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CONNECT THE WORLD
A North Korean Family Divided Between North and South; American Troops Show Support for Syrian Kurds; Trump's Controversial Affinity for Strongmen; French Union Divided on Presidential Election Strategy; U.S. Struggling to Balance Alliances in Middle East. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired May 1, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:09] HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES, HOST: On patrol, American troops have a new mission on the border between Turkey and Syria. Next, reports from
Turkey and from the Pentagon.
Also, White House welcome: Donald Trump extends a controversial invitation to the president of the Philippines. Ahead in the program we'll get the
latest from the U.S. capital.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am so sorry, your mother is so sorry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: Torn apart. In an exclusive report, CNN speaks to a North Korean family divided and helps deliver to special message to loved ones they
haven't seen in years.
Hello and welcome to Connect the World here on CNN. I'm Hannah Vaughn Jones live for you in London today.
First of all, a tale of one flag and two feuding U.S. allies. The star- bangled banner is flying inside rebel-held northern Syria in what is a very conspicuous show of support rather than force. The aim: to bolster Kurdish
fighters that Washington sees as key to crushing ISIS.
But, to NATO member Turkey, some of those same Kurdish fighters are terrorists.
Now, it's not the first time that we've seen the U.S. flag in rebel territory. Back in March, around 100 U.S. rangers were deployed to another
border town. So are we talking about mission creep or mission impossible?
For more on the U.S. role in Syria, CNN's Ben Wedeman is in Istanbul and Barbara Starr is standing by in Washington for us.
Thank you to you both for joining us.
Ben, to you first, what's been the Turkish government's reaction to this U.S. show of military force, military build-up at least on its border?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they've been angry, angry about the fact that they've seen photographs and videos with members of the YPG, the Kurdish people's defense unit in northeastern Syria, that
the Kurds consider an offshoot of the PKK, the Kurdish Workers Party, which since 1984 has been fighting a separatist war against the Turkish state.
Turkey consider the PKK and the United States as well as a matter of fact, as a terrorist organization.
They don't like to see the Americans supporting and consorting with a group that they consider to be a terrorist organization. Last week, Kurdish
warplanes bombed YPG targets in Syria as well as PKK units in Iraq, and, therefore, they're not happy about it. We
heard President Recep Tayyip Erdogan say that when he meets with President Trump on the 16th of May. He's going to show him the pictures of the
American troops with members of the YPG and make it clear that he's not at all happy
about it - Hannah.
JONES: Barbara Starr standing by for us at the Pentagon now. Barbara, what is the remit of
these forces in this border area? Would they, for example, defend Kurdish troops if there were to be another Turkish attack against them?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: These troops are not supposed to be getting into direct combat. As you said, they're a show of support. The idea is with these border skirmishes going on between Turkish forces
and some of the at the borders with the Turkish forces and other U.S. backed rebels and other Kurdish units that may not be backed by the U.S.
The U.S. wants to see it all just calmed down because the idea is they want the U.S.-backed rebels to still be focused on fighting ISIS, to still move
further south toward Raqqa, ISIS's self-declared capital, and work to liberate Raqqa. They want that to be the priority and not to have these
local forces diverted by the skirmishes with the Turks.
If the U.S. forces come under attack, of course, they have every right to defend themselves. Not really equipped, however, for full out combat in
that way. It's a delicate question, if something were to break out, how far it will all go out - Hannah?
JONES: And, Ben, if there were this tension, fresh tension between Turkey and the U.S., what impact does that then have on the overall battle against
ISIS. Can we still see President Erdogan and President Trump working together?
WEDEMAN: Well, there's a possibility they will come to some sort of agreement. Turkey has a variety of demands from the United States, one of
them being the extradition of a Fetullah Gulen, that U.S.-based Turkish cleric who the Turks accuse of being behind the failed coup d'etat of July
15 of last year. There may be some sort of quid pro quo there.
But in the bigger picture, yes, this is a massive distraction from the war against ISIS. The United States has really been a vocal and very material
supporter of the YPG and the broader, what's known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, which the YPG makes up the vast majority of troops, in the war
If for some reason, the Kurds and the Turks start going after one another, that whole effort to
retake Raqqa - and then after that there's the city of Deir ez-Zor also on Syria, down river on the Euphrates which is still a stronghold of ISIS. If
there's a stronghold on ISIS, if some sort of side war occurs between Turks and the Kurds, all of those plans simply go out the window.
