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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Pelosi In Taiwan; Al-Zawahiri Fallout; Griner Trial. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired August 02, 2022 - 17:00   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome. I'm Bianca Nobilo in London. And this is THE GLOBAL BRIEF.

Right now, Taiwan is waking up for a day of controversial diplomacy after the U.S. House speaker touched down on Tuesday evening.

Then, the U.S. says that the Taliban could face consequences harboring the leader of al-Qaeda who was killed over the weekend.

And the Kremlin says, quote, megaphone diplomacy will not help Brittney Griner's prisoner exchange. We're live in Moscow.

Defiant, divisive, and potentially dangerous. Nancy Pelosi has become the first U.S. House speaker to visit Taiwan in 25 years. She arrived in

Taipei, Tuesday night, with a show of diplomatic support for the self governing island.

The visit is not officially supported by President Joe Biden, who said publicly that the U.S. military didn't think it was a good idea for Pelosi

to stop in Taipei during her Asia tour.

For weeks, the Chinese government has said that it was ready to take, quote, resolute and forceful measures if Pelosi touchdown in Taiwan, which

China sees as a breakaway province.

Now, the Chinese military says it's on high alert now and will perform a series of quote targeted military operations, including joint air and sea

drills around the island.

But the U.S. National Security Council spokesman, John Kirby, said there was no reason for this visit to erupt into conflict. Take a listen.



expect that they will continue to react over a longer term horizon. I couldn't give you a certain date of what that horizon looks like, but we

certainly would expect them to really ask even beyond her trip.

The United States will not and does not -- will not seek and does not want a crisis. We are prepared to manage what Beijing chooses to do.


NOBILO: Meanwhile, in Taiwan's capital, a landmark Taipei Tower lit up to welcome Nancy Pelosi's arrival. The Mayor, Ko Wen-je, is urging caution,

saying Taiwan should not be put, quote, in between a rock and a hard place.

CNN's Will Ripley unfolds all the latest events for us.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A resounding show of American support for Taiwan in the face of escalating

threats from China. U.S. house speaker, Nancy Pelosi, landing in Taiwan Tuesday, a display of defiance, ignoring days of perilous warnings from


Minutes after Pelosi's arrival, China announced a series of targeted military operations in response to the House speaker's visit. State media

publishing a map of the drills, which began during the overnight hours. Some, just miles from the Taiwanese coast.

As Pelosi's convoy arrived at her Taipei hotel, a heavy police presence, two groups of protesters gathered outside. Some welcomed Pelosi's support

for Taiwan.

JERRY LIU, DIRECTOR OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, NEW POWER PARTY: The Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has been supporting Taiwan for decades and it's

very important for me, as a Taiwanese, to be here tonight to welcome her.

RIPLEY: Others accuse her of escalating tensions.

MISS HUANG, DOES NOT SUPPORT PELOSI'S TAIWAN VISIT (through translator): Right now, Pelosi and the United States are treating Taiwan as a chess

piece. Once she lands in Taiwan, mainland China will retaliate using their own methods.

RIPLEY: China's foreign ministry spokesman calling Pelosi's stop in Taiwan, a serious violation of the One China principle that will have a

severe impact on the political foundation of China-U.S. relations. Taiwan says, cyberattacks knocked some government websites off line. No immediate

claims of responsibility.

Beijing calls Taiwan a breakaway province of China. The mainland communist rulers have never controlled the island of almost 24 million people. They

refused to recognize Taiwan's democratically elected government.

Taiwan says, China sent more than 20 warplanes into the islands air defense zone Tuesday, part of what Taiwan calls, an ongoing campaign of bullying by

Beijing, using its massive military and economic power to isolate the island.

In a "Washington Post" op-ed published shortly after her arrival in Taipei, Pelosi writes: In the face of the Chinese Communist Party's accelerating

aggression, our congressional delegation's visit should be seen as an unequivocal statement that America stands with Taiwan, our democratic

partner, as it defends itself and its freedom.


That sentiment echoed by other U.S. officials Tuesday.

JAKE SULLIVAN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: For China to try to turn what is in the historical norm into a crisis, or to try to use it as a

pretext for aggressive action around Taiwan, that's on them. And they would be the ones who would be escalating.


NOBILO: Let's bring in CNN correspondent Selina Wang from Beijing, and Kylie Atwood from New York.

Selina, let's start with you. As we mentioned, the Chinese spokesperson said the country will now launch exercises and a series of targeted

military operations around Taiwan in response to Pelosi's visit. These rules do occur frequently.

Is there a concern that China could exploit this visit to further their strategic objectives, though?

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, ultimately when, and, if Beijing decides to make a more decisive move on Taiwan with depends on

Beijing's own political calendar, their own calculations. They would want to make a move when they think the timing is right. But there is a debate

right now about what is exactly does this trip accomplish?

