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Iran's new president-elect delivers a speech; Interview with Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL); South Africa's President: Africa Now Understands Vaccines Are Simply Not Coming. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired June 22, 2021 - 11:00   ET



BECKY ANDERSON, CNNI HOST: This hour Iran's new president-elect delivers a speech, his first since winning the election. Right now Ebrahim Raisi is

addressing the people he will soon lead as president.

It's his first speech since winning the Iranian presidency this weekend. Turnout in that election was the lowest since the 1979 Revolution. And all

the serious rivals were barred from running against him. Nonetheless, he is the one giving this address on the holy city of Mashhad.

A hard line cleric has made his stance on a major issue. He'll have to address the nuclear accord, of course. And he is demanding the U.S. return

to the deal and lift its punishing economic sanctions on Iran.

He will likely touch on that today, but we may also get a clear idea on how Raisi plans to govern at what is a critical juncture for Iran. Well, Fred

Pleitgen is there in Mashhad and he is listening to this address. What can we expect?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Becky. You're absolutely right. I am right in the middle of this gigantic crowd (INAUDIBLE) Ebrahim Raisi. You

can see him there on the stage. I think he hit the stage about 10, maybe 15 minutes ago.

So far he's talking a lot of religious things. This is of course a very important day here in Mashhad here; in the Shrine of Imam Reza is the

celebration of the birth of Imam Reza. And of course he is right now trying to galvanize those religious followers of which he has so many.

So essentially what we can expect is a lot of that. It's really interesting because so many of the people we've spoke to here inside the shrine, and

there are tens of thousands who are in here right now, all of them have said they want Iran to move into a more religious direction.

Now of course, he did mention at the beginning of the broadcast that the turnout in the election was very low and that certainly seems to be the

case because so many moderates stayed at home. But the folks that you're seeing on the screen right now, the religious folks, the conservative

folks, they are the people who came and voted in this election and they of course are the followers of Ebrahim Raisi.

So there are a lot of things where he is most probably going to talk about moving the country into a more conservative direction. He's going to talk a

lot about fighting corruption. That's, of course, one of the big ticket issues that he's inside the -- for the election.

And then of course improving economy of the country. That's really the big issue that almost everybody here can agree on is the most important issue.

Of course Iran is still very much suffering under those crippling sanctions from the Trump administration. It's also the big point where he differs

very much from Hassan Rouhani who, of course, right now is still in office.

Hassan Rouhani for a very long time tried to attract foreign investments here into Iran. However, Ebrahim Raisi said that didn't work also because

of the sanctions. And so he wants to make the economy more self sufficient, as they put it, a resistant economy.

Of course, he has already said that he is going to have an extremely tough line towards the United States, will not meet with President Biden

categorically and also says any sort of expansion of the Iran nuclear agreement is something that's completely off the cards, for instance

dealing with Iran's missile program as well.

So you can see a tough line towards the United States, a hard line, a conservative line, and of course, as you can see right now, the big

supporters of Ebrahim Raisi are the very religious people here in Iran, of course which there are so many.

And I think one last thing that was really important to point out is that with the election of Ebrahim Raisi, what you have in Iran right now is a

president and an incoming administration or president-elect and incoming administration that is almost 100 percent or maybe even 100 percent in line

with the thinking of the supreme leader of this country, of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Again, exactly the same thing, hard line towards the United States and then also moving the country into a more conservative direction at least

politically, Becky.

ANDERSON: Is there any surprise in what we are seeing and hearing?

PLEITGEN: Is there any what, sorry?

ANDERSON: Surprise.

PLEITGEN: I don't think that there's much of a surprise. I'll tell you what; there is not much of a surprise from here. The fundamentals of

domestic politics that Ebrahim Raisi is talking about. He's always talking about fighting corruption.

He does also have some credentials from when he was head of the judiciary crime force (ph) and he took off (ph) against some of the powerful banks

here in this country and genuinely (ph) also trying to fight corruption as well.


I think one of the things for international observers that has been a big surprise since we first heard from Ebrahim Raisi, which was yesterday in

the press conference, which we do believe we're going to hear again today; is that the Raisi administration, the incoming administration, they do seem

to have a very clear idea of how they want to formulate their foreign policy.

They call it active and dynamic. They say despite the fact that Iran, of course, has all these economic problems, they want to have this country be

a major factor in the region, possibly one of the largest factors in the region. He has said he wants to continue those negotiations with Saudi

Arabia despite the fact he criticized Saudi Arabia for what he's seeing in Yemen right now.

