Return to Transcripts main page

Connect the World

Nic Robertson Reflects on Reporting from Kabul on 9/11; Muslim Americans Reflect on the 9/11 Attacks; Muslim Imam Working to Heal Wounds Caused on 9/11; New Lebanon Government Formed for First Time Since Port Blast; France's Strict Vaccination Policies: Lesson for U.S.; Two Teens Face Off in Women's Final on Saturday. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired September 10, 2021 - 11:00   ET



BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: This hour, we are following two big stories out of this region for you, the day that changed the world

forever. We are live in Afghanistan on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

And amid never deepening crisis, Lebanon finally forms a government. I am Becky Anderson, welcome back to "Connect the World". So let's begin in

Afghanistan on the eve of 9/11. A country those two days decades on appears to have come full circle.

A short time ago the second Qatar Airways flight in as many days flew out of Kabul airport. We don't know all of the passenger's nationalities, but

they are leaving a country again under Taliban control.

Meantime, resistance fighters say they are still battling the Taliban in the Panjshir Valley despite Taliban claims otherwise. Well, the Taliban

asserting their authority ahead of tomorrow's anniversary of the terror attacks that ultimately ousted them from power with tens of thousands of

people killed in the nearly 20 year war.

Now back in power, the Taliban are not holding to the earlier commitment to form an inclusive government and making clear they intend to follow their

strict interpretation of Sharia law in their treatment of women.

You can see here university students separated by a politician and a Taliban spokesman this week telling an Afghan news outlet there's no need

for women to serve in politics, saying they would not be capable of carrying out the work.

Well CNN's Nic Robertson joining us in Kabul where he was when the attacks happened 20 years ago, and I want to get to that shortly. Firstly, let's

just talk about this second Qatari charter flight leaving Kabul today who was on board.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: 49 French citizens we've learned from the French Foreign Ministry. There may have been other

people on board, Becky, but we still don't have those details.

This is sort of following the similar pattern of those 113 people that got out on a Qatari flight yesterday, they flew to Doha. It was 43 Canadians,

13 Brits, 30 plus Americans, Germans and Ukrainians, but it came out as each nation announced, its nationals getting out.

So I think we may be in for a similar slow breakdown of who was on this aircraft. So 49 French citizens, we know that the U.S. Secretary of State

said that he welcomed the Taliban's actions to allow the flight yesterday to take off the expectation being that there would be more.

And what we'd heard from the Qatari officials yesterday was that they were expecting yesterday's flight to be followed by another and potentially more

before the airport is actually fully open to commercial aircraft on international travel, today of course, a Qatari Airlines plane but on a

charter, Becky.

ANDERSON: You are in situ in Kabul, 20 years on from the time and you were there reporting as 9/11 happened, of course. And it is becoming clearer, it

seems that the Taliban, the group that had been in control, at that point are a very similar looking group, as far as ideology is concerned to that

which we knew two decades ago, Nic.

ROBERTSON: Yes and the big question has to be Becky now, are they going to take the country back economically, culturally, back to where it was 20

years ago. They say they've revised that they're different, that they're going to implement their religious laws slightly differently.

They are allowing women to follow through with education whereas before they completely banned it. But you know when you look back across the past

20 years and what's happened in the past few weeks, it is very clear that the Taliban are going to write the next chapter of Afghanistan's history.


ROBERTSON (voice over): Behind the Taliban's newly painted huge flag, America's Kabul embassy inside the grounds buried under a plug debris from

New York's twin Trade Center towers.

10 years ago, America's then Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who'd overseen the memorial on his first tour told me it was there so future diplomats would

remember what triggered U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nic, what do you have for us at this point?

ROBERTSON: We just had an impact, perhaps a few miles away.


ROBERTSON (voice over): I was in Kabul during the 9/11 attacks. Each major anniversary, I analyze the intervening years. This was 10 years ago

ROBERTSON (on camera): There are no signs yet of serious contact between the Afghan government and the Taliban. And it could be that the Taliban

will wait out the foreign presence here.

