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Trump's New Explanation For Firing Flynn Raises Questions; CNN Team Recounts Uncovering Migrant Slave Auctions; Turbulent Times In The Gulf

Aired December 3, 2017 - 10:00   ET




[10:00:11] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- has been shown no collusion -- no collusion.


LYNDA KINKADE, CNN ANCHOR: A confident White House after what be described as a Russia investigation bombshell. A member of Donald Trump's transition

team pleads guilty to lying the FBI of the contact with Russian officials.

This hour, we look at what this means and what could happen next. Also, talking to both sides in a divided city. We hear from residents of

Jerusalem as the U.S. considers a major change in policy. Plus --

Ages, beauty in age-old ruin. The musical moment in one of the Middle East's treasures. That's just ahead.

Hello and welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Lynda Kinkade in Atlanta, filling in for Becky Anderson. Good to have you with us. We begin with

serious questions in the Russia investigation about what U.S. President Donald Trump knew and when. After changing his story about why he fired

his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, on the heels of Flynn's guilty plea.

Mr. Trump tweeted, "I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pleaded guilty to those lies, it is a shame

because his actions during the transition will lawful it was nothing to hide."

Well, that tweet has many raising concerns about obstruction of justice because the President Trump knew Flynn lied to the FBI at the time, why

then would he try to pressure former Director James Comey, into dropping the investigation?

This Comey claims he did under sworn testimony. But Mr. Trump is firing back on Twitter, writing a short time ago, "I never asked Comey to stop

investigating Flynn, just more fake news covering another Comey a lie. CNN's Boris Sanchez has more on all of these developments.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Russia investigation and the dismissal of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, likely the

last thing that the White House wanted to be talking about just hours after their first major legislative victory in passing tax reform. But with a

swift tweet, the President has raised serious questions about what he knew and when he knew it.

In this tweet, the President suggests that part of the reason that he fired Michael Flynn as national security adviser was because he knew that he had

lied to the FBI. That raises serious questions possibly about obstruction of justice if after all the President, as has been reported, asked former

FBI Director James Comey to get rid of the investigation into Michael Flynn.

Further, it also raises questions about the White House's efforts to distance themselves from Michael Flynn, efforts on Friday calling him a

former Obama administration official and also making the case that President Obama approved of Michael Flynn's conversations with Sergey

Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, to discuss a sanctions of the reaction from Democrats was swift including this tweet from Adam Schiff, the ranking

member of the House Intelligence Committee. He responded to the President's initial tweet writing, "If that is true, Mr. President, why did

you wait so long to fire Flynn? Why did you fail to act until his lies were publicly exposed? Why did you pressure Director Comey to let this


Of the White House has a series of questions before them, clearly something that is not likely going to go away any time soon, specifically because now

there is a new New York Times report that indicates that several key figures within the Trump transition and within the administration were

briefed on Michael Flynn's conversation with Sergey Kislyak before and after their meeting.

And so, this investigation likely will explore where that goes and as more information continues to leak out during this investigation, it really

hangs a cloud over this White House as they continue moving forward with their legislative agenda. Boris Sanchez, CNN, in New York.

KINKADE: Well, according to the White House journalist, reading too much into the President's tweet on Flynn, turned doubt an attorney with Mr.

Trump's private legal team, says, it was simply a tweet paraphrasing a White House statement. He said and I quote, that tweet was a paraphrase of

Ty Cobb's statement yesterday. I refer you to Comey's testimony before Congress about FBI view of Flynn's answers.

Well, Ty Cobb is an attorney for the White House. He released a statement Friday after Flynn pleaded guilty. But unlike the tweet, it does not say

anything about Flynn being sacked because he lied to the FBI.

Well, CNN Legal Analyst Michael Zeldin joins me now from Washington. Michael, good to have you with us. Let's just first take another look at

the President's tweet from yesterday, from his account where he indicated that he knew Flynn lied to the FBI. And yet, he never disclosed that

before, and according to the FBI director, we know that Trump apparently asked him to go easy on Flynn and let this investigation go. So, with all

that in mind, is this evidence of obstruction of justice?

[10:05:44] MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I guess my first response is, I don't believe it to be true. I do not believe that the

President knew that Flynn lied to the FBI on January 24th when the lie was offered to the FBI by Flynn. So, I don't credit that tweet at all as



ZELDIN: And also -- because there's no way he could have known that. The only people essentially that knew that were acting A.G. Sally Yates and she

testified she did not tell him that and the FBI themselves. And there are FBI policies that prohibit them from talking to the White House about

ongoing information about investigations.