JONES: And, Barbara, final thought to you on this topic. The U.S. and Turkey are both
NATO allies. How are their channels of communication currently, though, between Ankara and Washington? Are there relations generally good, broadly
STARR: Well, I think it's pretty standard at this point. There's no indication really of anything else other than that. And as you say,
through NATO, there's a good deal of regular routine communication. Turkey has the southern air defense flank of NATO, and the U.S. has access to
Turkish air bases, which is vital for the U.S. campaign in both Syria and Iraq.
So everybody has, you know, a lot of reason to try and work this thing out. But I think as Ben said, you know, this, we will have to see where it all
really sorts out.
JONES: OK. Barbara Starr live for us at the Pentagon, and Ben Wedeman as well in Istanbul in Turkey, thank you to you both.
Well, as we've just been hearing there are countless big players in Syria's civil war, but only one man we wanted to break it down for us. Do stay
with us on the program, because just ahead are Fawaz Gerges, a Middle East expert and professor at the London school of economics will be joining me.
Stay with us for that.
Now, human rights group says Donald Trump is sending a terrifying message by inviting
the controversial president of The Philippines to the White House, but his administration says it's all about priorities. Rodrigo Duterte is accused
of sanctioning mass killings in a brutal crackdown on crime and drugs in his country. The White House says human rights do indeed matter, but the
nuclear threat from North Korea is more pressing and it wants the Philippines help in reigning in Kim Jong-un.
Mr. Trump, by the way, is also raising quite a few eyebrows over these comments about the North Korean leader. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And at a very young age, he was able to assume power. A lot of people, I'm sure, tried to take that
power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else. And he was able to do it. So obviously he's a
pretty smart cookie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: Smart cookie.
Well, Mr. Ttrump tackles foreign policy challenges. He's also got quite a lot on his plate much closer to home. Joe Johns is following all of these
developments from Washington.
MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think healthcare reform, repealing and replacing Obamacare, is just around the corner. But I
think we're close.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The White House expressing confidence in the GOP's latest health care bill. President Trump trying to
spin the administration's efforts, saying they aren't pushing for a vote.
TRUMP: I said just relax. Don't worry about this phony 100-day thing. Just relax. Take it easy. Take your time. Get the good vote, and make it
JOHNS: Despite calling out lawmakers by name at his Saturday rally.
TRUMP: And I'll be so angry at Congressman Kelly and Congressman Marino and all of our Congressmen in this room if we didn't get that damn thing passed
JOHNS: The president falsely claiming that the new bill guarantees coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.
TRUMP: Pre-existing conditions are in the bill. And I mandate it. I said it has to be. We have -- we're going to have lower premiums.
JOHNS: When in reality, the draft bill would allow states to opt out of this requirement under certain conditions.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration is under fire for inviting the Philippines' authoritarian leader to the White House. Rodrigo Duterte has
led a deadly crackdown on drugs that's left thousands dead.
REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: If we don't have all of our folks together, whether they're good folks, bad folks, people that we wish
would do better in their country. Doesn't matter. We've got to be on the same page.
JOHNS: The White House arguing that the U.S. needs the Philippines to combat the North Korean threat. As Trump's critics and human rights
organizations respond with outrage.
The president also raising eyebrows for again questioning if Russia is responsible for hacking during the 2016 campaign.
[11:10:17] TRUMP: If you don't catch a hacker, OK, in the act, it's very hard to say who did the hacking. With that being said, I'll go along with
Russia. Could have been China. Could have been a lot of different groups.
JOHNS: Offering no evidence to discount the conclusions of his own FBI director and 16 other intelligence agencies.
President Trump marking his 100th day in office over the weekend with a campaign rally, reprising attacks on his favorite foe.
TRUMP: I think we would all agree the media deserves a very, very big fat failing grade.
JONES: And Joe joins me now live from Washington with more on this. Joe, when we look ahead to the next 100 days, Donald Trump really need as big
legislative win. What is it going to be his focus? Is it going to be health care, is it going to be tax reform? Where does he go?
