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Two U.S. Oil Tankers On Fire in Gulf of Oman; Trump Would Accept Foreign Assistance in 2020 Campaign; Mike Pompeo Issues Public Statement on Iran; Mexico: Acting Quickly To Stop Migrants; Hong Kong's Decades-Old Disputes Bubble Up; Boris Johnson Leads Race After First Leadership Vote In U.K.; Amanda Knox Back In Italy Years After Acquittal; Trying To Curb Lebanon's Trash Crisis. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired June 13, 2019 - 14:00   ET



[14:00:22] HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR, HALA GORANI TONIGHT: Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London, I'm Hala Gorani. Tonight, U.S. Navy ships head into

the area around the Gulf of Oman after two tankers are hit with explosions in one of the world's busiest oil routes.

Also this hour, Donald Trump sets off a political firestorm as he says he'd accept dirt on his rivals from foreign governments.

And later this hour, Amanda Knox returns to Italy for the first time since her release from prison. She's there to speak at an event called "Trial by

Media." We'll have a live report.

We begin tonight with attacks on the high seas that have caused shock waves around the world. Two tankers were hit in the Gulf of Oman, close to the

strategically important Strait of Hormuz.

One of them, the Front Altair oil tanker, reported three explosions. The second, the Japanese-owned chemical tanker, Kokuka Courageous, as it's

called, was attacked twice with, quote, "some sort of shell." That is according to the ship's co-manager. The U.S. Navy says it has spotted an

unexploded mine attached to one of the ships.

In the last few minutes, we've received this picture: satellite imagery that appears to show smoke rising from the front of the Front Altair

tanker. Let's take a look at what this could all mean. Nic Robertson joins me here in the studio. CNN military analyst John Kirby is in


Nic, first, obvious question. Who carried out these attacks?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It's not clear. We don't know. The Iranian foreign minister tweeted very quickly, saying it

looks very suspicious. This came just as the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, was meeting with Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

We don't know.

What we do know is, the attacks on shipping, on commercial shipping are just across the Gulf of Oman, outside the port of Fujairah in the United

Arab Emirates, four weeks ago, was blamed by Saudi and the United States on Iran. The U.N. said "a state actor" was involved.

We're told there are some similarities with the attacks. These attacks seems to be an escalation. Last time, it was just mines, small holes were

blown. No one was hurt. There were no fires.

This time, big fires. People (ph) --


GORANI: We have the video, by the way. I want to pull up the video because this is obviously a major --

ROBERTSON: Escalation.

GORANI: -- incident and an escalation as well.

ROBERTSON: The ships were actually moving when they were targeted, and they were targeted high up on their side by what was described as some sort

of projectile. Shells being fired, two explosions, one ship. Three explosions on the other ship.

GORANI: John Kirby, as Nic was saying, this is a major escalation. You're seeing the aftermath of that attack, here, on one of the ships. What does

this tell you about what caused the explosions? First of all, before we try to look at who might be responsible.

JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Right. I think obviously, this is some sort of forced explosion. So it could be a mine.

And I think the Navy has released some imagery of what they call limpet mines, magnetically attached mines, the one that was unexploded on one of

the ships,

So that sort of connotes that that was probably what was used here, was some sort of magnetic mine. But it could be a projectile, fired. This

surface-to-surface rocket, for instance, although I think we would have seen the launching point, the launching boat for something like that.

So my guess is, this was -- this was mines.

GORANI: And, John and Nic, the foreign minister of Iran, Javad Zarif, said this is all a bit too convenient, implying that those who want to start a

conflict in the region might be trying to point the finger at his country - - let's put up the tweet -- saying it's a little suspicious that this is happening now, especially at a time when the Japanese leader is in Iran.

TEXT: Javad Zarif: Reported attacks on Japan-related tankers occurred while P.M. @AbeShinzo was meeting with Ayatollah @khamenei_ir for extensive

and friendly talks. Suspicious doesn't begin to describe what likely transpired this morning. Iran's proposed Regional Dialogue Forum is


GORANI: Suspicious doesn't begin to describe what likely transpired this morning -- Nic.

ROBERTSON: It does seem an effort to deflect suspicion away from Iran because suspicion is naturally going to fall on Iran. Iran is in a very --

is in an extremely tough position. Its economy is hurting. Its economy is hurting because of international sanctions. And it's getting worse because

the United States principally is ramping up those sanctions.

They're very keep to appeal to and engage with the rest of the world to alleviate their economic situation because this is an existential threat --

GORANI: But therefore --

ROBERTSON: -- for the leadership.

GORANI: -- therefore would it make sense? Does the foreign minister of Iran have a point here, John Kirby? Would it make sense for them -- or

their proxies at this stage -- to mount this type of provocative attack if their end goal is to try to, you know, get out of these sanctions and --


GORANI: -- and lower the tensions. Yes.

KIRBY: I think, Hala, that's the exact argument they're trying to make, is "Why would we do this right when we're trying to get sanctions lifted and

we're trying to stay in the deal, why would we exacerbate tensions?"

[14:05:03] I think two things you have to consider here, Hala. One, my guess is -- and I -- it would strain credulity in my mind, to think that

anybody other than the Iranians are responsible for this, in particular, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, their naval component.

And one thing you've got to remember about them is --


KIRBY: -- they don't necessarily answer to the civil state government. They don't even always answer to the supreme leader. They often conduct --

GORANI: Right.

