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Maduro Rejects Election Ultimatum From European Countries; Thousands Of U.S. Government Workers Prepare To Return To Work; Twin Blasts Kill At Least 20, Wound Dozens; U.S. Law Puts Palestinian Security Funding In Jeopardy; U.S.: Progress Made In Taliban Talks; Iraqi Bikers Hope To Unite Country Scarred By War. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired January 27, 2019 - 11:00   ET


[10:00:00] RICK FOLBAUM, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Rick Folbaum in Atlanta. Thanks so much for joining

me. The crisis in Venezuela grow deeper as President Nicholas Maduro rejects an ultimatum by European countries to hold national elections. On

Saturday, the governments of the U.K., Spain, France, and Germany called on Maduro to hold a fresh vote in the next eight days or they would recognize

the self-declared president Juan Guaido as Venezuela's head of state. In an interview with CNN Turk, Mr. Maduro slammed those nations for making

such a demand.


NICOLAS MADURO, PRESIDENT VENEZUELA (through translator): Nobody gives us an ultimatum. If they want to leave Venezuela, they should leave today.

Now. Venezuela will continue its path. Fortunately, we don't depend on Europe.


FOLBAUM: In that same interview, President Maduro accused Guaido of violating the constitution but says he is open to dialogue with all

political opposition. Meantime, countries around the world continue to pick sides. The U.S., Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador,

and Paraguay all say the recognize Guaido as president.

In the meantime, Russia, China, Cuba, and Turkey are among those still backing Maduro. Meantime, President Maduro says Venezuela has been the

victim of a U.S. conspiracy and accuses the Trump administration of being behind the coup to oust him as leader. It all follows massive anti-

government protest across the country. Journalist Stefano Pozzebon has the latest from Caracas.

STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: Yes, Rick. Signs of tension easing in the crisis here in Caracas but the situation remains extremely serious and

could escalate even further at any moment. Nicolas Maduro, the embattled Venezuelan leader reiterated he's keen and open for dialogue with members

of the opposition called for a dialogue. But at the same time, he strongly pointed a finger at Washington.

Maduro is adamant that this whole crisis of the last two weeks here in Caracas has been orchestrated by the White House administration. Speaking

with CNN Turk, he had some strong words for U.S. president Donald Trump. Here's what he said.


MADURO (through translator): It's improbable but not impossible. I've sent Donald Trump many messages but I think he's overwhelmed with this

domestic problem. And I believe I think he despises us. He despises all of America and the Caribbean. I think he despises the world.


POZZEBON: Strong words against the U.S. President Donald Trump indeed. And as the crisis here in Caracas gets a further international dimension

with Venezuela being discussed for the first time at the U.N. Security Council, here on the ground today said that the opposition led by the new

figure head Juan Guaido will try and break the bondage between the military and Nicolas Maduro.

The military, the armed force has been on the side of Nicolas Maduro flout the many crises here in Venezuela for the past five years. Today, the

opposition will present a project of an amnesty law two military barracks and police stations around the country. It's a pitch to tell loud and

clear to military, soldiers, their families, police officers, anyone who works in the security forces of the Maduro government that if they defect

and switch side with the opposition, the parliament should be able or is keen to protect them. Rick?

FOLBAUM: Stefano Pozzebon, thank you very much. Meantime, in the U.S., hundreds of thousands of federal workers are preparing to return to a

paying job for the first time since the end of the longest government shutdown in American history. But the threat of yet another shutdown is

looming unless the White House and Democrats can make a deal. That's because President Donald Trump only agreed to reopen the government for

three weeks while lawmakers debate border security.

Joining us now CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood. Sarah, good to see you. And there are concerns that we could be in this mess all over again

in just three short weeks.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Rick. And after these 35 days of stalemate, President Trump ended up settling for a

temporary spending bill that looked a lot like the one he rejected in December. This bill that he signed Friday evening, it will only open the

government up until February 15th, give appropriator some time to hash out the details of a border security package.

But President Trump is saying that at the end of this three-week negotiating period if he doesn't have an acceptable amount of money for his

border wall, he is going to make a play for it one way or another. That might look like a national emergency declaration and attempt to use

executive authority to tap into existing federal funds or it might look like the President allowing the government to shut down once again in three

weeks as the President has threatened to do.

