Return to Transcripts main page


Crisis Rages in Yemen Where Millions Face Famine; New Change U.K. Party Pushes for another Referendum. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired May 21, 2019 - 01:00   ET



[01:00:00] ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and thank so much for joining us, I'm Anna Coren, you are watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Hong Kong. Ahead this hour, mixed messages in the standoff between Donald Trump and Tehran. One Iranian official calls the U.S. president crazy and his administration confused.

Plus a major blow to Huawei and its bid to become the world's top smartphone brand. Google responds to the Trump administration's blacklisting of the Chinese tech giants. And later food as a weapon of war. In Yemen, the world's worst humanitarian crisis aid is being kept from some of the people who need it most.

The U.S. president keeps sending threats and mixed messages when it comes to Iran. Donald Trump has been on Twitter a lot these past few days. He wrote on Sunday, "If Iran wants to fight that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again."

Iran's Foreign Minister tweeted back saying his country survived past conquerors. He wrote, economic terrorism and genocidal taunts won't end Iran. #never threaten an Iranian and try respect. It works.

Mr. Trump had more to say on Twitter Monday denying the U.S. was trying to set up a negotiation with Iran. Then he spoke to reporters on his way to a campaign rally.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So with Iran, we'll see what happens but they've been very hostile. They've truly been the number one provocateur of terror in this country and you know, representing their country but certainly, our country has been very much involved because we're trying to help a lot of people out, and I don't mind that at all.

We have no indication that anything's happened or will happen. But if it does it will be met obviously with great force. We'll have no choice.


COREN: Well, to try and make sense of what may or may not be the President's strategy, here's CNN's Kylie Atwood. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. SECURITY REPORTER: Mixed messages coming from the White House with this tweet from President Trump over the weekend and President Trump also being reportedly frustrated last week because his national security team was creating the perception that they were the ones who were leading him towards war with Iran.

Now he is the one basically dangling out the possibility of the U.S. confronting Iran militarily. But the main thing to consider here is that President Trump likes to be the one in control. He wants all options on the table and he likes the perception that he is the one putting those options on the table, not his national security advisor John Bolton, not his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

So when he was asked by reporters about the White House reviewing a potential option to send more than 100,000 U.S. troops to the region to make sure that Iran's nuclear program wasn't threatening the U.S., Trump didn't deny that that was a possibility. He said it's not being reviewed right now, but he would possibly do that.

The question, however, is when the president would do that. What would push him to make this military posture that the U.S. has amped up in Iran even more forceful? He said, just over the weekend that war with Iran wouldn't be good for the economy. So he is demonstrating to us viewers especially that he's not looking for military confrontation with Iran at this point.


COREN: Behnam Ben Taleblu is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. He joins us now from Washington. Great to have you with us. Mixed messages coming out of Washington especially from the President. One minute he's talking up war saying that if Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran, then the next he's playing down tension saying there are no signs of threatening action from Tehran. What is Donald Trump's strategy if indeed he has one?

BEHNAM BEN TALEBLU, SENIOR FELLOW, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: I definitely think the strategy is the max pressure campaign which is using all elements of U.S. national power diplomatic, political, informational, and even military to get Iran to come back to the negotiating table. Now, that does not mean the U.S. is looking to start a war. In fact, if you look at U.S. posture and even us rhetoric, even how fire it may be, it's looking to stand the war. It's looking to stop a war from even happening.

So in this vein, I think the President is facing an audience problem where in the U.S. side he, of course, wants to tamp down any fears that there could be a conflict and on the Iranian side, he wants to make sure that this increased sanctions this increased military positioning in the region is taken seriously.

But the problem is the Iranians are aware of what the president is saying to the domestic audience here and that can in overtime, undercut the efficacy of us deterrence.

[01:05:02] COREN: So you believe that Donald Trump doesn't want war because it would seem that his administration is slightly split. His National Security Advisor John Bolton has long advocated for a regime change in Iran. But you think Donald Trump doesn't want a war?

TALEBLU: That's correct. Now, if you look at U.S. policy towards Iran, it is dealing entirely with the regime's foreign and security policy in the near abroad and as well as key functional threat areas like the nuclear program, or the cyber program, or the missile program. These all have to do with the regime's behavior.

Now, in fact, it would behoove the administration to be able to marry some of its rhetoric in support of the Iranian people which has been quite admirable with some more actions. But no, this is a strict behavior change approach in my view.

COREN: Does President Trump view Iran the same way that he looked at North Korea. There's threats and escalation of tensions, two countries are on the brink of war, and then the door opens to diplomacy.

TALEBLU: You know, that's a great question because both countries have been subject to a "max pressure campaign" and I think that the North Korea example could be instructive for the administration not to prematurely undercut the efficacy of its sanctions with some kind of diplomacy that might take the wind out of some of the economic penalties that the U.S. is now able to score against Tehran.

