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Seven MPs Leave Labour Party, Start Independent Group; Violent Protest Have Gripped Haiti for Ten Days; U.S. President to Address Venezuela Crisis; Top U.S. General Visits Syria, Promises Withdrawal Will Happen; Are Arab and Asian Nations Replacing the West; Israeli Acting Foreign Minister Outrages Poland with Holocaust Remarks; Chicago Police Believe Jussie Smollett Orchestrated His Own Attack; Meet the Masters of the Dutch Golden Age. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired February 18, 2019 - 10:00   ET


[10:00:00] BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD, with me Becky Anderson. Live, from Abu Dhabi.

We begin with a fiery divorce in the United Kingdom today, for once we're not talking about the country's messy exit from the European Union. Seven

members of Parliament say they are quitting the opposition Labour Party. They made their announcement a few hours ago at a press conference,

criticizing their former party's handling of Brexit. And one Jewish MP who faced abuse herself attacked the party for anti-Semitism.


LUCIANA BERGER, BRITISH INDEPENDENT MP: I cannot remain in a party that I have today come to the sickening conclusion is institutionally anti-

Semitic. It was nearly a year ago that we saw the unprecedented event of a minority community, the Jewish community, taking to Parliament square to

demonstrate against the Labour Party, to say, enough is enough. And yet since then despite a mountain of evidence we have only seen the situation

of racism against Jewish people get worse.


ANDERSON: Let's get you straight to London on this, where Phil Black is joining us. Just how significant is this move by these opposition

lawmakers? And what are possible consequences for Britain at this point -- Phil?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a hugely-dramatic moment for the British Labour Party. Labour loyalists would say sad and damaging as well.

Significant for British politics more generally. But just how significant will really be determined by what happens next. How much populist support

these break-away MP's are able to generate. Whether or not others will join them as well.

Brexit is a really big part of this. These are seven MP's who are strongly committed to the idea of another referendum on the issue, that is an idea

that the Labour leadership has been really reluctant to embrace. You heard there the talk about anti-Semitism within the party. This lingering issue

that Labour hasn't been able to escape. So the party's efforts or lack of efforts, in coming to terms with that is another big motivator for these


Then there is simply the fact that these are people who have found themselves ideologically on the wrong side of a gulf that really opened up

when Jeremy Corbyn became the leader of the party, he steered the party a long way to the left, these are people who no longer feel at home within


And on top of that, there was another reason, a bigger picture reason. Articulated by perhaps the most high-profile member of the seven, Chuka

Umunna, who talked about all of the big parties in this country being broken. And talked about them having failed the people of this country for

some time. Take a listen.


CHUKA UMUNNA, BRITISH INDEPENDENT MP: The last few years have shown the established parties are simply not up to this challenge. They can't be the

change, because they have become the problem. They have failed to provide the leadership and clear direction which the U.K. desperately needs. They

are deeply divided. They have failed to fulfill their duties with the competence the public rightly deserves. They've put their party-political

interests before the national interests. And they don't represent the complex tapestry which is modern Britain.


BLACK: So, Becky, these seven MP's stood up today and said that the party that they had served for decades, served loyally and loved and believed in

was now unrecognizable to them. While they believe their values have not changed. They say they are not establishing a new party, not yet, anyway,

but they are organized and they will be organizing themselves together, in Parliament, officially, under the name of the Independent Group -- Becky.

ANDERSON: What if any impacts on Britain and its exit from the EU, which is in a little over a month now, or certainly, that's the May -- sorry,

March 29 deadline?

BLACK: Yes, so these are people who we already knew were committed Remainers. They don't like Brexit. They were voicing that opinion within

the party itself. They have now changed the Parliamentary arithmetic to a degree, and they have from one point of view in theory potentially made it

harder for a Labour government -- or Labour Party, I should say, to win an election, and form a government. So in that sense, they're critic, and

especially their critics, within the Labour Party, will say they are doing the work of the ruling Conservative Party for them. They will make it

easier -- according to these critics -- for the Conservative Party to implement its policies and in theory that would include Brexit as well.

[10:05:00] ANDERSON: Phil Black's in London for you.

Some believe the defection will be a major boon to the Conservative government. Let's bring in Joey Jones, a former spokesperson for the Prime

Minister, Theresa May. As Phil was suggesting, Joey, these lawmakers will sit as an independent grouping, for now, but there is talk that this is

just the start of things to come. What chance now a new centrist party in the U.K., with pro-Europe break-away MP's, from possibly across the divide,

in British politics, and what sort of support could they muster, do you think?