So there's a lot of uncertainty for these federal workers as they are going to back to work. And here at the White House aides feel a sense of defeat

after the President wasted a month of his presidency focusing on a border wall fight that he ultimately lost. Rick?

[10:05:38] FOLBAUM: Sarah, what is the mood there? Is there a sense that there will be an opportunity, a likelihood in some kind of a deal for the

President to get some of the money but he's been asking for to build that wall?

WESTWOOD: Well, Rick, the mood here is really not great. White House officials feel like the President squandered away a big chunk of time in a

presidency that is looking more and more finite. You know, just two or six more years are left for President Trump and he doesn't seem to have a sense

of direction for his domestic policy agenda because he's been so singularly focused on the wall.

Now, there's still a hope in the White House that now that the government is reopened, some of those rank-and-file moderate Democrats on Capitol Hill

will potentially come together for some kind of compromise that would give the president some but not all of the funding for his border wall.

Democratic leadership still remains United in their opposition to the President's border wall so the executive authority is still on the table

for President Trump to try to use.

There's an acknowledgment though that could likely be met with a court challenge that could severely delay the President's attempts to build his


FOLBAUM: Sarah Westwood live for us at the White House. Sarah, thanks very much. Meantime, longtime friend of Donald Trump, associate Rogers

Stone will face a judge this coming week, Tuesday to be exact. He'll be arraigned on charges that draw the clearest line yet between the Trump

campaign and the stolen Democratic e-mails that were released during the campaign by WikiLeaks.

Stone plans to plead not guilty. He calls the charges against him politically motivated. President Trump now attempting to distance himself

from Stone tweeting in part, "Roger Stone didn't even work for me anywhere near the election." Julian Zelizer is a friend of the show joins us live

from New York to talk about all things political. Julian, good to see you. Thanks very much for being here.

And for our viewers around the world, Roger Stone was a man who seemed to have an uncanny ability during the campaign to predict when WikiLeaks was

about to release those hacked e-mails from top Democrats, right?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. He even tweeted to that effect. So he had a lot of knowledge about this material that has

really been one of the centerpieces of the election piece of the investigation and he knew what was coming. And so that's why people have

been suspicious and I assume that's what drew Mueller to this part of the investigation.

FOLBAUM: And Stone, again, for folks who might be following this story from abroad, Roger Stone is one of the more colorful characters in American

politics and has been for some time.

ZELIZER: He's one of the most notorious figures in Republican politics. He's been around since Richard Nixon's presidency. He's known for dirty

tricks in campaigns and he's worked with many Republicans from Nixon, to Reagan, to Trump. And often what he does is he spreads disinformation, he

plays all kinds of you know, tricks essentially on the opposition, and he always pushes the boundaries between illegal, legal, ethical, unethical,

and believes that's what's necessary to win in American politics.

FOLBAUM: He even has a tattoo of Richard Nixon on his back that he will proudly show just about anybody who asks him. And everybody of course,

Julian, is looking for clues on what Robert Mueller has, how close does this get now to the U.S. President. And you've written a piece for

saying but you think this is devastating for Trump.

ZELIZER: Well, this is coming at a really fragile moment. It comes in the aftermath of the shutdown. We've even seen many Republicans now openly

upset with the President, even some voting against him on the budget bill. And the number of indictments, guilty pleas, convictions that are piling up

at this point is really astounding. And these are senior member senior advisors to the President.

And this particular story brings us right to the connection between Russia, between information and the campaign's, and between Trump's advisors and


FOLBAUM: Outline that for us. Where is the thread? Where is the glue there?

ZELIZER: Well, Stone is one of the people who's been talking and friends and advising Trump for years. He, in fact, helped him decide to run for

president. And this indictment shows that he was in fact connected to the WikiLeaks. That's all we know at this point but that was the material

right in the middle of this campaign that became so explosive. So that's a pretty big finding.

What's remarkable is he like many others lied about this. And so there's one issue they keep lying about, one issue they keep covering up, and this

is going to stoke more congressional curiosity and investigation.

[10:10:22] FOLBAUM: You mentioned the government shutdown because this is the political defeat that the President says, in fact, is not a defeat, no

concession here according to the President. His reopening of the government though without getting any funding for that southern border wall

that was really the centerpiece of his campaign back in 2016.