JOHNS: Hannah, I think - I don't know if our international office is familiar with the notion
Groundhog Day, but what it refers to is the same thing happening over and over and over again. And I think that will be what happens for the Trump
administration. Repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act or so- called Obamacare is a top priority for this administration. They're hoping that they can get the first step of it passed through the House of
Representatives as early as this week, though, it's not clear that going to happen, and then on to the Senate.
I think tax cuts, tax reform, this was a big thing for Donald Trump on the campaign trail. They're only beginning on that. They have a long way to
go. And then they're going have to fight in the congress to get the kind of numbers that Donald Trump has proposed for those areas.
The border wall is another huge issue. There's a lot of opposition on Capitol Hill. Donald Trump wants to build his border along the southern
wall of the United States and he asked for something like $1.4 billion just last week to go into the spending bill that congress passed, and that's not
happening. So they need to get seed money for that. He had promised to get started building on it as quick as possible, still a long way to go.
Not to mention the international issues, including at the top of the list North Korea - Hannah.
JONES: Yeah. His in tray is just getting bigger and bigger, isn't it, with all of these policy challenges, many of which just covered there.
However, Mr. Trump says that it's another issue which is so-called topic number one, and it isn't getting the attention that it apparently deserves
despite having no evidence to back it up.
Mr. Trump is still pushing his claim that former President Barack Obama illegally tapped his phones. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think our side's been proven very strongly and everybody's talking about it. And, frankly, it should be discussed. I think that is a
very big surveillance of our citizens. I think it's a very big topic, and it's a topic that should be number one. And we should find out what the
hell is going on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: So, Joe, aside from everything else that 's going on and everything else that's on his
plate at the moment, the president not letting go of these wire-tapped claims, unfounded claims, we should point out.
JOHNES: Right. And I think the reason why we keep talking about it is because it goes to the credibility of the person in the Oval Office. This
is an issue that he put out there in a tweet on a weekend and stood by for the longest time despite the fact that it was refuted even by the director
of the FBI who looked into it and said in a congressional hearing on the record that, he, the FBI and the Justice Department, were unable to find
any information to support the president's claim.
So it sounds very unfounded. Certainly unsubstantiated. And the one thing it did do was distract the attention of the United States, the public, the
public conversation from allegations of Russian interference in the last election and questions about whether the president's campaign may have
coordinated with the Russians to the detriment of Hillary Clinton - Hannah.
JONES: Yeah, he certainly doesn't like being questioned either. That interview from the clip that we just saw, actually I think it ended
Joe, we have to leave it there. Joe Johns live for us outside the White House. Thanks very much indeed.
Now to some other stories on our radar today. Massive demonstrations are underway throughout Venezuela both in support of President Nicholas Maduro
and against him. These are scene from a pro-government rally, thousands have taken to the streets in recent weeks in sometimes deadly protests as
the country continues to struggle. there were sometimes deadly protests as the country continues to struggle with an economic crisis and political
Traditional Mayday protests are taking place across Europe. The first of May is International Labor Day. In France, there's a heavy security
presence as thousands of people came out for protests and rival political rallies ahead of that second round of voting in the French presidential
Severe turbulence on an arrow flight have left 27 people injured, some suffering broken bones and head injuries. This was the scene after
passengers on board the Russian carrier flight to Bangkok were thrown around the aircraft. The airline itself says it all happened, the turbulence that is, before the crew could warn passengers to return to
Still to come on Connect the World at this hour, a new warning from North Korea to the United States. What Pyongyang says it will do next.
And France's presidential candidates are campaigning in force ahead of that crucial vote on Sunday. We'll get Marine Le Pen's latest attack on her
rival Emmanuel Macron. Stay tuned for that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Now that the U.S. is kicking up a racket overall for sanctions and pressure against us, pursuant to its new
Democratic People's Republic of Korea policy called maximum pressure and engagement, we will speed up at the maximum pace to bolster our nuclear
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: You are watching CNN. And this is Connect the World. I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones in London. You just heard a statement that was broadcast on
North Korean television. Pyongyang has given notice it will speed up its nuclear activity in response to what it calls U.S. aggression.
The U.S. president isn't ruling out any military action against North Korea, but his administration says tougher sanctions and diplomacy remain
on the table. And now he has surprised some, quite a few, by calling North Korea's leader a, quote, tough cookie - or a smart cookie - for retaining
power at such a young age. Meanwhile, the head of the CIA is in Seoul, South Korea right now for meeting with U.S. forces and diplomats there.