Could encourage China to do more of the political, economic and diplomatic coercion that ironically Pelosi did not want to happen as a result of going

to Taiwan. So, this kind of fiery rhetoric, this fiery language, and the action we're seeing from Beijing, that is directed towards the audience at

home as it is internationally. This is serving as a distraction for the leadership here.

There are many problems that, home including an economy devastated by the zero COVID policy, snap lockdowns that continue. We are seeing propaganda

whip up this nationalistic, patriotic fervor, around this visit by Pelosi, calling this a direct challenge to China's sovereignty, that there will be

powerful reaction. And according to state media, we recently heard that late on Tuesday night, China's vice foreign minister, Xie Feng, actually

urgently summoned the U.S. ambassador to China, telling him the U.S. should have stopped Pelosi from going. They should've quote stopped her from

acting recklessly. They're accusing her of doing all of this just for her own political career.

Now, this exacerbates a U.S.-China relationship that is already at the lowest points in decades. And the question is, if that relationship can

ever come back from this point, if there can be any sort of off-ramp.

And even if we can avoid conflict this time, around the other question is does this put us in a closer place, so that in the future conflicts could

happen more easily?

NOBILO: And, Kylie, this isn't the first time the speaker has visited Taiwan. We last saw that in 1997. But despite the tension, and potential

provocation that Selina was just referring to, why would Pelosi believe this is an important statement to make or trip to make?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bianca, a lot of change in 25 years, and it is change because of those changes that

how speaker Pelosi felt like right now was important time to make this visit. In that "Washington Post" editorial that you were discussing earlier

that she penned and was rolled out just as she landed in Taiwan, she talked about the fact that China has grown increasingly aggressive, increasingly

bellicose towards Taiwan. She said that they have done so in the air space, with these warplanes. She talked about their cyber attacks on Taiwan. She

talked about squeezing them economically.

And so, basically, what she was saying is that because China is doing these things, it is more important now than it ever has been to demonstrate U.S.

support for Taiwan, for the island, to maintain that real partnership that the United States has with Taiwan. Now, of course, because of this

bellicose rhetoric that we have seen from China and some of these actions that we have seen in recent hours, as she landed on the island, that is

what has concern U.S. officials.

Now, most of what we have seen up until this point doesn't seem like it has gone much further than some of the things that China has done in the past.

So, that is what we will be watching for over the course of the next day, while Pelosi is there and meeting with Taiwanese officials. U.S. officials

have warned China not to go too far, not to make this into a crisis.

The secretary of state said if they did that, that would be on China. And essentially, it would be their fault and their fault only. So, they're

watching to see what China does next, if there is anything else to come here.


NOBILO: And, Will, it's 5:00 a.m. now in Taiwan, what is Pelosi's expected agenda in the coming hours? And picking up on what Kylie was saying about

cementing the relationship between the U.S. and Taiwan, what does Taiwan stand to gain from this potentially inflammatory visit?

RIPLEY: What they stand to gain and they stand to lose in terms of -- you know, evolving the relationship with the United States, Nancy Pelosi a

second in line to the presidency, the third most powerful person in United States politics, she now will be in the morning, at around 8:00 a.m.,

meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen, as well as members of parliament.

She will be learning about how they're young democracy functions, and probably sharing stories. She was in today square when she was at the

beginning of political career. A lot of people in Taiwan are very interested, to talk about that day, because this is the only Chinese

speaking nation that allows a discussion of what's happening Tiananmen Square.

So, Nancy Pelosi has a lot of things I'm sure she is interested in seeing and talking about. She will be visiting some memorial sites during the day.

She's also speaking with business leaders as well. Taiwan is obviously trying to tell the story of the silent, not just in the framing of a young

democracy, a one that was borne out of some of the people who are running the country today were meeting illegally in hotel rooms and were arrested

in jail for fighting for democracy, and now here they are, still alive and in existence positions of power.

So, there's a lot that Nancy Pelosi entered delegation can learn here, can take back with them to the United States, that the Taiwanese government

hopes will help shape policy back in Washington.

And then, of course, also, there is a business side of things. Taiwan is the number one semiconductor manufacturer. TSMC makes the chips that you

have in several of your devices right now. And so, Taiwan knows that if there were some disruptions of the supply chain, it would have global right

implications. They want to make sure that U.S. lawmakers may know that whether they're making a decision whether or not to come to Taiwan's aid if

it when China were to make a move.

One thing I want to say about these military drills, Bianca, is that, yes, China has done this in terms of maneuvers before. We just need to watch how

closely to see how close to the Taiwanese COAST these are actually taking place. Some of the maps that were released by Chinese state media showed

potentially encroaching into Taiwan's territorial airspace. That's something we need to watch very carefully, because it could be if that were

to happen, a major provocation.

