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WORLD RIGHT NOW WITH HALA GORANI

CNN Gets First-Hand Look Inside Former ISIS Jails; Battle Against ISIS Deeply Personal For Female Fighters; Much Of Raqqa Destroyed After Four-Month Battle; Iraqi, Kurdish Forces Fight North Of Kirkuk; FBI Assisting Niger Authorities In Ambush Investigation; E.U. Chief: Deadlock Reports "Exaggerated" Aired 3-4 ET

Aired October 20, 2017 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:00:18]

CLARISSA WARD, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from around the world. I'm Clarissa Ward live in London sitting

in for Hala Gorani this evening.

Well, it is finally official, U.S.-backed fighters today declared the Syrian city of Raqqa fully liberated.

(VIDEO CLIP)

WARD: We've seen unthinkable just weeks ago dancing hand in hand with music blaring from loud speakers. The Syrian forces that drove ISIS from

itself proclaimed capital celebrated what they call a brutal defeat.

Some of CNN's top correspondents are on the ground covering this story from every angle. Let us start this hour, though, with our senior international

correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh. He joins me now live from (inaudible) in Syria. Nick, tell us what did you see? What is going on, on the ground

now in Raqqa?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, devastation is absolutely extraordinary (inaudible) we've kind of used to

that. The issue really is the absence of anyone (inaudible). We saw something pretty red again inside on an all-black box of the world that

ISIS really ran.

And that's how ISIS seemed to treat its own people, its own foreign fighters, who it suspected of espionage. We got a sense of that.

(Inaudible) graffiti in one of the cells beneath Raqqa headquarters stadium.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALSH (voice-over): ISIS usually leave places looking like this in their self-declared capital with no different with one exception, where are the

people? Hardly a soul here. A lot (inaudible) swarming around ISIS old HQ stadium.

(on camera): It's extraordinary to stand exactly where ISIS just a matter of weeks or months ago may in fact been plotting attacks against the West.

This stadium, one of the symbols of their presence here.

(voice-over): It was underground where this place mattered most, tortures, imprisonments, (inaudible) even their own.

(on camera): Eerily a graffiti here, some of it actually explaining to prisoners why they were here. One saying if you are reading this, there's

four main reasons why you are here.

You did the crime and caught red handed, using Twitter GPS locations or having GPS location switched upon all on a mobile phone, uploading videos

and photos from a sensitive Wi-Fi accounts, i.e., you need your amir's permission, which you did not do. Be patient. Be patient. Be patient.

Be patient.

The enemy of the Muslim states will do every whispering while you stare at the wall or the floor. Further down still, the hazard that still remains,

a city beset by tunnels that run deep.

The main fight may be over, but the flame that ISIS' sick ideas lit flickers worldwide online. Global flight here for its volunteers, though,

is over.

(on camera): How was it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's sad now that we are not fighting anymore.

WALSH: You enjoyed it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes like -- yes.

WALSH (voice-over): John is on his way back to sleepy Colorado.

(on camera): How close did ISIS (inaudible) did you get?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible). You could see them running on the street.

WALSH: Is this kind of a thrill (inaudible) or --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know sitting in a desert doing nothing drinking (inaudible).

WALSH (voice-over): Will life for him be same again?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was doing (inaudible) fixing theaters and stuff. So, I don't know what I'm going to do.

WALSH: So, probably not that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably not.

WALSH (voice-over): (Inaudible) can return here were the only building not eviscerated is a hospital where ISIS held human shields. This is the only

ISIS fighter we saw. The bodies cleaned up fast.

And the dust of this refugee camp where many have fled misery are these new sparkling tents, home to 200 ISIS fighters and their families who

surrendered after a negotiated deal.

We weren't allowed to talk to them. They once lived on and in fear. Yet fear drove them to surrender and their future uncertain almost certainly

now haunts their nights under the cold canopies here.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WARD: Nick Paton Walsh there with an extraordinary report from Raqqa, the self-declared capital of ISIS now in the hands of U.S.-backed forces.

Well, ISIS terrorized the population of Raqqa for years. Its treatment of women was especially barbaric.

[15:05:02] So, the battle for the city was deeply personal for a group of female Kurdish fighters. Our senior international correspondent, Arwa

Damon is also in Raqqa with more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's hard to even find traces of the life that was or even imagine what these streets

looked like when they were full of people with children laughing and playing. (Inaudible) is one of the battle commanders here.

(on camera): It was a 15-day battle just to try to retake this particular square and every single rooftops you're saying was lined with snipers. This

was one of the main squares where is would carry out their public beheadings and execution. They would place the heads of their victims on

these spikes as a gruesome reminder to others of what their fate might be should they decide to defy ISIS rule.

