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Pakistan FM Expects Taliban to Announce Government in a Few Days; Biden Faces Backlash for Chaotic, Bloody end to War; Taliban now Face a New Reality, Ruling a Troubled Nation; Last U.S. Troops Leave Kabul, Taliban Declare Victory; Leaders & Delegates from Across Region Gather in Baghdad; Afghan YouTuber Killed in Terror Attack on Kabul Airport. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired August 31, 2021 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN, Abu Dhabi. This is "Connect the World" with Becky Anderson.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: And wherever you are watching in the world, welcome back. This hour as the U.S. closes its chapter in
Afghanistan, Afghans open up a new one. But what will that look like? I'm Becky Anderson. Hello, and welcome to the show.
Nearly 20 years after the terror attacks that prompted the U.S. and its allies to invade Afghanistan. This is how it all ended. This the last
American soldier to leave the country just ahead of the August 31st deadline set by Joe Biden.
The president expected to address the U.S. in just a few hours' time. A quiet departure here is a contrast from the chaos we saw in the days
leading up to this pullout. The U.S. and its allies managed to evacuate more than 123,000 people in total, most of them Afghans. Well the Taliban
declared victory and celebrated in the streets. Take a listen to the group's spokesman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZABIHULLAH MUJAHID, TALIBAN SPOKESMAN: The U.S. aggression was a reckless act from the beginning. We told the U.S. at the same time, they should not
invade our territory. They should have talked to us about the problems that happened in 2001, the 9/11 attacks, and there was no need for war.
Unfortunately, the U.S. officials used arrogance at the time; they did not consider the outcome of their work. And the result was that now they were
defeated and the Afghan people won in the battlefield and liberated their country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, the Taliban also getting a look over the military equipment the Americans left behind at Kabul Airport. With that evacuation now over
many desperate Afghans are trying to get out of the country by foot. CNN's Clarissa Ward is at the border with Pakistan, which has become overwhelmed.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're here at the border crossing that separates Pakistan from Afghanistan. And you can see
behind me a lot of Taliban fighters. They're standing here under the white Taliban flag that is the official flag at this border crossing.
Now, what you're not seeing a lot of if you come over here with me are people getting into Pakistan. This is the line of Afghans who are waiting
to get into Pakistan, but only people who have Pakistani documents, or residency are being allowed in at this stage.
And that has been a rule that's been in place for a few months now, partly because of COVID regulations, partly because Pakistan says it can't cope
with the flow of refugees. Now if you look over here, just behind me, you can see this grouping here of people who are very sick.
I want to draw your attention to a particularly serious looking woman with a young boy; he has some kind of bandages with blood on them on his lap.
And these people are basically appealing to Pakistan for immediate medical attention. Some people have been allowed through to go to hospitals.
But basically, what Pakistan is saying now is we have more than 1 million Afghan refugees, and we simply can't cope with anymore. Clarissa Ward, CNN,
at the Torkham border crossing.
ANDERSON: Nic Robertson is in Islamabad. We'll do more now with Nic on exactly what happens next? Nic, just who are the Taliban these days and
what of the future for Afghanistan?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, the Taliban you know would claim that they are reformed version of their former selves,
which is an ultra-conservative religious group. They say they're going to run the country along Sharia law which prescribes them in many ways.
And perhaps one of the simplest ways to understand how that is going to make their life dealing with the international community and running their
country difficult in the future is how they have a relationship with the IMF, the International Monetary Fund, which is a fundamental for so many
poorer nations like Afghanistan, to get that financial support for their countries.
So the difficulty for the Taliban is the IMF lends money charged interest on it by Taliban's understanding and interpretation of Islamic law they're
not allowed to do any financial transactions that involve in interest payments.
So immediately, you can begin to see how the Taliban's view of how the country should be run clashes with how the rest of the world runs the
world, financial institutions being the forefront of that.
ROBERTSON: The Taliban's other challenges are going to be dealing with ISIS-K, ISIS Khorasan because they are a direct challenge albeit a small
one, but a huge security implications to the Taliban rule.
And the other challenge that they're going to face is dealing with the Pakistani Taliban who was using their soil, an increasing attacks on
Pakistan at the moment. One of the key figures we can expect going forward, though, particularly to be an international face of the Taliban is one of
the people - is the person who led negotiations with the United States Mullah Baradar.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTSON (voice over): The scale of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar's triumphant returns to Afghanistan, just days after the Taliban took Kabul
are a measure of his importance. He is in exile many spent in a Pakistani jail. He has run point in all the Taliban's dealings with the U.S. for
almost three years most recently reportedly meeting face to face with CIA Chief Bill Burns.
