to fight the Islamic State, because Russia's
complicit in the Syria and the Assad chemical attacks against civilians.
Secondly, the Trump administration has shut down all refugee admittance into the United States. And I don't think that's a sustainable position
when you have so many millions of Syrian refugees. The United States needs to help the Arab world, Turkey and the Europeans in taking in some of those
refugees. That's in the American tradition.
And third, I think our comparative advantage, Becky, would be to try to move the Russians and Syrian government towards a real negotiation, towards
perhaps localized ceasefires in Idlib Province, and then perhaps, if it's possible, a generalized ceasefire that would lead
to political talks, because ultimately this war is going to end on a negotiating table. That's where I think the U.S., the Sunni Arab states,
the European countries, have the most influence at this point.
Military options, they're very dangerous, risky, and it's not obvious what would be effective at this point.
ANDERSON: Why do I feel like this is all deja vu after six years, and we continue to spin on this axis, as it were, whilst people die in such
All right, Nick, thank you very much indeed for joining us.
Staying with this investigation into Tuesday's deadly strike on this city in northern Syria, Turkey's justice minister said autopsies on the victims
prove that chemical weapons were used. It's not yet clear what chemical agent was involved in the attack, but the World Health Organization said
some of the victims displayed symptoms of exposure to nerve agents, like Sarin gas, for example.
Well, I'm joined by London now, by James Milnes. He's a chemical weapons specialist, and a former senior British military officer who worked on the
chemical biological radiologial and nuclear response task force for NATO and the UK. He helped plan an investigation into the alleged use of
chemical weapons in Aleppo back in 2013.
And for that reason, your analysis should be insightful. Syria was meant to have handed over all its chemical stockpiles to be destroyed. Where
might they have gotten the chemical weapons from? And how easy is it to manufacture Sarin or chlorine, for example?
JAMES MILNES, CHEMICAL WEAPONS SPECIALIST: Well, Becky, you know, we talked about declared weapons stocks as being handed over. There's
significant weapons stocks that are floating around the Middle East. And on many Arab websites, you can find the instructions on how to
make numerous chemical weapons.
ANDERSON: It is fascinating. Because I'm just thinking back - sorry - I'm just thinking back to llistening to the Syrian ambassador to the United
Nations yesterday, who said, and I think I'm right, I'm paraphrasing in here, we don't have any formal chemical weapons. We don't use formal chemical weapons.
So that's what you are alluding to, is it, this formal cache of weapons was gotten rid of?
[11:40:04] MILNES: Yes. So there are shades of gray, clearly. And it's a very complex landscape over there both politically and on the ground with a
lot of - lots of very different organizations and individuals potentially wanting to try and affect influence through the potential use of this sort
ANDERSON: So, describe for our viewers, what difficulties investigators will face trying to piece together the facts of this incident and/or others
MILNES: Unless the investigators are there pretty much within a few moments of an attack happening, forensic evidence is compromised at all
stages. It's very difficult to take samples of certainly a nerve agent such as Sarin, which is being alleged, it's very volatile at room
temperature so will dissipate very quickly.
There are chemical fingerprints left by these sort of chemical weapons, which investigators, if
they can get their hands on the appropriate samples, will be able to confirm which batch it came from, if that batch had been registered.
ANDERSON: I'm just wondering how easy it is, and very briefly here, if you will, how easy it is for non-state actors in places like Syria and Iraq to
access and use such chemical weapons.
You've said they're floating around the region.
MILNES: Yes. You know, only recently there was a poison gas cell taken out in Iraq. For people who want to manufacture and make this sort of
weapon, it is relatively easy. There are lots of very talented chemists out there who are working under the radar and potentially making these sort
of weapons available not only to a regime, for example, but also to any other forces that may wish to utilize them.
ANDERSON: Fascinating. All right, for that we're going to leave it there. We thank you very much indeed for joining us.
You're watching Connect the world. I'm Becky Anderson for you. We're in Abu Dhabi.
Coming up, my conversation with the world renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, how he is making it his mission to promote tolerance through his music. You don't
want to miss this.
ANDRESON: You're watching CNN and Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson. Welome back.
And if you're just joining us, you are very welcome.
A child prodigy, a Julliard graduate, a classically trained world-renowned cellist with over a dozen Grammy's. Who am I talking about? Well, the
legendary Yo-Yo Ma.
He has been sharing music with the world since he picked up a musical instrument at the age of
4. Well, now he's traveling the globe with a new sound and a new message that matters today more
than ever before.
I caught up with Yo-Yo and clarinetist Kinan Azmeh at the Abu Dhabi festival. And we started talking about the mission of their ensemble,
which is known as the Silk Road.
YO-YO MA, CELLIST: The Silk Road was founded on an idea that people can actually get along through working together deeply.
For example, at this festival, we have -- the theme is tolerance. We're trying to work towards
tolerance, not only amongst ourselves, but much even deeper than that, so we can really do great work coming from different perspectives in such a
way that those perspectives make us stronger and the creativity greater.
ANDERSON: How disappointing is it that this current administration has what many would just call outright a Muslim travel ban. You've been caught
up in that yourself.
KINAN AZMEH, CLARINETIST: I mean, what I went through was four days of me not knowing whether I would be able to go home or not. But also putting
into perspective, I mean, me not being able to go back to my apartment in New York is really nothing in comparison to people who lost their lives, or
you know, the lives of the people who they love.
