Return to Transcripts main page


CNN Reporting From Inside War-Torn Yemen; Yemeni Prime Minister, Houthis Printing Money And Devaluing Rial; 12 Months Of Shake-ups At Home And Abroad; U.S. Aid Cut Targets Most Vulnerable Palestinians; U.S. Senator Jeff Flake To Defend Press Freedoms; U.S. Withholds $65 Million From Palestinian Refugee Agency; Unusual Snowstorm Hits Southern Unites States. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired January 17, 2018 - 10:00   ET



[10:00:30] BECKY ANDERSON, CONNECT THE WORLD, CNN: Hello and welcome. This is "Connect the World" and I'm Becky Anderson for you in Abu Dhabi. A

very busy hour for you tonight. I want to go straight to Yemen. The country as I have told you in many times before utterly devastated by war.

CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is in Yemen in the port City of Aden in what is an exclusive report. Nic?

NIC ROBERTSON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CNN CORRESPONDENT: Becky, what we have learning while we have been here in Yemen and in Saudi Arabia about the

Houthi, about the situation here in the country is staggering. We have been to place, and talked to people who have not had a chance to tell their

story s yet, but one of the stories here is now coming out in the U.N. reports which is that the ballistic missiles that the Houthis rebels are

firing into neighboring Saudi Arabia, they are getting help from Iran. In the U.N. report, the U.N. says the missiles are Iranian made. Saudi

officials gave us exclusive access to one of those that they shot down on route to the capital Riyadh.


ROBERTSON: Laid out in the Saudi military base, the remains of a ballistic missile fired from Yemen. Some of the missile fragments were tiny and the

Saudi say they were scattered across the desert from where there anti- ballistic missile system shot this as it was flying towards the capital. CNN is the first news crew to be shown this Houthi rocket brought down last

month about 15 miles from Riyadh. It is evidence officials here say, Iran is backing the Yemeni rebels, the increasing attacks targeting Saudi


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is the positioning of this (inaudible) on the side of the missiles that convinced the Saudi that this is Iranian manufactured.

They have to do a lot more resting on this, scientific analysis of them, the metals, they have to look at the explosives and the electronic circuit

boards here as well to examine the wiring and figure out for example whether chips on this circuit board were made. Their immediate worry

though, a missile hits the capital, population more than 7 1/2 million people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Houthis, he has to know (inaudible) that it is the red line.

ROBERTSON: What is the red line?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot declare the red line, but at the final point are our people that have been affected, because of the ballistic people,

the Houthi he has to assume is ongoing to be very painful to them.

ROBERTSON: It is not the only recent escalation that is worrying the Saudis. This month, Saudi officials say they stopped an Iranian-aided

Houthi attack on an oil tanker in the red sea. The Houthis vow more attacks may come, but both to shipping and missile attacks point to a

dangerous overspill of Yemen's civil war.

The Saudis believe this massive missile was smuggled into Yemen with the different parts and the clues are the different welding covered with

different shades of paint.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well the last one been fired and intercepted 30 minutes ago or one hour ago and we are reaching up to 88. The kingdom of Saudi

Arabia have received 88 ballistic missiles from the Houthi.

ROBERTSON: In the past month, the case of missile attacks has picked up with more fire at major cities, and officials won't say precisely what

they'll do should the red line be crossed.


ROBERTSON: And since we did that interview, and saw that ballistic missile just a few days ago, there is another ballistic missile fired by the

Houthis into Saudi Arabia. And so there is an increase and other officials that we have spoken to won't say exactly what will ha happen if the red

line is crossed, but it is very clear this escalation is giving them great, great cause for concern about what is happening here in Yemen.

ANDERSON: Are CNN is live exclusively in Aden and Yemen tonight. Nic, we are hearing that the Saudi are depositing $2 billion in the Yemen central

bank. To shore up the week Yemeni currency. What is going on here?