So, I just don't see how he could have possibly known that four days after his inauguration. So, I just do not credit that as a truthful statement.

And so, it takes us to the next statement which is also something and I don't credit. Which is, that I didn't ask Comey to stand down on the Flynn

investigation. I credit at the moment Comey's under oath testimony to the contrary and it that sort of corroborated by the fact that the President

asked four or five other people to do the exact same thing that he asked Comey to.

So, I think, both of those tweets may have some psychological or political or other reasons that make the President feel good, but they are not -- I

don't think, legally correct. But to your question, if they were legally correct, do they relate in any way to obstruction of justice? And the

answer is, possibly.

That is if you're told by the FBI that your national security adviser has lied to them and then you say to the head of the FBI, essentially, don't

proceed against him. That I think is problematic legally and maybe as a brick in the wall on the broader obstruction investigation that Mueller may

be inquiring of.

KINKADE: But isn't it possible, Michael, that Donald Trump knew that Flynn was having these discussions with the Russian ambassador and told him not

to tell the FBI about that?

ZELDIN: You know, I suppose it's theoretical but I don't know that he would know that the FBI would be asking about that. I -- so, I credit the

information that Comey -- that Flynn pleaded guilty to, where it says on December 22nd and December 29th, that Flynn was directed to speak to

Russian Ambassador Kislyak about the United Nations resolution with respect to Israeli settlements and about the reaction of the Russians to Obama

enhanced sanctions.

I believe the President knew about that, I believe there were in discussion about that while they were down in Mar-a-Lago during the transition. And

that Flynn was acting under their direction. I don't know that he with would have said, and by the way, General Flynn, if the FBI ever asks you

about this lie. I don't -- you know, I don't credit that type of over criminal behavior to this group of people.

If they did, if I'm mistaken and -- or naive in some respect and then he told General Flynn, look, this is between us, if anyone including the FBI

asks you about it, lie, that's -- that's not only obstruction of justice, but it's eating and abetting a false statement which itself is a crime.

That would be a very bad day for any of those people legally.

KINKADE: Very bad day, indeed. Michael Zeldin, so much more to discuss on this but suddenly we have to leave it there for now. Thanks so much for

joining us.

ZELDIN: My pleasure.

KINKADE: While the Mueller investigation is consuming Washington in the Middle East, many are watching for what the Trump administration is going

to say about Jerusalem. An official tells CNN that the State Department is bracing for potentially violent protests, that's if President Trump

announces that the U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital. And that announcement could come as soon as Tuesday.

Let's bring in Ian Lee for more on this, he joins us live from Jerusalem. And Ian, this, of course, is a very special city to most of the major

religions. Is the U.S. playing with fire with potentially making this sort of announcement?

[10:10:03] IAN LEE, CNN FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, Lynda, this is an issue that goes core to the peace process and the negotiations and Jerusalem is a

symbol. It's significant to so many different religions.

And so, if the President does make this decision, it could not only cause people here in Jerusalem and in the West Bank and Gaza to go out and

protest. But really around the Middle East. I went to one street in particular where people live side by side, both Jews and Arabs and Israelis

and Palestinians to figure out what this means for them.

At one level, it's a city like any other. People sell, people buy, normal life. But Jerusalem's old city, is special, and this is the best vantage

point, here on the Mount of Olives. The dome of the rock in all its magnificence, a key holy site for Muslims. Behind it, if you know where to

look, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Built on the site where many Christians believe Christ was crucified. And out of sight from this

vantage point, the Western Wall. Holy to Jews, supporting the mount where the temple once stood. It's not Jerusalem's significance that's in

dispute, its status.

After nearly 20 years divided by barbed wire, Israeli forces took control of the whole city, East and West. In 1967, the international community did

not recognize what Israel called the unification of Jerusalem. Embassies stayed in Tel Aviv, and east Jerusalem was accepted by the international

community as the capital of a future Palestinian State in a negotiated settlement between Israelis and Palestinians. This area is called Abu Tor,

and it's a bit of a rarity in Jerusalem that's because it' a mixed neighborhood. People who live on this part of the street identify as



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Inside I am Palestinian and I'm Muslim and I'm proud about that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I don't think it's a successful step to move embassy, from he tells me, and not the right time to do it.