And now, of course, the clock is ticking on a new round of talks as we just heard from Sarah Westwood, three weeks to get a deal done. What is the

incentive that the Democrats might have to give the President basically anything that he's asking for?

ZELIZER: None. The only incentive to give money for border security without a wall is to show that they are willing to negotiate, that they are

in favor of border security which they've never separated themselves from while standing firm on the wall. But there's no reason for them to concede

too much more. They did win the first round of the battle. President Trump really is suffering in the polls. And as I said many Republicans are

furious with how he just wasted valuable time of a very fragile and struggling presidency.

And so Speaker Pelosi isn't in the mood right now to concede to anything that the party doesn't think is essential to the nation's security or


FOLBAUM: The New York Times is reporting, Julian, that there's some concern within the White House, that the President now after the Midterm

defeat, after the border wall showdown that didn't end well for the President or at least hasn't to this point, if the President is vulnerable

not just in terms of winning a second term in 2020 but maybe even winning the Republican nomination. Really?

ZELIZER: Yes. This could be one of those rare times when an incumbent president like in 1976 or 1980 is challenged from within his own party.

We've heard everything from the governor of Maryland Larry Hogan to John Kasich who was a very prominent Republican and Governor of Ohio.

There's a lot of Republicans who potentially could take on the President. And it's not inconceivable that they at least put up a pretty strong run.

So I think that talk is in the air and we'll know soon if that's actually going to happen.

FOLBAUM: Julian Zelizer, always good to talk to you. Thank you so much for your insight and your time today. And if you'd like more on Julian's

take on who won the shutdown fight, you can head over to He has a piece that I mentioned a little while ago. It's titled, Pelosi Brought

Trump To His Knees where he lays out how the House -- the Speaker of the House outmaneuvered the President. Again that's at Julian

Zelizer, thanks again.

Pope Francis is on the final trip -- a final day rather of his trip to Panama. He led Sunday Mass at the World Youth Day event in Panama City.

This trip has focused on Catholic youngsters and the pontiff heard some of their confessions on Saturday. And nine jailed youths were released from

detention after their meeting with the Pope. Pope Francis is scheduled to return to the Vatican later this Sunday.

Elsewhere in Latin America, a mining town devastated by a dam rupture is at risk from a second dam on the verge of collapse. An unbelievable story

there where Brazilian firefighters are evacuating thousands of people from this new area and this new emergency has pulled resources from the search-

and-rescue operations from Friday's dam burst. At least 34 people were killed in that disaster, hundreds are still missing.

Journalist Marcia Reverdosa joins us now on the phone from South Paulo, Brazil. And Marsha, just what he thought things couldn't get any worse,

this new emergency, tell us about it.

MARCIA REVERDOSA, JOURNALIST: Exactly. They scare very much the community over there. The alarm was going 5:30 in the morning advising people to

leave their home. It believed that more than 20,000 people has to be replaced and effort to drain the dam. The dam six is still on there going.

FOLBAUM: And talk to us because we mentioned that some of the resources that had been going towards trying to find those who are still missing

after Friday's dam collapse, that some of those resources have been pulled for these new evacuations. What is the latest in terms of search for

people who may have survived the mishap on Friday?

REVERDOSA: Well, the whole operation is halted now. It's -- they need to wait -- the valley has declared level two of security so it's not safe, not

even for the firefighters and the (INAUDIBLE) defense to go and continue the rescue and search operation. So until that level is down, they cannot

do anything, just wait, you know. And now, only observing and monitoring the dam to see if when it goes down. They will come back and do the return

to the operation of rescue.

[10:15:13] FOLBAUM: Marcia, talk to us about the perception of the -- of the government's response to this. Obviously, this is a private company

that runs this mine but all hands on deck to try to respond to the needs of people affected by this. Is it seen as though the government and rescuers

on the ground there are doing a good job?

REVERDOSA: Well, they are. They did their best. I think the government is giving out the support so they can. They send Special Forces also to

help. They have to help the military. It's coming in about an hour to the place. So apparently there is a lot of effort to help not just the

community but in the rescue of the missing people. So we're waiting to see how that goes.

It's not new for Brazil. It's the second time this major disaster happened so everybody's very concerned and outrageous by it.