NOBILO: Absolutely. We know you'll keep a close eye on for thus.

Will Ripley in Taipei, Selina Wang in Beijing, and Kylie Atwood in New York, thank you all.

The United States says Taliban could face consequences for harboring the leader of al-Qaeda. He was on the run for a decade before he was hunted

down and killed. We are now learning more about the meticulously planned operation to assassinate Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul.

President Joe Biden calls it justice delivered for the victims of the September 11 attacks, saying the strike proves the U.S. doesn't need boots

on the ground in Afghanistan to conduct effective counter-terrorism operations. And yet, the assassination underscores a troubling point, after

the U.S.-led coalition spent 20 years and billions of dollars trying to root out al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and the Taliban backers, it now appears

that some Taliban members invited al Qaeda leaders himself back into the heart of Kabul.

Nick Paton Walsh has more.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): The target was the same it was at the start of the war on terror, 9/11

mastermind turned al Qaeda's 71-year-old leader.

But the method, startlingly precise. Two missiles hitting Kabul's fanciest streets.

The al Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, stepping onto a balcony that had likely for years housed rich Westerners working for NATO, but stepping out

onto it dawned Sunday for the last time.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I authorized a precision strike that would remove him from the battlefield once and for all.

WALSH: The Biden administration so confident they got the right guy, they had built a model of the house they said they didn't need boots on the

ground before the strike or after.

JOHN KIRBY, NSC SPOKESMAN: We did not have DNA confirmation. We're not going to get that confirmation. And quite frankly, based on the multiple

sources and methods that we've gathered the information from, we don't need it.

WALSH: It was a staggering counterterrorism success, borne of a failure the U.S. had tried to gloss over. As the U.S. rushed to leave Afghanistan,

at the end of losing control of the close of its longest war, it had tried to suggest al Qaeda were degraded no longer a threat there.

But in truth, the group we're finding a safe haven there again, with concerns last year, they might have been able to strike the West again, as

early as next year. They weren't the threat they were when al-Zawahiri masterminded savagery at the U.S. embassy in Nairobi or on the USS Cole.


And their brutal star had been eclipsed by the mayhem of ISIS. But their franchises had spread across the world, often encouraging locals to target

other locals, and al-Zawahiri remained their figurehead, with his hands on some buttons.

Analysts felt his recent messages suggested a man more at ease, even complacent. U.S. officials, saying they had followed family members to get

him. His most likely successor, Saif al-Adel, recently in Iran, according to the U.N. One former Afghan official, telling me he may have recently

left for Afghanistan.

But terror leaders last less long these days. Still, the enduring hard questions before the Taliban, few believed they had truly renounced terror,

like they promised the U.S.

But after 20 years of war, they still brought exactly the same al Qaeda figures back into the safest of their havens, central Kabul. They found the

United States also had a long memory, and now didn't even need to be there to kill their most wanted.


WALSH (on camera): Fundamentally, the question really is not whether this terror group with its most impactful, awful years far behind it, manages to

reconstitute itself into the threat that it was once, or get itself yet another leader. It's weathered the strike permanently damages the

possibility of ordinary Afghans getting into the country soon. Yes, it shows the Taliban was not governing in the way the hope they could because

of sanctions, but also possibly slipping back into the worse aspects of providing safe haven for terrorists.

That may make it extremely hard for the international community, or certainly the Western parts of it, to think about putting eight into the

country, exasperated tensions that are already there in those international relationships.

And for ordinary Afghans struggling to the summer and the winter ahead, that could indeed prove deadly.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, New York.


NOBILO: Let's go live now to CNN pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.

Barbara, how does the death of al-Zawahiri change al-Qaeda, if it does in any meaningful way? Should the U.S. respect retaliation in response for the


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, how does a change al- Qaeda? I think that is the key question right now that analysts are looking at. The question is, what is al-Qaeda 20 years or on after 9/11, after

Osama bin Laden? Al-Zawahiri had been in charge. Did he get the same pledge of allegiance that bin Laden had from al-Qaeda operatives from around the

world, it is hard to tell if he got that same kind of respect, if you will.

But, look, al-Qaeda had morphed over the years. Certainly, a safe haven in Afghanistan, possibly in Pakistan, at times, but it had also been active in

the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen, but not so much in recent years. Growing activity in Africa, especially in Somalia, with its related organization,


So, there have been a good deal of change in al-Qaeda, becoming much more regionally oriented, trying to be influential in the areas where it

operated. The question now, I think analysts are looking at is, could al- Qaeda research at any point to the same point, where it could once again pose a threat to the West, where it could get financing organization,

training, equipment and plan and carry out another terror attack against U.S. interest or even against the homeland? It does not seem like that is

likely right away, but down the road, that is what intelligence analysts are worrying about -- Bianca.