He obviously said he will not meet with the United States but they do say that for instance in Iraq, in Syria, in Yemen and all these other places,

Iran will have a dynamic foreign policy; which of course, we also always have to keep in mind does not just seen (ph) diplomacy but has always had a

military element to it as well.

Of course we're talking about the revolutionary guard Quds Force, which has been so important for Iran in places like Syria, in places like Iraq as

well. And we do know that Ebrahim Raisi is very close to that power center. He's very close to the powerful revolutionary guard and, of course, the

all-powerful clergy as well.

So a lot of what we're hearing right now, to us, is certainly somewhat remarkable that they would have such a clear idea of the foreign policy.

That is clearly something that has been worked out in the power structure of the country for quite a while before the election took place, Becky.

ANDERSON: Fred Pleitgen is in Mashhad, the holy city of Mashhad, listening to the first speech by the now president-elect of Iran, a president-elect

who won an election in a historically low turnout. But he is the president- elect, and he is making that speech as we speak. Thank you, Fred.

While Raisi wants to see the U.S. return to the nuclear deal, some people in America don't, not least many members of Congress. Senator Rick Scott,

the former governor of Florida, released a statement calling on President Biden to refuse to sign up.

He said, and I quote, "Dangerous regimes around the world are taking advantage of President Biden's appeasement tactics. Iran is our adversary

and cannot be trusted. Now Iran's president-elect, who is known for mass executions, is trying to take advantage of Biden's weaknesses. We can't

allow it," he says.

Well, Senator Scott joining us now from Washington, D.C. and it's good to have you with us. While Joe Biden wants back in along with Iran, he hasn't

rushed this. And his team have said sanctions relief won't come for free. You are calling that approach appeasement.

Are Republicans willing to work with President Biden on this issue, or will they just criticize any and all attempts to get Iran back into nuclear


SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): Well, I think all of us would love to work with an Iran that was part of the world order that wasn't the biggest state sponsor

of terrorism in the world, that wasn't supporting Hamas when it's shooting rockets into Israel, that's not developing nuclear weapons.

Iran's not our friend. I mean they're -- they're clearly an adversary. They -- you know they chant death to America. They want to wipe the Jews off the

face of the earth. It's pretty hard to do -- to do something with somebody that has that background. And they just elected a mass murderer.

So I think it's important that the president doesn't -- I think President Biden needs to say, I'm not going to lift the sanctions unless you change

who you are. You can't continue down the path you're going down, that doesn't make any sense. You can't get back into a deal with somebody that

doesn't want to change.

ANDERSON: Iran is closer now to having nuclear weapons than it ever was when it was part of the JCPOA. The Trump administration's maximum pressure

strategy has many people believe only embolden the hardliners in Tehran. There are many who argue that the Trump administration's policy paved the

way for Raisi's elections.

Sanctions aren't curbing Iran's regional activities or its nuclear program. So if not the JCPOA, what do you see as the most effective way to contain

Iran's nuclear and regional ambitions?

SCOTT: I think number one is we have got to talk about it. We've got to call them out for what they're doing. We've got to call them what they are.

They're the biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world. We've got every time that Hamas does something or Hezbollah does something, I've got

to say, this is all being directed or being funded by Iran.


We've got to be very clear with Iran, you wanted to become part of the world order, you're going to -- you can't do it without -- without

changing. And so we've got to keep the sanctions, and we cannot do it entering into a bad deal. I mean you just can't do that. You've got to

stand up for what we believe in and stand up for our ally Israel.

ANDERSON: OK. Which does nod to the question, so what -- if not the JCPOA, what next? Let me put this to you; there are signs that the Iranian economy

may have turned a corner despite these crippling U.S. sanctions. Things are very, very tough though.

All experts to China have reportedly returned to pre-Trump levels. Iran's central bank has reported two consecutive quarters of growth. It's the

Iranian people who are bearing the brunt of maximum pressure, many of whom remain voiceless. The Trump administration insisted that it wasn't the

Iranian people they wanted to penalize, but it is the people of Iran who are suffering.

So I just wonder, do you still believe U.S. sanctions are capable of punishing the regime, the hardliners, those that you are accusing of being

at the worst mass murderers, terrorists around the world, and not the Iranian people? How -- how do you work that narrative? How do you work that


SCOTT: Well, your heart goes out to the people of Iran. Your heart goes out to people around the world that live under oppressive regimes. But that

doesn't mean you help those oppressive regimes when they're going to go off and do bad things. You can't help the Iranian regime when you know that

money they're going to make will go to help Hamas.

