Return to Transcripts main page
CONNECT THE WORLD
Interview with Etihad Airways CEO; 800 Year Old Mosque Destroy in Mosul; Prince Harry Tell Newsweek That No One Wants to be King; Qatari Students Hope Their Voice Will Change Minds. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired June 22, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:15] ROBYN CURNOW, HOST: 800 years of history lost: a historic Mosul mosque destroyed as ISIS retreats.
The British prime minister is in Brussels facing EU leaders for the first time after her disastrous snap election.
And it's the stuff of fairy tales, but in reality does anyone really want to be king? We'll hear the opinion of one member of Britain's royal
Hello and welcome to Connect the World. Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Robyn Curnow in Atlanta.
And we begin in Iraq where a bedrock of Islamic history lies in ruins. The great mosque of al-Nouri, which for eight centuries has towered over Mosul
has now been blown up. This night vision video was given to us by a senior Iraqi military official and appears to show the instant destruction of the
You're looking now at a side-by-side comparison of the site before and after it was destroyed. Iraq says ISIS is to blame, because coalition
troops had been closing in, but the terror group claims American war planes bombed the mosque. U.S. officials tell CNN that's 1,000 percent wrong.
Well, the loss of the mosque, and it's famous for its leaning minaret is being described by the UN as a cultural and human tragedy.
Well, we have two senior international correspondents covering the story for us. Nick Paton Walsh is in Beirut, our Arwa Damon has the latest from
Istanbul. Both have reported extensively from Iraq.
Nick, to you, he Iraqi prime minister says this destruction is a sign of ISIS defeat.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: To some degree, yes. It's a very symbolic building for them, of course. And that video you
showed just now does seem to suggest it will be hard for that kind of explosion to be caused by a U.S. air strike. If you look how actually the
tower seems to explode first and then other explosions occur around that building.
I'm not a munitions expert, but it does seem to frankly go along with the preponderance of thought here, that ISIS in fact rigged the building
themselves, because they did not want such a symbolic place for them to fall into the hands of their enemy.
Now, we've known of their scorched Earth policy when it comes to human life when it comes to towns they previously occupied, no exception for this, the
al-Nouri mosque, whose al-Haptar (ph) minaret, they're known as the hunchback, leans slightly to one side.
A deeply symbolic building in the Islamic faith, and one where Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi chose to give his only real public appearance as the leader of ISIS in which he declared the beginning of their so-called caliphate in
both Iraq and Syria.
Well, that caliphate is now massively compromised. It's down to a very small stretch of territory in the dense war on the streets that is the old
city of Mosul, that's where the al-Nouri Mosque is the gate to, and that's where the most intense fighting is now underway.
But there are tens of thousands of civilians caught in those streets being used as human shields. And frankly the fact that ISIS are quite willing to
do such devastating damage to a building they should be holding sacred, gives you an idea of quite what they feel about human life. But in the
weeks ahead, certain as Iraqi special forces move in to that very dense warren of winding alleyways - Robyn.
CURNOW: And talk about holding things sacred. I mean, the timing of this also very interesting. I mean, this was the most holiest day in the Islamic
WALSH: Arguably, yes, but also, too, bear in mind that ISIS do seem to use the Islamic faith, pervert it to fit their own agenda. So, the fact that
this occurred on what's called the night of power, which is one of the holiest nights in the holy month of Ramadan in which the Prophet Muhammad
is supposed to have received the text of the holy Koran, the (inaudible) text of the Islamic faith does, of course, suggest that they don't hold
much sacred themselves. I'm sure they have their own internal justification as to why that timing was appropriate.
But still it does show you exactly what level of desperation there may be inside their ranks and possibly to a group who are so beholden to their own
sense of propaganda in image how they frankly will stop at nothing to stop the idea of that pulpit where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his speech falling
into the hands of their enemies.
Perhaps, a sign there, Robyn, that they, themselves, accept there in the closing chapters, certainly, of their so-called caliphate's presence in
Iraq. Back to you.
CURNOW: Thanks so much, Nick.
And Arwa, over to you. I mean, you've covered this battle for Mosul extensively. And the Iraqi prime minister says this is a symbol of ISIS
defeat. But it also, in many ways, takes away a symbol of Iraqi troops' victory?
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, to a certain degree if we're talking about they symbolism of it all. I think in our previous
conversations we have with residents of Mosul, have managed to somehow survive and come out of ISIS-held territory, the stories that they're
carrying with them everything that they've been through. They, themselves struggled to adequately articulate what it is that they witnessed, what it
is that they had to survive.