JOEY JONES, FORMER SPOKESMAN FOR THERESA MAY: Well, I think the key thing for people, particularly those watching outside the U.K., to understand, is

that there is a huge obstacle that any new party faces, because of our electoral system. Because we have this first pass the post system, rather

than a proportional representation system, perhaps, it really does mitigate against the creation of new parties.

I mean if you just think back not so long ago in a general election when UKIP garnered about 4 million votes -- from recollection. That's about 7

to 8 percent of the voting population, they only got one MP, out of more than 650. So that demonstrates how hard it is for new parties to actually

set up and become powerful political forces. Having said that, I think that we will look at this as a period during which our whole politics is in

flux. We shouldn't rule out the possibility that some Conservatives might join this particular grouping, Lib Dems as well and some more Labour MP's

as well.

And above all, we shouldn't rule out that the Conservative Party might split in just the same way that Labour is, as well. There is an awful lot

of acrimony on both sides of the House of Commons at the moment.

ANDERSON: These MP's are Remainers. They don't want to see the U.K. outside Europe. Effectively, they say they had no choice. But with just a

little over a month to go, until that Brexit deadline, will this, this split, from the party, make any difference to where Britain goes next? Or

whether indeed a no deal is still an eventuality for the U.K. at this point?

JONES: In the longer term, we will end up looking at this the other way around. We will look at the impact of Brexit on our politics and view this

split as emblematic of the corrosive effect of Brexit that it's putting on our established groupings, that they just condition sustain.

As far as the Brexit process is concerned, it is harder to read. My own feeling is that the likelihood is that Jeremy Corbyn will have to take note

of this. Now Jeremy Corbyn at the moment has intimated that he is ready to work with the Prime Minister around a deal that is not a million miles away

from the deal that she's worked out with the European Union negotiators over many months. Now, if he does that, it won't just be the seven MP's

that are broken away that will be angered, there will be a bunch of other MP's that are currently mulling over their situation. And also, above all,

a huge number of activists for whom the People's Vote Campaign has really got them in the gut that is really entrenched in their world view at the

moment. So on that basis, I actually think it will make Jeremy Corbyn's job of collaborating with Theresa May that much harder, which probably

means it is a bit more difficult for her to get a deal through the House of Commons. As if that wasn't difficult enough already.

ANDERSON: So will Theresa May today see this as a win for her or not at this point?

JONES: Well, as far as getting her deal over the line, as my suspicion, as I outlined, is that it actually makes it a bit harder. But in the grander

scheme of things, if there were to be a general election, then obviously in the same way that the SDP split from, broadly speaking, from Labour, what,

a couple of decades ago, really drew votes away from Labour, and allowed Margaret Thatcher to win a succession of general elections, there will be

some on the Conservative side that will be rubbing their hands in glee at that prospect. But they really shouldn't be complacent. They only have to

talk to MPs on their own side to realize that the divisions on the Tory side are just as deep as within the Labour Party as well. And if they

pressure their own party, then who knows where we might end up in weeks or months' time. It is definitely not a win-win situation for Theresa May's

point of view.

ANDERSON: So bottom line, Joey, for those who are watching this from the outside, looking in, are we seeing a very messy situation which today has

just got messier?

[10:10:00] JONES: Well, bottom line, I guess, is that our whole politics is in a mess. Having said that, we should also step back and consider the

motivation of these individual MP's. Now, I've been asking myself, if it hadn't been for Brexit, if it hadn't been for the anti-Semitism that

Luciano Berger has rightly called out, would they have made the move anyway? And it is quite possible that they would have done. As your

colleague was pointing out, they are wildly apart from Jeremy Corbyn's leadership. In the same way that under Tony Blair -- and they are broadly

speaking of that sort of new Labour ethos -- that under Tony Blair, Jeremy Corbyn was viewed as the lunatic fringe of the Labour Party, now they are

equally marginalized or they were equally marginalized within a Corbyn- driven Labour. So actually, it says a lot about the Labour Party but I think more broadly it does suggest that there that our whole politics is

falling apart and none of us really can predict where we will end up in that regard.

SHUBERT: It's 3:10 in the afternoon in London. Joey, thank you. 7:10 here in the United Arab Emirates.