Now, our Alexandra Field is also there. She joins me now live from Seoul.
Alexandra, some mixed messages coming from the United States. Extraordinary in a way to hear Donald Trump refer to Kim Jong-un as a smart
From your perspective, and from the South Korean perspective, is the country feeling more threatened than ever by its neighbor to the north?
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, you did hear that declaration from North Korea. Those declarations from North Korea,
however, are not unusual and it's been some time now where the U.S. and South Korean officials have been saying it's clear to them that North Korea
is accelerating its nuclear efforts and its missile program.
So, none of that should catch anyone by surprise.
As for the president calling Kim Jong-un a smart cookie, some might perceive that as laudatory in some way. It may raise some eyebrows. But
when you put that whole statement into context, he does talk about the question that has been raised about whether Kim Jong-un is sane or insane.
It's a question that was also put to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last week. And you heard President Donald Trump really go on to say that he
feels that Kim Jong-un is a quote/unquote smart cookie, because he's been able to hold on to power at such a young age and also hold that up against
another statement that President Trump made about a week ago when he told a group
of conservative journalists that he doesn't feel that Kim Jong-un is as strong a leader as Kim purports himself to be.
You do still, however, hear some strong words coming from Washington and coming directly from Donald Trump. He was asked how the U.S. would react
if, in fact, North Korea does pull off a sixth nuclear test. He went on to say, we'll see. And he has certainly left the door open for military
action, that despite the fact that he and his top officials have gone on to say they're hoping diplomatic measures and stricter economic sanctions
could be the way forward when it comes to deescalating the tension on the peninsula.
Many have warned that there could be catastrophic consequences to any kind of military action taken by the U.S. So, is that something they would
actually follow through on? It's not entirely clear whether that would ever really be a part of President Trump's. What is increasingly clear,
however, is that the threat of military action is a key part of his policy here, and it might be the explanation for why you have seen some of the
buildup in the region in the face of this mounting North Korean threat.
We're talking, of course, specifically about the presence of a very powerful submarine on the southern peninsula, the decision to redeploy some
U.S. warships to the waters off the peninsula, those warships now taking part in joint military exercises, Hannah, with the South Korean military,
all part of a message that the U.S. is of course trying to send to North Korea at this tense and difficult time.
JONES: And of course another focus for South Korea where you are, is the fact that they have Presidential elections just around the corner. What
kind of impact do these growing tensions on peninsula, what impact is that having on who might win that election?
FIELD: Look, it's certainly a big topic of discussion. It's certainly been a question that candidates have been asked about repeatedly. It's
something they talk about in their debates. There has been a clear frontrunner for weeks in this election, a Democratic Party candidate. It's
believed, or it's known, rather, the Democratic Party here does take a softer approach, you could say, to North Korea than the conservative party,
which held power here in South Korea for so long, until the former disgraced president was impeached and then ousted from office. She's now
jailed on corruption charges, charges that she denies.
But the really pressing issue right now in the last few days in this election, Hannah, has been this debate over THAAD, which is a controversial
missile defense system designed by the U.S. and something that the U.S. has rushed to install here in South Korea. Last week, you had the U.S.
President Donald Trump surprising South Korean officials by saying he thought that South Korea should pay the billion dollar price tag for that
system. Those comments being walked back to some extent now by the U.S.'s national security adviser who has said that the U.S. will in fact adhere to
the agreement that they struck with South Korea saying that they will pay for the deployment and operation of this system, but holding the door open
for the possibility that spending on defense and how that is shared could be renegotiated in the future down the line. Of course, that's something
that President Trump had talked about when he was a candidate - Hannah.
JONES: OK. So, a lot of mixed messages in the region coming from the U.S. and of course from the countries around where you are as well. Alexandra
Field in South Korea. Thank you.
Now one thing that sometimes gets lost in the reporting on North Korea. Now the stories of real people, thousands of North Koreans have managed to
escape and to defect to the south. Last year, CNN's Will Ripley reported on one defector who is now in South Korea that says she wants to go home.
The North Korean government has allowed will to meet this woman's family who are still in
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Seoul, South Korea -- tens of thousands of North Korean defectors have fled South since the late 1990s.
