Return to Transcripts main page


Escalating Tensions Between The U.S. And Iran; Saudi Arabia Pushing Back Against New Report On Brutal Murder Of Jamal Khashoggi; Hundreds Of People Line Up For Water In A Park City In India. Aired: 11a-12p ET

Aired June 20, 2019 - 11:00   ET


ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST: Hi, welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Robyn Curnow here in Atlanta. So we begin this hour with these escalating

tensions we're seeing between the U.S. and Iran and news of a drone shoot down near the Strait of Hormuz that will only ratchet up tensions even


Now, Iran says it shot down a U.S. drone in Iranian airspace and calls the downing a warning to Washington. The U.S. says the unmanned aircraft was

over international waters. CNN has now learned as well that the Trump administration officials are meeting at the White House to consider a


Well, Fred Pleitgen has been tracking all of these developments from Tehran and he filed this report just a short time ago.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The next escalation in the standoff between the U.S. and Iran, Tehran

claiming it shot down a U.S. drone. Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps says the aircraft masked its identification equipment and violated the country's


"The downing of the American drone is an open, clear and categorical message," the head of the Revolutionary Guard said, "Which is the defenders

of the borders of Iran will decisively deal with any foreign aggression."

A spokesman for U.S. Central Command strongly denies Iran's account saying no U.S. aircraft were in Iranian airspace. Earlier a U.S. official said

the surveillance drone was shot down in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.

The new incident comes amid flaring tensions between the U.S. and Iran following the attack on two tankers last week in the Gulf of Oman. The

U.S. blames Iran, Tehran denies the allegations.

President Trump downplaying the seriousness of the situation in an interview with Fox.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Don't worry about a thing. Everything is under control. I would say if I were you, don't

worry about a thing.


PLEITGEN (voice over): Both the U.S. and Iran have said they don't want a further escalation of the situation. But Iran warning that it's ready for

a confrontation.

"We declare that we do not want war with any country," the head of the Revolutionary Guard said, "But we are completely and totally ready and

prepared for war." On Monday, the U.S. announced it will deploy an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East in the wake of the tanker


With neither side willing to back down, Iran and the U.S. seem to be inching closer to an armed conflict, even as both Washington and Tehran say

they want diplomacy to prevail.


CURNOW: Fred Pleitgen there reporting and we'll get to Fred in just a moment. Sam Kiley is in the UAE and Ryan Browne is that the Pentagon.

Ryan, I want to get to you. In terms of the messaging coming from the U.S., is there mixed messaging between the Pentagon and the White House?

We've heard the President say, "Hey, don't worry, it's all okay." Then this morning, he is saying, "Oh, big mistake."

Meanwhile, we're getting other messages from where you are. What is the possible American response here?

RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: Well, the U.S. is very much in the process of developing that response. And I think, you know, the President,

as you mentioned, did downplay a little bit the attacks on the tankers, which was a different tone than both the State Department and the Defense

Department kind of had struck with regard to the attacks in the tankers.

They were very robust in accusing Iran of being behind those limpet mine attacks of trying to present evidence indicating Iran. President Trump had

downplayed the tanker attacks, but here, it's very different. I mean, here you -- I mean, from the U.S. perspective, military, a very expensive, very

large military aircraft operating in what the U.S. says is international airspace being directly attacked by Iran and shot down.

Now again, the U.S. says it's international airspace, so President Trump signaling that he is taking this issue much more seriously than the tanker

attacks calling it a big mistake.

We know the White House at a senior level meeting with the heads of the Defense Department and State Department to talk about possible responses.

We know the lawmakers on Capitol Hill are receiving a briefing this hour on the situation in Iran, so definitely this seems -- the U.S. Trump

administration taking this much more seriously, this latest incident with the shooting of this drone.

CURNOW: Okay, standby. I want to go to Sam Kiley. Sam, you're in the region there. You've been watching all of these tit-for-tat moments

develop and escalate, but now we're seeing really tensions really building up here.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, I think things are building up, but they're all about the sending of signals. Now

in the old fashioned world, those signals were thrown up on run-up flags on the decks of ship or on land people wave flags of semaphore, for but it's

all part, Robyn of the positioning using these mechanisms, using the shooting down of a drone, using strikes against tankers intended to send


[11:05:17] KILEY: Yesterday, I was out with the U.S. Navy and they were sending their signal. This is my report from there.