KIRBY: -- operations on their own. And this could be the result of them simply reacting to Trump's increased pressure militarily and economically

in the region, calling the IRGC a terrorist group.

The other thing is, this does send a strong message by Iran, whether they intended --


KIRBY: -- it to or not, that they have the ability to affect oil flow through the strait. About a third of the world's oil goes through that

strait, and the traffic is still flowing today, according to military officials that I've spoken to. But doing it where they did and how they

did, certainly sends a message that if they wanted to, they could disrupt that flow very significantly.



GORANI: You wanted to react to that.

ROBERTSON: Well, 2008, 2011, Iran uses the Straits of Hormuz as a point of leverage over the international community to get into a conversation over

sanctions that it feels that are unjust, and other issues.

They're doing -- they appear to be doing the same thing again this time. You know, the --

GORANI: It's a dangerous game, if they're doing this, isn't it?


ROBERTSON: -- the -- it's a dangerous game. But, look, it's really simple. It is really simple. Shinzo Abe is in Tehran today because

tensions have ramped up. They ramped up because of that attack a month ago. And that's what brought Shinzo Abe in.

So if Iran, the logic is, was responsible for that attack, they've got this international engagement that they need to break these tough sanctions.

And they need that because this is an existential threat for the theocratic leadership in Iran.

GORANI: And, John Kirby, as you know, in the last 24 hours, there was an attack blamed on Houthi rebels --

KIRBY: Right.

GORANI: -- right? On a civilian airport inside Saudi Arabia. There's some dramatic CCTV footage of when what we believe are missiles hit a

civilian airport.

So, here, you have, on several fronts -- and this is the video, by the way -- it shows an explosion in case you want to -- don't want to see that.

But the -- this brings into stark relief the real risk, here, of an escalation. Already, we can start talking about an escalation because this

wasn't the case a few weeks ago, that we were seeing any of this.

KIRBY: That's exactly right. And it's an escalation by Iranian-backed or proxy forces. Because if the attack today was the IRGC, that is, again, a

bit of a proxy force for the Iranian state as well as, now, the Houthi rebels and this dramatic video you're showing.

It does show the danger here of escalation because -- specifically because the Iranian civil government, the democratically elected government,

doesn't have perfect chain of command or command-and-control over these proxy forces in the region. And they could, just by dint of what they're

doing, you know, maybe unilateral fashion, uncoordinated fashion, increase tensions in the region and cause actual conflict to break out between


I think the Saudis, who obviously have incredible tensions with Iran -- religiously, diplomatically --


KIRBY: -- politically, certainly they would -- they don't want to see Iran garner any favor from the West or from the international community, as Nic

was talking about. But they also don't want to see this break out into open war either.

GORANI: All right. In -- because what is the risk? We're -- the risk is higher now than it was before these tankers were attacked and before this

Houthi attack on that airport?

ROBERTSON: Only because everyone now sees what's happening. Only because the stakes have been sort of raised because there's a visibility on what

was underneath the surface.

This strike on the airport, an international airport in Saudi Arabia, has been an accident waiting to happen for the past several years. The Houthis

have been firing ballistic missiles at Saudi airports for several years now. They've been shot down. Just a few weeks ago, one was intercepted

outside of Jeddah Airport --

GORANI: When you say "accident," what do you mean?


ROBERTSON: Because --

GORANI: It was an attack on the airport.

ROBERTSON: It was an attack on the airport.


ROBERTSON: And they've missed in some cases, fallen short. Or in other cases, they've been shot down. And this time, a missile managed to get

through the defense systems in the area, and it was accurate and it landed on the terminal building. So that's what I mean by an accident.

This has been waiting to happen. And now it's happened. So the international community is much more aware of what's been going on. And

the Saudis, a year and a half ago, they took us to see some of these missile parts, these ballistic missiles that the Houthis fire.

And they showed us what they said were Iranian markings on those missiles, that the missiles were manufactured, in part, at least in Iran, certainly

not in Yemen. Brought into the country.

That doesn't say the Iranians had fired them at Saudi Arabia. It's just where the Houthis got them from. The U.N. has investigated weapons systems

it's found in Yemen, and found that some have originated in Iran.

So when Saudi Arabia says, "We're worried about these proxy forces in Yemen," the world now sees what that actually looks like. That means this

is a war now.


[14:10:01] ROBERTSON: Not just a civil war in Yemen that the Saudis and Emiratis are involved in, inflicting casualties there on Yemeni people and

turning the situation into a desperate humanitarian plight in some areas. This war has crossed over the border in a very visible way in Saudi Arabia.


ROBERTSON: So the unpredictability of what --

GORANI: Right.

ROBERTSON: -- happens next, is much higher than it was.

GORANI: OK. John, last one to you. Let's assume that what Javad Zarif is saying is true, that it's all suspicious, that this could be some group

that's trying to, you know, stir things up so that Iran is being blamed. So that whoever is in favor of conflict with Iran, has, you know, an

argument to support that. Do you buy that?

KIRBY: No. Not at all, I don't buy that. Because there isn't anybody. Even the Saudis who hate the Iranians would not want an open conflict,

certainly that affects the flow of oil in and out of the Strait of Hormuz.

And look, the Iranians, they're probably not going to shut down the strait either because they depend on the strait for their own oil economy. This -

- I -- Hala, I can't prove it because I don't have the intel and I'm not -- I'm not investigating it.

