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Groundwork Being Laid For Re-Emergence Of Terror Group; Irish Government Working To Repatriate Widow Of ISIS Fighter; Funeral Held For Three Palestinian Killed In Border Clashes; Egypt Tries To Mediate Israel- Hamas Ceasefire; Top Conservatives: U.K. Snap Election Won't Solve Impasse; U.S. Immigrant Holding Facilities Far Above Capacity; Israel Deprives Palestinians Of Clean Water. Aired 11-12p ET

Aired March 31, 2019 - 11:00   ET



[11:00:00] BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD with me Becky Anderson live for you

tonight from Abu Dhabi. Now we begin with a CNN exclusive taking you inside the fight against ISIS like no one else can. And of course know

that for nearly five years ISIS brought terror to the world carrying out and inspiring brutal attacks around the world from concerts in France to

cafes in Sydney, but they were most brutal in Iraq and in Syria.

After grabbing hold of large sways of land tormenting those living under their rule now, U.S.-backed forces in Syria are declaring what they call a

total victory after pushing the terror group out of its final stronghold in Baghouz last week, that a year after they were quashed next door in Iraq.

But as CNN's Arwa Damon has been finding, out the reality is very different. The caliphate's reign is far from over and their revival

already underway.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is Western Iraq's no-man's land. Historic terror hiding grounds, hard to control terrain,

far-flung areas without a permanent security presence. It is in these lands that once night falls ISIS gangs attack, kill, and plunder with


We're heading to the site of a recent horrific ISIS assault. Within minutes of veering off the main road and onto a dirt track, we arrived at

what is little more than a cluster of mud homes.

Salam Alaikum.

Death has never come to 72-year-old Yusuf Hawass' village this way.

There's still bloodstains on the on the ground.

Yusuf's older brother and five other relatives were murdered in the dead of night just days ago.

She's been cleaning up. They're trying to, at least.

Fatima is one of the victim's relatives.

This is how they found one of the bodies of the women and what we're being told is that she was taken to. Here the shower area and this is where they

just executed her.

Despite having been declared defeated, ISIS has not died. It is lurking in the shadows waiting for the groundwork that will allow it to rise again.

Iraq security forces have rounded up tens of thousands of accused ISIS members.

In Baghdad, we meet these four men who have already been sentenced to death. They admit they were a part of the terrorist network. Two were

fighters, one a nurse, and one transported suicide bombers.

Like all captured fighters we have spoken to over the years, they too say joining ISIS was a mistake. But this is how one of them justifies it.

That sentiment of being abused by the Shia-led government, of a desire for revenge was and will continue to be central to ISIS's ability to seduce

people into its ranks. When we ask if they still believe in its ideology, the question is honestly met with silence. The men unwilling to

immediately condemned the twisted thinking that gave them as seen in these photographs such intoxicating power, a purpose, a sense of control over

their lives and the lives of others.

In a nearby building is the courthouse where those on this day awaiting trial don't want to appear on camera. But their cases are classic examples

of the Sunni populations grievances.

There are six men here who are facing terrorism charges. Half of them say the charges against them are politically motivated going back to 2011. The

other half aren't even sure exactly what they're being accused of but they all say that they were forced into confession under torture.

Human rights organizations have long criticized Iraq for its culture of rampant torture and flawed trials. But Judge Abdul-Sattar al-Birqdar says

Iraq upholds international standards and abides by its own anti-terrorism laws.


DAMON: The issue is that also caught in the dragnet are those who are innocent, victims of Iraq's historic polarizing dynamics pitting its Sunni

and Shia populations against each other. It's the dynamic that is amplified at the sprawling refugee camps for those who fled the fighting

but are still unable to go back home where those who were affiliated with or just suspected of being affiliated with ISIS are afraid of retribution.

In one tent, we meet the parents of three men who were detained and then disappeared into Iraq murky judicial system. Their mother Shem says she

hasn't seen or heard from her sons since they were picked up three years ago.

As she talks her anguish becomes overwhelming. She doesn't know where they are or if they are even alive. We meet one of her detained son's children.

Their mother doesn't want to appear on camera.

The kids are having problems. They're being harassed by other children who know that their father isn't here and they're telling them, oh your dad is

ISIS. Your dad is ISIS.

