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CONNECT THE WORLD
Pope Francis Give Historic Mass on Arabian Peninsula; U.K. Prime Minister Speaks in Northern Ireland Amid Irish Backstop Concerns; Following the Trail of U.S. Weaponry Inside Yemen;
Aired February 5, 2019 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:00] BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: Where ever you're watching around the world, hello and welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson, live
for you from Abu Dhabi.
And the U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May will be speaking momentarily in Belfast, in Northern Ireland. This is the room. We will come to that as
and when she starts.
Now, the Lord specializes in doing new things, he can even open paths in the desert. Those are the words of Pope Francis as he celebrated the first
papal mass ever on this the Arabian Peninsula. The words were a reference to his own groundbreaking visit to the region. The first by a leader of
the Catholic Church to the crucible of Islam.
Government officials here in Abu Dhabi say 180,000 people celebrated the mass. And I was fortunate enough to be in the crowd, the sense of history
and excitement, well it was palatable.
Joining me out there in the crowd was John Defterios who was asking some of the attendees about what the visit means for the country's Catholics.
John, welcome back. It's been a long day, over 1 million Catholics in this country. This is a country that hosts some 200 nationalities. And you
spoke to many of those who had the opportunity to listen to this mass today. What did they tell you?
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNNMONEY EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: I have to say, Becky, it would be hard not to be moved by what you saw, especially with the
Parishioners and the numbers were much greater than we anticipated. We had 50,000 inside, we had 130,000 outside. So you're in a sea of people so
dedicated to the cause and the Church which struck me. We have 1.25 million Christians overall in the country. So we had 10 percent of the
Christians in one location. And it was like the United Nations of Parishioners as well.
ANDERSON: I'm going to stop you for a moment. Let's just get to Theresa May, who is now speaking in Belfast.
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: -- U.K. leaves the EU. I recognize that this is a crucial time for Northern Ireland. And ensuring that the
unique needs of this part of the U.K. are met has been one of my chief priorities ever since I became Prime Minister.
Any border that weaves its way through farms and villages, bisects hundreds of roads and lanes, and which is crossed and re-crossed by thousands of
people every day would pose a logistical challenge in the context of Brexit.
But when you add to those geographical factors Northern Ireland's complex history, the different traditions and identities that make up its
community, and the long path to peace that the people of Northern Ireland have walked over the last forty years -- the challenge is even greater.
Over the last two and half years, we have come a long way towards a solution that works for Northern Ireland and Ireland. We have agreed
mutual protections for citizens' rights, the maintenance of our common travel area, and set a framework for our future relationship that ensures
tariff and quota-free trade and protects our close co-operation on security and law enforcement.
But the U.K. Parliament rejected the Withdrawal Agreement because of their concerns about the backstop -- the legal protocol to prevent no hard border
in the event our future relationship is not in place at the end of the implementation period.
Now I know that many people in Northern Ireland, and indeed across this island, are worried about what Parliament's rejection of the withdrawal
deal means for them. So I am here today to affirm my commitment, and that of the United Kingdom Government, to all of the people of Northern Ireland,
of every background and tradition.
To affirm my commitment to the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, to its successors the St. Andrew's Agreement and the Stormont House Agreement,
and to the principles they enshrine -- which is absolute. And to affirm my commitment to delivering a Brexit that ensures no return to a hard border
between Northern Ireland and Ireland -- which is unshakable.
I was 12 when the troubles began and 41 when the Belfast Agreement was reached. For all my adult life, Northern Ireland has been a central
The progress of the last few decades -- from the troubles to ceasefire, from ceasefire to political agreement and from agreement to active
participation by unionists and nationalists in institutions that enjoy cross-community support -- has been a massive achievement and a landmark in
the history of these islands.
[10:05:02] From the moment I became Prime Minister of the U.K., I knew that one of my most profound responsibilities was to serve the interests of the
people of Northern Ireland by doing all I could to protect and sustain that progress. Successive U.K. and Irish governments have played their parts,
often working together in close co-operation.
But it has been the political parties in Northern Ireland -- the UUP and the SDLP, the DUP, Sinn Fein, and the Alliance -- it has been civil society
groups like WAVE and Healing Through Remembering -- and above all it has been the people of Northern Ireland who have achieved by far the most.
Violence has not been eliminated. But it has been reduced to levels that would once have seemed impossible to imagine.
Divisions remain entrenched in some communities. But many people, including those from the younger generations, are more and more interested
in putting aside those divisions to build a shared future.
Thanks to greater political stability, Northern Ireland is now a leading destination for inward investment, with over 900 international businesses
investing in its economic success. Employment is at a near-record high and unemployment at a near-record low. And that transformation is reflected in
the image that Northern Ireland projects to the rest of the world today. It is no longer one of violence, but of dynamism and success. And the
decisive moment in that transformation was the Belfast Agreement in 1998.
