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Deadly Attack in Syria Raises Questions About U.S. Withdrawal; ISIS Claims Responsibility for Attack on U.S. Led Forces in Syria; Giuliani Says Campaign May Have Colluded but Trump Didn't; Moscow Defense Trump amid Questions of Collusion; At Least 21 People Killed in Nairobi Terror Assault; Debate on New Brexit Deal Set for January 29; Advisor for Three British Prime Ministers Talks Brexit; Turkey Seeks Arrest of NBA Player Enes Kanter. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired January 17, 2019 - 10:00   ET


[10:00:00] BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome, you are watching CONNECT THE WORLD, with me, Becky Anderson, live for you, from Abu Dhabi,

where it is 7:00.

Well the White House, it has no plans to reverse a decision to withdraw troops from Syria. But a deadly attack against U.S. led coalition forces

raising some new questions about President Donald Trump's exit strategy.

We are learning more today about the ISIS claimed bombing on a busy street in Manbij. Local officials there say 14 people were killed, four

Americans, two U.S. allied fighters, and eight civilians.

Just yesterday, after the attack, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence repeating Mr. Trump's claim that ISIS has been defeated. Mr. Trump, due to speak

next hour at the Pentagon, of course, we will be closely watching his remarks for you. Let's go now though to our chief international

correspondent, Clarissa Ward, live on the ground for you tonight in northern Syria. We're also joined by Pentagon reporter, Ryan Browne, in

Washington. Clarissa, let's starts with you. You are on the front lines in northern Syria. Where the battle to eliminate ISIS rages on, of course,

and given the news out of Manbij, that fight is still ongoing, correct?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The fight very much still ongoing, I would say. From what we've seen and heard here over the

course of the past week. Also important for our viewers to know, Becky, that the town of Manbij is nowhere near the actual front lines in the

battle with ISIS. It's a good seven-hour drive away. But what you see quite clearly through this massive attack, and through the conversations

that we've been having with Kurdish military and civilian officials here on the ground, is that ISIS sleeper cells are still lurking and are very much

pervasive throughout vast tracks of the country.

And there's a very real concern here, particularly among the Kurdish led security forces who are the U.S.'s primary allies on the ground, that when

the U.S. troops withdraw, that that will essentially create a vacuum. That that will allow for ISIS and groups like ISIS to reconstitute, regroup, and

to launch a vicious and bitter insurgency -- Becky.

ANDERSON: When you talk about sleeper cells, still active, what sort of numbers -- is it clear what sort of numbers we are talking about? What's

the scope of the ISIS footprint as it remains in Syria?

WARD: Well, this is something that is very difficult to measure. And that's part of why it is such a hard problem for Security Services here to

get their arms around. Even when we were down on the front lines, just yesterday, right up by the battle that is going on to take the last handful

of villages near the Iraqi border, back from ISIS, security officers and commanders on the ground were telling us that they don't actually have a

very good idea of how many ISIS fighters remain. And that even when, Becky, they are able to push those ISIS fighters out of that remaining

area, the villages, that they still have a very real problem to contend with, which is the reality that these liberated areas are not necessarily


We drove for hours in an armored vehicle through areas that should be safe, but they told us, listen, the general populous, many of them are still very

sympathetic to, and supportive of them. (INAUDIBLE) They plan to attack coalition allied forces and are a continuing problem for them, and it is a

very difficult one to solve. When they don't have eyes, they don't have a window into the populations -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Clarissa Ward's on the ground, in northern Syria. Ryan, you're in Washington. Any indication the attack in Manbij will cause the U.S. to

rethink its withdrawal from Syria?

RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: Well, Becky, no indication at this time that President Trump plans on changing his intent to withdraw U.S.

forces from Syria. Now, the time line of that withdrawal is still very much a question. Senior lawmakers in the United States, Republican

lawmakers, have been calling on President Trump in the wake of this attack, to change his plans, to change some of the language he's been using about

ISIS being defeated. These Senators saying clearly ISIS is not defeated, carrying out the deadliest attack on U.S. personnel, in Syria, since the

U.S. military first became involved there, some years ago.

[10:05:00] So while there are some calls by politician, by lawmakers, to reassess this withdrawal, we're hearing from the White House that there are

no plans at this time to change that withdrawal.

Now President Trump is coming here to the Pentagon. He's supposed to be speaking about missile defense, missile defense review. However, it's the

first visit to the Pentagon in some time and given the Syria news, it is possible he addresses the situation there. But no indication at this time

that he is planning to change his mind about this withdrawal.