(voice-over): It is also where ISIS sold its Yazadis captives into sexual slavery. For the female fighting force of the coalition-backed Syrian

Democratic Forces, the battle for Raqqa was deeply personal.

They found that Raqqa would be liberated at the hands of women. As he walked pass some of (inaudible) fighters, she says seeing them makes her

happy, proud. Women establish their bravery here, she says. It taught them their value beyond their value within the household. She tells us

that she herself joined the fight against ISIS around three years ago.

(on camera): The final battle she was just saying were taking place in the entire area between the stadium. It is right there and then the square

that's behind us and the hospital and she was saying that ISIS fighters have actually underground dug tunnel systems between those three locations.

Now we can't go and see them again because they still might have left explosive devices inside them.

(voice-over): Against the backdrop of the city's ruins, the female fighting force within the SDF celebrated. Moments of victory, reunions,

but rebuilding, it may be even tougher than battle itself.

Commanders tell us they are still small pockets of ISIS fighters and clearing the city of explosives will take at least three months and for

those who called Raqqa home, there is not much left to return to.

(Inaudible) held up the SDF flag at this very square the day the SDF took control of it. She says she did it in memory of those who died in a battle

whose cost is not yet fully known. Arwa Damon, CNN, Raqqa, Syria.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WARD: I want to go back now to our Nick Paton Walsh, who is (inaudible) in Syria. Nick, we just heard your report from on the ground in Raqqa. You

mentioned, of course, that there are no civilians anywhere to be seen. Do have any sense of when if they may be able to return?

WALSH: It's a question that has many different facets to its own. So, the first one is (inaudible) where they are going to demine the whole city

(inaudible) to come back. It is extraordinarily laborious, intense work is still going on in Mosul right now. So, that's one enormous question.

Secondly, it is the element of trust that perhaps that local population, many of whom lived under ISIS prepared a time to fled as the news began to

tighten around what was the self-declared capital of the self-declared caliphate where they feel comfortable coming back under an area, which

still going to be secured by that dominantly Kurdish SDF force.

And the next one on top of that to one of the regime's ambitions here, they are not far away across the river to the south. They may -- and they have

said in the past that they would like to reclaim all of (inaudible) and Raqqa certainly part of that.

They may have something to say here too, and of course, you know, the Americans are being quite clear here. They believe there is sort of a

Sunni-Arab local Raqqa civilian government, kind of in a box if you like that they wish to introduce to that area like tribal elders to sort of step

in.

That pain feels somewhat ambitious given the scale of devastation there, the absence of infrastructure, whether they can really get the city back on

its feet overnight is probably quite a tall question.

So, for now they are in camps quite far away from there, near where I'm standing here in (inaudible). You saw in our reports where the local ISIS

fighters are in this sparking brand-new tents in a row next to (inaudible) of the normal displaced living there.

We are not sure at this point, Clarissa, one key question where the foreign fighters, who survived went. There are rumors some may have fled out east

towards (inaudible) where there is still pockets of ISIS.

And also, suggestions they are maybe in somebody's custody, but that's one key question as is to the big remaining one here, where is Abu Bakr Al-

Baghdadi, ISIS' leader, heard of only about a month ago in an audio recording.

Possibly in hiding, possibly on the run, still a figurehead for a much diminished organization lacking in territories (inaudible) frankly without

caliphate at this point, but still potentially able to inspire the derange who once take up ISIS ideology.

[15:10:09] The coalition surely (inaudible), but really, he was simple and he is really the only symbol frankly that ISIS have left and ISIS don't

have left at all at this point -- Clarissa.

WARD: No, they certainly don't, Nick, but as you point out a lot of questions as to what happens to Raqqa next, whose control that city ends up

under. Nick Paton Walsh in Raqqa, thank you so much.

Well, now to Iraq where new clashes broke out today between government troops and Kurdish forces. The CNN team on the ground witnessed the

fighting firsthand. It started with Iraqi troops and Shia militias moved north of Kirkuk saying they intended to impose law and order.

Let's cross over to our senior international correspondent, Ben Wedeman, who is in Irbil, Iraq. That is, of course, the capital of the Independent

Kurdish Region. Ben, give us a sense. What did you see? What is happening here?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a continuation of the advance of Iraqi forces after they took Kirkuk in the

beginning of the week and it appears that they want to go to the very edge of what is recognized as the borders of the Kurdish region of this country.

But of course, there is concerned that they will not stop there and for many Iraqis, Kurds and others, there is profound alarm that now as one war

seems to be coming to an end, another may be about to begin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Weapons once fired at ISIS now fired in an ally turned enemy. Early Friday, Iraqi troops, including Iranian armed-Shia

paramilitaries entered the town of (inaudible), north of Kirkuk pushing Kurdish forces ever further back.