FOLBAUM: Marcia Reverdosa on the line for us from Sao Paulo as we watch rescue efforts there and officials dealing with yet another potential

emergency there, major evacuations taking place. Marcia, thank you so much for the update. And still to come on CONNECT THE WORLD, a deadly attack on

a Catholic Church during Sunday worship. The Philippines government calling it targeted terrorism. Plus a U.S. anti-terror law is placing

funding for Palestinian security forces in jeopardy. An exclusive look at what's at stake. That's ahead.


FOLBAUM: You're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Rick Folbaum, welcome back. Thanks for joining us. Sunday is a holy day of

worship of course for Catholics but some in the Philippines are mourning their loved ones after twin bombs exploded at their church today.

Authorities say at least 20 people were killed, dozens more wounded. The government has condemned the attack in the town of Jolo. The military has

raised its alert level and ordered troops to secure places of worship and public spaces as well. Matt Rivers has the details on the attack from

Clark in the Philippines.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are dozens of casualties here in the Philippines after a pair of explosions in a part of the southern

Philippines in a region called Mindanao, in a town called Jolo. According to authorities, the first explosion took place inside a Cathedral in that

town where people were attending Sunday services.

[10:20:14] The second explosion took place shortly thereafter. It occurred as soldiers who were nearby were rushing over towards the church to assist

victims of the first explosion, that's when the second explosion occurred and that's when the soldiers became victims themselves.

Now, we know that an investigation is ongoing. We know the area is locked down but authorities have not yet said what a motive might be here or if

anyone specific group was responsible. Unfortunately, this is a region of the Philippines that is no stranger to this kind of violence. For decades

there has been violence between Christians and Muslims in the area, between the government and separatist forces in the area.

In fact, it was just back in 2017 that Islamic militants laid siege to a city called Marawi and it took about five months or 150 days for

Philippines military forces to actually get those militants out of the city. And we know that attacks have continued since then.

Additionally, another piece of relevant information here is that a referendum vote took place last Monday. That vote was relatively

controversial. It was a vote essentially on a plan that was created by the government and separatist groups in the region to create a newly self-

administered region in this part of the Philippines. The hope there being that autonomy could help make that region more peaceful and more safe for

the people that live there.

That referendum did ultimately end up passing but of course, not everyone voted for it including the town of Jolo where this latest attack occurred.

Now, the government is not saying that this attack had anything to do with that vote. They're not saying it had anything to do with previous violence

in this region, only saying that this investigation is ongoing and of course their priority remains the dozens of casualties that were the result

of a pair of explosions on Sunday in the southern Philippines. Matt Rivers, CNN Clark, the Philippines.


FOLBAUM: And returning now to our top story. In a wide-ranging interview with CNN Turk, Venezuelan president, the embattled Nicolas Maduro accused

opposition leader Juan Guaido of violating that country's constitution by declaring himself president. But Mr. Maduro says he is open to dialogue

with his political opposition and it comes as Venezuela's economy dives deeper into crisis.

Let's take a look at just how bad the situation is. Three million people have fled the country since 2015. The country had the world's highest

inflation rate of 2018. The IMF predicts that inflation will hit ten million percent this year. And that's all despite Venezuela holding the

world's largest supply of crude oil, above Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq.

Our next guest say that oil could be the next likely target of the international pressure campaign against the Maduro government. Michael

Penfold is a Professor of Political Science at the IESA Business and Public Policy School, he joins us from Caracas, and Venezuelan American Lawyer,

Writer, and Journalist Eva Golinger joining us from New York today. She is the author of a book about her time as an advisor to former Venezuelan

President Hugo Chavez. It's great to talk with both of you. Thank you very much for being here.

Professor, since you're on the ground there, let me start with you because this Maduro interview makes it very clear that he sees this as nothing

short of a coup and he lays blame squarely on the United States and on President Trump. Is he right?


dramatic. Most international country -- countries, Europe, the U.S., most Latin American countries have not recognized the previous presidential

election. And the fact that Maduro decided to sworn in on January 10 created a huge governability crisis.

He wasn't expecting people to rise. He was not expecting the opposition to return -- to be able to return onto the streets, and he was not expecting

either that a new leader could emerge as head of the National Assembly which is basically the only legitimate and democratic institution left in

the country.