If anything, Washington should be looking for indicators of macroeconomic contraction and pealed political duress in Iran if the Iranians do want to come back to the negotiating table. But North Korea and Tehran are to nuclear inclined rogue states that have shared ballistic missile technology, that know how to best Washington at negotiating table and I'm sure that they share talking points and secrets, but the U.S. approach I think is different despite sharing the initial max pressure campaign cover.

COREN: Behnam, let me ask you this. Will that strategy work? We've heard from the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. He has dismissed the taunts. He said Iranian has stood tall for millennia while aggressors all gone. Try respect, it works. Should Trump be listening?

TALEBLU: I think if there's anyone that should be trying respect, it is the government of Republic of Iran towards its own people. Yes, the Iranian people have stood tall for several millennia against foreign and domestic oppressors. One thing that this administration I think has done quite admirably is to be able to accentuate the cleavage between the Iranian state and the Iranian society because there is a natural chasm, a natural cleavage there.

But that being said, there are things that the administration does need to do to be able to make sure Tehran and Iran's leaders, they understand that Washington is serious about getting Iran back to the negotiating table. COREN: Behnam, there are reports from Iranian state media that the

country has increased fourfold its production of low enriched uranium. Tell us the significance of that and where does this lead?

TALEBLU: Sure. Iran is looking to signal that it too has escalation options. On May 8th, President Rouhani unveiled two 60-day timelines for Iran to gradually increase its nuclear program. During that first 60-day timeline, Iran would be looking to accumulate excess heavy water and excess low enriched uranium in -- above the threshold the JCPOA nuclear deal provides Iran to be able to store at home.

So Iran would essentially not be selling the surplus material and be adding redundancy into its program and be able to alter breakout timelines because of its excess low enriched uranium. This Iranian highly public statement about reconfiguring some of its centrifuges without adding any new machines is designed to be able to make good on that threat.

COREN: Well, we know that European countries are desperate to keep the nuclear deal alive. Iran has given them until the end of June. Is it possible?

TALEBLU: In some ways, it's worth noting that the Iran nuclear deal is already dead because it was never designed to live on without any major component whether it's the Europeans, the Iranians, or even the Americans not being a party to the deal. In fact, all are required for the deal to be fully functioning.

Now, the Iranians are continuing to abide by it because they think they can outlast the Trump administration's max pressure campaign. The goal of course for Europe is how can you balance Washington, Tehran off of each other while living up to you know, your desire to push back on Iran in the region and do something more comprehensive when it comes to the Iranian missile program.

So I think that Europeans definitely have a tough challenge cut out for them. But I think if their goal is to bypass American sanctions, then they will fail.

COREN: Behnam Ben Taleblu, great to get your perspective. Thanks so much for joining.

TALEBLU: Thank you so much.

COREN: China's telecommunications giant Huawei is feeling more pressure from the trade war with the United States. Google is restricting Huawei access to its Android system and apps. Well, that follows last week's White House order banning U.S. companies from doing business with Huawei.

The Commerce Department eased those restrictions somewhat on Monday. Sherisse Pham has more on the impact of Google's move.


[01:10:11] SHERISSE PHAM, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Being cut off from Google's apps and services will hit Huawei hard. Huawei phones run on Google Android system. They have access to popular services like Gmail, YouTube, and Google Maps. But last week, Washington added Huawei to a list of companies that undermine U.S. national security interests.

That means U.S. companies can't sell products to Huawei unless they get a license to do so. Google does not have that license. A spokesperson saying today that they're complying with the order and reviewing the implications.

Huawei says they're examining the implications from the U.S. actions for consumers and will provide security updates and after-sales services to existing phones and tablets. What that means is current Huawei users will continue to have access to the Google ecosystem but future Huawei phones won't.

Analyst say consumers in Europe or Southeast Asia are unlikely to buy Huawei smartphones if they can't access services like Google Maps or Gmail. The company CEO in a staff memo last week told employees that business operations will not be greatly affected and that Huawei will be on the right side of history.

Huawei has been caught up in trade tensions between the U.S. and China. Adding Huawei to a trade blacklist has been seen as a way for Washington to force Beijing's hand. The two sides are negotiating a deal to end a trade war that has seen billions of dollars of goods penalized by both sides.

Beijing is standing by its national champion. A government official today threatening possible retaliation for the U.S. ban on Huawei.

LU KANG, SPOKESMAN FOR CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY: In terms of what measures, either Chinese companies or the Chinese government would take, please wait and see.

PHAM: In the meantime, Google has to comply with the Trump administration's order. For Huawei, it's more than just losing the Android system or Gmail. A lot of third-party apps like Uber and deliver route rely on access to services like Google Maps.