This is the most serious outbreak of fighting yet between the two sides and does not bode well for a country that after three and a half years of

bitter combat has come close to defeating ISIS.

This is the beginning of a war between Kurdistan and Baghdad, says Peshmerga Commander Goran Izz El-Dean (ph). We won't allow them to take

our land.

Sporadic mortar and artillery fire echoes in the distance. As the days were on, more Kurdish forces (inaudible). According to an old adage, the

Kurds have no friends but the mountains, their traditional refuge.

Today with United States officially neutral in this conflict, there is a sense among these fighters that indeed only the mountains are their

friends. We were one hand with the Americans says (inaudible), but unfortunately, unfortunately, unfortunately, today the Americans have sold

us to the Shia and the Iranians.

The new American president once adored by the Kurds now the object of their anger. We celebrated for Trump says Aram (ph), but Trump betrayed us.

After ISIS stormed across Iraq in the summer of 2014, the U.S. made defeat of the terror group its top priority and it worked. But in victory, there

is little to savor.

(on camera): A year ago, Iraqi and Kurdish forces were fighting side-by- side with the support of the U.S.-led international coalition to drive ISIS out of Mosul. Today that grand alliance is collapsing.

(voice-over): And collapsing with it perhaps Iraq itself.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WEDEMAN: Now today the Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi did say that Iraqi forces would stop at the borders of -- the recognized borders of the

Kurdish region of Iraq, but many in this part of the country, many the Kurds worry that Prime Minister Abadi is not calling the shots.

And in fact, it is the Iranians who are pushing those who Iraqi forces, particularly the (inaudible), the so-called Popular Mobilization Units that

have been trained and armed by Iran to really push this conflict to the very brink of war -- Clarissa.

WARD: And Ben, I mean, is there any sense of how the Americans want to handle this or try to resolve this or what their broader strategy is in the

region here?

WEDEMAN: Really all we understand from the Americans was that they weren't very happy about that the Kurdish referendum for independence that took

place on the 25th September that they told the Kurds not to do it.

[15:15:01] And since then they have come down on the side of the Iraq's integrity as a country that they are in favor of Iraq sticking together and

de facto they are supporting the government in Baghdad in -- I mean, if not in words but in deed as they conducted this operation to extend their

authority to the so-called disputed areas.

So, it is not at all clear what the American policy is except that they were not happy about the referendum and so in a sense they are saying to

the Kurds that we told you so. We told you not to do this and now you have to live with the consequences -- Clarisssa.

WARD: All right. Ben Wedeman, great reporting. Thank you so much.

Well, still to come tonight, the FBI lands in Niger to help with the investigation into the American soldiers who were ambushed there. A live

report just ahead.

And a charm offensive from Prime Minister Theresa May at an E.U. summit, but did it move the Brexit talks forward? We're live in Brussels coming

up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WARD: There is no immediate claim of responsibility for a pair of deadly suicide attacks in Afghanistan Friday. Dozens of people were killed when

bombers detonated explosive vest at two mosques.

One was in the capital of Kabul. The other day in a central province. And while one mosque was Shiite, the other was Sunni. Afghanistan has seen a

violent week, Thursday, Taliban militants killed dozens of Afghan troops at a base in Kandahar.

Now to the widening probe into how four U.S. soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger. CNN has learned the FBI is now on the ground there

assisting in that investigation.

Let's go straight now to CNN military and diplomatic analyst, John Kirby, in Washington. First of all, give us a sense for our international viewers

on why this is evolving into such a political scandal it seems.

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RETIRED), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: I think it only started to evolve into a political scandal when a right after

the attack, the White House did not really speak about it, didn't put much of a statement out and the Pentagon also failed to provide some context to

the American people about what happened, what the troops are doing there.

It kind sat dormant for little bit until the president was asked a question at a press conference by CNN Sara Murray about why he hadn't spoken about

the fallen troops and then we went from there to where we are today, Clarissa, which is this back-and-forth between the White House and

Congresswoman Wilson.

Which is a really sad sorted way (inaudible) be dealing with what should be a much more important story, which is what our troops are doing down in

Niger and throughout sub-Saharan Africa to try to eliminate al Qaeda and al Qaeda affiliated groups.

[15:20:12] So, that's kind of how it got political and I would sure like to see it stop being so political and start being more about what the mission

is and quite frankly on the backside of that, how we better take care the families of our fallen.

GORANI: That's a very important point. Give us a sense of how significant it is for the FBI to get involved with an investigation like this. Is that

common?