But the Israelis and the Americans have other agenda's that we can't change.

LEE: A bit further down the road, and let's talk to some folks here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm an Israeli woman, I live in Jerusalem, I love Jerusalem.

LEE: Palestinians say, they want east Jerusalem to be part of their capital. What do you think about that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't like to talk about this, I think Jerusalem is Israeli, for Jewish.

LEE: What are your thoughts on the United States moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great, great. First of all, it's not going to be a Palestinian country and is always was Israel.

LEE: Some Israelis who didn't want to be on camera told us, they don't support moving the embassy. Whatever President Trump announces, the

position of the vast majority of the international community remains clear. East Jerusalem is considered occupied territory, all settlements are

illegal. Their view, likely won't change quickly. Even if the U.S. embassy changed its addresses.


KINKADE: And Ian, of course, President Trump said he wanted to reach the ultimate deal. What could an announcement like this mean for the fragile

peace process there and have you heard yet from the Palestinian President or the Israeli Prime Minister?

LEE: Well, it has the potential, Lynda, to be very detrimental to the peace process. We've been reaching out to Palestinian officials. And they

-- we know that some of them have been in D.C. to put pressure on the Trump administration, not to go forward with this move. We also know that

they've been talking to their regional partners also have them. Like Egypt, like Saudi Arabia, like Jordan, to put pressure on the Trump


So, that this doesn't go forward and one Palestinian official said, it calls into question America's role in being a negotiating partner for a

peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. As far as the Israelis go, well the ruling, a government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,

they enthusiastically endorse this move. This is something they've been calling for a long time. For Israel, they see Jerusalem as their unified

capital and they say that the United States moving its embassy helps solidify that. Lynda?

KINKADE: And just briefly, just on that point, no doubt many think President Trump has enough on his plate right now, why would he do this?

What does he stand to gain from this?

LEE: Well, if he does do it, and we'll have to wait to see if President Trump does, he'll probably give some sort of reason. But this is a

campaign promise that he made and it would be him fulfilling a promise. This definitely is something that is supported by his base, so he'll want

to throw them a victory and it would be seen as a victory for him and for his base.

Now, while it won't be a victory for the Palestinians or people who are against it, for the President, in a time of turmoil where he has, where he

could probably use a victory, this is an easy one. But, when you look at the negotiation process, this is a big gift for the Israelis. Previous

U.S. Presidents have said, they're not going to do this, not going to move the embassy. And that, once there is a peace deal then they'll come with

that decision whether, you know, to move the embassy. But this gives something the Israelis have wanted for a very long time. Something that

the United States, at least, from what it looks like, doesn't get anything in return. Lynda?

KINKADE: All right, Ian Lee for us live in Jerusalem, stay on cross this story this week, no doubt, thanks so much.

Well, some developing news this Sunday in the Persian Gulf, the United Arab Emirates has denied reports that Yemen's Houthi backed rebels launched a

ballistic missile into the country's nuclear power plant, calling the reports, fake news.

The Barakah reactor in west of the Capital Abu Dhabi is not fully operational but expected to be open by 2018. A statement by the Emirates

news agency whim that, "The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority said the UAE possesses air defense systems capable of

handling any threat of any kind. And the Barakah nuclear reactor is fortified and immune against all possibilities. And that it possesses all

nuclear safety and security procedures that such national projects of this size require."

The UAE is part of a Saudi backed coalition and it's currently waging war against the Houthis in Yemen. Aid agencies say, the humanitarian crisis

that conflict has caused is one of the world's worst.

Well, still to come tonight, storytelling with some very direct result. How a CNN exclusive report on human slavery prompted direct action. The

story behind the story, next.


[10:20:24] KINKADE: Powerful scene and reporting sending (INAUDIBLE) across the world. A few days ago in Paris, this was the scene,

demonstrators taking to the streets in protest against Libya's slave auctions. A story that CNN brawl about people being sold like merchandise.

Well, this is the heartbreaking story CNN brought to you of migrants being auctioned off outside the Libyan capital, Tripoli. And here's how it all



UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): 400, 700, 700, 800.

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The numbers roll in. These men are sold for 1200 Libyan pounds, $400 apiece.