ANDERSON: Clarissa, you're on the ground, what is the response to U.S. policy, where you are, to the sort of comments we've heard out of Mike

Pence, after this Manbij attack, that ISIS has been defeated?

WARD: I think there's a number of different responses that you're seeing. Nobody here expected the Americans to stay in Syria forever. It was

understood that at some point U.S. troops would have to withdraw. The confusion and the sense of anxiety by the suddenness, the shock of the way

the announcement came, the timing, the fact that it was done on Twitter. And I think now, there's a sense of whiplash. Whereby every few minutes,

the policy seems to change, a different politician in the U.S. says something different, gives a different sense of what can be expected, of

when the U.S. will withdraw. And you will simply not find anyone on the ground here, Becky, that the caliphate has crumbled and that ISIS is

defeated. They will say that they have made huge progress in the fight against ISIS, that there is just a handful of villages that are left in

their territory, that they expect to be able to push the militant group out of those villages in the coming weeks and months. But they will also say

the problem remains, the sleeper cells are here, the mentality of the people continues to be a problem.

And of course, it's important for our viewers to remember, Becky, that ISIS isn't the only concern here for these Kurdish-led security forces. If

anything, their much bigger concern is Turkey just across the border which regards the Syrian Kurds, many of them as a sort of existential terrorist

threat. So, there's a very intricate balance of different powers carving out their fiefdoms up here in northern Syria. And a very real sense that

if the U.S. suddenly pulls out of that balance, that everything else will collapse.

ANDERSON: Which our viewers would expect a functioning U.S. government to understand the nuance of. Ryan, I've still got you with me in Washington.

The problem is, Donald Trump's critics will say this isn't a functioning White House. They might not go so far as to say it is not a functioning

U.S. government, although it's in shutdown of course at the moment. What's the level if at all of frustration at the Pentagon? We saw the resignation

of General Mattis, as a result of this decision by Donald Trump, to announce the withdrawal of Syrian troops. What's the mood at the Pentagon

these days?

BROWNE: Well, I think, as you've laid it out right now, I mean there was obviously a morale was damaged here with Secretary Mattis's resignation.

There was a clear palpable sense of confusion. And again, the one thing we're hearing is kind of these mixed messages that are coming kind of about

the policy in Syria. Of course, initially, the initial tweets talked about a withdrawal happening now, was actually the phrase, we're pulling troops

out now, the President said. And then you had those Like National Security Adviser, Ambassador John Bolton, and other, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo,

kind of talking about a lengthier process, talking about ensuring security for the U.S.'s Kurdish and Arab allies in Syria. So the military was kind

of -- saw these mixed messages, they have their orders to carry out this withdrawal, but again, what that pace will be, how much of that is going to

go forward, still very much remains a question.

ANDERSON: Clarissa's in northern Syria. Ryan in Washington at the Pentagon. To both of you, thank you.

A developing story out of Yemen this hour. The U.N. says one of its senior officials, and his team, are safe, after a reported shooting incident in

the city of Hodeidah. Retired Dutch General, Patrick Cammaert, is overseeing the implementation of an agreement reached at peace talks, you

will remember, in Sweden, in December. Well shots were fired in the air, while the U.S. mission was traveling through the contested city according

to the Information Minister of Yemen's internationally recognized government. Muammar al-Iryani, described the incident was described to CNN

as, quote, a serious development in what he said were Houthi efforts to derail the process. CNN has reached out to Houthi officials for comments.

We'll bring you more details on this story as we get it.

[10:10:03] Well to the Russia investigation. And a quite remarkable change in how President Trump's legal team is now defending him. In an interview

with my colleague Chris Cuomo, Mr. Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, admitted that he doesn't know if people within the Trump campaign colluded with

Russia. Giuliani now says all that matters is that the President himself never worked with the Russians. Have a listen.


RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LAWYER: I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign. I have

no idea --


GIULIANI: I have not. I said the President of the United States. There is not a single bit of evidence the President of the United States

committed the only crime you could commit here, conspiring with the Russians to hack the DNC.


ANDERSON: Well, that is a very different story from what Mr. Trump's defenders have been saying, which is that no one in the campaign colluded

with Russians. In fact, here is the President himself talking about just that, just a week ago.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There has been no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians, or Trump and Russians. No



ANDERSON: Well, all of this coming as pressure continues to mount on the White House, because of this government shutdown, which is now 27 days old

and shows no signs of ending any time soon. Kaitlyn Collins joining us now the White House. And these Giuliani comment, as I described them, a quite

remarkable turn of events, or certainly they are quite remarkable line from Giuliani.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well they certainly are. And this is a question that -- I mean, this is a pattern we've seen from

Rudy Giuliani, in the past, where he said one thing and then contradicted himself later on, or contradicted the President, only to find out that he

is potentially telling the truth.

