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Connect the World

Democratic Experiment Collapsing in Middle East as some Countries Move Toward Authoritarian Rule; Biden to Meet with Iraqi PM at White House in Coming Hours; Upsets Abound on Day Three of Olympic Games; United Nations: Number of Afghans Killed or Injured on the Rise; China's New Warning to the U.S.; China Blames U.S. for Failed Relationship. Aired 11a- 12p ET

Aired July 26, 2021 - 11:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: A very warm welcome back wherever you are watching you are more than welcome.

We start with big news out of Lebanon today mired in a year-long political stalemate where the government has selected a former prime minister to once

again serve in that post that news coming as we take a deep dive this hour into the collapse of the democratic experiment across the Middle East

region and beyond a presidential power play in Tunisia, the country that sparked the fire of the Arab spring and served as a beacon of hope for many

in the Middle East.

Iraq had a crossroads amid concerns over a move there towards authoritarian rule and Afghanistan where a government weakened by the U.S. led withdrawal

copes with growing Taliban influence.

We have just learned that Najib Mikati has met with Lebanon's leaders and accepted the position as Prime Minister-Designate as when we're going to

start this out. This will be the billionaire's third time to hold the post; Mikati says he has no magic wand.

And he cannot perform miracles, he says. However, he promises the former government and implements a French plan to see Lebanon out of its financial

quagmire, the crux of that plan, enact enough reforms to attract foreign aid.

Let's get you to Beirut and Ben Wedeman who is connecting us to this story. What do you make of this announcement, Ben?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly it is positive in the sense that Lebanon has been in political limbo since August

10 of last year, six days after the Beirut port blast. And so this would promise some sort of path to a government.

Saad al-Hariri for nine months tried to form a government, but because of ego problems because of a squabbles among the politicians he was never able

to. So on the 15th of August, he stepped down as Prime Minister-Designate. Now Najib Mikati has the unenviable task of trying to form a government.

But already, for instance, we've seen the value of the Lebanese lira against the dollar has regained some ground. So there does seem to be a

feeling among many that this is going to happen that he will somehow be able to form a government.

And if he can do that, and if he can actually implement reforms, then fight corruption in the way being demanded by the international community that

might perhaps provide some light at the end of this very dark tunnel.

Lebanon is in keeping in mind that 50 percent more than 50 percent of the population now live under the poverty line. There are extreme shortages of

food, fuel, medicine, electricity, the GDP has fallen more than 40 percent. In less than two years, the situation is dire.

And really Lebanon has just been falling and falling, particularly in the last year since the Beirut port blast. And the politicians have shown no

inclination, no understanding that this country urgently needs the miracles, the magic wand that Najib Mikati says he does not possess.

But they know more time can be wasted to address this country's many and mounting problems, Becky.

ANDERSON: Ben the positive response of the currency markets of course, a reflection of how the international investor sees this news. I wonder

whether you can just explain what makes Harvey's reputation is at home. This is a man who is no stranger to Lebanese politics.

WEDEMAN: He is no stranger to Lebanese politics. He is Lebanon's richest man which with according to Forbes Middle East he has a fortune of more

than $2.5 billion. The richest man in Lebanon coming from Lebanon, porous city, Tripoli, so there is a good deal resentment of resentment,

particularly in Tripoli.


WEDEMAN: But throughout Lebanon, that here is a man who is fabulously wealthy in a country where many people are becoming poor and poor by the

day because of the falling value of the Lebanese Lira. Yes, it's regained a little bit of ground in the last few days, but it's nothing what it used to


And of course he was charged with corruption in 2019, relating to a real estate deal through the housing bank. The housing bank here normally

provides low interest loans to people of limited means not to billionaires. Now, not he denies the charges and was never formally put on trial for


But he likes almost every politician here in Lebanon carries a certain taint of corruption proved or not. They do have that taint, Becky.

ANDERSON: Ben, I'm going to get you to switch gears. Thank you and we will continue to keep an eye on what is going on in Lebanon, of course, with

you. You are also covering another major story out of the region for us. Tunisia's president has sacked the prime minister there and frozen

parliament for 30 days.

He says he's doing it to save a country reeling from a COVID surge and of course, a dire economic situation. This was a country that was meant to be

a beacon of hope for the region after its sparked the Arab spring and then went on to all intents and purposes to be running in what in the western


Certainly, we would see it sort of democratic conventions. What went wrong and what is going on here?

WEDEMAN: What went wrong is certainly the west in particular I'll confessed the media applauded the moves toward democracy, but ignored the fact that

newly democratic Tunisia inherited the considerable debts of the dictatorship of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, like many of the countries in this

part of the world, dictators accumulated massive debts.