And you can't be sending them dollars that you know are going to be sent to Hezbollah. You can't do that. You can't help them continue to build their

military. So unfortunately, I mean it's horrible what's happening to the families of Iran because they have such a horrible government. But that

doesn't mean the United States should be supporting a government in Iran that's going to do bad things.

ANDERSON: Well, in order to rejoin the JCPOA, the nuclear accord, Joe Biden will need the support of Congress in lifting key sanctions on Iran.

And the Iranians have said all sanctions or no compliance. Is there any kind of renegotiated deal that could convince Republicans and some nay-

sayers on the Democratic side to vote with the president to get back in?

I know the details aren't clear as of yet, but I guess the bottom line is Joe Biden going to get the support he needs in Congress to get back into

this deal?

SCOTT: I don't think there will be support in Congress to get back in this deal unless work (ph) is clear; Iran is not going to develop a nuclear

weapon. That's number one. And number two, Iran is going to be -- is going to stop being the biggest state sponsor -- being a state sponsor of

terrorism at all.

And so if Iran doesn't want to change, then there's -- there will be no deal. It's up to Iran. It's not -- it's not -- we can't make Iran change.

It's Iran's decision not to be a legitimate government. They're the ones that we can never legitimize by doing something with them. They're the ones

doing the state sponsor of terrorism. They're the ones that have created -- done mass executions in their own country.

ANDERSON: So, sir, the problem here is this, isn't it, that the Iranians are absolutely determined that they will only negotiate on -- and they say

they won't even negotiate -- but they are only interested in the JCPOA, which didn't ever include its ballistic missile program nor it's people in

this region, and I'm here in the Gulf in Abu Dhabi; describe as Iran's malign behavior around this region, which they see as regionally


The problem is none of that is on the table. So if Joe Biden goes back with a deal which is specifically JCPOA nuclear related, you are telling us, are

you, that he will not get support in Congress?

SCOTT: I don't believe he'll get support in Congress because it's not just about a nuclear Iran. It's also an Iran -- what we found was it's an Iran

that continues to be a state sponsor of terrorism.

I think people were naive when they entered into it -- when Obama entered into before that they wouldn't not continue to be a state sponsor of

terrorism and they were. So I think -- I think it's clear who they -- who - - what the government of Iran is. And I think they're going to have to change their ways or there will be no deal.

ANDERSON: A 2016 study by the national Iranian American Council found that from 1995 to 2014, the U.S. sacrificed something between 203 and $272

billion in potential export revenue to Iran because of sanctions.


And this was back in 2016. It also found that much of that trade would have benefitted red states because they found the agricultural products Iran

needs. And I'm talking about corn, for example, which is Iran's main agricultural import.

Considering the Iranian market could have or hold huge benefits for Americans, is there a purely economic argument to be made for reengagement?

SCOTT: I think -- I think the United States has to be the beacon of democracy, the beacon of freedom, the beacon of hope. You don't do that by

-- by entering into agreements with mass murderers. You don't do it by entering into agreements with people that want to sponsor terrorism.

So I believe that America needs to be the beacon of a country that says to itself we are always going to stand for human rights. We're going to always

stand for peace and democracy. We're not going to legitimize governments that do dastardly things to their own citizens and sponsor terrorism around

the world.

ANDERSON: With that we're going to leave it there. We thank you very much indeed for joining us.

SCOTT: Thank you.

ANDERSON: Coming up, a preview of what the U.S. president may say to the Afghan leader at the White House this week as U.S. leaves Afghanistan for

good and the Taliban gains more ground.

And the WHO is teaming up with South Africa to make more COVID vaccine doses. Who's praising the move, and who is criticizing it is up next. Plus

Cuba doubting the efficacy of its home grown vaccines. A live report from Havana for you this hour.


ANDERSON: Welcome back. You're watching "Connect the World." I'm Becky Anderson. About 10 percent of the world's population, more than 782 million

people are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. That's according to our world data.

Distributing vaccines around the globe should be an effort that connects us all. But it's one that is dividing the globe like never before. To tackle

vaccine inequality in Africa, the World Health Organization and its COVAX program are teaming up with the new consortium in South Africa to make

vaccines in that country.

South Africa's president says Africa now understands vaccines made elsewhere are simply not coming. They are not on their way. The WHO chief

announced a new collaboration a few hours ago.


TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, WHO: Today I'm delighted to announce that WHO is in discussions with a consortium of companies to

establish a technology transfer hub in South Africa.

CYRIL RAMAPHOSA, SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT: It's been shown now that we just cannot continue to rely on vaccines that are made outside of Africa because

they never come. They never arrive on time. And people continue to die.



