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Thousands Rally in Venezuela in Pro- and Anti-Government Protests; Interview with Francisco Rodriguez, Torino Economics; Virginia Governor Denies He's in a Racist Yearbook Photo; Trump Signals He Plan to Declare National Emergency for Wall; Pope Makes Historic Visit to UAE; Israel-Gulf Ties; Interview with Marc Schneier, Rabbi; Prime Minister May Determined to Deliver Brexit on Time; Rams versus Patriots in Super Bowl. Aired 10-11:00a ET

Aired February 3, 2019 - 10:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Tonight, back live from Abu Dhabi.

Our top story for you this hour, the political crisis in Venezuela. The country's ambassador to Iraq says he no longer recognizes Nicolas Maduro as

president. The first Venezuelan ambassador to do so. This following the defection of a top military official from Mr. Maduro's government.

Mr. Maduro was defiant at the pro-government rally, insisting in front of his supporters that he is Venezuela's rightful president. He says he

supports early elections this year but only for parliament.

That decision may not stymie the opposition's momentum. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Caracas Saturday to show their support for

Mr. Maduro's rival, the self-declared interim president Juan Guaido.

Isa Soares is in neighboring Colombia for you.

First to Stefano Pozzebon, who is in Caracas, Venezuela, and Maduro calling for early parliamentary elections, not the presidential elections that the

international community is calling for.

How are people there responding?

We seem to have a problem with Stefano's -- OK.

Stefano has filed this report. Let's run that and see whether we can reconnect with him.


STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two leaders, two crowds battling for the future of Venezuela. On one side, the Venezuelan

opposition rallies around its leader, Juan Guaido, the young president of the national assembly who swore himself in as acting president of Venezuela

on January 23.

People gathered from early hours of the morning to wait for Guaido's speech, many just hoping for an end to the country's years-long downward

spiral. Over the last few years Venezuela's economy has collapsed and its people have been unable to put their hands on the basics of food and


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope we in this right now, I hope we have a free country. I hope we start our new lies, have this nightmare past this

inferno situation we're in right now.

POZZEBON (voice-over): There is a new momentum behind the Venezuelan opposition after Nicolas Maduro began the second presidential term that

many consider legitimate here and abroad.

POZZEBON: A lot of geopoliticians say here in Venezuela they have seen the negotiating going on. We have heard that both Russia and China are on

Maduro's side and how the rest of the international community is on the opposition side. But today here in Caracas is the return of the street.

POZZEBON (voice-over): When Juan Guaido finally arrived at the rally, an avenue full of enthusiastic supporters welcomes him. On stage, the young

leader outlined his plan to put an end to the humanitarian crisis that is bringing Venezuela to its knees.

JUAN GUAIDO, INTERIM PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA (through translator): We are also announcing to the people of Venezuela that we already have three

collection points for humanitarian aid. The first point, Bogota, Colombia, will be the first collection point of humanitarian aid. And there will be

two more, which we will announce precisely where they will be in the upcoming days.

POZZEBON (voice-over): On the other side of the city, another rallying cry from the old leader.

NICOLAS MADURO, PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA (through translator): I am the president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. And I owe myself to

everyone, not just to some of them. I owe myself to all of Venezuela.

POZZEBON (voice-over): Nicolas Maduro standing firm, calls of fresh parliamentary elections that mean dismantling the national assembly led by


MADURO (through translator): I am in agreement with rectifying the legislative power of the nation and going forward with free elections in

the nation with guarantees for the people to decide on a new national assembly.

POZZEBON (voice-over): A proposal cheered by Maduro supporters, wary of the international interest towards Venezuela.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We are telling those Yankee lovers, don't you dare do anything here.

POZZEBON (voice-over): Two crowds, two leaders, today simply not able to speak to each other.


POZZEBON: That's exactly how we felt yesterday, two different sides and how fractured the society here is in Venezuela. These powers pass on the

result of more than 20 years of deep political divide, deep --


POZZEBON: -- political confrontation and the dramatic economic crisis that is making everything worse here in Caracas for the past four years.

And so the image that we have seen yesterday is the two leaders are rallying their troops and making their messages heard loud and clear but

it's still failing to find a common ground, as it has ever been for the past five years or so.