Those apps may no longer be supported on Huawei devices. One analyst telling me that without that access, the Huawei phone is a brick and their smartphone business is dead in the water. Sherisse Pham, CNN Hong Kong.


COREN: There will be an empty seat in the U.S. House committee hearing in the coming hours. That's because former White House Counsel Don McGahn is refusing to show up. The White House instructed him to ignore the House subpoena. Manu Raju explains.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In a growing clash between the White House and House Democrats, the White House has instructed its former counsel Don McGahn not to comply with a subpoena which would compel his testimony and compel him to turn over a wide range of records about his role in the first two years of the administration, about what he testified to before the special counsel Bob Mueller that laid out a number of instances of potential obstruction of justice as well including the President's apparent effort to try to fire the Special Counsel in an attempt it appears to undermine that probe.

But Don McGahn is saying that he's going to listen to the White House's instruction for him not to testify. The White House is pointing to an opinion from 2014 in which they say that the Justice Department has made it clear that the former and current senior White House aides are covered by immunity and should not be compelled to testify despite facing a subpoena. So expect that to go to court.

But some Democrats say it's -- we should not just go to court. It's time to open up an impeachment inquiry and that has Democrats divided.

REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI): We have a responsibility at some point to open an inquiry if this kind of obstruction and interference and stonewalling of the entire investigation continues. Because what's at stake here is not just the conduct of Donald Trump, it's about upholding the rule of law in this country.

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): We're going to have a discussion about the best way to proceed but I think we can't go from 0 to 60. No one is above the law, not even the President of the United States of America, not the Attorney General, not the Treasury Secretary. We're going to make sure we teach them that lesson one way or the other.

RAJU: Now, Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker is not on the same page as her colleague there, David Cicilline, about opening up an impeachment inquiry right away. She says the methodical approach is the way to go. And she points to a court ruling from Monday that the Democrats won that could turn lead to records -- financial records being turned over by an accounting firm to the House Democrats as a victory and showing that their efforts are succeeding and something that she believes is the way to go/

Whether that convinces most of her colleagues remains to be seen, but at the moment they're mostly on her side. Manu Raju, CNN Capitol Hill.


[01:15:00] COREN: Larry Sabato is the Founder and Director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. He joins us from Charlottesville, Virginia, Larry, great to have you with us. A federal judge has ruled that the President's accounting firm must turn over his financial records to Congress.

Trump has called the decision, crazy, and obviously, announced he will appeal. But, should he be worried?

LARRY SABATO, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Oh, he should be worried because it's not just one year, it's multi-years of his returns. And of course, every other president has done this since the 1970s, voluntarily.

This is very late and depending on how long the appeals last, it could even land during the campaign of 2020, in the fall of that year. So, this could be a serious matter for the President. Yes.

COREN: As you say, it could affect the 2020 campaign. Does the President and his legal team have a case to appeal?

SABATO: They have a case to appeal. They have enough of the case to prolong this, and that's their sole goal. I think they've realized, certainly Trump has realized that at some point, he's going to have to turn over tax returns. But he is quite confident, maybe foolishly so, that he can stretch this right past the November 2020 election.

At that point, it won't matter, whether he wins or loses. He could release the returns, though, of course, if people find anything that's illegal in there, then, law enforcement would have something to say.

COREN: The ruling came just hours after the former White House Counsel, Don McGahn, was directed by the Trump administration not to appear before a congressional committee on Tuesday. Democrats, obviously, hoped he would be a star witness in their investigation into whether Trump had obstructed justice. I mean, this is blatant stonewalling, is it not?

SABATO: Absolutely. And it's astonishing -- and it's astonishing. Because executive privilege, by the Trump White House, is being stretched to cover ex-employees. McGahn is a private citizen. And one would think this would be up to him. That he would not be subject to a directive from the White House.

COREN: Larry, the President's legal fights seem to be intensifying. Obviously, Donald Trump, his three oldest children and his company, are trying to block a subpoena seeking the Trump's bank records from Deutsche Bank and Capital One. A federal judge is due to hear that case on Wednesday. You'd have to say that Democrats are trying everything to apply maximum pressure.

SABATO: Yes, they are, and they should. After all, we're more than halfway through Trump's term, or first term, as President. So, this is -- this is late, but of course, the Democrats just took over the House of Representatives last November.

But, I think, again, this will -- this will be a judgment for the courts. Personally, I hope that the judgment is that the records have to be turned over because it's already very late.

COREN: Larry, we've heard from this rogue Republican, Justin Amash, he declared that Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct. It's obviously a very bold move. But could other Republicans join him or do you think they fear Trump's retribution?

SABATO: Anything is possible. But if you made me bet today, I would bet that he would have no companions. He's probably going to be on a little island all by himself. He is -- he is a very unusual individual, iconoclastic, he is idiosyncratic, he's really a libertarian more than he is a Republican.

