Return to Transcripts main page


Yemen's Warring Parties Agree to Ceasefire in Hodeidah; A Rare Look at the Extreme Suffering Inside Yemen; Growing Police Operation in Strasbourg, France Neighborhood; Cohen Says Trump New About Illegal Payments; Theresa May in Brussels After Surviving Confidence Vote; Senate Bill on Yemen Considered a Rebuke of Saudi Arabia; Freedom of the Press Threatened in Turkey. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired December 13, 2018 - 10:00   ET


[10:00:00] BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: A rare look inside the key battleground city of Hodeidah, one of the bloodiest fronts in Yemen's

horrific war. A story that we have covered extensively here on CONNECT THE WORLD. But for the first time in years, some progress. All the details on

the peace talks and an interview with Yemen's foreign minister is coming up.

Plus --


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I'm pleased to have received the backing of my colleagues in tonight's ballot.


ANDERSON: Theresa May's leadership lives to see another day. She is in Brussels this hour, but where does Britain go from here?

And a horrific high-speed disaster in Turkey. We are live in Istanbul for an update on that. Hello and welcome. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD,

with me, Becky Anderson live from Abu Dhabi where it is 7:00 in the evening.

A simple handshake giving real hope today that we could be witnessing the beginning of the end of the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. But

there is still a long, long way to go before the guns fall silent across Yemen.

The Saudi backed government and Iranian supported Houthi rebels agreed to a cease fire today for the port city of Hodeidah, which is a made flash point

in Yemen. But make no mistake, the peace talks in Sweden are just baby steps towards a broader truce and every day that goes by without one

countless civilians remain at risk as the devastating war grinds on. I'm joined by our senior international correspondent Sam Kiley. What do you

make of today's developments in Sweden?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Martin Griffiths began -- he's the U.N. chief negotiator -- he began the whole process by

saying they have ambition but not optimism. I don't think he could have hoped really for a result as good as this, as it goes a little way to

solving a lot of problems. So, in the first Instance, what the United Nations has negotiated between the Houthis -- who control Hodeidah port --

and the government, is an agreement that they will demilitarize the area around the port. That is absolutely critical.

Not least, because for example, the United Arab Emirates led coalition forces, are poised to cut off the northern access to the port. Which would

mean it would be surrounded, and the U.N. would then be forced to withdraw. That could have precipitated a cholera epidemic, for example. So, it was

very touch and go, that matter and yet they've managed to negotiate it.

They are also talking about opening the road from Hodeidah port all the way through to Sanaa. Also, in Houthi controlled areas. This is taking quite

a lot of pressure off the Houthis who are under military pressure at the moment. And incumbent upon them -- and I have spoken to some U.N.

officials involved in this. They are putting a lot of pressure on the Houthis to allow full humanitarian access, to stop manipulating the food

deliveries to allow the humanitarians to go about their business. And if this works, they've also agreed to a prisoner swap. About 8,000 on each


So, these are significant step, as the U.N. always says, confidence building processes. But it really does represent, for example, for the

Houthis, a lack of control over the Hodeidah port means an immediate loss of revenue, so it is a significant concession they have been asked to take.

ANDERSON: And these are talks to be closed out at this point, to be reconvened we are told at a date in January, as yet undisclosed that date.

Let's be quite clear. This spirit that was commended as positive by Martin Griffiths, as you rightly pointed out, I think, you will agree, I think he

will be pleasantly surprised by what is achieved today. I saw him a couple of weeks ago and he said, that he was minimizing the expectations at that

point. But let's be absolutely clear, this is by no means the end of what is a bloody conflict, is it?

KILEY: Yes, and it's an extremely complex battle space. We simplify by saying the Iranian backed Houthi, the Saudi-led coalition. On both sides

there are conflicting, they're very fractious with one another. You will still have a northern separatist movement in the form of the Houthis. You

still got a southern separatist movement inside the coalition. You've got members of the Muslim Brotherhood on the Saudi, who have sort of an

anathema to the UAE also inside the coalition. So, you've got these centrifugal forces that will -- preexisted the civil war, will continue to

exist. And as the peace talks advance, they're going to get into the nitty gritty, the constitutional future.