So there's always a question here whether or not Rudy Giuliani is just simply contradicting himself and doesn't know what the defense has been

from the White House or if he is trying to get ahead of something coming as he did with the payments to the porn star Stormy Daniels, that the

President reimbursed his personal attorney for. Now,

Rudy Giuliani made these comments during that interview with Chris Cuomo and now he is attempting to do a little bit of cleanup duty. He's got some

new remarks coming in to CNN trying to explain that he wasn't trying to get ahead of anything.

But he said quote, the President did not himself, nor does he have any knowledge of any collusion with the Russian. Then he adds, quote, I can't

possibly say no one had contact about something in some way.

That actually goes against what the White House has been arguing and the President himself, as you just saw, he has said for a very long time now,

nearly two years, that there was no collusion, not only between the President and any Russian officials but also between his campaign and any

Russian officials. So that is why there's been that level of scrutiny there.

Now the President hasn't responded to what his lawyer said on television last night. But the question is, what he will have to say about it, and

what the White House officials who have said for so long there was no collusion that they knew of between the Trump campaign and Russian

officials and where they go from there.

Now, this is all hitting the White House, as they are still dealing with day 27 of this government shutdown. Even though there is still really no

end in sight here. And there hasn't been some kind of strategy that the White House has worked out beyond inviting those bipartisan group of not

only Democrats but Republicans, to the White House, yesterday. Something that we're told didn't make a ton of progress. One other thing to note,

the White House also is still not responding to the letter from Nancy Pelosi, suggesting that the President move his State of the Union address

until the government has reopened.

ANDERSON: Why would she do that, out of interest?

COLLINS: That's the question. She said citing security concerns. But of course, not only is the Department of Homeland Security Secretary, but also

multiple DHS officials and the Secret Service said actually they're prepared to provide security for this event. They've been planning on

doing so for months, long before the government shut down. And it does raise the question, why did she invite the President on January 3, well

after the government shutdown was under way, if security was going to be a concern for her. But she says and a DHS official, who is furloughed --

meaning they're not working right now, or not working, or working without pay -- came to her and voiced concerns about the security at that event.

Of course, this could all just be a reminder of the new power that Nancy Pelosi now wields, and her ability to be able to frustrate the President

and deny him a primetime slot on television, to make his argument for his border wall, and amplify his argument for the shutdown.

ANDERSON: Kaitlin, always a pleasure. Thank you.

Well, it made all of the talk about collusion, Russia, not just sitting on the sideline, it is standing for Mr. Trump. Here is CNN's Fred Pleitgen to



FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Russian officials defending President Trump against those in the U.S.

raising questions about his relationship with Moscow.

[10:15:00] A top Kremlin aide sounding a similar note to the White House and ridiculing the question about Trump possibly working for Russia. And

the Foreign Minister even arguing that the U.S. Congress is illegally trying to hamper the President's foreign policy agenda.

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): The U.S. Constitution gives the President the right to determine and execute foreign

policy. We do know that this right has been coming under attack from the Congress. The issue is covered extensively. However, this does not make

these attacks constitutional, and it does not make them less illegal, either.

PLEITGEN: As the Trump administration grapples with the ongoing government shutdown, and one of America's top ally, the United Kingdom, faces a messy

exit from the European Union, which President Trump supported. On one of Russia's top political talk shows, an analyst claiming President Trump is

in a battle against the so-called deep state in the West.

ARAIK STEPANYAN, POLITICAL EXPERT (through translator): All of the Western world is in a deep crisis. This liberal and capitalistic world is in a

deep crisis. Trump in his actions is a saving grace for America, because there is that deep state, or the Democratic Party, wanting to make the USA

a global policeman and stick its nose anywhere. But Trump says the American people do not need that.

PLEITGEN: All this, as the Mueller investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign increases in tempo. A top Russian

Senator telling CNN he believes his country is the victim of political infighting in the U.S., and of President Trump's critics.

ALEKSEY PUSHKOV, RUSSIAN SENATOR: Russia is a victim of this anti-Trump campaign. Because I think it is the first time that the interests of those

who would like to bring down the American President coinciding with the interest of those who would like to have a better relationship with Russia.

PLEITGEN: And while improvement in the relations between Russia and the U.S. hardly seems in sight, Moscow vowed that American pressure would never

make it change its policies. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Moscow.


ANDERSON: We're going to take a very short break. When we come back, folks, terrorists reveal why they carried out a brutal attack on a Nairobi

Dusit Hotel. Details on that after this.


