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Syrian Regime Preparing to Take Last Rebel Stronghold; U.S./North Korea Nuclear Talks Have Stalled; Trump Denies Departure of McGahn Link to Russia Probe; McCain to Lie in State at U.S. Capital on Friday; Germany Braces for More Violent Protests; 17,000 Still Believed Missing from Lebanon Civil War. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired August 30, 2018 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:00] CYRIL VANIER, CNN HOST: You are watching CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Cyril Vanier from CNN's world headquarters filling in for Becky Anderson


Our top story this hour.


STAFFAN DE MISTURA, U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR SYRIA: There is a perfect storm based on warnings, counter warnings, which is gathering around and due to

the dilemma. Which is a true dilemma. On how to defeat terrorists in Idlib and at the same time avoid affecting a huge number of civilians.


VANIER: It could start any minute. Right now, we are hurtling towards the final showdown of Syria's blood war, after a seven long years of tragedy.

Now this may put an end to the war in Syria, but the offensive is likely to be very violent. Here's where the rebels will be making the last stand, in

a northern area of Idlib -- marked here in yellow. Most of the rebels, some 10,000 of them according to the U.N., are part of extremist jihadi


They're hidden in a city -- that you can see for yourself -- already has been smashed to pieces. Things will get worse here though. Much worse in

fact. The regime's usual playbook is surround, besiege, starve. And the rebels themselves burrowing in right in the middle of millions of ordinary

people. Russia has been helping turn the tide of the war for the Syrians for the last couple of years, is front and center of this as well. This

hour they are handing out political and military support. Connecting it all this hour, CNN's Fred Pleitgen in Moscow and Elise Labott in D.C.,

where there are fears that that regime launched chemical attack could happen soon.

Fred, the Syrian and Russian foreign ministers just met in Moscow, so let's start with that. What was the news from the media?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, both of them, Cyril, where very, very confident -- especially the

Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid Muallem, who has been in that office for the very long time. He came out in the press conference after that meeting and

he said that Syria was -- as he put it, the wording of the Syrian government -- was in the final stages of combating what they call terrorism

in Syria. Of course, one of the main things that he was talking about would be an impending offensive that could happen in Idlib. Which is of

course, as you stated, the last major place where the rebels still hold territory.

The situation there seems to be gearing towards some sort of offensive they could happen soon. We know that the Syrian government has been moving a

lot of military hardware towards that area for the past weeks really. But apparently has been escalating again over the past couple of days.

And then there are the Russians. Who have essentially moved a giant flotilla into that area, and they say that they're going to start the

military wargames, drills in the Mediterranean in the next couple of days, involving some 25 warships. And also involving long-range strategic

bombers. So, there's certainly going to be a major force there if indeed things do kickoff.

Now one of the things that has been left, right and center in this -- and I'm very keen to hear what Elise is going to have to say from the American

side about this. The Russians are essentially accusing the rebels of plotting a false flag chemical attack to try and get America to react and

to launch some sort of strikes against the Assad government. There was a staunch warning from Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, about

this. Here's what he had to say.


SERGEI LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Another such provocation is being prepared in order to hinder the anti-terroristic

operation in Idlib. And we having our facts on the table, through our defense ministry and foreign ministry, clearly and firmly warned our

Western partners, don't play with --


PLEITGEN: So, that's been the Russian side. The Russians are saying that they are the only ones who are essentially fighting against what they call

terrorism in large parts of Syria, and then again, warning the West. And there's been some interesting statements over the past couple of days from

various Russian politicians, accusing essentially the United States of not wanting groups, like Al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra, to be combated in

that area, in Idlib and to finally be essentially eradicated from that area -- Cyril.

VANIER: Elise, we are going to delve a little further into that topic of red flag chemical weapons attacks. Just before I get to that though,

there's something I want to ask you. The Russians say that they are building up their military in the Mediterranean because the Americans are

in their words -- according to what they say -- preparing an attack on the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad. Is there any reason to

believe that's the case?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: No. I mean, the Pentagon came out and said that's not true. And that there's a lot of he said she

said here. And the U.S. is accusing Russia of trying to also plan a false flag that the U.S. is going to attack them. I mean, the U.S. has warned

the Russians, warned the Syrians very clearly about what the redline was.

[11:05:00] I don't think that there would be any kind of preemptive attack. But certainly the U.S. is warning about an escalation. And this kind of

rhetoric is certainly ramped up in terms of the word escalation here. If the Russians, if the Syrians were to take any specific action, and we could

talk about the chemical weapons scares and concerns, then I think you would see the U.S. possibly taking some action.