Its success was in allowing people of different traditions to feel that those traditions and their identities were respected, and that they could
work together to build a successful future for all the people of Northern Ireland. It enshrined the principle that it is the birthright of all the
people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both, as they may so choose.
And it enshrined the consent principle. That it will always and only be for the people of Northern Ireland to decide what their constitutional
future should be -- and that the U.K. Government is solemnly committed to supporting and implementing their democratic wishes.
These principles are the bedrock of peace and stability in Northern Ireland. And they will forever be honored by the United Kingdom
A fundamental belief in the Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is part of my political heritage as a Conservative and Unionist -- and that
will never change. But the Unionism I believe in is one that respects absolutely the central importance of an Irish identity to those people in
Northern Ireland who claim it. And the United Kingdom I stand for is an open and tolerant union of nations and people.
A country where every religion, every peaceful and democratic creed, has a place and every man and woman is equal before the law, treated with respect
and has the opportunity to get on and succeed. Indeed, that Union can only ever be secure and prosper if it is built on that respect and acceptance of
difference and diversity.
Because the Belfast Agreement is not just the bedrock of stability here in Northern Ireland, its principles are fundamental to the security and
success of the whole United Kingdom. Our absolute commitment to those principles has informed and directed my approach to Brexit -- from my first
speeches as Prime Minister to my first meetings with the Taoiseach.
And in December 2017, in the Joint Report we agreed with the EU, we committed to protect the 1998 agreement in all its parts and to the
totality of the relationships set out in it. To the avoidance of a hard border, including any physical infrastructure or related checks and
controls. And to preserving the integrity of the U.K. internal market and Northern Ireland's place within it.
These were commitments made in good faith. Our preferred approach has always been to deliver them through the Future Relationship.
But I accepted the need for an insurance policy or bridging arrangement to guarantee no hard border if the Future Relationship was not in place in
time. And that such a policy had to deliver legal certainty -- through what is called a legally operative text -- so it would give people and
businesses on both sides of the border clarity and confidence over how these commitments would be fulfilled. That is why I agreed to the backstop
in the Withdrawal Agreement.
And unlike the original European Commission proposal, it did not impose a customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K.
Many people, businesses, farming organizations and voluntary groups in Northern Ireland agreed with me. They spoke out in support of the
Withdrawal Agreement and they defended the backstop.
[10:10:00] I know that wasn't an easy thing to do and I am grateful to them for doing so. I fought hard to make the case for the deal as it stands. I
believed it could command a majority in the House of Commons. But I have had to face up to the fact that in its current form it cannot. And the
need for changes to the backstop is the key issue.
While there were those in Northern Ireland who spoke in favor of it, it is also true that the backstop is not supported by the two main Unionist
parties here. And this also influenced MPs in England, Scotland and Wales in voting against the deal.
I can only deliver on the commitments we have made if I can get a deal through the U.K. Parliament. And meetings with MPs across the House showed
that I can only get a deal through Parliament if legal changes are made to the backstop. And that is why the U.K. government -- and a majority of MPs
from across the House of Commons -- supported the amendment from Sir Graham Brady last week.
It reaffirms our desire to leave with a deal and our commitment to no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. And as Sir Graham himself set
out, it would mean replacing the backstop with another arrangement which avoids a hard border or making legally binding changes to the backstop to
introduce a time limit or create an exit mechanism.
I know that the prospect of changing the backstop and re-opening the Withdrawal Agreement creates real anxieties here in Northern Ireland and in
Ireland. Because it is here that the consequences of whatever is agreed will most be felt. I recognize, too, that the majority of voters in
Northern Ireland voted to remain. And that many will feel that once again decisions taken in Westminster are having a profound -- and in many cases
unwanted -- impact in Northern Ireland and Ireland.
So I am determined to work towards a solution that can command broader support from across the community in Northern Ireland. As we do so, there
are a number of commitments that will underpin our approach and which must be part of any alternative arrangements that we seek to negotiate with the
EU and pass through the U.K. Parliament.
First, we stand by our commitment in the Joint Report that there will be no hard border, including any physical infrastructure or related checks and
controls. And this means people on either side of that border will be able to live their lives as they do now.
I have spoken to people in places like Fermanagh who remember the customs border posts, approved roads and security installations of the not-so
distant past. I have spoken to businesses who have supply chains that cross between Great Britain, Northern Ireland and Ireland. I understand
how thousands of people move back and forth between Northern Ireland and Ireland every day -- to go to work, to visit family, even to do their
shopping. I understand what a hard border would mean -- not just in terms of the disruption at the border itself, but in terms of trade for the whole
The Belfast Agreement delivers just and equal treatment for the identity, ethos and aspirations of both communities. And for many a seamless border
between Northern Ireland and Ireland is integral to delivering this. And I know this has been the cornerstone around which the community in Northern
Ireland has come together to deliver peace and prosperity. And I will not do anything to put that at risk.