ANDERSON: Stefano, stand by. That is the story on the ground in Venezuela.

Isa, Colombia's president said he will be setting up facilities to deliver aid to Venezuela.

How much will this help?

Explain if you will.

ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's not just a political crisis, as you have seen. It is also a humanitarian crisis. So at this point, every

bit of help really is needed. The president of Colombia said yesterday that he had several conference calls with Juan Guaido, the interim

president of Venezuela, where he said he offered one of the main points for the collection of aid. And that is where the aid will be stored.

We do not know whether the aid will be there or the aim of the aid will be sent across Venezuela, which is another headache in itself. It is critical

because what we have heard from Juan Guaido is because he said 250,000 to 300,000 Venezuelans are in danger of dying, both inside Venezuela, because

of lack of medicine. Think about all the others who have fled.

This is the biggest exodus we have seen in this continent. About a million or so have fled to Colombia. More than 3 million have fled Venezuela.

Having Colombia on side, our neighboring brothers and sisters helping us, is very much what the interim president wants to see.

But this is a crisis of really huge proportions. That is why we are seeing not just the international community getting together but also the U.S.

I want to show you a tweet from John Bolton. He is the national security adviser.

He said, "I'm answering the call of president Juan Guaido. The U.S. is mobilizing and transporting humanitarian aid for the people of Venezuela.

I applaud the hard work of USAID, the State Department and their partners in preparing critical supplies to move forward this weekend."

We don't know if that was yesterday or the weekend coming.

But this begs the question, how is this aid going to be sent to Venezuela?

If it is going to be staying in the side of Colombia, then are we seeing more Venezuelans, more refugees making their way into Colombia?

If not, how exactly is USAID aid going to transport that aid without being seen by troops, by Maduro's troops?

A huge logistical nightmare here but very much important need for the people of Venezuela, who are fleeing because of hunger and for so much more

in that country and repression, of course. Let's not forget that.

ANDERSON: There has been talk over the past couple of days of the potential for U.S. military plans in Venezuela. Some thought those could

employ Colombia as an opportunity in kind for those troops.

Is that being discussed where you are?

Just how big a concern is this, is this situation in Venezuela across the border now to Colombia?

SOARES: It's a huge concern. You only need to walk down the streets. We are not near the border. You need to walk down the streets and you see

Venezuelans and the Philharmonic Orchestra of Caracas, their cellos, playing their thousand-dollar cellos on the streets, trying to get money to

actually pay for a bit of bread or milk.

This is a real concern you are seeing right in front of your very eyes. For the president of Colombia, this is very much a concern for them. More

than a million having crossed the border. Military intervention doesn't seem to be on the cards. It is very much about dialogue.

We heard today from U.S. president Donald Trump, where he said all options are very much on the table. He said there was a call from President Maduro

several months ago but he decided not to take the call because he said there is this young man in the form of Juan Guaido and he is --


SOARES: -- letting democracy in action. So very much what we are hearing from South America, also from Europe, dialogue is very much important. It

seems they are considering all options.

Worth bearing in mind that tonight is the deadline for Europe to decide whether they recognize the interim president, Juan Guaido, as the president

of Venezuela or really they put some sort of ultimatum or pressure on Nicolas Maduro.

They said eight days ago this was an ultimatum or you call for free and fair elections or we recognize Juan Guaido. More pressure on Maduro, who's

not budging; in fact, he's digging in his heels.

ANDERSON: Absolutely says he will concede to parliamentary but not presidential elections.

To both of you, thank you.

The rest of the world is looking on as a political momentum swells and the power struggle rages forward. U.S. national security adviser John Bolton

weighing in on Twitter, addressing the Venezuelan military high command directly, tweeting this.

"Now is the time to stand on the side of the Venezuelan people. It is your right and responsibility to defend the constitution and democracy for


I want to bring in chief economist at Torino Economics, Francisco Rodriguez, previously head of the Venezuelan Congressional Budget Office

and also the co-author of "Venezuela before Chavez."

What do you make of the latest on the ground, sir?

FRANCISCO RODRIGUEZ, TORINO ECONOMICS: I think that we have a very dangerous standoff right now. Maduro is unpopular. However, he does

retain the support of a loyal core of Chavista supporters, which according to opinion studies, are around 20 percent of the population.

