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Pence and Pompeo in Poland for Middle East Talks; Tehran Mocks Meeting While Flaunting Weaponry; Turki Bin Faisal on Saudi Support for U.S. Policy; Interview with Harrison Ford, Actor and Environmental Campaigner; CNN Goes Inside a Struggling Hospital in Venezuela; Civilians Fleeing as ISIS Makes Last Stand in Syria; Egyptian President El-Sisi Could Cement Hold on Power; Drug Lord "El Chapo" Convicted, Faces Life in Prison. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired February 13, 2019 - 10:00   ET


[10:00:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Iran flexing its military muscle.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: Super-fast missiles with payloads of diplomatic dynamite for sure. Some top Europeans skip out on an anti-Iran powwow that

the Americans claim isn't really all that much about Iran. But it's kind of seems like that's what it is all about. The fascinating behind- behind-

the-scenes intrigue on a seemingly unsolvable crisis. That's next. That's not all this hour.




ANDERSON: Find out what Harrison Ford is frustrated by, as we take a stroll along the beach, down in Dubai.

Then, meet Antonella, she is six years old, she has cancer, but she can't get a hold of the medicine she needs because she's Venezuelan. Her full

story tonight is ahead.

Well, hello, welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD, with me Becky Anderson, live from Abu Dhabi. It is just after 7:00 in the evening here. And we begin

with defiance on multiple fronts.

Right now, America's Vice President and top diplomat are both in Poland, for talks that are essentially aimed at turning up the heat on Iran. We

are expecting to hear from the U.S. and Poland very soon. In the meantime, if you want to know what Iran is thinking, take a look for yourself.

Tehran pulls a conference, an anti-Iran circus, and is responding by showing off these missiles. Fred Pleitgen is live in Tehran for you this

evening, while Atika sherbet is in Warsaw. Fred, let's start with you. This meeting ostensibly to discuss the future peace and security in the

Middle East. But as I understand it, and certainly numerous sources have told me, that this gathering is really all about Iran. What's the

perspective there?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's exactly, Becky, what the Iranians are saying as well. We were in a meeting

earlier today with the Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, and he said he also believes that this meeting is left, right, and center, about Iran.

He also really mocked the meeting, saying that he believed that it's dead in the water. And also said as far as the U.S. thinking that the Iranians

might come back and negotiate under pressure, from the U.S., he says that simply isn't going to happen. Here is what Javad Zarif said to me.


JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: It's for them to return to the negotiating table. They're not supposed take us back to the negotiating

table, we and the rest of the international community are at the negotiating table. They're the ones who left. They can come back.

Because it is the United States that is breaking the law. It's the United States that is violating every known international agreement. I think, I

mean you name it, they withdraw from it. They feel isolated. They put pressure. They use their money. They use their influence. They use their

military might of the United States. They use the leverages that they have in various countries, in order to attract more people to this conference.

And many people who are going there have told us that they don't have any other choice.


PLEITGEN: That's a very strong words there, aimed at the White House, aimed obviously at U.S. Secretary of State, and also of course at that

meeting, taking place, in Warsaw. Which on the one hand Iranians do seem quite angry about but at the same time trying to laugh it off as well --


ANDERSON: Yes, Atika, as I said, numerous sources have told me that this gathering was planned with the explicit intention of increasing pressure on

Tehran. That was certainly the intention when Poland and the U.S. organized this. And that is certainly the position of one notable

attendee, correct?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, exactly. I mean ostensibly, this is about other issues, Syria, as well as the Israeli-

Palestinian peace talks for example but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before he left for this meeting was very clear what this is all



BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: It's a conference that unites the United States, Israel, many countries in the world, and many countries

in the region, Arab countries, against Iran's aggressive policies. It's aggression. It's the dire to conquer the Middle East and destroy Israel.


SHUBERT: Our understanding is that Vice President Mike Pence will also be showcasing a speech at this upcoming conference that will focus on Iran.