[10:05:01] What will Yemen look like in two years' time? Will it be a federalized form of a state? Will it be a unified state in any way that

people would recognize? And then of course, over in the east, you've still got an ongoing campaign against Al Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State.

So, it's very, very fraught. But this is a significant move forward, in terms of that battle space around Hodeidah. And if the two sides broadly

speaking can agree not to fight, then at least they can soak up their energies in perhaps almost perpetual talks.

ANDERSON: Sam Kiley in the house for you on this story. We do have -- thank you, Sam -- some rare and extremely disturbing footage of the

consequences of the fight for Hodeidah, the very place that much of these talks have been focused on. Nima Elbagir takes us inside the city, after

what was a recent major attack. Have a look at this.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An ambulance screeches up to one of the few remaining hospitals in Hodeidah.

What we're about to show you is incredibly difficult to watch.

In the jumble of bodies, a boy in yellow, searching for his mother. She's dead. Little bodies are carried in, draped in blood-soaked cloths.

Everywhere, shock and blood and death. This man searching for his wife. He finds instead the body of his 3-year-old sister. That is too much to

take in. My wife, he asks? In surgery. The baby is fine. A glimmer of hope but all too quickly is lost. My mother? She's dead.

Even as the peace talks continued in Sweden between Yemen's warring parties the U.S. backed Saudi-led coalition and Iran-backed Houthi rebels, so too

did the violence on the ground. This footage was sent to CNN by the Houthi rebel backed Ansurallah Media.

Eyewitnesses tell CNN the members of this family were killed during an artillery strike under coalition air cover, a charge the coalition denies.

Saying the Houthis continue to target civilians in Hodeidah. This is just a glimpse into what it is like almost every night in this besieged city.

In spite of U.S. government promises in October, to deliver cease fire within 30 days, that month has long since passed. Much of what was filmed

here, so graphic, we're not going to show it in full.

Outside, two little lifeless bodies, side by side, waiting for loved ones to claim them. This man lists a litany of loss, his daughter and her son,

his other daughter and her husband. It's too much. Inside, the boy in yellow finally finds his sister, as he comforts her. Other children are

carried out, there's just no more room at this hospital. Outside, his grandmother begins to wail and he attempts to comfort her. It's all too

much. Nima Elbagir, CNN, London.


ANDERSON: Well, the coalition spokesperson denies responsibility for the attack, telling CNN, and I quote. We have no knowledge of this, and it is

widely recognized that the Houthi militia is continuing to target civilians with all types of weapons, in Hodeidah province, and its cities.

We are going to have a lot more on this story coming up. I'll speak with Yemen's foreign minister, and a former top U.S. diplomat in the Middle

East. Stay with us for that. This is important stuff.

Breaking news from France. As we speak. We are hearing about developments in the manhunt for a character who attacked a Christmas market in

Strasbourg this week. Melissa bell is in Strasbourg. She is live for you. What do we have -- Melissa?

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Becky, I'm speaking to you from Neudorf, that is both the neighborhood in which Cherif Chekkat, the man who

is being searched for, the subject of this manhunt that's been going on, Becky, since Tuesday night. Both the area that he grew up in and the area

that he fled the attack, after fleeing the scene.

The Christmas market, not very far from here, in the center of Strasbourg, just after the attack. As you can see, there is considerable police

operation under way. There was one as well here on night of the attack, on Tuesday night.

[10:10:00] Locals say that they heard gunfire, that they saw the police here, in large numbers. Once again, they are out and about, for the time

being, not commenting on what is going on. But we have over the course of the last hour and a half or so, Becky, witnessed a growing police presence

here. The cordon has pushed us further back and clearly there is something going on.

As you know 720 police men and women are involved in that manhunt here in France. But it has become an international one. Because what is not clear

is whether or not Cherif Chekkat had time to slip over the border, into Germany, on the evening of the attack. So, he is being looked for here.

But that call for witnesses has been translated into Germany, and he is being looked for there as well.