He appears to have the full support of the military with very few exceptions. The higher command of the military has openly pledged their

loyalty to him. So the U.S., together with Colombia and Brazil and other governments, are trying to carry out this operation to mobilize and bring

humanitarian aid into Venezuela.

Maduro, on the other hand, has said that is a ploy to justify an intervention. SO I think we are seeing a very dangerous escalation, which

could turn into an armed conflict. On top of it, the U.S. imposed sanctions on Venezuela's oil sector, which produced 95 percent of the

country's foreign currency revenue.

What that means is that, if this goes on, Maduro hangs onto the power, the country could be in for much worse than what we see currently with the

humanitarian crisis, turning into a humanitarian catastrophe.

ANDERSON: Recently, you and a fellow economist, an expert on Latin America, wrote an op-ed in "The New York Times," saying that the U.S.,

quote, "has ended a dangerous game of chicken with the Venezuelan military. Abandon president Nicolas Maduro or face the devastation of the Venezuelan

economy. The message is stark: change regime or starve."

I have just read out the latest tweet from John Bolton to that end, effectively supporting what the U.S.' position, very clear position has

been now for some time.

If not that as a plan, if not that as a narrative, what do you propose, sir?

RODRIGUEZ: What we advocate for in that article is a negotiated solution that starts from something very basic. It is necessary to be able to

maintain imports of food and medicine into Venezuela.

Humanitarian aid, not only is it being done in a way in which, because it's not be accepted by the government of Venezuela, it is very unlikely to get

into the country. And it could lead to an armed conflict.

But the dimensions of humanitarian aid are much less than the dimensions that the need to feed a population of 30 million. You are talking about a

country that, by Ambassador Bolton's own recognition, he estimates that the U.S. sanctions will cost Venezuela $11 billion in foregone foreign currency


Venezuela's complete imports of goods last year were $11.7 million. So we are essentially talking about leaving the country without any types of

resources in order to import food and medicine.

We are suggesting an oil for food program as was done with Iraq, that the administration of Juan Guaido, which is recognized by the U.S., and that of

Maduro effectively agree on a mechanism in order that the country will continue exporting oil in exchange for food and medicines under supervision

of the United Nations and under joint control of Maduro and Guaido.

Basically it's going to ensure that the country doesn't completely collapse and enter into civil war.


RODRIGUEZ: And I think we could see here having something similar to what happened in Libya, where, even if you see a military post, you're still

going to have civil war and strife. And that is what needs to be avoided.

ANDERSON: Those sanctions, your food program (ph), of course, busted by so many, you made a second point in that op-ed, which is what?

RODRIGUEZ: Correct. So we also are urging negotiations for an interim government with a limited mandate to stabilize the economy and organize the

call for new elections. In Venezuela, it's very difficult to have immediate elections.

Both the elections that Maduro are calling for and even some international calls for immediate elections, you don't have reliable voter rolls in

Venezuela. The opposition accuses the government from manipulating. So you need time to organize this process.

We're suggesting, similar to the precision in Poland in 1989, is that you have the current government retain some very limited and circumscribed

control, perhaps over the military, but that you have an interim government built on a coalition, based on mutual agreement, a national government that

addresses the urgent issues of the country.

ANDERSON: You've made your point. As you said earlier, as much as Mr. Maduro's foes hate to admit it and find it repellent, Chavismo still

carries some political weight in society and among military.

How much weight?

Given the country's extremely straitened times, why the continued support?

RODRIGUEZ: As I said, it's about 20 percent according to most surveys and almost all of the military higher command. You have to remember that this

is the political movement that has been in power for 20 years. They've won numerous elections in the past even if they are unpopular now; Chavez

was popular.

In fact, most opinion surveys tell us that people remember Chavez quite fondly. He has more than a 50 percent approval rating after being dead.

So Venezuelan society is divided to the extent that you can have a civil war. You can have a group in a very polarized society decide to fight it

out. That's what we are to stop. We think the country is on the verge of a civil war and a humanitarian catastrophe and the international community

has to take action to stop it.

ANDERSON: A stark warning from our guest, Francisco Rodriguez. Thank you for joining us, invaluable insight from a man who really knows his stuff.