But I would be amazed if this was caused by anybody other than the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, who has been chafing -- not only at the Trump

administration and the pressure that they've been under by the Trump administration, but by the civil government in Tehran themselves.

I mean, the hardliners in Iran hated the nuke deal just as much as President Trump. And so they have -- they have -- in fact, the

Revolutionary commander, what, two, three weeks ago, actually called for regime change in his own country because he wants -- they want a more

hardline, more right-wing government in Tehran.

So I would be absolutely shocked if this is anybody other than the IRGC.

GORANI: Nic Robertson and John Kirby, thanks very much to both of you. Appreciate it.

If you thought the shock value of Donald Trump's remarks had finally worn off -- that (ph) had all become numb to the things he's tweeted and said in

the past few years, well, you should think again. Because the U.S. president has managed to stir yet another firestorm on Capitol Hill. And

now, more Democrats are calling for his impeachment.

It all began when he said this, in the full light of day, in the Oval Office.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: -- your campaign this time around if foreigners, if Russia, if China, if someone else offers you information

on opponents, should they accept it or should they call the FBI?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen. I don't -- there's nothing wrong with


If somebody called from a country -- Norway -- "We have information on your opponent." Oh, I think I'd want to hear it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You'd want that kind of interference in our elections?

TRUMP: It's not an interference. They have information. I think I'd take it.


GORANI: Well, I think I'd take it. Mr. Trump isn't backtracking. Instead, he's doubling down. He defended himself on Twitter today,

appearing to equate talking with foreign governments as president with accepting foreign help from foreign intelligence services in a presidential


TEXT: Donald J. Trump: I meet and talk to "foreign governments" every day. I just met with the Queen of England (U.K.), the Prince of Wales, the

P.M. of the United Kingdom, the P.M. of Ireland, the President of France and the President of Poland. We talked about "Everything!"

Should I immediately call the FBI about these calls and meetings? How ridiculous! I would never be trusted again. With that being said, my full

answer is rarely played by the Fake News Media. They purposely leave out the part that matters.

GORANI: The most powerful House Democrat is firing back, saying Mr. Trump doesn't understand right from wrong.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: For the president to be so cavalier to disregard, to be indifferent to law and any sense of ethics

about who we are as a country, to say you would invite foreign intervention rather (ph) than (ph) -- intelligence community with great confidence has

put forth that the Russians interfered in our election. That's an assault on our democracy.


GORANI: Well, there's a lot more reaction from Capitol Hill as well. Let's bring in CNN congressional correspondent Sunlen Serfaty. We're also

joined by CNN political commentator David Swerdlick. He's an assistant editor at "The Washington Post."

So, David, we're seen (ph) all around the world. And the question I got most often today was, strictly speaking, if the president, in his re-

election campaign, were to accept help from a foreign power, you know, dirt or information on a political opponent.


GORANI: Would that be illegal?

SWERDLICK: Yes. It's definitely illegal, Hala. It, at a minimum, is a campaign finance violation. U.S. campaign finance law does not allow

accepting a thing of value from a foreign source over $25,000.

One of the things, for our international viewers, that was in the Mueller report, was this idea that one of the reasons Donald Trump Jr. was not

found criminally liable, according to that report, under campaign finance law, was because the Mueller team didn't find, A, that they could establish

firmly that he had knowledge, he was violating campaign --

GORANI: Right.

SWERDLICK: -- finance law. And what the value of information he might have gotten in that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Natalya

Veselnitskaya would have been.

GORANI: So you can plead ignorance.

SWERDLICK: That means --

GORANI: So, David, you can plead ignorance, then, when it comes to campaign finance laws in the U.S.?

SWERDLICK: Well, in this case, I think knowledge is an element of the crime. I want to be careful about that. But yes. The Mueller team's

conclusion was that knowledge that a law was being violated was part of it.

[14:15:03] But the big point here, without getting too further into the weeds, Hala, is that whatever happened in 2016, now, everyone in the Trump

campaign, everyone in the Trump White House, everyone in the president's inner circle, pretty much everybody around the world now knows that this is

a campaign finance violation.

So the idea that the president would say that he might do it again is what is so jarring to journalists and citizens alike.

GORANI: And, Sunlen, obviously top Republicans were asked about this today. This is what Lindsey Graham had to say.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I think it's a mistake. I think it's a mistake of law. I don't want to send a signal to

encourage this and I hope my Democratic colleagues will be equally offended by the fact that this actually did happen in 2016, where a foreign agent

was paid for by a political party to gather opposition research. All those things are wrong.


GORANI: And before I get to you, Sunlen, I want to remind our viewers what Lindsey Graham had to say about this very issue in 2017. He was slightly

less equivocal.


GRAHAM: If you're offered assistance from a foreign government in your campaign, the only answer is no.

Here's what I want you to tell every politician. If you get a call from somebody suggesting that a foreign government wants to help you by

disparaging your opponent --


GORANI: OK. Apologies -- apologies, David and Sunlen. We're going to go to Mike Pompeo. He's speaking at the State Department. This comes, of

course, after the attacks on that -- on those tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: -- 40 years of unprovoked aggression against freedom-loving nations.

On April 22nd, Iran promised the world that it would interrupt the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz. It is now working to execute on that


In early May, the Revolutionary Guard Corps attempted the covert deployment of modified (INAUDIBLE) capable of launching missiles. On May 12th, Iran

attacked four commercial ships near the Strait of Hormuz.