And of course, the west insisted those debts be repaid but did very little, for instance, to repatriate all the money stolen by these dictators, so it

got off to a bad start. The economy has been stagnant in Tunisia, for the last 10 years never growing more than just over 1 percent a year.

Inflation has been high, what you have is unemployment, last estimated at 16 percent youth unemployment, unemployment 36 percent. Last year, because

of the COVID pandemic, the economy shrunk by somewhere between seven and 9 percent.

So the plight of your ordinary Tunisian has gotten worse and worse over the last 10 years. And the fact of the matter is, you know, you cannot eat


And therefore when somebody like quayside comes along and says, OK, let's get rid of this messy democracy and try to put Tunisia's house in order.

Many Tunisians despite the possibility of a return of some sort of authoritarian rule are relieved, Becky.

ANDERSON: Ben Wedeman on two stories, but we always appreciate it two very important stories out of the Middle East and wider region for you today.

Thank you. And we saw regional countries reacting to what is going on in Tunisia.

Carter's foreign ministry calling on Tunisia's parties to avoid escalation Turkey says it hopes democratic legitimacy will be swiftly reinstated

keeping an eye on exactly what is going on there for you, as you would expect as to as Tunisia sinks deeper into its political crisis.

Could Iraq now be sliding towards an authoritarian system? Its human rights commission says it is. That is after it was taken over by the country's

parliament. That's not expected to be part of the discussion when the Iraqi Prime Minister sits down with U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House

in Washington in just a few hours.

Their conversation likely to be all about mission changes for U.S. troops in Iraq. The leaders are expected to announce a shift to a strictly

advisory role. Now though U.S. forces there are already mainly advising and assisting the country's military that is what we are expecting to see and

certainly here out of Washington today.


ANDERSON: So how significant will that news be if that is what we hear from these leaders? And what are its consequences CNN's Arwa Damon reporting for

us from neighboring Turkey, Arwa?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, yes, Becky, and when we look at it from the perspective of the Iraqi Prime Minister,

Mustafa al-Kadhimi this most certainly is something that he and those around him did want to see take place. No one wants a repeat of the end of

2011 when Iraq and the U.S. were unable to come to a negotiation.

Although one must also note back then the Obama Administration did not really want to maintain a presence in Iraq with that is what was one of the

key factors that eventually allowed for the groundwork to emerge for the emergence or re-emergence rather of what then the Islamic state of Iraq was

very quickly becoming ISIS.

Now, the Iraqi Prime Minister, though is being quite emphatic in saying and I'm going to quote him here, what we want from the U.S. presence in Iraq is

to support our forces in training and developing their efficiency and capabilities and in security cooperation.

The training of the Iraqi forces is critical to Iraq being able to move forward. Again, going back to Iraq's history, when Isis swept through Mosul

and other parts of the country, it was the Iraqi security forces trained by the U.S. that lay down their weapons and fled in terms of security


This is also critical because when you have a U.S. military presence and country, no matter what you're calling it, they also bring with them,

American intelligence gathering capabilities and other key capabilities as well.

What is going to be interesting to watch unfold is how these Iranian backed militias and any number of parties that have been calling for all U.S.

forces to leave the country how they are going to end up reacting to all of this?

The prime minister is trying to navigate a very complicated and difficult tightrope when it comes to Iraq's relationship on the one hand with the

United States, but also Iraq's relationship with Iran.

ANDERSON: Fascinating Arwa, thank you. Arwa Damon, neighboring Turkey, of course. Well, Jordan has not escaped questions about its governance. If you

remember, just a few months ago, the king's half-brother accused the government of Jordan of mismanagement.

Jordanian officials then turned around and accused former Crown Prince Hamzah of being part of a plot to destabilize the kingdom. In videos

obtained by the BBC Hamzah criticized Jordan's leadership, but he denied the plot allegations.

Well, the King of Jordan sat down for an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria this weekend he was asked about that attempted coup and the

country's stability. Have a listen.


KING ABDULLAH II, JORDAN: When we look at crises all over the world, and I think in this day and age, we tend to look at, at crises as a snapshot,

without really understanding the journey that actually, for example, Jordan has undertaken over the past several years, regional instability wars,

refugees COVID.

And we've had to look at many characters that tend to use people's frustrations and legitimate concerns of challenges that they have in making

their lives better, to really push on their own agendas and ambitions.