KILEY (voice over): An American naval craft fast approaches a Japanese ship allegedly attacked with an Iranian mine. Gunboat diplomacy. The U.S.

taking the media to see the damage done to the Kokuka Courageous.

KILEY (on camera): This hole just over my shoulder, the Americans say, was caused with an Iranian built limpet mine. They can't say however with any

total certainty that it was put there by the Iranians.

Nonetheless, it blew through both the outer hull and the inner hull of the ship, penetrating the fuel tank area. Some experts say that that is

deliberate. It was a sign that whoever planted this mine knew what they were doing, that they wanted to send a signal but not cause a disaster.

KILEY (voice-over): The signal is hands off Iran. The disaster would be all-out war. U.S. Naval experts strongly believe that the mine here and

the one removed by Iranian commandos from the same ship were Iranian.

The U.S. Navy recovered a magnet from one limpet mine and fragments of another, which has led them to this.


COMMANDER SEAN KIDO, U.S. NAVY: What I can tell you is that the limpet mine that was used in the attack is distinguishable. And it is also

strikingly bearing a resemblance to Iranian mines that have already been publicly displayed in Iranian military parades.


KILEY (voice-over): Since the U.S. withdrew from the deal intended to reduce sanctions against Iran, in return for it suspending its nuclear

program and in fact, imposed even heavier sanctions, tensions have steadily increased, especially at sea.

The U.S. sent a carrier group to the region to signal power and discourage Iranian retaliation. In May though, four ships were mysteriously damaged

in Emirati waters by explosions.

Then, the Kokuka Courageous and the Front Altair, a Norwegian owned tanker, were both attacked last week. There have been more mysterious attacks on

land, most recently in Basra where a building housing foreign companies, including ExxonMobil, were hit by a rocket.

The U.S. has blamed Iran for many similar attacks. Iran denies all allegations of using violence to signal its anger over the U.S. sanctions.

But it backs many militias capable of launching such assaults.

The commander of its Revolutionary Guard Corps has warned that Iran has missiles that could destroy an aircraft carrier. The U.S. Secretary of

State insisting that the U.S. can't pursue diplomacy --


MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We can't do that without making sure that we have the capability to respond, if Iran makes a bad decision, if it

makes a decision to go after an American or an American interest or to continue to proliferate its nuclear weapons program.


KILEY (voice-over): So far Iran has done neither. But it does want U.S. sanctions lifted. America is saying, no, leaving the gunboats to circle

amid spiraling tensions.


KILEY: Now, Robyn, Pompeo there talking about a bad decision. Right now, I suspect the discussions in the White House and the Pentagon are over

whether or not this was the bad decision taken by Iran that would require some kind of retaliation, because for the first time, the Americans and the

Iranians do agree about what happened. The Iranians did shoot down an American drone -- Robyn.

CURNOW: Yes. And they say though that that drone was in their airspace. So certainly about where it happened is going to play out into this as

well. Thanks so much.

I just want to go now, back to Tehran, actually, Fred Pleitgen. Yes, you're with us. Great to have you, Fred. I really want to get perspective

from where you are. What are the Iranians saying?

PLEITGEN: Well, the Iranians from the very get-go really, since very early this morning have said that they believe obviously, they say that this

drone was entering into their airspace or was in their airspace when they shot it down.

Now, it's been quite interesting to see the Iranian reaction since then, because it's been, I would say, a lot more and a lot faster than we usually

see from Iranian officials.

First of all, the head of the Revolutionary Guard, he came out very, very quickly and he immediately said, this is a clear message to the United

States. Our airspace is a red line. That came very, very quickly. Then he said that this is the way that the Iranians deal with their enemies and

that there would be no backing down from the Iranian side.

Now, he said, like, Iranian officials have been saying in general, that they don't want an escalation. They don't want to war with the United

States and I've heard this again and again, they say they are prepared, if it does, in fact, come to that.

Now whether or not this incident is going to cross that threshold to something, obviously, in the next couple of hours, in the next couple of

days, we're going to have to wait and see.

But in general, the Iranians are saying they don't want that escalation, even though it is something that they are very much prepared for.

[11:10:22] PLEITGEN: At the same time, the head of Iran's National Security Council, he came out once again, and he said, unequivocally,

there's not going to be a war between Iran and the United States. That's of course mirroring remarks from Iran's Supreme Leader who said a couple of

weeks ago, that there's not going to be a war between Iran and the United States.