ANDERSON: CNN's David McKenzie connecting us tonight from Johannesburg. And you were at that press conference, virtually, of course. Just explain

the details, if you will, on what this means for not just South Africa but indeed the wider African continent.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think in the long and medium term, it could be really important. What it is, Becky, is this technology transfer

hub. And specifically it's around the messenger RNA technology that is famously behind the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that have been so effective

in preventing COVID-19 infections.

Now it's a collaboration between South African companies and universities and hopefully biopharmaceutical companies from around the world to share

technology and know-how and even manufacturing capability to allow in the next 9 to 12 months potentially for these types of vaccines to be

manufactured here in South Africa. So, it's a positive step but as we've been talking about, the need for the vaccine is right now. Becky?

ANDERSON: Yes. You're absolutely right. Regional hubs are not, let's be clear, the short-term fix. The sharing of doses is. And not nearly enough

of that is being done by the rich world, nor, David, are we seeing concerted support for another important tool.

While the U.S. has conceded it will support a waiver of IPs, the E.U., on the other hand, has tabled a proposal to look into freeing up the supply

chain for manufacturing. They certainly are not supporting IP waivers as of yet. I spoke to the director general of the WTO. Have a listen to what she

had to say to the E.U.


NGOZI OKONJO-IWEALA, DIRECTOR-GENEARL, WHO: My message to them is let's please work with the other members so that we can come to agreement on how

we are going to work -- work with the issue of technology transfer and IP.

We need all three aspects in order for us to boost supplies globally. And if we can get quickly to the negotiating table, not just the European Union

but also all the other members who have questions about how we should go about this issue about the (ph) technology transfer. I just urge everyone

to negotiate text (ph).


ANDERSON: And she told me vaccine policy is economic policy. Vaccine policy is trade policy. David, she said, vaccine inequality is simply


MCKENZIE: It's unacceptable but it's the reality that we face certainly here on the African continent. Several countries, including South Africa,

are in the midst of a very dramatic wave of COVID infections.

Here in South Africa, in Johannesburg, you know, you see the city behind me, there is -- right in that shot, there's a general hospital that is

dealing with many, many COVID patients, overwhelmed, a lack of oxygen at times and really strained with this dramatic third wave.

At this press conference, I put the question to the head of the emergency section of the WHO what needs to be done, and what are the failings of this

global inequity?


DR. MIKE RYAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WHO HEALTH EMERGENCIES PRGRAMME: We have a very, very short window of time to get our most vulnerable

protected. And we haven't done it. We have not used the vaccines available globally to provide global protection to the most vulnerable.

And as Bruce (ph) said, when you ask countries the question, they say, well, we are going to vaccinate according to our priorities. And our

priorities are our own citizens. And that's fair enough. But there is a huge number of people globally who still remain susceptible to severe

disease and potential death from this virus.


MCKENZIE: That severe disease is still ripping through countries in Africa, and the vaccines are still in short supply. Speed and volume is

what's needed right now. Becky?

ANDERSON: David McKenzie is in Johannesburg for you. Thank you, David.

Well, Cuba says its home-grown COVID vaccines are highly effective. Scientists celebrating off the island nation saying its three-dose Abdala

vaccine has an efficacy of more than 92 percent, while another vaccine home produced is 62 percent effective after two shots.

Now Cuba is the first country in Latin America to have two vaccines that have reached stage three trials. The country reports 169,000 COVID-19 cases

and more than 1,100 deaths.


CNN's Patrick Oppmann connecting us tonight from Havana. This is one of two vaccines that Cuba's producing. What do we know about these vaccines?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, this was really a gamble for Cuba to decide not to import any vaccines, not to compete with

other countries to import vaccines. They said simply they couldn't afford and try to develop their own vaccine, something they have a lot of

experience with.

And it appears that gamble has paid off. You can forgive those scientists for being very enthusiastic last night because there really was no plan B.

But the first vaccine that was produced and -- and reached the final stage three trials, Soberan, that means sovereignty, that is a 62 percent degree

of efficacy after two shots.

They're still studying what the efficacy will be after three shots. And that vaccine is already being widely used in Iran. So there are other

countries using these vaccines as we speak. And then last night the news that Abdala, a vaccine that is named after a poem written by a Cuban

patriot, Jose Marti, had this really outstanding efficacy.