[10:05:04] ROBERTSON: Yes. I met with the Yemen Prime Minister yesterday, and we sat down and talked for several hours, and the economy is one of his

biggest concerns. And talking out on the streets, it is one of the biggest concerns as well, because the Yemen currency has dropped in half in recent

months. What the Yemeni Prime Minister told me is that they need more help. He issued a letter yesterday calling on Saudi Arabia to provide the

financial help. We know that the President of Yemen who is in Saudi Arabia met with Prince Muhammad Bin Salman the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, and

so crown prince has announce this additional $2 billion to help the shore up the financial system in Yemen, and there is vast amounts of malnutrition

in the country and according to the U.N. are malnutrition and according to the U.N. Yemen is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world right now.

And so there is a fundamental reason why the economy is doing so badly and not just the war, but when the Houthi took control of the capital they took

control of Sanaa as well. So Yemen has rebuild the central bank to show they have their bills printed in Russia, but the Houthis are now, the Prime

Minister told me, they are printing their own money with the help of Iran. This is what he told me.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (TRANSLATOR): Yemeni real deteriorated because of the later practices made by the Houthis as they tried forging and printing the

currency against the law. Also, the Iranians were involve in bringing currency printing equipment from the western institutions to print the

Yemeni real and they succeed and flooded the market.


ROBERTSON: That is the problem he says there is too much currency washing around, because the Houthis who are no longer have control of the

legitimate central bank of the country are printing their own money as if they are. And so how can the government therefore manage the economy. And

also told me that the Houthis, when they came to take the central bank they looted $5.2 billion in hard currency. The Saudis are now contributing $2

billion to help the Yemeni government out.

ANDERSON: Nic Robertson live for you exclusively in Aden in Yemen tonight. Nic, we will look forward to further reporting from you there.

The U.S. has been widely criticized in the involvement of what is going on in Yemen. The U.S. President Donald Trump looking towards the anniversary

of his swearing in on January 20th as he is getting ready to mark his 12 months in power. In Washington, a government shutdown is looming. And we

will have more on that a little bit later in the show, but first we look abroad. In just 12 months, President Trump has up ended years if not

decades of U.S. Foreign policies in some key places from the Middle East to North Korea. All testament to what 363 days of Donald Trump can do.

Including in one of the most fraught conflicts of all hot on the heels of recognizing Jerusalem is Israel's capital. The United States announced it

is holding back half the money it plan to give to a U.N. Agency that supports the Palestinian refugees in some $65 million, Ian Lee is actually

in a refugee camp in Bethlehem. And this is going to affect people where you are, correct?

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, that is right. ANRWA has 5 million Palestinian refugees registered and it is likely that most of them will be

affected by this refugee are scattered across the region in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza, and here in the west bank and behind me here is one of those

refugee camps.


LEE: This is a refugee camp the west bank, home to 5,000 people. History where symbolism are important here. When war erupted in 1948 Palestinians

and their hundreds of thousands fled or were expelled off of the lands moving to the west bank in Gaza and neighboring countries. Return to the

old family homes now in Israel was blocked. The United Nations relief and works agency or UNRWA was created to the look after this refugees.

International right lawyer (inaudible), people would struggle if it was taken away.


[10:10:14] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many of the people would lose their own job, the refugees work -- services, and so we speak about sanitation, health

care, education.


LEE: UNRWA says it educates more than half a million children over 3 million people receive health care and almost 300,000 receive other relief

services, like food and work. At the agency relies with over a billion dollars to maintain services of which the United States donates 30 percent,

but President Trump put ANRWA on notice earlier in the month tweeting that with the Palestinian no longer willing to talk peace why should we make any

of the massive future payments to them? Israeli Prime Ministering Netanyahu agrees and says a new agency should pick up responsibility.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: The perpetration of the dream of bringing the descendants of refugees. They are part of the problem and

not part of the solution is UNRWA.


LEE: And they see it as one simple thing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is like, for us, we don't want like the money, but we want our dignity and rights.


LEE: The fate of the Palestinian refugees once more front and center in the conflict.