[10:05:00 So it's pretty clear that this is really a meeting for the U.S. to kind of make its case, rally as many allies as it can, to containing the

aggression, as it sees it, of Iran. The question is, can it win over European allies, who are not so happy with the U.S. abandoning that nuclear


ANDERSON: I'm going to get back to you, to talk about who is there and who isn't. But there are some notable exceptions from this meeting. Fred,

though, Donald Trump has long been a critic of Iran. That, we are well aware of that. Let's remind our viewers of what he said last year.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That is just not an acceptable situation. And I've been saying that is happening. They're not

sitting back idly. They're setting off missiles. Which they say are for television purposes. I don't think so.


ANDERSON: Well, we've seen evidence of that. What does the U.S. hope to achieve at this conference? And how is Iran's -- what kind of position is

Iran's nuclear program at present?

All right. It sounds as if we've lost Fred for the time being. Let's see if we can get Fred back. Meantime, Atika, to that the specific question

that we were posing earlier. Who's there, and more importantly, who is chosen to stay away?

SHUBERT: Yes, there are 60 governments here, and of course you saw Benjamin Netanyahu is here. But the key here is that even though we are

seeing European countries participating in this, it is not at that foreign ministry level for some countries. Germany and France have not sent their

foreign minister. The head of the foreign policy for the EU, Federica Mogherini, also not showing up. So it's seen by many here as a snub.

Poland however insist -- since it is hosting the conference -- that it's still constructive and that they have still sent high level delegations.

It is an opportunity for the U.S. to try and convince its EU allies to come on board with abandoning the JCPAO nuclear agreement. Poland is trying to

act as a bridge between the U.S. and the EU. We'll have to see how the U.S. succeeds on that.

ANDERSON: Fred, before I lost you, and I believe you can hear me now, what is the position with regard to Iran's nuclear program at present?

PLEITGEN: Yes, Becky, I saw we had a little bit of a technical glitch there. The Iranians are essentially saying that they believe that the

JCCPAO, the nuclear agreement to their understanding that they are still a part of it. The Europeans are still a part of it. They're not happy with

the progress that they're saying with the Europeans of trying to keep that agreement alive but so far it is.

At the same time, the Iranians very much saying that their ballistic missile program is certainly not something at least at this point is up for

negotiations and they say they absolutely need it for their own self- defense. We took a closer look at that program, here's what we found.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): Iran flexing its military muscle. Launching ballistic missiles which the Islamic Republic says have become more lethal

in past years. At this arms expo in Tehran, a spokesman for the elite Revolutionary Guard Corps, praising the weapons.

BRIG. GEN. DAVOUD ABDI, ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARY GUARD CORPS (through translator): The Islamic Republic of Iran is able to respond on the same

level to any threats against it, he says.

PLEITGEN: On display, ballistic missiles with ranges up to 2,000 kilometers or almost 1300 miles. Capable of hitting targets in many places

in the Middle East. And highly-maneuverable cruise missiles with a range of several hundred kilometers, according to Iran's armed forces.

Hossein Kanani Moghaddam is a former senior Revolutionary Guard commander, who used to meet regularly with Ayatollah Khomeini. He says Iran's

missiles are key to Iran's defense and bargaining power.

HOSSEIN KANANI MOGHADDAM, FORMER REVOLUTIONARY GUARD COMMANDER (through translator): One of our policies to counter the sanctions is to expand our

missile program, he says. This is exactly the path we're following. The more they increase the sanctions, the more we will boost our missile


PLEITGEN: For the first time, Iran recently revealed video of a secret missile assembly factory. The U.S. says Tehran is breaching U.N.

resolutions by bolstering its missile programs, a claim the Islamic Republic rejects.

(on camera): The Iranians say their missiles are vital to this country's defense and they say they have every right to not only maintain but also

enhance both the range and the quality of their missile arsenal.

(voice-over): Israel says Iran's ballistic missiles are an unacceptable threat to its security. And the Trump administration has hit Tehran with

crippling sanctions, also citing its ballistic missile program.

[10:10:00] National security adviser John Bolton ripping into Iran's leadership.