In Doha February 2020 it was Baradar, who signed the U.S. troop withdrawal agreement with U.S. Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, as then U.S. Secretary of State
Mike Pompeo locked on. And it was Baradar, who the Taliban had negotiated terms hammered out over more than a year, they would not attack exiting
Baradar was a Taliban original a founding member in the early 90s, and a close friend of its then leader Mullah Omar. The pair fought the Soviet
occupation in the 80s and it was Omar who named him Baradar, meaning brother.
In 2001 Baradar dodged invading U.S. forces hiding out in Pakistan, later captured in 2010 and released by Pakistan in 2018 to lead negotiations with
the U.S. He is in his early 50s and, although not the Taliban's top official, he can expect to remain the international face of the Taliban for
at least the near future.
The Taliban's ultimate authority is Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada Amir Al- Muminin, leader of the faithful, who emerged from the shadows last week of the years in hiding. Baradar has rare experience, face to face dealings
with Western powers.
How much actual influence he'll have, in the day to day running of the country rests in internal Taliban power plays yet to fully emerge? Haqqani
Network Leader Sirajuddin Haqqani and Omar's son Mullah Yaqoob are powerful military forces within the Taliban, both with an eye for leadership roles.
Baradar will know to watch his back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTSON: So what role Baradar actually ends up with what official position he ends up with? We should know over the next few days. Yes, the
expectation, Becky, because we've had a Leadership Council of the Taliban meeting over the last three days in Kandahar.
They're sort of spiritual heartland in Afghanistan, and that will have very likely the expectation is determined, who gets what job in the government
and how many non-Taliban people are in that government and what roles they have Becky?
ANDERSON: And while the U.S. and the West to a certain extent consider their relationship with any Taliban government going forward, what is the
perspective regionally about what happens next and how countries will run this relationship? Starting off you are in of course is Islamabad in
Pakistan? What's the perspective from there?
ROBERTSON: You know, what Islamabad wants to see is a stable, secure Afghanistan, where the economy can prosper, and that will benefit the
economy inside Pakistan. To achieve that, they - it does appear, you know, in the day that the Taliban fell, they were hosting non Taliban members of
- important power factions inside Afghanistan.
So Pakistan is invested in making sure that there is at least some sort of broader based Taliban government that does include non-Taliban members, to
what degree they can have any influence over that. Certainly the Pakistan's Foreign Minister has been traveling the region going to countries that are
neighboring Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, to try to sort of get, you know, regional agreement on how to handle this?
And I think obviously, Pakistan does feel the international message, that there should be concerted joint international action to determine, you
know, the level of pressure and how to apply that pressure on the on the Taliban? And to that point, you know, the German Foreign Minister was in
town having a very senior level meeting today, Becky.
ANDERSON: Yes, fascinating. Well, how the countries in the region carve out a relationship going forward is yet to be seen? One we will keep a very,
very close eye on if you're a regular guests of the show, of course, you will know that we don't see the world through the perspective necessarily,
of Washington or London.
We see it through the perspective of the region and elsewhere. Well, the thousands of Afghans who fear for their lives under Taliban rule evacuated
from Kabul this month are in several countries while they wait for resettlement, including here in the UAE.
This country now hosting nearly 9000 Afghans on a temporary basis among the 40,000 people the UAE assisted while some have had to leave family behind
others have been reunited and are looking forward to a better future.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON (voice over): A moment of sheer relief for this Afghan couple separated from their children during evacuation from Kabul airport 10 days
ago. They're finally reunited in Abu Dhabi.
NOOR, AFGHAN FATHER: I told my children to sit down somewhere. I went to get medical help. I said I'd be back but when I did, my little family was
not there. When I asked around, they told me that they had put them on an airplane already. I got on plane myself, but they were not there.
ANDERSON (voice over): Noor and his wife were originally airlifted to Doha in Qatar, while his two children made it here to Abu Dhabi's humanitarian
city, a temporary haven for many Afghans who have fled their country.
ANDERSON (on camera): Well, a total of nearly 9000 Afghans have been hosted by the UAE, many of whom have been housed here at Emirates Humanitarian
City, and it's groups like these that are being processed on a daily basis, hoping that they will move on from here very quickly to the United States.
ANDERSON (voice over): Among them thousands of women and children, including Baby Sarah, born here in Abu Dhabi just days after her exhausted
family arrived. Her father, Abdel Saber says he is grateful for all the support.
ABDEL SABER, AFGHAN FATHER: Yes, I so appreciate the people because everything is good for her. Facilities better for us in Afghanistan,
everything is good.