VANIER: All right, let's address that directly. We often see in Syria that the facts are as disputed at the ground itself. Just a few hours ago,

Moscow coming out to warned that rebel forces are preparing to simulate a chemical attack to make it look like it came from the Syrian regime. Why?

Well, to try and get American firepower to turn directly on the Syrians. Fred, is this just the Russians trying to get out ahead of this so if and

went the Syrians carry out a chemical weapons attack, they could point to this statement that they've made before the fact?

PLEITGEN: It's a very good question. It's really unclear why exactly the Russians would be putting this out there. Whether or not this is something

that is there preemptively, in case there is some sort of chemical weapons use or alleged chemical weapons used there as well. We haven't foreseen in

past offensive on other rebel held areas that there has been the use of chemicals. Which was then disputed as well. Things that chlorine, of

course, we had the sarin in 2013 for instance.

That might be the Russians trying to get ahead of that preemptively in some way, shape or form. But it really has been interesting to see the

messaging that's been coming out of the Russian government, out of the Russian military as well. Because they've been accusing the U.S. of

essentially being part of this and the rebels have essentially starting to plot this for a very, very long time now. It has been a very, very

consistent message by the Russians that we have heard, I'd say, for almost one week now. And it just keeps getting repeated every day.

And it's not just that this was repeated today, for instance in that press coverage. The spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry saying the exact same

thing, other Russian politicians as well. Really is unclear what's behind that messaging. But it could be that in fact if there is something like

that that could take place, if there is for instance some sort of use of chemicals on the battlefield, the Russians might be able to say, look, we

told you so.

VANIER: Elise, if you look at the key players that are going to influence what happens next, you have to think of Syria obviously, Russian, they're

backers, Iran, to a large degree, the jihadi fighting groups on the ground, and also Turkey, which shares a border, especially with the region of

Idlib. One country we haven't named is the U.S. Does the U.S. have any leverage over what happens next?

LABOTT: Well, that's exactly right. And what's happened is the Russians have kind of iced the U.S. out of the political process in a way. But that

also kind of takes them out of the game entirely in terms of trying to find a solution.

I think with the U.S. has, a couple of things. I mean, their support clearly for the rebels has waned. And so, the trust and confidence in the

rebels in the U.S. has certainly dissipated. And I don't think the U.S. really has leverage on the Russians or the Syrians or the rebels now. I

mean, they used to be able to say that they could deliver the rebels. But now I don't think that's even impossible.

I think what the U.S. has is its warning of military action. And whether it was John Bolton, National Security Advisor, who met with the Russians a

week or so ago, the new U.S. envoy, Jim Jeffrey, recently met with his Russian counterparts and warned about an escalation. Warned about chemical

weapons. And they're all saying that if the Russians and the Syrians were to use chemical weapons, then the U.S. would respond. And there is a great

fear that the Syrians are moving around helicopters that they could be preparing for some kind of chemical weapons attack.

Let's just be clear. The Syrians and the Russians are the only ones with the airpower. Yes, the U.N. says that there are thousands of terrorists

around, but they do not have the airpower to launch chemical weapons on the ground. So, the U.S. is clearly saying it'll be clear if it's used who is


VANIER: All right, CNN's Fred Pleitgen in Moscow, who often travels to Syria. And Elise Labott in Washington, thank you both for joining us this


U.S. President Donald Trump declared to the world months ago that North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat. Well, it appears that is not quite

the case. Things haven't progressed the way Mr. Trump had hoped since his historic summit with Kim Jong-un. And now he is blaming China for that.

In a series of tweets, President Trump suggested China is responsible for stalled negotiations with Pyongyang. And said North Korea is under

tremendous pressure from China because of U.S./Chinese trade disputes. It did not take long for China to respond to that. Calling those tweets

beyond comprehension, their words. CNN's Will Ripley looks at how U.S./North Korean relations have soured after those historic talks in


[11:10:00] (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The June 12 Singapore summit was the political equivalent of a whirlwind summer romance. But now, with

autumn around the corner, reality is setting in. The first ever meeting of a sitting U.S. President and a North Korean leader resulted in a vaguely

worded agreement. Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un pledging to work together to build a lasting and stable peace regime. Work toward complete

denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. With the U.S. promising North Korea security guarantees.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're starting that process very quickly. Very, very quickly.