So while I have said that technology could play a part, and that we will look at alternative arrangements, these must be ones that can be made to
work for the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland.
Second, neither will I compromise on my promise to protect Northern Ireland's integral place in the U.K.
When the European Commission proposed a version of the backstop which involved creating a customs border in the Irish Sea, I successfully
resisted it. And I have ruled out any return to such a suggestion. This would not only damage the integrity of the U.K.'s internal market which is
so vital to businesses across the U.K. -- and not least here in Northern Ireland. It would also ignore the very real concerns of many people about
being cut off from the rest of the U.K.
Furthermore, we will also ensure there will be no new regulatory barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K. without Northern
Ireland's institutions having their say.
Third, there will be full protection for all existing cross-border co- operation. Many areas of cooperation have been identified -- both those formally set out by the North South Ministerial Council such as cooperation
on health and transport or keeping the island of Ireland disease-free for animals and plants and informal areas of co-operation such as a single
integrated electricity market that supplies power to everyone.
Every area of existing cross-border co-operation must be respected. If these are ever to change in the future, it will be a matter for Belfast and
Dublin in accordance with the three-stranded approach, not as a consequence of our EU exit.
Fourth, we will uphold the rights enshrined in the Belfast Agreement for all the people of Northern Ireland, right across the whole community.
[10:15:00] This includes upholding commitments around mutual respect, religious liberties, equality of opportunity, tolerance and rights.
I know that there are some in the nationalist community in particular who worry that some of their existing rights could be eroded when the U.K.
leaves the EU. So we have already enshrined in the Withdrawal Agreement a legal guarantee of no diminution of equality and rights.
There have also been serious concerns raised about how U.K. immigration rules treat citizens here exercising their rights under the Agreement to be
Irish. The birth right to identify and be accepted as British, Irish or both, and to hold both British and Irish citizenship is absolutely central
to the Agreement.
But I know that in some cases recently, people have encountered difficulties in securing their rights as Irish citizens to bring in family
members. I understand the serious concerns that have been raised. So I have asked the Home Secretary, working closely with the Secretary of State
for Northern Ireland, to review these issues urgently to deliver a long- term solution consistent with the letter and spirit of the Belfast Agreement.
Without a devolved government -- and with only unionists represented in the House of Commons -- it is more important than ever that we uphold our duty
to ensure all voices in Northern Ireland are heard. I take that very seriously indeed and the U.K. Government will always work in the interests
of the whole community. So tomorrow I will be sitting down with the political parties to discuss the way forward and ensure that we can deliver
for all the people of Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland does not have to rely on the Irish Government or the European Union to prevent a return to borders of the past. The U.K.
government will not let that happen. I will not let that happen.
At the same time, we must continue to support all efforts that can lead towards the restoration of Northern Ireland's political institutions.
And the U.K. Government is absolutely committed to ensuring that when an Executive is restored it will have real influence to speak for all the
people of Northern Ireland as we shape the U.K.'s future relationship with the European Union.
As we work to address the unique challenges that Brexit poses to Northern Ireland, so I also want to ensure that we continue to maintain -- and
indeed enhance -- the strongest possible bilateral partnership between the U.K. and Ireland. I have said many times that I want to see a new, deep
and special partnership between the U.K. and the 27 Member States of the European Union. But our relationship with Ireland is deeper than our
relationship with any of the other 27. It is uniquely rooted in ties of family, history and geography.
The recent past has been a moment of reflection in the U.K. and Ireland as we have commemorated the centenary of a series of key events in our shared
history. Ireland remembered the centenary of the Easter Rising in an inclusive manner which promoted a greater understanding of our often-
While our two countries remembered together the shared sacrifice of so many who fought side by side in the First World War.
The ceremony at Messines in 2017, attended by His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge and former Taoiseach Enda Kenny was particularly poignant, as
it remembered the soldiers of the 16th Irish and 36th Ulster Division who both played a key role in the Allied victory in that battle.
Today those ties of family and friendship between our countries are more important than they have ever been. And I believe there is a yearning in
the hearts of all the peoples of these islands for a close and trusting relationship between all of us, and an absolute horror that we should take
even a single step backwards in the progress we have collectively achieved.
So I want to work closely with the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Irish Government, as so many of our predecessors have before, to strengthen the
bilateral relationship we have built. And this can and should take many forms.
We already have the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference, and regular Summits between U.K. and Irish politicians. But as we leave the European
Union, we will need to establish new ways of coming together to develop further our unique relationship.
For example, the Irish Government has suggested annual meetings where the Prime Minister and Taoiseach, together with senior ministerial colleagues,
come together to discuss the big issues of the day. We will also want to strengthen our economic relationship and have already together identified
areas like construction and smart cities as ripe for enhanced collaboration.