So what I think made this so sad that one of the people was my brother who did it in such an amateurish and really disappointing way.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What seems the most startling thing, looking at your part of the world, which is the new government in Israel,

Prime Minister Netanyahu and you had a good relationship but a tough one. The new Prime Minister, however, is somebody Naftali Bennett, who says

explicitly, that he, rules out the idea ever of the Palestinian state.

In fact, he's talked about annexing Israel, annexing the west bank. So how do you look at that new government? And where do you think the prospects

for peace are?

ABDULLAH II: Well, again Fareed, very, we've known each other long enough to know that we always look at the glass half full. And coming to the

United States as I think the first leader from that part of the world it was important to unify messaging because there are a lot of challenges, as

you will know, and we'll probably get into.

So it was important for me not only to meet with the Palestinian leadership after a war, which I did with Abu Mazen, I met the Prime Minister, I met

General Gantz. We really have to get people back to the table.


ABDULLAH II: So under that umbrella of how do we get Israelis and Palestinians to talk, maybe understanding that the challenges that this

government may not be the most ideal government to, in my view, a two state solution, which I think is the only solution.

How can we build the differences between Jordan and Israel, because it has not been good? But more importantly, from my view, is getting the Israelis

and Palestinians engaging again. And I came out of those meetings, feeling very encouraged.

And I think we've seen in the past couple of weeks, not only better understanding between Israel and Jordan, but the voices coming out of both

Israel and Palestine that we need to move forward and reset that relationship.

ZAKARIA: Your majesty what is it been like, meeting with Joe Biden compared to his predecessor, this is a very different president from the one we had


ABDULLAH II: Well, I have fortunately had a very strong relationship with all presidents. And that is because my father taught me that you have to

respect the office of the president, the head of state, and that's not just America. And my discussions have always been fruitful, done in mutual

respect and understanding.

President Biden I have known since I was a young man, visiting the congress with my father when he was a young senator. So this is an old friendship.

And I was just so delighted to see him in the White House. And I don't know what images came out.

But my colleagues that were with me could just see the chemistry there. And my son has known the President and as Joe Biden was the Vice President, my

son used to go and visit him at his house and in his office. So it's a family friendship.

ZAKARIA: Do you expect that you will get a different policy out of Biden, then from?

ABDULLAH II: Well, we've lost a couple years and part of it is obviously been the pandemic. And so there's it's not the issue of a different policy.

It's more of what are the plans that are out there? I mentioned the Syria. But also, when we look at Lebanon at the crisis, they're the people are


Starvation is just around the corner and the hospitals are not working. And a lot of discussions we've had here and I know the Americans are working

with a French, when the bottom does fall out, and it will happen in weeks. What can we do as the international community to step in?

Knowing that whatever plans we come up with, we will fall short of our aims, and we will let people down. So I think it's can we build plans to

sort of move the region into the right direction.


ANDERSON: We have Abdullah speaking to my colleague, Fareed Zakaria, a wide ranging discussion there. Still to come, COVID cases may be exploding in

Japan, but Olympic officials have changed their masks mandate for the Tokyo game is going to tell you what change they made in just a moment.

And we'll take a look at the shifting COVID rules around the globe. We're going to talk about our few recent changes have happened as the world tries

to adapt to this new reality.

And the head of the Pakistani Taliban give CNN an exclusive interview; you will hear what he says about the terror group's gains next door in

Afghanistan. You're watching "Connect the World", I'm Becky Anderson. Stay with us.



ANDERSON: To the games, the Olympics still buzzing about one of the most stunning upsets of these Tokyo 2020 Games. Tunisian Swimmer Ahmed Hafnaoui

was swimming in lane 8, far from the leading contenders but he shot the field to win the 400 meter race. He is just the fourth gold medalist in

Tunisian history, what a result.

Russia scoring a big win in men's gymnastics beating favorite Japan by 1/10 of a point for their first Olympic title since 1996 and officials say they

are changing the way the winners can celebrate victory, athletes will be allowed to take off their masks for up to 30 seconds whilst standing on the


And that should allow photographers so time to take pictures of the winners, smiling faces knowing that shots that we've got but likely some of

those athletes will take advantage of that opportunity going forward my colleague Coy Wire following the action from Tokyo.

You were at the swimming events today; we saw some incredible action there. Just talk to me about the experience and what we've seen today because

there have been some cracking results.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS: Yes, and you know, Becky, no matter how many times I see these Olympic swimmers in the pool in person. It never fails to amaze

me just absolute freaks of nature, especially when you think about all the sacrifice the discipline it takes just to make it here.