RYAN CROCKER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO AFGHANISTAN, 2011-2012: --or permanent guarantee.

ROBERTSON (voice over): Crocker wanted the talks, but doubted the Taliban would negotiate in good faith.

CROCKER: Their goal is rather simply to re Taliban eyes Afghanistan to retake the country. And if they do, then Al Qaeda is going to be back in

here. The only reason Al Qaeda isn't here now is because we are.

ROBERTSON (voice over): Fast forward to today, 20 years of foreign policy fears realized American troops and diplomats gone. The Taliban ousting the

U.S. back government capturing much of the inventory of the Afghan army the U.S. help build proudly showing off warehouses loaded with weapons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, these boxes are full, all new, unused.

ROBERTSON (voice over): More, much more than the Taliban ever had before. The new Taliban government as uncompromising as the one America Alstead

after the 9/11 attacks, their newly appointed powerful Interior Minister, Sirajuddin Haqqani has a $10 million FBI bounty on his head for ties to

terrorism and Al Qaeda.

In 2020, they promise not to fight for power, but to negotiate in good faith promised Al Qaeda won't use Afghanistan again to attack the U.S. Now

there is another potentially more dangerous enemy rooted in Afghanistan, ISIS.

ROBERTSON (on camera): We drove this road to Kabul just a few days before Al Qaeda's attack on September the 11th. Al Qaeda was in the mountains over

there, Tora Bora. Today, it's ISIS. That's a bigger threat here.

ROBERTSON (voice over): The roads are in better condition. Now, thanks in good part to American tax dollars, the towns brighter, better developed,

more prosperous, or a positive part of the legacy of America's longest war.

ROBERTSON (on camera): But here's the hard reality because of years of evolving and often intertwined agendas and alliances with Al Qaeda and

similar groups at a grassroots fighter level. If the Taliban tries to crack down on their former Brothers in Arms, they could face pushback even

division in their own ranks.

ROBERTSON (voice over): Right after the 9/11 attacks, we asked Kabul residents what would happen if U.S. forces came. The result of Russian

aggression was the breaking of Russia into 16 countries this old man says remembering the 1980s Soviet occupation. If America attacks us, Allah will

divide America into 52 pieces.

Back then it seemed inconceivable America could fail. 20 years later, the Taliban's writing outside the embassy will in effect claims exactly that.

The conditions are possible pariah government, potential failing economy point to trouble ahead. And fragile guarantees at best, it won't reach

America's shores again.


ROBERTSON: Trust Becky, is at the heart of all of this a trust is broken down between the international community and the Taliban. And it certainly

wasn't repaired when the Taliban announced their government.

And neither did the Taliban trust the international community, particularly the United States very much how things develop from here, rest, rest with

the Taliban. If they really don't bend at all, to international expectations that then really the prospect is of a very tough economic

future for this country and continued conflict. That's the way that it looks.

ANDERSON: Nic Robertson is in Kabul. Thank you, Nic. One program, you know, join CNN as we all know the victims of the 9/11 attacks 9/11, 20 years

later, as this Saturday our coverage starts at the times shown there on your screens.

Well to Lebanon now with the new prime minister promised to try and stop the country's collapse after he formed a new government today. Najib

Mikati, a billionaire who has previously served twice as prime minister is the third politician tasked with forming a new cabinet.

Since a massive blast destroyed Beirut's port and surrounding areas last year, even earlier, Lebanon have been in the crisis mode was crippled by a

financial meltdown and by fuel shortages. In an emotional address, the new prime minister said the situation is tough, but not impossible.


NAJIB MIKATI, LEBANESE PRIME MINISTER: If someone had all their savings in the bank they would have to be able to take them, and even if they wanted

to take their savings, it would be of 10 percent its original value. The mother, what can we say about mothers, the mothers have tears in their eyes

as their eldest sons migrate from Lebanon? Mothers don't have money to buy even one painkiller pill.

She won't find it in the country. We are seeing it all and we are feeling it all. The situation is tough, the situation is very difficult, and we all

know that. However, it is not impossible if we all unite together as Lebanese.



