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CONNECT THE WORLD
Trump on Two Fronts, Quiet on Pyongyang, Fury for Tehran; Rouhani Says, War with Iran Would be Mother of All Wars; Trump Warns Iran of Dire Consequences for Threatening U.S.; U.S. Secretary of State Sends Farsi Message to Iranian's: German Football Star Quits National Football Team and Blames Racism; Trump Enjoys High Approval Ratings Among Republicans;
Aired July 23, 2018 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:00] BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi for you, 7:00 here.
And we begin tonight connecting your world where America's President is chasing what is perhaps war on what is perhaps peace with two countries.
He's been using a battalion of words to attack at least. For now, both Iran and North Korea are tied down by American sanctions. But one is
seeing his patience and the other his fury. And right now, Iran, accusing Donald Trump of psychological warfare after the U.S. President fired off a
direct warning to President Hassan Rouhani on Twitter. There was no mistaking the intent of his late night all caps rant. The words literally
screaming off the page.
Mr. Trump wrote, never, ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences the like of which few throughout the history have ever
suffered before. We are no longer a country that will stand for your demented words of violence and death. Be cautious, exclamation mark.
Well that was apparently a response to earlier remarks by Iran's President who warned the U.S. that war with Iran would be, quote, the mother of all
Let's get you live to the White House momentarily. But before we do that let's bring in Christiane Amanpour. What is your take on what is behind
this bellicose rhetoric?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Look, I think a frustrated President Trump by all accounts, President Trump is frustrated
on two main issues right now. One, North Korea, which is absolutely not going according to plan. Remember when he came out of that Singapore
summit -- which I covered -- he told the world that there is no more nuclear threat. And it's true that the sort of temperature has decreased
since very similar all cap tweets were, you know, the action of the day a few months ago between President Trump and Kim Jong-un.
But no significant progress whatsoever has happened. Not the return of remains as President Trump said had already happened. It hasn't even
started. No denuclearization timetable from the North Koreans. No declaration of what they have. They've stood up to Secretary of State
Pompeo. They've stood up to defense officials in the DMZ. They have not engaged at all certainly, for the last several weeks and months since that
Summit in Singapore. That's one thing he's frustrated about according to all reports.
Others are saying, of course, that the ongoing focus on the tone of the Helsinki press conference after his summit with Vladimir Putin is also a
source of frustration for the President. Because people don't know what happened in that meeting and people want to know what happened, what may or
may not have been agreed to. And then, of course, we all know -- again, I was there reporting it -- that that attempt, at least seeming attempt, to
sort of say didn't know why Russia would have done anything to interfere with the elections. You know, that has caused a huge back and forth for
the better part of the last week.
Now fast forward to Iran where they are gearing up for yet more sort of, as it's described in the region by some, and in Europe as a very aggressive
and reckless policy from the administration towards Iran. President Trump again seems to be frustrated because there's back and forth again. He's
tweeting, then the Iranian government responds. Then he tweets.
But I think importantly, Becky, you have to look at the rather fierce speech that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave Sunday night in Los Angeles
to a group of very hardened anti-Iranian exiles. At the very end of the speech in which he beat Iran up upside the head, he said that negotiations
are possible, and the United States holds the door open for negotiations.
So basically, on all these issues it seems the President is at cross purposes with his administration.
[11:05:00] And we don't know what the vision is. We don't really know what the plans are. But we do know the President tweets a lot and in all caps.
ANDERSON: Well, whatever the reason, let's agree that this rhetoric is very toxic. The Iranian President pointing right towards this place.
Let's have a look at the map, an extremely narrow water, extremely important slice of water, the strait of Hormuz. And get this, one third of
the world's oil tankers passing through it every year. On the north coast lies Iran. On the south coast the United Arab Emirates, where we are, and
Musandam, which is an enclave of Oman.
Christiane, if Iran were to tinker, fiddle, block, do anything with that we are looking at chaos, quite frankly, potentially for the world. That is
presumably the fear that the Iranians are hoping to sow at this point, correct?
