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U.S. Blames Iran for Attack on Saudi Oil Facilities; U.S. President Confirms Death of Osama bin Laden's Son; Tropical Storm Humberto Moves away from Bahamas; Polls Show Israel's Election Too Close to Call; New Zealand Proposes Even Stricter Gun Laws; Prince Harry Turns 35. Aired 4-5a ET
Aired September 15, 2019 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, the U.S. blames Iran. Iran says it wasn't us. CNN is live in Tehran with reaction and how markets are responding.
In the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Humberto skirting by the Bahamas but now it's heading north.
Also ahead this hour, Prince Harry celebrating his birthday. We'll tell you how he plans to spend the rest of the day.
Live at CNN Headquarters in Atlanta. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm George Howell. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.
HOWELL: 4:00 am here on the U.S. East Coast. Washington, D.C., is pointing the finger at Iran for attacks that knocked out around half of Saudi Arabia's oil capacity. Here's what happened.
Iranian backed Houthi rebels fighting a war in Yemen say they hit two oil facilities with drones.
But a U.S. source with knowledge of the incident tells CNN there are signs the attacks came from inside Iraq. "The Wall Street Journal" reporting officials are looking at whether cruise missiles fired from Iraq were used instead. The U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo holds Iran responsible, tweeting this.
Quote, "Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy. Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply."
Washington has provided no evidence to back Pompeo's claim. Iran's semiofficial Fars News Agency is rejecting it. Let's get the latest reaction from the region and a look at how markets are responding with our emerging markets editor live in Abu Dhabi. But we start with Nick Paton Walsh in Tehran.
Nick, the United States blaming Iran despite the Houthi rebels claiming responsibility.
What is the reaction so far that you're hearing there?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let me give you some breaking news. From the spokesperson for Iran's foreign ministry. He says in a statement that such blind accusations and inappropriate comments in a diplomatic context are incomprehensive and meaningless. He says in the last five years, the Saudi coalition has committed all kinds of war crimes and kept the flames in the area going.
The Yemenis are also showing resistance to war and aggression. He says in a diplomatic context, quote, this needs a degree -- a certain degree of credibility and reasonable frameworks that U.S. officials have also violated basic principles.
So a very strong reaction from Iran. I have to say Secretary Pompeo has made a very stark accusation against Iran. But within those two tweets, under 300 characters or so, provided no evidence thus far to back it up.
There have been officials anonymously briefing that this may have emanated from southern Iraq. But Saudi Arabia, the target, no doubt its oil facilities were substantially hit by what appear to be makeshift drone attacks, extraordinarily use of off the shelf customer purchasable technology. They, Saudi Arabia, have stopped short of pointing the finger directly at Iran.
Perhaps if they did, they might be forced into some sort of response. There are questions about quite how this extraordinary amount of damage could have been performed by the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
They are about 500 or so kilometers or miles away from those particular facilities and they have to fly across a lot of Saudi airspace to get to them. The Saudis have spent tens of billions on their air defenses over the past decade. Quite an ask for the 10 drones the Houthis say were behind these attacks.
Nothing is impossible, though, and many experts are pointing how the Houthis' grasp of drone technology may have escalated enormously in the years past. Several questions; the key issue is, where is the evidence for the accusation that Iran was essentially behind this?
Chris Murphy, one of the senators critical of U.S. policy in Yemen, has stepped forward and tweeted, saying, while Iran is a bad actor, it doesn't suddenly mean that everything the Houthis do or Iran also did and points to how we get into, quote, "dumb wars of choice."
WALSH: So a lot of here pointing to similar mistakes made in the run- up to the Iraq War. Certainly when this body of accusations is being pointed toward Iran without evidence to back it up, so much of the pressure pointing toward the U.S. to see how they can necessarily level the statements they're making with the evidence, perhaps, to back it up.
HOWELL: And to your point, it is interesting to note that the Fars semiofficial news agency also claiming that the Houthi rebels say have the capability to carry out such an attack. Nick Paton Walsh with the breaking news, giving us the latest reaction from Tehran.