So, you have to admire him for doing what he's done because he has brought turmoil into his life and maybe, the end to his political career in his own district. But he made an independent judgment, and that's what the founders intended.

COREN: Finally, Larry, obviously, Donald Trump held a rally in Pennsylvania a few hours ago, just days after Joe Biden was there. It would appear from some polls that Biden has an edge on him in that key state. Is Trump starting to feel the heat?

SABATO: I think he's concerned, and this people are concerned about Pennsylvania and also Michigan, and maybe some other states that Trump carried in 2016. We have a long time to go before the election.

But the fact that Trump is focusing so heavily on Pennsylvania means, first of all, he thinks the odds are Biden would be the nominee for the Democrats, opposing him, and second, that he's got a lot of work to if he's going to carry Pennsylvania again, which he won by one percent of the vote.

COREN: Larry Sabato, always great to speak to you. Many thanks.

SABATO: Thank you, Anna.

COREN: Well, the New York Times reports Donald Trump might soon pardon several military personnel who are accused of war crimes. As Barbara Starr reports, some former military members are warning the President to reconsider.


[01:20:06] BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: President Trump is considering pardoning military members accused of what may amount to war crimes.

The Pentagon suddenly was asked to send case files to the Justice Department Pardon Office for, at least, two service members accused of murder, including Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher and Army Major Matt Golsteyn, several U.S. officials, tell CNN.

The New York Times was the first to report the possible pardons which some battlefield veteran say is a terrible idea.

WAITMAN BEORN, ARMY VETERAN, UNITED STATES: This is not even a fog of war, you know, judgment call kind of situation, bullets are flying, these are premeditated coldblooded murderers. And it gives everyone a bad name, every veteran that served.

STARR: Gallagher, who is awaiting trial, is accused of stabbing and killing an unarmed detainee in Iraq, and then posing for a photo, holding the dead man's head. He's also accused of shooting a young girl and an unarmed older man, and bragging in text messages about his activities. Gallagher, who denies all the charges, was turned in by members of his own unit. Trump, in March, ordered Gallagher moved to less restrictive confinement. Now, he could be pardoned, even before a potential conviction.

Golsteyn's case is also being reviewed. He is facing the court- martial for allegedly killing a suspected bomb maker, in Afghanistan, in 2010. In December, President Trump tweeted he would get personally involved, calling Golsteyn, a U.S. military hero.

But Washington Post reported that in a CIA job interview, Golsteyn admitted to killing the released detainee, believing he would conduct more attacks. His lawyer says it was an unauthorized mission. His wife says he is being victimized.

JULIE GOLSTEYN, WIFE OF MATT GOLSTEYN: There are so many sinister actors at play.

STARR: If President Trump approves the pardon, they could come as soon as Memorial Day, the day set aside for honoring those who have died while serving in the armed forces.

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: If troops that are on the front lines actually think that they will get a pardon for behaving badly, for violating the rules of armed conflict, for in essence, committing war crimes, then we really are opening up a real terrible potential here.

STARR: For now, the Defense Department is silent on all of this, not commenting publicly. In fact, an aide to Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan says, Shanahan, for now, has no plans to get involved in any of it. Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


COREN: Millions in the U.S. are under serious threat of tornadoes. Next on CNN NEWSROOM, residents of Texas and Oklahoma are being urged to take cover from possibly deadly twisters. And they're not giving up the battle, the new party campaigning to stop Brexit.



COREN: Sad news from the world of sports. Reuters report three-time Formula One champion, Niki Lauda, has died. The Austrian-born race car driver won two titles with Ferrari in the 70s and a third with McLaren in 1984.

Lauda had a near fatal crash in 1976 which left him badly burned. His career was depicted in the 2013 film, Rush. Off the track, Lauda started a successful charter airline, Lauda Air, which eventually merged with Austrian Airlines. He had been in declining health for months. Niki Lauda was 70 years old.

Well, violent storms that formed Monday have resulted in, at least, two large and extremely dangerous tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service. One was reported in Oklahoma, the other, in Texas. Residents are being urged to take cover. Reports warn of damage to homes and businesses, adding that destruction was possible, 2 million people are in harm's way.

Our meteorologist, Pedram Javaheri, is standing by in the World Weather Center, with more. Pedram, what can we expect?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Anna. Conditions are beginning to improve across this region, but unfortunately, as we get into Tuesday, the sun begins to rise across this region (INAUDIBLE) instability here to prompt additional thunderstorms and new threat here for more tornadoes.

And, in fact, on Monday, we had a level five high risk issued, which is rather rare, in fact, just one to two times per year. We didn't have one last year. It was almost two years ago the last time we had a level five issued across the United States.

