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Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Interviewed About the Tensions in the Middle East with Iran; Iranian Foreign Minister; Escalating Tension Not in Anybody's Interest; Comic Maz Jobrani on American-Iranian Relations; Saudi-Led Coalition Targets Houthi Positions in Sana'a; Martin Griffiths, U.N. Special Envoy for Yemen, Interviewed About the U.N. Issued Warning Amid Renewed Fighting in Yemen; 26 Countries Prepare to Battle for Pop Dominance. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired May 16, 2019 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: Are you tonight urging Washington to act with a degree of caution and restraint?



ANDERSON: As the region roils, the UAE wants to rein in the rhetoric but insists the onus is on Iran. My interview with the minister of state for

foreign affairs here in the Emirates.

Also ahead this hour, a very different take on geopolitical crises.


MAZ JOBRANI, IRANIAN-AMERICAN COMEDIAN I am not dangerous. I am Persian. I am Persian like a cat. Meow.


Iranian-American comedian Maz Jobrani talks about cutting the tension around his mother country with humor.

And later I'll speak to anti-capitalist, BDSM, techno-dystopian, performance art collective, and Eurovision finalists, Hatari.

We've got a jampacked hour for you. I'm Becky Anderson. We are connecting your world live from Abu Dhabi. It's just past 7 p.m. in the evening

here. Let's get going.

We've been hearing the U.S. say that Iran is threatening its interests but does it have enough proof. According to the "New York Times" U.S.

intelligence officials have declassified a photo of a small boat carrying what is described as an Iranian missile in the Persian Gulf. CNN has

reported that such images helped convince the Pentagon that Iran posed a threat to U.S. interests.

However, "The Times" reports the Trump administration is split on whether there's enough evidence to sway the public and certain allies. That's not

happening in isolation, far from it.

Right now the U.S.'s strategic ally the UAE looking into a pretty unprecedented incident. Four huge ships just off the country's coast

apparently sabotaged with huge holes blown in their hulls as you are seeing. Now the government here taking its time to try and work out what

went on. It is a real geostrategic whodunit. And they are bringing others along, Britain, France, Norway. I went to the top asking none other than

UAE's minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, for the very latest.


GARGASH: We are currently investigating. We're collaborating with France and the United States and other friends are also offering their help. So

in a few days we should know what took place, what transpired. Clearly this is a very, very serious incident because it affects maritime commerce.

And it comes also at a very, very what I would call sensitive and difficult period in the region. So clearly, we all have an interest at this time in

deescalating and dealing with things in a mature rational way.

ANDERSON: You're talk about deescalating the rhetoric with Iran at present.

GARGASH: Definitely. I think the whole situation is difficult. We are where we are largely because of Iranians -- Iran behavior. This is a

behavior that is not new to the region. This is a behavior that has been basically compiling. And clearly right now the American sanctions on Iran

are biting.

ANDERSON: Iran has said that the attack attacks on the vessels were an attempt by third parties, and I quote them here, to ratchet up tensions.

Have you considered or investigated the possibility that these attacks are what's known as false flag operations. Attacks designed to implicate Iran

and provoke a response from the U.S.?

GARGASH: No. I think to start with Iran's responses on many issues are contradictory. And this is part and parcel I think of the trust factor

that affects Iranian politics. So I with five, six statements that contradict each other coming out from Iran. I can see that very, very

clearly and I don't think that I will put much merit to these comments.

[11:05:00] ANDERSON: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that he fundamentally doesn't want a war with Iran. But if provoked or if U.S.

interests in the Middle East are attacked, they would respond. Are you tonight urging Washington to act with a degree of caution and restraint?

We are seeing an escalation here.

GARGASH: The onus is on Iran. The onus is on Iran. Iran is the government that is responsible for where we are today. Iranian behavior

over the last decade or two has led us to where we are today. There's very little trust in the region. I don't think the onus right now is mainly on

Washington. I think it's on Iran.

ANDERSON: You talked a lot about what the Iranians should do. I wonder though what your position is so far on what Washington should do next?

Certainly the U.S. and the Europeans at present are disunited. Does that worry you at present? And once again, I wonder whether this urging of

caution should not be to Washington.