KIRBY: It's not unprecedented, Clarissa. There have been times when military investigations, particularly those that deal with deaths or

casualties have gotten involved. They have tremendous forensic capability that the military investigation departments don't necessarily have.

I think this speaks to two things. One, it certainly speaks to the interagency effort against terrorist groups in Africa and the (inaudible)

specifically. The FBI does have field offices down there and our efforts are counterterrorism efforts with our partners down there in Africa does

include some support from the FBI.

So, they are already there. They have a capability there. It just makes sense for DoD to tap into that forensic capability. I think it also gives

us a little hint that perhaps DoD is going to be looking significantly stronger at the intelligence picture.

What led to the sense that this mission would not necessarily be in great peril from ISIS or from al Qaeda affiliated groups. I mean, you heard

Secretary Mattis say yesterday at the Pentagon right to the cameras that indications were that they had any contact with the enemy in that area was

going to be unlikely.

So, that tells you that there is obviously some lapse in intel and that would explain maybe why the FBI is involve.

WARD: All right. John Kirby, thank you for helping us to unpack it all as always.

KIRBY: My pleasure.

WARD: New momentum progress, deadlock exaggerated, well, you have to admit it, the leaders who gathered at an E.U. summit in Brussels were really

trying to give the impression that Brexit talks are going well.

But the fact remains not enough progress has been achieved to move on to the next phase, which Britain is really interested in which is trade talks.

Bianca Nobilo is in Brussels for us. She joins me now. Bianca, tell me how did this round of talks go and why the sudden shift to this happy

positive spin?

BIANCO NOBILO, CNN PRODUCER: Progress has been made, Clarissa, but it's slight progress, but we think that this E.U. Council Summit could have been

a negotiation to take a step back or remain at a status quo, OK, they didn't get to that stage of talking about trade in the future relationship

in formal terms.

But they have agreed to begin those internal proprietary discussions to move towards that next stage and crucially as you mentioned there has been

a focus on positive conciliatory dialogue on both sides from Theresa May.

And I was in a briefing with the prime minister earlier today and she said to emphasize that. That she wanted to bring a spirit of goodwill to the

negotiations and also on the E.U. side. Let's take a listen to what the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TUSK, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COUNCIL: After Prime Minister May's intervention last night and our discussion about the Brexit this morning,

my impression is that the repulse of the deadlock between the E.U. and the U.K. has been exaggerated, and right progress is not sufficient, it does

not mean there is no progress at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBILO: The point about the talks being called in deadlock, being exaggerated was also made by the Chancellor Angela Merkel in a midnight

briefing which I attended last night. She said that the British press had been inflammatory in calling the Brexit talks stalled and she felt that

they needed to take a wider perspective and understand that scheduling isn't of the highest priority so long as they reach an agreement by March

2019.

Now all these do seem like just words at the moment, Clarissa, but this is high stakes diplomacy. So, of course, words matter, and they are essential

in building that trust and goodwill, which will be critical in the next stage of Brexit negotiations, the sixth round which start next month.

If the U.K. and the E.U. are to reach that formal agreement on citizens' rights, Northern Ireland, and the Brexit bill in December, which is what

both sides are hoping for.

WARD: OK. Bianca, I'm sure both sides hoping for it, but let's see if those positive words turn into some positive action. Thank you, Bianca

Nobilo in Brussels there.

[15:25:02] Well, while the British prime minister was in Brussels, new U.K. crime figures came out and U.S. President Donald Trump incorrectly linked a

rise to terrorism. He tweeted, quote, "United Kingdom crime rises 13 percent annually amidst spread of radical Islamic terror. Not good. We

must keep America safe."

But the people who compiled the statistics tell CNN there had been no link between the rise in victim-based crime and radical Islamic terror.

Coming up next, exclusive body-cam footage that takes you inside the fight against ISIS in Raqqa.

And two former U.S. presidents from different political parties breaks the code of silence without ever mentioning Donald Trump's name.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WARD: Let's return now to our top story, the declaration of total liberation of Raqqa from ISIS. The victory took sweat, tears, and blood,

and we can get a taste of it from exclusive body-cam footage of the battle.

We showed you some of it on Thursday, but now have the full story behind that powerful video. Phil Black retells it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL BLACK, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is one man's intimate revealing view of the battle for Raqqa. Resilient

filmmaker, Gabriel Chaim followed Kurdish fighters for almost two months as they fought to take a strategically important hospital complex in the

city's west.

He shared the same risks (inaudible) his company and friendship and (inaudible) reflected most. Chaim left his helmet cam rolling through it

all as these fighters, part of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces fought to dislodge ISIS from its self-declared capital.