Let's not forget the sheer brutality of ISIS that Nick was pointing out as well, and the fact that this is an entity that does not hesitate to shoot
people as they are trying to flee, including children. This is an organization that has horrified the world, that has put the populations in
the areas that it controls through things that are truly unimaginable. And the great concern for the residents of Mosul, when they look forward is
what is going to happen once ISIS is actually defeated inside the city, because the political aspect of this is arguably just as important as the
What Iraqis really want to know is that the country, the Iraqi government, is going to take the needed necessary measures to ensure that in the future
an organization like ISIS is not able to take control, once again.
CURNOW: And, Arwa, also I mean, as Nick has been saying, and you're also reporting, ISIS is on the back foot. They're being squeezed, not just there
in Mosul, but also in Raqqa and Syria, and you just made a very bold, brave trip to the outskirts of Raqqa. And just tell us what people there told
DAMON: A very brief trip, yes, Robyn, we did go to the outskirts of Raqqa. And people there have very similar concerns and our experiencing things
that are truly beyond the scope of one's imagination. We met with women who were married to members of ISIS, ISIS fighters, and also one woman who
was actually fighting against ISIS.
DAMON (voice-over): The coalition- backed Syrian Defense Forces have managed to clear the first few neighborhoods of Raqqa. Outside the city, we
ran into Clara Raqqa, one of the unit commanders here and a native of the city itself just back from one of the fronts.
CLARA RAQQA, SYRIAN DEFENSE FORCES UNIT COMMANDER (through translator): In the city, we can see that the city of Raqqa is above ground and there is
another city below ground. Raqqa was a city that was a mosaic of people that turned into a place of women's enslavement, the place where women were
enslaved has to be liberated by the hands of women.
DAMON: It's a city whose brutality transcends our current vocabulary, ruled by ISIS since 2013, where Yazidi Kurds and even Arab women were sold on the
streets as sex slaves; where public executions and beheadings were a regular occurrence; where journalists and aid workers were held hostage and
These are the faces of those who lived in Raqqa now in a hastily put together camp, children who have little choice but to witness the stuff of
nightmares. The lines of good and evil blurred for them.
This woman from Raqqa married an ISIS member; a foreigner from the Caucasus who she says had an administrative job.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): ISIS made a mockery of us. There is nothing else we can say.
(on-camera): When they were running away, they say that they were also fired upon by ISIS fighters who were basically ordering them to return.
DAMON (voice-over): And then there are also those who went willingly to join. It became a magnet for foreign fighters and others. This woman is
from the Caucasus. She came with her husband and four children claiming they wanted to live in the caliphate. She says they were lured online by
the promise of Islamic utopia and a job for her husband.
This Syrian woman is originally from Homs. She was an English teacher. She eventually married a Moroccan man who went through ISIS military training
although she claims he never fought. ISIS, she says, never allowed the population to escape their brutality.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, when you walk on the streets of Raqqa, there are big screens that are showing beheadings. They have, you know, the
projectors and we are walking in the streets and just watching these videos.
DAMON (on-camera): How are you going to explain this to your children?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I pray for God to -- that my children forget this without asking me. They are all the time thinking about war, about killing
and they see a video of cutting heads.
DAMON (voice-over): The battle for the ISIS capital has just begun and what lies ahead is unknown for those who are fighting to liberate it, and for
the civilians who are still trapped inside.
[11:10:04] DAMON: And, Robyn, by some estimates there are around 100,000 civilians believed to be trapped inside Raqqa. And as you see from that
report, and in all of the other coverage, when it comes to these fights against ISIS, people really don't have a way to keep themselves safe. And
it's not just the threat that is posed by ISIS itself, it's also the ongoing coalition bombardment, the artillery, the suicide car bombs as
CURNOW: Thank you so much. Arwa Damon there.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is in Brussels right now. Her first summit with EU leaders since a shocking election result sapped her
She will will meet the other 27 leaders. But only some of the time when she leaves the room they will discuss Brexit together without her. Before
that, she plans to outline her approach to an important issue: the rights of EU expatriates living in the UK.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Well, if I'm going to be setting out today, it's clearly how the United Kingdom proposes to protect the rights
of EU citizens living in the UK and see the rights of UK citizens living in Europe protected, that's been an important issue. We've wanted it to be
one of the early issues that was considered in the negotiations. That is now the case. That work is starting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Work is starting. Two years of negotiations. Erin McLaughlin is keeping an eye on all of this there in Brussels.