And now to John Defterios in Abu Dhabi.
Let's keep an eye on the markets, John.
What are you seeing so far?
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: The stock markets trading on a Sunday in the Middle East are down; the Saudi index is down nearly 2 percent in neighboring the UAE. Dubai down about 1 percent. The oil markets open up in Asia on Monday morning. I'm expecting a sharp drop as a result of what we've seen here. This is an audacious attack against two key facilities for Saudi Aramco in the context of overall production, they produce just under 10 million barrels a day; 16 hours ago Aramco officials gave me guidance that the production hit was about 5 million barrels a day.
That moved up in the last 16 hours to 5.7 million barrels a day. That's about 6 percent of global supplies and enough to rattle global markets. Of course, when they start trading on Monday, I think also you should put this in a wider context.
The world uses about 100 million barrels a day with Saudi Arabia providing about 10 percent. This is major. Since I've covered the energy markets going back to the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, add the Iran-Iraq War, the invasion of Iraq, even the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi, we've never seen a single day hit of this scale of better than 5 million barrels a day.
It does raise the question, as Nick underlined there, how about the Saudi defenses?
They've spent billions of dollars trying to protect the key facilities. The oil processing facility is the largest in the world. The oil field is the second largest. It's hard to put it into context in terms of scale. We're looking at an oil field of 100 kilometers long.
The fact the Houthis could make a very surgical strike to hit Aramco at this sort of level is shocking.
HOWELL: Getting a sense of the scale there, the Houthis claiming responsibility. The U.S. pointing the finger at Iran. Iran saying, hey, it wasn't us. Nick Paton Walsh with the reporting. John Defterios with a look at the markets. Thank you both for the reporting. We'll keep in touch.
Let's put this into broader context now with Bobby Ghosh, an editorial board member with Bloomberg. Joining us from London.
Great to have you with us.
John just set us up with this. The Saudi energy minister says the attacks on the Aramco facilities led to the interruption of 5.7 million barrels, about 50 percent of the company's crude oil supply. Needless to say this is significant.
Is it reasonable to expect we could see pain at the pump, a spike in prices because of this attack?
BOBBY GHOSH, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, in the short-term, I think it's almost inevitable. As your reporter said there, yes, this amounts to about 6 percent of global production. There is some spare capacity in the U.S.
But to organize that -- the kind of sales, the kind of contracts that will be required in such short notice, it just doesn't happen that quickly.
So yes, I think it is fair to expect a spike at the pump in the short run and then producers and suppliers around the world will be looking around to see who can plug the gap. We also have to see how long these -- this amount, 5.7 million barrels, will be offline. The Saudis have said they'll have a better sense in another 48 hours.
So we don't know. This could be a matter of days. It could be longer than that and if it's longer than that, than the futures begin to get affected. So, yes, I think we should brace for a spike.
HOWELL: Right now the finger pointing game ensues. The Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility. The United States pointing the finger at Iran instead. Iran pointing back to the Houthis.
Keeping in mind, Bobby, that Iran supports various groups, militias, rebel groups throughout the region. If we have a map to show our viewers to get a sense of how wide in the region Iran has its sway there.
The question here, given that Tehran points out there is no evidence to prove that they are behind this, it is interesting to see the United States still pointing the finger at Iran.
GHOSH: Yes. And I think that's the point.
GHOSH: And the fact that secretary of state Pompeo specifically said there no evidence the Houthis did this but they think the Iranians did this suggests he has some sort of material proof of this.
And I think the international community will be waiting to see what that evidence looks like. To some of us, it is six of one, half dozen of the other. It's a distinction without a difference, because the Houthis do operate quite frequently within a parameter set for them by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the IRGC. And quite often are using Iranian-supplied equipment, including some of these drones.
It might just be that the Houthis executed this on orders from Tehran. Or that this was from Iraq, where Iran also has a number of Shia militias and where there's been reports Iran has moved some of its missiles.
If it turns out this is a missile, it will be harder to sustain the idea that the Houthis did this. The Houthis do have a history of striking with drones over quite a lot of distance. They have some missiles but they've not successfully executed a strike of this nature.