LEE: Becky, there is real concern in countries -- Jordan and Lebanon, because these countries are already under strained from refugee coming in

from neighboring countries such as Syria, that could lead to further instability. And now U.N. officials say they will try anything possible to

make sure that the people don't feel this bump. They say that the schools will remain open and people who need the medical care will continue to get

it, and the 30,000 workers that UNRWA employs will continue to get their salaries, but it is going to be difficult to fill the hole that is left by

the United States. The agency says they will plead to other international donors to help out, and have an awareness campaign so that people

understand what is at stake here, and really, that is a lot of money, and tens of millions of dollars that they are going to be without. Becky.

ANDERSON: Ian Lee reporting for you. Thank you.

And for the first time on CNN since the decision, we can bring you the reaction from the relief agent itself. Right before the program, the

agency spokesman Christopher Gunness joined me for an interview, and this is what he said. I asked him to begin with what his response to Trump

administration's decision on this funding is.


CHRISTOPHER GUNNESS, SPOKESMAN, U.N. AGENCY FOR PALESTINIAN REFUGEE: Well, this was certainly a regrettable reduction in the U.S. contributions. It

was abrupt, and I have to say it is harmful, because at stake is the dignity and human capital of millions of dispossessed Palestinian refugees

around the Middle East, and at stake for example is the education of half a million children that we teach each day in our schools in the Arab states

and territories surrounding Israel, and at stake is 9 million medical consultations which our doctors give every year and 1.7 million food

insecure refugees may be without food and cash, and the list goes on. We help vulnerable children, and we promote women's right, and the elderly and

the sick and the dying, and the bottom line I think we have to be honest here and say that we are talking about stability in the Middle East itself.

There will sadly most likely be instability in the Middle East while our services to the vulnerable and fragile population are under threat.

ANDERSON: Israel's ambassador to the U.N. didn't hold back on your agency saying that you have time and again misused humanitarian aid and instead,

quote, support anti-Israel propaganda and perpetuate the plight of the Palestinian refugees and he said encourage hate. What do you say to that?

GUNNESS: Let us be clear. UNRWA's public record is clearly stated opposition and complete condemnation of the racism and hatred in all of its

forms. We take robust and swift action against any staff members that are found to be in contravention of staff rules and regulations. Now on this

quest on perpetuation, let's be clear about this.

[10:15:02] What perpetuates the refugee crisis is the failure of the political parties to resolve their plight within the context of U.N.

resolutions and international law. That is what perpetuates the ongoing refugee status of the people which is why we say that the political parties

of all sorts involved with the peace process need to exert maximum political influence to get peace going, because we cannot leave this

population in a state of limbo for another 70 years.

ANDERSON: We are sharing CNN viewers the old black and white footage of Palestinian refugees, and you will know why because your agency has been

there through 70 years, and the only U.N. Agency of its kind since 1948 and yet, here we are, and this is if nothing else a reality check, isn't it,

for your agency? I guess there are critics who say, you were expecting the funding for another 70 years, and what sort of message does this decision

by the Trump administration send to Palestinians?

GUNNESS: Well, this is indeed the 70th anniversary of what is called the primordial catastrophe or the original displacement of the Palestinians in

1948, and as you say, it is a stark reminder of the need to resolve the plight of these people. UNRWA does want to carry on for another 70 years

with the financial crisis, with this population increasingly dependent on us, and UNRWA does not want to see women and children in war zones like

Syria under blockade in Gaza, under occupation for 50 years in the west bank and of course we don't want to see that. We want to see justice and

just a resolution for these people. And let me say it again, we need meaningful political action, and we need a just and durable solution based

on international law and U.N. Resolutions, and that is ultimately what will get rid of the appalling financial crisis and this unpredicted financial

crisis that UNRWA today is sadly confronting.

ANDERSON: With that, we leave it there.