Kim Ryong-Hi (ph) is one of the rare few who's ever asked to do back. She came here thinking she could work for a while to earn money to pay for
medical treatment and then go home. But instead, like all defectors, she lost her North Korean passport, was made a South Korean citizen. Her old
home, just a 20 minute flight away, if you could fly. South Koreans are banned by their government from visiting or even communicating with anyone
in North Korea.
I'm taken to see Kim Ryong-Hi's husband and her daughter.
We sent a crew in South Korea to go speak with your wife and your mom and she recorded a video message that she wanted you to see.
[11:24:17] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so sorry. Your mother is so sorry. I am so proud and thankful to see you all grown up confident and bright. I
really miss you. I really want to hug you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE; There are times it's hard (inaudible) my mother wouldn't like to see her like this. (inaudible).
[08:15:43] RIPLEY: I am also taken to meet Kim Ryong-Hi's aging parents. Her father is 75; her mother 72.
When you see her, I can't even imagine what you're thinking.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the first time I have seen her in six years.
RIPLEY: Since she left, her mother has gone blind in one eye. She's losing sight in the other. She worries time is running out; that she'll never see
or hold her daughter again.
They can't call, they can't e-mail, they can't even write a letter. No way to communicate. We let her husband and daughter use my phone to send a
video message back to South Korea.
Ryong-Gun (ph) tells her mother how she just graduated from catering school. Now, she's a chef. She hopes that some day her mother can taste
what a good cook she's become. She shows off their new apartment. They moved in here after she left.
No matter what's happening in the outside world, this is reality for this family and many others on the Korean peninsula. So many families divided.
JONES: Well, the North Korean government made this particular family available to CNN because Kim is one of the few defectors who says she wants
to go back to North Korea. That plays into the view that Pyongyang is trying to create and to discourage people from leaving in the first place.
But tens of thousands of defectors say they never want to go back and rights groups say families of defectors are punished by the government.
Some are exiled from the capital to live in the countryside and the others are sent to labor camps.
Live from London, you are watching Connect the World. Now, you will probably have heard this ancient proverb before: the enemy of my enemy is
my friend. But in Syria, it's more like the friend of my friend is like my sworn enemy. Confused? Well, we'll explain all just ahead.
[11:32:09] JONES: Now, right next door to Turkey is - in Syria, rather, the battlefield against ISIS is as complex as it is bloody. It is almost
impossible to understand who is fighting whom.
Even forces that are meant to be on the same team are killing each other. And now America wants to put a stop to that with these troops who are on
the ground inside Syria, side by side with Kurdish forces.
But get this, another American ally, Turkey, brands many of those Kurdish forces as terrorists, killing them in airstrikes just like this one.
So the situation is this: one American ally thinks another American ally is are terrorists and
is striking them with American-made bombs, while all Washington wants is for they agree really are terrorists and that is, of course, ISIS.
Feeling confused? Well, you're not alone. Let's break all of this down with our Syria expert and friend of the show Fawaz Gerges. Fawaz, thanks
for coming in.
U.S. and Syria, they're both obviously united in the fight against ISIS, but they have huge
differences when it comes to Kurdish forces. How important is the relationship between the U.S. and Turkey when it comes to the whole
stability of the Middle East?
FAWAZ GERGES, LONDONG SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: Very, very important. I mean, remember, Hannah, Turkey is one of the most important number. In fact, it
has the second largest army in NATO after the United States. So, while in Syria, American and Turkish interests really diverge. I mean, the
strategic goal of Turkey is to prevent the Kurds in Syria on the Turkish- Syrian border from establishing an autonomous entity, or even having a congruous borders with
their counterparts in Iraq.
So what Turkey has been trying to do is to bomb the Kurds in Syria and also bomb some of the Kurds in Iraq, because it wants to prevent them from
gaining power while the Kurds Syria are the spearhead of the American campaign against ISIS. They are the most important force for the
Americans. In fact, the Americans rely on the Kurds, the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces to take
Raqqa. Raqqa is the capital of ISIS inside Syria.
JONES: Yeah, their self-proclaimed caliphate, the capital of that.
When you think about Turkey and the threat that it currently faces, what is the biggest threa, or what do they consider the biggest challenge at the
moment? Is it taking on the Kurds or is it taking on ISIS, because that's going to be crucial, isn't it, to how they get on with America.