On May 14th, Iran-backed surrogates attacked by armed drones, struck two strategically important oil pipelines into Saudi Arabia. On May 19th, a

rocked landed near the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. On May 31st, a car bomb in Afghanistan wounded four U.S. service members, killed four Afghan civilians

and wounded bystanders.

Yesterday, Iranian surrogates fired a missile into Saudi Arabia, striking the arrivals terminal of an international airport, injuring 26 people.

Taken as a whole, these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of

navigation and an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension by Iran.

Prime Minister Abe made a trip, a historic trip to Iran, to ask the regime to de-escalate and enter into talks. Iran's supreme leader rejected Prime

Minister Abe's diplomacy today by saying he has no response to President Trump and will not answer.

The supreme leader's government then insulted Japan by attacking a Japanese oil tanker just outside of Iranian waters, threatening the lives of the

entire crew, creating a maritime emergency.

Iran's foreign minister today responded to these attacks. He said, sardonically, quote, "Suspicious doesn't begin to describe what likely

transpired this morning," end of quote. Foreign Minister Zarif may think this is funny, but no one else in the world does.

Iran is lashing out because the regime wants our successful maximum pressure campaign lifted. No economic sanctions entitle the Islamic

Republic to attack innocent civilians, disrupt global oil markets and engage in nuclear blackmail.

The international community condemns Iran's assault on the freedom of navigation and the targeting of innocent civilians.

Today, I have instructed our U.N. ambassador, Jonathan Cohen to raise Iran's attacks in the U.N. Security Council meeting later this afternoon.

Our policy remains an economic and diplomatic effort to bring Iran back to the negotiating table at the right time, to encourage a comprehensive deal

that addresses the broad range of threats -- threats today apparent for all the world to see -- to peace and security. Iran should meet diplomacy with

diplomacy, not with terror, bloodshed and extortion.

The United States will defend its forces, interests and stand with our partners and allies to safeguard global commerce and regional stability.

We call upon all nations threatened by Iran's provocative acts, to join us in that endeavor. Thank you.


[14:20:02] GORANI: The U.S. secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, briefing reporters there -- he didn't take questions -- blaming Iran directly for

the attacks on those two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, saying "Iran is fulfilling its promise of interrupting the flow of oil in the Strait of


He listed a series of attacks that he blamed on Iran, including the one on the Saudi civilian airport yesterday, saying that Iran is responsible for

an unacceptable campaign of escalating attacks. Also saying that the United States will defend its forces.

Unclear whether or not the secretary of state is saying that the U.S. has evidence that this is an Iranian attack on these tankers, but this is what

the secretary of state has said. And we'll wait to get more information on that.

And, Nic Robertson, our senior diplomatic editor is here with me.

So Mike Pompeo, pointing the finger of blame at Iran. And also, calling for a meeting at the U.N. to address this.

ROBERTSON: Saying Iran should meet diplomacy with diplomacy, implying that United States is reaching out to Iran. President Trump has offered a phone

call, you know, to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. We've heard from the Ayatollah saying, today, that President Trump doesn't deserve a phone call.

I think one of the key points -- and this is where -- this is obviously why Pompeo is taking this to the U.N. We've heard the U.S. ambassador, deputy

ambassador to the United Nations, today, condemning the attack as well.

So what we're seeing Pompeo do here -- and he called on all nations to stand together, essentially against Iran on this issue. And then that's

what we're seeing. We're seeing the United States trying to build a bigger consensus, a stronger unity across the world. This means Britain, it means

France --


ROBERTSON: -- it means Germany -- who don't support what the United States has done, breaking out of the Iran nuclear deal, putting additional

sanctions on Iran. This is what he's talking about.

I'm remembering that Pompeo is --

GORANI: But will they fall in line, the Europeans?

ROBERTSON: So far, they haven't.


ROBERTSON: But that's going to put --

GORANI: Right.

ROBERTSON: -- pressure --


ROBERTSON: -- on them to do that. But we're also maybe coming to a position in a matter of weeks in Britain with a different prime minister

who might be -- who might be more inclined to follow suit with the United States --

GORANI: If it's someone like Boris Johnson --

ROBERTSON: If it's somebody like Boris Johnson, then I think that -- that could be expected. But this is a direction that the U.S. is going and it's

trying to build a big, strong coalition against Iran right now.

GORANI: Yes. And -- yes, the big question is, is this why, then, today, Mike Pompeo comes out and says unequivocally, "We blame Iran"?

ROBERTSON: He's been saying that all along. And indeed, if you look at some of his sort of world travels recently, they have been to capitals

(ph). They've been to Germany. They've been here to London and that has been part of his message, to stand with us on Iran.

GORANI: But with the end goal of what? What's the end goal? Regime change in Iran?

ROBERTSON: Well, four weeks ago, we were asking this question, weren't we?


ROBERTSON: Because they were moving the carrier fleet in there. It looked like there was a military component. And I'm struck by what Pompeo didn't

say here. He said, you know, "We won't allow U.S. forces to be attacked. We will respond to that." But he didn't say, "If commercial shipping is

targeted, we will respond to that."


ROBERTSON: His language was slightly different. His language, you know, said, "We're concerned about it but we're not going to go to war over it."

So that's a subtle difference.

President Trump clearly wants to put extreme sanctions and pressure on Iran. And he knows that he can't do that by himself.

GORANI: But does that -- but with the end goal of what for the U.S.? Because, I mean, this Iran nuclear deal was embraced by European powers.