JOHN BOLTON, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Iran continues to seek nuclear weapons to intimidate peaceful people all around the globe. And

ballistic missiles to use as delivery systems.

PLEITGEN: Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons. But it's not backing down from its missile program. A major factor driving the confrontation between

Iran and the U.S.


PLEITGEN: And, Becky, quite an interesting poll that might describe, or explain why the Iranians are saying that they're not going to back down

from the ballistic missile program. Obviously on the one hand, they say they need it for self-defense, on the other hand there is a poll that says

around 95 percent of the Iranian population actually supports the ballistic missile program here in Iran -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes, fascinating. To both of you, thank you.

Just a few hours ago, I caught up with Turki bin Faisal, who is Saudi's former ambassador to the United States. Make no mistake, he is still a

really important player with really in-depth insight into what is ticking along in the Kingdom and indeed how it ticks. And given the toxic

atmosphere around Saudi Arabia or in Washington at present, I asked him whether he believes the U.S. will continue to have the full support of

Saudi Arabia, and its regional allies, when it comes to Donald Trump's very hawkish policy on Iran. This is what he told me.


TURKI BIN FAISAL, FORMER SAUDI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: The two countries have the same view on how inimical Iran has been to the security and

stability of the Middle East. And so, yes, definitely, the Trump administration and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, have similar views on Iran.

ANDERSON: As does the Israelis who will also be in attendance at this meeting. Just give me your sense of the evolving nature of the

relationship between Israel and Benjamin Netanyahu and the more moderate Arab state.

BIN FAISAL: Yesterday, King Salman met with the President of the Palestinian authority, Abu Mazen, in Riyadh. And the headlines that came

out today of that is that the King reassured President Abu Mazen that the Kingdom's policies toward the Palestinian issue has not changed. If the

Israelis want to show that there is some sort of under-the-table handshake between the Kingdom and Israel, it does not exist. It's really a figment

of their imagination.

ANDERSON: Absent from the official photographs of that meeting, was the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, what if anything should be read into

that? And was this a necessary meeting to avoid any further complication as to what the Crown Prince's position is with regard to Israel?

BIN FAISAL: His duties, I assume, precluded him from attending that meeting. People should not read into his absence anything other than that

the King represents Saudi Arabia, and the Crown Prince follows the King's orders.

ANDERSON: Can we talk about U.S./Saudi relation, dominating headlines at the moment, damaging the reputation of the Kingdom. Donald Trump's critics

say he is shielding the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. Is he?

BIN FAISAL: You know, there is nothing to shield. The Crown Prince is not, has not, and never had been involved in the killing of Jamal

Khashoggi. Despite what people have read in the report published in the newspapers about a briefing that the CIA gave to members of Congress, in

which they conjecture and presume that because the Crown Prince is in that position, that he must have known about the killing, et cetera, et cetera.

ANDERSON: It is the lack of accountability and transparency around the investigation into Jamal's murder that I think we must agree is

perpetuating this toxic atmosphere around the Kingdom, particularly in Washington at present. When do you expect the investigation to be

complete? And will it put a lid on the whole thing?

BIN FAISAL: The process of trying is under way. And people should not expect finality before that process is finished. You know, for many years

we've been accused by people -- not just the American Congress but Western media and so on -- of not having a very fair judicial system. Well now

they want us to interfere.

ANDERSON: So when you hear comments like America should never descend to this level of moral bankruptcy.

[10:15:00] Congress will not relent in its efforts to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for heinous crimes. These are the words by the way of Senator

Tim Kaine. What's your response?

BIN FAISAL: Well, I think the Senator should hold his own Congress and his own leaders to the same standard. You know, that war that America

initiated in Iraq was based on fabricated intelligence. So where is the equivalency there?


ANDERSON: That is Turki bin Faizal speaking to me earlier. A lot there for the American President then to consider if he is watching.