AMANPOUR: Well, I mean they seem to be responding in kind with the President saying, and this is crucial. I think this is where it all sort
of started. Obviously, the President pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, the JCPOA, then saying that he would not give waivers to European allies or
others who are doing business with Iran. Their businesses if they want to continue doing business with the United States would suffer from so-called
secondary sanctions. So, then there's that.
Then the big, big thing is recently I think over the weekend the administration again repeated that they want all Iranian oil purchases to
stop by November. That is what Pompeo said, that they're trying to get anybody who buys oil from Iran not to buy oil from Iran come November.
So, Iran said, well, you know, it's not just our oil. There's, as you mentioned, a third of the world's oil passes through the straits of Hormuz
and Iran has in the past during the -- remember in the '80s there was the whole sort of blockade of the Gulf and the straits there of Hormuz and can
control the oil flow of the world and the flow of natural gas, et cetera. So that's what they're saying. They're saying that if you're going to do
this to us, well, that's going to be our option as well. That's going to be our back plan. So, I think this is what's going on. This back and
forth specifically over the straits of Hormuz at the moment.
ANDERSON: Just been looking at the latest polls for the President and be all of this as it may, the latest poll actually shows Trump's support
amongst his base simply not budging. Now we're talking about oil, for example, I just want to run this past you. Both Britain and U.S. crude
have been up by about 1 percent amid this new war of words between the U.S. and Iran, which isn't enormous but they're up. And here is the thing.
Those numbers, those poll numbers, could fall off a cliff for the U.S. President if, and I say if, an energy war causes a further rise in gas
prices at the pump in the U.S. particularly ahead of the U.S. summer driving season and indeed the upcoming midterms. Ironically you could
argue high gas prices actually suit his local U.S allies, Saudi Arabia and the UAE for example. He's in a genuine bind here, isn't he?
AMANPOUR: You know, it's really complex. The real question is what is the vision for all of this bellicosity? As I said over in Europe and in some
parts of the Middle East they're calling this strategy sort of reckless and aggressive. Because nobody quite knows where it's leading. Is it leading
to regime change? Is it leading to higher gas prices? Is it leading to an all-out war? Nobody quite knows. People are discounting to a great extent
Trump tweets these days. They just are because they built them in to their dealings with the United States. And they see that the President is often
particularly in these big, big issues right now, North Korea to an extent, Russia certainly, Iran to an extent, is at odds with members of his own
administration. So, they're looking for a vision to all of this.
In terms of oil prices rising for the Trumpian base, you know, maybe they will if this gets pursued to its -- to whatever end the President wants to
do. But of course, the U.S. also is a natural gas and energy supplier and producer right now. So, I'm not sure how that will be offset. I'm not an
expert on the U.S. economy or those kind of energy areas. But it's a huge problem for American allies, in fact. Because a lot of their oil and gas
goes through there as well, allies in the Gulf and goes all over not just to one place. It goes all over the world, to other American allies. And
so, it's -- you know, these are very, very sensitive, geo strategic issues that have to be well thought out. And at the moment, as I say, people I
have spoken today about it, officials and others, can't quite see a vision.
[11:10:00] And Pompeo was very clear in his speech. He didn't say the U.S. was in for a regime change and most people do not believe that the Iranian
regime can be changed from the outside.
ANDERSON: Fascinating. Thanks for your insight. Christiane is in London. Let's get reaction from the White House. We're joined by Abby Phillip.
Abby, is this a rattled, frustrated Donald Trump, or is this a President laser focused on a subject that has been front and center for him as a
candidate and now as President, Iran in his cross hairs. And is this a U.S. President who would genuinely entertain the idea of military
intervention at this point?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's really not clear, Becky. I mean, this is a President who has repeatedly used Twitter to
threaten the use of force. Not just with Iran but also with North Korea. And perhaps using it as a negotiating tool with these countries. So, it's
not clear whether this is going beyond words into policy action.
The White House this morning not saying a whole lot more about these tweets saying that the President is simply responding to Iran, and he is not the
one threatening force or threatening some kind of altercation with Iran. But he was rather responding to Iranian President Rouhani's statement that
seemed to imply that war would be, in his words, the mother of all wars. And so, the White House is not adding a whole lot more to this. At the
same time there are some questions here today about whether or not this is simply a distraction from other foreign policy issues that for this
President have been less than positive in the last week.