We heard the prime minister there, but what are the wider priorities here for these meetings?
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Robyn.
Well, aside from Brexit, there is a lot going on here in Brussels and from various conversations I've been having, I'm really detecting a sense of
optimism about everything. I was speaking to one EU diplomat earlier today. He said that the goal of this two-day summit is to send a strong
He said, quote, "we want to show that Europe works. There's chaos in Britain, chaos in the White House, Europe stands firm."
There is a sense here that populism in Europe is on the retreat with the election of the French President Emmanuel Macron. Also, that the economy
is doing better.
So, there is a lengthy agenda that they are going to be addressing today, everything from security issues, climate change. We also expect a decision
to be made to extend Russian sanctions. Brexit, of course, will be talked about. It is a key challenge for the EU, already addressed in the
president of the European Council, Donald Tusk's opening remarks. Take a listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TUSK, PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL: Some of my British friends have even asked me whether Brexit could be reversed, and whether I could
imagine an outcome where the UK stays part of the EU.
I told them that in fact the European Union was built on dreams that seemed impossible to achieve. So, who knows? You may say, I am a dreamer, but I
am no the only one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCLAUGHLIN: So, a John Lennon reference there, seemingly topped by what the president of Lithuania had to tweet. She tweeted out "#Brexit, ain't
no mountain high enough." You could say, Robyn, that they're singing form the same hymn sheet here in Brussels.
In terms of British prime minister Theresa May's agenda, she has already met with the president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker in a
bilateral meeting. She's also met with Tusk himself. Later tonight, she's going to be addressing the rest of the EU leaders at a dinner. We
understand that she is going to be talking about the UK's proposal on citizen's rights, once she's finished her presentation, she will leave the
dinner. EU leaders will not be engaging with her, that according to diplomats I've been speaking with. They want to keep the negotiations with
the European commission. Once she leaves the room then Michel Barnier (ph), the chief Brexit negotiator for the commission, will make his
presentation to the remaining EU 27 - Robyn.
CURNOW: Erin McLaughlin, thank you very much.
OK, so U.S. President Donald Trump is firing off new tweets this morning, pushing back against the Russia investigation that's casting a dark cloud
over the White House. He says it's all a big Democratic hoax. This comes as CNN learns new details about President Trump's conversations with two
top intelligence chiefs. Sources say Dan Coats and Mike Rogers told a special counsel that Mr. Trump suggested they publicly say there was no
collusion between his campaign and Russia, but they say they didn't consider that an order to interfere.
Well, let's bring in our senior Washington correspondent, Joe Johns who is standing outside - yeah, outside - inside the White House. Only an hour
ago you were outside, now you're inside the press briefing room.
Good to speak to you. And I think it's a good place to have this conversation about where we actually stand with this Russia investigation.
We're hearing the latest tweets from the president, but the bigger picture here, where are we?
[11:15:01] JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The bigger picture is the investigation continues. This is an important step for us to learn
publicly, at least, that the director of national intelligence, among others, has now told the special counsel and in separate meetings senate
investigators that the president did, in fact, ask them to go public about the issue of collusion and to knock down the story.
So, also important to say that at least in their minds it was not an attempt by the president to necessarily interfere with the investigation,
it was pretty clear at least from our reporting so far that the president was concerned about the public news stories.
But, the special counsel, Bob Mueller, will continue his investigation now and so will the Senate investigators. No timetable. Of course it could be
a year or two. The one thing that is certain right now is that people who were likely to be questioned in the investigation, are looking for lawyers,
CURNOW: Yeah, they certainly are lawyering up.
We're also keeping an eye on some comments the president might, or will be making there at the White House. He's meeting with - he's having a
technology event, but we hear he might make some comments about health care.
Now, of course, health care was a key campaign issue. Do we know what he's going to say, particularly because the senate is about to unveil their
health care plan?
JOHNS: You could only guess. And it's clear from reading the tea leaves here at the White House that there was a positive reception, at least
initially, to what some house - White House aides have heard about this proposal coming from the Senate. It's still, again, a work in progress.
They're going to have to try to pass this thing, they say, by next week, if not by the August recess. And then that long process of melding the bill
that was passed by the House and by the Senate.
The Senate bill, by the way, does sound like a compromise, that is attempting to bring on board more moderates, because the Senate majority
leader, who essentially wrote the bill with his staff, can only lose a couple of Senators in order to reach the 50 vote threshold to get it
CURNOW: And of course health care was a key part of President Obama's legacy. A lot of impact that. We'll keep an eye on that story.