GARGASH: I think that the important thing is for the West to be more and more united. And I think it concerns us when we see that the West is

speaking with different approaches. I think all these countries that you have mentioned agree that there is a problem with Iran's behavior. I think

the disagreement is over the approach. I think there's agreement across the board that Iran has been a disruptive force.


ANDERSON: Well, that's the view of a strategic U.S. ally in this region. We're going to get the latest on the perspective in Tehran from Fred

Pleitgen in a moment. One country that agrees with the analysis of Trump's closest advisors it seems is Britain. The Foreign Secretary says he is

working closely with Washington.

I want to get you to Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. And Barbara, much talk of infighting and disputes about whether or not these claims of an Iranian

threat to U.S. assets in this region are exaggerated. Trump's policy advisors though getting support from Britain today. What are your sources

telling you?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: The dilemma for U.S. intelligence is to see if it can make something public to show the world

and show skeptics exactly why they believe exactly why the Pentagon believes that there is a military threat from Iran.

Look, Iran has been, I think there's no question, a destabilizing force in the region. Their rhetoric is always pretty heavily anti-American, anti-

Western over the years and they do move their weapons around. So the challenge now is what does this intelligence show that is different, that

shows a different Iranian intention and capability.

There is imagery of missiles on boats at sea. There is intercepts, communications intercepts and also threats the U.S. says against U.S.

forces ashore. They say the bottom line is that Iran has shown the possibility that it's planning to attack American forces, but the U.S. is

going to have to show that it is something very different that makes this such a threat.

In the meantime the U.S. aircraft carrier strike group, U.S. B-52 bombers remain in the region and they are the message of deterrence to Iran from

the Pentagon. Don't even try it, if you do, there will be very heavy U.S. military price to pay -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Fred, the UAE's top official in an interview with me that we've just aired says the onus is on Iran to ratchet down this rhetoric and

change their malign behavior in the region. Any evidence that Tehran is prepared to listen to Abu Dhabi at this point?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I don't think at this point there is any sort of evidence that that's going to be the

case. In fact, the Iranians, Becky, over the past couple of days have been quite consistently saying that they don't believe that they're the ones who

have been escalating the situation. They say they believe that it's the U.S. who has been escalating the situation by the fact that they've done

exactly what Barbara Starr was just saying. By putting the carrier strike group to this region at least moving it towards this region and also

course, deploying those B-52 bombers as well.

The Iranians for their part have been saying that they don't want all of this to continue to escalate. They believe that it's the U.S. that is the

one that is making the situation worse. In fact, Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, he was actually in Japan earlier today. He spoke to Japan's

foreign minister where he been reiterated that point once again. Let's listen to what he had to say.


MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: I believe that escalation of tension in the region is not in the interest of anybody, but Iran will

not be the party beginning escalation. But we will certainly defend ourselves and respond to any threat against our national security.


[11:10:02] PLEITGEN: So the Iranians are essentially saying that they believe the ones who are -- they believe they are the ones who have been

showing restraint in the current situation. And of course speaking about that American military buildup that's going on. Then of course you have

that whole complex of these possible back channel negotiations that people are talking about in Washington.

The Iranians over the past couple of days, Becky, have been saying they're not interested at this point in negotiating with Washington. Iran's

Supreme Leader he came out about a day and a half ago and he said under the current circumstances that's not going to happen. It's been quite

interesting because the messaging coming out of Tehran has been pretty consistent on this matter. We've heard from the Foreign Minister, the

President and the Supreme Leader as well, saying as long as America stays out of the JCPOA, there's not going to be any negotiations with Tehran --


ANDERSON: Rather more bellicose language from those in the military and defense but perhaps that is unsurprising. To both of you very briefly

then, Barbara, what happens next?

STARR: Oh well, you know we too have the President of the Swiss Federation at the White House today. President Trump perhaps making a reach out to

see if the Swiss, who are the intermediary with Iran, can do something to reach out to them.

I think Fred is right. I don't think that most people in the Trump administration in the national security arena genuinely believe that Iran

is about to pick up the phone and dial the White House.

For the U.S. military, it's keeping a watch on everything, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance is at a very high pace right now. You know,

concern about making sure U.S. embassies and embassies of coalition partners also in the region are fully protected. The problem right now is,

does the central government and Iran control all the militias, all the proxies under it. Could there be a miscalculation somewhere and something

might flare up. I think that is a very deep concern.