But we saw some incredible performances including Adam Peaty, the fastest man ever to compete in breaststroke claiming go to the men's 100 meters

again after winning in Rio five years ago. The 26-year-old Englishman became a double Olympic champ with victory in 57.37 seconds at the aquatic


Peaty has broken the world record Becky on five occasions in this event and was the favorite heading into it but becomes the first British swimmer

successfully defend an Olympic title. Now Katie Ledecky is the most dominant female swimmer of all time already.

The U.S. swimmer potentially winning five gold's at these games, but she was stunned by Ariarne Titmus in the 400 meter freestyle then. Now the

significance of this moment Becky summed up by the reaction of Australia's coach looking like he won the gold medal, Titmus swam the second fastest

time ever behind only Ledecky's world record.

I talked to Katie afterwards and she told me I'm already mentally on to the next race. And I got the sense that this only lit a fire under her she

still has her best events, the 800 and 1500 meter freestyle, and she's also swimming in 200 free as well.

Now, Becky there, aside from the swimming pool, I got to see some other events here as well skating - skateboarding was one of them.

ANDERSON: Terrific, thank you for that. I need to get a wrap of the kind of wider story of the games; it's good to have you. Thank you. Despite

protests running up to the start of these games, it does seem like Japan is really embracing the Olympics.

To all intents and purposes broadcast officials say more than 70 million people in Japan watch the opening ceremonies making it the most watched

event in Japan in a decade. They say more than 80 percent of the country has watched at least some Olympic coverage.

Well, these Olympics are about a lot more than competition on the field of play, of course Selina Wang following that part of the story for you


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky there is growing buzz here in Japan as the residents start to see their heroes' people in Japan winning

gold medals, including the Abe siblings taking gold in judo, as well as Japan taking the first Olympic gold ever in skateboarding.

But when I talked to residents Becky there are still mixed feelings some although they want to watch these games on TV, they are still concerned

about searching COVID-19 cases and are frustrated that the government is urging them to stay at home as a world biggest global sporting event

happens in their own host city.

And Becky when I go to these events, it is just absolutely surreal to see these world class athletes performing in virtually empty stadiums, with no

fans at home or abroad to experience and enjoy this in person Becky to say the least. These games are far from what Japan had dreamed of.



WANG (voice over): A year and a half into the pandemic. It's clear these aren't the Olympics Japan was hoping for. The games were supposed to be the

nation's comeback after decades of economic stagnation and devastation from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster but COVID-19 derailed those dreams.

WANG (on camera): After spending more than $15 billion for the summer games, Japan is projected to lose billions with no economic boost from

foreign tourists. Fans banned from almost every Olympic venue and a subdued opening ceremony at this national stadium that the country spent more than

a billion dollars rebuilding.

WANG (voice over): And now the country along with the IOC plow ahead, ignoring cancellation calls from doctor's sponsors and business leaders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I call it this is like a suicide mission to be very honest.

WANG (voice over): With just barely over 20 percent of Japans' population fully vaccinated. The games have also highlighted Japans' current place in

the pandemic a slow start with vaccine rollout paired with surging cases in Tokyo the host city remaining under a state of emergency during the

entirety of the Olympics.

It's the exact scenario Japan wanted to avoid losing center stage to geopolitical rival China hosted the Winter Olympics just six months after.

DAVID LEHENY, PROFESSOR, WASEDA UNIVERSITY: I absolutely think that the Tokyo Olympics could be a boon for China, especially if they get to

contrast a winter Olympics in which you have a large number of spectators in the stand with a much more quiet in some cases desultory Japanese

Olympics in which there's no one in the stands.

WANG (on camera): How much of a role does fear of losing face to China getting upstaged by China factor into these games going ahead?

LEHENY: If the next Olympics were to be hosted by a country with which Japan out of friendly relationships, then perhaps Japan canceled the

Olympics wouldn't be considered quite as catastrophic.

WANG (voice over): Beijing could bring an entirely different experience than here in Japan stands full of spectators without COVID-19 taking center

stage. China has claimed its draconian measures helped beat COVID-19 and has administered enough doses to fully vaccinate more than 40 percent of

its population of 1.3 billion people.

But the stakes are equally high for Beijing; its global reputation plunged for its initial handling of the pandemic. In a boost to Japan some global

leaders, including U.S. First Lady Jill Biden have attended the Tokyo games but things might be a bit different in a few months with calls to boycott

the Beijing Olympics and criticism if it's authoritarian system, only likely to grow.


WANG: Becky we know that Beijing's alleged mass detention of Uyghur's and other Muslim minorities will cast a cloud over the Winter Games but when it

comes to Tokyo 2020 it still remains to be seen if Japan will be remembered for bringing hope to the world in the middle of a pandemic or if it will be

criticized for putting people's lives at risk. Becky?