The Iranians fundamentally believe, Robyn, that President Trump himself is very much averse to having a war with the Iranians. They say it's not

something that he wants. They believe that there are certain people in the White House, specifically John Bolton, the National Security adviser, who

might be more so inclined, but that President Trump does not want a war to happen.

At the same time, of course, they're saying they believe that America's maximum pressure campaign against the Iranians, those tough sanctions that

are going on, America pulling out of the nuclear agreement that to them, that is essentially economic warfare, and it's certainly something that

they are going to react to.

And that was also of course, the reason why the Iranians say at this point in time, absolutely, no negotiations with the Trump administration, Robyn.

CURNOW: Okay. Great to get that perspective from Tehran. Ryan Browne, I just want to go back to you at the Pentagon, just quickly, you heard what

Fred was saying there. The Iranians think in many ways, they're being goaded by the U.S., many European allies and others feel that the Americans

pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, in many ways has created this level of instability that we're seeing now, in terms of a process.

What is potentially the end game here? Any lessons learned from Iraq in terms of exit strategies and gaming out what might happen?

BROWNE: Well, I think this is something that's very much in the minds of planners here in the Pentagon is kind of, where does this go from here? I

think there is no desire for any kind of escalation, and you hear officials repeatedly saying they do not seek conflicts with Iran.

They're attempting to deter additional Iranian provocations from their perspective. They've deployed additional troops to the region, very

relatively small numbers, given that there were some 70,000 U.S. troops already there, a few thousand here and there, mostly defensive. You had

Patriot Missile Defense troops, surveillance forces.

So again, trying to -- from the facts on the ground -- trying to keep things from escalating any further preventing any additional escalation

very much something on the minds of the planners here at the Pentagon.

CURNOW: Okay, that's good to know. Thanks so much, Ryan Browne at the Pentagon; Fred Pleitgen in Tehran; Sam Kiley in the UAE, thanks to you all.

Now, Saudi Arabia is pushing back against the new report on the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi calling it quote, "baseless."

A UN Human Rights investigator found the Saudi journalist was the victim of a quote, "deliberate, premeditated execution." Her report also found the

Saudi government responsible and called for further investigation of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. The Saudi Minister of State for Foreign

Affairs, talked with Christiane Amanpour, just a short time ago. This is what he said.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: We first met back in the first Gulf War when you yourself were in charge of us, the press.


AMANPOUR: Well, you were and there was a pretty decent relationship. Jamal Khashoggi was a member of the press. He was a Saudi patriot. I want

to ask you what you think when you hear the following words. This is from Turkish intelligence and from other intelligence. We also know that the

head of the C.I.A., Gina Haspel has heard this intelligence and these tapes.

So people go into -- Saudis go into the consulate. We will take you back, they say to Khashoggi. This is an order from Interpol. Saudi says --

Khashoggi says, is there a case against me and warned them that people are waiting outside. They then instruct him to write a text message to his

son, then they argue about what to say. And they say to him, cut it short. There's a struggle. What do you think when you hear that?

AL-JUBEIR: Well, let me first respond to your first question about holding to account people who committed grave and who committed --

AMANPOUR: First, I want to ask you this so that's a --

AL-JUBEIR: Because in our case -- in our case -- the reason the trials are ongoing, and people will be punished. We have made that very clear. With

regards to the reaction --

AMANPOUR: I want to ask you what you're reaction is to the tapes?

AL-JUBEIR: With regards to reaction to the tape, we know this is a rogue operation that was not authorized. We know that a crime was committed. We

have people in jail and they're on trial as we speak.

AMANPOUR: What do you say to the following? "Khashoggi says, there's a towel here, are you going to give me drugs? And they say, we will

anesthetize you." And then there's a struggle. And then a man asked whether Khashoggi is passed out. And then another one or the same one says

he raises his head. Another one says keep pushing, push here, don't remove your hand. Push it."

AL-JUBEIR: It's a -- it's a gruesome murders that happened outside authorities and for which the people who committed it will be punished.

That's why there's a trial. That's why there's an ongoing investigation. This should never have happened.

[11:15:10] AMANPOUR: Then there is really more gruesome one even, "A Saudi official asked whether it be possible to put the trunk of the body in a

bag. Another replied, no, too heavy. It's not a problem. The body is heavy. First time, I cut on the ground. If we take plastic bags and cut

it into pieces, it will be finished. We will wrap each of them."

AL-JUBEIR: Terrible. This is terrible. I told you this is a gruesome murder that took place without authorization for which the people who

perpetrated are being punished now, they are in court. They're on trial and they will be punished. We have made that very clear.