So it comes down to this technical point, was it a drone?
Was it a missile?
If it was a drone, the Houthis would be the more likely suspects. If it was a missile, it probably came from Iraq and, in either case, the people pulling the strings were probably in Tehran.
HOWELL: Do you expect Saudi Arabia to respond in Yemen, which is already a bloody war entangling so many civilians there?
GHOSH: Yes. Unfortunately, that is a pattern and we would expect the Saudi -- the government would be under some pressure to retaliate in some fashion. It's not clear to me that would help very much.
We've already bombed Yemen to within an inch of its life. There's not a lot more that it can do or that it has proven that it can do except for empty symbolism. The Houthis have dug in and are holding their positions.
The Saudi war effort is now several years and has not shown the kind of progress that we'd have liked or Saudis would have liked to seen. So yes, there will probably be retaliation. Whether it will move the needle, I'm not optimistic.
HOWELL: Bobby Ghosh, good to have you, thank you so much.
GHOSH: Thanks for having me.
HOWELL: I want to tell you about dramatic images coming out of New Jersey. Take a look here at the scene after a massive deck collapsed in Wildwood Saturday evening. Two levels. They all fell and gave way. At least 22 people were injured.
Local media report that it happened during the city's annual firefighters' weekend with several firefighters among those who were hurt.
The United States says that one of Osama bin Laden's sons has died. How it happened and why the U.S. sees this as a win.
Plus relief efforts in the Bahamas are again running up after another storm passes by the islands. We'll tell you what's next for that area. As CNN NEWSROOM continues. (MUSIC PLAYING)
HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM.
You're looking at prodemocracy protesters in Hong Kong on the streets again. This live image at 4:17 pm there in Hong Kong. The 15th straight weekend we've seen these protests.
It's an unauthorized march in the city's financial center. Local media report that some shops have closed and police are currently at the scene. Protesters also came together outside the British consulate, urging China to basically follow the rules of its agreement.
The parents of Otto Warmbier were dinner guests of President Trump at the White House. Their son was a college student when he was imprisoned in North Korea. He was held captive for 17 months.
The Trump administration secured his release in 2017. Otto Warmbier returned home in a vegetative state before dying days later.
Fred and Cindy Warmbier have had a very uneasy relationship with President Trump. Earlier this year they were deeply upset when he absolved North Korean leader Kim Jong-un of any responsibility for their son's death. No word yet on what they discussed.
The U.S. president has announced that one of Osama bin Laden's sons has been killed. He says Hamza bin Laden died in a counterterrorism operation, though he didn't say when it happened.
Reports of his death came to light weeks ago. But this was the first time they'd been confirmed. CNN's senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman has this for you.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He was seen as the likely heir to Al Qaeda, an emerging leader with a distinctive name. Hamza bin Laden, son of the late Al Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden, has been killed in an American counter-terrorism operation somewhere in the Afghanistan-Pakistan area, according to a statement put out by the White House.
American officials declined to say exactly when he was killed. Earlier this year, the U.S. State Department issued a $1 million reward for any information on the junior bin Laden, stating that he had released video and audio messages online, calling on his followers to launch attacks against the United States and its Western allies in revenge for the May 2011 killing of his father by U.S. military forces.
On the same day, the U.S. Bureau of Counterterrorism called for United Nations member states to freeze his assets and enforce a travel ban.
As a response, his home country of Saudi Arabia said it had already revoked his citizenship. In 2015, Al Qaeda promoted Hamza as a top leader in its jihadi movement.
WEDEMAN (voice-over): He has been featured in Al Qaeda propaganda videos as a child but only posted audio messages in his later years.
The most recent footage of him was released by the CIA in 2017, showing glimpses of his wedding to the daughter of a senior Al Qaeda leader, which had occurred years before.
Those videos were retrieved from Osama bin Laden's computer when it was seized during the Navy SEAL raid that killed him in 2011. Hamza is but one of Osama bin Laden's sons to be labeled by U.S. intelligence as a significant threat and the third to die while trying to follow in his father's footsteps -- Ben Wedeman, CNN, Beirut.