That -- that is really what they are hoping for. And even though we've seen numbers rising in Cuba, we actually had a record number of cases yesterday

in Havana where they've been widely administering these vaccines, particularly Abdala, which has that 92 percent efficacy according to Cuban


We have seen numbers dropping in the last several weeks, so this is a further sign that these vaccines work, that they work well. Now the

question is producing more of them and getting them in people's arms in Cuba and outside of Cuba.

ANDERSON: Yes, and outside of Cuba as you rightly suggest. And I'm sure our viewers will be interested to hear that this is a vaccine that is being

used in Iran, for example, where there's much need for vaccines at present.

Many of our viewers will be wondering how what is a cash strapped island managed to pull this off. You visited the center where one of these

vaccines was produced. Just remind our viewers what was going on and what - - what that was like.

OPPMANN: You know, it's a great question because you go into the average Cuban pharmacy these days and there's not much to buy. This is an island

that has sanctions, that is a communist-run economy, not run particularly well a lot of the times.

But you go into these centers, which I had the opportunity to do. And these are first world production centers. There are no power outages. There are

no shortages. And we're able to talk to some of the scientists who spent the last year trying to essentially pull off something of a miracle here.

And now they feel they have.



OPPMANN (voiceover): Health officials tell CNN they don't expect to know the exact efficacy of the two most advanced vaccine candidates until June,

but they say they can't afford to wait any longer to administer the only medicine they have to stem the spread of the virus.

We are moving up the mass vaccination by a month, approximately, in certain adverse populations, he says, fundamentally based on the evidence we have

of security and the immune response generated by our vaccine candidates.

Cuba has decades of experience in vaccine making and mobilizing their own population. Cuba had a late start to vaccinations but officials say they

are now making up for that lost time, bringing the full weight of the state's resources to bear here. So the majority of this island, some 70

percent of all Cubans are vaccinated by September.


OPPMANN (on screen): And that is really the challenge now is getting these vaccinations into people. Not only producing them but even getting the

syringes, something Cuba has run out of in recent weeks and has asked countries to donate them.

So while Cuba has managed to create a cutting-edge -- produce a cutting- edge vaccine, still so many steps here before enough Cubans are vaccinated and before they convince people who have doubts, perhaps, in other

countries that Cuba has really pulled this off that this is good as any other vaccine that has been produced. And that is what Cuban scientists are

saying today with some measure of pride.

ANDERSON: Yes, good stuff. Thank you. That's Patrick Oppmann in Havana.

Well, some world leaders will go to any length to any lengths to make sure that their population is vaccinated. Case and point the president of the

Philippines. Rodrigo Duterte is threatening to jail those who refuse the COVID-19 jab.

His country is dealing with more than 1 million cases and 23,000 deaths. Just over 2 million have been fully vaccinated in a country of 110 million



You're watching "Connect the World." I'm Becky Anderson for you out of Abu Dhabi where it's just coming up to half past 7:00 in the evening. Up next,

gaining significant ground in Afghanistan. The Taliban are advancing and the Afghan president heading to the White House this week. A live update on

that just ahead.


ANDERSON: The Taliban advance on Afghanistan or in Afghanistan is gaining momentum. A U.N. envoy says 50 of the countries 370 districts have now

fallen to the militant group. Word of this comes as President Joe Biden prepares to host the president of Afghanistan this Friday at the White


Ashraf Gani's visit coincides with the final U.S. troop pullout from his country, ending America's longest war. I just want to show you how

complicated this story is on the ground. You're looking at a map of Afghanistan. Here's how much land is contested, and here is how much is

controlled by the Taliban. And that leaves only this much for the government.

I just want to take a moment and remind our viewers about what it means to live under Taliban control. CNN has done extensive reporting on this group.

And back in 2019, our chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward, spent 36 hours face-to-face with Taliban members. What was that like?

Here's some of her reporting.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The next morning we're taken to a madrasah or religious school. Under Taliban rule in the

'90s, girls were banned from going to school. But we find boys and girls studying.

Raise your hand if you know how to read. OK. One, two, three. You can read and write? Do you know what you want to be when you grow up? A doctor?

Bravo. What's your favorite subject in school? Math? You're smart.

Teacher, Yar Muhammed (ph) splits his time between the frontlines and the classroom. His AK-47 never leaves his side. The emirate has instructed

education departments to allow education for girls of religious studies, modern studies, science and math he says.


But there's a catch. Once they reach puberty, girls cannot go to school with boys. And the sad reality is that few in rural areas like this see

women's education as a priority.


ANDERSON: That was some of the reporting from CNN's chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward. In London, CNN's Nic Robertson is standing by

to connect us to the very latest then on the ground. That was reporting from Clarissa, of course, back in 2019.