KINKADE: CNN's report prompted outrage. We heard strong reaction from the U.N. Security Council. So, the African Union, with some countries say they

will repatriate migrants from Libya. It leaves President Sergio Mattarella added his voice, saying, the brutal images showed that modern day slavery

is still present around the world. And that all forms -- that all forms of slavery are, quote, an aberration that can't be tolerated. His statement

relays to mass the international day of abolition of slavery.

Well, that report was the result of work by CNN's Nima Elbagir, Raja Razek, and Alex Platt. And we now bring you another story, theirs, the journalist

behind the lens.


ELBAGIR: Once we arrived in Tripoli it was essentially waiting.

We knew that there were number of these auctions going on in a variety of different locations. And we knew that they happened once or twice a month.

It was -- I think, probably the longest few days among the longest few days of my life. Waiting to hear whether this was actually happening. We

needed to push to try and get access to those people.

There are one to two of these auctions every month, and that there is one happening in the next few hours. So we're going to --

I don't (INAUDIBLE) know what I was expecting going in. I think I couldn't figure out how you could mentally process selling other human beings. And

then, when I heard them, when we heard them speaking about these people that they were selling as merchandise, it makes sense. Because you need a

certain degree of cognitive distance, you have to dehumanize someone. Finally, it's time to move.

RAJA RAZEK, CNN PRODUCER: He still have a job to do. So, distracts you a bit from what you just witnessed, that when we were actually sitting there

watching the auction, it felt like everything was going in very, very slow motion.

ELBAGIR: There were all the things that we knew we needed to hit as a journalist. Getting him to use the word auction on our audio to confirm

that it's an auction. Getting the auctioneer to confirm they had sold 12 people on that night, having all of that, as evidence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do they'll only one to take us to Italy?

ALEX PLATT, CNN SENIOR PHOTOJOURNALIST: I remember being outside in the car park of the detention center. Then, I went around the corner and it

was his massive room and the front was open to the elements. And as (INAUDIBLE), it was -- it was a cage, right. It was a wire cage and people

were looking at you from the other side.

And I remember thinking, you know, if there was a single gorilla in there, people would think how sad, he hasn't got a lot of room. And then it turns

out there were over 1,000 people in there.

RAZEK: Every day in an environment like that, (INAUDIBLE) not being able to take at the shower, sitting there and not having the food you need,

being thirsty. So, every hour counts. Leaving them behind in an enclosed space like that, and not being able to help because you can't help one of

them. You'd have to help all thousand-plus within that because you can't just go to a few people and be like, how can I help you? You really need

to help them all.


ELBAGIR: There was a point where Alex and I were interviewing Victory, the 21-year-old who had been enslaved. And I was overwhelmed because Victory

is overwhelmed.


ELBAGIR: His dream was to be a designer, he wants to come to Italy and work as a stylist and maybe one day work with Dolce and Gabbana. And it

was such a relatable dream.

[10:25:01] PLATT: And why not, because he's African?

RAZEK: And why not? Exactly.

ELBAGIR: I think, this is the first story in a long time where I had my (INAUDIBLE). There was just something really fundamentally heartbreaking

about people -- people's dreams being exploited in that way. I think we were all thinking that, you know, we just hope we can do justice to this.


KINKADE: Well, this week, the CNN's freedom project looks in how African man and women find themselves trapped in human trafficking after risking

everything to get to Europe. On Monday, our Arwa Damon speaks to a young Nigerian woman whose among thousands caught in the web of false promises.

It's the first piece in our in-depth five-part series.



SANDRA: Yes, very much. I trusted him my most of the times. I don't even -- there's some things I tell you my ultimate dreams.

DAMON: Sandra is talking about her deputy Pastor, who told her he had a vision from God that she traveled overseas. Then, he said, his sister in

Russia could get her a job in a hair salon. When she arrived in Russia, the sum was more than she could have ever imagined.

SANDRA: (INAUDIBLE) he should took away my passport, that unless I finish paying a money, $45,000.

DAMON: $45,000?

SANDRA: Yes, yes, yes, that's what he said.

DAMON: And the only way to pay that off was prostitution.


KINKADE: We tune in to CNN on Monday to see the rest of this woman's story that is at 8:00 a.m. in London, 3:00 a.m. on the U.S. East Coast and 4:00

a.m. in Abu Dhabi.

Well, still to come on CONNECT THE WORLD, more of Michael Flynn's guilty plea and the Russia investigation. We'll explore the history between Flynn

and U.S President Donald Trump, when we come back.