Their mother tells them it's a lie, but it still tarnishes their young lives, condemns them to a life of isolation and rejection. There's is but

one story, one example of what many in the Sunni population believe is part of a revenge campaign by the Shia-led government. Another emotional

paradigm ISIS can prey on. It's a sentiment that reverberates throughout these destitute camps with their prison-like feel, dreams traced in dust,

the sense of despair.

Especially vulnerable are the children of those whose fathers, brothers, uncles, innocent or guilty or disappeared killed or detained. District

director Salah Hassan says the government cannot afford to abandon the younger generations.


DAMON: The hatred that festers within them instills yet another complex emotion that ISIS can easily manipulate. There is little that has been

done to emotionally or physically rebuild the ruins left behind by Iraq's war on ISIS.

And so far, the government has not dispelled the factors that allowed ISIS to emerge, the sense of abandonment, of being perpetually punished,

arbitrarily targeted. Unless that changes, the next incarnation of terror seems destined to haunt this country once more.


ANDERSON: Well, Arwa joining us now live from Istanbul in Turkey. And Arwa, in your reporting you explain and talk about the groundwork being

laid for the re-emergence of ISIS. Who then is responsible for making sure that that doesn't happen?

DAMON: Becky, there is a huge burden of responsibility of course on the Iraqi government, but it is also a global burden of responsibility. Look,

America needs to play its part as well and I'm not just talking about continuing to militarily support the Iraqi security forces, but when it

comes to the reconstruction and humanitarian effort. After all, ISIS did emerge out of the ashes of the us-led invasion back in 2003, and neither

Iraq nor the rest of the world can afford to see that country abandoned at this stage.

Those children who you saw at those camps, those populations who we met in Nineveh province where Mosul is located, they all need to and deserve to

see a world that's not defined by evils that they then do not succumb to evil themselves. So this is really something that is going to not just

take an Iraqi effort but a global one as well.

[11:10:02] ANDERSON: On the Iraqi government and its responsibilities, where do you see the efforts at this point?

DAMON: That's the problem, Becky. We really didn't see much if any of an effort. When it just comes to Nineveh province which were again as I was

saying Mosul is located, the governor there was telling us back when we were in Mosul a few weeks ago that his province had only received a

fraction of the budget allocated to it by Baghdad, and that's a budget that it needs at this stage if it is even going to try to rebuild. Any sort of

reconstruction effort was really by and large being done by people themselves.

And of course the Corps in all of this is that those individuals are going to be inclined or be seduced by an entity like ISIS need to have faith in

the Iraqi government in their own country so that they don't end up turning into violent.

People are moving towards violence themselves are believing at the very least that violence is the only option because ISIS has not yet been fully

defeated and it still maintained a significant digital footprint. ISIS has finances that stretch across the globe and it's a very as we've seen in

Iraq history itself forward-thinking organization that's incredibly patient and willing to wait and buy its time for that moment when the circumstances

are ideal for its reemergence.

ANDERSON: And we've seen sort of circumstances that you have witnessed which could easily provide for recruitment that being in Iraq. Now that

ISIS has actually lost its last official territory in Syria, you've just explained some of their sort of current capabilities. Are they still able

to carry out though the same level of attacks that they once did and where are they most likely to recruit going forward?

DAMON: Well, no, they're not able to carry out the same level of attacks. I mean, from what we've seen and from what we're hearing from experts is

that their attacks right now are really those pop out of their hideouts, go at target vulnerable area such as these far-flung villages, and then go and

retreat back into their mountain or desert hideouts.

But at the same time, this is their modus operandi. This is how, Becky, they spent years after the U.S. military withdrew from Iraq operating

hiding out in these areas and then emerging to become the ISIS that really terrorized and controlled flaws of both Iraq and Syria, a size -- a

territory the size of Great Britain back in their heyday.

As for their recruitment, it really is those vulnerable populations. Populations that feel abandoned, populations that feel as if they have lost

their sense of identity, as if governments are entirely turning against them. And that's not a dynamic that is just unique to Iraq or Syria this

is a dynamic that we see in other countries as well that ISIS is able to recruit from.

Which is why if we're going to talk about defeating the ISIS ideology, it really has to be a global effort. And these various different politics of

isolation and alienation that we see being spouted by a significant number of global leaders are very unhelpful at this stage.