So it's a surprising event and it's one that has scaled up now to the international level with the U.S. taking a lead but also with the E.U. sort

of putting saying as I said yesterday that Maduro needs to recognize the need for the country to have free and fair elections or otherwise they

would recognize Guaido as a head of the National Assembly, as a representative of an interim government which would lead to some type of

transition and eventually to free and fair election.

So it's trying to put this whole crisis in the context of you know, coups and all that. Well, this is the country where the coup has already been

made in terms of there's no Constitution. There's an institutional crisis that needs to be addressed and that governability crisis has had a huge

economic cost. It's -- it has you know forced a lot of people in the country over three million people to leave Venezuela.

[10:25:38] FOLBAUM: That's right. Eva Golinger, let me ask you from your perspective. How do you see this? Is this the coup that Maduro says it


EVA GOLINGER, VENEZUELAN-AMERICAN LAWYER: There is no question that there is a constitutional crisis in Venezuela. It's been going on now for

several years after the opposition won a majority in the legislative body in the National Assembly and the government of Maduro moved quickly to

neutralize their authority knowing that they would block most of his political agenda and economic agenda.

And so you know, there's been a standoff between the branches of government. It grew to the point where in 2017 the Maduro government

pushed through the creation of an alternative legislative power that's like a superpower, the National Constituent Assembly. And so ever since -- I

mean, this is not -- I wouldn't say this actions surprising. They've been really speaking out strongly that many countries and also the opposition

was not going to recognize Maduro second term which he was inaugurated on January 10th.

But I think the surprise is that the opposition was able to rally around one particular figure, a new face Juan Guaido. I mean they struggle with a

lot of divisiveness. And then of course, you know, the U.S. is playing directly into Maduro's hand. I think the fact that you have Vice President

Pence making strong statements, Secretary of State Pompeo, you know, Trump himself talking about military intervention in Venezuela, this goes

directly to Maduro's discourse on the fact that this is a U.S.-led aggression, a coup and interference and that it's clearly aimed at regime


And now the U.S. has appointed Elliott Abrams who's notoriously known for regime change and dirty war operations throughout Latin America, was

convicted in the Iran Contra scandal in the 80. So you know, I think it's very clear that there's a regime change operation going on.

The difficulty here is that Nicolas Maduro retains power in Venezuela. He has control of all the institutions. The military is supporting him as of

now. So you know, the world can recognize Juan Guaido with the exception of Russia, and China, which are powerful countries back in Maduro, but you

know, Juan Guaido doesn't have the actual keys to the -- to the presidential palace. He can't control the government.

So I believe that this could escalate if there's not a sincere dialogue with neutral mediating forces helping out to facilitate that. It could

escalate into a very violent confrontation.

FOLBAUM: Well, I think that's what a lot of people are potentially concerned about. Professor, let me ask you, where does this go from here?

What do you think?

PENFOLD: Well, I think the international pressure is going to increase tremendously in the next few days and weeks. The U.S. has already said

that the Treasury's is going to free some of Venezuelan assets which is going to have an important impact in a dying industry. The oil industry

here has lost in the last year over 600,000 barrels per day. And I think the E.U. in the next week or so most likely going to recognize to the

Guaido interim presidency trying to help the country move into a transition unless there is a recognition, an acceptance that we need new elections but

with fair institutions, with transparent procedures and with -- that allows the country to restore its constitution and have its democracy back alive.

I also think that people are going to remain solidly behind this movement aimed at restoring the Constitution and trying to move into a process of

democratic transition. So far people seem motivated to do that because they think they have no alternative. The fact that this country is living

through the biggest hyperinflation that Latin America has ever experienced, the largest economic contraction that any Latin American country has

experienced is really the base of why people on throughout the whole country are mobilizing. And I think this is something that Maduro is not


FOLBAUM: We will be watching this very, very closely. Michael Penfold in Caracas and Eva Golinger in New York, thank you both for joining us. Live

from Atlanta, this is CONNECT THE WORLD.

[10:30:07] And coming up, an uncertain future for Palestinian security forces as a new U.S. law affects funding. We'll have the details on that,

next. And the end in sight for America's longest war. We will get details on what's being hailed as a breakthrough in talks between the U.S. and the



FOLBAUM: You're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Rick Folbaum. Welcome back, glad you're with us this Sunday. Over the course

of the last 12 months, the White House has announced a series of funding cuts to Palestinians.