ANDERSON: Is there a sort of received wisdom about what happens next amongst those 70 million who, lest we forget, live in Iran -- Fred?

PLEITGEN: Well, Becky, I think most of the folks that live here in this country certainly hope that essentially nothing happens next, that it

doesn't come to some sort of escalation. I think one of the things that was very important over the past day and a half is the fact the Supreme

Leader came out and said, look, fundamentally there's not going to be a war between the U.S. and Iran.

Of course, you're absolutely right. The rhetoric on the part of some military leaders here in Tehran have been very different and somewhat more

bellicose. But at the same time people obviously really do hope that the situation doesn't escalate. However, one always has to say that it doesn't

mitigate the fundamental problem that many Iranians have at this point. Which is of course the fact that the economy here has been in a tailspin

ever since the U.S. has left the nuclear agreement. That Iran can't sell its oil on world markets, companies can't invest here. And that's

certainly an issue that is going to remain and is going to continue to fan the flames of these problems between the United States and Iran.

Even if this crisis that's currently going on, people obviously hope that's going to pass without a shot being fired. At the same time, the

fundamental problem of the fact that Iran is extremely isolated at the moment, that's not something that is going to go away and it certainly is

something that weighs economically very heavy on pretty much everyone that currently lives in this country -- Becky.

Joining the dots with your Tehran and Washington connections on what is this story with global resonance. To both of you, thank you.

And do check out what our international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, has to say about all of this. And in particular about that reported tanker

sabotage. Nic was down in Fujairah just after those attacks -- those a legend attacks -- and takes us through the damage and the finger pointing.

That is at

Well that's all the hard news you need to know for the time being. There is plenty more to come though this hour. But up next, we take a less

serious look at it all.


MAZ JOBRANI, HOST, BACK TO SCHOOL WITH MAZ JOBRANI: I will do whatever it took to blend in. I would play baseball. I would eat apple pie. I would

eat apple pie while playing baseball.


ANDERSON: That's right. Back in the house Iranian-American Maz Jobrani joins us. You see him there. Wave, sir.

Maz joining us for a very different take on rising U.S. tensions with Iran. That up next.


ANDERSON: Well he's been part of comedy tour called the "Axis of Evil." A troop of Middle Eastern comics who adopted that name and turned it into a

badge of honor of sorts after George W. Bush's famous 2002 speech. He's an Iranian-American. He moved to the U.S. at the age of six. Or should

that be Persian.


JOBRANI: Iranians don't even say they're Iranian. Iranians say they're Persian. Iranians we say we are Persian. You know, it sounds nicer and

friendlier. Even a smile. When we say we're Persian, we smile. I am Persian. I am Persian. I am not dangerous. I am Persian. I am Persian

like the cat. Meow. I am the cat. Meow.


ANDERSON: Maz Jobrani, comedian actor and host of podcast "Back to School with Maz Jobrani." Joins me now from Los Angeles. Iran on the cusp of a

full-scale confrontation with the enemy. At least that's the riff from an Iranian military commander, Maz, that enemy 6,000 odd miles away. The

little old U.S.A. apparently. You buying all of this?

JOBRANI: You know, I actually am always worried about Iranian-American relations. I have been an American now for 40 years and I always say we're

one of the only group of immigrants who left our county, Iran, came to America and instantly we became the enemy. So even back then in the early

'80s when the hostage crisis happened, we used to get beaten up for the hostage crisis even though we fled Iran to come to America.

We're used to this. We had the hostage crisis, then there was Iran contra, then there was the movie "Not Without Any Daughter." I mean, it keeps

going and going and going. And now we've got this. And now we've got John Bolton. And it's scary in all honesty. It is scary because it does feel

very similar to the lead-up to the war with Iraq.

I think the one thing that a lot of people have got to reflect upon is, sure, the Iranian government is a violator of human rights. A lot of the

people in Iran don't like their government, but they also don't want a war because a war with Iran would kill a lot of innocent Iranians. And so, we

need to remember that on this side -- on the American side.