ANDERSON: Christopher Gunness speaking to me earlier. We are waiting to hear from U.S. Senator Jeff Flake who is expected to address his colleagues

any minute now. And he is a Republican and outspoken critic of Mr. Trump and according to prepared statements Flake is expected to blast the Trump

administration and comparing his remarks the administration to Stalin. Flake is one of the Republicans who has decided not to run for re-election

this year. That is coming up. We await that. We will take a very short break at this point. This is "Connect the World" of course. Back after



[10:20:50] ANDERSON: Welcome back you are watching CNN. This is "Connect the World" with me Becky Anderson, and I want to get you some pictures out

of Washington, because the pressure is mounting. The lawmakers must reach a deal by Friday or there will be a government shutdown. The Democrats

want immigration reform to be part of the deal, and the Republicans are not on board with that. This is Chuck Schumer speaking on the floor of the

house. We are waiting to hear from U.S. Senator Jeff Flake next, and he is expected to address his colleagues any minute now. Flake a Republican and

an outspoken critic of Mr. Trump, obviously passions running high in Washington, for better understanding of this fight over government spending

and immigration, let us bring in CNN White House reporter Stephen Collinson, we are listening to Chuck Schumer, and we are waiting what we

assume, what we expect to be a very controversial speech by Jeff Flake. What do you know at this point?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: It is very interesting, Becky. Jeff Flake is a Senator from Arizona who has emerged as one of

Donald Trump's biggest critics within his own Party, and he is saying that he won't stay silent or complicit with the actions of the President which

he says is reckless and endangering the U.S. democracy so this is going to be a big moment. And what I will have say is that Jeff Flake is one of the

Senators coming out to criticize the President once it is clear their political careers are over, and he is not running for re-election in

November, and he admits that he is an outlier in his Party. The Republican Party right now is Donald Trump party, both of the Republican Party and

whatever it is the reservations of the President and the behavior has decided to line up behind him.

ANDERSON: And let's have a listen in. And he has just started speaking. Let's listen in.


SEN JEFF FLAKE, (R) ARIZONA: And so from the very beginning, our freedom has been predicated on truth. The founders were visionary in this regard.

Understanding weld that the good faith and the shared a facts between the governed and the government would be the very basis of this ongoing idea of

America. A distinguished former member of this body, Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York famously said that everyone is entitled to his own

opinion, but not his own facts. During this past year, I am alarmed to say that Senator Moynihan's proposition is likely been tested more severely

than any time in our history.

For it is that reason that I rise today to talk about the truth and the truth's relationship to democracy. For without truth and a principled

fidelity to truth, and the shared facts, Mr. President, our democracy will not last. 2017 was a year which saw the truth objective and empirical

evidence-based truth more batter and abused than at any time in the history of our country at the hands of the most powerful figure of our government,

and we saw enshrined alternative facts into the American lexicon and justification for what used to be simply called old fashioned falsehoods.

It was a year in which an unrelenting daily assault on the constitutionally protected free speech was launched by the same White House, and assault as

unprecedented as it is unwarranted. The enemy of the people was how the President of the United States called the free press in 2017. Mr.

President, it is a testament the condition of our democracy that our own President uses words infamously spoken by Joseph Stalin to describe his

enemies. So fraught with malice is the phrase enemy of the people that even Nikita Khrushchev forbid accuse telling the Soviet communist party

that the phrase had been introduce by Stalin for the purpose of quote, annihilating such individuals, unquote, who disagree with the Supreme


This alone should be the source of great shame for us in the body, and especially for those of us in the President's own Party, because they are

shameful repulsive statements and of course the President hasn't precisely backwards. Despotism is the enemy of the people. And the free press is

the despot's enemy which makes the free press the guardian of democracy, when a figure in power reflectively calls any press that does not suit him

fake news, it is that person who should be the figure of suspicion and not the press.

[10:25:29] They say that anyone who has had the privilege and the awesome responsibility to serve in this chamber knows that the reflexive slurs of

fake news are dubious at best. Those of us who travel overseas, especially to war zone and other troubled areas all around the globe encounter members

of the U.S. based media who risk their lives and sometimes lose their lives reporting on the truth. To dismiss their work as fake news is an affront

to their commitment and their sacrifice. According to the international federation of journalists, 80 journalists were killed in 2017. A new

report from the committee to protect journalists documents that the number of journalists imprisoned in the world has reached 262 which is a new are

record. This total includes 21 reporters who are being held on false news charges.