The administration says it wants to pressure the Palestinian Authority to return to peace talks. All that is now left of U.S. funding is the money

that goes to support the Palestinian Security Forces.

And now, a new U.S. anti-terror law is putting even those funds in jeopardy. Ian Lee got an exclusive look at what's at stake. He joins us

live now from Jerusalem. Ian.

IAN LEE, CNN FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Rick, the legislation is called the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act, and it was passed in October. And it

could make the Palestinian Authority liable for huge financial claims if Americans are the victims of Palestinian terror attacks.

The only way to avoid that liability is to stop accepting any government funding from the U.S. which is what the Palestinian Authority has recently

announced it intends to do. Over the course of last year, I got an exclusive look at what's at stake.


[10:35:15] LEE: Palestinian Security Forces locked and loaded for a raid in the West Bank city of Nablus. Intelligence just informed the police

that a known drug dealer who could be heavily armed is on the move. This is the man they wanted for quite some time.

We arrived at an empty apartment building. The police form a perimeter to stack up and move in. If the tactics appear straight out of an American

playbook, that's because they are.

"The Americans play an important role in security issues, facilities, and improving our skills." The Major General tells me. "We can't play down

their importance." At this training base in Jericho, soldiers, and police trained for months. Honing their skills from basic drills to shooting with

an AK-47.

Here, elite units practice rescuing soldiers injured during an ambush and engaging the terrorists. What you're seeing is part of the more than $60

million a year, the U.S. taxpayers have contributed toward Palestinian security. Another winner of this partnership, Israel. It's no secret the

Palestinian Security Forces carry a large burden for the Israeli army.

BRIG. GEN. EPHRAIM SNEH (RET.), DEPUTY DEFENCE MINISTER, ISRAEL: If the Palestinian Authority will be obliged to act less, our soldiers will have

to act more. It will -- it will put on them a bigger burden of counter- terrorist activity.

DAN SHAPIRO, FORMER UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL: The security cooperation between the Israeli security forces and Palestinian Authority

security forces has been exceptional. Highly professional, highly effective, highly appreciated by both sides.

If we lose that, it could really be a blow to the stability -- relative stability that has prevailed in the West Bank for the last number of years.

LEE: Some Palestinians say, that cooperation aids Israel's occupation. Palestinian officials say they are building the foundation of a future

Palestinian state.

"Palestinian Security Services are part of the regional security system," the governor tells me. "We are playing a significant role in fighting

drugs, extremism, and money laundering."

One previous raid in Nablus shows what security forces contend with on a daily basis.

This is what they recovered. Three kilograms of various drugs. Over here, we have an Israeli army automatic rifle, as well as a pistol, for grenades,

and finally, 900 rounds of ammunition.

This kind of firepower is common. And would likely fill the vacuum in the absence of Palestinian security.

Back on the raid, police navigate the stairwell. It's tense. But the forces move quickly to arrest the suspect and haul him away. The whole

raid taking less than four minutes. That's a good bang for the buck. Both Israeli and Palestinian officials will tell you.


LEE: Rick the State Department tells CNN, it's continuing to work through the potential impact of the new anti-terror law. Adding, in consultation

with partners, we have taken steps to wind down certain projects and programs in the West Bank and Gaza.

The State Department did not go into further detail. And the recent U.S. government shutdown has further hindered efforts to find a workaround to

allow funding to the Palestinian security to continue. The deadline is looming, it's January 31st. That's when the new law goes into effect.


FOLBAUM: Great access that you got there. I wonder, Ian if there is anyone to jump in and fill the vacuum. Should U.S. funds go away entirely?

Any other countries that might step up and provide the Palestinian security personnel and forces with some of the funds and training that they would


LEE: And we've seen in other programs that have lost American funding, most noticeably, UNHCR, the U.N. Refugee Agency that works with Palestine

refugees. Other countries did come in and help fill some of that -- those gaps. But for this more than $60 million that the Palestinian security

forces receive -- talking to Palestinian officials, they hope that there is that ability to receive funds from other countries as well.

The United States isn't alone. They have other partners that are working with them that include Turkey, Canada, and other partners in the security

operation. They could come in and fill that gap. But that's a lot of money for countries to give to the security forces, something that they

hope will come if that money is cut. Rick.