And both the U.K. and the Irish Governments have already made clear that we would support the tantalizing possibility of a joint U.K. and Ireland World
Cup bid for 2030, should our respective football associations choose to pursue this.
We also want to find creative ways of enhancing the links between all our peoples -- and in particular, to build the links between our young people.
[10:20:00] I know there is a sense that many British people do not know enough, or understand enough, about the complexity of the long relationship
between the U.K. and Ireland. And a sense that some Irish people are less familiar with the forces and motivations that help to shape views in the
So as part of these new ways of coming together, I would like to us to look in particular at opportunities for our young people to discuss these issues
and others in a structured way and to reflect on their vision for our future relationship.
I know this is a concerning time for many people here in Northern Ireland. But we will find a way to deliver Brexit that honors our commitments to
Northern Ireland. That commands broad support across the communities in Northern Ireland. And that secures a majority in the Westminster
Parliament, which is the best way to deliver for the people of Northern Ireland.
As we do so, I hope we can also take steps to move towards the restoration of devolution -- so that politicians in Northern Ireland can get back to
work on the issues that matter to the people they represent.
For ultimately, the measure of this moment in Northern Ireland's history must be more than whether we avoid a return to the challenges of the past.
It must be how, together, we move forwards to shape the opportunities of the future. As Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, it is a profound
honor and duty to play my part in shaping that future. And to do my utmost to support the peace, prosperity and progress that can give the people of
Northern Ireland, the brightest future for generations.
I will take a few questions from the media. Mark from BBC Northern Ireland.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, BBC NORTHERN IRELAND: Thank you, Prime Minister. BBC Northern Ireland. Sitting in this audience are some business people and
other representatives who you yourself encouraged to go out and champion the backstop. Do you now owe them an apology? And given what you said
about your commitment to the Good Friday Agreement what do you make of the arguments from unionists -- such as Lord Trimble -- that the protocol you
negotiated with the EU is, in fact, in breach of that agreement?
MAY: Well the latter point --
ANDERSON: Right. That is Theresa May. There is a technical issue there, if we can get her back, we will. Because she is taking questions from some
of the media who are gathered there at a business leaders' function that she has been talking to.
Facing the backstop head on. You have just been listening to the British Prime Minister who has been defending her Brexit plan in the part of the
U.K. where its main sticking point lies -- that being Northern Ireland. The Irish border issue has been a huge concern everywhere, from Belfast to
Let's just listen in again. We have her back. Let's listen in to what she saying.
MAY: -- we will continue to work with them and others to ensure that we can deliver a deal that, as I say, respects the commitments that we made to
Northern Ireland and is a good deal for the whole of the U.K. Ken from UTV?
KEN REID, UTV: Prime Minister, Ken Reid, UTV. 56 percent of people in Northern Ireland voted to remain. It has wide support and the business
community here as well. How are you going to persuade particularly nationalist politicians and nationalist parties to accept a deal that
doesn't contain a backstop?
MAY: Well I'm not proposing to persuade people who accept a deal that contains that insurance policy for the future. What Parliament has said is
that they believe there should be changes made to the backstop. And it is in that vein, in that light, that we are working with politicians across
Westminster, of course, across the House of Commons. But also, we'll be working with the Irish government and with the EU to find a way that
enables us to maintain our commitments that we set very clearly for no hard border. But to do it in a way that provides a Withdrawal Agreement and
Political Declaration for the future that can gain support from the House of Commons and therefore, that we will be able to ratify with the European
Union, such that we leave the 29th of March with a deal. Suzanne here from the "Belfast Telegraph"?
SUZANNE BREEN, BELFAST TELEGRAPH: Yes. Suzanne Breen, "Belfast Telegraph". Prime Minister, given that many business figures in this room
may feel that you have betrayed and shafted them on the backstop in your recent U-turn, why should they believe any of the pledges that you make to
them today in terms of avoiding a hard border?
MAY: Well, first, let's be very clear about this. You used the phrase U- turn in your question.
[10:25:00] There is no suggestion that we are not going to ensure that in the future there is provision for this -- it's been called an insurance
policy, the backstop, that ensures that if there is the future relationship that is not in place by the end of the implementation period there will be
arrangements in place to ensure that we deliver no hard border. Our commitment to that remains.
What Parliament has said, what the House of Commons has said, is that they want to see changes to the backstop as it currently exists within the
protocol as part of the Withdrawal Agreement. The issue that has always been one that Parliament has raised, it's been raced across all sides of
the House of Commons is the potential indefinite nature of the backstop. That's the issue we look to address.
We have a number of ways to do it, looking to alternative arrangements, discussing with MPs who put forward proposal on that. Looking at the legal
changes that will be necessary to give the legal certainty. But the commitment to no hard border absolutely remains. And as the amendment --
Sir Graham's Brady's passed the House of Commons made clear, commitment to avoid a hard border and to leave the European Union with a deal. John from
the "Irish News"?