I also want to talk about what President Trump said yesterday at a rally. He spoke about a tale of two America's, in particular, about the poor and
the rich, not just raised eyebrows, some people are amazed that this is coming out of the mouth of the president of the United States.
JOHNS: Well, it has certainly attracted a lot of fire from the left. And if you listen to the president's comments, you can see why, they would
argue, that the president of the United States was making the case for plutocracy. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I love all people - rich or poor - but in those particular positions, I just don't want a poor person.
Does that make sense? Does that make sense? If you insist, I'll do it. But I like it better this way, right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: Now, when you take that statement by the president just last night about preferring rich people in certain positions, or at least not wanting
poor people in certain positions, and you look at his cabinet, there are a number of people who are very rich, including his secretary of education,
his Treasury Secretary, his Commerce secretary. They've made a lot of money in their lifetimes.
So, the president is certainly under attack from people on the left, but it also underscores a point that a lot of people don't realize, and that is
that this president was not elected by the blue collar of th country. Affluent people, more than others, the numbers show, are the people who put
him into office. And I think he's reflecting that in that statement.
CURNOW: Yeah, but what was also interesting, as people have noted, is that a lot of blue collar workers cheered on those comments, and they're still
giving him a long - a lot of opportunity to get his agenda done, no matter what he says.
So, many voters. It's OK. He can say those things. Thanks so much. Joe Johns there at the White House. Appreciate it.
Well, waging war on history. The brazen ISIS destruction of preserved treasures goes well beyond Mosul. A look at many centuries worth of
history the group has obliterated.
And then more than a week after the devastating Grenfell Tower blaze, could hundreds or even thousands of families in London be at risk for a similar
disaster? We'll be right back with all of that.
[11:22:26] CURNOW: Thanks so much for joining us. You're watching CNN. And this is Connect the World. I'm Robyn Curnow.
Well, in Iraq and Syria, ISIS is at war with the region's cultural heritage. We estimate the group has wiped out at least 28 centuries worth
of history since 2014. And that figure only includes the largest losses. There are many other relics that aren't accounted for.
The group hates religious shrines, and has vandalized sites of importance to both Islam and Christianity. In Syria, parts of the revered open air
museum in Palmyra are still reduced - are now reduced to rubble. And in the Mosul museum, video captured militants shoving stone statues or
pedestals taking sledge hammers to them.
And (inaudible) ISIS wired the ancient city with explosives and detonated the whole thing.
Well, CNN senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman saw that destruction firsthand.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Iraqi forces recently retook Nimrud, just south of Mosul, we came to have a look -- lone visitors to a
lone hilltop that hasn`t seen a tourist in years.
(on camera): The scale of the vandalism that took place here boggles the mind. Only ISIS could ruins into ruins. By some estimates in northern Iraq,
the extremist group destroyed or severely damaged around 80 sites, archeological ones like this one, as well as Muslim and Christian shrines.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Thanks to Ben Wedeman and that drone for giving us a sense of the perspective there.
Well, joining me now is Michael Danti, assistant professor in the department of archaeology at Boston University.
And as Ben Wedeman was saying there, the scale of this vandalism is huge, but this specific mosque that we're dealing with and the minaret - I mean,
it was affectionately known as Hadba, the Hadba (ph), or the Hunchback. And UNESCO says this has opened a wound within Iraq. Tell us about what
this meant, the symbolism of it.
MICHAEL DANTI, BOSTON UNIVERSITY: This is a monument that dominated the Mosul skyline. It was the prominent feature there. The mosque that dated
back to 1127 AD was associated with the anti-crusader forces that pushed the crusaders out of the Middle East, one of the predecessos of the famous
Salahuddin, the mosque there.
It was a site that transcended sectarianism in Mosul, which is obviously a multi-ethnic, multi-religious city. It was revered by all of Mosul's
residents. So, this is a horrible act of retribution by Islamic State, and an act of propaganda.
CURNOW: Certainly a painful loss, it's being described as. In fact, those images were seen on Iraqi - one of the Iraqi bank notes. So, it certainly
hits at the heart of Iraqi society. Broadly, though, as we were saying, I mean, ISIS has created some sort of cultural cleansing in many levels in
addition to the brutality and horror of what they're doing to human beings.
DANTI: No question they've been engaged now for many years, three years, in systematic cultural cleansing, manipulations of cultural identity,
erasures of cultural memory, to try to establish their so-called caliphate. All the while that they're destroying these sights, they're stealing
cultural property to market to finance their operations globally.