And Roman ruins outside of Italy, the scene of music from a legendary Italian. Don't go anywhere.


[10:30:00] KINKADE: Welcome back. You're watching CNN and this is CONNECT THE WORLD with me Lynda Kinkade in for Becky Anderson. Well, while all

eyes on the Russian investigation U.S. President Donald Trump did get a major victory this week. The U.S. Senate passed a massive tax reform bill

in the early hours of Saturday morning. The vote came down to 51-49 along party lines with Republican Senator Bob Corker the only member of his party

voting no along with all the Democrats. This sweeping tax bill hands Mr. Trump and Republicans a big win heading into next year's mid-term

elections. Well, Michael Flynn is the first Trump White House official to be charged in the Special Counsel's Russian investigation. During the 2016

presidential election, he stood alongside the then-candidate Donald Trump as one of his most loyal supporters and loyalty is important to Donald

Trump. Our Tom Foreman takes a look at their history.


MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER TO DONALD TRUMP: The next President of the United States, right here.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On the campaign trail, Michael Flynn seemed a true fan of Donald Trump and the admiration mutual as the

candidate corded votes from the military community. We have tremendous military support, unbelievable military support and having as you know

General Flynn here and having so many of the generals at our side, in fact, we have -- where is General Flynn? He's around here someplace.

FOREMAN: Flynn was once a member of Barack Obama's team and a top military intelligence officer. Then he fell out of favor, he was fired and by the

summer of 2015 he had done an odd about-face and began talking to Republican candidates. And when he met Donald Trump, "I knew he was going

to be President of the United States."

FLYNN: For Donald J. Trump to be the next president of the United States.

FOREMAN: Flynn began advising the campaign in early 2016. By the time of the Republican Convention that Summer, he was leading the chants against

Democrat Hillary Clinton.

FLYNN: Lock her up, that's right. If I did a tenth, a tenth of what she did, I would be in jail today.

FOREMAN: On Twitter, praise Flynn's book on how to defeat radical Islam. And ten days after winning the election in November, he chose Flynn as his

National Security Adviser. Flynn took the job in January after the inauguration.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, General Flynn does enjoy the full confidence of the President.

FOREMAN: Then it all unraveled. Flynn admitted he misled the Trump team about his Russian communications.

SEAN SPICER, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: At some point that trust eroded to a point where the President did not feel comfortable.

FOREMAN: Still, even as Flynn was given the boot and the Russian investigation swirled, the President seemed reluctant to let him go.

TRUMP: When I looked at the information, I said, I don't think he did anything wrong. If anything he did something right.

FOREMAN: Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


KINKADE: Well, Asha Rangappa is a CNN Legal and National Security Analyst and a Senior Lecturer at Yale University as well as a former Special Agent

with the FBI and she joins me now live from Hamden, Connecticut. Good to have you with us.


KINKADE: Is Flynn the key to Mueller's investigation? I mean, given the plea deal, does this suggest that Mueller is trying to catch a much bigger


RANGAPPA: Yes. So, when prosecutors make deals with defendants, particularly defendants where they have a lot of leverage, they're not

going to give up that leverage unless that person has significant enough information to let them go higher up the chain. In Mike Flynn's case, he

had of potential crimes that he could have been charged with. And those include failing to register as a foreign agent. There were reports that he

had been trying to plot to kidnap a Turkish opposition leader and deliver that person to Turkey. Those crimes could have landed him in jail for 30

years or more. And instead, his plea deal recommends his sentence of zero to six months. That means that Mueller believes that as a senior member of

this campaign, he saw and he heard things from the most senior people in this administration that are going to help him build his case that he needs

to make.

[10:35:05] KINKADE: Now, President Trump insists that he is not worried. Let's just take a quick listen to what he had to say yesterday.


TRUMP: What has been shown is no collusion, no collusion. There's been absolutely -- there's been absolutely no collusion so we're very happy.


KINKADE: So just to be clear, presidential transition teams can talk to foreign governments to make introductions but they can't discuss policy.

Is that where this becomes a major legal problem?

RANGAPPA: Well, it's not even that -- about the policy issue. Transition teams can talk to foreign governments and they can even discuss policy.

The issue is that this needs to be carefully coordinated with the sitting administration. At any given time, the United States has one president.