ANDERSON: Selina Wang is in Tokyo alongside our colleague Coy Wire. Thank you. Well, stunning new findings out of Afghanistan is the Taliban gain

ground there. The Afghan people are the ones who are losing out, we're going to get you an update on that after this.



ANDERSON: A new United Nations report puts into numbers what many already know once the U.S. moved out; the Taliban's Carnage in Afghanistan began.

The report is in from the UN's Afghanistan mission, and it shows nearly 2400 Afghans were killed or wounded in May or June. That is the highest

number for those months since they began keeping records back in 2009.

Spokesman for both the Afghan military and the Taliban reject the report. The Head of the U.S. Central Command says the number of airstrikes to

support Afghan forces has increased over the last few days. General Kenneth McKenzie says that support will not change, but he predicts the Afghans are

up to the task.


GEN. KENNETH MCKENZIE, COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: I believe that the singular advantage the government of Afghanistan has right now in the fight

they're in is their air force. So we will do everything in our power to keep that Air Force effective flying in in support of their forces.

We spent a lot of time training them now is their moment. Now is the time for that very stern test that I noted earlier they're going to face. I

think they have the resources and the capability to actually conduct that flight and win it.


ANDERSON: Nic Robertson joining us from London with a closer look at the situation in Afghanistan. You heard what he said there. Meantime, a curfew

has been imposed fighting continues. What is the state of play in Afghanistan at present Nic?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Real concern going into the weekend that the Taliban might be making a big push for Kandahar coming

out of the sort of Eid holidays where there have been a slight sort of pause in the fighting.

There's a war of narratives going on at the moment, the Taliban have invited journalists to spin - the border town with Pakistan because they

want to show them that the fact that they've been accused of committing atrocities there are dragging government, you know, people who work for the

government out of their houses and summarily executing them.

They deny that they've taken journalist status to just see that. And the government's position is that Kandahar is hugely important that it mustn't

fall that they know the Taliban won't attack it. You heard General Mackenzie there U.S. has been providing close air support and airstrikes

around Kandahar going into the weekend.

It's not clear right now, whether the Taliban are going to decide to push for it or hold back, it would be a very important gain for them the second

biggest city, their place where they first formed their capital of their Islamic Emirate, you know, back in the 90s.

So it is going to be if there's a fight that contested I think it's really up in the air what happens next there at the moment? But definite concern,

the UN report, as you say, you know, showing this really significant uptick in fighting the Taliban blamed for 40 percent of those killings in the UN


And as you say that they've been pushing back very hard and very clear. The reality is, though, that this support that the United States will give

after August, the 31st, is what's being called over the horizon. A lot of that over horizon support will be technical, logistical, mechanical repair

type support for the Afghan Air Force.

The thought of using from over the horizon U.S airstrikes in Afghanistan is something that concerns the Afghan government, they're not really sure

that that can really work. And, of course, the Afghan government at the moment, really, in that moment that General McKenzie is talking about

trying to figure out if they really can stand up their army push the Taliban back.

The government in Afghanistan, aim at the moment, principle aim is to fight the Taliban to a stalemate because they don't believe the Taliban want to

negotiate at the moment. And the only way they think the Taliban will negotiate a peaceful settlement will be to fight them to a standstill. And

they're not even at like moment yet. That's the big test.

ANDERSON: Let's remind ourselves what General McKenzie said. We heard him say I think they have the resources and the capability to actually conduct

the fight and win it. That is the position certainly, of the General, if not the position of the U.S. government as a whole. We'll see of course.

The Taliban doesn't only control areas in Afghanistan, Nic, of course, but also neighboring Pakistan. You spoke exclusively to the leader there. What

did he tell you?

ROBERTSON: He was looking at what's happening in Afghanistan, seeing the territorial gains were there by the Afghan Taliban there who are, you know,

have exactly the same ideology that he does his viewers.


ROBERTSON: He wants to take control of parts of Pakistan and he believes that Afghan Taliban success in Afghanistan that's going to benefit him.


ROBERTSON (voice over): As Afghanistan's Taliban gaining ground, so Pakistan's Taliban, the TTP take part. In his first ever TV interview their

leader Noor Wali Mehsud answers questions CNN sent him via intermediaries at an undisclosed location near the Afghan/Pakistan border the gun at his

side message of war.

NOOR WALI MEHSUD, LEADER, TEHRIK-I-TALIBAN: The Afghan/Taliban victory is the victory of entire Muslim people. Our relations are based on

brotherhood, sympathy and Islamic principles.