This morning Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House Press Secretary, responded to that criticism by saying the President can basically walk and
chew gum at the same time. That he is focused on a number of other issues and isn't just focused on Russia. But she wouldn't offer anything in the
way of a strategy, and she simply wouldn't answer any of the questions about whether or not the President had consulted with his national security
team before issuing those tweets just before midnight here on the east coast last night.
ANDERSON: Abby Phillip in Washington for you.
Well Mr. Trump denying that he's frustrated on another front at least. It's been over a month since his historic summit with the North Korean
leader, Kim Jong-un, and an official says he is unhappy that North Korea is not moving fast enough towards denuclearization. Just a short time ago the
President posted this tweet refuting that.
He says, North Korea has not launched a rocket in nine months. Likewise, no nuclear tests. He says, Asia is happy but that the media or fake news,
as he calls it, says he is angry that it is not going fast enough. Wrong, he writes. Very happy.
Well, CNN's Will Ripley has reported extensively from North Korea and he joins us now from Hong Kong. What do you make of the North Korean rhetoric
at present? What's the strategy here?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well I think the North Koreans have been very consistent, Becky. And from the North Korean perspective based on
every conversation I had before the summit with North Korean officials and even a conversation I had with a source who is close to the North Korean
negotiations right now, they never thought this would be a quick process. A unilateral disarmament, full transparency with United States, their sworn
enemy for more than six decades, giving up all of their nuclear warheads in a matter of months or a couple of years as some members of the Trump
administration have intimated.
No, the North Koreans have always said this is going to be a step-by-step incremental process. They give something, they get something in return.
And the North Koreans feel at least right now they have given, they say, more than the United States. Now yes, the United States has suspended
joint military exercises. President Trump sat down with Kim Jong-un and gave him legitimacy on a global stage. Arguably really improving his image
dramatically, so dramatically, in fact that it might be difficult for the U.S. to go back to the maximum pressure campaign where they try to convince
the world Kim Jong-un was unstable. He didn't appear that way when he was in front of the television cameras.
But what North Korea has done, they haven't launched a missile since November, as President Trump pointed out. They did claim to destroy their
Punggye-ri nuclear test site. Although I was on the ground and I certainly couldn't verify if what we saw, the explosions we saw, meant that the site
was destroyed. Because there were no experts to verify it.
And in the coming days, Becky, we do expect North Korea to possibly hand over what they claim are remains of U.S. service members who died in the
Korean War. So, what does North Korea want from the United States now? Well, they want the lifting of sanctions incrementally with the steps
But even more important than that the paramount issue for the North Koreans is security. The security of their government led by Kim Jong-un. And in
order for that to happen the North Korean say, according to my source, they want a peace treaty. A formal and to the Korean War, replacing the
armistice agreement that's been in place since 1953 when the fighting stopped but leaving North Korea still technically at war with the south,
with the United States and its U.N. allies.
[11:15:03] The North Koreans say without the U.S. moving forward more quickly, more boldly, as they put it, on that peace treaty, well they say
they have no intention of walking away from denuclearization talks right now. They say they could walk away in the future if they don't get the
peace treaty. And frankly, they're quite emboldened right now, Becky, because they have significantly improved ties with their traditional
allies, China and Russia, who have stated they have North Korea's back even if things fall apart with the United States.
ANDERSON: Will Ripley is in Hong Kong for you. Abby Phillip is in Washington. To both of you, thank you.
Still to come tonight, will Trump's threatening tweets further escalate tensions with Iran or help bring them to the negotiating table? We speak
with a former top U.S. diplomat on exactly that after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HASSAN ROUHANI, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Mr. Trump, don't play with the lion's tail this would only lead to regret. You will forever
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Our top story, Iran says don't mess with us. Strong words from Iran's President Hassan Rouhani that set off U.S. President, Donald Trump,
late last night. Mr. Trump jumping onto Twitter to issue this furious all caps reply.