HOWELL: Ben, thank you.
Now to the Atlantic and Tropical Storm Humberto moving away from the Bahamas after it passed by the same islands hit so hard by Hurricane Dorian. It slowed down recovery efforts as the new system brought rain and wind to the area. You see it here.
Now that the storm is leaving, relief teams will resume their work, delivering aid, help and supplies to the thousands of people who need them.
HOWELL: It's been two weeks now since Dorian hit the Bahamas. Right before the storm reached the islands, our Patrick Oppmann made it there and covered the chaos and devastation from the beginning. Take a look at his report.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hurricane Dorian unleashing her category 5 fury on the Bahamas, look at that.
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We knew what we were getting into when we got on the plane. It was a category 5 hurricane. Taking it very, very seriously.
I knew that it was not going to be pleasant. I knew that it was going to be pretty rough and it was.
We are being lashed here in Freeport in the island of Grand Bahama by Dorian's winds all night long. It sounds like a jet engine. Just screaming winds that pick up but never really go away.
Finally, we were able to get out and see other parts of the island that, up until now, have been inaccessible.
You can see there's still hurricane force winds and rain coming down on us, because, oh, look, a little baby here, they're -- boy, they're covering up and protecting. Come through, come through. Come through. Good job.
My cameraman, Jose Armijo and I, we just saw this amazing scene of people being pulled off jetskis and pulled off boats that had been...
OPPMANN: People that had been riding out the storms in their rooms and we had to get in the water. It was the only way to get those shots. To see a guy get on a jetski with a life preserver that didn't fit him and go roaring out there in the middle of a hurricane to save people's lives is one of the bravest things I've every seen.
At a certain point when the weather kicked up, we're leaving and we're really getting pelted and beat up and Jose, our camera man, came to me and said we've got to go back. There's a guy who just said his wife died.
HOWARD ARMSTRONG, DORIAN SURVIVOR: And my poor little wife got hypothermia. And she was standing on top of the kitchen cabinets until they disintegrated. Then I kept with her and she just drowned on me.
OPPMANN: I'm so sorry.
ARMSTRONG: I know.
OPPMANN: I know that interview touched so many people. It touched us. He literally had the clothes on his back and I will respect and appreciate the fact that he wanted to share that with us. Because it really was one of the things that I think woke people up to what was going on here.
This is complete and utter devastation like I've never seen. Jose is going to point the camera over here. Look at this, that's a wheel. This is the underside of a plane. This is what's left of the wing. You think of the force required to throw a plane from the runway into a terminal.
I realized after a couple days of saying this is the worst devastation that I've seen, that every day I was going to see something worse.
When you think about the people who stayed behind, what must they have gone through?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, and I think about it because I had a nephew and three of his kids died in the storm and my heart is broken. I say I can't imagine the terror that they were faced with. OPPMANN: We went out to a place called McLeans Town. We got there before the government. They got decimated. It's damage that looks like a tsunami went through there, 30-foot high storm surge.
When we were leaving, a boat came. They were people from this other island also got destroyed and they were showing up with help. And I think that really defines who Bahamians are. People here will, on their own, maybe with some help from outside, rebuild this country and maybe rebuild it differently.
A lot of these towns will cease to exist. But people here have an incredible spirit and, for the ones who survived, I think you can see the fire in their eyes and the fact that they're not going to let this stop them.
HOWELL: Patrick Oppmann there. Jose Armijo was the photographer. I've covered a hurricane with Jose. And Patrick one of our best. I can tell you, when you're out there covering these storms as a reporter, you put yourself second and you put the people you meet first. And you just want to tell the stories, give the details and show people what's happening so that they can understand and care.
We still know hundreds of people are still missing from the storm. You can learn more about the storm, go to cnn.com/impact. You'll find several different ways to contribute. We continue to follow this very important story.
Still ahead, the historic election in Israel is just days away. And the prime minister of that nation is taking a hard line against his country's Arab citizens.