ROBERTSON (voice over): In total, we submitted more than a dozen questions. Mehsud answered them all at times appearing to read from a script, but by

the very nature of the interview, immediate follow up questions when possible. Mehsud's three predecessors were all killed by U.S. drone strikes

for fighting alongside Afghan/Taliban targeting U.S. forces.

Their bloody record includes the 2009 attack that killed nine people, including seven CIA officers and contractors at a base close to the

Pakistan border. And the massacre of 145 people, mostly children in a Pakistan school in 2014.

Mehsud became leader in 2018, and the UN later designated him a global terrorist and added him to the sanction list for his ties to Al Qaeda.

Today, he denies those Al Qaeda links and that his group is still fighting alongside the Afghan/Taliban.

MEHSUD: Our fight is only in Pakistan, and we are at war with the Pakistani security forces. We are firmly hoping to take control of the Pakistani

tribal border regions and make them independent.

ROBERTSON (voice over): But while Pakistan's army has fought a decade's long counter insurgency against the TTP in Pakistan, Pakistan's

Intelligence Service, the ISI and the army have backed the Afghan/Taliban, although they deny it. Now as the Afghan/Taliban win territory blowback for

Pakistan looms.

MICHAEL SEMPLE, PROFESSOR, QUEEN'S UNIVERSITY BELFAST: The risk for Pakistan is that a stronger Afghan/Taliban can actually reduce its

cooperation with the ISI in controlling the TTP, and it's that which empowers the TTP.

ROBERTSON (voice over): The TTP are already demanding Sharia law, curtailing girls' education.

AYESHA SIDDIQA, RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, SOAS SOUTH ASIA INSTITUTE: We would like to implement Sharia in Pakistan, in Pakistan's territories. Already,

there is a lot of fear.

ROBERTSON (voice over): For the past two decades U.S./Pakistan relations have been complicated by Pakistan's alleged dual track approach of support

for the U.S. well covertly backing the Afghan/Taliban. It's a delicate balance, Afghan/Taliban gains threaten.

SEMPLE: The TTP are now banking on an Afghan/Taliban victory. And they are confident that they will be able to continue their fight against Pakistan

in the event of the Taliban taking over in Afghanistan.

SIDDIQA: It's Pakistan, which will be in greater pain than Afghanistan; it will be threatened much more.

ROBERTSON (voice over): From his undisclosed location Mehsud is coy, hinting at the gains that could be coming his way.

MEHSUD: According to the teaching of Islam victory of one Muslim is necessarily helpful for another Muslim but how the victory of

Afghan/Taliban will prove helpful for the Pakistani Taliban. Time will tell.

ROBERTSON (voice over): In the meantime, despite his denials, expectation is Mehsud fighters will keep backing the Afghan/Taliban.


ROBERTSON: And Becky I think it's fair to say all of Afghanistan's neighbors worry about the impact on them from the violence that's

escalating clearly in Afghanistan at the moment, whether it's refugees or spilling over into actual violence that Pakistan has the experience of in

the past.

It is a worrying time because no one not even the Afghan government knows which direction this is going to go in at the moment Becky?

ANDERSON: Fascinating Nic, thank you Our International Diplomatic Editor, Nic Robinson on the show. You're watching "Connect the World". Still ahead,

the rhetoric heats up between China and the United States why Beijing is telling Washington to stop playing with fire?

And from London to Manila, widespread flooding affecting several regions across the globe. Experts are linking it to the climate crisis. We'll have

much more on that after this.



ANDERSON: Well, in Southeast Asia countries struggling to contain what is a devastating third wave of the Coronavirus. Malaysia remains one of the

hardest hit nations right now. On Sunday, the country's health ministry reported a record number of new COVID cases over 17,000. Malaysia has now

surpassed 1 million total cases since the start of the pandemic.

Meantime, Australia's Prime Minister condemning mass protests against new COVID restrictions not comes as the country sees new infections climb.

Here's a closer look at the situation there and in other countries across the Asia-Pacific region for you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): Wreck less and self-defeating that's how Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the thousands of people

who marched in anti-lockdown protests in Sydney over the weekend.

SCOTT MORRISON, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: Millions of Sydneysiders is stay-at-home. They're the ones who are bringing an end to the lockdown

sooner. Not those who are putting themselves at risk those around them at risk, particularly the police at risk. And that was a very selfish act.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (voice over): Morrison says the protesters who police say define social distancing restrictions put in place to try to contain

the highly contagious Delta variant could actually make the lockdown last longer.