So, the threat certainly was high, and really didn't live up to its expectations. At any time you look at severe weather, and you see it kind of diminished or be lesser of a concern than it was, initially expected to be, that's great news.

And that was the case. So, we'll take 17 tornadoes, as you noted, a couple of them rather large, from Oklahoma unto Texas, but it could've been far worse across portions of the U.S., no fatalities that we know of at this hour.

And you take a look, activity is still brewing even until the overnight hours, thunderstorms abound across Oklahoma, across the northern state -- northern tier of the state of Texas, and still, looking at just shy of 19,000 lightning strikes across this region, in at 24-hour period. But the energy shifts a little further towards the east.

So the forecast concern includes cities much larger, such as St. Louis there, and tornado certainly a possibility across that region, over the next 24 so hours. But a lot of rainfall has come down in recent days and a lot of additional rainfall is expected. And every one of these dots represents river gauges, some of them that are near flood stage, many of them that are already at or above flood stage.

So, notice some of this heavy rainfall comes down on top of these regions, so that's going to be the bigger story moving forward the next couple of days, additional flooding across these regions with severe weather.

Beyond that, we'll talk about extreme heat and we're talking about some of the hottest weather we've ever observed into the early portion of the spring season, certainly far from summer. Summer, a little over a month away. And you notice, temps well into the thirties, well above average as well.

Washington, D.C. at 31 degrees and we start feeling like it's summer already, and then you look offshore. This is subtropical storm, Andrea. This is formed now just about two weeks in advance of when the hurricane season officially begins in the Atlantic Ocean.

It doesn't look like it's going to be a player here or whatsoever, just meander offshore moves away from any land masses and that is, at least, good news there. But it shows you that the warm season is quickly approaching across, at least, the United States. Anna?

COREN: Yes, no doubt, so Pedram, more on the way. Good to see you.


COREN: Many thanks for the update.


COREN: Well, still to come, a crisis that is becoming all too symbolic of what issues in the Middle East. CNN is on the ground in Yemen, to show you why millions of people are on the verge of starvation.


[01:31:35] COREN: You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Anna Coren.

The headlines this hour.

Iran says it has increased uranium enrichment capacity and notified the International Atomic Energy Agency. The news comes amid a Twitter war with U.S. President Donald Trump. He wrote Sunday, "If Iran wants to fight, it will be the official end of the country."

Google is restricting Huawei's access to its Android operating system and apps. This follows last week's White House order banning U.S. companies from doing business with the Chinese telecommunications giant. The U.S. Commerce Department eased some of those restrictions on Monday.

Former White House counsel Don McGahn will not testify before the U.S. Judiciary House Committee on Tuesday. The Trump administration instructed him to refuse the House subpoena saying McGahn has immunity. Committee chair, Jerry Nadler says McGahn faces serious consequences if he does not show up.

It has been called the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. The United Nations reports 10 million people in Yemen are just one step away from famine.

In this exclusive report, CNN's Sam Kiley and his team traveled 4,000 kilometers through northern Yemen to see firsthand why millions of people are on the brink of starvation.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is warrior country -- an ancient land that seems designed for conflict. And now Yemen is being torn apart again. The U.N. says it's one step away from famine because of war. But on a 4,000-kilometer journey through the worst-hit areas, we found innocent people brought close to death by a rebel Houthi government that's manipulating aid while U.N. officials try to stop them.

We found evidence of this throughout Northern Yemen. First in Bani Qais (ph), five hours' drive from the capital.

KILEY (on camera): How are you surviving for food? How do you get food?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): My husband goes to work. He gets 500 or 1,000 reals and he buys food for us and goes home. But there is no money for clothes, diapers for the children or medicine.

KILEY: And why do you think you are not getting aid here?

The people -- why are people not getting help?

HAIJA IBRAHIM, BANI QAIS RESIDENT (through translator): They don't reach us here. They used to give us grains and flour. But then they refused to give it to anyone. They don't give us anything.

KILEY (voice-over): Already dirt poor, people here relied on U.N. handouts. But they stopped when the World Food Programme discovered that supplies were going missing.

KILEY (on camera): So in this village, there's some malnutrition. And people are saying that they are not getting any aid. Why is that?

MOHAMED EL-SHERIF, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (through translator): They used to give parents a bag of grain, oil and other stuff every month. This stopped two months ago. We don't know why. There are people higher up who know why.

KILEY (voice-over): It's a problem that's been raised at the highest levels.

LISE GRANDE, U.N. RESIDENT COORDINATOR: We certainly, in several situations, had to say to local authorities you don't let us in there we can't continue these programs. And that's why we have been forced into situations where we have said, if you don't let us in, if you don't let us do our jobs properly, then we're not going to be able to continue.