ANDERSON (voice over): Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed has pledged that at risk families, especially women and children will be provided with care and
social support while on UAE soil most Afghans here though just desperate to continue their journey. Until a couple of weeks ago, Farhad was an
interpreter for U.S. led coalition forces in Afghanistan.
FARHAD, FORMER AFGHAN INTERPRETER: For me, it's really very difficult to go back in Afghanistan, because I worked more than 17 years with the U.S.
government. I don't want to go back there unless we have a perfect security. And we feel save ourselves.
ANDERSON (on camera): So there are flights every day to the United States. You are just hoping you get on one of those flights very soon.
FARHAD: We hope so.
ANDERSON (voice over): Nor to hopes to move on quickly in the shade and safety of humanitarian city. He isn't dwelling on what happened that day at
Kabul Airport happy only that his back with his kids, relieved to have left the horrors of Afghanistan behind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: There's no doubt the chaotic end to America's longest war and the deaths of 13 U.S. troops in the ISIS-K suicide attack are going to have a
major impact on President Joe Biden's legacy and reputation.
He's been vilified by many Republicans and even some Democrats who normally refrain from saying anything bad about Mr. Biden voicing complaints over
what they call a botched exit strategy.
Mr. Biden will address his nation on Afghanistan in a few hours' time. Well, Stephen Collinson is a good friend of this show has an excellent
analysis piece on cnn.com today, drawing comparisons between Joe Biden and Former President George W. Bush vowing to make terrorists pay.
He writes and I quote, "The similarity reflected the truth that American Presidents for all their nation's power now somewhat drained by an
exhausting two decades long walk and singularly be challenged by terror an asymmetric threat that cannot defeat the United States but can wound it and
threatened to drag it into perpetual conflict".
ANDERSON: Well, Steven Collinson joining me now from Washington. I just want you to expand, Steven, if you will, on the conceit of your argument.
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, I think there was almost a tragic symmetry Becky with the ending of this war. It began 20 years ago
with President George W. Bush vowing vengeance against the terrorists in Afghanistan that will behind the September 11th attacks.
And it ended with President Joe Biden vowing vengeance against the terrorists in Afghanistan, who were responsible for the deaths of those
13,000 - 13 U.S. troops last week, and many, many more Afghan civilians who once again were caught in the crossfire, which is another truism of this
war over the last two decades.
I think what Biden would argue is that he has taken a courageous decision to end that perpetual conflict to keep American troops out of Afghanistan.
And he's vowing this kind of over the horizon attempt to prevent Afghanistan under the Taliban, again, becoming a haven for terrorists.
But as we saw, in recent days, when there were that U.S. attack, which the U.S. military said was to stop a vehicle bomb getting to Kabul, killing an
Afghan civilian family with many young children. It just shows that that kind of attempt by the United States to limit its own losses, and fight
this war on terrorism is not quite as effective as having all those troops there for all the terrible costs of that imposed on American forces over 20
ANDERSON: As you and I taught, we are looking at images of the Taliban parading in one of the hangars at Kabul Airport alongside what is a lot of
U.S. military equipment, which of course was in the hands of the Afghan National Army before they cut their losses and ran.
Stephen because Joe Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump struck an agreement with the Taliban last year to pull out, Biden, of course, has insisted he
had no choice. But to abide by that deal that he inherited, of course, or send tens of thousands of American troops back into Afghanistan, to risk
their lives in a forever war. It was in other words, all in all out correct? There were no other viable alternatives. As far as the Washington
administration is concerned.
COLLINSON: Well, that's true that the U.S. was leaving. And this gets the utter hypocrisy of many of the Republicans who are now criticizing Biden;
they were on board for Donald Trump's deal, which ended up freeing thousands of Taliban prisoners, which was done behind the back of the
Afghan government presumably helping to contribute to its collapse in recent days.
And Biden decided that he was going to go on with that, although he actually delayed the withdrawal date from May the 1st under Trump's deal to
August the 31st. But at the same time to say that everything is Trump's fault, takes away the agency of the current president.
He has been president for seven years. He has reversed many of Donald Trump's foreign policy decisions. Biden's defenders have tried to make this
a question between a better withdrawal and staying forever, right?
So they say if you criticize Biden's withdrawal, you're actually saying that what you want is American troops to be kept in the war for decades and
decades. And that's not quite true. There are really serious questions about how the withdrawal was managed, how did the U.S. end up relying on
the Taliban to secure that airport? How did it not understand that the Afghan government in the state would collapse so quickly?