This is a massive police operation. You can see by what is going on here, just how tense it is, for the people who live around here, and the police

men and women involved. (INAUDIBLE) tonight, 48 hours since the attack, there's three people dead and several people wounded, many of who remain in

critical condition. And still for the time being no sign of the suspect (INAUDIBLE).

ANDERSON: Melissa Bell there for you, on the scene, apologies for the quality of the sound there. An important story. We needed to do it. And

Melissa, thank you. We will get that sound sorted out for what will be a lengthy evening, I know, for Melissa.

Now to a tragedy in Turkey and these shocking images of a train collision just outside the country's capital, Ankara, to give you an idea how bad

this is. At least nine people have died, and dozens are injured. Turkish state media says -- and the pictures seem to show that the impact of the

crash caused parts of a pedestrian bridge to collapse on to the train. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is in Istanbul with the very latest -- Jomana.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, this happened about 6:30 in the morning. This is a scheduled service of that high-speed train from

the capital Ankara south to Konya. And according to a transport minister, six minutes after that train left the station in Ankara, it collided head

on with a smaller train, some sort of a maintenance train that was clearing the tracks, according to officials. And that caused the derailment of this

high-speed train that had 206 passengers on board. And it crashed into the base of that pedestrian overpass, leaving parts of that bridge to collapse

on to two of the carriages.

And you know, as you mentioned, we've seen these horrific images coming out, today, those two mangled carriages. Officials say at least nine

people are killed, those include three conductors and six passengers. More than 40 people were injured. They were taken to various hospitals, 30 or

so remain right now in hospitals. Some of them in critical condition.

And almost immediately, Becky, after this incident took place, the chief prosecutor for Ankara ordered an investigation. There were prosecutors on

this scene investigating this incident. In the last few hours, we heard that three employees, technical staff, from the state railway company, have

been detained as part of this investigation into what caused the collision of those two trains -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Jomana Karadsheh on the story for you, with the very latest.

Well, after a day of staying quiet, U.S. President Donald Trump is speaking out about the three-year prison sentence for his former lawyer, Michael

Cohen. Cohen implicated Mr. Trump in the violation of campaign finance laws. Now, the President says that is not true, tweeting.

I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law. Yet Cohen only pleaded guilty to get a reduced sentence.

Cohen just the latest called into account in Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. 36 people or entities have now been charged with crimes.

Seven have pleaded guilty. Cohen is the fourth person to be sentenced to prison. Let's get more now on Cohen's sentence playing out in the White

House from CNN's Abby Phillip. A day of reckoning then for Trump's former lawyer. Met today unsurprisingly by a series of denials from the U.S.

President. What does this sentencing though for dirty deeds as described by Cohen himself mean for Mr. Trump?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, there were two significant developments yesterday coming out of the courthouse, and one

was Michael Cohen's guilty plea and three-year prison sentence. But the other was also a non-prosecution agreement from AMI, the parent company of

the "National Enquirer", who was working with Michael Cohen, as part of a scheme, to arrange payments to two women who accused, or alleged that they

had affairs with President Trump.

[10:15:00] Now, all of this seems to suggest that President Trump is at the center of this legal problem for Michael Cohen and for AMI. Michael Cohen

said that he did these things because President Trump asked him to and worked with him in order to do them. And despite President Trump has been

tweeting all mornings -- and you just read part of it -- it's very clear from the agreement that Michael Cohen made, in order to plead guilty. And

from what prosecutors are saying, that President Trump is directly implicated in what they say are campaign finance crimes.

Now it's worth pointing out that President Trump in his tweet this morning says I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law. He's not here

denying that he asked Michael Cohen or directed him to make these illegal payments to these women. Whether or not he knew that the law was being

broken or directed him to do something that he knew to be illegal is another matter. And one that I think isn't completely settled yet.

The bottom line here for President Trump is despite all of these tweet, which seem to say a combination of things. One being that he didn't ask

Michael Cohen to break the law, or that even if Michael Cohen did what he did, at his direction, it wouldn't be against the law anyway. These tweets

do not square with what is happening and unfolding in the courtrooms here in the United States. And it's clear that President Trump's legal jeopardy

is not completely finished with. There is still the prospect here that prosecutors could have more information, corroboration, of what Michael

Cohen has been saying all along which is that President Trump, individual one, is the person at the center of all of this illegal activity during the

2016 campaign.