Chaim had previously spent months with Iraqi soldiers as they cleared ISIS from Mosul speaking from Syria, he explained why the battle for Raqqa was

different.

GABRIEL CHAIM, PHOTOJOURNALIST (voice-over): It was like really heavy classes going on like street by street, corner by corner, urban classes,

but here no.

BLACK: He says the biggest challenge was the extraordinary number of improvised explosive devices left behind by ISIS before they retreated.

The tracks we usually said (inaudible) so the fighters learn to enter buildings higher up by blasting holes in external walls and crawling

perilously across narrow makeshift ridges.

The other challenge he says was snipers firing through the hospital's tall building.

CHAIM (voice-over): Those guys, they know how to fight very well. They know how to shoot very well.

BLACK: Chaim says the best answer to sniper fire was airpower.

(on-camera): While Chaim recorded events on the ground, he also used a drone to capture the battle from above. Those images show a largely empty

city. The people gone. Their homes ripped open or flattened by war.

ISIS no longer rules here. But once again, they've left behind a city scarred by their occupation and by the campaign to remove them.

Phil Black, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[15:30:53]

WARD: The liberation of Raqqa is certainly a symbolic moment in the fight against ISIS. It was after all the capital of the terror group's self-

declared caliphate.

But the war is far from over. This is how things look on paper in Iraq and Syria right now. You can see, ISIS' territory is greatly diminished.

However, the terror group remains a threat in many parts of the world.

And there are more questions than answers as to what happens next. Where is ISIS' leadership? Who fills the vacuum in Raqqa now? What plans does

the US have in the Middle East?

Well, I'm joined by Fawaz Gerges. If anyone can help us answer these questions, it is him. He is the author of a book titled, "ISIS: A

History". He is also the chair of contemporary Middle East studies at the London School of Economics. Thank you so much for joining us.

I mean, you just saw that extraordinary piece, the damage to this city. There is no Marshall Plan for Raqqa. So, to let me ask you. What happens

next in Raqqa? Who takes charge? Where does it go from here?

FAWAZ GERGES, AUTHOR, "ISIS: A HISTORY": Eighty percent of Raqqa is utterly destroyed according to the United Nations. Four-hundred-and-fifty-

thousand people have been displaced. Thousands of people, civilians have been killed.

But, more importantly, from my point of view, the scars - the deep scars that the war really has left. When and if the people return to Raqqa,

imagine how long, Clarissa, is going to take for the people really to overcome. I mean, the devastation that they have witnessed over the four

years.

I mean, the good news about Raqqa is that the Americans have said they're going to help to reconstruct. The good news about Raqqa is that the United

Nations has also sad that it's going to help to rebuild.

But the question is -

WARD: Under whose control, though?

GERGES: That's the question. You have, I mean, the Kurds on the one hand. You have the Sunni tribes on the other hand. And tensions are already

brewing between the Kurds and the locals in the community, even though the Americans since last April has established a civilian local council, which

is led by notables from Raqqa and Sunni Arabs.

And also, the Americans, Clarissa, have now brought Saudi Arabia to mediate because the Saudi Arabia, the tribes in Raqqa are an extension of the

tribes in the Iraq/Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

So, a great deal needs to be done before Raqqa can really be reconstructed physically, let alone psychologically and politically.

And the other question I have, when you look at these pictures, the streets are empty, you don't see civilians, but you'll also don't see ISIS

fighters. You're not seeing the kind of pitched battles that we did in Mosul that went on for weeks and weeks with waves of suicide bombers.

What's your sense of what ISIS' strategy is with the defeat of Raqqa? Are they disappearing to the desert to re-consolidate? Were they killed? Have

they escaped?

GERGES: You're asking very, very important questions. I mean, I think two points need to be made very clear. The territorial caliphate is no longer.

I think we're seeing the beginning of the end of the territorial Islamic state, but, more importantly, we're seeing the end of the utopian dream of

an Islamic state, even though they control about 10 percent of Iraq and Syria you had over six months of battles.

What happened in Raqqa is that five, six months ago the top leaders, the mid lieutenants escaped, left Raqqa. So, you had almost 2000 fighters that

remained in Raqqa in the last five months, really fighting to the last man. Very hard - battle hard fighters. So, about 2000 killed.

But you still have in Iraq and Syria, according to observers, between 6000 and 10,000 fighters. Ten thousand fighters on the Syrian-Iraqi border

Bukamal, Deir ez-Zor. And those are formed fighters, fanatical. So, imagine how brutal, how fierce the battle is going to be in the next six

months.

WARD: Do you think the defeat of ISIS in Raqqa makes people in the West safer from these sort of ISIS - either ISIS sponsored or ISIS inspired

attacks that we've seen.