He also has a government shutdown on his mind, of course. Two sources who have spoken to President Trump tell CNN the President will sign the

bipartisan budget deal that Congress has set to pass, avoiding another government shutdown. Well, the White House spokeswoman declined to confirm

that. But she did say the President is no fan of the plan. And offers only a fraction of what he wanted for his border security. And it now

looks like Mr. Trump will need to look elsewhere for money to build his wall.


TRUMP: I have to study it. I'm not happy about it. It's not doing the trick. But I'm adding things to it. It is very simple, we're building the



ANDERSON: Well, the spending bill must pass Congress and be signed by the President by Friday to avert another shutdown.

Well, two huge players on the international stage up next, from very different worlds. One, a world cup-winning football legend, the other an

inter galactic warrior. That's only here on CNN. That's CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson. You are tuned into the right place.


ANDERSON: Well, 20 past 7:00 in the UAE, a very warm welcome back and to those who are just joining us, you're more than welcome, where we are going

to go about full superstar status now, on CONNECT THE WORLD. With two interviews with two legends. Who have been at the top of their trades for

decades. Do not adjust your set. This is not entertainment TV. Just all in a day's work for this show.

[10:20:00] Well, first, to downtown Dubai which this week hosted the World Government Summit. High on the agenda was the issue of climate change, as

it was at Davos just last month in much warmer weather of course. I made it down to the beach and sat down with a Hollywood legend and long-term

environmental campaigner, to talk about our warming planet.


HARRISON FORD, ACTOR AND ENVIRONMENTAL CAMPAIGNER: It's unbelievable. I've never, I never could have imagined seeing this.

ANDERSON (voice-over): He saved the world, the galaxy from total destruction, countless times. But only ever in the movies. Well now,

Harrison Ford, teaming up with the head of, to try to pull it off for real. Saving our planet from ourselves.

(on camera): You have said climate change is the greatest moral challenge of our time. Harrison Ford, tell us that to the U.S. President.

FORD: We're not on speaking terms at the moment. But I think, and I hope that what we saw in the United States, after the President's rejection of

the Paris Accords, is that business stepped in to the gap, municipality, cities, big city, you know, California is an example. It's a challenge we

got to meet. We got to meet it with passion and we got to meet it with purpose.

M. SANJAYAN, CEO, CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL: Becky, if I can add one thing to that. When we travel, it's a lot easier to talk about the issue

and to talk about it from a positive perspective on what small countries sometimes are trying to do, and I would love to be able to do that more in

my country as well. The United States of America.

ANDERSON: Are you heartened by what you hear in the States from those who have already launched their campaigns for 2020, and maybe looking at

launching a campaign?

FORD: Yes, of course, and that's part of the moral responsibility that we face. I'm very anxious that we, that we be successful in gaining more

enlightened leadership. The current government is bent on dismantling all of the gains we've made in protection of the environment, in human health,

it's unbelievable. I've never -- I never could have imagined seeing this.

ANDERSON: Harrison, how frustrated do you get with climate deniers, with those who deny or denigrate the science?

FORD: Very. I'm very frustrated by it. But its's purposeful. It is a strategy to preserve the status quo in which they have an investment.

ANDERSON: To both of you. And I'll start with you. How long have we got to fix things?

FORD: It's not geological time. Scientists are telling us ten years. We're possibly inching towards four degrees of warming, and we've got to --

we've got to commit to intervening.

ANDERSON: You have been in this now for some 30 years. What got you involved, from a sort of background of what some would say excess, right?

FORD: Well, it was excess that got me into it. I had suffered an embarrassment of riches. You know, I was 15 years in the business, before

I had some success, and then I, you know, I solved my economic problems. I had the opportunity to contribute, and I found this organization,

Conservation International. And I found it very exciting to be in a room with people of this intelligence who are committed to nature.

ANDERSON: There is, I am told, significant evidence to suggest that this place, within the lifetime of your kids, Harrison, will be so hot in the

summer months, that it will be impossible to live here. And I live here. And it's 50 degrees centigrade in the summer already. And that's tough.

Which means that this entire population would have to migrate. Now, there will be people watching this who say that is alarmist. Is it?