To Iranian President Rouhani, never, ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences, the like of which few throughout history
have ever suffered before. We are to longer a country that will stand for your demented words of violence and death. Be cautious!
I want to bring in Zalmay Khalilzad. He is a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations. He's one of the few American
diplomats who speaks Farsi and has worked extensively with Iranian leaders including the current Iranian foreign minister, Javid Zarif, on the 2001
Bonn agreement. Zalmay, thank you.
Back in June you wrote an article saying you believe Trump's hardline approach could bring Iran to the negotiating table. You wrote, and I
quote, the Trump administration's approach has a reasonable chance of succeeding with Iran, a key point that seems to have been overlooked by
many of the commentators, is that the Trump administration has indicated a willingness to end negotiations even as it escalates pressure against Iran
[11:20:10] Sir, is there still mileage in what you wrote a couple months ago given what we are now witnessing?
ZALMAY KHALILZAD, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: I think there is. I didn't anticipate that negotiations will take place right
away. I think this is very difficult entering into negotiations for Iran. But given the costs of not negotiating, I hope that Iran sooner rather than
waiting later would agree, the leader would give the President the permission to enter into negotiations with the United States on a new
comprehensive agreement. That would be in Iran's interest in my view. Because negotiations in my judgment are ultimately inevitable. Why pay the
cost that Iran will pay in the coming period that it waits, and it decides to negotiate? Rather than doing that why not negotiate sooner rather than
ANDERSON: Ambassador, the problem is certainly over the last 24 hours the rhetoric doesn't sound like it's going down the route of negotiation. It
sounds more like it's going down the route of war. Is it?
KHALILZAD: Well, I was surprised, frankly, by the language used at least in part by President Rouhani. He had borrowed from Saddam Hussein this
mother of all wars language. It didn't work well for Saddam Hussein. So, I was surprised by that. I am not surprised by the President, the U.S.
President's response. But we went through that sort of a phase, if you remember, Becky, with North Korea. There was threats from the North
Koreans and there was a statement of fire and fury by the President of the United States. But ultimately the North Koreans did reach out to the
United States saying can we negotiate?
I think the same can apply to Iran. I'm not predicting that will happen in the next days. But ultimately, I don't see realistically an alternative to
negotiations because the alternative of war would be devastating certainly for Iran, economic sanctions would damage Iran substantially. So, I see
that new negotiations as the best way forward. It may take time for Iran to come to that judgment.
ANDERSON: You will know better than any that what we won't see is the Iranian President tweeting in caps like we've seen the U.S. President tweet
because, of course, you don't have capitals in Farsi and in Arabic, for example. So, we're not going to see that. If any of our viewers are sort
of anticipate that go will happen, it won't.
Bear with me, sir, as we connect these three important parts of this story. Even as soon as last month we were watching protests across Iran demanding
that the government help find jobs. The American Secretary of State speaking right to these scenes. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The bitter irony of the economic situation in Iran is that the regime uses this same time to line its own
pockets while its people cry out for jobs and reform and for opportunity. The Iranian economy is going great but only if you're a politically
connected member of the elite.
The level of corruption and wealth among Iranian leaders shows that Iran is run by something that resembles the mafia more than a government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Then Pompeo speaking to Iranians in their own language, in Farsi on Twitter, that Washington hears them and supports them. You don't need
to be a code breaker, sir, to work that one out. The regime change gang is what it sounds like. Back in action in the White House, do you think?
KHALILZAD: Well, I think what the Secretary of State said about the state of the Iranian economy is, of course, quite correct. It is in serious
difficulty. It has been mismanaged. The environmental conditions in terms of water, employment, even investment, things are pretty bad, and the
American sanctions will make them worse.
I don't think Secretary Pompeo called for regime change. Did speaker for American values that ultimately, we would like to see as we want to see
around the world democracy prevail. But I believe that the administration, the President in particular is open to negotiating with Iran on a new deal.
That's what the Iranians should focus on. I think the administration also should focus on.
[11:25:00] And I think the administration also should focus on the other part of Rouhani's message which was a peace with Iran will be the mother of
all peace. And that, I think, maybe we ought to in a time and place where difficult choices are faced by both Iran and by us. And I believe if Iran
was willing to negotiate a new comprehensive agreement the President will reciprocate and respond favorably as he did with regard to North Korea.