[11:20:00] We can't just go in there and, quote, unquote, get rid of the bad guys. You're going to kill a lot of innocent Iranians and innocent

Americans and others around the world.

ANDERSON: Do you fear that there is a conflict in the offing? Do you hear the drum beat of war here?

JOBRANI: Absolutely, I do. The only difference here, the only possible iota of a wildcard here is that we had heard that Trump really does not

want to get us into any wars. That's what he had said. But that said, I feel like every time I've said I'm going to give Trump the benefit of the

doubt, he has let me down. And I feel that in this case it could be very similar. He's got John Bolton in his ear. He's got Pompeo in his ear.

There's a lot of hawks. There's Netanyahu in his ear. A lot of hawks on that side.

And then the hard liners in Iran then want to talk a big game. And what's going to happen, it feels like they're really trying to come -- it's almost

like when two people are trying to start fighting and they're getting closer and closer. Their noses are getting closer and closer. And you're

just watching and going, oh please, somebody push these guys apart. So right now it's almost a powder keg. It's just waiting for someone to light

a match. And I think we could be in a bad situation. So, yes, I really hope cooler minds prevail. Because again, a lot of innocent people would


ANDERSON: You use being Iranian in your comedy and we played a clip of that. How comfortable do you feel at present?

JOBRANI: Well, you know, I've always -- I consider myself an Iranian- American. I've been here for 40 years since I was 6 years old -- 41 years and I'm getting older. And I've always felt comfortable speaking about my

background on stage. As a matter of fact, I think what I've done in all the specials I put out is part of it is me being on stage and talking. But

part of it is when the camera shows an audience member and there's people of Middle Eastern descent laughing. I always found that that was a great

way for those people who feel that we are the enemy to see us laughing. Oh, wait a minute, you're just like us.

And as a matter of fact, beyond the people in my audience I love it when there's programs like you guys had with Anthony Bourdain when he went to

Iran. And you show the people of Iran. And you go, wow, these people are just living their lives and trying to just get by and they're regular


And so, it's so easy to demonize us and it's a shame because there are some people and you see them on social media and you see them at some Trump

rallies who will quickly jump on the bandwagon and try to demonize us. Even the travel ban, which was sold as a way to stop people who are a

threat to us from coming to America. None of people in the travel ban had ever committed an act of terror in America. Including the Iranians who

were coming before to study in America and do well in America.

And when I point that out on social media, I say this travel ban is wrong, it's keeping families apart. It's tearing families apart. Sometimes

people on social media will come back and say if you guys weren't trying to kill us. Or if you guys weren't yelling "death to America." And I go, we

aren't. I don't know any Iranian personally that ever chanted "death to America." We love America. There's a reason why we came to America. So

it's important for me to stay on stage and say I'm Iranian-American and be telling jokes because I think that helps people realize that we're just

normal people.

ANDERSON: I hear you. I mean your thoughts are echoed by millions of others, believe me, as you well know.

The Trump administration through advisor Jared Kushner revealing plans for an overhaul of U.S. immigration policy, Maz. CNN's Kaitlan Collins

explains exactly what they are proposing. Have a listen to this.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The Trump administration is hoping to overhaul the current U.S. immigration system and turn it into

a merit based one that prioritized high skilled workers, secures the southern border and potentially generates an estimated $500 billion in net

federal revenue.

They're pitching a merit-based points system for visas that would include a civics test, and factor in age, ability to speak English, job offers and

education and skill levels. But the plan doesn't address the massive influx of migrants at the southern border or other key concerns from


There is no solution for DREAMERs. The undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children and shielded from deportation under DACA. There's no

mention of family separations at the border and it doesn't address low skilled immigration or what will happen to the estimated 11 million

undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.


ANDERSON: Maz, what's your reaction to the basics of this new plan?

[11:25:00] JOBRANI: You know, I think it's going to be tough to do. I point out all the time that if you had an English proficiency test my

parents never would have gotten in. And I know that a lot of people who came to America and did well either wouldn't have gotten in or their family

wouldn't have gotten in. And the opposite is true by the way. I'm pretty sure a big number of terrorists who were involved in September 11th were

educated. And so, just because you're educated doesn't make you a better person, doesn't make you a better citizen.