SANJAYAN: You know, if a young country, if a country whose economy is rooted in oil and gas, can reimagine the future.

[10:25:00] And is willing to take bold steps to actually have the conversation in an intelligent way, then the entire world should take a

lesson from that.

FORD: The ocean absorbs a lot of the heat generated by human, by global gas emissions, but its losing, as the ocean heat, it's losing its capacity

to help store carbon and we've got to understand the link between the ocean's health and climate. Because climate is probably the biggest thing,

the most pressing issue that we have on a global scale.


ANDERSON: An apocalyptic warning there from none other than Harrison Ford. Amazing.

To a hero of a different kind now and another very special interview that we are proud to be bringing you tonight, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester

United 2-0 in a nice old Champions League thrashing, setting them up very nicely for the second leg in Paris. But victory far from certain. Much

was made of the players missing last night in that game. Sitting on PSG's bench -- an incident -- Cavani out with a bad hip, joining the legend that

is Neymar on the bench, sidelined by a dodging foot. There was a lot to ask about those who made it on to the pitch, even if they included Mbappe,

one of the greatest goalkeepers to ever grace the game, Gianluigi Buffon. In an exclusive interview Buffon told me his fellow players will be missed,

but you've just got to crack on.


GIANLUIGI BUFFON, PSG GOALKEEPER (through translator): this would give us great strength and confidence. But I must say that without a player of

Ney's caliber, it's going to be heavy going particularly because in the last two or three months he's been in excellent condition both physically

and mentally, and he would have been of enormous help.

But nevertheless we have to do our best in order not to have any regrets and play the quarterfinals and semifinals with Ney back. And this would be

the best present we could give to him, and I'm sure he would return the favor by playing in those two matches.


ANDERSON: And that wasn't all. We took a tour around town in a snazzy automobile, even checking out an art gallery along the way. You'll be able

to see the full half hour special in the first week of March. Make sure you tune in for that.

On the surface, Venezuela is in meltdown, isn't it? Behind the scene, the country's most vulnerable pay the highest price. CNN takes you under cover

to see the depth of Venezuela's crisis.

And later, the human toll of a brutal civil war. We speak to a journalist who has documented heart-breaking accounts of the suffering of civilians in

Syria. That all coming up after this.


ANDERSON: A reminder of our top story for you tonight, at 7:30 in the evening, here in the UAE. The U.S. vice President and its Secretary of

State are in Poland this hour for talks to help shape Middle East policy. As you might imagine, much of the focus is on Iran. Especially after our

team filmed this missile launch within the country. Tehran calls the Poland meeting, quote, an anti-Iran circus.

For Venezuelans, help is just beyond reach. U.S.-backed humanitarian aid is being stockpiled at the Columbian border for days, offering a glimmer of

hope in the depths of utter desperation for so many.

The man who calls himself Venezuela's interim President, Juan Guaido, promises that those supplies will make it past the blockade in ten days'

time. But there is no guarantee that will happen. In the meantime, the situation is critical. People from all walks of life are without basic

essentials, food and medicine, for example. Thousands of supporters returned to the streets on Tuesday, demanding President Nicolas Maduro let

that aid in.

Beyond the politics, beyond the statistics, of course, there are the very real people. Venezuelans suffering immensely. They have been for quite a

while. And nowhere is that suffering more evident than in the country's hospitals. CNN's Sam Kiley went undercover to investigate.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In heavily guarded hospital, the government here wants to keep visitors out, and its

shameful secrets in. A failed economy now being crippled by American sanctions has starved hospitals of drugs and the very necessity of life

itself, food.

Like us, it's smuggled in by volunteers. If the government got hold of these essential supplies -- these aid workers believe -- they would be

stolen and sold on the black market. Angie cannot leave the hospital. She lives on a ventilator. Incredibly, Venezuela's President has closed the

country's borders to foreign aid.

(on camera): (INAUDIBLE) -- the dependence on outside charity, now precisely because the government refuses to take it, it will not accept

that it needs help. And what that means the government admits that its failed.