Still to come, shifting stories and a refusal to resign. How a racist photo is upending politics in the U.S. state of Virginia.

And mixing prayers and politics, Pope Francis travels to the United Arab Emirates with a message on Yemen. That story here shortly.





ANDERSON: Welcome back.

When something unsavory is uncovered about an American politician's past, they often do one of two things: deny and deflect or admit it and beg for


But the Virginia governor Ralph Northam is taking the unusual approach of employing both tactics, after this racist photo from his 1984 medical

school yearbook page surfaced.

It depicts two people, one in blackface and the other in KKK robes. Northam was swift to take responsibility and apologize for being in the


But then a bizarre turn at a news conference, amid a crushing wave of calls for him to resign. He now says he is not in the photo after all but he did

admit to dressing up in blackface on another occasion. Have a listen to this.


GOV. RALPH NORTHAM (D), VIRGINIA: When I was confronted with the images yesterday, I was appalled that they appeared on my page but I believed then

and now that I am not either of the people in that photo.

I am not and will not excuse the content of the photo. It was offensive, racist and despicable.

I did participate in a dance contest in San Antonio, in which I darkened my face as part of a Michael Jackson costume.

I had the shoes, a glove and I used a little shoe polish to put on my cheeks. And the reason I used a very little bit is because I don't know if

anybody has tried that but you cannot get shoe polish off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you still able to moonwalk?

NORTHAM: My wife says "inappropriate circumstances."

I was the president of the VMI Honor Court. Our code there is, "A cadet shall not lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those who do." That is the most

meaningful thing to me in my life. I tell the truth. I'm telling the truth today.


ANDERSON: Those calls for him to resign now louder than ever.

Friend of the show and CNN political analyst, Julian Zelizer, says it is important to keep in mind the year in which the photo was taken. He joins

me now from New York.

Let's be very clear about this. As ludicrous as this might seem, given the Friday admission, it is just conceivable that this was not Northam in the


Be that as it may, what is your point?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The fact that the picture is on his page and associated with him is really the relevant part, regardless of who

is in the picture. These are meant to be family photos, student photos, not a photo of a KKK person and someone in blackface, dressed in that kind

of costume.

The 1980s were not the 1950s; the KKK was a despised organization at this time. Blackface was something seen as not appropriate to do in mainstream


So the fact this took place when someone graduated in medical school in 1984 is really odd and unusual and has not really been explained.

ANDERSON: To be clear, there are reports that there were numerous mistakes in that yearbook. Be that as it may, I think our discussion is an

important one and the state of affairs over the past 48 hours seem quite odd.

The State of the Union is on Tuesday, a week later than originally planned, following a big tug of war between Mr. Trump and House Speaker Nancy

Pelosi. He also hinted he may announce plans to fund his border wall possibly by declaring a national emergency.

And the response, should that be the case, would be what?

ZELIZER: Well, you're going to see court challenges if the president moves forward with a declaration to use emergency powers. Many people say there

is no emergency and that --


ZELIZER: -- he doesn't have the authority to just do that in order to move around money.

Congress can also challenge and try to revoke his use of that power. It would start in the House of Representatives. It would start with Speaker

Pelosi. My guess is, if he does that, you will see a challenge on both fronts.

Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, has warned President Trump several times not to do this. But it might be the only

face-saving move that the president can do, even if it will be challenged to get out of this mess he has put himself in by insisting on a wall.

ANDERSON: This State of the Union, of course, will mark the opening of a new government, a new Congress, a different looking House of

Representatives run by the Democrats. So there will be an awful lot of oversight, some say the potential for overkill.

We will wait to see what happens with that. Mr. Trump, though, continues to speak about his policies, about, for example withdrawing troops from

Syria. That was in a CBS interview set to air today.

When asked about what happens if there is a resurgence of ISIS, he says, quote, "We will come back if we have to."

What do you make of that?

ZELIZER: Well, he has actually received a lot of pushback for the withdrawal from Syria, withdrawal of troops from Republicans, not just

Democrats. So the president understands there is a lot of fallout for his decision to do this and the way in which he did it was very controversial.

It was not thought through. It was not deliberative. I think he is now making statements to open the door to putting troops back in or to not

removing the troops as fast as he is saying, because he is feeling the pressure.