Sure there are a lot of countries have -- right now we have an exam to become an American citizen. I had to take an exam to become an American

citizen. They ask you questions like what do the stars stand for on the flag, the states, the stripes, the colonies. You know, things like that.

It's pretty basic.

One of the things that I also point out is when I was doing jokes about Trump during the elections, there were some immigrants who would get upset

at me. And they would say, listen, he's not anti-immigrant, he's anti- illegal immigrant. He's going to allow legal immigration. Well here we are now. He's trying to tighten legal immigration as well. And how are we

going to judge who gets in?

And also, from what I've heard, they already have some merit-based immigration. And again, it seems like there's some discrimination going on

there. Again, I get a lot of people reaching out to me on social media telling me that they're Iranians trying to come to America, but because

that country is being limited, they're not allowed to come.

One statistic that I heard -- I was at an event at Stanford and the Provost was speaking. And she said, before all of this anti-immigration and before

all of this travel ban stuff that was happening, Iranian students coming from Iran to study and get their PhDs at Stanford University were one of

the highest percentage of foreign students coming to Stanford. And she said, because of the travel ban they now had zero students coming. It

feels like they're finding ways to limit certain countries.

ANDERSON: A lot of your work focuses on the immigrant experience in America. I want our viewers just to get another clip of your work. Let's

have a look.


JOBRANI: This is what I learned at the protest. White people born in America protest differently than people of color and other people not born

in America. Because we were down there. We're all marching together. Everything was going great. Were all marching. Everything's going

fantastic. We are just marching and moving forward. And then suddenly the riot police came out and I was like oh (BLEEP). I'm just going to go

protest over here for a minute. But the white dudes did not care. They're just out of my way, copper, here I come. It's my right.


ANDERSON: You moved to the states at the age of 6. How have things changed? And what would you say about the current climate?

JOBRANI: You know, I would say that I've always been hopeful that we will be more and more understood and I'm seeing good and bad. You know, I'm

seeing shows like my friend Ramy Youssef. He's got a show called "Ramy" on Hulu. Which is about an Egyptian Muslim growing up in in New York City or

I should say a young Muslim in New York City. We've got that. We've got "Master of None" from Aziz Ansari. We got a lot of different young people

coming through with programs and shows. We get a chance like I did with the clip you just showed, to be on Netflix and Showtime and all these other


I believe that a lot of people are finding out that people from the Middle East are just good people living their lives. However, we do have rhetoric

that comes from the White House and a lot of times that's very bothersome. Even George Bush Jr. took a moment to say when we were going to go to war

with the countries in the Middle East that there's a lot of good people from the Middle East. And I don't think I've ever heard that from Trump.

And it's unfortunate because the fact is, I try to say immigrants love America. There's a reason we come. We're leaving a bad situation.

Whether we're coming from Central America or we're coming from the Middle East. The people from Syria are leaving a bad situation. I myself left a

revolution to come to America and we come here to do well and do better.

And yet you have rhetoric from Donald Trump when he says there's this caravan coming and there's unknown Middle Easterners in the caravan. Well

who are these unknown Middle Easterners? What are you implying? Like when I heard him say these unknown Middle Easterners in the caravan to try to

scare people. I said that sound like every party at my house. There's always some unknown Middle Easterners at my house when I have parties. You

know, it's a shame. I mean I'm really just trying to drive home the point. We're good people. And I feel like there's this other energy that we've

got to counter.

ANDERSON: Maz, let me tell you, I have never been happier than living in the Middle East. The people from this region are fantastic.

[11:30:00] So that's my little two pennies worth. Thank you, sir. Always a pleasure.

JOBRANI: I appreciate it. Thank you. Tell them I say hello.


This is CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up -- fresh fighting breaks out in Yemen, reminding the world of the bloody war there. We're going to speak

to the U.N. envoy for that country, up next.


[11:34:48] ANDERSON: You're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson. Welcome back, it's just half past seven here in the UAE.

They call it the forgotten war but not for those living the bloodshed every single day. And it is important that you know about it. I'm talking about

the conflict in Yemen, where today the Saudi-led coalition carried out several air strikes in what is the Houthi controlled capital of Sanaa. Now

Saudi state-run news says forces hit a number of what it calls legitimate military targets. That's after Houthi militia claimed responsibility for

the drone attack that targeted two oil pumping stations in Saudi Arabia.