[10:20:00] ANDERSON: Welcome back. 20 past 7:00 in the UAE, you're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD broadcast from our Middle East hub

here. I'm Becky Anderson for you.

Kenyan officials say they have now accounted for everyone missing from Tuesday's deadly attack on a Nairobi hotel. The death toll now stands at

21 people and we are learning more about the victims and those behind the attacks. Here is CNN's Sam Kiley.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Trapped by terrorists, in a luxury hotel compound. Gunmen pick off victims. Dozens

of civilians flee the carnage claimed by the Somali based terror group, al- Shabaab. British Special Forces were training Kenyans and rushed to help. But many people were trapped in the Dusit Hotel complex, using their phones

to call for help.

SAM MATTOCK, DIRECTOR, HALLIDAY FINCH SECURITY: I got the call. And jumped in a vehicle with two of my friends, and work colleague, and went

across to 14 Riverside, where we got right to the front of the gate.

KILEY (on camera): How did you get your guys out?

MATTOCK: The GSU got into the building we were in and got them, all of the whole crew in that building out. Everyone was helping everyone. There

were security professionals, Kenyan Red Cross, they were in there, in every single building, with and without armed protection.

KILEY (voice-over): Rescues went on throughout the 20-hour gun battle. Which ended when terrorists were finally killed.

MOUAMUD YASSIN JAMA, SURVIVOR: I was afraid that it (INAUDIBLE). You don't fall down. Make sure you're out of this place.

KILEY: In the end, 700 people escaped the complex. At least 21 did not. Among them, Mouamud's two friends.

JAMA: We started asking ourselves, where are they? Where are they?

KILEY: Faisal and Abdullah were shot dead inside the hotel over lunch. Both were ethnic Somalis. Both worked for an aid agency, serving Somalia.

AHMED RASHID DAHIR, VICTIM'S FATHER: His wife is expecting soon. So, now pregnant.

KILEY (on camera): I'm so sorry.

DAHIR: They have a boy.

KILEY: So, is he expecting his first child?

DAHIR: His first child, yes.

KILEY (voice-over): Ahmed, like so many other Kenyans caught in this tragedy is left to mourn and pray that another attack never comes.


ANDERSON: Sam Kiley joining us now live from Nairobi. And the statement from al-Shabaab said in part, in a response to the witness remarks of U.S.

President Donald Trump, and his declaration, here they are, referring to his recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, whom the group

targeted, quote, Western and Zionist interests worldwide. Saying it was in support of our Muslim families in Palestine.

Sam, what do you make of this statement?

KILEY: It's a very weird one. I mean, al-Shabaab, I have to say, Becky, specialized in putting out statements to justify their atrocities that have

a kind of slightly surreal air. In the past they've claimed that previous atrocities have been the due to the presence of CIA agents inside the U.N.

compound in Mogadishu.

This one I think is part of their attempt to rebrand or expand their brand perhaps in competition of the so-called Islamic State, certainly to try to

position themselves as part of the Al Qaeda's internationalist agenda to restore the caliphate as such. The Palestinians most certainly would not

thank them for this sort of an atrocity in their name. And I think that really, if this is all about hitting back for the United States, fairly

successful campaign, and attempt to take out the middle management of al- Shabaab. That they have been prosecuting more aggressively over the last year, from the air. While the al-Shabaab have been having pretty bad or

heavy scores back the other way on the ground -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Sam, here's what the U.S. is saying about being dragged into this incident. These craven attacks are a stark reminder of why the United

States remains resolved in our fight to defeat terrorism. The attack did leave one American man dead. Does it appear al-Shabaab wants to target

Americans in other ways?

KILEY: This is another direct attack on Americans. It's certainly a popular location, with Westerners, it is near three Western embassies.

It's a popular place where U.N. and the United States, they have conferences, a very complex area just behind me here.

[10:25:00] With a one way in, one way out, I think possibly offered itself up as an appealing target for al-Shabaab.

But more broadly, the United States has actually increased its tempo of operations in Somalia. It's got 500 or 600 Special Forces on the ground.

It has drones that are in operation out of Djibouti, and fixed wing aircraft. And they have been killing al-Shabaab. Al-Shabaab has been

hitting back on the ground though because the African peacekeepers are slowly withdrawing. So I think this is a part of the maneuvering for

dominance of that space. That has cursed Somalia in many forms for several decades now -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Sam Kiley's in Kenya, Sam, thanks.