Today, Deborah Lyons, who is the special U.N. special envoy on Afghanistan said the following, Nic, to the U.N. Security Council. Have a listen.


DEBORAH LYONS, U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY ON AFGHANISTAN: The Taliban's recent advances are even more significant and are, are as a result of an

intensified military campaign. More than 50 of Afghanistan's 370 districts have fallen since the beginning of May.

Most districts have been -- that have been taken surround provincial capitals, suggesting that the Taliban are positioning themselves to try and

take these capitals once foreign forces are fully withdrawn.


ANDERSON: Nic, just how significant are these latest moves and what are the consequences?

NIC ROBERSTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, I think to get the U.N.'s read on it there on that explanation is very significant indeed.

There were Taliban fighters posting selfies from the gates of Mazar-i- Shariff, the country's fourth largest city, the provincial capital and bell in the north, the largest city in the north.

And the Taliban with -- a Taliban fighter with a gun over his shoulder shooting a selfie and nobody stopping him and, you know, extolling the

virtues of the Taliban. We know there was a gun fight at the gates of Kunduz, the provincial capital of -- of Kunduz province, not far away from

Mazar-i-Shariff in the north. So these are very concerning incidents. They will be destabilizing for the central government. They will be unnerving

for the population. They will tend to drive the country towards, you know, losing faith in the Afghan military.

Some of the videos that we've recently been able to see that the Taliban fighter have been posting, we can't independently verify them and Afghan

officials can't independently verify them either. But they do admit to some of the losses that we're seeing here in these videos.

And they show that in some cases the Afghan army isn't even standing up and fighting -- fighting the Taliban. They're literally handing over their

weapons. So I think when you take all of that in this context, this is a very worrying picture of what's happening in Afghanistan right now as U.S.

forces and other NATO forces withdraw.

ANDERSON: As a consequence of what happened in America on September the 11, 2001, the U.S. and its allies went into Afghanistan. They went after

the Al-Qaeda group, which of course was being harbored by the Taliban.

Twenty years later the irony will not be lost on our viewers, Nic, that the U.S. has promised to pull out the last of its troops by September the 11,

2021. That would be the 20-year anniversary of this conflict. What, if anything, has been achieved?

ROBERTSON: Well, Becky, I was in Afghanistan during the 1990s when the Taliban fought their way to victory. I was in Kabul on September 11th. I

saw how the Taliban reacted. I saw how the population of Afghanistan reacted. I've been there many, many, many times over -- over the decades

and a lot in the past two decades that you're referring to.

I remember at the time when U.S. forces first game into Afghanistan, what Afghans wanted were for the forces coming in to disarm the war lords, to

take away the sort of regionalized, factualized, ethnically divided government or centers of government around the country.

Donald Rumsfeld at the time didn't put in forces like that and -- and essentially, you know, that wasn't possible. He was the U.S. defense

secretary at the time. Subsequently Afghans have watched a government get stood up but have watched its power erode more recently under the Taliban.

And there's a real risk of a drift back, quite a swift drift back to where we were 20 years ago with these regional power centers, war lords providing

security in their different areas, the Taliban controlling vast swaths of the country.


One -- some of the things that have changed, the Taliban would find it very difficult to walk into Kabul today as they did back in 1996 -- September

1996 and take control. The population would -- would more likely rise up against them.

But the reality that stares Afghans in the face is right now. And I remember people in the region telling me this at the time in 2001. If U.S.

forces come in here, it will be the same thing that happened to Russian forces when they came into Afghanistan. They will leave without making

significant change, potentially making the situation worse for Afghans.

It's -- it is ironic, as you say, 20 years later stability still hasn't been provided after all the money spent and all the many international

soldiers who have lost their lives, whose families have suffered, whose families suffered today, the afghans who have lost their lives, all that

suffering, the soldiers, international soldiers who were named because of their commitment to trying to making a better Afghanistan. Where we stand

today, it doesn't seem -- it feels in a very shaky place.

ANDERSON: Nic Robertson who has, as he was just recounting, an enormous amount of experience as a reporter covering the story of Afghanistan both

before 2001 and subsequent to the Twin Towers coming down. Thank you, Nic.

We want to show a story about the legacy of war in places like (ph) Afghanistan now. And clinging to aspect of conflict that is rarely spoken

about, burn pits have been used by the U.S. military for years as a way to dispose of everything from used medical supplies to IED-damaged vehicles.

The practice may have serious medical side effects. And one veteran is now sounding the alarm. My colleague Brianna Keilar has his story.