ANDERSON: Arwa Damon reporting for you out of Istanbul in Turkey. Arwa, thank you. Well, a fallout from ISIS' reign as you will be well aware as

left a slew of foreign fighters who join the terror group as well as their families in the hands of the forces battling them.

As we've been reporting, in Syria thousands of women and children are waiting in camps to learn of their fate. My colleague Jomana Karadsheh

spoke with one woman, Irish citizen Lisa Smith who is a widow of an ISIS fighter. She and her two-year-old son have been stranded in a Kurdish

controlled refugee camp in Syria. Here is some of their conversation.


LISA SMITH, ISIS BRIDE: I think the people should just realize that all the people here are not terrorist.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This woman declined to give us her name but she's been identified by Irish media as Muslim convert Lisa Smith,

a former member of the Irish military. She says she came to Syria an ISIS bride, now she's a widow left alone with a two-year-old daughter.

SMITH: I want to go home.

KARADSHEH: But you might be prosecuted if you go home. You might end up in jail. Are you ready for that?

SMITH: I know they would take my passport. The wouldn't travel and I would be watched. Prisons? I don't know. I'm already in prison.


ANDERSON: Well, since we brought you her story on CONNECT THE WORLD, Ireland now working to get Lisa Smith and her child home. The Minister for

Foreign Affairs quoted CNN's reporting in their decision to take action.


[11:15:15] SIMON COVENEY, FOREIGN MINISTER, IRELAND: She's an Irish citizen. She's the responsibility of Ireland. And so we have a

responsibility towards her and in particular her daughter. And we will try to follow through on that responsibility and find a way to bring her home.


ANDERSON: Well, Ireland reclaiming one of its ISIS supporters breaks a trend by Western countries. Many nations like the U.S. and the U.K. have

actually taken steps to block their citizens from returning from war zones. And we will continue of course to follow this story can get more at

Well, still to come protests turned into deadly clashes on the Israel-Gaza border on Saturday as Egypt tries to mediate a long-term ceasefire. CNN on

the ground in Gaza up next. And an overcrowded and overwhelmed U.S. border authorities say they have reached a breaking point as migrant facilities

overflow with asylum seekers. That after this.


ANDERSON: Well, families in Gaza are holding funerals for their loved ones today. Palestinian health officials say three people were killed on

Saturday in clashes along the border with Israel, hundreds of others wounded. Israel says five rockets were fired into its territory from Gaza

but caused no harm or damage.

Saturday marked one year anniversary since the protests began in which Palestinians demand to return the land now controlled by Israel. Well, we

are learning Israel is now reopened the two crossings with Gaza it had closed after a rocket attack last week. Hamas says it expects to soon get

a timetable from Israel on how it plans to ease restrictions on Gaza.

On Saturday, 40,000 Palestinians turned out for the March of return protests. Despite the violence, Hamas celebrating the protests as

successful. CNN's Michael Holmes is on the ground there. He filed this report from Saturday's demonstrations.


[11:20:05] MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hamas had called for today's protests to be peaceful for the first time deploying hundreds of marshals

to keep protesters back from the border fence and possible death.

The men from Hamas crowd control trying to keep protesters back. They've had some success but the longer it goes on, the harder it's going to be.

In the end, it didn't work. Hundreds broke through. Tires were set ablaze and rocks thrown towards Israeli troops on the other side. Tear gas, lots

of it came from the Israeli side and there was some live fire as well. Israel says it only uses such measures when an imminent threat is


The Palestinian Ministry of Health says a year of weekly protests like this has seen nearly 270 Palestinians killed and thousands wounded as they

protest the loss of Palestinian homes in the Arab-Israeli war of the 1940s.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We're here to get our land back, our homes. I'm participating to get it back.

HOLMES: These protests are a test for Hamas, turn out a crowd big enough that shows support for the cause but at the same time exercise enough

control over that crowd to minimize violence and casualties.

Hamas also looking for Israeli restraint and so how this day ended would likely impact the success or otherwise of Egyptian mediated talks between

Hamas and Israel, to higher death toll from Israeli fire and Hamas said it would retaliate, and for Israel's part excessive violence would show a lack

of Hamas will or ability to tamp down the violence.