It's the Senate Republicans that worry him. When he hears criticism from Senate Republicans, that is his point of vulnerability because they have

the ability to undercut him by withdrawing the support they have given him since 2017.

ANDERSON: We are now two years away from what will be the 2021 State of the Union. There may or may not be a new U.S. president at that point.

The Democratic field of challengers for president seems to be growing by the day.

Here is where the list stands right now, for our viewers' sake, with New Jersey senator Cory Booker, Hawaiian congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, the

latest to officially declare. That is an awful lot of people.

Does anybody in this entire lineup here, we are talking about four, seven, eight, nine, 10 candidates, does anybody have a chance?

And are any more candidates expected from the Democrats?

ZELIZER: More candidates are certainly expected. I think the field will grow maybe by 10 or even more. Yes, they have a chance. This is a

vulnerable president. His approval ratings are very low nationally. He is not the most conventional or stable president. There are many Republicans

who privately are not thrilled with what he is doing.

That means you have a vulnerable incumbent. And the economy, we don't know where it will be by that time. People like Kamala Harris, Senator Warren.

These are formidable players in the political field. I think they are showing very early on they understand how to attack the president.

They have a set of issues that is very strong within the Democratic Party. And I don't think Republicans can take any of them lightly. I think this

is going to be a very competitive race, just as it was in 2016.

ANDERSON: And very briefly, the U.S. president launched his bid for reelection back in February of 2017. No one has officially come out yet.

Will Trump get the 2020 nomination from the Republicans unopposed?

ZELIZER: That's going to be a test for the GOP. John Kasich and some other Republicans, Jeff Flake, who just retired from the Senate, they are

eyeing a potential challenge in the Republican primaries. I would not be surprised to see that. It happens occasionally and maybe this time more

than ever it could be a pretty serious challenge, given his vulnerabilities.

ANDERSON: Always a pleasure, sir. Thank you out of New York, Julian Zelizer with some excellent analysis for you this Sunday. Thank you.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

ANDERSON: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. We are live from Abu Dhabi. Coming up, an historic visit and a timely message. Pope Francis touches

down here in a matter of hours. We take a look at what to expect from the first-ever papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula. That after this.





ANDERSON: You're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD.

In a matter of hours from now, Pope Francis will make history here in Abu Dhabi. He is due to arrive for what will be the first papal appearance

ever in the Persian Gulf. The state visit will include meeting with the grand imam of al-Azhar, the highest seat of Sunni learning in the Muslim


Also on the schedule, mass on Tuesday. However, prayers may not be all the pope is offering. Before his departure from Italy, he made an indirect

appeal to his hosts, partners in the Saudi-led coalition, fighting the Houthis in Yemen, strongly criticizing all sides in that war.


POPE FRANCIS, PONTIFF, ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH (through translator): Dear brothers and sisters, I am following the humanitarian crisis in Yemen with

great worry. The population is exhausted by the long conflict and many, many children are suffering from hunger because they're not able to get to

food deposits.

Brothers and sisters, the cry of these children and their parents rise up to God. I appeal to all sides involved and to the international community

to urgently press for respect of the agreements that have been reached, guarantee the distribution of food and work for the good of the population.

But let us pray strongly, because there are children who are hungry, who are thirsty. They don't have medicine and they are in danger of death.


ANDERSON: That was the pope speaking at the Vatican before his trip here to the UAE, landing here in about an hour and a half, scheduled at least.


ANDERSON: Today the United Arab Emirates is home to about a million Catholics, almost all of them expats. But the pope's visit also highlights

a native history of Christianity in the Gulf that dates back centuries.


ANDERSON (voice-over): A message to the faithful ahead of his historic trip to the Arabian Peninsula, the birthplace of Islam and home of some of

its holiest sites attracting millions of pilgrims each year. The Gulf also has a Christian past.

PETER HELLYER, UAE HISTORIAN AND WRITER: We have evidence of Christianity in Eastern Arabia, including the UAE and Oman, certainly well into the 9th

and 9th centuries A.D.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Abu Dhabi itself is home to the ruins of an ancient monastery built around 600 A.D., fragments of which can be found at the

Louvre Abu Dhabi.