RIPLEY: President Trump quickly agreed to suspend large-scale joint military drills with South Korea. The President was taking a victory lap

before the ink was even dried. There is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea he tweeted the very next day. Within weeks, U.S. intelligence

claimed North Korea had no plans to denuclearize anytime soon.

Tensions were already building before U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, traveled to Pyongyang in early July. Things got even worse when the North

Koreans rejected U.S. demands for immediate denuclearization. Blasting them as gangster like. The return of 55 sets of possible Korean War

remains helped ease tensions temporarily.

The North Koreans felt after destroying a nuclear test site and freezing missile launches for months, it was time for the U.S. to build trust by

formally ending the Korean War. Something President Trump spoke about in Singapore.

TRUMP: Know we can all have hope that it will soon end. And it will. It will soon end.

RIPLEY: Apparently, not soon enough for Pyongyang. The North Koreans want a peace treaty at the beginning of the denuclearization process to

guarantee security of the leader Kim Jong-un. Some of Trumps advisors argue a peace treaty should only come at the end. After North Korea has

given up its nukes.

Sources tells CNN, a letter from North Korea's ex-spy chief last week warned that the denuclearization process is again at stake and may fall

apart. "The Washington Post" saying that letter prompted President Trump to abruptly cancel Pompeo's planned trip to Pyongyang this week.

President Trump tweeting, China is providing North Korea with considerable aid, including money, fuel, fertilizer and various other commodities.

Trump saying, he has no plans to restart large-scale U.S. South Korea wargames for now. Ominously adding, if he does, it will be far bigger than

ever before. Will Ripley, CNN.


VANIER: Despite this, North Korea is definitely not front and center for Mr. Trump today, if his Twitter feed is any indication. The President has

been tweeting up a storm -- another one -- about the departure of White House counsel, Don McGahn. Denying it has anything to do with the Russia

investigation. Just a week and a half ago We learned that McGahn had sat for 30 hours on interviews with special counsel Robert Mueller. That is

three separate and voluntary interviews with the man who leads the Russia investigation. That news was said to unnerve President Trump. Let's get

more from CNN's Athena Jones. She's live at the White House. Athena, the President officially is not worried. In fact, if you believe his Twitter

account, he is excited about what's to come.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Cyril, that is right. One of the President's many tweets this morning, he started tweeting before 7

am right here in Washington, and he has continued to tweet. One of them, he says I am very excited about the person who'll be taking the place of

Don McGahn as White House counsel. I liked Don, but he is not responsible for me not firing Bob Mueller or Jeff Sessions.

Now you'll note a couple of things there. Number one, the President does not mention who is going to be replacing Don McGahn. But our reporting

shows that Emmett Flood, who's a lawyer, who's already here at the White House working on Russia legal strategy, is high on the list. Nothing has

been announced officially.

We also saw the President take issue with reporting from CNN and other outlets about the sort of strained relationship he has had with Don McGahn.

He had high praise for his White House counsel -- his current White House counsel, yesterday. But others say that he has had a strained relationship

because McGahn is one of the few people at the White House willing to tell the President, no.

Last year, the President wanted McGahn to convince Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. That is, of

course, not what happened. Sessions did recuse himself leaving the President angry. We also know that last year -- last summer, the President

wanted to fire special counsel Robert Mueller. And that McGahn threatened to resign to prevent him from doing so. The President backed down. So,

these are examples of times when McGahn has sort of stood up to the President. So, while the President is saying that McGahn is a wonderful

man, this is what we are learning about the behind-the-scenes -- Cyril.

VANIER: This is all tying into some new reporting from "The Washington Post" today, which says that President Trump and his White House are not

prepared for what's to come. And by that, they mean the midterms and the possible conquest of Congress by the Democrats. They are saying the

President simply isn't ready.

[11:15:00] JONES: Exactly. And according to the Post, Trump's allies are very concerned that he does not grasp the magnitude of what would be at

stake if Democrats win control of the House. Democrats have already talked about a long list of issues they would like to investigate. And that could

mean a flood of subpoenas and requests for documents and testimony. So, it isn't just about the fact that the Democrats could try to impeach the

President. Which is of course, a high bar when it comes to getting to getting that impeachment vote in the Senate. But they still can hamper the

White House and really crippled the White House on the policy front by launching a slew of investigations.

Trump's allies say not only does he not have the legal staffing ready, he doesn't have enough lawyers on his team, they also say that the staff is

not able to deal with sort of basic war room issues. The communications staff are not equipped to handle crisis communications functions. Like

issuing robust talking points to the President's supporters. And you're going to need a war room like that should Democrats when control and launch

all these investigations. You had one ally telling the Post winter is coming, which is a reference to "Game of Thrones". He saying the White

House is going to be under siege if Democrats take control. And they're just not prepared. The only action plan so far, the President seems to be

to try to prevent Democrats from winning control in November by campaigning -- Cyril.