An investigation into how fake news may have impacted British politics, and that Brexit vote has led to a scathing report about Facebook. British

lawmakers on Monday labeled Facebook executives digital gangsters for valuing corporate profits more than customer privacy. The report calls out

Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, for failing to cooperate with the investigation and recommends regulation and perhaps anti-trust action

against Facebook. With more, on this, and the harsh words for Zuckerberg, let's bring in CNN business reporter, Donie O'Sullivan. How damaging,

Donie, is this for Facebook?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Becky, this is a scathing report. The U.K. lawmakers said Facebook intentionally and knowingly violated both

the data privacy and competition laws. Much of their findings is based on a secret trove of internal Facebook documents that the committee got their

hands on. And the MP who leads the company, Damian Collins, who released a report today, spoke to CNN earlier, and this is what he had to say.


DAMIAN COLLINS, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE MP: We have referred to Facebook as digital gangsters because we believe that it's not just a question just of

mistakes being made on the platform but they're fully aware of these as a company. Aware of issues around the way in which they gather user data and

share that with other developers. I think often without the users really understanding that's what is going on. The aggressive position they take

against other developers that work with the platform, including making decisions that can lead to those businesses closing. And I think their

persistent failure to deal effectively with harmful content.


O'SULLIVAN: So Facebook says for its part it didn't break any laws. This report has a whole set of recommendations about regulating and holding

these platforms to account. But what or anything will actually happen, it's unclear. These are only recommendations from the Parliament. The

government would have to act on it. And there's a certain feeling I think in the U.K. and a frustration on the part of Damian Collins, that Facebook

just doesn't really take the Parliament seriously. Zuckerberg refused to show up on multiple occasions and the report even said that Zuckerberg had

showed contempt towards the British Parliament.

ANDERSON: And there's a little sort of whiff of too little too late here. I think many of our viewers might say, what's the upshot for the rest of us

who might still use Facebook or other big social?

O'SULLIVAN: Yes, you know, you're right. I mean, there's still a serious problem with disinformation on Facebook. And you know, fake news, false

information, going viral, every day. We saw last week, that Facebook said they're trying to take steps to combat false information about antivaccine.

Also, you know, we see still state funded, propaganda is still going viral on the platform. So there is still a lot of work to do.

You are right in that it may be very little too late, in that the report alleges from the committee that, you know, there was meddling in the U.S.

election by Russia, and also hints that something along those lines of Brexit as well. But I think what lawmakers are trying to do is catch up

and try and hold these platforms to account.

ANDERSON: Donie, thank you.

Still to come viewers, Haitian authorities make eight arrests after days of violent protests in the country's capital. We are live for you in Port-au-

Prince with the details.


ANDERSON: You're with CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Becky Anderson. It's 7:17 here in the UAE.

In Haiti, authorities made eight arrests on Monday, following days of violent protests in the country's capital over soaring inflation and

corruption. Now, the government appealed for calm and a return to normalcy. The protests against the President have rocked the country for

over a week. Let's get you to Port-au-Prince where Miguel Marquez is standing by. Firstly, what do we know about those who have been arrested

and why?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so eight individuals, five of them were Americans they had a ton of guns on them. Automatic weapons and other

guns, radios and the like. They told police when they were arrested -- according to local reports -- that they were working for the government. Police disagreed. They are now in custody and due to be arraigned later.

We expect to learn more about what the government thinks these guys are up to.

This as government officials are saying there are outside forces at play here. That the protests we saw over nine days weren't just an expression

of people's anger and voting with their feet essentially, but that there are outside forces that are making some of these protests happen. And

maybe these individuals' sort of tie in to that. But certainly another level of intrigue here in the Haitian capital -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Be that as it may, what do people on the street telling you about how they feel about the current situation and President?

MARQUEZ: Extraordinarily angry and extraordinarily defiant. People from all walks of life. It's not just -- look, 60 percent of this country is in

poverty. They survive on two or three dollars a day. But it's not just the poor people who are out there. It is middle class people as well.

Saying enough is enough. We've seen the corruption. There's been government reports. It implicates the President, or his company, to some

degree. We need action now. We've had absolutely enough.

Will there be more protests? It's possible. We hear rumors. We hear talk about sort of more barricades being set up and trying to block traffic in

different places, trying to shut down business in the capital right now. Tenuous calm at the moment, with the entire police force on alert. But we

will see what the next couple of days bring -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Miguel, thank you.

Well it's Presidents' Day in the United States. And in just over six hours, Donald Trump will spend part of the day weighing in on the crisis in

Venezuela. Now, a country which currently has two presidents, depending on how you see things. A standoff between the two contenders is playing out

over the issue of humanitarian aid.