CURNOW: Yeah, well, talk to us about that. I mean, there is a black market. There is hope at some point maybe some of those relics will be
purchased back, they will be found, that they're not totally destroyed. But certainly they're being used as currency in this awful caliphate that
they're trying to sustain and that their on the back foot about.
But there's also a sense that people are trying to win back the future, trying to rebuild with replicas and 3D prints and all of that sort of
DANTI: Right. The international community is reaching out to local stakeholders in Syria and Iraq to try to preserve and protect the cultural
patrimony of Mesopotamia, the entire region. Without those brave local stakeholders who are the real heroes in all of this, those efforts wouldn't
They need more international support to recover stolen cultural property and to try to preserve and protect the remaining cultural sites there.
CURNOW: And the timing of this, this is one of the holiest days in the Islamic calendar. I mean, there's a lot of symbolism in why ISIS decides
to target these specific sites and when they do it and how they do it.
DANTI: That's right. And it was - they had allegedly wired this mosque up with explosives, the minaret and the mosque, about a month ago and they
were simply waiting until Iraqi forces got close, but they were able to unfortunately detonate the structure on a very holy, holy day, or holy
night in this particular case. And we've seen this in a lot of other ISIL delivery destructions of heritage places where they try to time those
destructions for maximum impact and maximum psychological damage.
CURNOW: OK, Michael Danti, thank you so much for your expertise and your analysis here on CNN. Thank you.
Well, the latest world news headlines are just ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have been the best of allies. And that really keeps me grounded. And I have faith that Washington will look at the
history when it decides to have a better, clearer understanding after hearing our voices and after hearing our perspective.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: How students at American universities in Qatar are dealing with the embargo there and a series of confusing mixed messages from the Trump
administration. Stay with us. You're watching CNN.
[11:31:51] CURNOW: A now to a very disturbing warning that comes just a week after the tragic fire in London that's blamed for at least 79 deaths.
The British government says 600 buildings across the country could have cladding or a covering similar to that used on Grenfell Tower.
Investigators want to know if the cladding played a role in the fire's rapid spread.
Phil Black joins us now from outside Grenfell Tower with more on all of this. The prime minister saying that many other buildings are combustible.
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right, Robyn. So, in the immediate wake of the fire really the building was still burning
behind us when we were here on the night and residents were saying it's the cladding, it's the cladding. And, indeed, if you looked at the way the
fire behaved on the building, raced across the surface of the building itself, it clearly played a significant role. And the investigation is
looking to determine precisely what that is.
But in the meantime, people are obviously concerned about that possible risk extending to other buildings across the country.
You mentioned that figure of 600, that's according to local consolaries (ph) across the country. They've said that that's how many buildings they
estimate have a cladding that is of a similar nature, not necessarily exactly the same.
And so now the government is going through the process of testing those buildings to determine just how far and wide this risk really exists. This
is what the British prime minister spoke about in parliament today. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAY: As a precaution, the government has arranged to test claddings in all relevant tower blocks. Mrs. Speaker, shortly before I came to the chamber,
I was informed that a number of these tests have come back as combustible. The relevant local authorities and local fire services have been informed.
And as I speak, they are taking all possible steps to ensure buildings are safe and to inform affected residents.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACK: So, when the prime minister says a number have been determined to be combustible, at the moment that number is three, but it's a very early
figure in terms of the process of actually testing all of these buildings. They're waiting for samples to come in. they say they conduct - can
conduct 100 tests a day, so we should get further updates in the days and weeks ahead. And from that, residents will be able to determine whether or
not their homes are at risk in this way.
But it's obviously a tremendous concern for the people who live in these buildings across the country, Robyn.
CURNOW: Yeah, particularly because they look at that image of that charred husk of a building behind you and that just tells 1,000 stories. Thanks so
much. Keeping an eye on that. Critical stories in the UK. Phil Black, thanks.
Now, let's get to a story we've been following extensively here on Connect the World, the embargo against the tiny Gulf nation of Qatar. Earlier this
month, Saudi Arabia and his allies cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism. Now, the response from the Trump
administration has been inconsistent and confusing with contrasting messages coming from the U.S. president, and his secretary of state.