(voice-over): Antonella is six and she has a tumor in her neck. She is terminally ill and there are no cancer drugs to buy her a little extra

time. It's her mother though who is getting treatment today. She fainted from lack of food when she arrived at the hospital. Now she's recovering

on a drip. It's just saline solution. So this handout is just in time.

In every room here, small donations are welcome. Staff here tell us that only three of 18 operating theaters are working. That this is the only

pediatric surgical unit left in the capital.

[10:35:00] And that 500 children are on its waiting list. One doctor quickly writes a shopping list of desperately-needed supplies. She can't

show her face, for fear of being punished for doing this.

The U.S. and many other nations blame President Nicolas Maduro for scenes like this. And they support his rival Juan Guaido. U.S.-led efforts to

cut off Maduro's access to foreign currency are intended to drive him from power. But that might work eventually. In the meantime, it can only

deepen the suffering. Sam Kiley, CNN, Caracas.


ANDERSON: Well, journalist Stefano Pozzebon, is live for us in the Venezuelan capital. And, Stefano, how familiar a story is the one that Sam

found there in the hospital?

STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: The stories like this, Becky, are reported every day. We've been inside hospital, not only in Caracas, but across the

country, many, many times, and it is just a sign of how disruptive these economic crisis, these downward spiral that has brought the country almost

to the verge of collapse. In the past five years, it has been for average population, for normal people, you go inside a hospital, and you speak with

doctors who have 30 years' experience, and they are not afraid to tell you that the salary that they receive is not, is worth nothing. And the only

way they can survive -- the only way they have to survive is because they're sent, from people abroad.

I remember doing a story in the city of Merida, which has a top medical school in Venezuela, and the Rector of the medical school was one who had

to sign permission for students, and the graduates, to leave. And she was, frankly, frank and adamant, two years ago, telling me, if nothing changes,

the oldest doctors will leave. And frankly, nothing has changed. The situation has only been made worse in the past two years. And the country

is collapsing, Becky. And there are no doctors. And the few doctors who are working here are understaffed and under-resourced, as we saw -- Becky.

ANDERSON: And yesterday, Venezuela's Vice President claiming that food supplies sent by the U.S. are poisoned. Have a listen to this.


DELCY RODRIGUEZ, VENEZUELAN VICE PRESIDENT (through translator): Something that should alert us and call our attention on behalf of all of the people,

because that humanitarian aid comes contaminated, poisoned and is a carcinogen. That is what different scientific studies of the alleged

edible goods sent by the United States has shown. Which attempts, through chemical products, to poison our people. We could say they are biological

weapons. That's what they pretend to do with that humanitarian aid.


ANDERSON: That humanitarian aid that is so important to so many. Maduro's government, then, it seems, Stefano, putting citizens' lives further at

risk by that sort of narrative and by blocking that aid.

POZZEBON: Yes, and not only by blocking the aid, but by considering aid as a political battlefield. What, as you said, stays in the background of all

of this power tussle that we are seeing is the conditions of normal Venezuelans, who should not be defined by whoever is in charge, or by the

politics of two politicians, and two leaders. Aid should be allowed in.

And remember, we spoke with many aid workers here in Caracas, not only by the International Red Cross, but for example, the Catholic NGO, Caritas,

the United Nations program. They all lament and complain about the fact that aid has now become a political battlefield. There was a President who

does not want to let some part of the aid into the country, but at the same time, has accepted it in the past. And an opposition who pushes all its

weight, in letting that aid in, from that specific -- from that specific point in the border, with Colombia. Meanwhile, the country is suffering,

and its population has not much time left to be honest -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Stefano Pozzebon is in Caracas, in Venezuela for you, thank you.

Up next, don't miss our interview where the journalist who has covered the Syrian war for years and wrote a powerful account of its devastating impact

on civilians, she joins us, next.


ANDERSON: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. We are focusing today on Iran and Washington-led efforts to rally the world into taking a hard line

on Iranian influence across the Middle East. The country has played a key role in helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stay in power. Now we are

seeing what could be the last stand of ISIS in Syria as air fighters are driven out of their final sliver of territory.