[10:20:00] Tons of supplies currently languish in the Colombian border city of Cucuta blocked by President Nicolas Maduro from entering the country.

His opponent, Juan Guaido, has declared himself interim President. And that was back in January. Vows to move it into the country on February 23.

Isa Soares is in the Venezuelan capital for you this evening -- Isa.

ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Becky, what we've known, in the last few minutes, in fact is from those volunteers from Juan Guaido,

the million or so volunteers that Juan Guaido wants. They are getting together and the plan is for them on the 23rd, Becky, to form some sort of

human chain. The details, of course, will only be revealed probably on Friday night so the Maduro government knows as little as possible.

Meanwhile, on both sides of the border, have been able to see really people, really struggling for basic medicine, for basic needs. I'm talking

about gauze tape. I'm talking about plasterers, I.V. fluid. Not to mention the most needed antibiotics and medicine. I looked at three case

studies. Take a look.


SOARES (voice-over): For most of her young life, Angie (ph) has only known hunger. has only known hunger. Now, her body is feeling its impact.

Frail, irritable and in pain, she's been unable to keep food down. But her little tummy suffering from severe acute malnutrition, in what was once the

world's richest oil nation, just can't keep it in. She's one of thousands of Venezuelan children leaving home, with many being treated at this border

city hospital in Cucuta.

Several floors up, in the maternity ward, I meet several women who too have seen scarcity for months on end.

(on camera): What did you eat there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Very little. Rations.

SOARES (voice-over): I go further down the hall, and on a floor where pain and life go hand in hand, I come face to face with tragedy.

(on camera): She is telling me her baby is, her baby is dead. No heartbeat, nothing, no life, she's telling me. 29. Six months, so

basically 9 weeks. So her baby has died.

(voice-over): This is the toll of the humanitarian crisis Nicolas Maduro denies. The death and despair are not just contained within these hospital

walls. I traveled through Cucuta and met others desperate for help.

19-year-old Cleve Salazar (ph) recently arrived from Caracas. He made the journey simply for survival.

CLEVE SALAZAR, HIV POSITIVE PATIENT (through translation text): If I stayed in Venezuela, I was going to die. I knew it was going to die. In

fact all my friends with HIV in Venezuela, out of 30, only one is alive.

SOARES: He says he is HIV positive and desperately needed anti-retroviral drugs, unavailable back home.

As he gets a checkup, the doctor at the NGO for which Cleve (ph) volunteers for, tells me tells me nine of his HIV patients died in 2018, all


Cleve (ph) got out just in time. But getting here has come with sacrifice and the wounds he carries are still fresh.

SALAZAR (through translator): And I sold it not only because I needed medicine, I sold it for food, I sold it because I needed many things.


SOARES: And, Becky, those are just three case studies. More than a million or so people have moved over to Colombia, and so many when I was on

Tienditas Bridge, so many of them, have practically tapping me on the shoulder asking me when is the aid coming in, when can we get our hands on

the aid -- Becky.

ANDERSON: And that aid of course, a story that will build and build towards this deadline of this weekend. And President Trump, speaking in

Miami, about six hours from now, he promises to specifically talk to -- or at least we are told -- he will speak about Venezuela. Are people in

Venezuela waiting to hear from the U.S. President? Or is their life and their concerns a lot more local at this point?

SOARES: They are going to be the ones that I've spoken to, Becky, will be listening in and they will be listening very carefully to what he has to


[10:25:00] Because of course, he has said previously that all options are on the table when it comes to kind of military intervention. I asked one

gentleman in fact today what he wanted to see. And he said, of course, we don't want to see any boots on the ground, but if it has to get to that

point, then so be it. This is, as he said, was certainly Maduro is in the for the long run. He's playing a long game. And if it has to get to that,

then so be it. Because he says, it has gotten to the point where they're unable to buy basic goods, basic medicine.

And there is a real sense of, an eerie sense of calm here, Becky, that even when I ask people for their opinion, I almost have to whisper and people

kind of turn their heads, just turn around to see who is listening. So people will be listening very closely, and no doubt, President Trump will

be hoping to embolden Juan Guaido, as well as playing on that anti- socialist message that we heard from him in the State of the Union -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Sure. Fascinating. Isa, thank you for that. Isa is in Venezuela for you. We are in Abu Dhabi. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. Doing

what we say on the tin.