JOHN MANLEY, IRISH NEWS: John Manley from the "Irish News". Prime Minister, you have told us that you won't allow a hard border to happen.
Are you telling us therefore the only circumstances will be -- that if there is a hard border is that the EU imposes one?
MAY: First, we're working -- we've got commitments from the EU and the U.K. government in the work we're doing on the deal to leave the European
Union that commit on both sides for there being no hard border. And we've been clear as a U.K. government that we would do everything in our power
should it be the case that we left without a deal, we would do everything in our power to avoid a hard border in those circumstances. And of course,
we would talk with the Irish government and the European Union should those circumstances arise. But we're working to ensure that we leave with a
deal. And within that deal that we're able to provide for the commitment that has been made on both sides for no hard border between Northern
Ireland and Ireland. I'll take one last question. Ben from the "Newsletter".
BEN LOWRY, BELFAST NEWSLETTER: Ben Lowry from the "Belfast Newsletter". Prime Minister, just to go back to the Lord Trimble supporting the legal
action. One of his historical advisors, Lord Duo (ph) -- very respected figure in the House of Lords -- he said one of the most remarkable things
was the British government have not challenged this Irish narrative on the Belfast Good Friday Agreement in recent years. And I'm wondering what you
think about that? He is concerned like Lord Trimble that Britain would be signing away for the right for the possibility of that one day being
regulatory and customs divergence on the island of Ireland. Are you going to keep open that possibility for Britain?
MAY: What I've made clear -- and you heard me repeat in my speech -- is the commitment that we made in the December Joint Report -- December 2017
Joint Report to ensure Ireland's place in the integral place that Ireland has within the internal market of the United Kingdom. We have already set
forth -- set out within Westminster ways in which we believe as a U.K. government we would deliver on that.
I recognize the concerns that have been expressed about regulatory differences, but as I say we're clear in that December Joint Report, and we
retain our absolute commitment to that to ensure Northern Ireland's integral place in the U.K.'s internal market.
ANDERSON: Well, Theresa May hoping her words will be sufficient. We wonder. For more on what she said, Nic Robertson joining us now from
Belfast. What did you make of what you just heard, Nic?[10:30:00]
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, it did aim to set out to do what she said she would come here to do, which was try and
have an answer for everyone. She, I think, was quite clear in her language for the Unionists -- the DUP who prop up her party -- that she is going
obviously to seek those changes to the backstop, but the backstop remains there.
I think there was something in there of what the European Union leaders can expect to hear from Theresa May later this week. That she is going to look
for a way to have a time limited version of the backstop, something that they rejected until now.
She had words for the nationalist community. She said of course who don't have the kind of political influence with her and on her decision making in
Westminster as the DUP do -- the Unionists -- she said that their aspirations also were key to the government, that she was committed to
those as well.
[10:30:00] She talked about improving the future relationship with Ireland -- that was clearly a message for the Irish government -- in a way she
hopes to continue the relationship.
Her tone overall was very calm. This is a very heated environment here. It's becoming more and more contentious, more and more concern expressed.
So I think the very nature of her tone sought to sort of bring down the rhetoric.
You know, she was -- she came here clearly knowing that there's an issue. She has come here to address that issue. And she has done it, and I think,
for her, one of her sort of clearer, if you will, speeches. It did seem to try to embrace all concerns.
But of course those core issues exist. The DUP have their clear bottom lines. She has hers. Other communities have theirs as well here.
We have just seen the police convoy take off behind me. They're about to escort Theresa May back to her next venue.
And of course she said there should be meetings with all the parties tomorrow. We knew that she was going to meet with the DUP. This seems to
be news if she's meeting with more than just that party. But that would again speak to her outreach across all sections of the community here.
My sense of this, it was timely. It was necessary. But we didn't hear a mechanism that's really going to unwind some of the deep-felt concerns here
about the border.
ANDERSON: Right. Very briefly, David Trimble -- who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his role in securing the Good Friday Agreement in Northern
Ireland -- has said that both the British and Irish governments had broken promises to back the deal. What are the wider issues at play here in
ROBERTSON: Sure. I mean, let's not forget David Trimble basically lost all his political capital, because it was his party -- Ulster Unionists --
that agreed to the peace agreement. The DUP -- who've since sprung much for the power -- turned it down. The broader issues here -- if that's a
lever that the Unionists here in Northern Ireland need to use over Theresa May, mounting a legal challenge. Rest assured that is something that
they'll turn to, if they don't feel they're getting served. But again, she gave the commitment to them, no diminishment of the ties, the ties of the
union across the Irish Sea. But this is a conundrum, she hasn't found a formula yet to do this. But she was strong trying to affirm for all
ANDERSON: Nic Robertson is in Belfast for you. Thank you, Nic.
I want to bring you a story now that you'll only see on CNN. U.S. lawmakers are renewing their efforts to pass a War Powers Resolution
through Congress. And that is in an attempt to end American military support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.