Mr. President, so powerful is the presidency that the damage done by the sustained attack on the truth will not be confined to this President's time

in office. Here in America, we do not pay obeisance to the powerful, in fact we question the most powerful quite ardently, and to do so is our

birth right and a requirement of our citizenship, and so we know well that no matter how powerful, no President will never have dominion over

objective reality, and no politician will ever give us or tell us what the truth is or is not, and anyone who presumes to try to attack or manipulate

the press for his own purposes should be made to realize his mistake and to be held to account. That is our job here. That is just as Madison and

Hamilton and Jay would have it.

Of course, a major difference of the politicians and the free press is that the free press usually corrects itself when it has made a mistake and

politicians, don't. And no longer can we compound the attacks on truth with our silent acquiescence and no longer to turn a blind eye or the deaf

ear to those assaults of our institution, and Mr. President, an American President who cannot take criticism and who must constantly deflect and

distort and distract and who must find someone else to blame is charting a very dangerous path. And a congress that fails to act as a check on the

President adds to that danger. Now, we are told via twitter that today the President intends to announce his choice for the quote, most corrupt and

dishonest media awards. A beggar's belief that an American President would engage in such a spectacle, but here we are. So 2018 has to be the year

that the truth takes a stand against the power that would weaken it. In this effort, the choice is quite simple and in this effort, the truth needs

as many allies as possible. Together, my colleague, we are powerful. Together, we have it within us to turn back these attacks, to the right

these wrongs, repair this damage, restore reverence for our institutions, and prevent further vandalism.

For us together, we should do our jobs under the constitution, without regard to Party or Party loyalty, let us resolve to be allies for the truth

and not partners for destruction. It is not my purpose here to inventory all the unofficial untruth in the past year, but a brief survey is an

order. Some of the untruths are trivial such as the bizarre contention regarding the crowd size of last year's inaugural, but some truths are not

at all trivial such as the seminal untruths of the President's political career, the off repeated conspiracy about the birthplace of President

Obama. And also not trivial are the equally pernicious fantasies about rigged elections and massive voter fraud which are as destructive as they

are inaccurate.

To the effort to undermine confidence in the federal courts, federal law are enforcement, the intelligence community and the free press to perhaps

the most vexing untruth of all, the supposed hoax at the heart of special county Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.


To be very clear, to call the Russia matter a hoax, as the president has many times, is a falsehood. We know that the attacks orchestrated by the

Russian government during the election were real and constitute a grave threat to both American sovereignty and to our national security.

It is in the interest of every American to get to the bottom of this matter, wherever the investigation leads. Ignoring or denying the truth

about hostile Russian -- Russian intentions toward the United States leaves us vulnerable to future attacks.

We are told by our intelligence agencies that these attacks are ongoing, yet it has recently been reported that there has not been a single cabinet-

level meeting regarding Russian interference and how to defend America against these attacks.

Not one. What might seem like a casual and routine untruth -- so casual and routine that it has by now become the white noise of Washington, is in

fact a serious lapse in the defense of our country.

Mr. President, let us be clear. The impulses underlying the dissemination of such untruths are not benign. They have the effect of eroding trust in

our vital institutions and conditioning the public to no longer trust them.

The destructive effect of this kind of behavior on our democracy cannot be overstated. Mr. President, every word that a president utters projects

American values around the world.

The values of free expression and a reverence for the free press have been our global hallmark, for it is our ability to freely air the truth that

keeps our government honest and keeps the people free.

Between the mighty and the modest, truth is the great leveler. And so, respect for freedom of the press has always been one of our most important

exports. But a recent report published in our free press should raise an alarm.

Reading from the story, quote, in February, Syrian President Bashar Assad brushed off an Amnesty International report that some 13,000 people had

been killed at one of his military prisons by saying, you can forge anything these days, we are living in a fake news era.