And it appeared to work at least to a degree. Casualty numbers far less than in previous demonstrations even though at the end of the day,

Palestinian medical authorities said there had been hundreds of injuries, many from bullets but most from tear gas. Here a boy overcome by gas, he

quickly recovered.

Those truce talks now continued. Hamas wanting Israel to ease restrictions on Gaza in the number of areas, Israel wanting quiet from the Gaza Strip

and end to rocket fire into Israel and protests like these along the border.

The days ahead will determine which direction this ongoing conflict goes. Michael Holmes CNN Gaza.


ANDERSON: Well, let's get more on this with CNN's Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem for you. And both Israel and Hamas being applauded as having act

to a certain extent with restraint, and that resulting of course in these crossings being reopened. What chance of a ceasefire is at this point?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: It's a very difficult question to answer at this point. But it seems a parent having watched not

only Israel and Hamas in Gaza but also the United Nations, the statements coming out from all sides but particularly from inside of Gaza and from the

United Nations that something has changed, that there is something significant afoot.

But it is very much behind the scenes for Israel and especially for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it would be very difficult to admit that there

are negotiations mediated by Egypt happening between Israel Hamas with an election less than two weeks away at this point, a week and a half.

For him to admit that he's considering or has made or is going to make concessions to Hamas could be a severe blow to his image as a hardliner

against Hamas. But it very much seems that's the case not only because of the restraint we saw on both sides but it seems the formula here has

changed not only with the opening of the border after protests in two of the crossings but I'll give you one more example.

Last week when those rockets were fired, there was a second round. There was a rocket at 8:00 p.m. midnight and 4:00 in the morning. Israel didn't

respond after the last of those rockets. In a sense, Israel had Hamas or let Hamas have the last say and that's something that in my four years of

reporting here we haven't seen yet.

So there's clearly a change in the formula here, a change in the calculation. Where does it lead? Because of the lack of statements, it's

difficult to get a sense of that but I suspect we'll find out but we may have to wait until after the elections for us to get a better sense of what

those concessions may be.

ANDERSON: Yes. But I'm going to push you on this because it's so important is that -- and you know this story so well. If there is change

afoot, to your mind what does that signify long-term?

LIEBERMANN: It signifies and increases the possibility of a long-term truce agreement which isn't is in the best interest of Israel and Hamas and

of Egypt and the United Nations to improve the security or rather to improve the living conditions of two million Gazans what would those

concessions look like.

And I'll give a list it could be all or some of the above-increased fishing zone, lessening of the restrictions on imports and exports, more work

permits for Gazans, more electricity, more fuel, more money, all of that could be part of what Hamas is demanding and we'll see what if any Israel

is willing to give up.

But again it's difficult for Israel to admit any of that especially Netanyahu because of the election he's currently facing.

[11:25:00] ANDERSON: On a -- on a sort of broader basis as we are promised the details of this deal of the century as it's been termed by the Trump

administration, its author Jared Kushner, how does this play in?

LIEBERMANN: That's a good question, and again, a very difficult one to answer because we have no idea what's in President Donald Trump's deal of

the century. It seems whatever is happening behind the scenes between Israel and between Hamas is happening independently of whatever it is

inside that peace plan.

Israel and Hamas it seems are working on what they feel is their best interest. Egypt trying to facilitate this entire agreement with the help

of the U.N. And whatever they work out, if they're able to work something out, it looks like it will be independent of whatever it is that Trump puts

on the table supposedly after the elections.

ANDERSON: Brazil's president on a state visit to Israel right now just days before the national elections there, Tuesday, April the 9th.

Observers watching to see if Mr. Bolsonaro follows the promise to move Brazil's embassy to Jerusalem.

We know that Benjamin Netanyahu is up for reelection against a tough challenger and ongoing corruption investigations. One assumes any move by

the Brazilian president would be a significant boost for Israel's prime minister at this point, correct?

LIEBERMANN: Of course. This entire visit seems very much like it was timed by Netanyahu right before the elections to show off his diplomatic

skills. Of course, the huge gift would be an announcement that Brazil is moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Expectations for that it seems are quite low. Instead, what we may see -- and of course, this is subject to change, but what we may see is the

opening of a trade office in Jerusalem and then President Bolsanaro saying this is the first step toward moving an embassy.