VANIER: Athena Jones, at the White House, thank you very much.

Still to come, the state that John McCain called home bids goodbye, to the longtime Senator. A live report from the memorial service in just a



VANIER: You are watching CNN, this is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Cyril Vanier. Welcome back.

The state that U.S. Senator John McCain served for more than 30 years bids farewell to him today, ahead of this weekend's memorial service in

Washington. McCain has been lying in state at the Arizona state capitol since Wednesday. A memorial service will take place at a Phoenix church in

the coming hours. Among the speakers, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, a longtime friend of Senator McCain's. You're watching Cindy McCain

there, his wife. Let's bring in CNN's Nick Watt. He joins us from Phoenix, Arizona -- Nick.

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Cyril, well in about an hour from now, the McCain family, led by John McCain's widow, Cindy McCain, will arrive here

at the state capital. And they will accompany his body in a motorcade to a church service.

[11:20:00] Whereas you mentioned, Joe Biden, the former Vice President, a Democrat will speak. You know, even in death, John McCain is one of the

few American politicians, especially in the current climate of red versus blue, left versus right. He's one of the only politicians who could really

unite this country. And he is uniting this country in grief.

Also speaking at that ceremony will be Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals, a gridiron star, and a mutual fan and a friend of John McCain.

He will also speak and the processional as they leave will be "My Way" by Frank Sinatra. Which really does some up this American hero. He was, of

course, shot down over Vietnam in the late 60s, spent 5 1/2 years as a prisoner in Hanoi. Then 35 years representing the state of Arizona, his

adopted home, as both a Congressman and then a Senator. He was also, one of the few in the Republican Party who really criticized President Donald

Trump. He did it his way in pretty much everything he ever did -- Cyril.

VANIER: The McCain's have provided ample opportunity at every stage of this, for the public to say goodbye to the Senator. But the various

memorials are also remarkable for who is not invited.

WATT: Well, that is true. You know, they've actually reserved a 1,000 seats for the public at that service this morning. Yesterday we saw

thousands of people standing in line for 3 hours in near 40-degree temperatures waiting to pass by the casket and say goodbye. We'll also

expect the streets to be lined today.

But pointedly not invited to the ceremonies in Washington, President Donald Trump. There was absolutely no love lost between the two men. In fact,

during the 2016 campaign, Trump even kind of made light and ridiculed McCain for being taken prisoner during Vietnam. Saying that he preferred

people who weren't captured. And then, of course, John McCain was the famous thumbs down that really scuppered President Trump's plan to overturn

and repeal Obama care. So yes, he will not be invited.

But one person we are told will be attending the ceremonies in Washington is John McCain's mother, 106-year-old Roberta who yesterday during the

ceremony here, she was credited as being the strong, feisty, fiery person who gave John McCain those qualities as well. Which she demonstrated those

both in war and on the Senate floor, playing it like he wanted, doing it his way -- Cyril.

VANIER: And we're just watching footage of the casket there. The casket will be flown to Maryland later today. So, Thursday, U.S. time, and on

Friday, the next leg of this farewell. It will be that his casket will be at the federal capital in Washington this time. Nick Watt, reporting from

Phoenix, Arizona. Thank you.

And John McCain is not just being mourned in the United States. There are tributes being paid to him in Vietnam. Where McCain was a prisoner of war

for more than 5 years -- as Nick just told us. Including from one his former jailers. CNN's Ivan Watson has the details.


IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On a rainy morning in the Vietnamese capital, it's hard to imagine anything disturbing the serenity

of Truc Bach Lake. But this is where Lieutenant Commander John McCain splashed down, terribly wounded. After a surface-to-air missile hit his

plane during a bombing run in 1967. The Vietnamese erected a monument to celebrate his capture.

(on camera): Look how people responded to Senator McCain's passing. They took this trophy, celebrating the day he was shot down and turned it into a

makeshift shrine with flowers, honoring a former enemy who became this country's friend.

(voice-over): The day Le Tran Lua first saw McCain, he says wanted to kill him.

LE TRAN LUA, ON SCENE AFTER MCCAIN SHOT DOWN IN VIETNAM (through translator): I wanted to stab him with a knife but people nearby shouted

stop. I thought this was an invader who was trying to destroy our city.