[01:34:57] KILEY (voice-over): This is Aslam. The U.N. has been denied access to this area and has stopped food distributions because they cannot be monitored. It's only a few miles from the front line. 10,000 people have poured into camps like this in a few weeks.

They're victims of a war being waged by a Saudi-led coalition armed by the U.S. and others against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

MOUNIR IBRAHIM, ASLAM RESIDENT (through translator): What we have, we scrounge from others. And when we get our rations from the World Food Programme, I give back people what I owe. But we haven't had anything from the World Food Programme for two months. We have nothing now. KILEY (voice-over): So again, vulnerable people are being denied aid by the U.N. because the Houthi government won't allow access and independent monitoring.

Close to the refugee camps, this clinic struggles to cope. This boy has infected lungs. The doctors say, as a direct result of malnutrition. He's almost a year old but he's the weight of a baby at three months.

These children are victims of a vicious circle. They are starving because of the siege at the port that supplies them and their rebel Houthi government's diversion of what little aid gets in. In Yemen now, nearly everyone is short of food.

MEKKIYAH AL-ASLAMI, ASLAM HEALTH UNIT (through translator): Malnutrition isn't only a problem among the displaced and the Houth community. We have it too. Even us, the employees -- our children back home are malnourished.

KILEY (voice-over): The Houthis are under siege. Their access to the outside world cut by coalition attacks on this -- the main port of Hudaydah.

Since the Saudi-led coalition imposed a blockade on this port and attacked it from the air, it's done about $800 million worth of damage, it's halved the amount of food and other materials coming into the port and it's destroyed about 60 percent of its capacity.

(on camera): The idea, of course, is to try to strangle the capacity of the Houthi regime to survive. The irony, of course, is from the Houthi perspective, a control over a limited amount of supply, particularly when it comes to food, means you have control over everything.

(voice over): In the capital, Sanaa, the Houthi government denies this.

(on camera): Essentially they are saying that you're very controlling and that you're using this to win friends politically around the country, using foreign aid to win friends, to win political influence.

HUSSEIN AL-EZZI, YEMENI DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): What you said can be described as inaccurate. Mistakes happen sometimes but that doesn't mean or it doesn't represent a policy on our side. We are happy with whatever aid reaches citizens because these citizens are our strength and support. They are our capital in this war.

KILEY (voice-over): But here, aid officials insist that food has been weaponized. Without free food from the outside world, the Houthi government would struggle to survive.

The U.N. plans to feed 12 million this year, mostly in the Houthi areas.

(on camera): You're not worried that by being here, you could be prolonging the war?

GRANDE: Certainly humanitarians are not political. We're here to keep people alive. The responsibility for ending the conflict is in the hands of the people who are driving that conflict.

KILEY (voice-over): Caught in the middle, women and children here struggle with hunger in a war where Yemen's powerful factions ignore the responsibility to their own people and demand the foreigners supply the aid to support them.

Sam Kiley, CNN -- Northern Yemen.


COREN: Barak Barfi joins us now from Los Angeles. He's a research fellow with New America, a Washington-based think tank. He specializes in Arab and Islamic affairs.

Barak -- great to have you. As we saw, from Sam's story, those distressing images of starving, malnourished children in Yemen. They, of course, the innocent victims of this brutal war. Is the World Food Programme's warning of suspending aid to certain areas the right move considering will only exacerbate suffering.

BARAK BARFI, RESEARCH FELLOW, NEW AMERICA: Well, it's gotten to the point that there is really no other option that they can have. The Houthis, as this segment noted, they've blocked aid. They prevented monitors from going in and monitoring. They have denied them visas. You have problems with insects and you need wheat fumigation. These are all promises that the Houthis have created.

[01:39:58 And now you have 20 million people in need of food aid largely because the Houthis are preventing the food from coming in. So the World Food Programme threatens the Houthis now, maybe there would be some change in their (INAUDIBLE) and power figures.

COREN: Let me ask you this, do you think that the Houthi leadership will even care?

BARFI: Well, I think they will, not in the short term but in the longer -- the medium and longer term. Why? If there is no food, it drives up not only for the populist, but also for the fighters and the people they provide patronage to their supporters. So their supporters will then turn on them. And they would not blame the World Food Programme in the medium and long term horizon for the dilemmas.

COREN: So do you think that this warning, these threats from the United Nations will resonate with the leadership? And that we could perhaps see some change in the coming weeks?

BARFI: I don't think -- I'm not optimistic that we will see immediate change. But if the Houthis are threatened, and they see some type of tangible result of that, on the ground it might change their calculus in the longer term and that could help the people on the ground.

COREN: Barak -- the Houthi leadership, they signed accords with the World Food Programme back in December and January, assuring that food would be distributed to the starving. What has broken down in the last few months?