STAFF SGT. WESLEY BLACK, U.S COMBAT VETERAN WITH A STAGE FOUR CANCER: These are memorial bracelets of all of my friends; Steve Delusio (ph) and

Tristan Southworth (ph) were killed in Afghanistan on the same day. And Steve (ph) actually died in my arms.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You probably can't tell my looking at him, but retired Staff Sergeant Wesley Black, 35 years old, is

about to die himself.

BLACK: I could be dead tomorrow. I could live another six months. No one - - no one knows. It really all just depends on how my body responds to the oral chemotherapy and just how much more I can squeeze out of the -- out of

the stone.

KEILAR: Wes has terminal colon cancer. After surviving combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan with the Vermont National Guard, receiving a Purple

Heart, its smoldering trash from massive burn pits on U.S. bases, sometimes acres in size that will kill him.

BLACK: Soldiers tend to generate a lot of crash. Metals, plastics, electronics, medical waste, you know, uniforms. Anything and everything

that can be burned was thrown into these, you know, the trash dump, and then coated in diesel fuel and lit on fire.

KEILAR: In eastern Afghanistan, Black says the burn pit on the combat outpost where he served was located just 150 feet from the front gate.

BLACK: If you were the poor sucker standing gate guard when that -- when that burn pit was lit and the wind was blowing it into the -- into the main

gate, I mean you would be standing in the smoke for upwards of 8 to 12 hours a day.

KEILAR: Just breathing it in?

BLACK: Just breathing it in.

KEILAR: Just one of at least of 230 burn pits used in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to a recent survey by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans

of America, 86 percent of vets from the two wars report exposure to burn pits. Almost 9 in 10 of those think they have related symptoms.

BLACK: I thought I was on easy street. You know I was -- I was ready to chase my wife and son around.

KEILAR: He and his wife had just had a baby and bought a house. Wes was beginning a career as a firefighter in their quiet Vermont town. Now after

years of symptoms and a diagnosis from an outside oncologist that linked his cancer to burn pits, they're planning his funeral.

BLACK: My wife and I had to go to the funeral home and -- and do the arrangements.

KEILAR: As the post-9/11 war comes to an end in the coming months, burn pit exposure threatens to kill more veterans than combat did. And concerns

about their plight extend all the way to the White House, where President Joe Biden, as a candidate, pointed to burn pits as the likely cause of his

son Beau's death from cancer in 2015.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: He volunteered -- he joined the National Guard at age 32 because he thought he had an obligation to go. Because of his

exposure to burn pits, in my view, can't prove it yet, he came back with stage four glioblastoma.


KEILAR: President Obama signed the burn pit registry into law so veterans could document their exposure. More than 200,000 have signed up. President

Trump signed a law that in part planned to phase out burn pits and required The Pentagon to pin point where they have been used so the information can

be cross referenced with sick vet.

But the Department of Veterans Affairs has only approved about a fifth of related disability claims for a total of fewer than 3,000 vets. Comedian

turned activist, Jon Stewart, is now urging Congress to protect veterans after helping sick 9/11 first responders secure compensation.

JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: Defense contractors can't view the U.S. Congress as Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory while veterans are back there like Oliver

with a bowl of gruel asking please, sir, may I have some more.

KEILAR: Which is certainly how Wesley Black feels.

BLACK: I'm kind of like the canary in the coal mine. You know I'm screaming my head off trying to raise this issue of awareness; it's too

late for me. But it's not too late for the next veteran that walks down the hall of the VA. We have a chance right now to get ahead of that law. An

ounce of prevention and worth a pound of cure. This was Rowan (ph) when he was first born.

KEILAR: For now, Wesley holds on for his wife and his son.

BLACK: I'm spending time and building -- building memories that I hope in 20 years, you know, he has those memories of me. You know, spending time

with my wife and just telling her every day that I love her.

KEILAR: And he fights one day at a time for them.

BLACK: I'm just a dumb Irish kid from Boston. All I know how to do is fight. And, you know, cancer's going to win, but it's going to be one hell

of a war of attrition.


ANDERSON: We're turning to our top story now; a short time ago Ebrahim Raisi gave his first address to the Iranian people as president-elect. He

told a huge crowd in the holy city of Mashhad that he would stand up for the, quote, dignity of the Iranian nation. Take a listen.


EBRAHIM RAISI, IRANIAN PRESIDENT-ELECT (Translated): When domestic and foreign policy upholding the dignity of these people of our nation and our

people and in no negotiation can we allow the dignity of the Iranian nation to be damaged in our foreign policy and in our engagement with everyone

across the globe. Our foundation will be the safeguarding and increasing of the dignity of the people of Iran.