ANDERSON: That line, though, ambassador, doesn't seem to be the one being touted by the Iranian hardline diaspora. Which in the U.S., certainly,
which appears to be the audience that certainly the Secretary of State Pompeo is speaking to. Does that diaspora remind you of the buildup to the
2003 war with Iraq when it was Iraqi diaspora in the U.S., the U.K. who helped drive the anti-Saddam narrative, the weapons of mass destruction
idea and ultimately the war? And does that worry you?
KHALILZAD: Well, I think we're in a period of escalating pressure by the United States. So, I'm not surprised by the choice of the audience and the
Iranian Americans. As the Iranians elsewhere have the right to ask for what they want. If they want change in Iran, that is their business. But
I do not believe that the administration given what happened in Iraq and Iraq has happened and there are lessons to learn from that, that the
administration is looking to regime change in Iran by use of American power, military power. So, I think we can overlearn sometimes things. But
I do think, in this case, a lesson has been learned. If there is change in Iran it will have to come by the Iranian people.
The American instrument at this point is economic pressure that the White House is relying on. That will escalate that will increase costs for Iran.
That's why Iran needs to be thoughtful about this. Doesn't want to go through the experience of escalating sanctions to then come to the
negotiating table or should it decide to open a channel to negotiate. Remember that the President spoke -- the American President spoke extremely
harshly about Iran to the General Assembly and he spoke with conviction. But then asked to see President Rouhani in New York and he was turned down
by the Iranians. In my judgment that was a mistake that Iran made. And it made many mistakes in dealing with -- the Iranians made a mistake in
dealing with President Obama who wanted to engage. And he was hope that in the aftermath of the agreement there would be more changes in U.S./Iran
relations. But Iran did not follow that course and we are where we are now.
ANDERSON: Fascinating insight, sir. Always a pleasure, Zalmay Khalilzad, who is the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations amongst other
things, Iraq and Afghanistan importantly as well. Sir, thank you for that. Interesting times.
Just ahead, we'll have much more on Trump's outbursts on Iran. As well as this, a football star says good-bye to his national team blaming a torrent
of racist abuse and criticism. That story up next.
[11:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ANDERSON: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson. If you are just joining us, you are more than welcome.
It's just after 7:30 in the evening here.
I want to get you back to our top story the barely veiled threats of war between the United States and Iran. In a late-night tweet President Trump
responding to tough talk from Iran's leader with an explosive warning of his own.
Tweeting all caps. Never ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have suffered
Mr. Trump's threat came after Iran's President said, peace with Iran is the mother of peace. And war with Iran is the mother of wars.
Keep it right here on CNN. White House reporter, Stephen Collinson, joining us with the very latest on the war of words from Washington.
That's coming up in about ten minutes time. Well, I am German when we win but I am and immigrant when we lose. Arsenal's German star, Mesut Ozil,
announcing that he will no longer play football with the German national team because of what he says are racist and disrespectful words. Ozil is
of Turkish descent. And in a statement posted on Twitter he cites what he calls unfair criticism against him.
And at the heart of it is controversial images of the midfielder with the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier this year. In his statement
Ozil criticizes Germany's media and the President of the German football association amongst others. Atika Shubert is in Berlin. So Atika, just
explain what's going on. We certainly know that Mr. Erdogan has in the past has made comments about Germany. Last year he was quoted in state
news as saying, I thought that Nazism was over in Germany. But it turns out that it's still going on. It still going on it's clear. He said the
context, of course, was that he was angry about election rallies supporting him that were canceled in the country. So, it may look like Ozil posing
with the man who said, Nazism is still present in Germany, might play a part in the backlash against him. Does it?
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it does play a part. I mean, it's the fact that President Erdogan, you know, is
accused of many human rights abuses and is not viewed favorably by much of the German community here in Germany. And so, when Ozil posed for a photo
with him, it wasn't received favorably among all of his fans or by the German Football Association. And when you add to that some of the
criticism lobbed against him because of his playing on the pitch, well then you get what has become literally a political football.