Officials in the state of New South Wales say the tough measures are working despite case numbers continuing to rise. The premier says without

them new infections would be through the roof.

That type of surge exactly what the City of Hanoi Capital of Vietnam is also trying to control the number of new confirmed cases in the country on

an almost vertical trajectory over the past few weeks. Some people say a lockdown in Hanoi impose this weekend is long overdue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think authority should have put the city under lockdown earlier because a few days ago I saw many people who were not

abiding by the social distancing regulations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): Indonesia is extending its COVID-19 restrictions by a week though the government says there has been an

improvement in the number of new cases in several provinces in Java. But the number of deaths in the country remains consistently high, surpassing

1500 in one day last week.

The government says it will add more intensive care units to ease the burden in some hospitals. Malaysia to suffering from a rise in new COVID

cases it recently surpassed a total of 1 million infections since the start of the pandemic.

But one bright spot on the horizon hivers once again returning to the peak of Japan's Mount Fuji, which had been off limits due to the Coronavirus for

the past year, climbers are encouraged to maintain social distance and hike in smaller groups.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): But officials hope it is one lifting of restrictions that could lift some spirits.


ANDERSON: Well, leaders across Europe are racing to convince as many people as possible to get a COVID vaccine. It's not just a European story, of

course, but we're concentrating on that.

This hour a British government source telling CNN the UK is considering making proof of vaccine mandatory for events with more than 20,000 people

and that would include events like the Latitude Music Festival over the weekend, the first since England lifted almost all COVID restrictions.

Attendees had to show they had been fully vaccinated or had tested negative. The move comes as France is making health policies mandatory for

entry into large venues there. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz is in London and we are seeing a similar story, of course, across Europe in many countries.

Let's just start though here in the UK and what's going on and get a sense from you of what is going on so far as infections and hospitalizations are

concerned here in the UK? Is it battles as other places do the Delta variant?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely, Becky. I think what the UK government is looking at now is essentially, you're talking about a carrot

and stick approach. They're looking at the stick approach now. So what's under consideration is the British government is in the planning phases of

rolling out a requirement to show that you are vaccinated before you enter an event of 20,000 people or more.

The first place that this could be rolled out that it could happen is at football stadiums, at soccer stadiums during the English Premier League

events that could happen in just a few weeks' time. It's a continuation of a policy that we've seen here already. It's in place that starting

September if you want to go to a nightclub, you're going to have to prove that you are vaccinated but a lot of opposition to this as well.

You can imagine, not only from Prime Minister Boris Johnson's own party, but also of course from the opposition Labour Party take a listen to what

Keir Starmer, the Head of the Party had to say about it today.


KEIR STARMER, LEADER, UK LABOUR PARTY: Possible on the road aren't enough because as we know, sadly, you can be double jabbed and still get the new

variant. So it's got to be passports plus testing. I wouldn't - and that would be for sporting events, et cetera. Depends on what the government

puts on the table.


ABDELAZIZ: Now Starmer went on to also reference the situation that happened with the Health Secretary here Sajid Javid, who was double job but

did test positive for Coronavirus and ended up having to isolate that was just a few days ago, also, the prime minister himself was trained in how to

isolate as well?

So essentially, the opposition Labour Party's argument here is testing is more effective than these vaccine passports, these immunization rules. So

why do this now? Well, you pointed it out the Delta variant, the rise of these variants is of great concern.

The UK is the first and only country to actually lift restrictions fully as infection rates were raising; those are beginning to drop now, largely

because kids aren't in school right now. But the authorities saying this is a way to make sure we keep control of that variants.

Secondly, of course, the UK is as you said, following the suit of many European countries, Italy and France have stricter rules that are going

into place starting next month. You can't go to a bar or a restaurant or a cinema, unless you have some form of immunization proof in Italy and France

a great deal of opposition to that there as well.

In France over the weekend tens of thousands of people took to the streets, accusing the government of curbing civil liberties accusing the government

of limiting their social and personal lives. But let me give you an example of why this does work Becky.

When the French government made this announcement a few days ago about the requirement to prove immunization, just in the 24 hour period after that

rule was announced just in a 24 hour period, you had 1.7 million French people sign up to get the shot. It broke records it almost overwhelmed the

website, "The Apps". That's why the authorities are saying this works.

It protects those who are vaccinated it pushes those who are unvaccinated to go out and get that vaccine and it means that the gains that have been

made so far can be held on to Becky.

ANDERSON: Salam Abdelaziz is on the story for us as we look at the COVID situation across some parts of Europe. Here with "Connect the World" that

is what we do we connect the world on this show. I'm Becky Anderson back after this.