BARFI: There has been problems in the ports, the Houthis do not want to release the food. They have put up all types of bureaucratic blockades to the World Food Programme officials. They don't let them travel. They make them promises but they don't keep those promises. So the World Food Programme has been very frustrated with the snail pace that the Houthis have gone on.

COREN: I mean weaponizing food, it's not a new tactic in war. Does this dispute resolve to ensure that millions don't starve to death? I should say how will it resolve. Especially, considering the war does not look like ending any time soon now that it's entered its 5th year. . Now it's entered its fifth year.

BARFI: Yes. We've definitely seem food weaponized in places like Sudan

The problem here is, if Yemen only produced 20 percent of its food needs which means that it needs 80 percent of the food to come in from abroad. That is before the war -- it's about 25 percent. So it's very hard for them to raise that type of food need.

If the Houthis don't make some type of tangible move in the future, we will probably see a complete collapse of the system. And then it will all be under Houthis and not the international community.

COREN: The United Nations has been saying that 10 million people are one step away from starvation. What does that look like. I mean obviously we saw it in Sam's package but one step away. What sort of time span are we walking about? The restriction of aid -- when do you expect people to start dying en masse from starvation?

BARFI: You have to think that they have food storage, accumulation storage for some time that that would last for some month in advance. And then you have the reduction of food supplies and what you eat per day. So I think that it would not be in the next two to three months. It will be in a much longer time frame.

COREN: All right. Barak Barfi -- it's a tragic state of affairs. We can only hope that the international community does more to end the suffering. Thank you for joining us.

BARFI: Thanks for having me.

COREN: And on tomorrow's show, Sam Kiley takes a look at Qat -- a widely consumed drug with amphetamine-like effects. Much of Yemen's land is used for growing Qat rather than food.


KILEY: Up to a third of all agriculture is dedicated to the plant which consumed a third of all water for farming. Twenty-five years ago this whole valley was planted with wheat. Now, the farmers say that that is just one crop s year. Now they get four crops a year from this narcotic . And in times of war, a cash-crop is what really counts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We only make a profit from Qat. Other crops don't cover our home expenses.

This is the only crop that would cover our daily whole ago and annually expenses this whole valley was planted with wheat. But the former say that is just one crop year. And they get four -- other cops don't cover are -- other crops don't cover our expenses. This is the only crop that would cover our daily and annual expenses.


COREN: Watch Sam Kiley's full report on "Qat: the Drug Starving Yemen," Tomorrow on CNN we'll be back in just a moment? Watch it starting tomorrow on CNN NEWSROOM.

We'll be back in just a moment.


COREN: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM, live from Hong Kong.

Well, the results are in. Indonesia's Joko Widodo has been reelected President. The incumbent won 55.5 percent of the vote according to the country's election committee. The votes will be finalized on Wednesday.

Nearly 193 million people were eligible to cast a ballot . The election was billed as one of the most complicated single day ballots ever undertaken. Mr. Widodo's hardline opponent who has not conceded has vowed to contest the results.

There is more political turmoil in Austria. A government official has been targeted for dismissal ahead of European parliamentary elections later this week.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has recommended that the nation's far-right interior minister get the boot. The right wing is threatening to resign from government if he does. This follows the ouster of Austria vice chancellor on Saturday. At the center of the controversy, and video that appears to see a well connected to Russian woman being offered government contracts.

There has been another milkshake attack in England. This time the victim was Brexit party leader Nigel Farage, who was campaigning in Newcastle. Milkshakes appear to be the new weapon of choice as right wing politicians, some for you Casey in the European parliament.

The man arrested for the attacks says he was protesting what he calls Farage's racism. For the record, Farage ended up wearing a banana and salted caramel shake.

On the other side of the Brexit argument is a new party, called Change UK. It was formed just a few weeks ago by some members of parliament who left the two main parties to advocate for another Brexit referendum. Nina Dos Santos reports. Polls suggest they're facing an uphill battle.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is a lonely battle, trying to stop Brexit especially if you are the newest name on the ballot sheet. Founded by rebel members of the Labour and Conservative parties, Change U.K. wants to keep things the same. At least as far as Britain's relationship with the Europe is concerned.

CHUKA UMUNNA, CHANGE U.K.: On the remain side of the argument people could criticize us. But nobody could say that we don't have a clear position which, is people vote remain.

DOS SANTOS: That may be music to the ears of the people in Brighton-- one of many pro E.U. areas, that change U.K.'s targeting up and down the country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: have bolted our Brexit and they changed their mines. The opinion polls seem to show It kind of feels like, as a remainer, you aren't represented by what should be the Labour Party. And the LibDems aren't enough of a force to really speak up for you. So it would be good if a party could actually speak for the people because we are 49 percent of the whole country.