CURNOW: Well, Nic Robertson is following the story from London. You've been following it from the very beginning. Christiane, being Christiane

pushed pretty hard there, didn't she? What do you make of the response from the Saudis?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: I met with Adel Al- Jubeir as well today and was asking again, you know, was there anything that he found? Because he says the problem with the trial that's going on

in the country, this trial that he says is happening right now, which it is, which there have been international observers, which has the special

rapporteur says is essentially blemishing the UN's record, that this is, you know that this trial should be stopped.

He says that the Saudis have been short of intelligence from the Turkish side. And I asked him, you know, this information, this evidence that was

put forward in the report here -- is this -- is this the evidence that you need? Is this anything new?

Look, the Saudis are very clearly decided that they're going to batten down the hatches, that they can weather this storm. They question the

credibility of the special rapporteur. They question what she is trying to do by sort of -- they believe she's trying to take away the jurisdiction,

for the trial from Saudi Arabia and put it in an international domain.

They believe that she shouldn't be questioning the Crown Prince on this issue. They've defended him. So they're battening down the hatches. And

that's what we're listening to right now.

I asked, when are we going to get or when will there be a result to the ongoing Saudi trial? And the answer was very clearly, we're still waiting

for that evidence. It's the transparency here that the international community feels is lacking, as well as the validity of the process.

CURNOW: Okay, so all of this is happening. But then let's look what's happening in D.C. The U.S. Senate has a very key vote coming up in about

15 minutes' time now. And the proposal if it gets enough votes, Nic, would block President Trump's plan to sell $8 billion worth of weapons to Saudi

Arabia and the UAE. So we're going to be watching this.

So what can we expect from that vote and how much can we expect rising tensions with Iran and this report on Jamal Khashoggi to sort of factor

into the senators' decision?

ROBERTSON: Well, if we look at previous votes in the Senate to try to block sales of arms to Saudi Arabia; in 2016, there was 27 out of the

hundred that voted to block. What we've seen in the past couple of years is that number rise, and the expectation today is that, you know that there

will be -- that the vote -- the weapons sales will get blocked by this vote, and the same in Congress, as well, as it is expected.

But it's also expected that President Trump will veto this and then it's expected from that that there won't be the numbers to overcome that veto.

It's a simple majority to block it today. But that wouldn't be the case, you know, to overcome a presidential veto.

President Trump is trying to use the escalation of the crisis, or the situation, the tensions with Iran as a reason to sell the weapons. I asked

this of Adel Al-Jubeir today, as well. And he said very clearly, look, we are an ally of the United States, we're fighting a common threat with the

United States. This is a joint fight and anyone who doesn't sell us weapons is essentially enabling those who would call "Death to America"

here, he means Iran.

So Saudi's position on this is one that's very clear that they're fighting, they need the weapons to continue the fight and remain a strong ally of the

United States against Iran. And that's the position that they're holding.

So I think when you look down the road, longer term, it does appear at the moment as if those weapons sales would go through.

CURNOW: Okay, thanks for that. Nic Robertson, always good to speak to you. Thanks, Nic.

So it has become a scarce commodity. Hundreds of people line up for water in a park city in India. Just look at these images. The details on this,

just ahead. Plus, Sudan protesters are once again finding their voices as opposition grows over the country's ruling military council. We are live

in Khartoum later in the show.


[11:22:42] CURNOW: You are watching CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Robyn Curnow. Thanks so much for joining us this hour. So there's a trickle of good news

for water starved city in India, Chennai. It rained today, the first major rainfall of the year. That is good news. It is the small relief for

residents of India sixth largest city, which is certainly dealing with severe water shortages.

Reservoirs are nearly dry as you can see from these images here. Water supplies are extremely low. The government is even trucking water to

neighborhoods. Hundreds of thousands of people as you can also see from these images are waiting in line every day for water. Sometimes fights

even breakout.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): This water is not enough for us. We don't get enough water. It is very difficult for us. We have to leave

our kids at home and stand in the scorching sunlight from 5:00 a.m. with our buckets.


CURNOW: So this is what one lake that some supplies -- that supplies some of the city's water look like last year. Look at it now. A nationwide

heatwave, lack of monsoon rains, poor planning and climate change is stoking what has certainly become a nationwide crisis in India.