GERGES: Absolutely. I mean, Turkey is saying that ISIS represents a threat to Turkey. But the reality is the Kurds from the Turkish point of
view represents a bigger threat, represents a strategic threat. Remember, you have about 25 million Kurds inside Turkey.
Any kind of an autonomous ambition on the parts of Kurds in Syria could have a spillover effect on the Kurds inside Turkey. That's how the Turkish
leadership views the situation. So, Turkey has been bombing the Kurds who are major allies of the United States.
So, what has the United States been doing in the past year? The United States is pressed between a rock and a hard place. Turkey and the Kurds.
It's trying to act as a buffer zone between the two. And now in the past few months, as you know, Hannah, the United States is trying to really
patrol the borders between Turkey and Syria to dissuade Turkey from further air strikes against the Kurds because if Turkey keeps bombing the Kurds
inside Syria, the United States will not be able to use the Kurds as a spearhead against ISIS and al Qaeda.
[11:35:31] JONES: We keep hearing about the Kurds, the Peshmerga forces, the U.S. supports them, et cetera. What if the Kurds being promised in
return for all fo this incredible fighting that they are doing on behalf of the allied forces across the Middle East?
GERGES: It's a very important question. The American tell Turkey, which Turkey is a major ally of the United States, we have not promised the Kurds
JONES: But they must have been offered something.
GERGES: Absolutely. The reality is the Kurds are very intelligent. They Kurds have learned the hard way. The only way to really get your ambition
is to do what? Is gain more power, it's to show the United States that they can be trusted. And that's why the Americans both view the Kurds both
in Iraq and Syria as the most reliable, as the most dependable. They trust them. You have a very close
So the Kurds are really betting on the fact once they help the United States defeat ISIS in both Syria and Iraq, the United States would really
somehow deliver on their autonomous ambitions. I mean, I think the Kurds in Syria can ever dream of a state, a separate state like in Kurdistan, but
they want a kind of autonomy and this basically conflicts and clashes with Turkey, because any kind of an autonomous Kurdish area in Syria could have
implications on the situation inside Turkey.
JONES: It is so complicated. You've managed to unpick a lot of the details for us there. Fawaz Gerges, thank you very much for coming in and
explaining all of the various players on the ground across the Middle East. Thank you.
Now, a god-awful mess that will take biblical power to solve. That's what CNN's Ben Wedeman our most experienced Middle East reporter, makes of Syria
and probably what Fawaz also makes of it as well.
And to read Ben's piece on why he thinks that, and for all of his insightful analysis, do go online to CNN.com and you can read all of his
And it's not just Syria that's suffered under ISIS's twisted delusion of a caliphate. For years now, it's tried to force it as a reality in Iraq's
second largest city: Mosul. But there, day by day, street by street, the terrorists have been losing control. We want to give you a rare look at
the front lines of that battle right now. We must warn you, though, you may find some of the images disturbing with images captured by
photojournalist Gabriel Train (ph), CNN's Hala Gorani has this exclusive report.
Hala Gorani has the exclusive report.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: A tender father and daughter moment in the most brutal of landscapes. Their home is only half
standing. The city around them obliterated.
These exclusive drone pictures obtained by CNN show the scale of destruction on the frontlines of western Mosul. Neighborhoods newly freed
from ISIS by Iraqi forces. As Iraq`s elite golden division rolls in in its armored vehicles, ISIS retreats, paying a heavy price. Bodies of its
fighters still lie where they fell.
So, recently recaptured is this neighborhood that the black flag of ISIS still flutters overhead. The streets below eerily deserted. A makeshift
roadblock from where ISIS fought only weeks ago still standing.
In the video, dark smoke from burning tires and debris bellows across the skyline, desperate attempts by ISIS to hide themselves from airstrikes.
Here, the camera catches an explosion thought to be a mortar hitting a building, a reminder that fighting rages only meters away.
After months of street to street battle between ISIS and Iraqi forces and pounding from coalition airstrikes, the scale of devastation in this part
of Mosul is difficult to take in. In these drone images, it seems every building, every street, every car is shattered, nothing left to support
So, the civilians are forced to flee, clutching their children and their few belongings. Who knows what future lies before them as they join the
millions of other refugees running from this war? And for those who stayed behind, picking through the splintered remains of their lives, moments of
joy still possible, before they're lost again in this bleak and dusty scene.
Hala Gorani, CNN.