So there are real questions that need to be asked to the Biden Administration. And then there's this bigger question of whether the
president was right, to end the war, and have the courage in fact, to end the war, which three other presidents before he knew was going nowhere, but
didn't pull out U.S. troops?
ANDERSON: Yes. And Stephen, I know that you would want me to correct you. Joe Biden's been President for seven months, not seven years.
ANDERSON: Slip of the tongue. Slip of the tongue. I was going to say it will feel to him as if he has been president for seven decades at this
point. I mean, what a long seven months this has been and a very disturbing one, of course, in the last couple of weeks. Stephen, it's always a
pleasure. Thank you very much.
And as I said, it's an excellent analysis piece on cnn.com. Please, folks, read Stephens' work there. We're taking a very short break back after this.
ANDERSON: I want to get you to Brazil folks now were a gang tied hostages to car rubes to use as human shields during armed robberies. You can see it
in these pictures on the top left of the screen before they carried out a series of bank heist say position bombs across the city of Aracatuba in Sao
Paulo State as a distraction. Now the police say three people died in these incidents.
I want to get you to Rafael Romo who's following this story from Mexico City. I mean, this is horrifying stuff. What more do we know at this point?
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Becky it sounds like something out of a movie but it happened in reality. In the video CNN has obtained from
Brazilian authorities is very shocking. It shows innocent civilians strapped to cars. They were tied up by robbers who carried out a series of
deadly bank heist using those civilians as human shields.
This happened in the City of Aracatuba located in Sao Paulo State Brazil. Police a very early Monday morning the robbers first position bombs all
over the city to distract officers so that they could go ahead and rob the banks.
The bombs were detonated and one of them caused serious injury to a man who was tragically both of his feet in the blast according to authorities.
Police say that while this was happening, the criminals hit three different banks, at the same time taken hostage multiple people whom they tied to the
roofs and hoods of 10 cars to be used by them as human shields as you mentioned before.
Altogether three people died including two victims and one suspect there were five other people injured and two suspects were detained by police.
And now listen to this Becky more than 380 police officers were subsequently deployed as part of an operation to catch the more than a
dozen suspects who remain at large.
And the population in Aracatuba as you can imagine, became so afraid that classes were suspended at schools around the city for the day Becky, back
ANDERSON: This is remarkable stuff. Thank you very much indeed for joining us. Well, coming up a look at what's ahead for Afghanistan? We'll speak
with our Senior Correspondent Nick Paton Walsh who is years of reporting from the country. We'll get us some important context to what is today
officially the end of America's longest war?
ANDERSON: With U.S. troops and their allies gone, the Taliban say they have liberated Afghanistan, members of the group today inspecting equipment that
the Americans left at Kabul Airport. The final U.S. forces departed on Monday ending a nearly 20 year presence in the country.
Well, the Taliban in the country, facing a whole new set of challenges now. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has reported extensively on the Afghan war. And now
on the end of it he is today with us from Qatar, where so many of those Afghans who believe their lives are at risk from Taliban rule are
temporarily sheltered of course, Nick.
Let's just talk about the future for this country through the prism of Washington, for example, this is the end of U.S. involvement to all intents
and purposes the military have left. But what are the futures for Afghanistan and for Afghans, the millions of Afghans who remain there,
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes, I mean, it's difficult because I think the most cynical view, you could look at the U.S.
presence there as they essentially came in, and through their fight with the Taliban and the arming of the Afghan army, and the large amounts of
money that were poured into the government there.
They essentially sort of turbocharged the civil war that had been brewing there for a while. But the Taliban's extraordinary victory and how the
other side has simply disappeared have completely collapsed yields this sort of confusing moment that they possibly have a pause in the violence in
which to achieve some sort of governing.
The problem I think the Taliban have is keeping in control their extremists, and kind of brutalism tendencies. So for a long time, we've
heard Taliban messages of moderation. They seem to dissipate occasionally now, but essentially trying to suggest they're not going to drag everyone
back to the sort of medieval world of the 90s that they once governed under.
But they face a fundamental challenge. And U.S. diplomats have always been leaning on the notion that the Taliban are going to need international
help. That remains true. But we haven't really seen whether they are willing to permanently moderate their behavior in order to get that.
The urgent challenge is Taliban are there. They need money from the international community, they need aid, and they have a food crisis looming
immediately. They certainly have a problem with healthcare after COVID. They have banking problems, they have security problems, you name it, and
they're all facing them in reality, right now.
The separate issue they face is whether or not they can get the international community to believe in them enough to actually assist them.
So I think the question immediately arises, can we get the International Airport to function?