HELLYER: It was founded by a denomination called The Church of the East, which is one of the eastern churches, that still survives. So the visit by

the pope actually has a local resonance in that there is a tradition here of Christianity that is still related today to the Catholic Church.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Hellyer says history suggests that local followers of that church converted to Islam but it didn't mark the end of the

Christian presence on the Arabian Peninsula. While Islam is the official religion of the Gulf States and leaving Islam is illegal, in the UAE alone,

it is believed there are over 1 million Christians, the majority of whom are Catholic migrant workers.

HELLYER: You can't be a trading nation on the shores of a great maritime trade route without learning to develop some kind of tolerance and

understanding and acceptance.

ANDERSON (voice-over): A champion of interfaith dialogue, Pope Francis will meet with the grand imam of the Egypt's al-Azhar mosque in Abu Dhabi

during his trip, a cleric regarded as the highest authority in Sunni Islam.

ABDULKHALEQ ABDULLA, PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE: UAE is already a role model of sorts. It's the trendsetter for the whole region. Whatever the

UAE does, others follow.

ANDERSON (voice-over): The UAE is using this visit to shine a spotlight on its carefully cultivated image of tolerance on a world stage while

maintaining a more muscular foreign policy. UAE's version of tolerance stands in contrast to neighboring Saudi Arabia, where churches are illegal

and non-Muslims can't worship in public.

ABDULLA: And tolerance these days are in short supply, not only in this very troubled region but all over the world. It's in short supply in

Europe, in America, wherever you go. So the UAE wants to be a leading global force for tolerance. And I think that is the kind of legacy that we

are hoping that the pope's visit will leave us.


ANDERSON: A push for tolerance that my next guest has made his mission here in the Gulf. The UAE, which is home to a small Jewish community,

Rabbi Marc Schneier joins me now. He is the head of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, an organization that promotes Jewish-Islamic ties.

His big focus is on working to establish and improve Israel's diplomatic ties with regional powers.

It is a pleasure having you on, sir. Thank you for being here at what is an extraordinary time for this country and this region. You have your fair

share of controversies and criticism in the U.S. But you say you are welcomed here with open arms in the Gulf.

Why is it you are the man for what is a rather large job?

MARC SCHNEIER, RABBI: Well, 15 years ago I pioneered the field of Muslim- Jewish relations globally. It was about 12 years ago that I entered the region through the king of Saudi Arabia, through King Abdullah, who

introduced me to the king of Bahrain.

There is a whole transformation that is now taking place in this region in terms of a commitment to interreligious and interfaith dialogue. We are

living in some extraordinary times.

ANDERSON: Describe for me very briefly what your observations are of this country and this region of the Gulf, the Arabian Peninsula.

SCHNEIER: My observations from an interfaith point of view that the process has begun in terms of reaching the Promised Land of greater

understanding, cooperation, coexistence among faith communities. And you see this now taking place throughout the region today.

ANDERSON: It's no secret that ties between Israel and certain Arab states are warming.


ANDERSON: Just months ago Benjamin Netanyahu was welcomed into --


ANDERSON: -- the Gulf State of Oman, the very first visit by an Israeli leader in more than 20 years.

On his return, he told his cabinet colleagues, there will be much more visits -- there will be more visits. I'm not sure my grammar was

particularly good there.

Is Iran the driving force behind this rapprochement as we might describe it?

SCHNEIER: I believe there are three critical reasons for this rapprochement.

First, there is the concern, the threat from Iran. It's a common enemy that the Gulf and Israel share.

Number two, there is an economic transformation that is taking place in the Gulf, particularly because of the diminishing demand for oil. And many

Gulf leaders see Israel as that ultimate economic partner, Israel being the start of nation.

And then finally I believe the Gulf nations want to strengthen their relations with the United States, particularly with the Trump

administration. And they see Israel as the conduit not only to the Trump administration but also to winning over the United States.

ANDERSON: And of course, the man embedded within that relationship between Israel, the U.S. and the Gulf is Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of the U.S.

president, who has a plan -- we have yet to see the details of that plan -- for Middle East peace.

What role -- until we see that, we have absolutely no idea of what this plan is.

What role do you believe the Gulf can play in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the process, should there be one, again, for peace?