JONES: Devastating images there from Mosul in Iraq. We'll have plenty more on Connect the World after this short break.
[11:43:00] JONES: You're watching CNN and you're watching Connect the World with me Hannah Vaughn Jones in London. Welcome back.
In France, there is a heavy security presence on the streets today as thousands of people come out for Mayday protests and, of course, dueling
political rallies. Riot police did you tear gas earlier to disburse this protest in Paris. Right now, the centrist presidential candidate, Emmanuel
Macron, is holding a rally in Paris. He is leading in the polls, but the numbers have tightened in the last few days.
Earlier on today, Macron's opponent, Marine Le Pen, also rallying her supporters and attacking Macron as, quote, more of the same.
With just six days until the polls open, the pressure is certainly on.
So, let's get the view now from the French capital with CNN's senior international correspondent Jim Bittermann. Jim, campaigning full steam
ahead, then, just less than a week to go before the polls open in what is a very deeply divided nation.
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Hannah. I mean, the divisions are everywhere. We saw today in the protests. And
even the unions today, well, none of the unions support Le Pen, they were still divided on how exactly they should approach Emmanuel Macron, because
some view him as being too far to the right, so the unions were divided in their demonstrations today, but also there's a major division between left
and right here, of course, because these two candidates have wildly different programs for France.
One of the things that just now we're seeing at a Macron rally is it's an even division between
the number of European flags and a numb be of French flags we're seeing, and this really highlights the difference between Macron and Marine Le Pen.
Marine Le Pen says to Europe and eventually wants to get France out of Europe. She's going to hold a referendum, she says, within the first she
wants to hold a referendum within her first few months in office.
And, in fact, the other day when she was home at an interview, she made sure that the European flag was taken away in the background whereas Macron
believes strongly in Europe at his rallies today. There's an equal number of French and European flags.
So, right there you see some of the divisions highlights. And we're going to see them definitely played out in the next few days here, Hannah.
[11:45:09] JONES: And, Jim, the polls backing Macron, but the polls aren't always right. Would you stand by them?
BITTERMANN: Well, I don't think I would at this point, because I have a feeling there's still a number of days left here. A lot of things that can
What we saw today in the way of protests on the street of Paris, I think, probably plays into the hands of Marine Le Pen, because she's viewed more
strongly as the law and order candidate than Emmanuel Macron, so that may help her in the next few days. We don't know.
We'll just have to let this play out.
But one of the things that is sure, and that is that the French are not only divided, but they're also divided about who has the best program. In
fact, if anyone has a program that can solve problems, the problems of France, the biggest problem, according to voters, is unemployment and
according to a poll taken last week, 45 percent of the French don't think either one of
these candidates is in a position to solve the unemployment problem - Hannah.
JONES: We could see low turnout then, I guess, on Sunday.
Jim Bittermann, live for us in Paris, thanks very much.
Now, away, then, from the campaign rhetoric and clearly the bitter party divisions, political upstart Emmanuel Macron has become a subject of
interest for people in France and beyond, and perhaps no part of his life has fascinating people more than his marriage. Melissa Bell has the story.
MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Their relationship has caught the attention of the world. The favorite to become the next
president of France and his wife, his former teacher. Macron was 15 when he met Brigitte Trogneux. She was a 40-year-old married teacher at his school
in northern France.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was the friend, you know, of the teachers of the high school. You know, he had dinner with them.
BELL: An old school friend says that Emmanuel Macron always did what was expected of him, except when it came to Brigitte.
At age 17, Macron reluctantly left, but not before telling Brigitte that one day he would marry her. And by the time he arrived in Paris, he
certainly avoided the girls of his own age.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that they were maybe too young to be interesting to him. He needs to learn something from his lover.
BELL (on camera): And maybe slightly older women makes more sense?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course, especially if they are a teacher.
BELL (voice-over): 14 years after first meeting, they were married. But not before Macron asked her three children, one of whom was his age, 29 at the
time, for their permission.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): It's a powerful act because not everyone would have taken that precaution to come and ask us for her hand
in marriage. I mean it wasn't quite like that, but he did want to know if this is something we could accept.
BELL: Macron says that becoming a family was an important step for him as he turned an improbable relationship into what he calls the commitment of a
lifetime. He's now 39, and she's 64 with seven grandchildren.
EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translation): We do not have a classic family. It's undeniable. But is there less love in this
family? I do not think so. Maybe there's even more than in conventional families.
BELL: Trogneux is now at the center of the campaign. Unusual in French politics, visible, but not voluble for now.
"I'll start speaking in two months, and then I'll never be quiet again."
So what kind of first lady would she be?
MACRON (through translation): She wouldn't be paid for it by taxpayers, but she certainly will have an existence. She will have her own take on things.
She will always be by my side, of course.
BELL (on camera): This is the school where it all began. An unconventional story to be sure, but one that Emmanuel Macron has used in his campaign
saying that it shows once his heart is set, his determination and commitment are then unwavering.
Melissa Bell, CNN.
JONES: Melissa, thanks very much indeed. Live from London, this is Connect the World. Coming up on the program, confused by the situation in
Middle East hot spots like Syria and Iraq? Well, one Arab satirist aims to make it all clear, sort of. That's next.
[11:51:07] JONES: You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World. I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones in London. Welcome back.
As we've been hearing this hour, we certainly live in tumultuous times. So, when the reality of politics is often stranger than fiction, how
powerful can satire be?
Arab humorist Karl Sharo (ph) is riffing on political upsets in Europe to skewer stereotypes about the Middle East. A recent barb, "it's our
responsibility as people of the Middle East to help the west to overcome extremism, divisiveness and political instability."
He told Connect the World's Becky Anderson about tackling cliches and confusion with a comedic twist.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got three different kinds of lines. One is friend, which is that kind of line, and then foe and there's uncertain
relationship. And what I was really trying to do is just start it from the observation, you know, that the United States and Iraq is actually on the
side of Iran. They're jointly fighting ISIS together, whereas in Syria, they're against each other.
And then if kind of a similar logic, you know, the United States is supporting Saudi Arabia in its war in Yemen, whereas it's opposed to it in
other places. And I thought one is I could illustrate the actual complexity of those relationship, which to me reflects more than anything
the lack of clarity of many of the players in terms of not recognizing that they're actually contradicting their own aims.
But the other is to spoof the notion that the Middle East is actually so complex to be beyond comprehension.
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We are leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving europe.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You had a field day with Brexit. Back in June, you wrote, "considering how the west likes to solve
problems in the rest of the world, I think we should split the UK - one side in the EU the other out. And after we divide the UK, we can call the
two countries, Leavia and Remainia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We wok up one day and we had the country was split 50/50, which being Lebanese is something quite familiar with. So, it's
sort of we had your own version of sectarianism in Britain in that moment.
All my life I've been bombarded by western experts coming to Lebanon organizing a dialogue
conferences and game theory inspired sessions of how we can deal with each other. I was like this is a perfect opportunity for hold the mirror back
and reflect it back onto Britain.
You know, I did the image with the Berlin Wall running right through Trafalgar Square. I did the colonial map, which frustrated a lot of
people. And I was - we weren't happy with the maps that you drew for us. So, it was a moment of schadenfraude, but a moment, also to lighten the
atmosphere and say, you know, relax guys, things are going to be all right.
ANDERSON: And then not six months later, the gift that just kept giving was the American election.
TRUMP: It's going to be only America first.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean some people have accused me of having too much fun with that. And I might sound flippant, but by nature, I'm an optimist.
And many Americans that I've talked to, they've come out of the conversation saying, wow, you actually have more faith in us than we do
And I was like, yes, you've been through harsher times and you've come out of them all right and in fact this is the moment where you prove what
And it's not at a moment for desperation and giving up, it's a moment that demands, you know, very serious questions and you have to come up with very
So in a way it's almost like shock therapy. And I'm offering this. I should be charging for it, really. I should be a consultant offering
political advice to Americans and Brits in this tough transition times they're going through.
JONES: Fantastic interview there. Sometimes I guess if you didn't laugh, you'd cry. Turning the tables one tweet, one cartoon at a time there.
If you like that story or indeed any of the other ones that we've brought to you throughout the program today, do let us know. You can watch all of
our reports and interviews on our Facebook page, that's Facebook.com/CNNConnect. You can also get in touch with me on Twitter.
I'd love to hear from you. The address is @hvaughanjones.
That is all we have got time for on the program today. I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones, that was Connect the World. Thanks so much for watching. See you