In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte has complained of being demonized by fake news. Last month, the report continues, with our

President, quote, laughing by his side, Duterte called reporters, spies.

In July, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro complained to the Russian news -- the Russian propaganda outlet, that the world media had spread lots of

false versions, lots of lies, about his country, adding, this is what we call fake news today, isn't it?

There are more, a state official in Myanmar recently said, there is no such thing as Rohingya. It is fake news. He is referring to the persecuted

ethnic group.

Leaders in Singapore, a country known for restricting free speech, have promised, fake news, legislation in the next year, and on and on, and on.

This feedback loop is disgraceful, Mr. President.

Not only has the past year seen an American president borrow despotic language to refer to the free press, but it seems he has in turn inspired

dictators and authoritarians with his own language. This is reprehensible.

We are not in a fake news era, as Bashar Assad says. We are, rather, in an era in which the authoritarian impulse is reasserting itself, to challenge

free people and free societies, everywhere.

In our own country, from the trivial to the truly dangerous, it is the range and regularity of the untruths we see that should be cause for

profound alarm, and spur to action.

Add to that the by-now predictable habit of calling true things false, and false things true, and we have a recipe for disaster. As George Orwell

warned, the further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.

Any of us who have spent time in public life have endured news coverage we felt was jaded or unfair. But in our positions, to employ even idle

threats to use laws or regulations to stifle criticism is corrosive to our Democratic institutions.

Simply put, it is the press's obligation to uncover the truth about power. It is the people's right to criticize their government. And it is our job

to take it.

What is the goal of laying siege to the truth? President John F. Kennedy, in a stirring speech on the 20th anniversary of the Voice of America, was

eloquent in answer to that question.

[10:35:04] We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a

nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.

Mr. President, the question of why the truth is now under such assault may well be for historians to determine. But for those who cherish American

constitutional democracy, what matters is the effect on America and her people, and her standing in an increasingly unstable world, made all the

more unstable by these very fabrications.

What matters is the daily disassembling of our Democratic institutions. We are a mature democracy, it is past time to stop excusing or ignoring, or

worse, endorsing these attacks on the truth, for if we compromise the truth for the sake of our politics, we are lost.

I sincerely thank my colleagues for their indulgence today. I will close by borrowing the words of an early adherent to my faith that I find has

special resonance at this moment.

His name was John Jacques, and as a young missionary in England he contemplated the question, what is truth? His search was expressed in

poetry and ultimately in a hymn that I grew up with, titled, Oh Say, What is Truth.

It ends as follows, then say, what is truth? 'Tis the last and the first, for the limits of time it steps o'er. Tho the heavens depart and the

earth's fountains burst. Truth, the sum of existence, will weather the worst, eternal, unchanged, evermore. Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator from Minnesota.

KLOBUCHAR: Mr. President, I rise today...


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: Jeff Flake speaking there, and comparisons to the soviet dictator on the floor of the U.S. Senate and stinging criticism

there of U.S. President Donald Trump, and accusations that he is charting, quote, a dangerous path.

Those were the words of Senator Jeff Flake -- a Republican and outspoken critic of Mr. Trump. CNN White House reporter Stephen Collinson was

listening to the speech. He is joining us now. What did you make of it, Stephen?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think that, Becky, this was a startling public denunciation of a president that we have seen very rarely

in modern times from the Senate floor and from his own party.

Flake in October gave a similarly devastating speech, and Senator John McCain has done, so but it is very, very rare to see that kind of speech.

And I think that we can be assured that Flake was not just sending a message to the American people, he was sending it to the president.

The speech was carried live on all of the news channels in the United States, and we know the president's addiction to watching cable news, so it

is certain that he saw it.

But it was also, I think that able to a speech not just directed to the president, but to the Congress, itself, and the Republican Party who,

Flake, basically argued is abdicating its duty to check and balance the actions of the president which he argued were eventually going to be

damaging to U.S. values and democracy itself.