Which actually brings us to a pop quiz. What does Kenya have in common with Canada? With Burma, with Tonga and the Bahamas? You've got it. The

British used to rule all of them. It doesn't anymore. In fact, it barely seems able to govern itself as the Brexit chaos continues. We speak to one

hip young diplomat about how Britain is somewhat losing its luster. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: A very good evening once again. You are watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. For those who are just joining

us, you are more than welcome.

So plan A hasn't worked out. Now it is on to plan B. But at the rate things are going, Theresa May might need to call on a few more letters of

the alphabet for her Brexit plan to spell any sort of success.

[10:30:05] The next stage of this drawn-out process, will be on January 29, when the British Parliament will debate whatever alternative the Prime

Minister comes up with after the weekend. Now, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has another option on his mind, a possible second referendum. Have

a listen to this.


JEREMY CORBYN, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY LEADER: If the Prime Minister actually concedes that a no deal Brexit is actually the most dangerous and very

damaging thing to our country, and our society. So I will say to the Prime Minister again, that she may be listening, Prime Minister, simply do this.

Take it off the table. Take it off the table now. So we can go forward in a sensible way.


ANDERSON: "Irish Times" journalist, Fintan O'Toole, is author of the "Heroic Failure, Brexit and the Politics of Pain". Joining us now out of

Dublin. And, sir, Britain might not know if it's going to leave the EU with or without a deal, but other countries certainly making plans. You

are in Ireland. Whose Prime Minister says these are no longer contingency plans. They are being implemented by the government. Now businesses and

other organizations must do the same.

Look, they are clearly some wins to be had for Ireland, let's face it. But do the people there see Brexit as somewhat of a national embarrassment for

the United Kingdom?

FINTAN O'TOOLE, JOURNALIST, IRISH TIMES (via Skype): Yes, it is a bit like, you know, having a very close friend and neighbor who is going crazy.

You know, you obviously feel very sorry for them and you wish they weren't going crazy. But after a certain period of time, you know, you throw up

your hands in despair. What can you do to help? It is pretty extraordinary the kind of spectacle that we've seen in what used to call

itself the mother of Parliaments. You know, where it seemed absolutely impossible to get any kind of agreement about anything.

ANDERSON: While the outcome as you rightly point out is uncertain at this time, it's clear there is some damage to Britain's reputation. That is

very real.

One writer from India says, quote, there are 27 European nations and yet they speak with one voice. There is supposed to be one U.K., but it speaks

with many voices. In a per verse way, the British divide and rule policy has returned to mock the U.K. itself.

Fintan, is this the political future of the U.K., something that for the outside world could look like organized anarchy?

O'TOOLE: Yes, you know, I think what's really came home to us this week is that actually Brexit is not what it seems to be about. It seems to be

about Britain's relationship with the European Union, it's actually about Britain's relationship with itself. You know, the Europeans have been

complaining all through this process that, you know, you can't negotiate with the British because they're really negotiating with themselves.

But this turns out to be actually true in a much deeper sense. So really, what we're seeing is a crisis of belonging in Britain. You have obviously

huge questions over the union itself. You have the fact that Northern Ireland and Scotland vote very differently than the way England has voted.

You have huge divisions within England itself. You have huge divisions within both of the major political parties. You have four or five

different major solutions currently being canvassed. You have an apparent inability of the existing political order to deal with this crisis, which

it has largely created itself.

And it seems to me that they're going to have to reach a point where they say, look, we're not capable of dealing with this Brexit thing at the

moment, because in a sense, we don't know who we are, we don't know what we want, we haven't really had a proper conversation about what Britain is

supposed to be like in the 21st century. And in a funny way, it has displaced all of these things with the European Union, which is not the

fundamental problem.

ANDERSON: And if I were to suggest that, I get a sense of a certain schadenfreude, not just in Germany, about all of this, not suggesting from

you, but I'm sure there are Irish and many others around Europe who are, not taking a pleasure from this necessarily, but I mean, you know where I'm

going with that.

O'TOOLE: What objective of the British (INAUDIBLE) are other people fit for self-governments? You know, that was a kind of an old British imperial

question. You know, ask about themselves.

ANDERSON: Let's talk about that. Because you yourself have written that Britain cannot escape history.

You say, when you listen to the ardent leavers, what they say about a deal Brexit is not that they are really convinced it is a good thing but that

the English will endure the suffering and get through it because that is what they have always done.

[10:35:02] Could the British spirit of keep calm and carry on actually be harming the U.K. at the moment?