So let's bring in Allison Chinchar with more on all of this. I mean, we spoke yesterday, today, relief, there is a little bit of rain. But is that


ALLISON CHINCHAR, METEOROLOGIST: Well, we're hoping this is a sign of change, and that we are finally now going to enter into the traditional

monsoon rain season where we will start getting more and more of that rain pushing into not only Chennai, but for the rest of India as a whole.

But yes, the good news is, on Thursday, Chennai, picking up about 26 millimeters of rain. Keep in mind the monthly average is about 54. So

it's picked up nearly half of what we would normally get in the month in just that one day. It is great news. They need it, especially since this

is the first measurable rainfall that we've had since March and the first measure of rainfall of this size since December of last year.

So again, it's been a while. That's why you are seeing images like this, where the wells are basically completely dry or you also have folks

standing in lines trying to wait their turn in order to fill up getting some water that they would need for their households.

Here's a look at what we talk about, the groundwater depletion rate. Every year from 2002 to 2016 that ground water depletes about 10 to 25

millimeters each and every year. And that's a struggle that they've been dealing with and then to compound that problem this year, having the

monsoon begin late.

[11:25:10] CHINCHAR: Typically, it begins right about here on June 1st, but this year, it wasn't until June 8th. To put that in perspective, this

line up here is June 15th. This green line that you see here, which is the current trough position should be much higher than it actually is. And

that's why we're seeing so many of these issues not only with water shortages, but just the oppressive heat because that heat really begins to

break down once the rain moves in.

Now, the good news also going forward, we are expecting more and more rain showers to move in not only to the southern portion of India, but

especially over the portions of the central region of India over the next three days.

So we are hoping that those numbers can keep going up in terms of rainfall totals not only for Chennai, but for other regions of India as well,

provided, Robyn, that we can get them that rain that they actually need to see not only again for dealing with the rainfall shortage, but also to

start bringing those high temperatures back down and making them a little bit more tolerable for the folks that are living there.

CURNOW: Okay, good news. Thanks so much, Allison Chinchar. So now I want to give you some video out of North Korea. Take a look at this. China's

President Xi Jinping is meeting with Kim Jong-un.

According to Chinese state media, the leaders have pledged to work towards peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. President Xi is making a

historic visit to the nation. He is the first Chinese leader to travel to North Korea in 14 years and you can see the reaction right there.

And still to come, it is a big day in the U.K.; yet another Prime Minister hopeful is kicked out of the race. We have the latest on the battle to

become the country's next leader.

And the growing struggle for Sudan's future marches on as protesters defy the country's military rulers. The latest from the Sudanese capital,

that's next.


[11:30:38] CURNOW: You're watching CNN. I'm Robyn Curnow. Welcome back. Now in the U.K., the battle is on to take Number 10 Downing Street. The

Home Secretary, Sajid Javid is the latest to be denied a shot to be the country's next leader.

Now that leaves, there they go, three contenders. But in the next few hours, yet another secret ballot will reduce that to just two.

Former London Mayor, Boris Johnson is expected to make the cut, of course. In the latest round of voting, he trampled his opponents once again,

scoring more than double the votes given to any of his rivals.

So we're going to go over to London, Bianca Nobilo is joining us now, standing by watching all of these votes. And again, I mean, we can see

Boris strides ahead.

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Boris strides ahead. He now has over half of the Conservative MPs backing him, more than all the other

candidates combined. So the real question now is who is going to take that other spot, because the final two then go to the Conservative Party

membership. Some 160,000 people, and then they choose who the leader of the Conservative Party will be and who the next Prime Minister is going to


So that is the key question today and it's hard to tell. There really is all to play for. It's incredibly tight between the Foreign Secretary,

Jeremy Hunt and the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove. So that is what everybody is keeping an eye on today.

And if it was to be Michael Gove, who had a very difficult start to his campaign over controversy about his use of cocaine when he was 30 years

old, it's going to be a real difficult campaign for Boris if he does end up facing Michael Gove. And that's because Michael Gove was the person who

was his campaign manager back in 2017, and then opted to instead stand himself so that caused real acrimony.

And you mentioned in the introduction, Robyn, that it would be a battle, and it will be and so if it ends up being Boris versus Michael Gove, it's

likely to be a bloody battle that will have a lot of collateral damage for the Conservative Party itself.

Whereas if it ends up being Boris versus Jeremy Hunt, it is more likely to be a light skirmish. Boris is set to win at this point because he is so

popular with the Conservative Party membership. But it does roll on these hustings over about six weeks, so a lot could change between now and then.

And the person who the Boris Johnson campaign team is most afraid that he will have to face is Michael Gove. Jeremy Hunt would by far be their

preferred option.