[11:35:00] But what's happened since is that essentially Ozil has shot back saying listen, I'm being treated differently than other German players and
it's because of my dual identity as German/Turkish. Now the football association has said that's not the case. They have denied that. They
said it's regrettable that he feels that he wasn't sufficiently protected from racist slogans. However, the German Football Association, the DFB,
says it clearly rejects any accusations of racism. Now we did go to the streets to find out what fans are thinking. Here is what they told us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was cheered and celebrated by the Germans. So, yes, I think the best way for him would be to discuss it internally with the DFB
and not like making a PR action with this personal manager.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The things that people said to him were so racist that I think his decision is really understandable. So, it's not fun for him to
play at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUBERT: Now we've seen these in the headlines all throughout the day. Political party leaders have made statements on it criticizing Germany's
efforts at integration. It got to the point that Germany's Chancellor, Angela Merkel, felt she also had to weigh in through her spokesperson
saying that Ozil was a valued member of the team, had made a great contribution to the country's football, but that his decision to leave had
to be respected -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Atika's on the story out of Berlin. Atika, thank you for that. It is 5:36 in Berlin. It is 7:36 in the UAE. You're tuning in to CONNECT
THE WORLD from our Middle Eastern hub here in the UAE.
Up next we are doing what we say on the tin as we piece together a controversial performance in Helsinki. A despot in Pyongyang and people in
Tehran, we're connecting the world. It all makes sense. Up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury
like the world has never seen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, that sure changed on a dime. From fire and fury one day to beaming smiles another. But after scoring an all-out ratings bonanza
with the spectacle of getting together on TV Donald Trump now left to wallow over the fact that it's all coming to a grand total of nothing. So
far anyway. So, right now at this hour let's connect that bubbly oval office anger over scenes like this beaming out from Pyongyang. Right to
that of another tough talking would-be power also facing the full force of Mr. Trump's Syrian wrath.
[11:40:00] Iran on the red-hot end of this brand-new message of fury blasting out just before midnight from the Oval Office. Barking out in all
capital letters a threat to Tehran that basically it might get annihilated if it dares square up to America anymore.
Well coming just hours after Iran's President go into these words right at Mr. Trump, right back at him. Don't play with the lion's tail. You will
forever regret it.
Let's connect everything were seeing here. Let's bring in a friend of the shows, CNN's analytical powerhouse, Stephen Collinson and Azadah Moaveni.
Who is an Iranian reporter whose written -- as you are seeing -- three fascinating books on her home country. Stephen, let's start with you.
North Korea talks not coming to much. Furious about the response to the performance with Vladimir Putin last week. This seems like a rattled,
frustrated President doing his sort of Trump 101 thing, firing off tweets to take the Monday news cycle well away from actually criticizing or is
this the President who lays a focus on the one subject he's always said he would deal with, Iran.
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: I think both of those possibilities could be correct, clearly there is the aspect of this which
is the President distracting. I think you have to look at this tweet in the context of what's happened over the last few weeks. The President has
been pillared for looking weak and subservient alongside Vladimir Putin. It's now becoming clear that the myth that the summit with Kim Jong-un in
Singapore last month sold the nuclear crisis is unraveling.
There've been a number of legal developments in the last few days to do with Russia and to do with Trump's own personal exposure in the question of
whether he paid off women that said that they had affairs with him before the election that have really got closer to the President. So clearly this
is a President who needs to distract.
At the same time this is an administration with a great deal of senior people who have had a long antipathy towards Iran. There was a speech by
Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State, over the weekend lashing out at Iran which caused this response from Rouhani. So, I don't think there's an
exact comparison with the rhetoric the President had, the fire and fury rhetoric with North Korea. I think it's unlikely that in six months' time,
you know, we are going to see anyone from this administration sitting down and complimenting the Iranian leadership as they did with Kim Jong-un.
ANDERSON: Azadah, what do you make of what we have seen over the past 24 hours from both sides I'm talking about here. It's bellicose rhetoric at
the very least. What do you make of it?