It was conceived by them. They were the architects of it, including the U.K., by the way, which was a very important part of this whole process.

ROBERTSON: We don't know. We don't know the end goal.


ROBERTSON: We do know the partial state on the way. And that, of course, is to tell his base that he's done what he said he would do --


ROBERTSON: -- which is get tough on Iran and get out of the nuclear deal. And that, for President Trump, is what he wants. Because it's going to

help support him in the next election.

GORANI: We're going to talk more about this on the other side of the break. Fawaz Gerges is joining me in the studio.

Thanks, Nic Robertson, for jumping on-set with me, there, to comment on that breaking news statement by the secretary of state of the United

States. And we will be right back. Stay with CNN.


[14:26:07] GORANI: Let's get more now on our breaking news story. As we just saw, the American secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, is blaming Iran

directly for the second attack on commercial ships in the Gulf of Oman in as many months.

In the latest incident, two ships were targeted. The U.N. Security Council will hold an emergency meeting in just an hour and a half, just about. And

here is why this is so important. The two ships were attacked in the Gulf of Oman, as I mentioned.

You can see Oman to the south, Iran to the north. A little to the north is the Strait of Hormuz. And this is a strategic bottleneck. It has been a

focal point of regional tension for decades. At its narrowest point, it is only 21 miles wide. But it accounts for 30 percent, roughly, of the

world's seaborne crude oil passage.

For more, I'm joined by Fawaz Gerges. He's professor of international relations at the London School of Economics.

Thanks for being with us, as always. So why -- first of all, the foreign minister of Iran is saying, "Well, it's a bit convenient that this is

happening, and you get to blame us. This is just people orchestrating this so that they can have a reason to start a conflict with Iran." Do you buy



fingerprints. There is no DNA evidence. Even though the Americans, then and now, have pointed fingers at Iran.

The question I would like to ask, as an analyst, are Iranian leaders that trackless (ph)? Will Iranian leaders provide the fuel that power the

hardliners within the Trump administration? Any confrontation, Iran will lose greatly (ph) --

GORANI: It might not be the moderate government ministers or the relatively moderate government ministers. It could be the Revolutionary


GERGES: Absolutely. You're talking about factions.


GERGES: But will the Revolutionary Guards play such a dangerous game, given the stakes, how big the stakes are? My take on it -- and this is

that, there is the other argument. Let's look at the other argument.

In fact, not only Iran's allies in the region already celebrate what's happening. That is, the attacks on the ships in the United Arab Emirates.

And also, the Houthi, the many Houthi (ph) allies' (ph) attacks on Saudi Arabia. They say this is part of a calculated escalation. Iran is sending

a message, clear and loud. If Iran cannot really transport its gas and oil, nobody else can.

So there are two sides of the argument, even though I doubt, at this stage, I need to see more evidence. Because if Iran is behind it and we don't

know yet, this could be really a major, dangerous escalation on the part of Iran.

GORANI: But if it's not Iran and if it really, as Javad Zarif is suggesting, is either a group or a country that's intent on stoking these

tensions to justify an attack on Iran, that's almost a worst case scenario, isn't it?

GERGES: Absolutely. I mean -- look, Hala. I don't buy conspiracy theories. I am really deeply sensitive. Whatever you say --

GORANI: But you're Middle Eastern. It comes with the territory.

GERGES: Well, absolutely. But I have overcome --


GERGES: -- this --

GORANI: -- I'm joking. But you know what they say --

GERGES: I know you're joking --

GORANI: -- about Arabs in the Middle East.

GERGES: -- but the reality, look.


GERGES: Let me be more cynical, ah? You want me to be more cynical.


GERGES: If I were in Tehran today, I would be delighted because I would send a message loud and clear to the Americans, that I have options. That

I am hurting.

But if I am prevented from exporting my gas and oil, I have options. I can really make the passageway in the Gulf of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz,

very dangerous.

I mean, think of what has happened in the past few weeks. Very low-level attacks. Very primitive attacks. Think of the costs. The price of oil

has increased by three percent. Think of the insurance costs.

So what Iran, the cynical in me tells me --


GERGES: -- even though I don't have any evidence, that Iran is engaged in what I can "controlled escalation," to send --

[14:30:012] GORANI: Yes.

GERGEN: -- even though it's (ph) --

GORANI: But it's a dangerous game.


GERGES: It's very dangerous, and this is why there is a real danger.

GORANI: Already it's escalated from the last attack. The last attack that was much smaller explosions.

GERGES: And the fact what you see today Pompeo's press conference and Trump has been briefed. This controlled or this calculation escalation is

very dangerous, because it could trigger retaliation. And this is what we all -- all of us had been warning about in the past when a year or so,

accidental war might happen. Even though neither sides wants to engage in a -- confrontation

GORANI: So last what question. What could diffuse this at this point?

GERGES: Well, at this stage, there are several channels. I remember as we talk, the Japanese prime minister is in Tehran. The Japanese prime

minister is sending a message to the Iranian leadership that President Trump does not really want war.

Even though the supreme leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, said, I don't trust any message from -- and there might be some back channels. Back channel

Germany and Oman and other powers.

The reality is, this is one of the most dangerous moments in the Gulf and Middle East.

GORANI: Fawaz Gerges, thanks so much. Always appreciate having you on.

And we will be right back.


GORANI: Mexican officials say they're acting quickly to send National Guard forces to their southern border, as part of a negotiated agreement to

avoid those U.S. tariff increases that Trump threatened them with.