I mean, I've been always taken aside at the airports because of the passport I hold.
It's hard to really relate that a signature, one signature can change the lives of so many people in a second, you know? I don't have an emotional
action. I think how can I be proactive doing this? The best thing to do is you continue to do what you do and you play, whether you're playing in
New York or elsewhere, you have to keep addressing these issues by doing music.
ANDERSON: In February, you did publish a message in which you spoke of your deep concern, your disappointment and your sadness over this executive
order. Do you continue to be concerned.
MA: It's not about ideology, it's not about you're right, I'm wrong, but it's like, OK, we have
a difference in opinion, why is that? How can we actually take that and move towards something and
not have the certitude of this is right and this is wrong, period.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Recognized as one of the world's greatest musicians, Yo-Yo Ma's talents know no boundaries of genre or culture.
ANDERSON: You have been described as a child prodigy. How was that? Were you a happy child? Were you harangued into music, for example, or did you
just have a passion for it?
MA: I was born in 1955 in Paris of Chinese parents. And part of my early life consists
of living in France, moving to the United States, having Chinese parents and having everybody around me telling me this is the best place on Earth.
I realized that everything that I was interested in had to do with my love of people and trying to figure out what people did, why they did it, and
who they were.
Being the slow person that I am,it wasn't until 49 that I thought, I could be a musician.
ANDERSON: Does how Yo-Yo Ma explains his young life and where he was at growing up sound familiar to you? I mean, you were born in Damascus,
playing musical instruments from a very, very young age.
AZMEH: My dad used to pretend to be a conductor. He used to make my sister and I sit in the living room while he conduct Mussorgsky Night on
Bald Mountain. We believed him, you know, because he knew where the tympani are coming from, from which speakers. So I grew up listening to
lots of music growing up.
And then the clarinet wasn't additional homework, it wasn't pushed that I have to become a musician.
I did a double degree in music and electrical engineering. I'm an electrical engineer, I don't know if you knew that.
MA: ...a couple of interviews with you. I learn more and more things about your life.
AZMEH: Yeah, I did both. And then when I finished from both, I found myself applying for grad schools only in music.
So, it was a natural, you know, development.
ANDERSON: So, the clarinet wasn't your first love necessarily, nor Yo-Yo was the cello for you?
MA; Right. I just wanted something big when I was born.
AZMEH: My preference was something light that I can travel with, because when they suggested that I switch to an even handed instrument, the options
were a clarinet or a piano. And I immediately the piano was ruled out, because I was thinking I would like to travel with my instrument.
MA: That's why he's smarter than I am. Already then he wanted something light.
[11:50:06] AZMEH: From the first year, I remember my dad telling me - and he said Kinan, you know, this is something that you should keep an eye on.
ANDERSON: What do you want its message to be?
MA: Only through multi perspectives can you get something strong enough to withstand scrutiny from different outlooks.
ANDERSON: And it couldn't be more important now, given the roiling conflicts in this region, particularly that of Syria. Can you just explain
or express, if you will, a man who was born and brought up in Damascus, what this conflict means to you.
AZMEH: You know, we're witnessing one of the biggest human tragedies in recent history. Half a million people killed, half of the country's
population has been displaced, more refugees in surrounding countries. It makes you question, why do you do what you do? In the beginning, since
2011, you know you start, I hold my instrument and I think, what can I do? And I realize, you know, it cannot stop a bullet, it cannot free up a
political prisoner, it cannot bring refugees back home, it cannot do all of these things.
But what it can do, and I realized later, that it can inspire. It can bring hope, you know, sometimes. And for me now making music is an act of
freedom. And I want to hold on to that.
You know, if one has to think about what happened in Syria in 2011, people wanted to express an opinion. I mean, I have the luxury of holding a tool
that can be loud at times, being able to not only express your own opinion, but also share other opinions. And being part of the ensemble is a great
platform for that.
ANDERSON: You're watching Connect the World. Coming up, they are all- American, head scarves and all, the photographer keen to provide a platform to celebrate Muslims in America. That's next.
ANDRESON: All right, let's be frank, you don't often see a lot of positive images of Muslim women in America. So, for your Parting Shots, we speak to
a photographer who was inspired to change that. His photo series captures the so-called all-American Muslim, black or white blogger or chief exec,
with or without their head scarf. Have a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK BENNINGTON, PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHER: I couldn't recall ever seeing a photograph of a woman in a hijab, in any major American newspaper laughing
or smiling. So the idea of America 2.0 was really borne out of that.
I wanted to create a robust platform, really, to celebrate young American Muslims in our
country. I mean, they're vivacious, earnest, really well informed youths, eager to participate in their democracy. So much more than the label
Just ambitious bloggers and rebels and geeks and singers and students and young CEOs. I just wanted their Muslim identity to be second.
I wanted to capture young adults in New York City who just happened to be Muslim.
My name is Mark Bennington and these are my Parting Shots.
[11:55:16] ANDERSON: Fabulous. The world full of incredible people doing incredible things
and many of them work with me. I wonder who wrote that? One of my team.
But that's absolutely right, I'm very blessed with the team I work with on Connect the World. They are putting out all our best stuff online for you,
which as ever you can find it at Facebook.com/CNNConnect. And after what's been a great, great week here in Abu Dhabi with the road trip, of course,
the Doha thrown in for good measure, there is a lot to catch up on. So take a look at that.
I'm Becky Anderson, that was Connect the World.