SCHNEIER: I believe the role the Gulf can play is one of economics in terms of bringing economic dimension and economic hope and prosperity,

particularly to the Palestinians.

If I was to contrast the Saudi peace initiative, the Arab peace initiative in 2002 and the current peace initiative, in 2002, was Israel,

Palestinians, here is the plan; work it out and then call us.

Today there is a recognition among Gulf leaders that they need some skin in the game. They need to be a part of that process and I believe that, only

with the participation of the Gulf, that you will then see the ultimate reconciliation resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

ANDERSON: I will leave that conversation. We could talk about this for hours. I want to get moved on.

The UAE is actually home to a small Jewish community in Dubai. You say there are also communities in Bahrain, Qatar. This will surprise our

viewers, I'm absolutely sure, an you think this year will be a big one, telling "The Jerusalem Post" a couple of weeks ago, in 2019, we will see

the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and one or two Gulf states. I think there are many horses in the race. I predict Bahrain

will be first and another dark horse is Qatar.

What is this based on?

Is this based on what you are hearing in these countries?

And will Bahrain be first?

SCHNEIER: If there is any country that deserves to be first it would be Bahrain. The king of Bahrain, since I first met him in the palace in 2011,

has consistently and publicly demonstrated his support and wanting diplomatic relations with Israel.

It was the king of Bahrain who said to me in 2016, which was a public statement, that, for a strong moderate Arab voice in the Gulf, we need a

strong Israel.

ANDERSON: You talk of imminent openness. We reached out to Bahrain and they were quote "reticent" to confirm your outreach.

Is there still nervousness about broaching this topic in public?

SCHNEIER: Of course, there is nervousness. It is a process. Now the good news is that the journey has begun. And that is a part of the process.

There have been so many benchmarks along the way.

If the irony that among the six Gulf States the one gulf state that Israel today is working with publicly and openly is Qatar. Look at the

relationship now with Israel and Qatar, the partnership in Gaza. Qatar is in Gaza, not with the blessing of the Israelis but at the request of the

Israelis. That is why I have labeled Qatar the dark horse in the race.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. The UAE's Jewish community has just been officially recognized --



ANDERSON: -- as I understand it. Just explain.

SCHNEIER: There is a book in celebration of the Year of Tolerance called "Celebrating Tolerance: Religious life in the UAE." The first time that

the Jewish community has been recognized as a faith community in print and the minister of tolerance actually wrote the foreword to this book.

Today was the celebration of the publication of the book, affirming the insistence of the Jewish community of Dubai.

ANDERSON: How big is that community?

And when will we see --

SCHNEIER: It's only a matter of time.

ANDERSON: Thank you, sir.

SCHNEIER: My pleasure.

ANDERSON: Rabbi Marc Schneier, head of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, thank you very much for joining us.

Live from Abu Dhabi, this is CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, the Brexit latest is that the government in the U.K. scrambles for, quote,

"alternative arrangements" to the Irish backstop. Her Majesty's officials make their own to evacuate her from the capital in case of a no deal. That

is next.

And it is Super Bowl Sunday. American football's championship game kicks off soon and hundreds of thousands are in Atlanta for the big game. We'll

go live outside the stadium for you -- coming up.




ANDERSON: You're with CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. It is 48 minutes past 7:00 here in Abu Dhabi.

The U.K. prime minister reiterating she is determined to not just deliver Brexit but to deliver it on time, writing in "The Telegraph," underlined

she "will find a pragmatic solution by the March 29th deadline."

Trade secretary Liam Fox took a combative stance which says the deal cannot be reopened.


LIAM FOX, BRITISH INTERNATIONAL TRADE SECRETARY: They are really saying that they would rather not negotiate and end up in a no deal position. I

think that is not a responsible approach to take.

It would have an impact on the European economy, on jobs and prosperity. And for the --


FOX: -- and for the British economy absolutely. And so it's in all our interests to get to that agreement for the E.U. to say we are not going to

even discuss it seems to me quite irresponsible.


ANDERSON: Meanwhile, the home secretary, Sajid Javid, was adamant that there are alternative arrangements for the Irish backstop that can be

seemingly impossible but by avoiding both a hard border with Ireland and any form of customs union with the E.U. Have a listen.