And that president speaks with one voice with the outside world. So it's important that everyone remain on the same page and if there's going to be

a policy shift for that to be communicated so that the sitting administration can take measures accordingly and craft their policy. What

was going on here, Lynda, is that these communications that were apparently happening even in the transition period, were being done covertly and they

were being done against the explicit request of the Obama Administration with regard to the sanctions specifically and this has the -- this has the

result of sending confusing messages and one where the channels, the diplomatic channels that the U.S. is operating on become very muddled.

KINKADE: And that court documents plus e-mails from a former Trump adviser obtained by the New York Times show that Flynn was not acting alone. Let's

just take a quick look to what a Trump adviser wrote in an e-mail. She said if there is a tit for tat escalation, Trump will have difficulty

improving relations with Russia which is just throwing the U.S. election to him. Now the White House initially claimed that Flynn had gone rogue in

his dealings with the Russians. This seems to suggest otherwise.

RANGAPPA: That's right. What that e-mail and, in fact, what the statement of facts that Flynn pleaded guilty to reveal is that there was actually

coordinated effort and -- to reach out to Russia to be in communication with them and that everyone was on the same page. And I want to also point

out that this is not something that can be viewed in isolation. Even much earlier in the campaign, another person who pleaded guilty with Mueller,

George Papadopoulos was in touch with Russians and also letting people know in the campaign about his contacts and setting up meetings and they were

all on board. So again, it's not just this December transition meeting. These were similar to the patterns that were happening in campaign.

KINKADE: All right, Asha Rangappa, good to get your perspective. Thanks so much. This thing is certainly not going away. We will talk to you

again very soon. Thank you.

RANGAPPA: Thank you.

KINKADE: Well, in tonight's parting shots, people in the Middle East have often grown numb to words like war, conflict, and terror. However, beyond

the headlines, the region celebrates culture often by connecting the old with the new. Here's our Becky Anderson with one such example in Jordan

with a very special performance.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Ancient history, the rich culture of a country on display. This is Jordan. This is (INAUDIBLE).

This was once on the eastern edge of the Roman Empire, conquered by General Pompey. It sat on the crossroads portrayed between east and west, between

Rome and India, and China. And today, it sits at the heart of Jordan's tourism industry. The ruins here are beautifully preserved. And tonight,

the stage is set to welcome one of the world's most beloved opera singers.

Andrea Bocelli will perform in Oval Forum, decorated with First Century A.D columns with the city's social and political center, a gathering placed.

And so it will be again, as full of life as it once was with the maestro serenading concertgoers. Preparations are well underway here. Selects

(INAUDIBLE) greet, Andrea Bocelli, he arrives in Jordan. The legendary tenor with a divine voice some would call it gift from God is a man of

faith. Ahead of the concert, making his way to one of Jordan's most holy places, the site where some believes Jesus was baptized.

[10:40:15] ANDREA BOCELLI, ITALIAN TENOR: I know the story of Jesus since when I was a child. And to be here is a very important moment for me.

This was (INAUDIBLE) because the sensations are very deep and there are no words for that. This place in -- especially is important for me. And

Jordan is a beautiful country and today is my second concert. I hope everything can go very well. I hope so.

ANDERSON: Backstage, he warmed up the full power and range of his voice. The moments, a ritual, almost sacred, to ready himself for the show ahead.

But before the show has started, he surprised. Jordan's Fountain of Love Choir, with a traditional song. And it was time to start the show.

Concerts like Bocelli's attract thousands of tourists to Jordan. And the organizers of this festival hope that his presence here this year will

encourage more to come in the future.

Songs like Time To Say Goodbye wowed the audience.

When was it that you realized that music would be a definer in your life?

BOCELLI: I love music since when I was born, I think because my mother says that when there was music, I immediately start to cry. So it means

that I love music forever. Music is part of me, completely part of me. I can't imagine a world without music.

ANDERSON: And once you've heard Bocelli sing, it's hard to imagine a world without his voice. (INAUDIBLE) sung by a virtuoso echoing around these

ancient ruins.


KINKADE: A gift from God. What voice. I'm Lynda Kinkade. That was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thanks so much for watching. See you next time.



[10:45:00] JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN ANCHOR: Coming up on Marketplace Middle East, turbulent times. Why the Middle East big three, once the world's

major aviation success stories, are facing difficult headwinds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last year has certainly been, you could say, the worst of the U.K. Queen (INAUDIBLE) for the Gulf carriers.