CURNOW: Now what's that old adage? Politics is personal. The personal is always political. This is going to be interesting. Bianca, thanks so much

keeping an eye on that from London for us.

So turning now to Sudan where pro-democracy demonstrators are defying the country's military leaders. Sudan has been plagued by widespread violence

since the ousting of longtime dictator, President Omar Al-Bashir, but with the transitional military council still in power, the protests carry on.

And then also, a harsh new reality has begun to sink in where some are feeling just, they are just as oppressed now, as they did before. Ben

Wedeman joins us now from the capital, Khartoum. Great that you are there on the ground. Ben, just talk us through where we are at the moment and

where the opposition is.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what have is a situation where the transitional military council which on the 11th of

April took over rule of Sudan from the toppled regime of Omar Al-Bashir, and they were engaged in negotiations with what's known as the Forces for

Freedom and Change. That's a coalition of pro-democracy groups.

But those talks broke down on the 3rd of June with this massacre that took place just at a sit-in just outside the military headquarters. So both

sides are no longer talking with one another. But what we are seeing is that the pro-democracy forces are coming out yet again, protesting against

the odds.


WEDEMAN (voice over): Chanting "Civilian, civilian," the protesters come out at night demanding an end to rule by the transitional military council,

which on the 3rd of June, dispatched soldiers to break up a long running sit-in outside Army Headquarters full of more than a hundred people.

[11:35:19] WEDEMAN (voice over): This noisy march through the dusty streets of Omdurman, Khartoum's sister city is an act of courage and


WEDEMAN (on camera): The people who brought down the old dictator, Oman Al-Bashir, are not about to go silently into the night, but there is a new

would-be dictator in line and waiting for them.

WEDEMAN (voice over): Much has changed in Sudan since Al-Bashir stepped down, it much looked the same.

In Khartoum, the government organized rally of village leaders, musicians were the warm up act, and the main attraction, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo known

here simply as "Hemedti" is number two in the ruling military council. He commands the rapid support forces. The man who broke up the sit-in.

Hemeti rose to prominence as a leader of the Janjaweed regime-backed tribal fighters during the war, the International Criminal Court described it as

genocide in Darfur more than a decade ago.

On this occasion, however, speaking to a receptive audience, he stressed security and stability, favored themes in the Arab world by the guardians

of the old order.

Mu'mun Ahamd Ahmed is trying to overthrow that order. "I saw more than 60 people either injured or killed," he recalls from the day Hemedti's troops

attacked the sit-in. A video he shot on his phone that day shows just how intense the fire power was. A bullet hit the hand holding his phone,

another smashed into his leg.

Dr. Sulima Sharif runs a trauma center, and says she knows of at least seven women raped by soldiers on June 3rd. Other women protestors were

abused as they fled.


DR. SULIMA SHARIF, AHFAD TRAUMA CENTER: They had been beaten, threatened and to be raped, being called sluts, this is too much.


WEDEMAN: The military council denies any rapes took place. Ja'afar Hassan is the leader of the Forces for Freedom and Change, the coalition fighting

for civilian rule.

"The military council is trying to abort the revolution," he warns. "We won't allow that to happen because this is revolution of the people." The

people who against the odds refuse to be silenced.


CURNOW: Ben, that's a great report. And we've certainly seen over the past few weeks the momentum that these opposition groups have been having.

But then the big question is, who is supporting the transitional military council here? And what does that mean for this revolution?

WEDEMAN: In terms of external powers, it's sort of the troika of reaction in the Arab world. It's the Egyptian regime of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi,

Mohamed Bin Salman's Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates who going back to 2013 when the UAE and Saudi Arabia supported the military coup

against the late Mohamed Morsi in Egypt.

So what we have seen is that they these three powers have really thrown their support behind the transitional military council. What is clear is

that what they don't want to see, what they want to prevent at all costs, is the emergence of a democratic and free Sudan -- Robyn.

CURNOW: Okay, on the ground there. Thanks so much. Ben Wedeman, as always there in Khartoum. Thanks, Ben.

So it is the worst humanitarian crisis you've ever heard of. On this World Refugee Day, we will take you to a country where a brutal conflict has

forced more than a million people from their homes. We will go live without report, next.


[11:41:46] CURNOW: Thanks for joining us. You're watching CNN. I'm Robyn Curnow. Welcome back. So it has been called a forgotten crisis happening

in the shadows of the world's spotlight on other places torn apart by war, but the situation in the Central African Republic is certainly dire.