SAJID JAVID, BRITISH HOME SECRETARY: In terms of an alternative --


JAVID: -- arrangement, it can be done. In my own department I've got border force. I asked border force months ago to advise me, to look at

what alternative arrangements are possible. They have shown me quite clearly you can have no hard border on the island of Ireland and you can

use existing technology, perfectly possible.

The only thing that is missing is a bit of goodwill on the E.U. side.


ANDERSON: Even Buckingham Palace, according to reports, is making arrangements for a hard Brexit. It has apparently resurrected a Cold War

emergency plan to evacuate Her Majesty from London in the case of rioting.

Ten to 8:00 here. Coming up, it is Super Bowl Sunday. For those of you who are NFL fans, you will know this is America's biggest sporting event.

We will get you live outside the stadium, where the pregame festivities are very much underway. That is next.




ANDERSON: You're with CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. About eight minutes left.

We are just hours from Super Bowl. We thought the biggest sporting event in America deserves some conversation.

Hundreds of thousands of fans have already poured into Atlanta for the game. It has been a week of concerts, awards ceremonies and other

festivities leading to the kickoff, which is now just hours away, as the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots face-off for the championship

title at what is known as the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, very close to CNN Center. Let's get you to CNN sports anchor Andy Scholes, who is in

Atlanta, getting ready for what is the big event.

Sir, take it away.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Super Bowl Sunday. It's one of the biggest days of the year here in the United States. Even people who don't

like football, they tune into this game because it is much more than a game. It is a cultural event. Estimated 103 million people in the U.S.

watch the Eagles beat the Patriots in last year's Super Bowl; another 30 to 50 million watch the game internationally.

You can watch the numbers to be bigger this year. We broadcast it to 180 countries in 25 different languages.

A big storyline for this Super Bowl has been the two quarterbacks in the game. On one side, you have the greatest player to ever play the game, Tom

Brady. This is going to be his ninth Super Bowl. He is trying to win his sixth.

On the other side you have the Ram, Jared Goff. When Brady won his first Super Bowl in 2002, Goff was a 7-year old. He's 24 now. He would be one

of the youngest quarterbacks to win the Super Bowl. Brady is 41 years old now. He would be the oldest.


TOM BRADY, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: It's hard to believe that this is the ninth time doing this. It wasn't always like this. I remember it was a

little bit smaller back in the day, the first time I did it. I think I'm a better player now than I was in 2001.


BRADY: I don't think I was the best player I could possibly be at that point. I think there has been a lot of work and effort over the years to

try to get to where I'm at now.

JARED GOFF, LOS ANGELES RAMS: It is always that type of stuff that you can look back on and say people who have doubted you or people who have said

this or that, at this point, I am comfortable with who I am and I'm confident and try not to pay too much attention to it.


SCHOLES: With this Super Bowl there are so many fun things to do in the host city. This year it is Atlanta. The NFL experience is always one of

the coolest things in the city. It's like a giant playground for NFL fans.

You can run the 40-yard dash. The fastest man in the world, Jamaica's Usain Bolt was here Saturday. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.22 seconds.

That is the fastest any NFL player has ever done in history. I actually tried this myself. And I can confirm I did not break any records like

Usain Bolt, actually much slower. But still gave it a go.

Another big part of Super Bowl week is all the parties around town. Saturday the company fanatics had their celebration. I went over there,

talked to lots of celebrities and got their prediction for the game.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think you know early how it will be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're making a house call. We have to collect the copay. But this one time I'm giving away free recommendations. I'm going

with the Pats to cover the spread.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going for the Rams. That's it. That's all I can say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tom Brady is so good. I wouldn't mind seeing him win another championship.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no, I'm going for the Patriots to blow the Rams out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I say Ben calls one way or the other. That's all I know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't bet against Brady.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prediction: Eagles will win 37-16.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last year, Eagles 37-16. That's my prediction.


SCHOLES: That's actor Kevin Hart, a huge Eagles fan. He's always the comedian. But lots of people picking the Patriots to win, almost makes me

think too many people are picking that and maybe the Rams have a shot at the upset.

ANDERSON: But whoever said don't bet against Brady is absolutely right. Don't bet against that boy.

I'm Becky Anderson. That was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you, viewers, for watching. See you tomorrow.