Having said that, Flake is an isolated figure in his own party, and this is maybe a speech that resonates more in history than it is influential in its

own time, because the bulk of the Republican Party, whatever it thinks about Donald Trump and whatever its reservations about the behavior has

signed up.

And they are standing by the president's side in order to enact a conservative agenda on tax, on health care, on immigration, that

Republicans have been dreaming of enacting for decades. So it is a significant moment, but I don't think that we should expect that it is

going to change a great deal of the president's behavior.

ANDERSON: And given what we have learned about the president and his behavior over the last 363 days, how's he likely to respond?

COLLINSON: I am sure that Trump will get on Twitter and start repudiating what Flake said. He will attack him. That is the way that we have learned

that the president acts -- when he is attacked, he attacks back much harder.

So I'm sure this is going to dominate the debate. The White House will come out and say, well, the problem here is that the media doesn't give the

president a fair shake, that it makes up stories against him.

You know, it is incredible to see over the last year, just as Flake mentioned, the idea that is now perpetrated by the White House and

Republicans that Russian election hacking which was confirmed by all of the U.S. Intelligence Agencies substantial part of the population now believes

that it is a hoax.

[10:40:10] And that largely because of the president's incessant messaging on that, so what we are seeing on this administration is a constant abuse

of truth, of sort of shading fact.

And, Flake, there said it is was almost Orwellian process that's going on and he said that we are entering an age where autocracies are on the rise,

and I think that is the battle we are seeing right now in the United States in the political world.

ANDERSON: Despotism, he said is the e enemy of the people. All right. Stephen Collinson, in the house for you, viewers. Stephen, thank you,

always a pleasure having you on.

There is a lot more coverage of all of this on as you would expect here on this network. We have a whole section analyzing Donald Trump's

first year in office. Anniversary of which is this weekend. It is especially interesting to look at some of the early predictions about his

presidency that have perhaps not become entirely true.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.


ANDERSON: Well, this did happen. In just 16 words, the American president pulling a hard U-turn on years of American policy and now, so soon after

that, and as we approach Donald Trump's first full year in office, we are seeing him, some would argue once again, breaking away from the country's

longstanding push to appear even between the Israelis and Palestinians.

And now, Washington holding back cash some $65 million from the U.N. agency known as UNRWA, that is specifically and directly supports Palestinian

refugee, and money that Washington thinks is wasted, and what some allege is misusing the funds.

But we, as we heard in my interview with the U.N. in this show, it is used to pay for teacher, doctors and medicine for millions of people.

I want to break this all down with CNN's Sam Kiley, work and reported across the region including Jerusalem for some 20 years -- for some 20

years, living lived through war terror turmoil, and even a kidnapping.

And he is now stationed right here in Abu Dhabi as our senior international correspondent -- your response to the U.S. administration's decision on

funding for UNRWA?

SAM KILEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is not necessarily buying, and this is going to be the point being made by the regional partners of the United

States, notably Jordan and the Lebanon.

They are not just buying a through the support at the United Stated, through the support of the Palestinians' humanitarian succor to the

refugees and descendants of refugees, they are also sponsoring political stability.

If we take a look at a map of the region to see where these refugees and their descendents are based, you can see that there are enormous numbers of

them there.

You've got 2 million descendents and actual refugees from 1948 and 1967 wars in Jordan, a huge number in Syria, and of course, that number is

somewhat going to be adjusted, because a lot of have fled out of Syria, and notably into Lebanon which is coping over the huge influx, going about

60,000, and more than 400,000 in Lebanon, and 2.1 million on the west bank,

Lots of them, majority perhaps are under the 30, awful a lot of them are children, and nearly 50,000 children for example on the West Bank. If the

education system on the west bank was a collapse under the United Nations, it's not just the U.N. who does the education that it was a collapse.

But 50,000 people out on the streets, that would blow back arguably within Israel, and it has been interesting, the Israeli commentators, some of them

coming from the military, a lot of them on the right have thrown up their arms and hands in horror at these potential funding cuts to UNRWA, because

of the threat of instability.