Mexico agreed to reduce the flow of Central American immigrants to the United States. The agreement gives Mexico 45 days to show results.

Michael Holmes travelled to Mexico's border to see what is happening. So talks to us about the situation where you are, because Mexico -- is Mexico

clear on what these results need to look like in terms of stemming the flow of migrants.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Certainly, Hala. The U.S. has made it clear what it wants, whether it's going to be achievable

is that's difficult to say. The Mexican president says he's going to be formally announcing his plans to stem the flow of migrants per U.S. wishes,

tomorrow Friday. And it'll be interesting to see what those plans are going to be.

We've already seen the foreign minister say that they're going to be accelerating the deployment of troops to the border to stem -- I can tell

you, we've been out here all day, we're in Chiapas State, where 200,000 migrants are based and we've not seen hardly any sign of soldiers or

federal police.

The difficulty they're going to have for a start. You've got Mexico wants to honor the notion of asylum. So people can come in here, they will be

processed and they will be given the opportunity to claim asylum.

[14:35:07] The other difficulty they've got is geography. Hala, it's a 540-mile 870 kilometer long border between Mexico and Guatemala, as an

example. There are mountains, there are forests, and there are rivers, like the one behind me.

I'm in Mexico, over there is Guatemala. And if you can see the pontoons behind me, this is a -- this is a visual explanation of what goes on.

These pontoons have been going back and forth all day every day. A lot of it is commerce. People come over, they shop, they go back, they bring

goods over, they take goods back.

But a lot of it is also migrants. This is how they're getting across. They just walk in. There's no security here. There's no police or troops

or National Guard here. And it just sort of speaks to the difficulty Mexico is going to have to do some sort of Donald Trump vision of a wall

that's going to stop all the migrants coming in.

You've got, as I said, 200,000 in this state alone, Chiapas State. All from the Northern Triangle, as it's called. Guatemala behind me, but also

El Salvador as well.

And the problem is that we talked to a fellow earlier, he said that his son was killed by gangs in Honduras, which is the other country in the in the

Northern Triangle. And he said he fled because his family was being threatened. He said they wanted my daughter, they killed my son. What am

I going to do?

So he's here. He does want to go up to the U.S. border. He hasn't been able to move yet. He's trying to get processed by the Mexicans. They're

trying to process as many people as they can and give them leave to stay here in Mexico and, perhaps, work as well.

But most of the people, they do want to get to the U.S. What's going to stop them in the end? It's very hard to see how this will be implemented.

We will know more tomorrow. The Mexican president says he's going to outline the plans, Hala. We'll see what they are.

GORANI: So, how many miles of border are there between Mexico and say Guatemala? I mean, we're talking hundreds of miles here. How do they --

are they going to announce plans on how those entry points or border -- parts of the border like the one behind you there will be patrolled?

HOLMES: Yeah, and that's a difficult thing. Yes. It's 540-miles border between Mexico and Guatemala, that's about 870 kilometers. And there are

points of entry. I mean, you can't see at the moment, there's a bridge just a few hundred yards in front of me. That's a legal point of entry.

Come a couple hundred yards down the river and you see this. This is what's happening. When they're bringing goods over, they're trying to

avoid taxes. But when you're a migrant that wants to get over from -- if you've come from Honduras or you've come from El Salvador or you are from

Guatemala, jump on one of these. It costs you about $1.20, Hala, to get a ride over. And you're in. And then you go through the Mexican process.

And when you see the geography of it, how they're going to stop this is very difficult to see. Hala.

GORANI: Well, Michael Homes, thanks very much. We'll catch up with you a little bit later for more on that story.

In Hong Kong, officials say more than 80 people were injured in Wednesday's protests over a controversial extradition bill. Tens of thousands of

protesters clashed with police who fired teargas and rubber bullets. At least two of the victims, we understand, are in serious condition today.

And police officers say 22 of their own were injured as well.

But the protesters may have still scored a partial victory. Hong Kong's legislative council now says a debate on the bill has been put on hold, at

least through Friday.

The bill that has these protesters so angry would allow some fugitives to be extradited from Hong Kong to China and other places. Opponent say the

move effectively allows China to go around the protections offered under Hong Kong's laws.

As you're about to see, the issue is part of a debate dating back decades.


GORANI (voice-over): The roots of this crisis stretch right back to when Hong Kong was a colony under British rule for more than 150 years. The

brits only gave it back to China in 1997.

The terms of that deal, that Hong Kong should continue to enjoy autonomy from mainland China, a policy known as One Country, Two Systems.

CHRIS PATTEN, FORMER HONG KONG GOVERNOR: As British administration ends, we are, I believe, entitled to say, that our own nation's contribution here

was to provide the scaffolding that enabled the people of Hong Kong to ascend. The beginnings of representative government and democratic


GORANI: With the words of outgoing governor, Chris Patten, there were high hopes for Hong Kong's democratic future. It started well with elections in

1998, the first multiparty vote in a territory administered by China.

[14:40:06] But by 2003, the streets were filled with protesters, many dressed in black to mourn what they saw as the gradual loss of their

fundamental rights.

They were angry over a proposed new national security bill they feared would lead to a clamp down on descent like they've seen in mainland China.

The bill was soon shelved, but the growing anger over Hong Kong's eroding democracy did not go away.

Fast forward to 2014, the so-called umbrella movement, triggered by a new policy that meant every candidate for Hong Kong's leadership would have to

be approved by a pro-Beijing committee.