That would be something we saw from the Czech Republic not long ago when they opened a cultural house in Jerusalem. It's not nearly as significant

as an embassy or anywhere close to it, but it does appear to be a gift to Netanyahu right before the election here.

ANDERSON: Oren Liebermann is in Jerusalem for you where it is 6:26, thank you. Later this hour, I'll be joined by Michael Lynk, he's the United

Nations Special Investigator on Human Rights in the Palestinian territory. He's made some serious accusations against Israel. Be sure to stick around

for our discussion. That in about 15 to 20 minutes time.

Also still to come this hour, struggling to keep up, the U.S. cuts aid to several Central American countries as border facilities get overcrowded

with migrants. And a comedian leads the pack, yes, a comedian leads the pack in Ukraine's presidential election. The latest as Ukrainians go to

the polls up next.


[11:31:33] ANDERSON: Well, it's Mother's Day in the United Kingdom. But there is no reprieve for the mother of all parliaments as lawmakers deal

with what feels like the mother of all messes. We are still no clearer as to how politicians intend to break the Brexit deadlock.

On the Sunday talk shows, two top conservatives said a snap general election won't solve the issue. And there are reports, Mrs. May, the prime

minister, could put her deal to a fourth vote.

But a former titan of the party had a more dramatic suggestion. Ex-British Prime Minister John Major, said there are no grounds for a national unity

government. In other words, one that could see age-old rivals come together for the sake of the country.


JOHN MAJOR, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: If you can say the words as sake at the moment, the living standards of the British

nation, the worldwide reputation of Britain which has not done well during this argument about Brexit.

The unity of the U.K. and whether we lose Scotland and Northern Ireland. And the very structure of our politics which is now threatened. Now, if

that doesn't collectively constitute a constitutional and political crisis, then I cannot imagine what does.


ANDERSON: That's John Major, speaking there. Well, if you have been following Brexit over the past few months, you may have noticed one name

coming up again and again and again.

I'm not talking about Theresa May or labor leader Jeremy Corbyn, or in fact, anyone who holds an office in the government or indeed the

opposition. I'm talking about an M.P. named Jacob Rees-Mogg. He may sit on what are known to be back benches of parliament but he is a leading

voice for many Brexiteers. Nina dos Santos tells us why.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In North East Somerset, Jacob Rees- Mogg's message is omnipresent, but not universally popular.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know some who don't like him, it's looking at him is been bit of a tough.

DOS SANTOS: Their local Brexiteer member of parliament has held a strong sway over the prime minister's strategy, as leader of a party's Euroskeptic

flank. Now, the Brexit in disarray, he's being held to his word.

At the Conservative Club, the blue day call is faded, and so, as the dream of leaving the E.U. Who do they blame?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, they're all turncoats, aren't they?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who is turn? They're all -- they vote for -- decided that she is right and they are wrong. Our right --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you (INAUDIBLE), because they see, they're all looking for power, aren't they. I'll go with -- I'll go with Theresa May.

DOS SANTOS: Though banknotes bearing the faces of Brexit, big beasts won't buy you many laughs here, or a drink for that matter.

Well, I was going to offer to buy you drink with some Jacob Rees-Mogg money, be seen there. 50 guineas.


DOS SANTOS: Yes. 10 miles down the road, this businessman is also a Rees- Mogg constituent. A remainer, he wants the uncertainty to end either way.

TREVOR OSBORNE, BUSINESSMAN, UNITED KINGDOM: Jacob is a very sincere man, he really believes this is the case. His few is not shared by the majority

of the residents that he serves there. We need to get the solution to Brexit, done and dusted and out of the way, and move on to make Britain the

place which it should always have been and will be again.

DOS SANTOS: Nina dos Santos, CNN, Somerset.


[11:34:56] ANDERSON: Well, many, of course, seeing a populist link between the force that is Brexit. None other than Donald Trump who is now once

again threatening to close the U.S. border with Mexico. And that is not all, U.S. State Department says it is cutting off aid to three Central

American countries. El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Mr. Trump, says the three countries are "setting up migrant caravans to enter the U.S.

Well, in recent days, U.S. Border Patrol agents have been struggling with a massive influx of migrants. Processing centers in Texas far above capacity

and simply overwhelmed we're told.