I think if they're able to get perhaps the Qataris or the Turkish to work with them for that to occur, then that will certainly show the outside
world they can - there are group that can do business with.
But in the back mind of all international agencies will be the fear that they may suddenly one day resort to the Taliban of old.
WALSH: And then all that assistance has essentially gone to a brutalist regime. Becky?
ANDERSON: Well, Nick, when we refer to the international community, we tend, perhaps wrongly to refer to the U.S. and the West. We've seen China
today urging nations to actively guide and I, I quote, the Chinese authorities help guide the Taliban government going forward, where is their
WALSH: The Taliban government support.
WALSH: I mean, it's, it is certainly anyone would say, historically being rooted in Pakistan. I think China, as you pointed out may at some point
feel that it's better trying to be alongside the Taliban controlling what they do with money, then allowing a member the Afghanistan is China's
direct neighbor than allowing separatist extremist groups possibly in Afghanistan's northeast to foment trouble inside China itself.
But if China were wary, they would note that any aspirant or existence Empire in the past has found its graveyard in Afghanistan, and I'm sure
they're aware of that are getting heavily dragged in there that could be equally problematic for them.
But where was it for a while, I think a moment where people thought Russia was happy to support the Taliban. I think that has changed a lot because
Russia, I think, is hearing alarm bells about extremism returning to its southern kind of former Soviet flank with the Central Asian countries
having potentially some issues with that as well.
So there isn't an obvious immediate overnight series of suitors for the Taliban, they do have appear to have gone quite well with financing in the
past. But it's an - it's a hard road for them ahead without, for example, bodies, like the U.N. willing to fill the country with aid. And that
appears to be why we're still seeing this sort of moderated public face.
ANDERSON: Look, Afghanistan's history, as you rightly point out, littered with failed invasions. I just wonder China's trying to pride itself on sort
of economic interest rather than military interests. And it's sort of - its sort of foreign file, as it were. There is something like a trillion
dollars-worth of minerals of commodity lying behind the surface of Afghanistan.
Do you see the opportunities for countries that are prepared to accept the Taliban government going forward seeing the benefit of that in terms of
financial gain going forward?
WALSH: There's always been a lot of reporting suggesting that there was sort of trillion dollar mineral wealth beneath the surface of Afghanistan,
a lot of its surface during part of the NATO presence there.
One of the generals was pushing that particularly hard. I think some subsequent reporting suggested that maybe there wasn't anything like that
readily available in Afghanistan. I'm pretty wonderful if indeed, Afghanistan, for his people turned out to be some sort of mineral treasure
The problem Afghanistan, essentially, is how that its two main industries for quite some time have been rewards that other nations impose upon it
that cost money that drags a lot of people in, and opium which it sells to other countries, which makes an awful lot of money.
There's wonderful other things available there. Certainly agriculture, the Americans spent billions trying to get refrigerated units on the way to
improve market timings, et cetera, et cetera. But it never really worked, because the other things always got in the way.
And so I think that the big challenge for the Taliban will be to try and reduce violence, if at all possible, despite the fact they may face an
insurgency of their own, both from ISIS and both from the former elements of the government that they kicked out.
But at the same time to try and actually get some sort of industry going that can feed the Afghan people by themselves. It's a phenomenally
beautiful and rich country in terms of its agricultural potential. It's just that it's always had this outside intervention to prevent itself from
ANDERSON: Nick Paton Walsh with insight and analysis at Doha, Qatar for you today, Nick, thank you. America's bloodying chaotic exit led to one of the
largest civilian air lifts in history. By the time the last U.S. military planes left Afghanistan on Monday night, more than 120,000 Americans,
Afghans and allies have been evacuated from Kabul Airport.
But not everyone was able to get out at least hundred Americans civilians and thousands of vulnerable Afghans left behind and are desperate to leave.
Well, it's been a harrowing journey to get out of the country. In the last few weeks, people met with roadblocks and checkpoints as the Taliban took
ANDERSON: But one Afghan interpreter who spent five years working for U.S. Special Forces was able to get out here and others like him feared the
Taliban would execute them for their work helping Americans. Well, Anna Coren shares his story in what is this exclusive report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): His family piled into a taxi with just a bag of belongings. Abdul Rashid Shirzad hope this
was farewell to Kabul's just Kabul streets.
ABDUL RASHID SHIRZAD: We are heading to the airport, hope to make it and survive.
COREN (voice over): The 34 year old former Afghan interpreter knew their chance for escape was slim.
SHIRZAD: That's a Taliban vehicle right there with the white flag.
COREN (voice over): But as the father of three young boys, the alternative was not an option.