ANDERSON: Thank you, Abby.

Still to come, Brussels, after a bruising night, Theresa May meeting with EU leaders, after surviving a confidence vote by her own party. But will

Europe now throw her a lifeline? That's next.



GRAHAM BRADY, CHAIRMAN, CONSERVATIVE PARTY 1922 COMMITTEE: The result of the ballot held this evening is that the Parliamentary party does have



[10:20:00] ANDERSON: Well, that was the moment British Prime Minister Theresa May survived a no confidence vote against her. But while she

remains the leader of the Conservative Party in the U.K., the reasons that brought on that vote have not gone away. Mrs. May is in Brussels today.

She's there effectively pleading with EU leaders. The Prime Minister needs her European counterparts to make this Brexit deal she struck with them

more palatable to skeptical lawmakers back home in London.

Let's bring in our international diplomatic editor to discuss that. Nic Robertson is down at the Houses of Parliament in London. Before going into

this summit today in Brussels, the Dutch Prime Minister again repeating the EU line. There is no possibility of reworking this Theresa May deal. Here

is what Mark Rutte had to say -- Nic.


MARK RUTTE, DUTCH PRIME MINISTER: I think first of all, it will be impossible to break open the negotiated withdrawal agreement. I think that

is a given. So, what we need to do --


RUTTE: Because of the red lines she, and you guys in the U.K., yourself drew. Which is no Irish border. No border in the Irish Sea. No

membership of the customs union. No free movement of people. Given all of the red line, this is the only deal possible on the table.


ANDERSON: Right. Nic, what can the EU give Theresa May today? She's had an awfully long week. She will want to sort of wind it down with some

positive news. And let's not get stuck in the weeds here. But let's not forget these guys are also negotiating their side of this. And Europe of

course, wants to look like a very strong project, doesn't it, in the face of this exit by the U.K.? I mean some say they themselves face an

existential threat.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Sure, but frankly speaking, there is nothing that the EU can give Theresa May that is going

to be useful to her when she gets back here. So, you've got to wonder what all of that cheering was about when she survived that no confidence vote.

The reality was the voters made very clear, there are third of her MP's who don't support her position. The opposition in the Parliament behind me

here doesn't support her position.

So, when she takes the Brexit deal to Parliament to get it passed, it won't pass. Because the EU doesn't have the political movement, because, as they

say the red lines Theresa May put in place. That's the reality. So, let's fast forward to that vote. I think is a view of a lot of people here.

Let's get to the next reality. A lot of people are saying we don't want the next reality after that to be leaving the European Union without a

deal, a hard Brexit. So, let's get so some of the alternatives that might be there and the road to find those is being narrowed down. So, that's the

reality of where we seem to be at right now.

ANDERSON: Is what the Prime Minister said then directly, after she survived that confidence vote last night, let's have a listen to Theresa



MAY: I'm pleased to have received the backing of my colleagues in tonight's ballot. Whilst I'm grateful for that support, a significant

number of colleagues did cast a vote against me and I have listened to what he they said. Following this ballot, we now need to get on with the job of

delivering Brexit for the British people and building a better future for this country.


ANDERSON: Well, she cuts a somewhat lonely figure -- doesn't she -- at present. She's listened, she says, to her colleagues from her own party,

but she says she is forging ahead with this deal. A deal that is so unpopular, as you pointed out. Which begs the question, Nic, how is she

going to get this through Parliament? It doesn't mean she won't get it through but what is the plan at this point?

ROBERTSON: The plan at the moment is to do what she's been doing all along. Look, she's put her heart and soul into this. She became Prime

Minister two and a half years ago and Brexit has been her job ever since. She believes that when she says she is delivering what the people asked

for, you know, a control on immigration, other controls, brought back to Britain. And it is the best deal that she can get, because the EU is

saying it is the best deal. She believes all that.