O'TOOLE: I think it is doing enormous harm. I think you're absolutely right in that question. Because you have this sort of weird sense that

somehow, it's not that a no deal Brexit wouldn't involve suffering, it's that the suffering would somehow kind of purify Britain in some way. Bring

it back to its real self. You know, will show the great spirit we showed during the second world war, the blitz spirit, the Dunkirk spirit, all of

this kind of stuff is, you know, not abstract. It's very much in their conversation, it's the way they're talking about it. And the problem of

course is, that the people who are going to really suffer are not the people who are leading this. So of course, as in all of these things, the

people who really surfer are the poorest and most vulnerable.

The people who are driving Brexit, you know, are mostly pretty wealthy. Jacob Rees-Mogg is one of the most famous Brexiteers, for example, has big

hedge funds. He's moved his hedge funds to my own city of Dublin so that they can avoid the fallout from Brexit. Even though he's one of the main

people who are driving for a no deal Brexit.

So there is a lot of hypocrisy in this. And a lot of self-harm. You know, it actually comes down to the fact that this is going to do real harm to

real people. And the problem is, that these extremists really don't represent an enormous number of people. There is probably only 30 or 40 of

them in the British Parliament. The vast majority of Parliament doesn't want a no deal. But you're in this state of chaos where almost by default

you can just slide off the cliff without the vast majority of people wanting to do it.

ANDERSON: Much criticism of those who have been elected to represent the people of the U.K. at present. Fintan, thank you. Fintan, it's always a


Whether it is called Britannia, or rule Britannia, Britain long congratulating himself as a separate isle set within the silver sea. Just

a tad bit better than anywhere else perhaps it thinks. But Brexit has been a very large slice of humble pie to that nostalgia for an imagined sense of

greatness for a reality check. And I stopped by, where else, well a local place in Abu Dhabi to catch up with naked diplomat. No don't worry, he was

suitably dressed. The one, Mr. Tom Fletcher, once Westchester's man in Beirut.


TOM FLETCHER, "THE NAKED DIPLOMAT," TALKS BRITAIN'S DECLINE: People see is as some sort of circular firing squad. We're all lined up in this big

circle just shooting at each other.

CORBYN: The sheer incompetence of this government.

THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: More uncertainty. More bitterness. And more rancor.

ANDERSON (voice-over): As absurd as a one-man tug of war. Brexit turning Westminster inside out. But how is this political pantomime making the

British look elsewhere?

FLETCHER: What worries the rest of the world more than Brexit is that sense that Britain is somehow losing its triple A rating for competence.

ANDERSON (on camera): You have been the foreign policy adviser to three former British Prime Ministers. How would you be advising the Prime

Minister today?

FLETCHER: I think if I was in there now, I'd be counseling a certain level of humility about the story we tell the world about what we're going

through. I think it's a mistake to try to pretend that we can do everything at the moment, that we can have the same sort of global

perspective, while we're going through this very, very difficult corrosive national debate.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Once upon a time, Britain commanded an empire on which they say the sun never set. Until it did. The U.S. scholar of a map

like this, the world showing the British empire. What did a map like that mean to those that you were doing business with, as a diplomat?

FLETCHER: The reality as well, when you have come from a position, when, as you say, that the map has been colored pink. When you had a stature in

the world like that, is that diplomacy does get harder. You know, diplomacy is always easy when you're seen as a country on the up. You

know, leaders answer your phone. You get the meetings more easily. People listen to what you have to say. They want to meet you. They want to have

deals with you. If there is a perception of decline, and this is why we have to be so careful, with not necessarily Brexit but the debate, the

rancor around Brexit, then diplomacy gets way, way harder.

ANDERSON: As the largest empire in history withered, new countries emerged. Like here. The United Arab Emirates with the Trucial States in


FLETCHER: You know, there was a real sense of understanding between those early explorers and the peoples of this region. And then in the era when

the countries in this region were being formed, were coming together, through diplomacy, when the UAE was being established, Britain was clearly,

you know, a very senior international player on that stage.

[10:40:00] ANDERSON (on camera): Tom, the problem as I see it, from where we are sitting here, is that Britain has lost its luster.

FLETCHER: We have to be humble enough to recognize that the show we're putting on at the moment is not going to impress everyone. I think it is

each more important that we really invest hard in those relationships. And reassure people that we are going to be back. You know, we will still be

that Security Council power. We will still be spending 2 percent on defense.

ANDERSON: Some call it, gunship diplomacy. Does Britain still have that power?

FLETCHER: I mean Britain still has some serious gunboats. It still has that 2 percent we invest in defense. But the thing is, the reality in the

21st century, is that no country is judged anymore on how many people it can kill. And that's probably a good thing.