SHIRZAD: That's Ali Akbar, that's my wife right there. This is me and this is Ali Abbas and that's Ali Omid right there.
COREN (voice over): Once at the airport, Rashid realized he'd made him stay. His eldest child nearly trampled in a chaotic sea of humanity also
desperate for a way out.
SHIRZAD: That's the marine get right there. There is nowhere to get inside.
COREN (voice over): This was the family's second attempt at the airport within days and as darkness filled reality city.
SHIRZAD: With this crowd, it's impossible.
COREN (voice over): We met Rashid last month in Kabul while doing a story on Afghan interpreters who'd worked with the U.S. military only to be left
behind. A number of them had recently been executed by the Taliban and Rashid among others feel they would also be killed.
Rashid had spent five years working for the U.S. Special Forces. SEAL commanders describing him as a valuable and necessary asset who braved
enemy fire and undoubtedly saved the lives of Americans and Afghans alike.
COREN (on camera): These guys were your American brothers?
SHIRZAD: American brothers. Yes.
COREN (voice over): But at the end of 2013, his contract was terminated after he failed a polygraph test. So when he later applied for SIV to the
United States, his application was automatically denied.
Rashid and I kept in touch after I left Afghanistan. And in a matter of weeks, the country had collapsed and was now under Taliban rule.
SHIRZAD: I don't want to be killed by the Taliban. They're going to get our heads off if they find my location. Please help.
COREN (voice over): CNN evacuated stuff from Kabul with the help of a security team on the ground, working with British paratroopers inside the
airport. The channel established was now an opportunity for Rashid.
COREN (voice over): Before dawn on Sunday 22nd of August Rashid, his family and another nine people were picked up at a location near the airport. They
were driven close to a Taliban checkpoint near the Baron Hotel back gate manned by the British.
SHIRZAD: We are at the back gate of camp Baron. We are so close to the gate. If they just come to that gate, they can see us; they can see us from
COREN (voice over): In less than an hour, British paratroopers let them in.
SHIRZAD: Hey Anna, we're good, we are inside now. Thank you so much.
COREN (voice over): But celebrations were short lived. U.S. Marines would not allow Rashid and his family passed the checkpoint because they did not
have a visa.
SHIRZAD: The Americans ask just for U.S. visa and U.S. passport, that's it.
COREN (voice over): A frantic seven hours ensued as messages and phone calls between London, Hong Kong, Atlanta, Virginia and Kabul were made
coordinating with security on the ground. Once his identity was confirmed, they withdrew.
SHIRZAD: We are at the airport terminal. We made it, we are really excited.
COREN (voice over): For almost two days they waited patiently at the airport, as thousands of fellow Afghans were airlifted to a new light.
SHIRZAD: And other aircraft is about to take off, lots of marines there.
COREN (voice over): Then it was their turn exhausted but happy aboard a C 130 to the U.S. base in Bahrain.
SHIRZAD: We are here in Bahrain.
COREN (voice over): Less than 24 hours later they were on the move again.
SHIRZAD: Somebody knocked our door and they said, packs your stuff up; you've got a flight now. We are so excited. We still don't know where we
are heading to. So hopefully it's U.S.
COREN (voice over): And sure enough, their wish had come true.
SHIRZAD: Our aircraft has landing in D.C. there's Washington, we are this close, and everybody is excited.
COREN (voice over): In the space of four days they were on U.S. soil.
COREN (on camera): How does it feel to be in America?
SHIRZAD: We are so lucky that we are saved. It is beautiful to be here. We were the luckiest people you know.
COREN (voice over): How's it for the military base, Virginia while his SIV is processed, Rashid was reunited with a SEAL team member, who he hadn't
seen for nine years. A second chance at life from an eternally grateful family whose hearts may remain in Afghanistan, but his future now lies a
world away. Anna Coren, CNN, Hong Kong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, if you would like to help some of these Afghan refugees or if for example, you're a veteran troubled by events in Afghanistan do head
to cnn.com/impact. You'll find a list of vetted organizations you can either donate to, or that may be able to help you.
Well a hosting a summit in Baghdad, Iraq tries on a new role for size, regional mediator, we'll look at whether the country has what it takes to
bring its neighbors together.
ANDERSON: Well peaceful Middle East depends on a stable Iraq. That's the thought behind last weekend's Middle East summit in Baghdad. France and
Iraq are hosting the event which included officials from the UAE, from Saudi Arabia and from Iran.
And while there may have been few breakthroughs per se, the fact that so many came to the table together is noteworthy enough. It's a sight rarely
seen in the Middle East regional leaders smiling and posing alongside each other at a corporation summit organized by a rock.