AZADAH MOAVENI, IRANIAN AUTHOR AND JOURNALIST: I would say that from the Iranian side it's not really, you know, stepping up to the war of words so
much as President Rouhani after kind of hearing deliberate provocations week after week from the Trump administration. Finally coming forward and
saying we're going to defend ourselves. His speech was very measured. At the end of the sentence at which he said, you know, war against Iran would
be the mother of all wars was that a peace with Iran would be the mother of all peace's.
So, I think he made clear, you know, Iran is going to not unilaterally pull out of the JCPOA, even though the Trump administration has essentially gut
it. But that that we're going to -- that the Iranians will stand up for themselves. I think bringing to light the inherent contradictions in the
Trump administration's policy. Which is to, as Secretary Pompeo said in his speech to the Iranian/American community, we are looking after the
welfare of the Iranians. This is an Iranian people focus policy.
I think Rouhani is kind of bringing to light the fact that, you know, you can't really solve that if you're imposing a travel ban that seems
primarily targeted at Iranians and your imposing sanctions that is going to gouge the quality of life for everyday people. Eventually they will deny
access to the basic medicines. This is going to impact ordinary people really severely. So, it's inherent that a policy aiming towards regime
change is not focused on people.
ANDERSON: Right. And focusing on people is clearly the cry from inside of Iran, crossing into the sheer thousands of people on its streets shouting
for change. You are penning, this in the "Guardian" newspaper that Iran is quote, a theocratic Republic that has never squared how it can workably be
that while imposing unsustainable rules on society that is desperate to integrate with the rest of the world.
You could say that Mike Pompeo in his speech last night appealing to those very same Iranians suggesting we have your backs. That's what he
effectively said to an audience of Iranian diaspora during his speech.
[11:45:00] Do you buy the U.S. support for the Iranian people? And when you consider his speech last night was that to Iranians or was it to an
audience of one, that being Trump?
MOAVENI: I think that's a great way of putting it. I think it was certainly an audience of one and maybe a handful of others who are part of
this administration. Who are egging on this administration's Iran policy. The kind of pro-Likud lobby in the United States, the Israelis and the
Saudi's who are really pushing for war with Iran. So, it was an audience of a room of people who hold those beliefs.
In terms of the Iranian people in supporting their desires for transforming their society and pushing their government to reform from within, you know,
I think the best way to do that is to stay out of their way. Already all of this talk of regime change, and Bolton's extremely ideological, we're
going to war with you, rhetoric is going to secure ties Iranian civil society, activists, environmental activists, people who are really
struggling against a very repressive security apparatus, to change things from the inside. And all these people will now by a very nervous security,
understandably be viewed as agents of American regime change. I mean, that's not the way to push change that is peaceful. Unless you're looking
for war which is I think actually what we're seeing.
ANDERSON: You genuinely think that? You genuinely think from both sides or from the American side? Very briefly.
MOAVENI: Absolutely, the American side. I mean, the Iranians are sticking to all of their commitments under the JCPOA. I think Bolton and the
ideologs want war with Iran. I think unless erratic redux and I think it's going to be terrifying unless Russia gets in the middle.
ANDERSON: OK, hold that thought. Stephen, Twitter, great for getting your message out of course, to the world. But it can sometimes -- well, it can
come back and bite you. Five years ago, Trump tweeting this, I predict that President Obama will at some point attack Iran in order to save face.
That is one of a number of old Trump tweets that have been revived today. As examples where he sat in his ideology as -- even before he was a
candidate. I mean, clearly, we know things have changed since then. Ironic, though, don't you think?
COLLINSON: Yes, I mean, I always laugh when these tweets get revived because, you know, five years is more than a lifetime in Donald Trump's
conception of politics. He often contradicts himself, you know, within the space of the same day. So, you know, Donald Trump does what he has to do
in the moment to improve what he sees as his political or personal position. And I think that's what we're seeing with a lot of these tweets,
the President has been firing out over the weekend. There's no real thought of strategy from the President.
For example, this tweet on Iran. He has now put himself in a really difficult position because he has threatened basically almost cataclysmic
military action on Iran. Clearly, it's not going to be very long before an Iranian leader again threatens the United States because that's what
they've been doing in their rhetoric for the last -- since 1979. So, you get to the point where you say, well, is the President going to have to
live up to what he said, or is it just empty rhetoric?