ANDERSON: China has a message for the United States stop playing with fire. The provocative statement came during Monday's meeting in China, between

Deputy U.S. Secretary of State and China's Foreign Minister.

A Foreign Ministry Spokesman said China was dissatisfied with the U.S. tracing the origin of the Coronavirus and meddling in internal issues like

Hong Kong, Taiwan and the South China Sea. The U.S. calls the meeting "Frank and open". David Culver joining us now live from Shanghai with the

details. What more did China have to say about all of this, David?

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A range of issues to cover between the two countries Becky. Chinese officials and the reason the relationship between

the U.S. and China is so frayed really at an all-time low is because of how some in the U.S. view China, again, this is coming from China.

They say in this meeting with the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State and the Vice Foreign Minister, that some of the U.S. look at China as this imagined

enemy. And they stress that this is something that's continuing to bring the relationship between these two countries into an all-time low.

Now in that same meeting, the Deputy Secretary of State was according to sources forceful and direct with her concerns in what she brought to the

table, namely the human rights issues, particularly what we have seen as widespread allegations of human rights issues and abuses in Xinjiang in the

far western region.

She also pointed out the COVID origin concerns and the real issue that the W.H.O. second phase will not be continuing in a ground research type format

right here in China, essentially China shutting the door saying they do not want those investigators coming back.

And they feel like they've cooperated enough. And they've been transparent enough. And of course, another major issue going forward is with the South

China Sea, with cyber-attacks that have played out. So you name it there - there's a lot of ground they have to cover.

And yet this was what was considered to be the first in what could be a long trajectory of talks that could bring us all the way to a Biden/Xi

Summit. Now that has not been formalized just yet. But these talks are crucial in making that happen.

On the periphery of these talks, we're hearing the tough rhetoric. We're hearing what you mentioned there, the Chinese officials telling U.S. to

stop playing with fire. That's not new. We've heard that before. But again, it comes around the really context of this being, I think, increasingly


And so what we now look ahead to our potential discussions at the higher level, maybe there'll be the Secretary of State speaking directly to Wang

Yi the Foreign Minister. But before those talks happen, you have words coming like this, if you take a listen here from Wang Yi, who is likewise,

making it clear that the U.S. should know its place.


WANG YI, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTER: I want to tell the U.S. side that there was never a country that is superior to others. And there shouldn't be one,

and China will not accept any country boasting of its superiority.

If the United States has not learned how to get along with other countries on an equal footing by today, then it is our responsibility together with

the international community to give the United States a good lesson in this regard.


CULVER: Interesting that he puts it as though China working with the international community. What we have seen in recent weeks, Becky, is the

U.S. mainly under the Biden Administration, building this coalition of international leaders in other countries that are likewise putting

increased pressure on Beijing.

And so China finds itself in a very difficult position, quite frankly, especially as you look ahead to major events, like the 2022 Olympics. They

want to make sure that they can shape the global narrative in a way that is going to be increasingly positive for China Becky.


ANDERSON: And certainly the U.S. on the issue of climate change admits it needs China and inside the tent, as it were, we'll see. Thank you, sir.

Well, we are seeing the impact of climate change in different ways around the world. Right now wildfires are burning on the Italian Island of


The EU sending firefighter planes to help put out that blames. Official say the disaster is unprecedented. Hundreds of people have evacuated from their

homes. The flames are being fueled by heat wave and strong winds.

Meanwhile, manmade disasters are worsening the climate crisis just look at this lagoon. It is turned pink. Experts and activists say pollution from a

chemical plant used in fish factories caused this.

The abnormal color appeared last week but residents nearby have long complained about environmental issues surrounding the lagoon. Companies

started dumping their waste into the water after protesters blocked roads to other disposal sites.

Now if you're watching from Norway, you may have been treated to this brief but spectacular display from an unusually large meteor last night.

Everybody just take a look at this. The object lit up the sky in Southern Norway with the Norwegian Meteor Network, saying it traveled at a whopping

15 to 20 kilometers per hour.

Experts say some of it may even have hit Earth about 60 kilometers from the Capital of Oslo but thankfully, no injuries reported. And whilst we

celebrate the first round of medals in the Tokyo Olympics, other competitors in Bosnia were showing off their skills in a slightly different


Some 30 men spent their Sunday taking part in the Old Bridge diving competition in the City of Mostar. Famous bridge at some 26 meters above

Neretva River is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been a host to the prestigious Balkan Competition for 455 years. Certainly not for the faint

hearted. Wherever you're watching us thank you "One World" with Eleni Giokos is up next.