In attendance, leaders of Jordan, Egypt and Qatar along with delegations from Kuwait, Turkey, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Iran, all sitting at the
same table French President Emmanuel Macron, who helped organize the gathering, went so far as to describe it as historic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: Then we managed to get everybody around the table, heads of states and of government ministers so that all these
countries that at times are not speaking to each other anymore can cooperate and new to find solutions together for the region.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: One organizer were quick to play doubt and chances of diplomatic breakthroughs. Scenes like these Iran's new foreign minister casually
chatting with Egypt's President El-Sisi or Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid meeting with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad referring
to him as a brother and friend were clear diplomatic wins for Iraqi leaders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARHAM SALIH, IRAQI PRESIDENT: This is the Iraq that for years has been a headline of war and conflict. This is the Baghdad of today, where leaders
and representatives of the region gathered together to affirm their support for Iraq sovereignty and prosperity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: For years, Iraq has been the place where rivals such as Iran and Saudi Arabia settled scores but now Baghdad wants to emerge as the setting
for diplomacy. Hoping de-escalation across the region can help its own stability and strength at home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MUSTAFA AL-KADHIMI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER: This conference is held at a critical and historic situation that embodies Iraq's vision for
establishing better relations with other countries and our pledge to our people that Iraq will reclaim its leading role in the region.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, my next guest has written extensively about politics. In the Middle East, the wider region, Vali Nasr is a professor at the School
of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, a regular guest; I'm very pleased to say on this show, it's always good to have you.
How significant was this summit to your mind?
VALI NASR, PROFESSOR, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: I think it's significant for the very reasons that you mentioned, at least is an icebreaker between
the region's leaders. It also gave them an opportunity perhaps to meet on the sidelines outside of the purview of the camera, which they don't do
It's also very important to the Iraqi Prime Minister who is going to be facing elections. So this is a big success for him and rises his status at
home. And I also would say that when this summit was planned, Afghanistan had not happened.
So what's happened in the -- in the past two weeks gives this conference a much greater importance, because everybody understands that the U.S. is
leading the region and that they need to take care of their own issues themselves. And so this is a good beginning for them.
ANDERSON: Yes, I'm very pleased you raised that point. Because as you say, as you suggest this summit coming up very pressing time with the U.S.
pulling out of Afghanistan.
I have to say, you know, when I speak to people around this region for some time authorities, leaders, experts, it's been quite clear that people have
realized in the not just in the aftermath of what's happening in Afghanistan, but realize for a very long time that the U.S. doesn't
necessarily have stickability.
I just wonder from your perspective. And as you talk to people around the region, what is the view out of Riyadh, out of Baghdad, out of Beirut, for
example, about where this region goes going forward without America and its forever wars?
NASR: I mean, I don't think people know what the day after the United States leads is, but they're beginning to think that it is a really likely
scenario. I mean, after all, what happened in Afghanistan, is that a determined American president saw through an agreement that his predecessor
had signed with the Taliban.
And they did leave. And now Afghanistan is on its own and it's a problem for the region. And everybody thought that after Afghanistan will be Iraq,
and that still might happen.
So I think there is now a greater concern in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, across the region that they need to move much faster at
creating some rudimentary set of relationships. So the worst doesn't happen.
I don't think there's a plan of action. But the region is going in that direction. And before this summit happened, the Iraqi Prime Minister had
already mediated a set of meetings in Baghdad directly between high level Iranian officials and high level Saudi officials.
So the region is really trying to sort of mend fences as a way of improving relations, which, which then would allow us to have conversations about how
to manage without the United States.
ANDERSON: Yes and we are seeing resets almost on a daily basis. We've seen the Turks reaching out to the UAE, for example, just in the past 24, 48
hours. We've seen the prime minister of the UAE, speaking with the Emir of Qatar, I mean, that wasn't --
NASR: That's right.
ANDERSON: That wasn't conceivable over the past four years during the blockade. Look, I mean, you bring up a really good point, Baghdad has been
mediating between Iran and Saudi for months, there was much hype around even more rapprochement between these two sides of course, during this
We have to discuss whether that actually happened or not. How did you read were that Iran or Riyadh, Tehran relationship went during this Baghdad
NASR: Publicly, we didn't see much movement. I think both were very careful about how they posture in public and particularly the Saudis are sizing up
a new administration in Iran.
There was a little bit of a kerfuffle in Iranian press because the Iranian Foreign Minister during the official photo did not stand next to the Saudi
Foreign Minister, where there was an empty spot, but rather stood with other heads of state in front row, which was a breach of protocol.