Now, as the U.S. government grapples with its entanglement in Yemen's civil war, CNN's Nima Elbagir has been following the trail of U.S. weaponry and
the devastation these weapons have left behind. After CNN presented its findings, a U.S. defense official told the network exclusively that an
investigation into violations of U.S. arms agreements by coalition partners is going on. Well this is Nima's exclusive report "MADE INAMERICA, LOST IN
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Shells of millions of dollars' worth of abandoned American armored vehicles litter
the road. Welcome to Yemen. Where weaponry made in America is sold, stolen and abandoned and making its way into the wrong hands.
We're here to follow the trail of those weapons and the chaos they've left behind. Our journey starts at the Hodeida front lines where a cease-fire
was recently signed.
Climbing up a defensive berm for the better look, the Houthi position we're told is only around 200 to 300 meters away. There is movement on the
(on camera): Did you hear that? Scotty, get down. There another shot. It's coming from over there. They want to take us to the actual position.
They want to show us the cease-fire violations. So they are now firing on us. You can hear it. I can hear a mortar. There's incoming. It's
getting heavier. And we're told we have to leave. Even as we're driving away -- even now you can hear that. It's getting much, much heavier.
(voice-over): The influx of weaponry is prolonging the conflict. On our way back from the frontline, we spot what we come in search of.
[10:35:00] (on camera): It's absolutely incredible. We're driving past and it's like a graveyard of American military hardware. And this is not
under the control of coalition forces. This is in the command of militias. Which is expressly forbidden by the arms sale's agreement with the U.S.
On the outside of the mine resistant-armored vehicles -- MRAPs -- there are even stickers proudly proclaiming them as property of al-Arabiyyah, a
militia allied to the coalition. We zero in on the serial numbers tracing them back to a U.S. manufacturer, Navistar -- the largest provider of
armored vehicles for the U.S. army.
We're told to stop filming. But we're able to find another vehicle. This one even has the export sticker -- from Beaumont, Texas, to Abu Dhabi in
the United Arab Emirates.
As we arrive back in town, we pass yet another militia-held MRAP. Everywhere we look, it seems, it's made in the USA.
Yemen is split between warring factions. U.S.-backed and Saudi led in the country's south, Iranian-backed Houthi militias in the north. We can't
cross the front lines to go north, but MRAPs have. Captured by Iran's allies, the Houthi.
To the back drop of chants of death to America, this U.S. MRAP was broadcast on a Houthi back channel with Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the deputy
leader, sitting behind the wheel.
CNN was able to obtain the serial number from one of the Houthi held MRAPs and verified that it was part of a $2.5 billion, 2014 U.S. sale to the UAE
-- a coalition partner.
So why does it matter? Because these very MRAPs and others like them, have already, we're told, fallen into the hands of Iranian intelligence. In an
audio interview with the member of the secret Houthi unit -- the preventative security force -- CNN was told some U.S. military technology
has already been transferred to Iran.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Iranian intelligence are assessing U.S. military technology very closely. There isn't a single American weapon that they
don't try to find out details, what it is made of, how it works.
ELBAGIR: Advanced improvised explosive devices with Iranian components are now mass produced by Houthi forces, on a scale only previously achieved by
ISIS. And the U.S.'s first line of defense against IEDs, the MRAP has been compromised.
The Houthi leadership denied to CNN the existence of the preventative security force. CNN has also reached out to Iran for comment but received
Regardless, at the very least, these high profile captures of American hardware make them safer and harder to fight.
Our next stop is the mountain city of Taiz. Where we are told an al-Qaeda- linked militia is in possession of the American weaponry.
In these images obtained by CNN, you see the Abu Abbas militia. Founded by an Al Qaeda funder, Abu Abbas, currently on the U.S. terror list -- proudly
patrolling the streets of Taiz in U.S MRAPs.
If that wasn't unsettling enough, Taiz we learn is also awash with weaponry.
Arms markets are illegal in Yemen, but that hasn't stopped them from operating. Using undercover cameras, we are able to film arms sellers
hidden amid women's clothing shops. He doesn't today, but we're told we can put in a special order for an American assault rifle. Sellers like
these are driving a black market for high-tech American weapons, sustaining the conflict. That's just the tip of the iceberg.
CNN was told by coalition sources that a deadlier U.S. weapons system, the TOW missile was air dropped in 2015 by Saudi Arabia to Yemeni fighters. An
air drop that was proudly proclaimed across Saudi backed media channels.
So where were they used and by whom? We try to find out.
(on camera): Can you hear me?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'm trying to lose the other guys though.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, there you go.
ELBAGIR: OK. We've been told that we can't go ahead with the interviews we had preplanned. This local government is under the coalition and they
are completely blocking any of our access or any of our ability to do any work.
(voice-over): The intimidation continued throughout that day and into the night.