[10:40:17] FOLBAUM: And fascinating to hear from the retired Israeli military general, talking about how this is really going to put a burden on

Israeli forces to sort of pick up the slack if the Palestinian security personnel aren't able to do the job.

LEE: That's right. And when you look at the West Bank where the Palestinian Security Forces operate, at the -- predominantly operate around

major urban areas where the majority of Palestinians live. And that has reduced the friction between the Palestinians and the Israeli military. If

that were to go, then, not only would you have organized criminals that have that kind of firepower that we saw. But also militant groups could

try to take advantage of that vacuum.

And then, you would have the Israeli military going back into those urban areas and you would have that friction again. That General told me that,

that could mean that Palestinian lives and Israeli lives could be at risk if that were to happen.

You could see as well as the former U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro said that, that could create an environment where you see a lot more conflict and

potentially a lot more bloodshed.

FOLBAUM: Ian Lee with the exclusive live for us from Jerusalem. Ian, thank you very much. Great reporting. Well, it's been America's longest

war. The conflict in Afghanistan has dragged on now for almost 18 years. But a new push to end it is bearing fruit according to the senior U.S.

official who's leading talks with the Taliban.

His name is Zalmay Khalilzad, and he reports "significant progress" in negotiations for a ceasefire. A move that could ultimately see U.S. troops

leave that country. Here's what some people had to say in Kabul this Sunday.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE through translator): It is very good news and I hope that they agree in a peace deal. We hoped for lasting peace in the country

so that our people can live in a peaceful situation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE through translator): Everyone is tired of war and conflicts in this country. And we support any peace agreement between

Afghans, Americans, and the Taliban for the prosperity of our country.


FOLBAUM: Journalist Ali Latifi, joining us now from the Afghan capital. It's good to talk to you, sir. And what do you know about what might have

led to this -- to this breakthrough in talks?

ALI LATIFI, ONLINE JOURNALIST, AL JAZEERA: So, basically the Taliban has been pushing for a direct talks with the United States for about -- since

2001. And essentially, what it seems to have been sort of they did, the moment that changed things was when Trump came into office.

Because if you paid attention to what Trump had been saying throughout the campaign, he had been very adamant that he wanted out of Afghanistan. That

he saw it as a failed project, that he saw it as a waste. He had called it all sorts of names.

And now, with his government being able and willing to sit with the Taliban for the past six days, it shows some kind of a commitment to actually do

with withdrawal of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

FOLBAUM: Are there concessions that the Taliban is offering up in return for this? What is each side giving?

LATIFI: So, I mean, the government, the Afghan government which has not been included and talked so far has maintained that they want the Taliban

to accept the current constitution of Afghanistan, which would include rights for women, rights for minorities, rights to education, rights to

media access. Things that were very problematic during the brief time the Taliban ruled the country for six years.

So, we don't know exactly what the Taliban has agreed to. But these are things that -- you know, the government is pushing for. And this is

something that Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. representative for the peace process made very clear in his statements online about the peace process.

Saying that -- you know, it has to include everything.

One of the things that he was very adamant about is this idea of a ceasefire that an actual ceasefire has to occur before the peace process

can really take off and before they can discuss the idea of a U.S. troop withdrawal.

FOLBAUM: Ali, talk to us quickly about the Taliban in general. How powerful is the Taliban now in Afghanistan? What kind of power do they


LATIFI: Right now, the Taliban controls or influences more land than they ever have at any point in the country. They have been targeting cities

much more. They have been able to take control or try to take control of major districts in even provinces in the last three-four years. So,

definitely have some sort of an upper hand in this.

President Ghani at Davos said that during the 4 1/2 years that he's been president, 45,000 Afghan soldiers at the very least were killed in this

fight. So, it shows that which a lot of people feel is underestimate. But this shows -- you know that the Taliban seems to have momentum on their

side. And this may be part of the reason that they were willing to sit down with the U.S. and it may also be part of the reason why the U.S. is

actually sitting down with them at this point.

[10:45:21] FOLBAUM: Ali Latifi, live for us from the Afghan Capital of Kabul. Thank you very much, sir. I appreciate your insight.

And coming up next live from Atlanta, this is CONNECT THE WORLD. Oh, the weather outside is frightful. Maybe a wonderland for skiers and yetis.