While there are people in this administration, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, who have talked about the possibility of military action against Iran in
the past, I do find it somewhat difficult to believe that for all his talk Donald Trump wants to get the U.S. involved in another war in the Middle
East. That is something which I think would not be popular with his base. We've seen the President try to get American troops out of Syria, for
example. So, while the thought of some kind of maybe air attack on Iranian nuclear facilities might be something that's being contemplated, actually
going ahead with it I think is a lot less likely, politically, at least. But you don't know. These things can take on a life of their own. And as
you ratchet up the rhetoric, who knows where it can end.
ANDERSON: Let's have a look at the latest approval ratings. Because you've talked about the base. This is a new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal"
poll. Half of it conducted before Mr. Trump's news conference with the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, in Helsinki. And the other half
afterwards. So, we're looking at the numbers that were polled about a week or so ago or slightly less.
Despite controversy over that summit and the ongoing immigration crisis in the U.S., Mr. Trump's support amongst Republicans is at 88 percent with 64
percent strongly approving of his job performance. And the overall number was slightly higher than it was for the last polling.
[11:50:00] Let's face it, Stephen, an awful lot of Americans seem to like what he is doing. Does Trump's base like him beating up on Iran?
COLLINSON: I think they like him being perceived to be strong. They like him attacking Iran because Barack Obama did a deal with Iran which they saw
as weak and misguided. So, anything that Obama did, Trump's base is against. I think clearly as we were talking about before, there is the
Evangelical sector of Trump's base which is very, very important and was important to him getting elected, likes to see strong rhetoric against Iran
because it sort of plays into the Likud rhetoric in Israel. So, that's also very important. I think basically the point here is that Trump's base
is in favor of anything that Trump does rather than the other way around.
ANDERSON: Stephen Collinson is in Washington. The Iranian journalist, Azadah Moaveni, is with us today as well. To both of you, thank you very
much, indeed, for your insight.
You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. We are live from Abu Dhabi in the UAE. Coming up, we meet two Emirate footballers who are using the beautiful game
to challenge negative perceptions about people with special needs. That is up next.
ANDERSON: Iconic landmarks around the world illuminating the color red from London's Lester Square to Yas Island and the Emirates palace here in
Abu Dhabi marking the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics. The world's largest organization for people with intellectual disabilities.
The celebrations took place in Chicago just days ago with over 50,000 people in attendance. Including some talented athletes from here in the
UAE who helped to mark this milestone. Especially after this country's recent decision to now refer to those with special needs as people of
ANDERSON (voice-over): The beautiful game like you've never seen it before. Teams from around the world taking part in a rare, unified
football tournament bringing together kids with intellectual disabilities with those without. Emirati, Abdullah, was one of the footballers on the
ABDULLAH MOHAMMAD, UNIFIED PARTNER, UAE USE SPECIAL OLYMPICS FOOTBALL TEAM: Think about people and offer a donation. And I give me a new exposure.
ANDERSON: The unified games are meant to break down barriers. It's all part of events marking the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics. While
the UAE team lost out to Uruguay in the semifinals, players like Mohammad and Abdullah have their eye set on a bigger prize.
[11:55:00] The UAE will host the special Olympics global games next year. The event in Abu Dhabi will be marking the first time the world's largest
humanitarian and sporting event takes place in the Arab world. A region where disabilities of any kind often remain taboo. But change is coming.
Abu Dhabi held the meter games just months ago. And recently the UAE announced it will now refer to those with disabilities as people of
determination. A small but significant step that could help change how help with special needs are seen not just here in the UAE but also across
the Arab world.
ANDERSON: Stories like that and much more are being worked on by the team here throughout the day. And you can find a lot of that on our Facebook
page. That's Facebook.com/CNNConnect. Of course, I'm sure you know that if you're a regular of this show and @BeckyCNN on Twitter. I'm Becky
Anderson. That was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you for watching. "QUEST EXPRESS" is up next on CNN so stay with us.