But will it do him more harm than good?
HOWELL: Welcome back to our viewers. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. We have the headlines for you this hour.
HOWELL: Israel's prime minister hopes a mutual defense agreement with the United States will give him an advantage at the polls on Tuesday. On Saturday he discussed the possibility of such an agreement with the U.S. president.
In a tweet, he thanked Mr. Trump for the discussion, writing, quote, "The Jewish state has never had a greater friend in the White House."
He added he looks forward to discussing the pact at the United Nations. Previous attempts at a defense pact were rejected by both countries.
The last opinion polls before Tuesday's race showed the two parties, the Likud and the Blue and White Party at a dead heat. That means the group often on the margins of Israeli society could make more of a difference in this race, more than ever before.
Let's go live to Jerusalem with our senior international correspondent, Sam Kiley, following this election.
Sam, look, give us a snapshot, if you could, of where things stand right now.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, George, broadly speaking, the Likud Party of Netanyahu have, according to the opinion polls, around 32 of the 120 seats. According to the opinion polls in their back pocket but so does the Blue and White Party of Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid.
That means that whether it's the center left or the center or the right wing bloc of Netanyahu after the elections, if -- and I have to give a health warning on the polls, they're frequently inaccurate but if they're accurate, there's going to be a lot of horse trading and a lot of discussions with some pretty fringe elements from the right wing perspective.
That could involve talks with a group that has an ideology that, by any standards, puts them right on the near violent fringes of hardline Israeli politics and a much more centrist but important to the center left is the future of the Arab Israeli vote, a not insignificant part of the electorate.
KILEY: This is my report on that subject.
KILEY (voice-over): An election poster calling on citizens of this Arab-Israeli town to vote for the man on the right. It's safe to say they probably won't. Support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party is close to nil around here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We have to vote for the Arab Joint list, even if we feel it won't affect the Knesset. At least we can fight for our rights, rights that no one else will ask for."
KILEY (voice-over): About a fifth of Israel's population is Arab. Among them, voter turnout has been falling but that may change.
(on camera): With the two main parties pretty much neck and neck in these elections, there's a really strong feeling in the Arab community that, this time around, their votes really count, perhaps galvanized by recent remarks by Benjamin Netanyahu.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: (Speaking foreign language).
KILEY (voice-over): He's raised tensions by saying that, if he is elected, he will annex the Jordan Valley into Israel.
Facebook has said that it suspended the automated messaging system on the prime minister's official page for 24 hours because it violated its rules on hate speech.
This, after the chatbot shared a pop-up message that encouraged people to vote Likud because a "secular left-wing weak government" would rely on Arabs "who want to destroy us all, women, children and men" and "will enable a nuclear Iran that will eliminate us."
Netanyahu said the message was a mistake, that he hadn't written it or seen it beforehand and that he ordered it removed immediately. Opinion polls show that the mainly Arab Joint List is expected to come third with some 12 Knesset seats.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We will all vote for the Arab List this time more than ever because of the racism against us.
KILEY (voice-over): An alliance with the right-wing Likud has been ruled out. But Likud's main rival, Blue and White, has so far brushed off the offer of a pact with the Joint List because of its anti- Zionism.
The latest polls show, that if it wants power, though, that may have to change.
KILEY: George, as you know, this is the second round of general elections to have occurred this year. There are no signs in the opinion polls that any clear winner will emerge. Nor are there any particular signs they will be able on either side of the divide here stitched together a ruling coalition.
There is a creeping, rather miserable feeling in Israel. They may end up this year with a third election. But this definitely has an election that has seen continued influence, indeed, critics might say interference from the Trump administration and support of Benjamin Netanyahu.
And clearly a lot of the more fringe groups within politics here going to be very, very important in the next couple of weeks of negotiations.
HOWELL: All right. We'll see how this pans out in the next couple of weeks. Sam Kiley live for us. Thank you.
Six months after New Zealand's worst mass shooting in the nation, the prime minister is pressuring to overhaul the country's outdated gun laws. The former mayor of Christchurch will talk about what's happening there. Stay with us.