Coming up, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince gets the red-carpet treatment in Asia as he hands out business deals. We will look at whether a global

power shift is under way. And later, his comments already caused an uproar in Poland. But Israel's acting foreign minister now doubling down on

controversial remarks about the holocaust. That, after this.


[10:30:00] ANDERSON: Welcome back, this is CNN, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson.

Some news just in to us here, the top U.S. general leading the fight against ISIS, spent several hours in Northern Syria this Monday, where he

rebuffed local allies, renewed requests for American troops to stay on the ground. General Joseph Votel made the stop-over during his tour of the

Middle East, where he also visited troops in Iraq. Another state grappling with the remnants of ISIS.

The General made it clear that American soldiers would be coming home, following the decision by U.S. President Trump to withdraw troop from

Syria. Two military officials told CNN that U.S. troops will begin leaving in the next few days.

Well to Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince, on the road in Asia, handing out cash and trying to drum up goodwill. Mohammed bin Salman headed for India after

signing billions of dollars in deals with Pakistan and agreeing to free thousands of Pakistani prisoners. Many countries -- as you're well aware -

- have condemn the Saudis over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year. But as our Sophia Saifi, tells us, this visit so far is mostly

about money.

SOPHIA SAIFI, CNN PRODUCER: Becky, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was only in Pakistan for two days. And while he was here, the capital city of

Islamabad was in complete standstill. There were no schools. There was a public holiday. All government officials had been told to stay at home.

And there was an unprecedented security presence across the country.

Now, there was an air of excitement regarding MBS's arrival. There was a lot of pomp and ceremony broadcast on state television. But at the same

time, there was also what critics say was an air of despair. And that despair is because Pakistan's economy is severely flagging. And the amount

of investment, the amount of deals that have been signed here, in Pakistan, today, and yesterday, amount to about $20 billion. That is money Pakistan

urgently needs.

Now critics have said that because MBS is coming, because of this renewal of ties, between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, it's going to prove problematic

for Pakistan's foreign policy, when it comes to its ties with Qatar, China, and Turkey.

That being said, there have been some other positive developments regarding this visit. There was an announcement just this morning, by the Crown

Prince, that he's going to be releasing -- the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is going to be releasing up to 2,100 prisoners, Pakistani prisoners, who have

been languishing in Saudi jails for many, many years. That was a special request that had been made by the Prime Minister Imran Khan and has been

muchly appreciated by human rights activists here in the country.

Now, keeping that in mind, MBS has now left Pakistan, he's off to India. Obviously, Pakistan's eastern rival, and it remains to be seen how these

developments are going to move forward. What he is going to say while he is on the Indian leg of his tour, and whether this is going to remain as

positively viewed as it currently is here in Pakistan by local channels and by analysts -- Becky.

ANDERSON: It is perhaps clear, thank you. To see why MBS is moving East with the global center of gravity moving towards it diplomatically and


In fact my next guest, Parag Khanna, argues that quote, the Asian/Arab nexus will determine West Asia's future more than any diktats from

Washington or London.

His new book is "The Future is Asian" and Parag joins me now from our studio in New York this evening. Pakistan then rolling out the red carpet

for the Crown Prince, who arrived pledging help to the cash-strapped country, to the tune of some $20 billion. These countries have had a long

close military relationship. Is this more than just about optics, a time when the kingdom's reputation has been so tarnished in the West?

PARAG KHANNA, FOUNDER AND MANAGING PARTNER, FUTUREMAP: It is great to be with you, Becky. And yes, it is more than just about optics. It certainly

is a very strong continuation, as you rightly suggested. There are decades of history between these country, from the energy ties, to economic

bailouts, obviously religious ties. Saudi sponsorship of certain kinds of, you know, Sunni religious institutions in the country of Pakistan.

Obviously, Saudi has been the exile home for previous leaders of Pakistan and so forth.

And this, obviously this is very strong financial package, comes at a time when the country really does need it. You know, others in the media have

rightly pointed out that this bailout, or combination of bailout, loans, abatements, for energy payments, and so forth, comes at a time when

Pakistan was going to need to require a significant amount of capital infusion, lending, from the IMF, and this is going to diminish that


[10:35:00] And so, as I say, the Arab/Asian nexus, you know, Pakistan can rely on West Asian powers like Saudi Arabia, or to the East, great powers

like China, too, in combination, help support it through these difficult fiscal times.