On this World Refugee Day, our chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward takes us to the Central African Republic where many people are

struggling just to stay alive. He is Clarissa's report.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It is the worst humanitarian crisis you have never heard of. Half the people of

the Central African Republic don't know where their next meal is coming from.

Nearly six years of vicious conflict involving Muslim and Christian militias have forced a million people from their homes. Some of them

sought shelter here, in a sprawling overcrowded camp in the town of Bria.

WARD (on camera): There at 65,000 people now living in this camp. They came to escape the bloodshed of the different warring militias in this

country. But even here, even now, the situation is tense. As you can see, we have armed guards with us at all times.

WARD (voice over): Escaping from the searing noon sun, we meet Lavender Klemos (ph). She tells us that her husband was beaten to death by

militants. She cherishes a single photograph of him. Like many here, Klemos (ph) says the camp feels more like a prison than a refuge.

"As soon as I can go home, I will," she says. "I cannot suffer here any longer." For now, leaving is not an option, 75 percent of the country is

still under the control of different militias, and spasms of violence continue.

Last year, there were nearly 400 attacks on aid workers in the Central African Republic.

Gian Carlo Cirri is a country director for the World Food Programme.


GIAN CARLO CIRRI, DIRECTOR, WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME: We rely very much on armed escorts to bring our food.

WARD: Are there some places you can't even get to?

CIRRI: Yes there are. Because there is an additional difficulty with the terrain.


WARD (voice over): In the capital of Bangui, President Faustin-Archange Touadera, hopes that a peace agreement reached in February with the various

militias will staunch the bleeding.


FAUSTIN-ARCHANGE TOUADERA, PRESIDENT OF CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (through translator): People have suffered so much because today, our country due

to the crisis is not in peace. We have to find peace and security again. We have to work on this, and this is our priority.

WARD: What is your message to the people of the Central African Republic?

TOUADERA (voice over): Our country is blessed by God. There are lots of possibilities I have already mentioned, areas like agriculture and mining.

So, we need to start working. You get engaged and united, rather than staying stuck in divisions of hatred and being vengeful.


WARD (voice over): A message of hope to a people long consumed by hatred and suffering. Clarissa Ward, CNN, Central African Republic.


[11:45:06] CURNOW: And let's keep our attention on World Refugee Day. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has a message for all the millions of

people displaced from their homes worldwide. He says, "We can all do more to help." It's not just get by, but to thrive.

I spoke before the show with Filippo Grandi asking him first about the crisis in the Central African Republic, and this is what he said.


FILIPPO GRANDI, UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES: We have been concerned for a long time, you know, the nature of the conflict, the inter-communal

nature of the conflict there has provoked a very huge displacement over the past few years. There's been moments in which we thought a solution was at

hand, but unfortunately, it has eluded us.

And this from the perspective of my organization, the UN Refugee organization means that we continue to have to deal with both outside

displacement refugees in neighboring countries, often very poor countries, and displacement inside the Central African Republic in zones that are

often dangerous to reach.

CURNOW: Okay, so with that in mind, when we talking about displacement in also neighboring countries, you're currently in Jordan, which hosts tens of

thousands of Syrian refugees, how likely is it that they'll be able to return home soon?

GRANDI: It is interesting that if you talk to most Syrian refugees in this region in the Middle East, they will tell you that they want to return

home. But many of them, most of them still have some hesitation linked to various factors. Some are more linked to material support and assistance

and other types of devastation are linked to security, to work legal property issues that they have to tackle before returning.

Now on all these things, we are working, we're working with the Syrian governments, we are working with the host countries that have been hosting

refugees for a long time. But the war has been very long, it's not yet completely finished. This is not a fast process. This is a slow process,


CURNOW: And let's also do so broadly as World Refugee Day, you've traveled to so many different refugee detention camps. What's been the most

emotional moment for you so far as High Commissioner?

GRANDI: I have worked with refugees for 35 years. So I have many stories to tell. In my long career, the best moment was in 2002-2003, when

millions of Afghans after the fall of the Taliban regime went back to their country to reconstruct it.

I understood at that point, one that solutions were possible always, even after a very long conflict and a long period of time. But I also learned

less positively in Afghanistan that if there is not enough investment in peace, peace can crumble and cause displacement again, as has been the case


CURNOW: Okay, Filippo Grandi, thank you so much for joining us here on CNN. Appreciate you taking the time.