NASR: And he claimed that he had nothing to do with Saudi Foreign Minister. He just ended up being there. But it shows the sensitivity around the issue
of how much progress has there been in Iran Saudi relations.
But I think you raised the important point, namely, the very fact that these countries that until recently were at loggerheads that we're, we're
talking negative about each other are actually meeting Qatar with UAE, Iran with Saudi Arabia.
They're agreeing to appear in the same room, which had not happened over a very long time, I think is a very significant step forward. And it just
shows you that the Middle East is taking a future with a less smaller American presence very, very seriously. And I have to also add it's
important that -- thank you.
ANDERSON: I'll have you back. And we'll get those further thoughts. This is not the last time that you and I will talk in the next couple of weeks.
Believe me, thank you -- on the show. We've learned a young YouTuber was among the 170 Afghans killed in Thursday's terror attack. I want to get you
hear heartbreaking story and the goodbye video that she posted as her city felt the Taliban.
ANDERSON: Well, just before we close the show tonight, what so many people fear in Afghanistan is that the Taliban will return the country to a
repressive past seen during that harsh rule two decades ago.
Well now we're learning about a 20 year old YouTuber who is said to have died in the terror attack outside Kabul's airport on Thursday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAJMA SADEQI, AFGHAN YOUTUBER: Since we're not allowed to work and go out of our homes, we all had to record a new video for you and through this
video to say goodbye to you all and ask you to keep us in your prayers.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This was Najma Sadeqi's goodbye video to thousands of her followers. A goodbye to
the only way of life, this 20 year old Afghan YouTube star has ever known. For Najma's generation of Afghan women live under the Taliban was a story
of the past.
Just days before the fall of her city, Najma was out on the streets of Kabul. You could easily think these trios of YouTube reporters in their
bright fashionable clothes were out on the streets of another modern city like Dubai or Doha, smiling, giggling, just having fun.
Najma was doing what she loved the most, reporting on daily life in her beloved city. Four days after the fall of Kabul, she recorded this video.
SADEQI: Life in Kabul has become very difficult especially for those who used to be free and happy. We are all inside our homes and we do not have
the ability and courage to go outside to go back to work, to go back to our universities. We are no longer able to record programs and to study.
SADEQI: Despite what they are saying that they don't have any problems with girls that girls can seek education, go to university and go to work, but
we've heard about their past, we can no longer trust them to go back to university or work with the kind of courage we used to have.
KARADSHEH (voice over): Najma was studying to become a journalist. In her final year at a Kabul Journalism Institute, she joined the Afghan insider
YouTube channel, a job she clearly loved. But it was more than just that.
SADEQI: Most of the families in the city are just waiting for one meal a day to survive now. I was working to make enough to pay for my daily
expenses and for my education. Like me, there were other girls who were the breadwinners of their entire families.
They were the ones who didn't have an older brother or father to provide for them. But now they're at home, waiting for the situation to get better.
Dear friend, I don't have the ability to talk any longer and I can't say anymore.
Just pray for us. Pray for us that we don't go too far away from our hopes and dreams. And we can become the girls we were before that we can be happy
again, wear the clothes we loved again.
KARADSHEH (voice over): But as her world collapsed, she had to get out before it was too late. In desperation Najma, her brother and cousin join
thousands of others at the Kabul airport, trying to escape a life without much hope. They never made it out.
The three were among the more than 117 lives lost in Thursday's murderous attack. The haunting words in her goodbye video now more than just a
farewell to freedom.
SADEQI: I wish it is a bad dream. I wish we can wake up one day or someone wakes up saying drink a glass of water. You had a bad dream. But I know
that it is not possible. And it is a reality that we are finished.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Thank you Jomana Karadsheh for bringing us that story. Well, we'll leave you with this, the literal parting shots of a 20 year war
Jubilant Taliban gunfire piercing the night sky through which the last U.S. plane departed.
The final U.S. soldier to leave Afghanistan Major General Chris Donahue does so with no pomp or ceremony, while Taliban fighters from the group
Special Force brigade - stocked with military equipment.
The Taliban now in full control of Kabul airport, which for the past fortnight was the scene of one of the largest civilian airlifts in history
- with the glare of global media the group has claimed full independence for Afghanistan and says the nation has the right to peace and prosperity.
But these shots suggest the new Afghanistan might resemble the old. Thousands who helped the U.S. and its allies were left behind and now live
in fear of repercussions as the Taliban prepares to rule a country short of food, money and medical supplies. The question now being asked how much has
really changed in the last two decades. I am Becky Anderson, good night.