CNN has been on the front lines of the fight, showing you not just dramatic video, but also the impact of the war on Syria -- on Syrians and civilians.

Journalist, Rania Abouzeid, well understands the human tragedy of Syria. She has written a book called, "No Turning Back, Life, Loss and Hope in

Wartime", Syria and joins us now from Beirut. And as you were writing the book, you must have considered and reflected on everything that you have

seen and learned. What stands out over the past years of reporting?

RANIA ABOUZEID, JOURNALIST (via Skype): The brutality of this very vicious war and the impact on civilians. This is a war where the U.N. stopped

counting the dead and the casualties in 2013, estimates put the death toll at least 500,000 but that is an estimate that has been frozen for years.

Half of the country has been displaced either internally or externally and sought refuge in neighboring states, whether that's Lebanon, Jordan,

Turkey, or further afield in Europe. So this is a very devastating conflict that has fragmented the State.

ANDERSON: And the future for those civilian, both those who've stayed and those who may now get an opportunity to go back is what?

ABOUZEID: You know, we're waiting to see. Many Syrians who fled fear returning to a regime that spent years trying to kill them. Others have

nothing to return to. Their homes have been demolished. I mean entire cities have been destroyed and reduced to rubble. So, and the next

battlefield is the battlefield of the politics of economics, the politics of reconstruction. And you know, there are still battles in other places.

So we're still seeing the last sliver of the Islamic state so-called caliphate now. There are lots of questions what is going to happen that

territory after the Islamic state is driven out of it.

You know, we have the U.S.-backed Kurdish Syrian Force, the Syrian Democratic Forces, who have been fighting in Syria. You know, the Turks

have made it clear that they don't want an armed Kurdish nationalist group on their border basically.

There are reports that some of those Syrian Kurds are turn to the regime -- to the Assad regime -- to maybe negotiate something with them. So you

know, who controls that territory after the Islamic State is driven out in Syria is going to be a key thing to watch.

ANDERSON: It is clear who are the losers in all of this. So many civilians. Who wins?

ABOUZEID: I don't know who wins in wars, Becky, and I've covered wars for many years in many different places. And you know, the people who remain

in their chair, the Presidents and the politicians, they're perhaps the ones who win but not the people of these places.

[10:45:00] ANDERSON: The leader of another regional powerhouse attempting to cement his rule, for years and years, to become Egypt's Parliament,

debating constitutional amendments, that could see President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi remain in office until 2034. He could also broaden his already-

sweeping powers. Reports that the military is more involved intrinsic to the working of that place, not less going forward. Just how revolutionary

was that revolution?

ABOUZEID: The system never fell, merely its head in the form of Hosni Mubarak, and this is clear that the military, political nexus remained in

power. And these constitutional amendments, should they pass, will further entrench and strengthen that power.

ANDERSON: So in the end, when you reflect on what you've seen, what you've witnessed, what you've experienced, in Syria, post-2011, when we consider

what is going on in Egypt, when you look further afield across North Africa, what's going on in Algeria, for example, at the moment, protests on

the streets of Tunisia, a new but yet to really show any teeth, government in Lebanon. What's it all about? What's really being achieved? Where is

the Middle East now, and North Africa?

ABOUZEID: Well, we're eight years into what were momentous events in 2011. I mean, you know, let's not forget how momentous they were. Hosni Mubarak

was removed. The Tunisian President was removed. The Libyan leader was also removed and killed. These leaders seemed cemented to their chairs at

the time. And although they were figureheads -- and we're seeing that now especially what is happening in Egypt. And was still a significant time

and we're eight years into this. I mean, history takes time.