Natasha Chen, joining us live from the border town on McAllen, Texas, where I have heard, authorities say they've never seen anything like it. What

are you witnessing there?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, here in McAllen, there are migrants being dropped off by customs and border protection, as well as,

Brownsville about 30-40 miles away from us.

The Brownsville City manager has been talking to me about how they've seen this happen over the last couple of weeks. And they're told it's because

of this overcapacity situation at CBP facilities. And that's the reason they're getting these migrants dropped off in their towns.

In Brownsville, the city and nonprofit partners are helping these migrants contact their family members, perhaps, in the U.S. and getting them bus

tickets, or plane tickets to go on to the rest of their journey. A lot of times, sometimes these migrants are showing up in these cities with no

paperwork at all. And the nonprofit staff have told us that they have had to contact CBP again to make sure they come out and speak with these

migrants and get them the proper paperwork.

So, this is a very difficult situation here. We have the Brownsville City manager telling us how they're approaching this problem.


NOEL BERNAL, CITY MANAGER, BROWNSVILLE CITY: I do firmly believe that the support that the federal government could provide us could exceed what it

is today, and that is, first of all, this is not an emergency in the eyes of the federal government. It leaves us on our own at the ground floor to

it to help these families transition through.


CHEN: And I just spoke with him about the number of people they saw coming into Brownsville yesterday. He says there were 500 migrants just

yesterday. They don't know when this is going to stop, they don't know exactly how many people to expect in the coming days. But Becky, this is a

very serious situation with the president, of course, threatening that he could potentially close the border if Mexico doesn't stop all illegal

immigration coming from the south side.

ANDERSON: Our reporter on the story, Natasha Chen, reporting. Thank you. So, after reporting about the American president, here's a story that might

ring a bell. Right now, the people of Ukraine going to the polls to choose who they want to lead their country.

The presidential election could see a man who has no political experience come out on top. While he may not be a politician, he does play the part

on television. Here's CNN's Isa Soares.


ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A comedian, a chocolate maker, and a former prime minister. These are the three leading candidates

in a field of 39 hopefuls on the ballot in Ukraine's presidential election. Many observers believe this is the man to beat. 41-year-old, Volodymyr

Zelensky, may not be a politician, but he does play Ukrainian president on his hit T.V. show, servant of the people.

Critics point to the danger of electing a president with no political experience. This is, after all, a country with an ongoing military

conflict that has already claimed some 13,000 lives. Separatist pro- Russian areas in the east of the country continue to face off against Ukrainian troops five years after Moscow and next Crimea.

But Zelensky has turned his longshot campaign into a real bid for the office, by leaning into his lack of a political track record when asked

what makes him unique.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, UKRAINE (through translator): This, this is a new face. I have never been in politics. I came from a

clean business, the television and movie business. The people understands that I did not make promises before and excuses afterwards.

SOARES: Incumbent Petro Poroshenko is hoping that fears over relations with their larger neighbor would Trump will desire for change when voters

cast their ballots on Sunday. Elected in 2014, after a populist revolt rousted his pro-Russian predecessor. As president, he's credited with

overseeing the reorganization of the Ukrainian army and standing up to Moscow.

He has been a frequent visitor to troops serving on the eastern front line, and he's regularly filmed wearing military fatigues. A Poroshenko ally

praises the president's courage.

IRYNA GERASHCHENKO, DEPUTY SPEAKER, UKRANIAN PARLIAMENT (through translator): You know that Poroshenko is the only one who visited Donbass

more than 40 times. He has visited the firing line, just 50 meters from the enemy's position. His security detail filled their booths with sweat

whenever President Poroshenko goes to Donbass. He likes to take a risk.

[11:40:09] SOARES: Like his two closest rivals, Poroshenko says he wants Ukraine to join the European Union. But a major hurdle to that ambition is

Ukraine's widespread corruption. After four years in office, Transparency International ranks, Poroshenko's Ukraine at 120 out of 180 countries rated

for clean government.

And anti-corruption legislation introduced by Poroshenko was recently declared unconstitutional.

Fighting corruption and lowering the cost of living are cornerstones of Yulia Tymoshenko's campaign and she has credentials, having played a

leading role in the Orange Revolution and then being elected as prime minister. She then served three years of a seven-year prison sentence in

what was widely seen as a politically motivated prosecution, before being released in 2014. Politically rehabilitated this, as well Poroshenko ally

now has the incumbent firmly in her sights.