HOWELL: Welcome back to NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell.
Sunday marks six months since a gunman killed 51 Muslim worshippers and wounded dozens of others in Christchurch, New Zealand, the worst mass shooting in the country's history.
Since then, the government has moved aggressively to prevent another massacre, beginning with removing assault-style weapons from the civilian population. Now the government wants to shore up weaknesses in the country's 36-year-old gun laws.
Among those proposals, a national registry of all legally owned firearms. Shortening of valid gun licenses from 10 to five years. Imposing two-year jail terms for giving a firearm to an unlicensed person and granting licenses only to people found, quote, "fit and proper," excluding those with extremist views, violent criminal records or mental health issues.
Let's talk more about New Zealand's response since that attack with the former mayor of the city of Christchurch, Bob Parker. Bob joining us via Skype from Christchurch.
It's good to have you on with us, Bob.
BOB PARKER, FORMER CHRISTCHURCH MAYOR: Thank you, George.
HOWELL: My colleague, Natalie Allen, and I were on the air when the shooting started. I'll never forget it, covering the story. The details were coming in. It was painful and disturbing to see what was happening.
We watched as the world came together in mourning for your nation. The prime minister then promising to make sweeping gun law changes. She did just that with lawmakers.
What's your take of how New Zealand responded so far?
PARKER: I think the response was extraordinary. The pain was felt very, very deeply here. An event like this was never supposed to happen in a small, distant and very beautiful country at the other end of the Earth, a long, long way away from these sorts of events.
Yet, it did happen and that was one of the most traumatic days not just in the history of our city but in our country as well. But a lot of progress has been made. The parliament came together very quickly after the tragedy, after the horrific tragedy and, within a matter of days, weeks, new laws were passed. They were passed by the whole of parliament. I think it was, out of
the 120 people who could vote in parliament, only one voted against the change of laws to outlaw the sale of these guns and the possession of the semiautomatics and magazines that held more than 10 rounds, that's shotguns and long arms as well.
So things moved very quickly. But I think people sense that there is more work to be done to fix the laws up, to make them truly effective. But significant first steps and a swift reaction took place.
HOWELL: Well, things move very, very slowly here in the United States on the same issue. It is common knowledge that, among many nations around the world, the U.S. has many mass shootings, becoming more too common here stateside, despite the carnage.
It plays as a political issue: even though most Americans support common sense gun reform, politicians here continue to drag their feet.
Was this as challenging a proposition in your country for getting lawmakers on board?
PARKER: Sure. Well, put it in context, we're a country of less than 5 million people and we don't have a Constitution. We don't have a Second Amendment.
PARKER: So we don't actually have those sets of inalienable rights that people have the lawmaking processes in the USA around. We can understand the complexity of the processes you have to go through.
But what happened here was the government moved extremely quickly. It was a unanimous vote bar one in the house of representatives. So I think the ability to move quickly, which is something that clearly is more easily attainable in our sort of British-style democracy and parliamentary system possibly made it easier for us.
We watch what's going on in the USA and we recognize the complexities that you have to deal with.
Well, again, here in the U.S., the issue of tightening gun laws came up on one of the Democratic presidential debates.
One candidate in particular, Beto O'Rourke, from my home state of Texas, which saw two of the most recent shootings in Midland-Odessa and El Paso, he had a very blunt promise for the owners of assault style weapons. Let's listen. We'll talk about it on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We're not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: So the thing here, lawmakers are concerned that that comment could further polarize voters on this issue and make it harder to find compromise.
What would you advise lawmakers here on how to bring people together on this really important issue?
PARKER: Well, it's an extraordinarily important issue and I know that everybody watches with dismay the events that take place across the USA and in other countries. The anti-argument here, if you like, is probably very similar to the one that's faced in other countries, which is where people say that the good people don't do these things and the people that we need to target aren't necessarily the gun owners who are licensed gun owners.