But what we are seeing in terms of the West particularly is that the West is falling back on its old equation, that it is fine with certain strong

men who can ensure a quote-unquote measure of stability, even if that stability comes in the form of repression of human rights and basic

freedoms. And we're seeing that in Egypt, for example. And often, these repressions are done in the name of counter-terrorism. Even though these

measures fuel -- and we're seeing this, history has shown us -- that these measures will fuel and radicalize the very extremism that they claim to be


So we're seeing governments around the world that are fine with Sisi, they're fine with his measures, with Assad as well in Syria, and other

places. So we're going back to the old system, in terms of international relations, and how governments prepare to deal with some of these

authoritarian Middle Eastern states.

ANDERSON: The perspective of Rania Abouzeid, journalist out of Beirut and Lebanon this evening. Thanks for joining us.

ABOUZEID: Thank you.

ANDERSON: Guilty on all counts a high drama trial ends with the conviction of notorious drug lord El Chapo. What's next for the infamous kingpin?

That's after this.


ANDERSON: Let's take you back a couple of years to 2015. That is when notorious drug lord Joaquin Guzman -- better known as El Chapo, of course -

- solidified his reputation as a prison escape artist. He stepped into the shower in his cell, and slipped into a tunnel, fleeing this maximum-

security prison in Mexico.

In 2001, Guzman escaped another prison by hiding in a laundry cart. He spent about 13 years essentially hiding in plain sight before he was

apprehended again at a beach resort in 2014.

Well, now there may be no escape for El Chapo. On Wednesday, a New York jury found the dangerous kingpin guilty on all counts, including running an

international criminal enterprise. CNN's Brynn Gingras is joining us now from New York. So Guzman faces a mandatory life sentence with no chance of

parole, correct?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Becky, that is actually from that first charge, running a criminal enterprise. That

carried the life in prison sentence. But he was convicted on ten counts, a lot of them dealing with manufacturing, distributing drugs. We're talking

about a reign of over 20 years that he's now been found guilty on.

So at minimum, it seems, a judge is going to decide his fate, but at a minimum, he will see life in prison. It's unclear at this point which

prison he'll spend the rest of his life in. We're hearing possibly a maximum-security prison in Colorado that houses the Unabomber, the Boston

bomber, other people who are members of drug cartels. But of course, the government not giving many details for security reasons.

We have, you know, his defense attorney was on CNN this morning, and he said, yes, he's been known to escape prisons twice before. He even noted

though, that those are Mexican prisons. It will be a very different story for El Chapo here in the United States. He did say that his client, El

Chapo, after that verdict was given, he's upbeat and he's actually going fight these charges with an appeal. And he took a similar tone talking to

the media after this conviction. Take a listen.


EDUARDO BALAREZO, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR EL CHAPO: When he came in here, he was already presumed guilty unfortunately by the media, by the government,

by everybody. And that is an extremely tough case to defend. We weren't just fighting the evidence. We were fighting the perception of who Joaquin


RICHARD P. DONOGHUE, U.S. ATTORNEY FOR EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: This conviction is a victory for every family who has lost a loved one to the

black hole of addiction. There are those who say that the war on drugs is not worth fighting. Those people are wrong.


GINGRAS: Yes, and that attorney also saying that this is a victory on the war on drugs. But yes, we're going to wait for sentencing June 25 for El

Chapo -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Brynn Gingras, thank you for that.

We are all done, but we've got time to take that one last picture, as we left our holidays, didn't we? But the Mars rover curiosity is all -- has

us all beat. It took a 360-degree panorama on the Martian landscape it has explored for the last year before heading on to the next site. You can see

ridge lines in the distance and the desert-like terrain where it has already found evidence of ancient lakes. Meantime, NASA will discuss the

status of the rover opportunity. A live announcement in just a few hours from now.

[10:55:00] The last time NASA heard from this Mars rover was back in June of 2018. Do you remember that? As a dust storm was hitting the planet.

Well, from inter-planetary science experiments to inter-continental intimidation, our international team, working to bring you all kinds of

stories, which you can find on the internet. You can use the Facebook page. Let's get on with it shall we. The Facebook page That is Lots of good stuff for you there.

I'm Becky Anderson. That was CONNECT THE WORLD. The team here, wishing you a very good evening, as are those that we work with around the world.

Thank you for watching, same time tomorrow.