Well, American universities operating in Qatar are struggling to keep up with the confusion. Jomana Karadsheh reports from Doha.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is more useful to you to proceed with one line of questioning --
[11:35:03] JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thousands of miles away from America, these students are getting an Ivy
League education. While Cornell is one of six American universities with a campus in Doha's education city, an ambitious project by the Qatar
Foundation to create a regional educational hub, building on close American-Qatari ties.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have entire generations of Qataris graduating from American universities, going to American careers, and so the relationship
between the United States and Qatar is not only deep but it is multi- dimensional. It is security and military. It's economic and commercial. And it is cultural and educational.
KARADSHEH: But with the gulf nation boycott of Qatar, America has sent mixed signals. While the U.S. president seemed to take credit in tweets for
triggering one of the worst diplomatic crises to hit this region, his State Department called for calm. The inconsistency has sent shockwaves across
this tiny country that, for decades, this has been a close U.S. ally, hosting the largest American base in the Middle East.
HAYA ALTHANI, STUDENT: When I first saw the tweets, it happened, I was kind of confused, but I had faith in the U.S. government. And Secretary Rex
Tillerson spoke and then I felt better, and then President Trump spoke again, and I was just confused.
KARADSHEH: This woman, spending her first year abroad in Washington, describes D.C. as her second home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have been the best of allies and that really keeps me grounded. And I have faith that Washington will look at the history when
it decides to have a better, clearer understanding after hearing our voices and our perspective.
KARADSHEH: Like most Qataris, student here say they were stunned to wake up to their neighbors blockading them on June 5, restricting trade and travel.
Many were concerned about how this will affect them.
SARA ELAMIN, STUDENT: Georgetown conducted a town hall meeting by faculty and staff for all the students and all the staff at Georgetown to reassure
us of the structural continuing of our campus and how nothing will affect our education and everything would continue as normal.
KARADSHEH: While Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain expelled Qatari citizens, Qatar said it will not do the same.
HAMAD AL-IBRAHIM, QATAR FOUNDATION: We have assured the state leadership of the state of Qatar and the leadership of the foundation that we are going
to treat all the students equally. We're not going to ask any of our students to leave.
KARADSHEH: Officials insist they will not let politics get in the way of education.
AL-IBRAHIM: We'll keep supporting our students. We'll keep providing them with opportunities and hoping she would become the change agent in the
KARADSHEH: A region that may never be the same after this crisis.
Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Doha.
CURNOW: Thanks to Jomana for that. Important perspective there.
Meanwhile, Qatar Airways is making a major play for American Airlines. The carrier says it wants to buy about 10 percent of the company's public
shares, that's an investment of more than $800 million dollars and it will make Qatar one of American's biggest shareholders.
Well, I want to cross now to our John Defterios who is in Abu Dhabi. Tell us more about this play.
JOHN DEFTERIOS, EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Oh, It's interesting, Robyn, Qatar Airways and American Airlines have never seen eye-to-eye, now Qatar
Airways wants to take a sizable chunk out of American Airlines. While they have this Gulf isolation clearly strategically, Akbar al-Baker, the CEO of
Qatar Airways, thinks it keeps him in the game. They also have a 20 percent investment in IAG, the parent company of BA, Aer Lingus, and
Iberia. So, it remains a player here.
Fascinating the response from American Airlines, despite the offer put forward by Qatar Airways, it says the limit is 4.75 percent. If it goes
above that level, they'll have to go to the board, and despite the offer on the table they said they still want to pursue the actions against the Gulf
carriers, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, and Emirates, because they see unfair competition and subsidies eating into their marketshare in the
So, this is going to heat up, but it was almost a bolt out of the blue by Qatar Airways putting this offer on the table during this isolation.
CURNOW: Yeah, and let's talk about the isolation. I mean, Qatar is isolated, but is there any other impact on other airlines in the region?
What's the domino effect here?
DEFTERIOS: Well, there's two ways to look at it. Yeah, so two ways to look at it, Robyn, because of the depression in oil prices, down 20 percent
in 2017, this is hurting demand overall, so it's not great for any of the Gulf carriers. But we can look at Qatar Airways in isolation. This could
hurt the brand of the Gulf carriers hit by the same big, broad brush. So, I sat down with the CEO of Etihad Airways, Peter Baumgarten, and asked him
what impact this will have when there's discussion of over capacity in the airline space because of the drop in oil prices.
Here's our interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER BAUMGARTNER, CEO, ETIHAD AIRWAYS: Commercially, we lose some traffic, we gain some other flows, and of course there is a demand out
there in an environment where we used to see since long now over capacity of very fiercely competitive, overlapping traffic routes, gives us an
opportunity, of course, here to take some commercial measures to make sure that we serve, you know, demand that wasn't there before now as Etihad
But there are potentially downsides, if that results in a price war where one of the competitors who are most impacted by the situation both start to
very aggressively compete on price, and fare levels would spiral down and probably we'll only see losers here in the region in terms of aviation and
probably to the benefit of a consumer, but certainly not create any sustainable situation for the regional airlines to move forward.