YULIA TYMOSHENKO, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF UKRAINE (through translator): Today and for the past 20 years, the country, unfortunately, has been

governed by a corrupt mafia. Defying political strategies to fight against their serious and influential opponents. And therefore, for me, they have

chosen the word populism. This is how Poroshenko's corrupt mafia is fighting against me, personally.

SOARES (voice-over): Tymoshenko's base are often older voters, no doubt, enthusiastic over her pledge to triple pensions if elected. But the

chances of anyone reaching the required 50 percent threshold in Sunday's vote are remote. Most likely the top two candidates will face off in a

second round of voting on April 21st. Isa Soares, CNN.


ANDERSON: Well, our Moscow bureau Chief Nathan Hodge, joining me now. A comedian with no political experience could just be the voter's top choice

at this point. Which says what about the current climate in Ukraine and what about the future for the country.

NATHAN HODGE, CNN MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Becky, I think it shows the immense frustration with corruption in Ukraine. And I think it -- I've

spoken to many voters -- potential voters and supporters of Zelensky. And they have said that his lack of experience in a lot of ways is his biggest

asset. They seems at tabula, tabula rasa, as a clean slate. As somebody who's coming in without any sort of political baggage. And this is a vote,

in many ways, it's a protest. And this is what he's cast himself as. As an anti-establishment campaign -- candidate. As the candidate of change.

And it shows I think again, the level of frustration five years after the Maidan Revolution in Ukraine. Five years after the annexation of Crimea by

Russia, five years again of a very difficult economic situation for Ukraine.

Many Ukrainians right now, for instance, are casting ballots abroad because they've gone out of the country to find work, and to find economic


So, Zelensky in a lot of ways, although, he is -- he is clearly been the front-runner in the polls is seen as the person of change. Becky.

ANDERSON: Very briefly, then, what is Ukraine's long-term future at this point?

HODGE: Well, I think, Becky, a lot of it is going to ride on what happens in this second round. It's pretty clear that there's not going to be

according to the polls, at least. There won't be a clear winner in this round.

So, later in April, there will be a runoff. It possibly could be Zelensky against one of the other frontrunners. So, we'll have to see what happens

with that. And, of course, a major part of this is always going to be how Russia response. Of course, Russia is not casting votes here. But

certainly, it's being very closely watched by the Kremlin, Becky.

ANDERSON: Nathan Hodge, bureau chief in Moscow. Thank you, sir. It's not just Ukraine getting in on the action, millions also voting in Turkey.

Only one with quite this much, Stalin Pisarze. One of the country's most famous citizens dropped his piece of paper in the ballot box. Just a way

that you would expect.

Celebrity chef, known as Salt Bae, tweeting this picture of himself casting his vote while doing his signature move. The uninitiated, his unique way

of salting meats took the Internet by storm back in 2017.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD, of course, live from our Middle East programming, happy here in Abu Dhabi.

Coming up, as tens of thousands of people turn out at the Israel-Gaza border. We speak to the U.N.'s Special Rapporteur on human rights in the

Palestinian territory to get his insight on what exactly is going on. That's next.


[11:47:03] ANDERSON: Just a few moments ago in the show, we spoke about the significance of protests along the Israel-Gaza border. Talking about

how many people were involved and for how long they've been rallying. Well now, talk a little more about some of the reasons why and what might happen


Well, U.N. human rights investigator accuses Israel of depriving millions of Palestinians of access to regular clean water. It says Israel is

stripping the land of minerals, "in an apparent act of pillage."

Well, Israel dismisses this report, it is farcical and calls its author a "known Palestinian advocate." Well, that also in question is Michael Lynk,

the U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territory. He's in London, Ontario tonight in Canada, and joining us now.

Discontent over Gaza's dire economic and humanitarian situation, fueling these protests. Now, of course, one year in. Tell us more about what your

investigation found on the ground, Michael?


water, and the problems of water in Gaza. Water is emblematic, I think of the broader problem at the, the broader humanitarian crisis that Gaza is in


97 percent of the -- of the coastal aquifer underlying Gaza which is their sole source of natural drinking water is now unfit for human consumption.