ANDERSON: Ebrahim Raisi, who is still speaking at the -- what is his first speech after being elected when just in fact; he has just finished his

first speech since he was elected.

Well, coming up, press freedom in Hong Kong. Its national security law was used to justify a police raid on a local tabloid. We'll tell you what the

city's chief executive said the raid was really about.



ANDERSON: Hong Kong's chief executive says that last week's police operation against Apple Daily, the tabloid journalism newspaper, had

nothing to do with journalism. On Thursday hundreds of police officers raided the paper's headquarters and arrested five executives.

Authorities enforcing China's national security law that was imposed on Hong Kong last June. As Ivan Watson tells us, the anti-Beijing paper says

it may be forced to shut down for good.


IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hong Kong's provocative tabloid, Apple Daily, a symbol of the city's embattled free press. As that

freedom shrinks, the newspaper is reporting its own days may be numbered.

UNKNOWN: What is being said around the newsroom? What are people saying about what's going on?

UNKNOWN: Everybody (ph) are a little bit unhappy, sad. But we are still working as normal.

WATSON: Last week at live streams to Facebook as 500 police descended on Apple Daily's news room and declared it a crime scene. Journalistic

materials seized as top editors and executives were arrested. Hong Kong's leaders believe they're a threat to national security, accusing them of

publishing articles that urged foreign governments to impose sanctions on the city's leadership.

CARRIE LAM, HONG KONG CHIEF EXECUTIVE (Translated): Our action is not attacking press freedom just because the suspects are people in charge of a

news outlet.

WATSON: Apple Daily has continually fallen afoul of last year's national security law. Beijing's legislative counterstroke to 2019's fiery summer of

protests in Hong Kong. The law bans sedition, secession, and subversion of the Chinese central government in the city.

BILL HOLSTEIN, OVERSEAS PRESS CLUB: This signifies that the Chinese are determined to impose absolute control over all expression and assembly in

Hong Kong.

WATSON: A true tabloid often home to salacious stories and entertainment and gossip. Apple Daily is now better known for its habitual criticism of

the city's pro-Beijing leadership and it's documentation of the sharp change in the city following the enacting of the national security law.

That first draft of Hong Kong history, including the jailing of editor in chief, Jimmy Lai.

JIMMY LAI, OWNER, APPLE DAILY: It's always the right thing to do is to fight for your freedom because without freedom we have nothing.

WATSON: The maverick media mogul imprisoned as his paper fights for survival. Business assets totaling $2.3 million frozen by the national

security police. The latest chill permeating through Hong Kong where pro- democracy activists and politicians have been thrown in jail and out of the legislature.

Apple Daily looks like the next domino to fall. Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.


ANDERSON: Well, coming up after the break, if you need something to brighten your day, I'm sure you do, we'll be bringing you a whole selection

of animal adventures up next from thieving bears to this inquisitive elephant. You will not want to miss this.



ANDERSON: We want to bring you just a few moments of joy now after what has been a busy two hour of politics and policy here on "Connect the World,"

and what better way to do that than by bringing you animal antics?

First up in the West Bank, a hotel for pets has just opened. The only one of its kind in the region. Named the Pet Palace, furry friends can be

pampered to their heart's content or chill out by the pool before bed. Sounds lovely, doesn't it?

Well, owner George Ghattas says the hotel will provide a much-needed surface for Palestinians when they travel. And in the United States, police

in New Hampshire have finally found the culprit of a series of car break- ins. It's this fellow, a large black bear. It was caught in the act as it clambered into a pickup truck very successfully I have to say, using its

paws to open the front door.

Well, this footage quite clearly seals the deal of the bear's guilt but even without it, the creature wasn't very good at covering up its tracks.

Bear prints were found at the scene of another looting according to the Boston Globe. The burglar bear has yet to be apprehended.

Well, for a much larger intruder, this time in one woman's kitchen in Thailand. The unexpected visitor was a wild Asian elephant who was found in

the middle of the night rummaging through kitchen supplies.

The giant stuck its head through a hole in the wall, one that had been previously made by another elephant earlier in the month. Officials believe

it came to investigate after smelling food.

Well, that would have been quite the rude awakening, wouldn't it? And finally this time, not animal related, but one for any adventurers out

there. A barefoot trail has just opened in the Moscow region of Russia. Visitors walk over pine cones, wade through clay, and even navigate piles

of horse manure all in their bare feet. At three kilometers long, the trail takes around 30 to 50 minutes on average to complete. Thank you for

watching. Good night.