It's messy times. Early I spoke to Martin Griffiths who's the U.N. Special Counsel Envoy for Yemen to the Security Council and I got his take on how

he sees the situation on the ground right now.


MARTIN GRIFFITHS, U.N. SPECIAL COUNSEL ENVOY FOR YEMEN: I think what is going on is the war that we all need to spend more time trying to resolve.

And today and yesterday and the day before have been really serious reminders of that. I've always worried a lot and yesterday in the remarks

I made to the Security Council in New York about the fact that events like this, apart from the tragic consequences for families, the worry that we

have is that this could reduce the impact of these hard-fought gains we're seeing in Hodeidah.

Of course, I'm very alarmed. It makes me more resolved to move more quickly, as fast as the parties allow, to a political solution.

ANDERSON: Hodeidah, the center of gravity of course in Yemen's civil war. Preventing an all-out battle for the city has been a huge success to date.

But on the question of who will assume security for the port going forward, there has been no agreement. There's a huge trust deficit between the Hadi

government and the Houthis. What is your message at this point?

GRIFFITHS: I think, first of all, that let's welcome what has been happening in terms of those redeployments in the last few days, step one.

Step two, let's move as quickly as possible to agree the operational plans under general Michael Lollesgaard for the rest of the redeployments, so in

fact the whole city can be demilitarized as was originally agreed all those months ago in Sweden. The local security forces, Becky, as you rightly

point out, is a vexed issue.

And I think the problem lies in part at least in the fact that the Hodeidah agreement as I know very well first-hand, didn't attempt to resolve the

extraordinarily difficult issues of sovereignty in Yemen. Those issues will be resolved in a political solution. The Hodeidah agreement is a

stopgap, the humanitarian stopgap, intended to improve the chances of the people of Yemen being able to survive the war.

This has come down to a tug of war if you like over who's running the local security forces. The United Nations' role in this is by having the

monitors and agencies on the ground to try to make sure that the security forces in both ports and city operate in a professional manner and maintain

the security that is their mandate. So we will be there alongside them. I understand why many people in the government of Yemen say but we need to

have these forces handed back to us.

Well, that wasn't agreed in Sweden. I wish it had been. I hope it will be resolved when we get a political solution. It's my job to try and get an

approach to this particular issue which doesn't create an impediment to the demilitarization that I referred to.

ANDERSON: Has the West simplified what is going on in Yemen, to Yemen's detriment?

GRIFFITHS: I am sure that those who say that the Yemen war is a proxy war are simplifying the events in Yemen. Yemen is a Yemeni war and indeed

there have been many wars in the recent years as you know in Yemen and we're still fighting them. The primary interest for someone like me is to

resolve the Yemeni issue so there can be a return to politics in Yemen.

[11:40:00] Of course there are interests from the region and elsewhere, the is a shipping lane to Europe, but those interests are understandable but

the primary focus of any peace process is Yemeni, not proxies. It's about Yemen.


ANDERSON: Yes. The U.N. Special Envoy for Yemen to the Security Council, he knows his stuff, Martin Griffiths. Let's get more from our own senior

international correspondent, my colleague, Sam Kylie joining me live here in the studio. You were in Yemen just a couple of weeks ago, you spent

some time on the ground. You have a series of excellent reports coming out this week or next week. You heard what Martin Griffiths said, does that

echo what you've heard on the ground, Sam?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It does, very strongly I have to say, Becky. I mean we've concentrated our work in the

Houthi area and then Al Bayda. My colleague has done some excellent work in the government and Saudi backed coalition areas.

In both cases, yes, there are interested parties particularly in the south and the pro government forces are dominated by Saudi air, a lot of UAE

troops and Sudanese and so on, on the ground. In the Houthi areas, it really was not evident the presence of the Iranians. Nor do the Houthis

particularly care to deny that they did get help from the Iranians.

What they insisted upon was that they sought help wherever they could get it, the help was relatively small. We've seen some of the evidence in some

of the missiles that the Iranians have helped improve. Some of the seaborne IEDs have been actually manufactured parts of them in Iran. But

that the Houthis were very fiercely independent of the Iranians and everybody else.