This compounds the misery of the 2 million people living there with respect to frequent power cuts, with respect to having the highest unemployment

rate in the world, as evidenced by their recent World Bank report. An economy that's on its back, people who cannot travel.

Gaza is in a severe humanitarian crisis. Most of the Israeli security and defense analysts recognize this. And there -- they themselves are puzzling

over how to wind up at alleviating the suffering in Gaza which is this work as you said for these massive demonstrations.

ANDERSON: Yes, you've described waters having become the potent symbol for the systemic or systemic violation of human rights.

So, what do you make of this talk behind the scenes that change is afoot with some sort of deal having been cut or a deal in the works between Hamas

and Israel? And the long-term impact that could have on the territories and the potential for peace?

LYNK: Sure. What for reports are indicating in the last 24 hours is that there has been some sort of deal brokered by Egypt between Hamas and Israel

that will allow a greater range of fishing by Gazan fishers in the Mediterranean off the coast of Gaza and an alleviation of some of the

severe restrictions on what can enter and what can leave Gaza.

Unfortunately, we've seen a pattern of these -- if you like, concessions occurring in the recent past. And then being withdrawn sometimes in

response to rocket fire coming from Gaza into Israel.

So, one may hope that this kind of easing will last but with all the great deal of confidence that it's going to -- going to be there for a very long


[11:50:28] ANDERSON: And if were we to veer on the side of optimism, glass half full on this one. Just get -- I want to get your sense of should this

be sort of a lasting agreement? Agreement that can hold what would the impact be going forward?

LYNK: Sure. I think any agreement that was going to have a lasting impact to remove Gaza from the headlines of the world, if you like, and point to

it as a success case in cooperation and mutual prosperity. Is going to have to be the lifting of the almost complete Israeli blockade over the

land, sea, and air borders of Gaza.

This has been called for by recent and current Secretary Generals of the United Nations. It was called for by the Commission of Inquiry report into

the shootings in Gaza that released its report last month. And has been called for by the International Committee of the Red Cross among other

international organizations.

Only with a lifting of this blockade, only with the recognition of the freedom of movement for both Gazans and their goods, will we have a hope

for having prosperity come back to Gaza that were -- and alleviation of this, and just incredible human misery that's going on there.

ANDERSON: We don't know the details of any change that may be afoot any deals that may or may not have been struck brokered by the Egyptians. So,

we'll have to wait for the details of that as we continue to wait for the details on this deal of the century as it's now been called.

This peace plan that we here has been penned by Jared Kushner, the son-in- law to the U.S. president. How will any change between the -- and coming together of Hamas and Israel if you will like detente of some sort. How

will that affect if at all the prospect for any deal to be struck with the Palestinians?

LYNK: Well, what? I mean, my sense is that both Israel and Hamas are realistic actors. They both know each other's strengths, they both know

each other's -- and their own weakness with respect to that.

If there was a long-term deal to be struck that meant, a quantitative easing of the -- of the blockade on the border. I think you'd probably

find some reaction in turn coming from Hamas, in terms of any of the demonstrations probably a much greater blanketing of getting rid of the --

of the rocket fire. And a hope that this was actually a real turn in terms of building peace and prosperity between these two inevitable neighbors.

In terms of the peace plan that is we're waiting for from the Trump administration, which probably could or would be released sometime in the

spring or early summer, you know, one -- I think, a Middle Israelites would have only a faint hope, this is going to lead anywhere.

I mean if we look at recent history, the Trump administration has moved the embassy -- its embassy to West Jerusalem and in defiance of world opinion,

its ended its funding of UNRWA, and other humanitarian projects in the occupied Palestinian territory.

And, of course, most recently, it's recognized the Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights in defiance of U.N. Security Council Resolution 497 back

to December 1981. And again, in defiance of international opinion.

The idea that countries in the post Second World War era can annex land belonging to another country or not belong -- and not belonging to them is

an antique idea it belongs 100 years ago.

ANDERSON: Well, Michael --

LYNK: Yes.

ANDERSON: I would have to stop you there. We appreciate your time and come back. Michael Lynk, on the show and take a very short break, back

after this.


[11:56:31] ANDERSON: Well, finally, in tonight's parting shots, great pictures of major cities and landmarks around the world, plunging into

darkness, all for a good cause. Earth Hour. Good night, from Abu Dhabi.