DEFTERIOS: And high-speed trains in the Gulf? Can this multi-billion network contribute to help transform Saudi Arabia's economy?


DEFTERIOS: For years, the Middle East big three, Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad seemed almost unstoppable. Their strategy ensured a decade-long

run of double-digit passenger growth. But one of aviation's high flying business models is facing intense completion. This is the Dubai air show

held every two years. It's a major date in the international aviation calendar. It attracted almost 80,000 people over five days recently. And

new planes owners were up to a massive $113.8 billion were resigned. Emirates, to huge fanfare, launched what they're calling a game changer.


DEFTERIOS: The world's first fully enclosed, first class private suite. Big and exciting news but behind the headlines, there's a different story.

In May Emirates announced that full-year profits had plunged 82 percent to 340 million, the first decline in five years. Etihad's losses in 2016

amounted to $1.9 billion. Qatar Airways says its revenues will plummet by at least 20 percent this year because of its isolation by its neighbors.

Despite the gloom, the Ruler of Dubai remains upbeat about the future.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The strategy is to be ahead of anybody and to be faster, and people will fly. You know, we human beings, like to fly. So

that's why we want to be ahead of everything.

DEFTERIOS: Do you feel OK about the growth today with the political uncertainty in the region?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. This is a challenge (INAUDIBLE). It is a challenge for us, and we must take it.

DEFTERIOS: You have Emirates now for 30 years. The growth has been phenomenal but other people want to copy your motto. What do you say to

them who are challenging?


DEFTERIOS: A successful model, but the Middle East big three are in the midst of turbulent times. Lower oil prices have reduced customer spending

power. There's been laptop ban, U.S travel bans and terrorist attacks across Europe. But another growing reason is increasing competition from

regional players like Turkish airlines and Iran air.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We see other markets opening up with Iran getting more access to the word again in the last couple of year. Airlines there are

looking to renew their fleets. There is massive reasons for trade, for expat population movements from Iran. Turkish Airlines has also been

remarkably successful. They had some challenges last year with the attempted coup, with terror attacks in Turkey but they are building a new

airport in Istanbul, I would say they have many good years of growth ahead of them.

DEFTERIOS: The three Gulf carriers have also earned the nickname the super connectors, using their vast hubs to connect travelers between the likes of

Europe and Asia. But new planes like the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A-350, can travel further, making a mandatory landing in the Middle East no longer

a necessity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of the high-tech aircraft which have served the Gulf (INAUDIBLE) as well and now starting to be used to the benefit of

other carriers such as long haul, low-cost players. We're seeing low-cost carriers out in Asia, like Scoot who started to do flights directly from

Singapore into Europe. I'm sure we're going to see similar developments in the years out of, say, India.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The competition is getting more fierce, not only in this market but around the world. And frankly, when we look at the

airlines in the Middle East, they're extremely well positioned, new very efficient airplanes, an infrastructure that works in terms of airports, and

frankly their focus on customers, their focus on the passengers is really second to none.

DEFTERIOS: The carriers have been forced into drastic action. Etihad has been restructured and a new CEO will take over in January. Emirates has

optimized capacity and become more efficient which seems to be paying off, hosting a $452 million profit, up 111 percent in the first six months of

this year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't believe the heyday is over. Every airline in the world goes through bad days and good days but last year, certainly been

a -- you could say the worlds of the U.K. Queen, (INAUDIBLE) for the Gulf carriers, but I think they're going to come back.

[10:50:04] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Middle Eastern carriers have an advantage and that's their geographic position. Within eight hours, 85

percent of the world's population within eight hours,65 percent of the world's GDP. So they're uniquely positioned with those new aircraft to

really take advantage of those emerging markets as they grow.

DEFTERIOS: During the Dubai airshow, Emirates also signed a $15.1 billion deal to buy 40 Boeing 787 dream liners and its President Tim Clark is

adamant that they have turned a corner.

TIM CLARK, PRESIDENT, EMIRATES: We have aircraft retiring over the time that these aircraft are being delivered. But you know, we faced a flat-

lining of demand for all the reasons out of our control. We have adjusted our capacity as you say to only two percent growth. But that doesn't mean

to say that Emirates is going to be stuck at two percent growth? I don't think so. We believe that it will pick up again and Emirates will continue

to grow its business particularly as we've now done a cultural relationship with Air Dubai which is already produced tens of thousands of passengers a

week and starting to flow across the two carriers.