That's kind of what they're all about, trying to create this what they would describe as a pure version and uncorrupt vision as they would put it

for the future of Yemen. So I think Mr. Griffiths is actually dead on when he says the whole talk of proxy, particularly right now in America, is

somewhat exaggerated when it comes to the Houthis.

ANDERSON: Yes. The Yemen war, another issue that "IREPORT" puts the UAE's ministry of state and foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, who I spoke to very

late last night, I asked him how he saw the efforts to end the bloodshed there. Let's have a listen.


ANWAR GARGASH, UAE MINISTER OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Right now, we have a very hopeful sign in Yemen, imperfect I have to admit, difficult I

have to admit. But again we have a sign with the Stockholm agreement. We have for example now the pull out on Hodeidah. But here the onus in on the

UN to ensure that this pull-out is genuine, that there will be no snapback by the Houthis.

I think it is in our common interest to morph from a military phase of the confrontation to a political phase. Now it doesn't help when the Houthis

right after agreeing to deal with the UN after four months of procrastinating to try and target civilian installations inside Saudi

Arabia. So clearly there is very little trust in what the Houthis have done. How can you on one day attempt peace your way and only four days

later augment options of war?

ANDERSON: There is increasing international pressure to stop the U.S. and Europe's arms sales to the coalition. Trump has vetoed the U.S. bill in

the Senate to that effect. Are you worried that you will lose all international support for the campaign in Yemen? And how are you preparing

for that?

GARGASH: I think the campaign in Yemen is basically on the cusp of a different phase right now. And I think if you really look, the coalition

in the last two years has been the biggest supporter for a political process. It is not us who has held back Stockholm for five months. It

does concern us and bother us of course when the issue in Yemen is not totally understood and only one dimension of it is highlighted.


ANDERSON: This has been a long, bloody, grinding war for years. It's too easy to blame the coalition when we know and we've seen evidence of what

the Houthis do on the ground. You know, it's also too easy to blame that side when we understand this is an asymmetric war. The campaign is on the

cusp of a different phase, says Anwar Gargash. I genuinely believe he believes that and hopes a political solution is nigh. Is it?

[14:45:00] KILEY: I think it's urgent, certainly from the evidence we saw on the ground they are on the brink of a cholera epidemic. We visited a

cholera clinic in Hadja, which is basically a fairly middle-class looking town up in the mountains. It's a beautiful scenic place. There were

children there and adult grown men facing cholera. There are pockets of extreme hunger but the word famine has actually been dropped completely

from the lexicon.

I spoke with some non-U.N. NGOs who said there are pockets of very extreme shortages of food but broadly across that area there is food. What there

isn't is money. And the whole effort at the moment is focused and this is where there may be hope as Mr. Gargash is indicating there for a political

breakthrough, because there is beginning to be an agreement and that's why Hodeidah is so important, between the two sides to agree to allow the

distribution of government salaries both sides of the front line based on the 2014 payroll.

Now if they can start getting money into the system, then they can actually see where the real cracks are. At the moment it's a humanitarian problem

that could be solved fairly rapidly. That could usher in a political solution.

ANDERSON: A series of excellent reports as I suggested from Sam. I know you would applaud the team that you work with on ground in Yemen, those

reports out next week starting I hope on Sunday, thank you, sir.

KILEY: Thank you.

ANDERSON: Always a pleasure to have you back. Live from Abu Dhabi, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson for you. Coming up there

are divisions over a contest that's supposed to be about unity. The Eurovision song contest coming up, we speak to a band that's among the

front runners to win the competition, this year in Israel.


ANDERSON: Well, this weekend we'll see a finale of epic proportions play out on your television screens. Sparks fly emotionally and literally as

these stakes as high as the fashion.

[11:50:00] Oh yes, it is the Eurovision song contest, folks, 26 countries have made it to Saturday's final. But only the most fabulous can win. One

of Becky's favorites is Iceland. The band Hatari which means hater has a song that translates to hate will prevail but people are loving it.

Hatari has caused a bit of a stir with their S & M themed outfits. Two members of the band join us now, Matthias Haraldsson and Klemens Hannigan.

I hope I have pronounced your names suitably. Oh, you do look so fabulous. How's it going out there, guys? Are you enjoying yourselves?