GERGES: Clarissa, it's a very difficult question to answer. But one point for your own viewers, Raqqa was the center of the external operations unit

led by Abu Muhammad al-Adnani. Abu Muhammad al-Adnani was the second most important man after Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed by an American

fighter jet.

[15:35:15] So, Raqqa was very important. You had Frenchman, Belgians, British, what have you, and really plotted attacks against the West. My

take on it, I don't think, is going to make a big difference, whether attacks take place on in London or Belgium or France.

But on the whole, I would say that the ISIS cycle has kind of run its course. The question is not whether the Islamic state will be with us as a

terrorist organization or how long or how potent the site and will be in the next one or two years.

WARD: And, I mean, that is the question. And so much of that relates to who takes over in Raqqa. My final question, just quickly, does the regime

of Bashar al-Assad stand to benefit from this potentially? Could they take control of Raqqa?

GERGES: Absolutely. I mean, the reality is - and these are not my words - the Assad regime has regained most of the territories lost to it in the

past six years. And there's a race against time between the US-led forces by the Kurds and the Russian-led forces.

And the Assad forces are going straight to Bukamal on the Syrian-Iraqi borders. So, yes, in fact, the Syrian regime says we're going to take it

all, including Raqqa. So, you have the morning after, the geostrategic rivalries and the ethnic and religious rivalries are really as dangerous as

the face against ISIS.

WARD: Fawaz Gerges, thank you so much for helping unpack it all. Thank you.

Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama both broke unspoken code of silence that retired presidents normally maintain when it comes to

discussing their successors.

While neither mentioned President Trump by name, they delivered thinly veiled jabs at him in separate speeches yesterday. Just moments ago, the

White House denied their comments were directed at Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our young people need positive role models. Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets

a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children. The only way to pass along

civic values is to first live up to them.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you have to win a campaign by dividing people, you're not going to be able to govern them.

You won't be able to unite them later if that's how you start.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WARD: It was a remarkable uncoordinated moment of unity from two former presidents of different parties. Larry Sabato joins us via Skype from

Charlottesville and Virginia. He is the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia and the author of "The Kennedy Half-

Century."

Larry, first of all, give us a sense of how significant is this, how unprecedented or unusual is it to hear two former presidents from different

political parties take such a thinly-veiled jab at a sitting president?

LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: It's important, Clarissa, and in modern times it's unprecedented. They really

didn't coordinate. I checked on that. And this was a coincidence that they were having two different events that, each of them, individually

decided to speak out.

I don't think anyone is surprised by Democratic President Barack Obama criticizing Republican Donald Trump. They've hardly ever been close and

it's pretty obvious that their political differences are enormous.

What shocked people was the speech by George W. Bush. Keep in mind that he never spoke out against Barack Obama, never commented on Barack Obama

during the eight years of Obama's presidency.

This was as tough as it came and everybody knew he was talking about Donald Trump.

WARD: Well, I mean, you say it caused a shock. And I think it certainly did. But, I guess, the question becomes, does it change anything, does it

change the mind of people who voted for Trump or people who supported them? Does the president himself likely care?

SABATO: Nothing changes the mind of the Trump core. That's about 35 percent of the country. They tune out everybody else. I've defined them

as people who adore Donald Trump almost as much as Donald Trump adores himself.

But the rest of the country, now Democrats, obviously, very strongly opposed to Trump, but you have about 10 percent of the nation who

reluctantly voted for Trump mainly because they didn't want Hillary Clinton.

These are traditional Republicans. They are Bush Republicans. They're establishment Republicans. And, increasingly, they've been turned off by

Donald Trump. That's why he's languishing in the mid-30s in the public opinion polls.

So, I think it matters for them. It validates their feelings.

[15:40:02] WARD: I want to talk with you about another big political story this week which erupted which, of course, concerns the president's handling

of calls to the bereaved widows, husbands, family members of servicemen and women who have been killed overseas.

I want to start, if you wouldn't mind, by listening or taking a look at this video that we have of President Trump paying a call of attribute to

the widow of a serviceman who was killed overseas. Take a listen and then we'll chat about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You just take care of yourself and come around and see me when you're in Washington, and say

hello to your children and tell them their father was a great hero that I respected. And I learned a lot. Before I made the call, I like to learn

and it's amazing what kind of a guy he was.

So just tell them I said, your father was a great hero. And take care of yourself, Natasha. You know that. It's going to be - it takes time.

Time is the key.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WARD: I mean, obviously, there have been a lot of talk about how the president had been insensitive in his handling of other phone calls. Do

you think this video vindicates this issue? Is this really a nothing issue or is it a significant political issue?