But the problem, she is stuck in that rut. And at the moment, that rut doesn't appear to lead anywhere. It certainly doesn't appear to lead to

passing the Brexit deal as it is. So new thinking will have to emerge. She has indicated, and today, and in the past couple of days, that if she

goes back to the EU to talk about these political and legal reassurances that she wants, that this may take a little time. Perhaps over the

Christmas and New Year recess of Parliament, the 20th of December to the 7th of January. Some other ideas will percolate up or other realities will

come forward.

[10:25:00] Because she doesn't want a hard Brexit. A lot of people don't want a hard Brexit. How are they going to avoid it? That means other

ideas have to come on to the table. The so-called Norway plus. A second referendum. She says she is not going to do that. Will she pause that

date, the 29th of March, when Britain comes out of the European Union? It is in her purview to do that. She can do that. She can hit the pause

button. But of course, when she does that, that takes away her negotiating pressure on the European Union. New thinking is unfortunately required.

The time for it is running out. but this is the political lift that she is now charged with. She is the leader of the Conservative Party. She cannot

be challenged in that for another year. This is her job.

ANDERSON: Nic Robertson is outside the palace of Westminster, thank you, Nic.

We are in Abu Dhabi. I'm Becky Anderson. It is CONNECT THE WORLD. It is 25 past 7 here in the UAE. Coming up for you after this short break,

Yemen's warring parties shake hands at U.N. brokered peace talks. This in itself is a big deal. But what will that really mean for the world's most

devastating humanitarian crisis?

And then a major vote on the Yemen war is expected soon in the U.S. Senate. We're back after a very short break with the details on that. And a




ELBAGIR (voice-over): Yemen. One of the poorest countries in the Arab world has been engulfed by a bloody civil war for years. Thousands have

been killed. And millions displaced in the worst humanitarian crisis on earth.

It all started when a political transition meant to bring stability to the country failed. Once presided over by an authoritarian president, Ali

Abdullah Saleh, corruption in the country was rife. Amongst widespread discontent and minority Shia group from the north came along, the Houthi


In 2011, masses took to the streets in protest of dictators throughout the Middle East. It was the Arab Spring. As a result, the dictator Saleh was

forced to hand over power to Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi in November 2011. But the shaky transition traded unemployment, food and security and suicide


The capital Sanaa was taken over by the rebels in 2014. Hadi was forced into exile. The turning point came in March 2015 when a Saudi-led

coalition began a military intervention in Yemen. Iran-backed Houthis on one side and U.S. backed Saudi-led pro Hadi coalition on the other. I

The crisis escalated into a multi-sided war which allowed Al Qaeda and ISIS to grow stronger amid the chaos. The conflict's impact on the population

has been devastating. Tens of thousands of people have died. Half of the hospitals are damaged or reduced to rubble. And more than half of the

population lacks access to clean water and basic hygiene. Cholera is endemic and out of control. Both sides of the conflict using food as a

weapon of war.

A brutal air, land, and sea blockade by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, makes food too expensive for most civilians. With 14 million people at

risk of starvation, Yemen is on the brink of the world's worst famine in 100 years. Save the Children estimates that some 85,000 people may have

already starved to death. Malnutrition and poor access to health care makes living conditions even worse. At least 3 million people have already

fled their homes. Western journalists are largely blocked from entering the country to bear witness to the horrors of the conflict. And Yemen's

war is often called a silent war. A forgotten war.


ANDERSON: Lest we forget what has been going on there for three years. This was not a country that was stable even before this war began. And in

the past couple of hours, a strand of progress towards peace in Yemen's war. Cheers and applause at U.N. brokered talks in Sweden. Yemen's

foreign minister and a top rebel leader shook hands. They have agreed to a ceasefire in the strategic port city of Hodeidah. And the U.N.'s special

envoy says an agreement could soon be reached to open the rebel-held Sanaa airport. That could pave the way for aid groups to get food, water and

medicine -- that as you just saw -- are so desperately needed.