MATTHIAS HARALDSSON, BAND MEMBER, HATARI: Thank you, Becky. Yes, it's going great. It's according to plan, as we like to say.

ANDERSON: Excellent. OK, well, Eurovision a curious mix of course of campiness, unusual music, nationalism and super charged political activism.

You are seizing the day as well after, as I understand it, a visit to the West Bank. You've been describing the political reality really

conflicting, and absurd, and apartheid was so clear in Hebron. Are you planning to make a political point at the finals?

HARALDSSON: Well, we don't --

ANDERSON: Right. I have lost my guest for the time being. Let me tell you what's going on. As we speak, U.S. President Trump greeting the

President of Switzerland. You're looking at a live picture, folks. Since the U.S. has no diplomatic relations with Iran, the Swiss Embassy in Tehran

handles U.S. interests there with U.S./Iranian tensions growing. A source tells CNN that Mr. Trump is seeking Swiss help to establish a channel of


Let's get back to our guests. Hatari in the house for you from Tel Aviv.

We were talking about whether -- I'm so sorry. That was the U.S. President interrupting you but we'll move on. You were telling me about whether you

wanted to make a political point or not at the competition this weekend. I interrupted you. Go on.

HARALDSSON: Well, we would choose not to comment on our plans at this point. They might be interpreted in a very political way. But obviously

we've said all along we want to uphold the critical discussion about the context of the competition. It's obviously very political to host it here.

It's the call to boycott the competition and we understand that and we want people to be aware of that.

ANDERSON: Let me ask you about something a little bit odd. You are challenging the Israeli Prime Minister to a friendly match of traditional

Icelandic wrestling, as I understand it. We understand he has yet to get back to you on that. Why are you asking him to do this?

KLEMENS HANNIGAN, BAND MEMBER, HATARI: Well, any honorable man would, yes, come back to us if you challenge them to a traditional trouser grip

wrestling match, which is a non-violent match of honor, then, yes, we are still hoping to hear back to him at Yes.

HARALDSSON: It will be excellent.

HANNIGAN: It will be excellent.

ANDERSON: Is anything that you have seen guys, is there anything you have seen there, changed your political opinion?

HARALDSSON: Well, of course seeing daily life take place, seeing the different sides, speaking to Palestinian artists and activists, it really

puts the headlines into perspective. But no, we are still of the same conviction that we want to politicize the event and want people to be aware

of the politics involved in hosting it here. The narrative that is supposed to be about peace and unity which is a beautiful Eurovision

narrative is currently going on in a country that we feel should not be business as usual.

ANDERSON: So let me ask you one final question. Why do you call yourself the haters if you're all into peace and love?

HANNIGAN: Well, our message or the performance we see it as a dystopia. It's a reflection on power and powerlessness, hope and hopelessness. It's

a warning if we don't find peace, don't unite --

HARALDSSON: Don't love each other,

HANNIGAN: Don't love each other, forget to love then hate will prevail.


[11:55:00] HANNIGAN: So we use opposite meanings.

ANDERSON: This Icelandic wrestling, I've got it. I've got it. It's ironic. This Icelandic wrestling can you show me a little bit of that?

HANNIGAN: Well, we don't have the equipment with us. It requires a lot of harnesses and straps.

HARALDSSON: Safety gear.

HANNIGAN: Safety gear and you need a judge from the United Nations to be present at all times. Yes. There's a lot of conditions that follow glima.

HARALDSSON: But if Netanyahu does respond, we would love for your crew to film the results.

HANNIGAN: We'll keep you posted on if he replies or not.

ANDERSON: Thank you. Thank you, guys.

CONNECT THE WORLD is going to be right back. I'm sort of speechless.


ANDERSON: Right. That musical note that we had before the break, I want to leave you with another. For Rolling Stones' front man Mick Jagger, time

really is on his side. The 75-year-old singer posted this video of himself dancing in a studio just a few weeks after surgery to replace a heart


The clip sent fans into a frenzy on social media. The Stones had to postpone their North American tour last month. And in case you are

wondering the song he's dancing to is not one of his own. It's the Wombats. Techno fan.

Isn't he just too fabulous for words? I'm Becky Anderson. That was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you for watching.