SABATO: Look, as far as the calls are concerned, I suspect that maybe President Trump didn't use exactly the right words for that one particular

family (INAUDIBLE) Gold Star family members. And I suppose you can criticize them for that.

I don't think that is the problem. Presidents handle it differently. They do it by themselves often and they try and do the best they can.

Here is what is significant, Clarissa. Why did this become an issue? It became an issue because Donald Trump was asked about his calls to these

Gold Star families and he couldn't stop with saying he was doing them, he cared about the families.

No, he had to compare himself with his processors and, in effect, elevate his own performance by denigrating theirs, incorrectly claiming that they

didn't call the families or take care of the families. It's totally untrue. Everybody has been convinced of that by the evidence. And that's

why this has become an issue. The calls themselves are almost beside the point.

WARD: It is extraordinary. Sometimes he appears to be his own worst enemy. Larry Sabato, thank you so much for helping us talk through it all.

Well, ll you are watching THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. Still to come, a new and potentially very serious development for Harvey Weinstein, plus accusations

from an Oscar-winning actress.

And apologies from one of the world's most famous directors. He says he knew about the problem for decades. That's coming up after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:45:00] WARD: The Harvey Weinstein abuse scandal continues to course through the veins of Hollywood. Now, fresh legal pressure is mounting as

the Los Angeles Police open investigation, joining two already underway by police in New York and London.

For more on this, I'm joined now by our very own Brian Stelter who is live with us in New York. Brian, I want to start out by hearing about this

letter written to "The New Yorker" anonymously from former Weinstein employees.

What does it say? What are you learning?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: These staffers are essentially saying, no, we did not know about the abuse. There's been this

sense, Clarissa, everybody in Hollywood knew something.

So, these staffers are trying to set the record straight. Here's what they wrote in this anonymous open letter. They said, yes, we knew we were

working for a man with an infamous temper. We knew that. But we did not know we were working for a serial sexual predator.

The letter goes on to say that these staffers want to be released from their NDAs, their non-disclosure agreements. Because, right now, they're

bound by those agreement. That's why they have to remain anonymous. They want to be able to speak out publicly about what they did and did not know

about Weinstein.

WARD: I'm sure they're keen to protect their reputation because they are sometimes implicated in these stories as helping Weinstein to secure dates

with various women and then leaving the table.

But I want to ask you, by another Hollywood heavyweight, of course, director Quentin Tarantino. He has also come out now with his sort of side

of the story. What is he saying?

STELTER: Yes. The bottom line here, whether you're a young staffer or a famous director, is that different people had different levels of

knowledge. And Quentin Tarantino is saying he knew too much and did not share it.

Here is part of what he told "The New York Times". I knew enough to do more than I did. There was more to it than just the normal rumors, the

normal gossip. It wasn't secondhand. I knew he did a couple of these things.

So, Quentin Tarantino saying that he had knowledge many years, actually couple of decades ago, of some of Harvey Weinstein's wrongdoing and kept it

to himself. Did not take action. You can hear Tarantino's regret coming through in this interview.

So, I guess, he deserves some credit for acknowledging this. Maybe better late than never. But at the same time, we are left with that gaping

question at the heart of this story, which is why didn't more people speak up sooner.

WARD: And that is an important question. I want to ask you briefly as well about the investigation. I mean, we're hearing now the NYPD or the

New York Police Department, the LA Police Department, London police also launching some investigation.

Do you think - are you getting any sense that the prospect of some type of criminal act, criminal proceedings might actually go forward? Are they

going to try to charge him with something potentially?

STELTER: Yes, he is in increase in legal jeopardy. Because there are three cities all looking into these allegations, he is in increasing

jeopardy for that reason. He has stayed quiet all week long, but he has several criminal defense attorneys working with him.

WARD: And how is Hollywood responding to all of this behind the scenes? We know publicly everyone is making a lot of important statements about how

this can't go on and how awful he was, but we also know that this is a larger, broader, deeper problem within Tinseltown. Is there any sense that

there is some real soul-searching going on behind the scenes?

STELTER: We are seeing that at organizations large and small. Directors' Guild, TV Academy, other groups making statements about sexual harassment.

Agencies and studios reaffirming their sexual harassment policies.

And what we're seeing, Clarissa, is the Weinstein affect. Amazon's top content executive resigned under pressure amid harassment allegations. A

producer at Nickelodeon lost his job the other day. Here, in New York City, a digital media executive at Vox Media lost his job overnight.

There are numerous cases that continue to pile up, people being held accountable. And some of this is directly inspired by the Weinstein

scandal.

WARD: All right. Brian Stelter, thank you so much for being with us.