There is food, water and medicine on the ground. The other problem is, of course, they are having problems distributing it. So, it's not just that

this port needs to be open but this is really important. And joining us is Khaled Alyemany, who is Yemen's minister of foreign affairs. And sir,

thank you for joining us. These are talks that Martin Griffith described as being held in a positive spirit. And for that, you should all be

congratulated. I want to drill down on some of the details, a cease fire, agreed in Hodeidah. When will that be implemented, sir?

KHALED ALYEMANY, YEMENI FOREIGN MINISTER: Thank you, Becky, for having me. And let me just start by saying that for the first time, during the last

three years of this conflict, caused by the Houthis, Pro-Iranian Houthis in Yemen, we now manage to get implemented those steps toward a doable peace

agreement. At least we secured the Hodeidah initiative, you know, that will require the Houthis militia to evaporate all of the three major sea

ports in Hodeidah, Hodeidah, Salid and Ras Isa and also to evacuate the city of Hodeidah. This is a very good leap forward in the progress.

[10:35:00] And our view of seeing 2216 implemented in Yemen.

ANDERSON: You have said in the past, sir, that a military option was the only way to win back control of that strategic city. So, what has changed?

What concessions did you get from the other side in order to agree to this?

ALYEMANY: We never considered that the military option is the only option. We think we have a new Security Council resolution, and we have the

international will that will support the peaceful transition in Yemen. We have tried to persuade the Houthis that the best way for them is to accept

international mediation and go for sort of a deal with the Yemeni government but they never accepted engaging seriously in the peace process.

Now, today, after all the military operations that are being prepared the foundation, for a serious peace talks. Now they are ready, and we look up

to the U.N. special envoy to have all of the guarantees to look over implementation of the evacuation process and leaving Hodeidah as a peaceful

place where we can still have the humanitarian relief operations going on.

ANDERSON: Let me just put this to you. With respect, sir, you have said in the past, that a military siege is the only way to regain control of

Hodeidah, and you are on record as saying that you wanted the government to take control of the city. But today, the U.N. announced all forces will be

pulled back. So, I put it to you again. What sort of concessions have the Houthis made to get your agreement on this?

ALYEMANY: If you see the concept of a Resolution 2216, it is based on withdrawal. For the first time in the history of this crisis, the Houthis

accepted to withdraw from some areas. They accepted to withdraw from the remaining part of Hodeidah. And we accepted that the army will reposition

its forces to outside of the city. So, this is a very good important step forward. Then we will make sure that the sea ports are working to receive

all the humanitarian relief operations. The U.N. envoy mechanism of inspection will expand its operation from Djibouti to Hodeidah, Salif and

Ras Isa, and the local governments will continue, and the leadership of the government of Yemen.

ANDERSON: Sir, lest we forget why this is all so important, the details that have been released today, I just want to pause this interview for a

moment, we ran a report earlier this hour, from inside Hodeidah, and a warning to our viewers, that some of this footage is disturbing. And as we

look at this footage, sir, foreign minister, images like these have shocked and appalled the world. This is the scene after a very recent attack,

provided to us by Houthi-linked media outlet. These are Yemenis, your citizens, who have been harmed here in an attack, which is just devastating

to watch. What do you say to the people of Hodeidah now? What's changed? What will change for them on the back of these talks?

ALYEMANY: Huge change. Let me just tell you that Hodeidah, during the past, during the past maybe several years, was suffering the impact of this

crisis. Hodeidah is one of the least favorite parts of Yemen because of the starvation, because of the malnutrition, because of the child soldier,

and all of these awful aspects of war. That Hodeidah, for the first time, will see peace, will see tranquility, will see a flourishing environment,

when the U.N. monitoring process will take place, and the government will reestablish its control over the cities, institutions and services.

ANDERSON: So, let's just ask the question again. Let's put it again. When will this ceasefire begin? And how, will any Yemeni feel confident

that this ceasefire will be held to by all sides?

[10:40:02] Why should they feel confident?

ALYEMANY: Yes, it depends on the monitored system that the U.N. will put in place. There will be security committee established by the government

and the rebels, with the presence of the U.N. team of military experts. They will overlook the process of withdrawals from the city. And we expect

that during the next four days, we will see the Houthis leaving the sea port of Hodeidah, Salif, Ras Isa and in the next 14 days, we will see them

withdrawing from the city. Our forces or so will relocate outside the outskirts of the city. And we will see much better conditions in the next

future, when humanitarian relief operations will have full access and free access and unhindered access to all parts of Yemen.