[10:40:00] Ultimately, we're chased out of town. But we still want to find out what happened to the TOWs. So we asked the U.S. Department of Defense
whether they knew what happened to the U.S. anti-tank missiles. They say that despite Saudi TV coverage, they weren't even aware of the claim that
the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia used TOW anti-tank missiles in Yemen in October of 2015.
After CNN presented its findings to the DoD, it says it has now launched an investigation. The Saudi-led coalition has not responded to calls for
comment. But a senior UAE official denied to CNN that they were not in violation of the arms sales' agreement.
Saying, the Giants Brigade are part of Yemeni forces that fight the Houthi's on the ground and are under our direct supervision.
The U.S. DoD statement to CNN added. They did not authorize any transfer of MRAPs or any military hardware from Saudi Arabia or the UAE to third
So far, we focused on the weapons fueling the war here. But the seemingly endless conflict they sustain has also sparked a man-made catastrophe.
Just a short distance from the front lines, the human toll comes into full view.
(on camera): This is Rehab and she is so malnourished that she can't actually walk. Her mother has to carry her everywhere. There are 200
cases of malnutrition like Rehab's just in this one village.
(voice-over): The local clinic had to shut down, so when word that the local doctor is here gets around, parents come out into the street to meet
her. Roula is 14 months old but looks far smaller. After the doctor finishes her checkup, her father takes us deeper into the village to meet
(on camera): This is Rahab, she's two years old. And she is so severely malnourished her chest has begun to cave in. But incredibly, this is Rahab
after she started getting better. The doctor said that they've been able to get her to keep some of the nutrition in and they are actually hopeful
(voice-over): That hope, though, depends on peace. And what we've seen here doesn't give much hope of a lasting one. How easy it is to get your
hands-on high-tech U.S. weapons. How a swamp of uneasy alliances has led to sensitive U.S. weaponry ending up in both Iranian and Al Qaeda-linked
hands. How America's allies are making Americans less safe.
Wherever and with whomever the weapons end up, the war goes on and ultimately, it's the people here who as ever bear the brunt.
ANDERSON: Well U.S. weapons manufacturer, Navistar, did not respond to CNN's request for comment. These U.S. arms sales are legally processed and
sanctioned by the U.S. government. Nima joining us now from London with more on what is this exclusive story. What impact do you expect these
findings to have -- Nima?
ELBAGIR: Already we are seeing the head of CENTOM, General Joseph Votel, come under real pressure from U.S. lawmakers today in the Senate U.S. Arms
Services hearings. He is being asked what measures are put in place to help ensure that these certificates are absolutely crystal clear when it
comes to these sales. The certificates are put in place for the -- I'm so sorry, there's a bit of noise coming back through to me. Let me start that
What is being put in place to ensure that these certificates are, in fact, viable when it comes to the transfer of arms to allies. We're also hoping
to hear before the end of this week from the Secretary of State himself, Mike Pompeo. He is due to recertify to Congress whether the war in Yemen
is being prosecuted within the confines of the international law that should be governing it. But also whether again the United Arab Emirates
and Saudi Arabia are also again adhering to the laws that govern these U.S. arms sales. Lawmakers really for a while now have had this drum beat of
concern about U.S. the support for the war in Yemen and the impact that that is having across the region. This seems to be giving them more
ammunition -- Becky.
[10:45:00] ANDERSON: That senior UAE official quoted in your report went on to say, booties of war found in the possession of the opponent are never
considered part of what we call weapons transfer.
He also goes on to say, we have not done anything that violates either the international law and conventions nor the terms and conditions based on
which we purchased weapons from the U.S.
Nima, the coalition insists it's in Yemen to implement U.N. Resolution 2216 that requires the Houthis to hand over weapons and withdraw from
territory they control. This is a group they say aligned with and equipped by the Iranians, seen by many as an existential threat to the Arabian
Peninsula. Your thoughts? Your response?
ELBAGIR: Well to your first point, we make very clear in the piece, and we made this clear when we contacted the senior UAE official that the MRAPs in
the possession of the Houthis were captured as part of booty of war, and of course, they would not be a violation under the NG's agreement.
But this is where the contention has arisen between the Department of Defense in the U.S. and the coalition. The United States has said very
clearly that an end-user agreement is exactly that. It is between the United States of America and the end user. In this case that would be the
United Arab Emirates or the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It does not allow for transfer to a third party. The United Arab Emirates for its part maintains
that if they are part of the coalition, then they are not a third party.
But if you take it back to the actual text of the document of the U.S. Arms Sale Agreement between the United Arab Emirates and the United States, it's
very clear in that document that the United Arab Emirates is the end user and that a third party cannot be transferred to.
This is clearly something that's going to continue to be litigated between those two parties over the next few days. But it is really something that
at the moment is causing quite a deal of pain to both the U.S. and to the coalition -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Nima Elbagir is in London. Nima, thank you.