CURNOW: Meanwhile, still ahead, their deaths certainly remain a mystery, why some tourists have fallen ill or even died after staying in the

Dominican Republic. We have a live report just ahead on that.


[11:50:32] CURNOW: You're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. Welcome back. Now the F.B.I. is helping authorities in the Dominican

Republic to investigate the deaths of a number of tourists. So we know that samples have been taken from at least one minibar at a hotel. These

are being tested by U.S. investigators and the death toll is pretty high here.

Nine Americans have died after staying at resorts on the Caribbean island over the past year. And the spate of these mysterious deaths has certainly

left loved ones with many, many questions.

Our Rosa Flores joins us now from Santa Domingo. Give us the latest on the results in this investigation.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Robyn. You know, as you mentioned, the F.B.I. is investigating and they are testing samples for

toxicology in particular.

Now from what we understand, those tests could take up to 30 days and the clock, the guidance that we received started on June 11. So it could take

a month, so on July 11th, we're hoping to learn more.

But you know Dominican Republic authority say that they have already done their own testing of that particular hotel where the New York couple died,

Nathaniel Holmes and Cynthia Day and they give that hotel a clean bill of health.

They explained to us the Ministry of Health here in this country, how some of those samples were collected. They say that they took sample from the

sink in the shower, from the minibar of that particular room, from the bar of the hotel in general where the food is prepared in that hotel, where

dishes are washed as well. And Robyn, they say that no bacteria was found.

CURNOW: Yes, I mean, it's certainly raising a lot of questions. And as you were talking, we were seeing young girls in their bikinis going to

hospital beds and looking deadly sick. So it's a huge concern for the tourism industry there. And for families who have lost loved ones.

And I understand you've also found what are you learning more about what's found inside the hotel room of a New York couple who died. What did you


FLORES: We did and we're learning more from the Ministry of Health. They tell us that 11 medications were found inside the New York couples' room

and eight of those medications were prescribed in the United States. Three of them had been purchased here in the Dominican Republic.

Of the 11 that were from the United States, three of those warned against they use and consumption of alcohol in conjunction with those medications.

As for the three medications that were purchased here, in this country, they say that one of them was a sexual stimulant, the other, an anti-flu

medication and then pills for a stomach pain or an upset stomach.

So Robyn, we knew about some of these medications before. We did not know about the sexual stimulant before this. So we're starting to learn a

little more information about what was in these rooms.

And of course, what the Ministry of Health here is implying is that there are many tourists who come to this country and perhaps drink a little too

much, eat a little too much and perhaps that over exerts their own bodies.

And again, they say that most of the deaths here and the lead cause of death for tourists here in this country is natural causes.

CURNOW: Okay, thanks for that. Rosa Flores there. Appreciate the update.

So in tonight's "Parting Shots," paying tribute to refugees around the world, a vast artwork showing a line of interlocking hands unveiled at the

foot of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Now this piece is called "Beyond Walls." It is the work of a French artist. It was designed with biodegradable paint made with chalk and

charcoal. It symbolizes the first human contact migrants experience after crossing the Mediterranean Sea into Europe.

As divided as the world may seem, the artist said his piece aims to create the largest human chain in the world.


GUILLAUME SAYPE LEGROS, FRENCH ARTIST (voice over): I think that we're at a point in history when a part of the population has chosen to close in on

themselves. But I think it's hand in hand that we will be able to overcome the challenges we face.


CURNOW: Now in a world where violence and conflict force thousands of people to flee their lives every day. This work of art sure is a symbol of

solidarity, isn't it?

[11:55:10] CURNOW: Now, I'm Robin Curnow. That was CONNECT THE WORLD. A busy news days. Continue to watch CNN. Thanks for watching.


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to "Inside Politics." I am John King in Washington. We are standing by for a Pentagon briefing led by a Lieutenant

General from the U.S. Central Command about a dangerous escalation in the Persian Gulf.

Iran confirming and acknowledging it shot down a U.S. unmanned drone over the Persian Gulf. We're waiting for a briefing any moment now to see.

There's also an urgent meeting underway at the White House. President Trump tweeting six quite ominous words, "Iran made a very big mistake."

As we wait for this briefing, the question now is how will the United States government respond? Again, the Central Command giving this

briefing. One of the big questions, will it release any data proving as the Pentagon says this unmanned drone was in international airspace.

Iran says it show it down, the Revolutionary Guard says it shot it down because it crosssed the line and violated Iranian airspace.