ANDERSON: So, we should expect to see this activity within the next 14 days, Mr. Foreign minister? Is that correct?

ALYEMANY: Yes. 14 to 20 days, we will see a much better Hodeidah, a much better Hodeidah, without the rebels, and I mean dictating the fate of the

people of Hodeidah.

ANDERSON: And coalition forces. All forces. All forces to be pulled back. Thank you. That is the Yemeni foreign minister, Khaled Alyemany .

And sir, congratulations, it has to be said, on at least the beginnings. We will minimize expectations here. But certainly, as the U.N. effort

announced today, it does seem that things have at least changed with these talks and there is some sort of progress. Thank you, sir.

Meanwhile the U.S. senate expected to vote soon on a bill that would end America's military involvement in Yemen. One of the bills co-sponsors,

Senator Bernie Sanders, stood next to a picture of an emaciated Yemeni girl, as he urged his colleagues to take action to help end Yemen's

humanitarian crisis. A vote is expected within hours and the bill is expected to pass. Although it will face significant road blocks in the

House of Representatives.

Let's get some perspective now, Martin Indyk, a distinguished fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who knows the Middle East extremely well,

ambassador to Israel, amongst other things and special envoy for Israeli/Palestinian negotiations. Sir, firstly, off the top and with

today's news, what do you make of the details out of these Sweden talks?

MARTIN INDYK, DISTINGUISHED FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, it certainly sounds like a break through. I think you're right, Becky, to

keep expectations low, given the history of this conflict in Yemen and the humanitarian disaster it has wrought. But for the first time if the

Houthis actually withdraw from the port, which bear in mind is the main port for the provision of humanitarian supplies to Yemen, and the other

forces pull back, and the U.N. takes over that will be a significantly positive development. Which could have the effect of heading off the

famine which is the greatest threat to the people of Yemen that's looming at the moment.

ANDERSON: So, you would be quietly optimistic at this point, would you? Would you? How would you describe your emotions towards what we are

hearing at present?

INDYK: When you hear the words withdrawal, and the U.N. supervision, and the opening of the ports, that's a dramatic positive development. If it

actually happens. The fact that the warring sides are sitting in Sweden, talking, and reaching agreement, the second agreement, the first agreement

was to exchange prisoners, indicates some positive momentum towards resolution of the conflict. Its first steps, but they are critically

important, especially because of the importance of Hodeidah, as the port that provides humanitarian relief for the citizens of Yemen.

ANDERSON: And not only are we looking at the Hodeidah details, and the prisoner swap, we are also looking at potential of opening Sanaa airport

within the next week or so. And as the foreign minister points out, to us here, he wasn't specific about ceasefire dates, but the idea being that

this Hodeidah pullback is within the next sort of 14 to 21 days. I think we could all agree, cautious optimism here. Why now? What's changed,


[10:45:00] INDYK: Well, I think the most important thing that has changed is that the United Arab Emirates which backs the main forces that are

pressing the Shia/Houthi forces in Hodeidah are now at the point where they want to get out of Yemen. The Emirates want to get out. The Saudis are

under heavy pressure. You referenced the vote that is coming today in the U.S. Senate, designed to cut off all American support for Saudi involvement

in Yemen. There is a lot of pressure there to try to find a way to resolve this that will enable the outside Emirati and Saudi forces to depart. But

that can only happen if Hodeidah is put in the hands of the United Nations. Beyond that, the prospect for a political settlement, I think, are pretty

dismal. But the dynamic that's generated by a desire to see some way out of this is I think critically important here.

ANDERSON: It is important to point out that there are many who say the U.N. simply doesn't have the capacity to effectively more than monitor what

would be going on, in a big city, with a strategically important port. Let's caveat what we are hearing here. Martin, just very, very briefly, it

has to be said, U.S. Congressmen, quite frankly and women, paying lip service to Yemen for so long. We see this legislation, these resolutions,

now, is this all as a result of the newly, sort of antagonistic attitude, or atmosphere towards the Saudi Arabians and specifically the Crown Prince

Mohammed bin Salman on the back of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Is this a real game changer here?