WATSON: 51 years after he helped capture McCain, Lua lament the death of the former U.S. pilot.

LUA: I am sad because I never got to meet him again, Lua tells me. McCain came back to Vietnam and did good things here.

WATSON: After his capture, McCain was brought here to Hoa Lo Prison. Better known by the nickname, Hanoi Hilton. It's a museum now but during

the war McCain spent much of his harrowing 5 1/2-year experience as a prisoner within this building's walls. And during torture, which he

describes in his memoirs.

VOICE OF JOHN MCCAIN "FAITH OF MY FATHERS" AUDIOBOOK: One guard would hold me while the others pounded away. Most blows were directed at my

shoulders, chest and stomach. Occasionally, when I had fallen to the floor, they kicked me in the head. They cracked several of my ribs and

broke a couple of teeth.

WATSON: Tran Trong Duyet, the former warden of the prison first met McCain in 1957.

TRAN TRONG DUYET, FORMER HOA LO PRISON WARDEN (through translator): He was a tough and strong man. He was loyal to his is ideology.

WATSON: He denies that U.S. prisoners were tortured here.

[11:25:00] DUYET: McCain told a lie in his book.

DANIEL KRITENBRINK, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO VIETNAM: I think it's absolutely clear and indisputable the torture that many of our veterans suffered.

WATSON: The U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam opened the embassy to the public, allowing well-wishers to sign a book of condolences.

KRITENBRINK: A great patriot. A great war hero who fought and suffered here for years. He then becomes a Senator. A statesman and I would argue

a peacemaker. He was one of the leaders in the United States, again, who brought our countries back together.

WATSON: In the decades after his release, McCain visited Vietnam more than 20 times.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Oh, I put the Vietnam war behind me a long time ago. I harbor no anger nor rancor. I am a better man for my

experience and I'm grateful for having the opportunity of serving.

WATSON: In another Hanoi lake lies the wreckage of a downed U.S. B-52 bomber. It's a testament to the extraordinary legacy of John McCain, that

the Vietnamese now admire and mourn a man who was once sent to bomb their cities. Ivan Watson, CNN, Hanoi.


VANIER: When we come back, a city in eastern Germany braces for more anti- migrant protests. And a local official is being investigated for supporting far-right groups in the city. We'll be live in Chemnitz, next.


[11:30:00] VANIER: Germany is bracing for another round of anti-migrant protests as police say a Syrian man was badly beaten in the northern city

of Wismar. The incident is being investigated as a hate crime. In the eastern city in Chemnitz, where this all began now, a local right-wing

extremist group has called for another mass rally. The city has seen violence between demonstrators and counter protesters since Sunday.

Meanwhile, as many as 15,000 people are expected to attend an event taking place simultaneously at the Chemnitz stadium, where Saxony state premier

and the city's Mayor will be speaking with community groups. CNN's Atika Shubert is live in Chemnitz. Atika, first of all, I know there are

protesters and counter protesters. But are you managing to get a sense of how this entire issue is playing out among residents and among the general


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There is a tremendous amount of local anger here. I can tell you this, and you

mentioned that event in which the state Saxony premier and the Mayor will be speaking. That will be happening here at this football stadium. And

it's open to the public. And I think we're going to hear a lot of angry residents talking directly to them so it will be really interesting to see

what they have to say.

At the same time, across the street from here, that's where protests are also being called by that group called Pro-Chemnitz. That's the right-wing

group that's been calling for these protest's. I think it is without question, local residents feel ignored. They feel like they are not being

within to here. And they also feel like they're being unfairly portrayed in the media. Especially when we saw, you know, a lot of these protesters

coming out en masse and then a number of people giving things like the Nazi salute. Now they feel like the entire town has been labeled as right-wing

extremist. And that's made them very angry. I'm sure they'll be expressing a lot of that anger in the stadium during that town hall meeting

later today.

VANIER: Remind us how this all started.

SHUBERT: This started on Sunday morning at around 3 a.m. with the stabbing of a 35-year-old German man. Now he was stabbed to death and the

suspects later arrested, were a Syrian and an Iraqi. But between the time that the arrests were made and his stabbing was reported, rumors circulated

online. And it literally went viral on Facebook, on Twitter. And immediately what we started to see is a certain right-wing groups beginning

to call people out onto the streets.