NEWSREEL DURING WORLD WAR II: Britain, Russia's troops into the latest trouble zone in the near East.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Britain's nostalgia for itself didn't fade easily. And imperial habits lingered.

(on camera): Is Brexit the worst self-inflicted mess-up since the ham- fisted intervention in the Suez?

FLETCHER: I don't think that this will be seen as a crisis the way Suez is seen as a crisis. I do think that we will find a better way of telling our

story to the world. Really highlighting what we do brilliantly as a country. Do we think the French Revolution is a success or a failure?

It's too soon to tell. Do we think Brexit is a success or a failure? We won't know for 100 years.

ANDERSON (voice-over): On the way out, there was just time to get another opinion.

(on camera): What do you think of Brexit?

FLETCHER: He doesn't know either, I don't think.


ANDERSON: Still ahead, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. An NBA basketball star says he fears for his life, as he faces accusations of ties

to terror, from his home country Turkey.

First up though, the shifting balance of power in Syria. We'll see how U.S. troop withdrawal could change the situation on the ground. That is

just ahead.


ANDERSON: Well you're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson. At 45 -- just about 45 minutes past 7:00 in the UAE. I want to

get to you what is our top story this hour.

U.S. officials tell CNN an initial assessment finds that ISIS is behind a bombing in Syria that killed 14 people, that included four Americans. The

attack happened in a city known as Manbij, patrolled by U.S. troop, and Kurdish fighters.

Now, just weeks ago, U.S. President Donald Trump declared ISIS defeated in Syria. So the attack raising new questions about his strategy and the

consequences of his insistence that the United States will no longer be the world's policeman.

[10:45:05] Well we've just heard from the owner of the restaurant where that attack happened. Have a listen.


SALEH AL YOUSEF, RESTAURANT OWNER (through translator): What happened here is this were just civilians that work here. These (BEEP) came to us, we're

not a headquarter, we're not a military unit, nothing. What do we have that they want? What do we have? I want to know. Let them go bomb a

headquarters. Let them hash it out among themselves. We are pure civilians. We are just for work. This is what is left. This is it. Look

at it.

They are a power coming to take over the country. Coming over here to bomb us so they could take over the country. They've come here to bomb

civilian, let them go bomb an empty place. Let them hash it out among themselves. We're civilians. What have we done to deserve this?


ANDERSON: Well let's get some perspective from Joshua Landis. He's director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of

Oklahoma. And a timely reminder that decisions made in hallowed halls around the world, decisions and statements made in 140 characters, cover

off times, what is actually going on, on the ground. People's lives, Joshua, are at stake.

JOSHUA LANDIS, CENTER FOR MIDDLE EAST STUDIES, UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA: Indeed, they are. And this underlines how important it is for the United

States to get out of the region. Because the longer we're there, the more we're a sitting duck. And it's important to have a regional police force

take over this job. ISIS, as a state, has been destroyed. But there are still many lurking members who are sympathetic, as we've seen, and it is

important to get a local discourse.

ANDERSON: So Donald Trump was correct in deciding he was just going to pull out, withdraw from Syria. And that's it.

LANDIS: Well he's correct that we need to get out of there. How it's done, of course, we can criticize the way he's done it. Which I think

deserves tons of criticism. But the fact is that a local police force has to be policing this, America cannot stay there from now to the end of time.

ANDERSON: There are people who will say that this is a group that was bred out of the ashes of the Iraq war which was instigated by the U.S., to which

you say what?

LANDIS: Yes, they're absolutely right. This ISIS came about because of the destruction of central states. And ISIS crept from Iraq -- this was Al

Qaeda -- into Syria when the Syrian regime withdrew from eastern Syria in 2012. They handed the region off to the Kurds, the YPG, hoping that the

Kurds could keep stability there. They could not.

The Arab militias and ultimately ISIS took over the region and set up shop. America had to come back in, and help the Kurds, destroy this. But today,

the Kurds are talking in Moscow, with Syria, they have a road map of how to redevelop a relationship with the Syrian regime. And the trouble is,

America does not want the Syrian regime to come back and be the police force in northern Syria. And so it's stuck there. Because at any rate, it

is stuck there, and it has to make a choice that's a difficult choice.

ANDERSON: And we want to mention a story that flew under the radar somewhat during what has been an extremely busy news week. Turkey's

President saying he and Mr. Trump reached and I quote, an historic agreement. That Turkey would set up a security zone in northern Syria,

along the border. That prospect chilling for U.S. allied Kurdish fighters, never mind what they're organizing if indeed they are so, with the

Russians, with a future for Syria. This is chilling to U.S. allied Kurds, as Turkey has long threatened to attack them. The Kurds do want to have a

safe zone but they want it patrolled by U.N. forces. What do you see happening in what is this extremely volatile area?