DEFTERIOS: The Trump effect, if you will, the laptop ban and the potential move to try to ban some Muslim travelers, at the end of the day how much is
it really affected the traffic on your carrier going to the United States.
BAUMGARTNER: We do see some impact on certain traffic flows, especially out of Indian subcontinent to West Coast USA, for example. The closer to
the Silicon Valley you are, the more you - VFR traffic is also impacted, some concerns of travelers say well if we go out of the U.S. do we easily
come back in.
It is something that we wish to go away quickly and with our pre-clearance facility in Abu Dhabi, we do hope that we are in a great situation to
overcome that for Etihad and for Abu Dhabi fairly quickly. And we have some positive signals there.
So, we remain hopeful that it's something that goes away.
DEFTERIOS: Peter Baumgartner, once again the CEO of Etihad Airways, hinting at the fact that they may, Robyn, get a solution to the laptop ban.
We've heard similar tones coming out of Emirates Airways, and they're hoping this will be done before the end of the summer.
There's a bigger picture to to look at here, Baumgartner runs the airline but they're looking for a group CEO. They'd like to shore up some of the
losses they've seen in Air Berlin and Al Italia, which is in administration right now.
It is safe to say that in the future that Etihad Airways may not be the size that it is today, because of the over capacity that the CEO talked
about in our exclusive interview. Back to you.
CURNOW: Yeah, thanks so much for that. John Defterios there. Appreciate it.
Well, still ahead here on Connect the World, an exclusive report from inside Yemen's silent war, how a civil conflict is fueling famine and a
[11:45:44] CURNOW: You're watching CNN. And this is Connect the World. I'm Robyn Curnow. Welcome back.
Well, president, U.S. President Donald Trump recently made a weapons deal with $100 billion with Saudi Arabia, but many Americans probably never
realized where some of those weapons would end up: in Yemen. The country is in the grips of a terrible civil war between Houthi militants and a
coalition led by Saudi Arabia. The war is fueling a famine and a cholera epidemic. Clarissa Ward has this exclusive report. But first a warning,
you may find some of the images in this piece disturbing.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the images that Saudi Arabia does not want you to see. The youngest victims of
a near famine that threatens the lives of almost seven million people.
Baby Ahmad (ph) is just ten months old.
The nurse says he would be dead in two days if he hadn't come for treatment. But many Yemenis can't afford to get to a hospital. In a dusty
camp for those displaced by more than two years of grinding civil war, our team met husband, Hamza (ph). His 10-month-old son, Akram (ph) has been
malnourished for months.
"I cannot take him to the city because there's no money," he says. "We're hoping any aid group will come see us and help us but no one has come. We
await God's fate."
Access to the victims of this manmade famine has been drastically restricted. In recent months, CNN has found that the Saudi Arabia-led
coalition is deliberately blocking journalists and human rights workers from visiting the hardest hit areas.
The air, land and sea blockade imposed by Riyadh and its partners has brought basic services to a grinding halt. And deteriorating conditions are
being blamed for a vicious cholera outbreak with more than 1100 deaths in a matter of months, according to the World Health Organization.
For 25-year-old medic Rannah Sayid Farrah (ph), the days have become a blur. Like so many hospitals, hers is short-staffed and under equipped.
"How old is she," she asks? "Is she throwing up?"
The little girl, Ezra (ph), has been brought in by her parents. She is the third of their children to fall ill.
"I'm scared, of course," her father Ali (ph) says. "Your children are your world."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We wish we could finish this epidemic, this disaster. We want to finish this disaster. Patients are dying one by one. They will
die at anytime. You couldn't do anything for them.
WARD: Pleas for help appear to have fallen on deaf ears. President Trump's recent trip to Riyadh and the announcement of a massive weapons deal was
seen by many to embolden the kingdom, leaving Yemen's conflict for now a silent war.
CNN has reached out to the Saudi Arabian government for comment on this issue of suspending journalist access to the hardest hit areas of Yemen.
The Saudi ambassador to the UN said, quote, "Saudi Arabia does not exercise any kind of censorship. Many news reporters and UN personnel have been
granted access to Yemen. The Yemeni government, and not the Saudi-led coalition, usually process visa approvals.