I'd be very reluctant to tell America what to do. It would be a bit like the mouse that roared. Clearly you have a problem and it won't be solved until you get both sides of the House, I think, realizing that something needs to be done. But clearly, again, I come back to the fact that you do have a Constitution.
You have a Bill of Rights for every individual which is enshrined in law, probably for good reason. But it adds a much more complicated process that you need to go through. But you need to move swiftly on these events.
And you need to have built up, I think, a cross-party alliance and understanding around this. It's an extraordinarily difficult thing for you in that you have a culture which has enshrined the right to hold guns, to store guns and use them in your own self-defense.
For example, here in New Zealand, it's absolutely illegal to use a firearm, to present a firearm at someone who might break into your house and threaten you. So there's a different approach here, probably more reflective of the close alliance with the British lawmaking system and the British parliamentary system.
But I wish you well in dealing with an enormously complex problem. It would seem you don't have a simple answer other than the answer which would be that politicians across political lines need to realize that something should be done and act together and be prepared to act swiftly.
And again, I'm not sure whether your legal system to going to make that easy for you.
HOWELL: Bob Parker, we appreciate your time today. Thank you.
PARKER: Thank you.
HOWELL: Still ahead, Prince Harry famously knows about paying tribute and honoring human dignity. But today his wife, Meghan Markle, is paying tribute to him on a milestone birthday.
(MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HOWELL: Prince Harry celebrates his 35th birthday today and the Duchess of Sussex is paying tribute to her husband on the royal couple's Instagram account.
She say, quote, " your service to the causes you care so deeply for inspires me every day. You're the best husband and most amazing dad to our son. We love you. Happiest birthday."
Let's talk about this now with royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams, joining us in the London bureau.
Good to have you with us.
RICHARD FITZWILLIAMS, ROYALTY COMMENTATOR: And also fascinating to appreciate the depth of affection between Harry and Meghan. The fact that he's found his soul mate and is such a proud father is so wonderful as we wish him a happy birthday.
HOWELL: Indeed. Richard, 35. I remember that, seven years ago; 35 a lot different than 25. Let's talk about that difference for Prince Harry.
From then to now, what do you make of his evolution to husband and now father?
FITZWILLIAMS: There's absolutely no doubt that the world's heart went out to him when he walked behind his mother's coffin on that memorable and tragic day when he was 12. Subsequently, of course, he was the royal wild child. There was a great deal of concern.
And then, of course, the army made him and two tours of duty in Afghanistan were most successful. But we understand this is one of the things that we've seen in the last decade, how traumatized he was after his mother's tragic death.
And what we've seen in the last 10 years is somebody who has metamorphosed into a campaigner with the most intense and absolutely extraordinary commitment, following in his mother's footsteps, as he sees it, but also, of course, deeply unhappy in some ways.
And now with Meghan, he's found happiness. He's found his soulmate. He's also found someone who wants to campaign and do good.
FITZWILLIAMS: And it is this that I think absolutely makes him tick and, of course, a very, very proud father about to take Archie to southern Africa. HOWELL: And to that point, let's look ahead at this new chapter for him. Not only as a royal but also as a humanitarian.
What are you expecting?
FITZWILLIAMS: Well, this is going to be an absolutely fascinating to see, for example, how Harry and Meghan, whose public relations it has to be said in recent months, have been, I think, very erratic. How they handle something that they are really extraordinarily good at.
We know and look at Harry's success in the anti-HIV/AIDS charity in Lesotho, which began in 2006. Then Invictus, which has been so phenomenally successful. It's been going for five years to help wounded service men and women and mental health.
And then we have Meghan committed to diversity and gender equality and feminism. They want to exercise their global reach. And for this, they will be using celebrities. Very important, this often not understood in Britain.
And also we're seeing them in southern Africa soon. We will, I'm sure, see them in the United States and the reach will be in the commonwealth, where they're particularly targeting Millennials, because so many of the commonwealth are young but also on a global basis, all these issues, including the environment, are so important.
HOWELL: Richard Fitzwilliams, we appreciate your time. Thank you.
And thank you for joining us this hour. The news continues right after this.