Two things happened. You saw the surge of local anger from local residents, at the same time you thought right-wing extremists coming in and

channeling that anger to the anti-immigration cause. And now, politicians here in Germany are trying to figure out a way to get through this. But

frankly, local residents here feel like they are not being listened to. And until they feel that way, the right-wing extremist have an opening for


VANIER: Atika Shubert reporting live from Chemnitz in Germany. Thank you very much. I want to keep covering this story and for more I am joined by

Hans Pfeifer. He is a political correspondent at Deutsche Welle, covering politics and society. Now you have written about this. And you argue that

what's happening in Chemnitz was predictable. So, I want to read a portion of your latest opinion column.

You write, quote, there's an astonishing and depressing explanation for why it could come to this. To this day in Germany, home of Adolf Hitler's

atrocities, right-wing violence by far-right groups are underestimated, underplayed and even accepted. The escalation in Chemnitz is further proof

of this, as it was anything but spontaneous.

Tell me more.

HANS PFEIFER, POLITICAL CORRESPINDENT, DW: Well the interesting fact is that right before these protests this week, started on Monday, that they

circulated in social media. The post by the far-right groups, by the neo- Nazi groups, mobilizing all over Germany in their related groups to take part at the protest. They mobilized their supporters, neo-Nazis from the

far-right, here to take part at the protest to kind of take over the city. And of course, all of this social media posts have been read by the police

officials. So, they knew quite well -- as we reporters did know -- that something violent will take place and that there will be hundreds or even

thousands of neo-Nazis in Chemnitz.

But instead of sending more police to the city to take control of the situation, they underestimated the situation. What I think is this is not

by random. This is because it has since decayed. Police in Germany and especially in Saxony, and the east of Germany, police have underestimating

willingly or unwillingly the danger of right- wing protests.

[11:35:00] VANIER: OK, well that's what I was going to ask you. If they keep underestimating it, yet they have prior information that is clear and

that is undeniable, then are we supposed to infer from what you're saying that police have somehow wanted to give a bit of a free rein to the far-

right protesters? Is that what I'm supposed to read into what you're saying?

PFEIFER: Well I would say that politics in many parts in Germany, and especially in this region in Saxony, that they do not actively interfere

when there are policemen or when there are local or regional level structures in in the police that are in favor of the far-right protests.

They are in favor of anti-migration, of racist protests we see in the streets. And so, that could have established during the last months,

during the last years kind of structures of networks even, in the police that are not controlled by those in charge in politics. And so, yes, I

would say that this is a big problem for politics in Germany.

VANIER: So, this entire issue, the protest and counter protest, and the way this whole thing arose, feeds into the general perception of migration

in Germany. And we know that ever since the flood of migrants a couple of years ago, almost a million migrants in Germany, that there's been a level

of public anger. And that has been quite palpable at various times and various places. How are local politicians handling this? And would you

say that they are helping to calm things down? Or would you say that they are actually maybe giving some fuel to the anti-migrant views?

PFEIFER: Well the problem is since years now, local politicians denied that there is a problem. If we as journalist make interviews in cities

like Chemnitz and many other cities in Germany, where there are kind of programs where there are these far-right protests, if you talk with

politicians and with the mayors of the cities, they would deny that there is any kind of problem. They blame the media for stigmatizing the regions

as far-right. And this is in fact a problem. Because there are many local structures in these regions opposing the far-right. Opposing racist

politics, opposing racist programs. But they don't get the support they need by politics. And I think this is why there had been no solution for

quite a long time. Because politic was not actively enough supporting to help the democratic structure in these regions to build up a strong civil

movement against these programs, against these far-right protest.

VANIER: All right, Hans Pfeifer, thank you very much for your insight. Hans Pfeiffer from Chemnitz, thank you.

All right, let's get you up to speed on some other stories that on our radar right now. Tens of thousands of people had to flee their homes

Wednesday when a damn burst in central Myanmar. Villages were flooded and roads and bridges were damaged by the rushing waters. At least one person

is known to be dead and six others are missing.

Canadian officials say they could be getting close to a new trade deal with the U.S. Canada's tariffs on dairy products appear to be one of the major

holdups right now. The U.S. and Mexico reached a preliminary trade agreement earlier this week. stock has hit a new milestone. The internet giant saw its stock price top $2,000 per share earlier this morning. Amazon is inching closer

and closer to joining Apple is the only companies worth more than $1 trillion.

The Democrats in the race to New York governor has squared off in their first televised debate. Cynthia Nixon came out swinging against incumbent

Andrew Cuomo. Suggesting he's not fighting hard enough against Donald Trump's agenda. They also sparred for their visions for New York.


ANDREW CUOMO, NEW YORK GOVERNOR: My opponent lives in a world of fiction. I live in a world of fact. Let's just do a few facts. OK. The subway

system is owned by New York City.