Clarissa Ward, CNN, London.
[11:51:00] CURNOW: You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World. I'm Robyn Curnow. Welcome back.
So, uneasy lies the head that wears a crown. William Shakespeare wrote that line in the 16th Century, but that still appears to be true today.
Britain's Prince Harry, fifth in the line of succession to Queen Elizabeth, says he doesn't think there's anyone in his family who really wants to be
king or queen.
Still, he tells Newsweek magazine that, quote, "we will carry out our duties at the right time."
Kate Williams is a royal historian and a CNN contributor. She joins us now from outside Buckingham Palace.
I mean, this is a wide ranging interview. And it certainly is fascinating about how Prince Harry views the monarchy and the burden of the crown.
KATE WILLIAMS, ROYAL HISTORIAN: Yes, it is a fascinating interview. It's extraordinary, as we were saying, it really is incredibly honest. Prince
Harry is the honest member of the royal family. He talks very openly. He talked very openly about his feelings about his mother, about his need to
seek counseling that he couldn't get over this distress. And he's talked about press intrusion.
But normally he does combine his criticism to the press, to society, and this time we really do see an incredibly frank interview. He complains
very clearly about the job of king. He says why would anyone want to be king? Anyone in my family in Buckingham Palace who were watching them
might think, boy they have grandeur, they have splendor, they have palaces, they have adoration, but Harry is saying it's simply too much. The role of
king, the role of queen, is too much for one person to bear. And we only do it because we have to, because out or duty.
So, it is a very striking thing for a prince, a prince who could one day be king, to be saying.
CURNOW: Yeah, the queen's grandson. And also, I mean, he's certainly outspoken, not unlike his mother, Diana, Princes of Wales. And he was also
very, very bold and quite emotional about the days after her death and her funeral.
WILLIAMS: Yes, well, what's fascinating is absolutely she'd say there, because for many of us watching the funeral, you were so struck by the
sight of William and Harry walking through the streets of London behind the coffin, the coffin bearing the little card of mommy that was obviously from
William and Harry. We were very struck by that.
But William has spoken before about what a struggle it was, but Harry it's very explicit here. He says simply I didn't want to do it. I did not want
to do it. They made me do it. And what he says it's very pointed, is they wouldn't make a child do that today.
For him, it's too much for a child. It was an excessive burden to put this child who has just lost his mother in front of the cameras, in front of the
public eye. And in that, what we see is not the usual criticism of the press that we see. It's not a criticism of society, but actually it's a
criticism of the courtiers and the implicitly the royal family and the queen, his beloved grandmother.
CURNOW: So, Harry is being the most explicit out any member of the royal family here. He's saying the royal family were wrong, my father was wrong,
my grandmother was wrong, in the way that they treated us in the runup to Diana's funeral, and that is quite a bombshell.
It certainly is. And the question then is why is he sharing like this? Why is he saying this stuff, which is probably being discussed behind
closed doors at the palace behind you, what about the timing? And do we have any sense of the reaction, the reaction? What does he aim to get from
WILLIAMS: Well, Harry is sharing this and one reason is he's much more open, it's the year of his mother's death, the anniversary 20 years his
mother's death in August. He's being much more open, but I think most of all it's very clear that he seems himself as a monarchy modernizer. He
sees William and Harry and Kate working together as modernizing the monarchy, bringing it forward from the stiff upper lip, the very strict,
old style Victorian way in a sense that he, that Elizabeth II has governed very much keep calm and carry on.
He doesn't want that to happen anymore, the monarchy must show their vulnerability. If they're struggling they should say so. And above all, I
think, he wants the monarchy to be different in the future. And he wants it - when he comes to have children, them to be treated in a very different
way to the way that he was treated growing up. He wants them to have a normal childhood in the way that his mother tried to give to him, not so
much the royal childhood.
So, it's very pointed what he's saying. And he knows, obviously, that what he says people will sit up and take notice of it.
[11:55:23] CURNOW: Yeah, but I think he also concedes in that interview that it's a tricky balancing act to keep the magic of the monarchy.
Thanks so much. Kate Williams, as always, appreciate it.
And as we say goodbye, a quick reminder about what's coming up next hour on QMB express. Our Laurie Segall will have an exclusive interview with
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, he'll talk about Facebook's changing role in society and about the Facebook community summit getting underway in Chicago
today. So, you don't want to miss that.
Well, thanks so much for joining us here at Connect the World. I'm Robyn Curnow. Bye bye.