ANDERSON: And talk to us about the wider story here. As the Crown Prince moves from Pakistan to -- I have to say, quite sensitively -- to India, and

then on to China. You have talked about in your book, fresh investments, spanning the breadth of this new maritime silk road for me, from the Strait

of Hormuz, to the Strait of Malacca, the worlds a most significant energy passageways. You describe a much bigger, wider story here, that being not

just financial, but it would shift the tectonic plates with regard to geopolitics, as well going forward, if this works, correct?

KHANNA: That's right, Becky. And let's view the present moment in the context as just one new chapter in a 30-year story. Because the story of

the Arab world, particularly the Gulf energy exporters, shifting their geo- strategic focus, their economic focus, certainly their trade balance, towards the South and East Asian powers across the Indian ocean. Whether

it is Japan, South Korea, China and India, as their largest export markets.

That story, Becky, began when the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s. In many way, the Belton Road initiative, China's efforts to use Pakistan and

other Central Asian countries to connect infrastructurally all the way to West Asia. Through Afghanistan and Iran, to the Arab world. That story

also began in the 1990s. And so, we're seeing right now the culmination of decades actually of investments, of trade, of infrastructure coming

together. And again it fits the economic cycle, the strategic realities and shifts.

And you know, as you know, Becky, King Salman made a major visit across Asian countries several years ago, as well. And this follows in the

footsteps of that. So we should not view this as a unique event. We should view it as part of this new almost a culmination of everything

that's been happening for the past couple of decades and will certainly deepen into the future.

ANDERSON: Parag, had it though not been for the reputational damage done to the Kingdom, by the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, there would be an

enormous effort made on sort of a bilateral, transactional basis, between, for example, companies out of the United States, and the Investment Fund

out of Saudi Arabia. There was a real coming together that we've seen over the last couple of years, with a view to this Vision 2030, for Saudi.

Are you saying that this sort of trip and this sort of spend and this sort of investment, from Saudi, was always going to happen? Or are we to

believe that it is even more important that the Kingdom looks towards the East these days, because of what has happened in the light of the murder of

Jamal Khashoggi?

KHANNA: Becky, that's a great question. The answer is both. As I document very clearly, the trends around the capital repatriation by Gulf

Sovereign Wealth Funds which hold a collective 2 to $3 trillion, out of Western markets in order to shore up their own fiscal position, that was

under way for years. Right? It really goes back to 2015, 2016. And then, the new energy deals. Whether it's petrochemical refineries or new energy

export channels and infrastructure projects, between Gulf Sovereign Wealth Funds and Asian ones. Whether it is China, Korea, Japan, and new

commercial deals, with the Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia, bringing in Korean contractors to do new shipyards. All of that, Becky, has been

happening for years, and years.

So what's happening now, is just again, the next step forward, and of course, the fanfare and the diplomatic signaling around a trip to Asian

countries where MBS does not have to feel, you know, sort of shy and hiding and apologetic. Because Asians clearly are not emphasizing or criticizing

the country on human rights and other issues. That obviously is for him in a way the icing on the cake. But was this trip going to happen in terms of

deepening the structural ties that are already well under way? Without a doubt.

ANDERSON: Parag is in New York for you. Parag Khanna, thank you. Pleasure having you on.

Israel's acting foreign minister, doubling down on comments that have outraged Poland, and triggered the collapse of an international conference

in Jerusalem. Israel Katz spoke to Israeli radio today calling it a matter of historical truth that Poles collaborated with Nazis during the

holocaust. Poland's Prime Minister has called his remarks racist and unacceptable and is boycotting a planned meeting of European nations in

Israel. Let's bring in Oren Liebermann live tonight in Jerusalem.

[10:40:00] Just walk us through the significance of this decision by these Europeans to can this trip.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the significance of this decision rests on the significance of the meeting itself. This would have

been the first time, what is known as the Visegrad Group -- a group of four countries would have met outside of Europe. The fact that it was in

Jerusalem, would have been a huge diplomatic victory, a political victory as well with elections looming, for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Then the problems began specifically with Poland. Those problems started when Netanyahu himself was in Poland and since then, they have only gotten


First, Poland announced instead of sending the Prime Minister, they would send the foreign minister. And then, as you rightly point out, after the

comments of the acting foreign minister accusing the Poles of complicity with the Nazis. Poland announced they're not sending anybody. And this is

no longer a meeting of the Visegrad Group. Instead this is bilateral meeting between the leaders of some of those countries and Netanyahu. So

the meeting itself has collapsed. It would have been a major victory for Netanyahu. And now it's simply a meeting of some heads of state to

Jerusalem. Much less significant and a blow to Benjamin Netanyahu, as he tried to host that meeting here outside of Europe for the first time.