ANDERSON: And I want to bring up just part of what one former spokesman I think has said. Let me just remind our viewers. Well, let's do that

first. Peter Lerner, who for a quarter of a century was a spokesman for the Israeli defense forces writing at something, the viewers may not

expect, quite frankly, might not expect.

Quote, while, UNRWA is far from perfect, he says that the Israeli defense establishment, and the Israeli government as a whole have over the years

come to the understanding that all of the alternatives are worse for Israel.

He thinks that less funding is bad for Israel, contrary to what the Israelis are letting known. What are the worse alternatives here? What

are the consequences?

KILEY: Well, from the Israeli perspective, instability is absolutely paramount. If we look at Jordan, the Israelis very close to Jordan in

terms of security cooperation. The Jordanians of course, seeded the debate over the future of the West Bank to the Palestinians.

[10:45:05] Jordan, itself, fought for the, what was known as Black September, a minor civil war, if you like, or pretty bloody civil war

against the Palestine liberation organization in the 1970, expelled Yasser Arafat, its leader, into the Lebanon where because Palestinian attacks in

Israel, and counter attacks, there was another civil war there.

So if you've got disenfranchised people driven from their lands, that's dangerous, not only for those countries that are hosting them, dangerous

for the people, but dangerous ultimately for Israel, because there is the concern pointed out by Chris Gunness, earlier on, the U.N. Spokesman --

UNRWA spokesman of further radicalization, for people that disenfranchise.

And I think that is what Peter Lerner is getting to, not only he was the spokesman, but he was also responsible for a great deal of liaison, and the

civilian liaison on the West Bank.

These people know what they are talking about. It is very interesting in Israel, that a lot of the criticism over Netanyahu government over these

sort of policies actually comes from are the security establishment.

ANDERSON: Well, for those who are not familiar with the agency, let me bring people up to date, Sam, it was founded almost 70 years ago, I think,

in fact, it is the 70th anniversary this year. And its mandate is to help the Palestinian refugees. The U.S. traditionally, the largest donor,

funded by other U.N. member states as well.

KILEY: Some people may say, look, ultimately, it may be time to re- evaluate the agency and the work that it does, but I just wonder what you think the message from the U.S. administration is to Palestinians with this

move given the outright and coordinated condemnation on the decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem only a month or so ago across

the Arab and the Muslim world.

Not just across the Arab and Muslim world, right across Europe, too. And I think that the Trump administration is clearly and in the words of Donald

Trump trying to take some certain issues off the table of negotiations, the future of Jerusalem as far as the United States is concerned, which was one

of the central sticking points of the ongoing almost perennial negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis is now off the table.

They cannot have a shared capital. So that is gone as far as the Americans are concerned. The future, the return of the United Nations resolutions

that have repeatedly endorsed the notion or return of the refugees and their descendents to their former homes was always going to be a fudge.

And involving all sorts of proposals and immigration to Canada, state -- membership of the state for Palestinians in Lebanon and of course highly

controversial, that now appears to be doing, if not totally off of the table, but being shutdown as an avenue for the Palestinians.

And may just be recognizing a reality actually that has pertained for some time, but from the Palestinian perspective, it makes them feel very

disempowered and for that reason of course, the PLO is threatening to withdraw from the process altogether.

ANDERSON: And certainly, 363 days into a Trump administration, certainly his actions having an enormous impact in this part of the world. There is

no doubt about that. Sam, thank you. Live from Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson. We will be right back.


ANDERSON: Well, your parting shots this hour, treacherous ice and snow in the southern United States. Have a look at these images, blanketing

Atlanta and parts of Georgia.

These cold temperatures and the snowfall causing more than 100 crashes across the state of Georgia, among those who braved the elements to travel

some 55 million people under a winter storm warning or advisory.

Houston's airport and the world's busiest airport in Atlanta both experiencing delays, more than 1,400 flights have been canceled today. For

ever so slightly warmer climates, I'm Becky Anderson, and that was Connect the World. Thank you for watching, see you tomorrow.