But how do residents of this Japanese town get around in that whiteout? Stick around, we'll be right back.


FOLBAUM: You're watching CNN, and this is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Rick Folbaum. Welcome back. And all this week, we're exploring one of the

snowiest places on the planet, Northern Japan. In our new series destination, Tohoku, we visit an airport that's found a way to avoid winter

weather flight delays and cancelations even though it gets more than six meters of snowfall each year.


FOLBAUM: When it comes to snow, few places on the planet get more than Japan's Tohoku region. Last year, it snowed over 6 1/2 meters. More than

21 feet here in Aomori City. Perfect for skiers and winter tourists, if that is planes can land safely. Daisuke Saito's job is to make that


DAISUKE SAITO, SNOW REMOVAL TEAM, AOMORI AIRPORT (through translator): This airport is on a mountain. So, the weather can change all of a sudden.

Sometimes we have blizzards, sudden snowstorms, and complete whiteouts with low visibility.

FOLBAUM: Saito is part of the airport's snow removal team. There are 120 of them, codenamed, White Impulse, running up to eight missions as they

call them, every day in winter.

Across Aomori City, you can see why it's needed. Roads, homes, everything gets buried in snow. With nearly 300,000 residents here, whiteouts are the


JULIA MINATOYA, LOCAL BUSINESS OWNER, AOMORI CITY (through translator): As you can see, in the wintertime, everything is blanketed in snow. It's a

constant battle every single day.

[10:50:00] FOLBAUM: But clearing is only step one. The snow has to go somewhere. Much of this precipitation originated over the warmer sea. And

back into the sea, it will eventually go. Trucks, laden with ice dump it here. Every few minutes, all day every day.

Back at the airport, the tarmac is clear for now. And just in time, ANA Flight 1852 is preparing for departure. In 24 years of this cruise

operation, the airport is never delayed or canceled flights due to snow on the runway, they say.

SAITO: It's a tough job because you cannot make any mistakes, but it's also rewarding. When I see planes landing and taking off safely because of

what we do it makes me proud.

FOLBAUM: On this day, the plane is off on time bound for the snowy white skies over Tohoku.


FOLBAUM: Beautiful. Live from Atlanta, this is CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, a band of bikers' blazes through the streets of Baghdad hoping to find

healing at the handlebars. We'll have their story ahead.


FOLBAUM: Now, to our "PARTING SHOTS" with a new and creative effort to bring an end to sectarian violence in Iraq. A group of motorcycle riders

is trying to overcome years of war by sharing the road and they're doing it by steering clear of any talk of politics. Michael Holmes, explains.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Clad in leather, engines revving, a band of brothers rolls through the streets of Baghdad.

Traveling the highways in a crumbling symbol of unity in a city that has seen so much war.

BILAL AL BAYATI, FOUNDER, IRAQI BIKERS (through translator): Our goal is to build a brotherhood, it's humanitarian. And it changed society's view

of this bike.

HOLMES: These Iraqi bikers are hitting the road to put years of sectarian violence behind them, and trying to put a new face on the stereotypical

outlaw biker image. It's a group that's 380 strong made up of men from different faiths, ages, and professions, who have one common love,


AHMAD HAIDER, MEMBER, IRAQI BIKERS (through translator): This team brought together people from all of Iraq's sectors. The doctor, the employee, the

engineer, the lawyer, the laborer. It is like a small-scale Iraq.

HOLMES: Founded seven years ago when ISIS was on the rise and violence was widespread among the country's religious groups, the club meets regularly

to ride together. And there is one rule everyone must follow.

[10:54:58] AL BAYATI: It is absolutely prohibited to talk politics among members. If someone talks about politics, they're warned once or twice,

and then, expelled.

HOLMES: It's not all easy riding in Baghdad, though, military checkpoints slow down the choppers. But, the bikers say it's just part of the journey

to find new roads for the country.

AL BAYATI: We no longer have the strength to endure these tragedies or to repeat them.

HOLMES: A hope for more safe travels ahead for these road warriors. Michael Holmes, CNN, Atlanta.


FOLBAUM: Well, from the streets of Iraq to the slopes of Davos, our team is working hard to make our stories about the world easily available for

you to read and to watch. And you can do just that by going to our Facebook page,

I'm Rick Folbaum. That was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thanks for watching.