Becky, it's worth noting that the comments from the acting foreign minister were on his first day in that position.

ANDERSON: Yes, fascinating. Oren, just before I let you go, I want to mention another story doing the rounds today. It's a big one for you. A

giant in Israeli politics calling it quits, warning that democracy is in danger. Opposition lawmaker, Tzipi Livni, has taken on so many roles over

the years, from foreign minister to chief negotiator with the Palestinians, to serving in the Mossad spy agency. Why is she calling it a day now?

LIEBERMANN: Well her high was in 2009, when she walked out of Knesset elections and had the biggest party. At that point, she had already served

as foreign minister and would go on to have a few more roles. But she wasn't able to put together a government, and from there, it has been a

slow and steady decline. Going into the elections in April, according to all of the recent polls, she doesn't have enough votes to cross the

electoral threshold. Which means that thousands of votes that she still would have garnered would not have gotten her into the Knesset. For her

those were wasted left wing votes. Instead of pulling those in, she announced that she would resign and step away from politics, such that

those votes could go toward -- and she didn't mention Benjamin Netanyahu. But it was clearly to try to bring down Netanyahu in the coming elections.

ANDERSON: Oren Liebermann is in Jerusalem for you today folks, thank you.

Coming up, sources say they think an American actor orchestrated his own attack. But Jussie Smollett insists that is a lie. The latest on the

investigation is up next.


[10:45:00] ANDERSON: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson. It's 7:45 here in the UAE. This is our

Middle East broadcasting hub, where we come to you around the world.

Confusion now, surrounding the alleged hate crime of an American actor, as questions arise over whether it was all a hoax. Law enforcement sources

tell CNN that Chicago police believe Jussie Smollett paid two men to orchestrate an attack on him. And in a statement from his attorneys, the

"Empire" star denies playing any role. Ryan young live for us in Chicago. What do we know at this point?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN U.S. CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is a lot of confusion at this point. I can tell you that the detectives have the two phones of the

men who they had detained last week. They released them without charges, but those phones will probably give them some sort of information that

they've been looking for. In fact they are doing a data crunch on them, as we speak.


JUSSIE SMOLLETT, ACTOR: I'm not fully healed yet. But I'm going to.

YOUNG (voice-over): The alleged hate crime against "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett prompted national outrage.

SMOLLETT (singing): Seams like I try to make you smile, you don't even care though.

YOUNG: The two law enforcement sources tell CNN that Chicago police now believe Smollett paid two men to orchestrate the assault. Smollett

vehemently denying the suggestion through his attorneys.

Saying in a statement, as a victim of a hate crime, who has cooperated with the police investigation, Smollett is angered and devastated and further

victimized by claims that he played a role in his own attack.

The actor blasting those who have questioned his account in an interview last week.

SMOLLETT: Who the [bleep] would make something like this up, or add something to it, or whatever it may be. I can't, I can't even, I'm an

advocate --

YOUNG: Chicago police confirming that new information has shifted the trajectory of the investigation. Saying on Saturday, that they have

reached out to Smollett's attorney to request a follow-up interview.

SMOLLETT: I'm pissed off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is it that has you so angry? Is it the attacker?

SMOLLETT: It is the attackers. But it is also the attacks.

YOUNG: According to the initial police reports, Smollett alleges that two men attacked him on January 29 while yelling racist and homophobic slurs.

Putting a robe around his neck and pouring an unknown chemical substance on him. He said at least one of the men was wearing a mask. On Wednesday,

authorities arrested two potential suspects seen in this surveillance footage saying they had probable cause to believe that Nigerian brothers

may have been involved in an alleged crime.

SMOLLETT: I don't have any doubt in my mind that that's them. Never did it.

YOUNG: But by Friday, after searching their apartment, police released the men without any charges. A source familiar with the investigation tells

CNN, police are now examining the men's cell phones. Chicago police say Smollett has also handed over phone records, but they were heavily


SMOLLETT: They wanted me to give my phone to the tech, for three to four hours. I'm sorry. But I'm not going to do that.


SMOLLETT: Because I have private pictures, and videos, and numbers.

YOUNG: In the wake of the alleged attack, a number of 2020 Democratic hopefuls rallied behind Smollett, now many say they'll wait for the

investigation to be completed before commenting further.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The investigation is ongoing.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: I'm going to withhold until all of the information actually comes out from on the record sources.