Protests crippled downtown Hong Kong for months. As police responded with a heavy hand, I spoke with one of the protesters at the time.

Do you have concerns for your safety, for instance?

EDWARD TSOI, PROTESTOR: Not only concerned, we are terrified. We are Hong Kong people. We just normally sit in our office. Right now, have tens of

thousands of people sitting in a street, demonstrating. We prepared for the next round of teargas or even rubber bullet.

In the end, demonstrations fizzled with no concessions from the government. But protestors promised they would be back.

In 2017, new Hong Kong chief executive, Carrie Lam, was sworn in by Chinese president, Xi Jinping. Today, she is the face of the proposed new

extradition law, which many say is yet another encroachment on Hong Kong's autonomy from China. Sparking the latest wave of protests in a tiny

territory not afraid to stand up to its powerful neighbor.


GORANI: And we'll keep our eye on what's going on in Hong Kong. We have a team of reporters there.

In the U.K., Boris Johnson has steamrolled to victory in the first round of the race to be the next prime minister. He's not there yet.

Conservative MP's held their first ballot for the new party leader a few hours ago, to put it in plain English, Johnson left the other candidates in

the dust. Three contenders are now out of the race, while seven others are headed into a second round of voting next week.

Let's get Phil Black who's in the studio. Boris Johnson is way ahead of the others, isn't he? Yes.

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Way ahead, yes, 140 votes. He's so far ahead, but if he maintains this level of support, he's pretty

much guaranteed of ending up in the final two which then voted on by the broader party membership.

But the closest to him was Jeremy Hunt, the current foreign secretary. He got 43 percent, 43 votes, I should say. And that still not even half of

what Johnson got in total. And there's a cluster of others down in the 20s.

GORANI: The assumption that people are making now, that Johnson just has it in the bag basically?

BLACK: Well, at least in terms of getting to that final two. It would seem to be very likely. Difficult to see how even he, a politician with a

reputation for occasional self-harm. It could do that much damage, to lose that much support in just the next week or so.

But after that, remember, it goes to the party membership. He's going to go out, he's going to campaign, he's going to meet with people, he's going

to mixed with journalists, and there's a greater chance there that he could stumble at some point.

GORANI: Well, he's stumbled before, he's made gaffes, he's told untruths during the referendum campaign. Has reading up on Boris Johnson and he has

a career that is dotted with these issues of fabricating, sometimes some people would say lying. I mean, he was fired from his first job for

fabricating a quote at the times of London. I mean, why would a party at this stage back him?

BLACK: Well, it's just the enigma of Boris Johnson, in a sense. You're absolutely right. He's someone who has been proven to be unreliable, to be

controversial to say things that are offensive, even considered to be racist. And yet --

GORANI: If you're Muslim, you would call them racist.

BLACK: Indeed, absolutely. No doubt. And yet, he has this charisma that still does seem to attract wide support. And on top of that, on the Brexit

issue, which is so defining for the conservative party, he has dug himself in, and built a line that has built a great deal of credibility with the --

with the party membership.

And so that's what he's been working on for some time. Remember, he quit cabinet a while back over Brexit. He's been sniping Theresa May from the

sidelines ever since. He's been working on this leadership run for a long time and it's paying off.

GORANI: Why does he -- how does he say? Because I listen to his news conference when he announced the official launch of his bid. He doesn't

give specifics on how he thinks he's going to strike a deal with the E.U. That he'd been quite clear in saying, we gave you guys kind of the best we

got. What does this magic formula potion that you have that's --

BLACK: You're absolutely right.

GORANI: -- going to get this deal through parliament?

BLACK: he has not revealed his magic potion for fixing the Brexit mess because, of course, the problem hasn't changed. The E.U.'s conditions and

terms, their approach to this hasn't changed. What does matter and what resonates with conservative party members is that Boris Johnson says come

October 31st, the next deadline in all of this. We're leaving one way or another.

[14:45:09] There are people in the party, though, and there are analysts who say, maybe he won't live up to this, maybe this is just his line right

now. And possibly when it comes down to it, he is someone that down the track that could extend, that could revisit Theresa May's much maligned

Brexit withdrawal deal.

There are all sorts of possibilities down the track. But at the moment, he's a hard Brexiteer and he says, we're out on October 31st, and that's

what the party wants to hear.

GORANI: Well, yes, there's so much uncertainty in the next few months. We'll be covering it all. Thanks very much, Phil Black.

Still to come. A surprising return for Amanda Knox. She's back in Italy, eight years after being cleared of murder charges there. We'll be right



GORANI: Amanda Knox is back in Italy for the first time since her release from prison. Knox was famously jailed and then later acquitted for the

murder of her roommate.

But perhaps more famous was the public frenzy surrounding the case. Now, she's in Italy once again to speak about her experience at an event called

trial by media. And just like her release eight years ago, you can see the press is not too far behind.

Melissa Bell is in Northern Italy, where Amanda Knox is expected to speak Saturday. She had vowed never to return. So, why is she returning?

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And she's returned willingly, Hala, eight years after that release in order to speak

about that question. That trial by media that she believes was responsible for the guilty verdict in the end that saw her spend. Let us remember,

four years in jail here in Italy.

One can imagine all of her emotions that she landed here this morning. She spoke of it on social media before she set off from Seattle. She was

feeling afraid, she explained, and yet, she has been campaigning these last few years for the liberation of people who have been unjustly imprisoned.