DEFTERIOS: You had single-digit growth in the last year, the same for Etihad and Qatar Airways. Some are extrapolating saying this is the best of

the Gulf carriers in the past and they can't bounce back.

CLARK: Wait until we get through the next few years. Wait until Dubai World Central where we are today is built as a 150 million passengers per

annum airport, growing to 220 million passengers per annum and see what Emirates will look like. I probably won't be here then, however, what it

will look like then, I can assure you, those people who are concerned about what may have happened in the last year will look back and say probably not

such a good comment to make.

DEFTERIOS: The other emerging markets in your region are coming on strong with their own plane orders. I'm thinking of Iran and India merging.

Turkey obviously already there. This is the -- imitation is the best form of flattery but it's fairly aggressive competition that squeezes your

yields I would imagine.

CLARK: It's one of those things we have to deal with. it's like any other factor that affects our trading conditions, competition is one of course

and it becomes -- it becomes more challenging but not impossible. We've just got to be smarter, we've got to use technology, we've got to use the

right aircraft, we've got to get our segmentation right, the way we market those segmentations, reach the segments and adjust our pricing policies,

our product policies, our inventory management and everything else with the super, super powerful systems that we have with very sophisticated

algorithms which allow us to optimize the yield on this very large network in the face of the competition that we face. So may the best man win. We

won't lose.


DEFTERIOS: From planes to trains. The Middle East is not known for its rail infrastructure, but billions of dollars are being spent on train

lines, metro systems, and on-street trams. One of the first major projects to come on stream is set to transform western Saudi Arabia.

[10:55:06] It looks like a massive airport terminal but this is one of the multimillion-dollar train stations on the (INAUDIBLE) high-speed railway

north of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. The network is a 450-kilometer high-speed rail line linking the holy cities of Medina and Mecca with the port city of

Jeddah. Mohammad Feda has been overseeing one of the biggest public transportation project in the Middle East. He's showing us around

including the construction of a model of the project inside the concourse of this vast station.

MOHAMMAD FEDA, BUILDINGS DEPARTMENT MANAGER, SAUDI RAILWAY: It will reach up to 300 kilometers and can reach to 330.

DEFTERIOS: Good. And what does it do to travel time Muhammad, say if I'm going from Jeddah and I want to go to Mecca?

FEDA: If it is non-stop travel, it will take two hours.

DEFTERIOS: And this used to take four hours to drive.

FEDA: Four hours or more, maybe.

DEFTERIOS: Now that's a change.

FEDA: Yes, it is.

DEFTERIOS: With the price tag of $14.4 billion, 35 trains will transport passengers between Mecca and Medina every half hour. It's all part of

Saudi Arabia's economic transformation plan called Vision 2030. That plan aims to increase pilgrim visitors to the two holy cities from 15 million to

30 million by 2030.

FEDA: This is not only for the pilgrims, it is also for daily needs. People will visit their families on a daily basis. Students will go to the

college. So it's not only for pilgrims. It's also for the whole country, and for the people, the residents in the country.

DEFTERIOS: Abdula Al Ammadi is among the Saudi nationals who have undergone rigorous instruction to become high-speed train drivers. When

fully operational, this network will employ 2,000, including 150 drivers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Saudi Arabia doesn't have high-speed trains. Actually, the Middle East doesn't have any high-speed trains. So joining this and

getting this into this kind of field is more of an achievement for me. To have something to myself that I've been in the first group of the Saudi

high-speed train drivers in the Middle East.

DEFTERIOS: He is currently involved in putting the trains through extreme weather testing to ensure they can withstand temperatures above 50 degrees

Celsius as well as dessert sands and dust.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mecca, sure you know, Mecca doesn't have airport. So to be able to transport those pilgrims and passengers, Saudi passengers and

foreigners, as well, from Medina to Mecca in such speed, in such time is going to be in the service of those pilgrims and it's going the help a lot.

DEFTERIOS: This high-tech network will enter service early next year. When fully operational, they expect to transport up to 60 million

passengers a year, bringing huge economic benefits to the whole region.

FEDA: The train will do a lot because it will connect and reduce the travel distance between these cities. It will increase tourism coming to

here. It will increase even the investment to this cities.

DEFTERIOS: So after going decades without rail infrastructure, what's taking place on the ground is starting to keep pace with the gulf network

in the skies.