YOUNG: And that's actually another fact out there that we have learned. Apparently, police, threw financial records, can confirm that the men who

were on that video, who are now working with them, purchased the rope found around Smollett's neck. So this all adds more twists and turns. It'll be

interesting to see what happens next. We do know for a fact that police have reached out to the attorneys for the actor. They've asked him to come

back so they can have another conversation about the details.

ANDERSON: And, Ryan, this case prompting an enormous outpouring of rage. And we saw some of that on social, just in your report. Was there a rush

to judgment in this case? And if so, why?

YOUNG: Wow, there's a lot tied to that. There're not only political questions about this one, there's the idea about the rush to judgment.

People are pointing the finger at the media. But they're also saying, look, this young man up until this point had one of those kind of stellar

careers where he was known for helping people. So the idea that this could possibly be made up is something that is far for people to even try to

believe, even conceive. So you have to figure out what the motivation could be, and that's what detectives are trying to work out themselves.

And at this point, we need to sit down with the actor again to try to figure it all out because you have two sides to every stories, right?

ANDERSON: Absolutely. Thank you, sir.

We're broadcasting around the world, from our Middle East programming hub here in Abu Dhabi, now this country, less than 50 years old, is the only

place on earth you can see something happening for the first time in 300 years.

[10:50:00] Want to know what that is? Stick around.


ANDERSON: He's perhaps the finest painter to have ever lived, crafting himself into immortality here at the tip of his own brush. The iconic

genius in Vincent van Gogh. He is, of course, famous, infamous even, for knocking off his own ear. But it's truly this that we all know him for.

Painting hours into a new world, with magnificent colors, and inspired brush strokes, letting us stroll through a glittering meadow while gazing

into the depth of a "Starry, Starry Night". Van Gogh of course, far from the only Dutch master. Before him, an entire Golden Age of magnificent

work and now we can take you behind the scenes of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, showing a lot of it off.


ANDERSON (voice-over): This rare masterpiece has traveled over 4,000 miles. And it's given a final inspection before it's hung at the Louvre

Abu Dhabi. Reunited with another piece of work painted on the same canvas, by Dutch master, Johannes Vermeer This'll be the first time they have been

displayed side by side in over 300 years.

BLAISE DUCOS, CHIEF CURATOR, DUTCH AND FINISH PAINTINGS MUSEE DU LOUVE: We very much in the hope that this will be a crowd pleaser. Because those

paintings, the shear quality of these paintings, is immense. It's realistic, you don't need to know a lot in order to enjoy a piece of Dutch

art from the 17th century.

ANDERSON: The Vermeer's take pride of place at the latest exhibition on the Dutch Golden Age.

LARA YEAGER-CRASSELT, CURATOR, LEIDEN COLLECTION: The two Vermeer's together, in this exhibition, in the Louvre Abu Dhabi is a milestone

moment. This is really new and pretty extraordinary.

ANDERSON: Overseeing this exhibition, the chief curator, Rose Marie Mousseaux. For her, it's all about sharing these masterpieces with a new



together, it is really fantastic.

Not only here, but in the world. This is really a big deal for us. Just to show them, and to put them in the light.

ANDERSON: The exhibition delves into the work of famous Dutch masters, such as Rembrandt, Jan Lievens and Gerrit Dou.

[10:55:00] Made up of 95 pieces including 15 of Rembrandts paintings and drawings, it features the largest number of his work ever showcased in the

Middle East.

MANUEL RABATE, DIRECTOR LOUVER ABU DHABI: We have two types of audience. The tourists, which are representing more than 60 percent of the visitors,

and 40 percent are the residents. And an exhibition like that, it is broad-versed, and very important names, masterpieces, things that could

justify in themselves a trip to Abu Dhabi.

ANDERSON: And since opening a little over a year ago, the museum has attracted over a million visitors. Its permanent collection highlights

universal themes and influences. Abu Dhabi made headlines last year by paying a world record 450 million U.S. dollars for Leonardo da Vinci,

Salvador Mundi. And while the art world waits expectedly for that masterpiece to be unveiled here, well a lot faster exhibitions like this.

the crowds come in.


ANDERSON: Now the exhibition opening last Thursday and running all the way through to May 18. And so, you can go and soak it all in.

I'm Becky Anderson. That was CONNECT THE WORLD. With that, we go off into our own starry night, as it were. Thank you all for watching. Same time.

Same place tomorrow.