NOBILO: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for us, thank you.

The Biden administration had just approved what could be a multibillion dollar sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It comes after Mr.

Biden met the leaders of both countries during his recent visit to Jeddah. The State Department says that the proposal sale at which Congress has been

notified is worth an estimated three billion dollars, which includes patriot guided missiles.

A permit was given on the same day, after the U.N. announced a two month extension of the truce in Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition and Houthis have

been engaged in a brutal conflict for years.

Now, Brittney Griner goes back on trial in Russia. The U.S. basketball star makes her first court appearance since we first learned about a potential

prisoner swap. We will go to Moscow.



NOBILO: American basketball star Brittney Griner returned to court on Tuesday. She is detained in Russia under possession charges. This is her

first court appearance since we learned that the White House was offering to exchange a Russian arms dealer for her and another U.S. citizen.

If convicted, Griner could face ten years in prison. She said to make another appearance in court later this week. CNN senior international

correspondent Fred Pleitgen is standing by for us.

Fred, Russia has criticized the U.S., saying, quote, megaphone diplomacy won't work. Is Washington strategy wit Moscow going to backfire maybe on

Griner and Whelan?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Well, the Russians certainly do seem somewhat too irritated by the fact that the U.S.

made public what they call a substantial offer for not only Brittney Griner but, of course, Paul Whelan, as well. In fact, saying that they are

accusing the U.S. of microphone diplomacy.

Of course, Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, last Friday told Antony Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, that he believes that they

need to return to quiet diplomacy.

So, it's unclear whether or not those negotiations are making substantial process or whether they are going on at all. But we do know, Bianca, is

that they loom over Brittney Griner's trial. I was able to speak to her defense lawyer today. The defense lawyer told me that Brittney Griner is

very focused on her own defense, on the last couple of days on the trial, which will take place, but she is also aware of the fact that these

negotiations and talk of the negotiations are out there.

Let's listen in.


PLEITGEN: Tell me how Brittney is doing after this court date. You said that she is a bit nervous but also quite focused.

MARIA BLAGOVOLINA, BRITTNEY GRINER'S RUSSIAN COUNSEL: She is still focused. She is still nervous. She still knows that the end is near. Of

course, she heard the news, so she is hoping that sometimes she will be coming home. We hope, too.


PLEITGEN: And that same lawyer also told me that she believes that in this trial, there needs to be a verdict, she thinks, before a prisoner swap

could happen. Now, having said that, the trial is moving forward at a fast pace.

Today, the defense called its final witness. It was an expert witness to cast some doubt on the early forensics that were done on those vaping

cottages the Brittney Griner has admitted to having carried with her when she entered Sheremetyevo Airport near Moscow in February 17.


It was interesting because the lawyer said that in this next trial day, which is going to happen on Thursday, that's when the closing arguments

happen. She also said that a verdict could happen on that day, as well, but it is not 100 percent clear that will be the case, Bianca.

NOBILO: Fred Pleitgen for us in Moscow, thank you very much.

Now, let's take a look at key stories making headlines from Russia's war in Ukraine.

Five foreigners who fought with Ukrainian forces in Mariupol are facing trial in the so-called Donetsk People's Republic, the Russian-backed

separatists region. A Croat, Swede and three Britons are accused of being foreign mercenaries. But the UK and Ukraine condemned sentences saying they

violate international law.

Russia says it has taken over six settlements in the Donetsk region, including an area with the largest thermal power plant in Europe. Ukraine

says that Russia has made limited gains in the region, that they have been able to fight off its advances around the key city of Bakhmut.

The first shipment of Ukrainian grain to leave the country since the Russian vision has arrived in Turkey. The ship anchored in the Istanbul

port late Tuesday, after being delayed by bad weather. It is carrying 27,000 tons of corn. After inspection, it will head to Lebanon.

The impact that the war in Ukraine is being keenly felt in Bulgaria, where inflation is soaring, and there are issues around energy supply after

Russia cut off energy gas exports. A new caretaker government has been sworn in, one promising to tackle these issues as a priority.

The government will stay in charge until new elections which are set for October. The Bulgarian prime minister says that there is not a moment to



GALAB DONEV, BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Today is the inauguration of the 100th government other Republic of Bulgaria. The 100th

government is not going to have 100 days of tolerance. The difficult task is to search for solutions to the inherited crises that fall on us, without

having the mechanisms of a working national assembly and parliament.


NOBILO: Thank you for watching. That was THE GLOBAL BRIEF.

"WORLD SPORT" is up next.