But also on this question of what the media does to people who are not expected to suddenly find themselves in the middle of a media circus, as

she so spectacularly did.

So she's come in a sense to use that publicity, to use that media spotlight to try and highlight the issues. She arrived earlier today, she's been

received. She's been spending time in a garden here in Modena to welcome all the participants in this conference which is more broadly, Hala, on the

question of criminal justice reform.

She was filmed there in that garden. Having drinks, looking fairly relaxed. It was a totally different picture when she arrived at the

airport in Milan this morning. Really almost physically shying away from the photographers. You sense that here was a woman who was trying to use

the media to get across this important message that she clearly feel so strongly about.

But she's still almost physically recoiled. You can imagine how traumatic it must have been all those years ago to have her name dragged through the

mud really by the media. And you saw that physically as she arrived in Milan this morning.

[14:50:03] We're going to hear from her on Saturday morning since that is the moment when she's penciled in to speak. Hala, she'll be speaking in

Italian on this question of criminal justice reform. Of course, in the context of a case that remains surrounded by questions that are unanswered,

specifically what happened that night to Meredith Kercher.

The lawyer of her family has spoken out saying that it is inappropriate and uncalled for Amanda Knox to be here. But clearly, all the eyes of the

media very much on this woman who continues to fascinate all these years after exoneration by the Italian judicial system. Hala?

GORANI: All right. Melissa Bell, thanks very much.

Authorities investigating the attempted murder of David Ortiz, say the suspects were paid nearly $8,000 to shoot the baseball legend. Six men are

now in custody in the Dominican Republic. The 7th is still at large.

Patrick Oppmann is following the investigation. He's in Santo Domingo.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dominican police say they have the gun used to shoot David "Big Papi" Ortiz, but not

the motive behind the failed hit.

The former Red Sox superstar was shot at in the back at a bar he frequented in Santo Domingo on Sunday. Police say this man, Rolfi Ferreira Cruz shot

Ortiz. And has confessed to pulling the trigger. Cruz escaped on foot after shooting Ortiz. He's alleged motorcycle getaway driver, Eddy Garcia,

was captured and beaten severely by the enraged crowd with what police called, "Blunt objects."

Garcia has been charged with being an accomplice to attempted murder.

His mother told CNN she wants Ortiz to know that her son didn't realize he was part of a murder for hire plot and he's a big fan of Big Papi.

"That we love him lots. Me and my son are his fans, and this is a lie," she said. "This couldn't have happened with my son. And much health. I

want him to get well. And overcome this."

Police say the plot involved at least six alleged hired killers. Several they say waited in parked cars near the scene of the shooting.

These individuals, each one of them, said the head of the Dominican police force, all of them had been jailed and will go before a court.

The alleged shooter and driver, police say, conferred with other members of the group in two cars. Just before the shooting.

Police say it was a coordinated paid hit.

OPPMANN (on-camera): When David Ortiz played in the major leagues, he pulled down million dollar paydays. But the alleged hitmen hired to kill

him, police say, were promised far less. 400,000 Dominican pesos, police say, about $8,000.

OPPMANN (voice-over): Police say this man, the group's alleged paymaster nicknamed "El Siruhano" or the surgeon is still at large.

Also beyond officials grasp is the motive behind the shooting. Police say this group of alleged hired guns went to great lengths to try and kill one

of their country's most beloved baseball players.

But investigators say they still don't know why.

Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Santo Domingo.


GORANI: A lot more to come. Stay with us.


GORANI: Lebanon has been in the midst of a trash crisis. Since 2015, garbage mountains have mushroomed across its capital, Beirut.

[14:55:02] While one of the city was drowning in trash, one man came up with an idea to help ease the problem while saving an ancient industry at

the same time. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In 2015, Beirut, the capital of Lebanon was consumed with rivers of waste. People took to the streets in protest, prompting a

number of environmentalists to do something about it.

ZIAD ABI CHAKER, ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEER: I'm an environmental engineer, and I lead a zero waste life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ziad runs a number of environmental schemes from his small office in the city. His latest project glass destined for landfill

is instead sent to one of Lebanon's last glass blowing workshops.

CHAKER: These guys are the last six brothers that can still -- that have the skills of blowing glass.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The plan is simple. Discarded glass bottles are collected from across the city and brought to the workshop.

CHAKER: We try to sort it as much as possible by color.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's then mixed again depending on the shade of glass were required.

CHAKER: Once we have a rough idea of the mixture, it gets broken here. Every now and then, they feed the oven a small batch of mixed glass. It's

very tedious and very meticulous work. And you're sitting in front of an oven that is spewing heat at you at 1,200 degrees C.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: According to Ziad, through this initiative, over one million bottles have already been diverted from landfills.

CHAKER: The people loved the green glasses. I did not expect it that, you know, people will embrace it at this level. Now we have people calling us.

I have glass, I don't want to dump them, how can I get it to you guys so you can melt it and recycle it again?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And judging by the finished product, it's no surprise business is booming. The glass waste is transformed into elegant and

stylish glassware. Ziad helps the glassblowers market and sell their creations in shops across Beirut and beyond. Creating a sustainable,

profitable business from what others have discarded.

CHAKER: Am I saving the world? No, I'm not. I'm just doing my part.


GORANI: All right. Great initiative there. It takes just a little bit for everyone to do together to make a difference. And he's doing his part,

as he said.

I'm Hala Gorani, thanks for watching. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is coming up next on CNN.