CYNTHIA NIXON, NEW YORK GOVERNOR DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: The subway has been controlled by the same since 1965.

CUOMO: Can you stop interrupting.

NIXON: Can you stop lying?

CUOMO: Yes, as soon as you do.


VANIER: Live from Atlanta, this is CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, imagine your loved ones missing for decades and you have no idea what happened to

them. That is the reality for thousands of families in Lebanon. Stay with us.


VANIER: You're still with us here on CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Cyril Vanier, welcome back.

17,000. 17,000. That's the number of people still believed to be missing from Lebanon's 15 years of civil war. A war which ended almost three

decades ago. For their loved ones, the past 28 years have been filled with questions about the fate of family members. However, the country's

leadership has been slow to address this in any meaningful way. Ben Wedeman has more.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lebanon's civil war ended in 1990. It wasn't the end, however, for

thousands of families whose loved ones disappeared without a trace. Wadad Halawani's husband, Agann, went missing on 24 September 1982. Today she

heads the committee of the families of kidnapped and the disappeared in Lebanon. On a busy Beirut street, she hands out leaflets to remind people

that as many as 17,000 Lebanese and Palestinians are still unaccounted.

WADAD HALAWANI, COMMITTEE OF THE FAMILIES OF THE KIDNAPPED AND DISAPPEARED (through translator): The country's leaders, she says, want everyone to

forget the past. They told us forget everything and put it all behind you, she says.

WEDEMAN: Ibrahim Al-Bustani's brother, Ali, then 14, was last seen on May 5, 1975.

IBRAHIM AL-BUSTANI, BROTHER OF MISSING PERSON (through translator): Since then, he says, we've been asking and searching and searching and searching

for him. But those searching are getting old. Others have passed away.

WEDEMAN: Photographer, Dahlia Khamissy, is documenting the families of the missing.

DAHLIA KHAMISSY, PHOTOGRAPHER: As if time stopped for them. Because, obviously, they cannot move forward. Women cannot get married again. They

cannot inherit. Kids grow up listening or watching their mothers' suffering. You know, as if life stopped for them.

WEDEMAN: The draft law on the missing is headed to parliament while the International Committee of the Red Cross is collecting medical records,

accounts and photographs of thousands of the lost.

YARA KHAWAJA, INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS: But we also have, what scientifically it is called, the biological reference samples. But in

simple words it's a swap of saliva from the family of the --

WEDEMAN: It's the DNA.

KHAWAJA: You extract the DNA out of them.

WEDEMAN: Researchers believe there might be more than 100 mass graves in Lebanon. None have been exhumed.

Mariam Saidi lost her son, Mahar then 15 years old in June 1982. She keeps him alive through her art.

It pains her that those behind the civil war today carry on as if nothing ever happened.

MARIAM SAIDI, MOTHER OF MISSING PERSON (through translator): We see the warlords at rallies, she says.

[11:45:00] And people dancing around and applauding and thanking them. They lead groups and parties and so on and so on. But they're not fooling


WEDEMAN: The pictures of the missing are fading. But not their memory.


VANIER: CNN's Ben Wedeman, who reported on the story on this international day of the disappeared. He joins us live from Beirut. Ben, I've reported

from other parts of the world, where there have been civil wars. I'm thinking of the Balkans. Where there has been immense effort done to

locate the victims, identify them, inform the families. Why isn't that going on in Lebanon?

WEDEMAN: It is important to keep in mind, Cyril, that the war was so painful for so many people in a sense. There is on the one hand the desire

to find out what happened to the people who disappeared. On the other, there is a desire to put it in the past is one of those women I spoke with

said. For instance, in the Lebanese school system, they do not teach about the civil war. And ironically, some of the war lords whose blood still --

hands still drips with the blood of the dead are now leaders of the country. Politicians here.

So, you have this dichotomy between a desire to find out what happened and at the same time a desire really just to put it all behind you. You walk

around the streets of Beirut, you see the signs of the war everywhere. You speak to people who've survived the war. And they have very painful, vivid

memories. But at the same time, there's a desire simply to forget about it -- Cyril.

VANIER: Just across the border from where you are in Syria, there's obviously another war going on. Do you think that years from now, you will

be doing the same report on Syria?

WEDEMAN: Perhaps. The difference between Syria and Lebanon is at the Lebanese civil war ended in a stalemate. Nobody in a sense won. So, there

is a lot of public talk, despite this desire to flush it all down the memory hole about the missing.