INDYK: Yes, I think you put your finger on it. That is critically important. In terms of the reaction in the Senate. There is more than

likely 60 votes in favor of this resolution to cut all American support for the war in Yemen. You're right, that it has to go through the House, and

that is not likely in the short term. But there's a strong anti-Saudi sentiment that frankly President Trump has worsened by his hand-fisted

defense of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

But the murder of Jamal Khashoggi has really precipitated I think a very strong move to focus the anger on trying to do something to end the war in

Yemen. And that coincides with these horrendous stories which you presented just earlier on, of the potential for 15 million to go starving

in Yemen in the near future. So, I think you've got a kind of a perfect storm of pressures that are finally producing some reason for, as you said,

cautious optimism.

ANDERSON: Martin, it is a pleasure having you on, sir. Your insight and analysis invaluable, as we continue to cover what is an incredibly

important story. Thank you.

This is CONNECT THE WORLD. A new report on a disturbing trend is ahead. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: The committee to protect journalists is revealing a disturbing trend. Its annual report says governments are imprisoning more and more

journalists and the committee says Turkey is the worst offender.


KARADSHEH (voice-over): For Turkey's leadership, the murder of "Washington Post" columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul was an

attack on the country's sovereignty. And as the government, President Erdogan, is leading the quest for justice in this case, some found the

irony in that striking.

EROL ONDEROGLU, REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS: It is quite ironic that a country, like Turkey, 157, out of 180, are reported without borders, and

finding itself as a defender of media freedom, or a defender of journalistic rights on a global scale.

KARADSHEH: Erol Onderoglu of Reporters Without Borders spends much of his time attending trials of Turkish reporter, all too frequent in a country

named the largest jailer of journalists in the world by the Committee to Protect Journalists. Almost every month, new charges are brought against

opposition reporters. Just this week, five journalists from the secular opposition newspaper, Cumhuriye, were charged, with aiding the outlawed

movement of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. Turkey says his group was behind the 2016 failed coup attempt.

Dozens more are behind bars. Accused of aiding or being part of this movement or the Kurdish militant group, the PKK. A designated terror group

Turkey has been battling since the 1980s.

(on camera): Critics say the government has used the failed coup attempt as a pretext to silence those opposed to it. But Turkish officials have

repeatedly denied this is clamp-down on press freedoms. They say they are fighting terrorism and that this is a matter of national security.

(voice-over): In June a young journalism student, worried about the future of the profession in Turkey, voiced her concerns to the President during a

gathering at the presidential palace. Erdogan responded, you are free, as you are asking this to a president, in your own place. The woman

responded, I want to be free when I do my job. Freedom of journalists ends when the freedom of others begins, the President answered. According to

CPJ, while there are currently more journalists in prisons in Turkey than anywhere else in the world, the number of jailed reporters has gone down.

The watchdog group, however, says the number of journalists detained in China, Egypt and Saudi Arabia has gone up this year.

For the third year in a row 251 or more journalists are jailed around the world, suggesting authoritarian approach to critical news coverage is more

than a temporary spike. CPJ warns hundreds of journalists jailed globally has become the new normal.

ONDEROGLU: International actors usually dealing with fundamental rights, are not, are not there to bring good examples, and I am afraid that the

impact of U.S. President Donald Trump in targeting the U.S. media, is not a good reference for Turkey, countries like Turkey.

KARADSHEH: With journalists under attack like never before, there is little hope 2019 will be any better for what some are now calling the war

on truth. Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Istanbul.



ANDERSON: Updating you on the breaking news we brought earlier, a large police operation underway as we speak in Strasbourg in France. Officials

aren't commenting on exactly what is going on but it is likely tied to hunt for the suspect in Tuesday's terror attack. We will continue to update you

on this story, of course, here on CNN.

I'm Becky Anderson. That was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you for watching. Stay with us, a short break, "INTERNATIONAL DESK" back after this.