[01:50:04] DOS SANTOS; But not all Europhiles think that voting Change U.K. will change much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only way we have a chance to have a say in staying in the E.U., is to go with the party that has the best chance of winning over the conservatives or even Labour at this point and it would be I feel, just for this one time, LIbDems.

The party is fielding 70 candidates from a pool of 3,700 who applied. But here in London, which voted overwhelmingly to remain inside the E.U. Change U.K. may stand one of the a better chance of getting some the eight seats up for grabs.

DOS SANTOS: Among the candidates famous faces from TV who want (INAUDIBLE) politicians themselves for a living.

GAVIN ESLER, CHANGE U.K.: People have faulted our Brexit and they changed their minds. So the opinion polls seem to show that.

But you're party is not doing great in the polls.

ESLER: I've been in this for two weeks and two days. The party's been going -- I think for six weeks. We're not doing that.

We'll see. I think we'll get some seats. I hope we will. But the point is to get as big a remain voice as possible.

DOS SANTOS: Life it's main opponent, the Brexit Party, Change U.K. has plans to take its business to Westminster.

ESLER: We won't get ay Brexit because it sucks all the air reasons people voted for Brexit.

DOS SANTOS: However, that's a message that might fall on deaf ears.

Nina Dos Santos, CNN -- London.

COREN: The Eiffel Tower will reopen Tuesday after a man climbed up the side of it and forced an evacuation. Rescuers climbed up 324 meters. To just below the highest viewing platform. To persuade the man to give himself up. They handed him over to police. His motivation for climbing the tower is unknown. Officials began evacuating visitors as soon as the man was spotted. It was about seven hours into police had him in custody.

Next on CNN NEWSROOM, Donald Trump in the third person. Some thoughts on why the U.S. President likes to talk about himself so much.


COREN: "Game of Thrones rules in the ratings. The last episode of the HBO juggernaut is smashing records. It reeled in 19.3 million viewers on Sunday making it the most watched telecast ever over on the cable network while also setting a record for the series. When you factor in delayed viewing, season eight is averaging more than 44 million viewers per episode.

And how could this happen? Do you see that? A water bottle mistakenly left on set during one the final scenes. Pretty sure they don't have plastic in Westeros.

Well this comes just two weeks after Eagle-eyed viewers spotted a roque take away coffee cup in an earlier episode which was later edited out.

Well, Prince Charles has a great to have day with President Trump. Mr. Trump and the heir to the British throne are expected to make on the first day of the President's visit to Britain next month.

[01:54:55] But with Charles' strong environmentalism and Trump's well- known climate change skepticism it could make for a royally awkward exchange. Mr. Trump's first trip to the U.K. as President was in July 2018. And prompted huge protests in central London.

Well Donald Trump likes to say he has the best words. And if you look at his campaign speeches, or Twitter feed, two of his favorite words are Donald and Trump.

CNN's Jeanne Moos explains.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He is first when it comes to the third person.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nobody would be tougher on ISIS than Donald Trump. MOOS: He has even done it in a tweet. Perhaps trump just ran a great

campaign. Which prompted author J.K. Rowling to poke the President. "I wonder whether Trump talks to Trump's self in the third Trump person when Trump's alone?

TRUMP: If Putin likes Donald Trump.

You wouldn't even be hearing about the word immigration if it wasn't for Donald Trump.

Trump was able to get him to keep stumping. I don't know what the hell it was but it doesn't matter.

MOOS: This is a man who tweeted "Congratulations Donald" on his own "Apprentice" ratings.

But continues He said "Thanks Donald" when consumer confidence went up.

But Donald doesn't have a monopoly on thanking himself. .

Remember this guy.


MOOS: Thanking himself for lower gas prices.

You know, there's actually a technical term for this.


MOOS: Psychologist Kevin Vulkan (ph) has two theories for President Trump's use of the third person.

KEVIN VULKAN (PH), PSYCHOLOGIST: I think it's either he's branding himself which, you know, of course, he's very good at. And I think he does that almost unconsciously.

And I think also this could be, you know, indicative of narcissism where you know, you constantly referring to yourself --

TRUMP: No side tracks -- Donald. Nice and easy. You want the whole world to revolve on you.

MOOS: Psychologist say Trump are often illist before they fully grasp the concept of I and me like Elmo.

Tweeted one Trump critic -- he gives third person talks like cookie monster, a bad name One to predict tweeted one Trump critic , he gives third person talkers that cookie monster a bad name.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cookie monster, alive.

MOOS: Forget cookies, the President likes his own name in his mouth.

TRUMP: And then Donald Trump. Donald Trump. Trump Donald. Donald Trump.


MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN --

TRUMP: All right. Stay on point -- Donald. Stay on point.

MOOS: -- New York.


COREN: How good is Jeanne Moos? You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Anna Coren.

Thanks so much for your company. The news continues on CNN right after this short break.