In Syria, what we are seeing is that the Syrian government has essentially or is in the process of winning the war and therefore, when all is said and

done and it is over, there might not be the mechanisms in terms of the freedom of expression that you have here in Lebanon. In Syria to have at

least a public discussion about what happened there over the last seven years -- Cyril.

VANIER: Ben, just before that you go, I really enjoyed watching your reporting on this in your story. I wonder, is there one specific example

that you're going to carry with you, that stayed with you?

WEDEMAN: Certainly, it was difficult speaking to these people because they have been living with this pain, for some of them, for instance the man,

Ibrahim Al-Bustani, his 14-year-old brother, Ali, was kidnapped or disappeared really just less than one month after the war began. And he,

of course, was just a young man when that happened as well. So, he has been living with that pain, that anxiety for decades.

And the woman we spoke to at the end of that report, Mariam Saidi, when we went to her apartment, this sign on her door, the bell, the doorbell, was

Mariam and Mahar. So, these people are really -- this has stayed with them and it stays with them. The question of what happened to their loved ones

24 hours a day, seven days a week, 355 days a year-after-year-after-year. And it really is painful to see how -- and at the same time you really

admire them. That they've somehow managed to function after all of these years with all of these painful memories and the anxiety hanging over them

like a dark cloud -- Cyril.

VANIER: And a least 28 years after the end of the Lebanese civil war. CNN's senior international correspondent, Ben Wedeman, thank you for your


And you can read the detailed accounts on what happens inside Syria's so- called slaughterhouse jails. Just head over to to learn about the final movements of thousands of Syrians. Again, that is at

Coming up, more emotional farewells to a longtime Senator, John McCain. We will go to Phoenix, Arizona where thousands are paying their final respects

to the American war hero. That's next.


VANIER: Well, that doesn't happen every day. Britain's Prince Harry, belting out a tune on stage for audiences in London's West End. The Duke

and Duchess of Sussex were hosting a gala performance at the hugely successful musical, Hamilton. That was on Wednesday. Proceeds went to one

of the prince's charities. And after the show -- that's what you saw -- Harry burst into a song, formed by the King George the third character, who

by the way just happens to be his sixth great- grandfather.

You're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Cyril Vanier. Welcome back.

Now I want to take you to Phoenix, Arizona again. Where a second day of memorial services will be held for political giant and American war hero,

John McCain. In just over an hour's time, former Vice President Joe Biden will deliver the eulogy at today's service honoring his colleague and

longtime friend. On Wednesday, thousands of people braved the searing heat to pay their respects to the man who many say put country above party.

CNN's Nick Watt has more.


WATT (voice-over): As the political world struggles to find words fit to honor him, the family of John McCain struggling with the loss of above all

else, a husband and father as memorials for the late Senator begin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See our tears for our brother. Our father, our husband, our fellow citizen, our Senator.

WATT: The tireless Senator from Arizona, lying in state at Arizona's state capitol on what would have been his 82nd birthday. McCain meticulously

planned his own funeral services, designed to send a message of bipartisanship even after his death. In an attempt to put petty

partisanship aside, McCain asked his two former Presidential rivals to eulogize him at his funeral.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: John said that night, President Obama is now my present. So, he healed the nation during a time he was


WATT: Barack Obama and George W. Bush will speak at McCain's memorial service at Washington National Cathedral Saturday. Glaringly absent is

President Trump. McCain did not want the President at his funeral. Trump criticized his service and his capture in Vietnam during the election. And

McCain famously voted down's attempt to repeal the Obama care.

[11:55:00] It took the President more than a day to respond to repeated calls to appropriately pay tribute to McCain.

REPORTER: Why won't you call John McCain a hero, sir?

WATT: And perhaps, a final jab at the President, McCain asked a Russian dissident and Putin critique to be one of his pallbearers. Even in death,

the Senator from Arizona appealing to the better angels of our nature.

DOUG DUCEY, ARIZONA GOVERNOR: John is probably the only politician who could get us to set aside politics and come together as a state and a

nation. As we have.

WATT (on camera): After another funeral service here in Phoenix Thursday morning, the late Senator's body will be flown to Washington where it will

lie in state at the capital. Then there will be a memorial service at the national cathedral and on Sunday, Senator John McCain will be buried at the

cemetery at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Nick Watt, CNN, Phoenix, Arizona.


VANIER: And that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you for watching. I'm Cyril Vanier. We will bring you more of John McCain's memorial service a

little later on in the day when it happens. Stay with us.