Still to come, Pope Francis holds an historic papal mass right here in Abu Dhabi. We speak to the man who helped organize that trip. That's next.
ANDERSON: In a region often plagued by war violence and division, today an historic convergence of faith, cultures and languages. Pope Francis
celebrated the first ever papal mass in the Arabian Peninsula before a massive crowd here in Abu Dhabi. Government officials say some 180,000
people turned out for what was an epic moving hugely important event.
Pope Francis, the first Roman Catholic Pontiff to hold mass here on the Peninsula -- the birthplace of Islam.
[10:50:02] This visit a momentous occasion then for the nearly 1 million Catholic immigrants living here in the UAE where expatriates from the
Philippines and India make up a large part of the population. Well during his trip the Pope called for dialogue between different faiths and an end
of wars in the Middle East.
Well this visit is sure to have a long-lasting legacy, not just here but around the region and also within the Catholic Church. With me, Father
Michael O'Sullivan who coordinated the Pope's historic visit. I know you weren't given months, you were given weeks to sort this out. It was
amazing to see the sort of -- the logistical organization, the logistics that went into this. It was a moving and joyous occasion. How do you
think this trip has broken new ground with regard to relations between the Muslim and Catholic or Christian faiths?
FATHER MICHAEL O'SULLIVAN, COORDINATOR OF UAE PEOPLE VISIT: I think this trip is very significant because it happened for the first time in the
Arabian Peninsula, which is the cradle of Islam. And it was hosted by the United Arab Emirates, who sees itself -- the country sees itself as a
beacon of dialogue, of openness in the Muslim world. So the meeting took place between Pope Francis and the director of al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo.
ANDERSON: The Grand Imam.
O'SULLIVAN: The Grand Imam, exactly. And of course, a dialogue has been going on with Islam since the Vatican Council. But this is new ground here
in the Arabian Peninsula where a public mass was held with 150,000 people.
ANDERSON: At a time -- and let's be very clear -- in a complicated and messy region. And I'm looking not just at the Arabian Peninsula but the
wider Middle East, where the Christian minority has been under such severe pressure in some parts under an existential threat over the past years.
Can this help change things?
O'SULLIVAN: Indeed, I found very reassuring the discourse of Ahmed el- Tayeb, the Grand Imam, yesterday. When he said there are no minorities in this region. We are all citizens. And this whole question of being a
citizen with all the rights of being a citizen means that Christians as well are part of the country -- not only part of the country but with all
the rights that pertain to the country.
ANDERSON: Well, sir, we've suggested already -- but I'll say it again, because I think it can be a real surprise to people who don't live in this
country. This is home to millions of ex-pats who make up most of the population living here. And during his homily, the Pope seemed to reach
out to them directly. Saying and I quote.
It is most certainly not easy for you to live far from home, missing the affection of your loved ones, and perhaps also feeling uncertainty about
It is hard, isn't it, sir, to imagine another place in the world where you would find such convergence of different faiths and nationalities living
away from home. Why do you think this works in the UAE?
O'SULLIVAN: It works in the UAE because the Church has become the home of all these people. Many come from the Philippines and from India and they
see in the Catholic Church a haven, a home, a place where they gather. A place where they pray. But where there's also a lot of social activity.
So this is very, very significant and that is why I think our role here is very, very important in making people feel at home.
ANDERSON: We know that this was, you know, a sort of moment in time when it comes to the three days that the Pope was on the ground. The UAE will
hope that this will burnish its image as a country of coexistence and tolerance in a year slated as the year of tolerance here in the UAE. What
will the lasting legacy be, sir?
O'SULLIVAN: I think the lasting legacy will be the fact that the Pope has come here. The fact that he has been made welcomed here. And the fact
that Catholic Christian worship was now public today.
Up to now most of the worship is within the confines of our church. We as a Christian minority, if you'd like, are recognized and our contact with
the local authorities here has been so, so positive over the last eight weeks where every facility has been given to us by the UAE authorities.
ANDERSON: 40 churches, 700 Christian ministries which co-exist with Buddhists and Sikh temples here alongside mosques of the Muslim faith. It
is, I have to say I live here, I work here, it is quite a remarkable place when it comes to this idea of coexistence. Father Michael O'Sullivan,
thank you very much indeed.
O'SULLIVAN: Thank you very much for having me.
ANDERSON: And you must be quite exhausted after what has gone on into this organization.
ANDERSON: Finish, yes, thank you.
[10:55:00] ANDERSON: Right.
O'SULLIVAN: Sorry, did I cut there.
ANDERSON: I got some "Parting Shots" for you this evening. All right. Well, I think I'm going to leave you tonight just with some of the
highlights of Pope Francis' trip here in the UAE. Have a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[SCENES OF POPE FRANCIS' VISIT TO THE UAE]
(END VIDEO CLIP)