Well, coming up, a window into the past. The brand-new photos of World War II that brings some color to history. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:51:25] WARD: Returning to the Harvey Weinstein story, there is a stunning account from Hollywood star Lupita Nyong'o, who has joined the

dozens of women accusing Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment.

The Oscar-winning actress has written in "The New York Times" about her ordeal with Weinstein, which she says started when she was studying drama

at Yale University and involved also meeting his young children.

She described Weinstein asking her to massage him. And on a separate occasion, what happened when she refused to go to his hotel room. "He told

me not to be so naive. If I wanted to be an actress, then I had to be willing to do this sort of thing. He said he had dated this famous actress

X and Y and look where that had gotten them."

While the fall of Weinstein is still front-page news, more than two weeks since the original revelations came to light, "Variety Magazine's" upcoming

cover shows a black and white portrait of the disgraced producer with the words, Game Over.

Well, for more on this powerful cover, I'm joined now by "Variety's" co- editor-in-chief Claudia Eller on the phone from Los Angeles. Claudia, thank you so much for being us.

CLAUDIA ELLER, CO-EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "VARIETY": Thank you.

WARD: Reading that account by Lupita Nyong'o, I mean, it just makes - it's gut-wrenching. And I just want to get a sense from you being in Hollywood,

does it make a difference? Does it herald a real shift?

CLAUDIA ELLER, CO-EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "VARIETY": In my opinion, it does. And I'm going to remain really optimistic about this because I think Lupita's

confessional is so powerful because she speaks for so many other actresses, young actresses who are always petrified to speak out for fear of career

repercussions.

And I think these women, and there are now 60 victims and counting, we keep track on our website and we basically are updating this hourly, I swear to

you.

And the victim, I feel, they are speaking their truth. And I do believe that this is all going to lead to a giant shift in the culture of

Hollywood. At least I hope so.

And the thing that really struck me so much about Lupita's essay was when she said let us never shut up about this kind of thing. I speak up to

contribute to the end of the conspiracy of silence. And I really think that is what we're talking about here when you asked me about is there

going to be a shift.

And we now have some of Harvey's most loyal collaborators like Quentin Tarantino coming out and admitting, hey, I knew enough to do more, OK?

So, I think we have reached an inflection point. At least I hope so. And that this will end this awful culture that has been pervasive in Hollywood

for decades of individuals and victims and companies enabling and protecting these abusive and entitle predators which also include, of

course, Bill Cosby and Bill O'Reilly and Roger Ailes.

These men who abuse their power, who feel a sense of entitlement much like our President Donald Trump who was on tape, Access Hollywood, talking about

how when you're a star you can do anything and you know the rest.

That is the mindset of men like Harvey Weinstein who got away with this for decades.

[15:55:01] WARD: But we know, within Hollywood, that this is - I mean, I worked on a Hollywood movie many years ago. And there was a lot of - not

this level of harassment, but lewd, inappropriate behavior and talk. And we know this goes beyond one man, Harvey Weinstein.

When do we start to see others take responsibility for their actions, not that we want to see some kind of a massive witch hunt, but when do we start

to see new lines drawn in the sand about what is acceptable?

ELLER: I think it's interesting because I am - right now, as we speak, I'm going to moderate a panel on this very topic called ending sexual

harassment in Hollywood where I'm going to ask industry executives and creators to talk about next steps.

So, for instance, one of my panelists is going to be the director Paul Feig. He suggested we should - the industry should set up a hotline for

victims.

Producer Kathy Kennedy, the "Star Wars" producer, is calling for an industry commission be formed. It will develop this like an industrywide

protections against sexual harassment and abuse.

So, I think these are positive steps forward. And while that's happening, you have - there is a California lawmaker and two New York lawmakers that

came out within the last two days, leading efforts to void these NDAs (INAUDIBLE) that kept accusers of sexual harassment from going public.

WARD: Some steps.

ELLER: (INAUDIBLE) paying out the settlements, which amounts to hush money.

WARD: OK. Claudia Eller, I want to spend much more time discussing this. I hope to have you back on the show soon to discuss it more. I wish you

luck with your meetings. And I thank you for joining us.

Now, we have time for a little bit of nostalgia. I want to show you a new vision of World War II, once only seen in grayscale. The period is now a

riot of color, thanks to these newly released photos from the Imperial war Museum here in London.

These photos aren't a trick. They are genuinely all unretouched photos taken with special film in the 40s, taken by photographers commissioned by

the British government during the war. Only 3000 were taken in the period and half of them have been lost in time. Now, 70 years later, they are

transporting us to our shared past in brilliant technicolor.

Well, this has been THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. Thank you so much for watching us. "Quest Means Business" is up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END