LANDIS: Well, as I said, the Kurds are in Moscow, talking about a road map of cooperation with the Syrian government. The Kurds really have to choose

between having the Turks, who they do not want in that zone, or having the Syrian army, and the Syrian police force in that zone. Which might be

acceptable to the Turks. Because that's the way it was for, you know, 100 years beforehand. So that is what the Kurds need to do.

The trouble is, the United States, and our ambassador there, Jeffries, has asked that the Kurds not make this deal, or at least slow down a deal with

Damascus and Russia. Because they're worried, America is worried that this will help Iran in some way. And therefore, they don't want Iran to have

the territory through the Syrians and Russians. So America's stuck. Because they don't want anybody to have that territory except for America,

but they want to come home. Because Americans are fed up with spending tons of money somewhere, you know, far away.

[10:50:00] ANDERSON: Interesting times. And Joshua, thank you.

Live from Abu Dhabi, this is CONNECT THE WORLD. Lots more ahead, after what is going to be a very short break for you.


ANDERSON: You're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD, with me Becky Anderson. Welcome back.

An NBA basketball star in the U.S. is being targeted by his home country of Turkey. Ankara is seeking the extradition of an NBA star, Enes Kanter,

saying that he has ties to a terror organization. Now the 26-year-old New York Knicks star has been an outspoken critic of the Turkish President, but

he denies any wrongdoing.

For more on this story, let's get you to our CNN sports reporter, Andy Scholes, in who is out of our CNN headquarters in Atlanta for you. What do

we know about this chap?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS: Well, Becky, you know, when this news was reported Wednesday about Turkey putting in an extradition request and

requesting an Interpol red notice for the arrest of Kanter. Stating that he's suspected of being part of a terror organization. Kanter, he did take

to Twitter to defend himself, he tweets quite a bit and, in this instance, he tweeted. The Turkish government cannot present any single piece of

evidence of my wrongdoing. I don't even have a parking ticket in the U.S. I've always been a law-abiding resident.

Then Kanter actually also poked a little fun at the news, tweeting.

The only thing I terrorize is the rim.

Now, Kanter hasn't lived with his family in Turkey since he was 16 years old when he started to play for the Euro Club League, Fenerbahce. Kanter

moved to the United States a year later and was the third overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft by the Utah Jazz. The Knicks, the third team he's

played for in seven seasons. He's averaging double figures in points and rebounds in the second year in New York.

But while his career has taken off, Kanter has always been a very outspoken critic, and always spoken about the political turmoil in his homeland.

Kanter heavily criticized President Erdogan following a failed 2016 coup. And then after he his father was arrested in 2017, Kanter called President

Erdogan, quote, the Hitler of our century. And the Turkish government canceled Kanter's passport in 2017. Actually forced him to cut short a

trip he had to Romania and return to the United States.

Kanter said he's received death threats because of his political stance. He also said he would not go to London with the New York Knicks, for

today's game that they have there. Because he says Turkey has spies there, and it would be easy for them to kidnap or even kill him. In the meantime,

while he's not with the Knicks, Kanter has been meeting with U.S. lawmakers on Capitol Hill, to discuss human rights violations there in Turkey --


ANDERSON: Thank you, sir.

[10:55:00] Well your "Parting Shots" this hour, from the pitch to the track. Some of football's biggest stars got a taste of a very different

sport recently. Have a look at this.



ANDERSON: Recognize anybody there? Well, the Paris Saint-Germain squad tried their hand at camel racing in Qatar, an extremely popular sport here

in the Gulf. The name are Julia and Thomas Tuggle. While the winners, perhaps a changing career, a new continent beckons.


ANDERSON: We will post that shortly for you. You can have another look at it.

And in just minutes from now, Qatar will be playing arch rival Saudi Arabia in the Asian Cup Derby. That is at the top of this hour. The match being

held right here, in Abu Dhabi. Now, it is the first time that the teams have met since ties were severed between the Gulf Arab nations more than a

year ago.

You can always follow the stories our team is working on throughout the day. I do promise to get that camel racing posted as quickly as possible.

It'll be on one of our social channels. Facebook possibly. That's connect. Hope you have enjoyed the show. I know the news

isn't always pleasant. We try to lighten the load at the back end of the show of course.

I'm Becky Anderson. That was CONNECT THE WORLD. From the team working with me here and a very new producer in the control room today, who's done

a very, very good job. And those working with us around the world, in Atlanta and in London, thanks for watching. We'll see you the same time