ANDERSON: Well, CNN's Arwa Damon has been reporting on the crisis in Lebanon for years. She joins us now promising to stop the rod. McCarty

announcing a new lineup today a lineup that many will say is all too familiar. Arwa, what do you make of what we know?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's highly unlikely that the vast majority of the Lebanese populations are going to

view Najib Mikati or his government as being some sort of angel saviors. Remember, he is a very well-known figure in Lebanon. He's the country's

richest man. And he's been in this position before.

And he has also faced in 2019, corruption allegations that he does deny. But all of this being said, Becky, it's not like the Lebanese population

really had a choice in the formation of this government or frankly, and the vast majority of things that they have had to face over the last few years,

especially over the last 12 months.

And given that the vacuum that was created by a lack of government gave way for all of these disaster capitalists. No, a government is much better than

no government. But let's just take a look at the situation that the country is in right now.

The World Bank is calling Lebanon's economic depression one of the worst to have taken place since the mid-19th century. What does this meant for the

average Lebanese person?

Well, it is meant that your money is effectively worthless; the lira lost 90 percent of its pre-crisis value. Yes, it did bounce back a little bit

since the formation of this government, but it's a long way off being where it was pre crisis.

This means that you know, people who were able to very easily afford things like chicken and meat and three meals on the table for their kids, they

have no longer been able to do so.

In fact, aid organizations say that the vast majority of the population right now lives below the poverty line. The impact on fuel the fuel crisis

in the country and fuel in Lebanon is not just about you know, getting your car or your scooter going.

It's what powers the generators and generators is such a lifeline there because the electricity grid has been in shambles for decades. That fuel

crisis got to be so bad that one of the country's leading hospitals recently put out a plea for fuel otherwise they were at risk of losing

patients that needed lifesaving medical equipment.

Talk to most Lebanese right now Becky and they'll tell you that they still can't believe what it everything what it is that their country has actually

gone through how far they have fallen as a nation. In fact, one man that CNN spoke to recently said that he thought that the Beirut blast was rocked

bottom only to find out that that was not the case.

ANDERSON: Arwa Damon on the story for us and it is developing. Thank you. Coming up we talk with an expert who says the new Lebanese government

doesn't look new at all. Plus, I'll be speaking to the Muslim leader who wanted to build a mosque near Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks.

We take a closer look at Islamophobia in the United States and a phenomenal rise to the top but not one, but two teenage players involved set to face

off in the U.S. Open final.



ANDERSON: September the 11th 2001 is a day that has undoubtedly left a mark on many Americans and indeed, many people around the world. The attack on

the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Shanksville Pennsylvania play nearly 3000 lives besides the tragic loss, the U.S. saw a rise in


According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 82 percent of Americans say Muslims are subject to some form of discrimination. Many American

Muslims say they feel they are being condemned for crimes they did not commit nor condone.

Emma Raducanu was eighteen years old in 2001. She was new into the U.S. with the dream she had a building a new life in a new home turned into a

nightmare. She says, looking back at her young self, she is angry. She says I was a kid trying to grow up and figure out my life.

All of a sudden, I'd become an ambassador for a billion people around the world. Well, another Muslim - says, as a child I was just terrified all the

time of anyone realizing I was Muslim and thinking I was a bad person.

I felt like I didn't know who I was anymore because of the way the world saw Muslims. Was I the enemy? And this woman Aneela told us even though

Muslims were killed in the attacks and Muslims were part of the frontline workers risking their lives to try and save so many New York and beyond.

Muslims were still being demonized and collectively blamed and that she said broke my heart. My next guest is another Muslim American working to

combat Islamophobia in the United States.

Feisal Abdul Rauf attempted to build a mosque and a community center at a location not too far away from the area of the 9/11 attacks, a plan that

triggered intense controversy, causing the project to be shut down.

Well, back in 2010, he wrote an op-ed in the New York Times saying, let us commemorate the anniversary of 9/11 by pausing to reflect and mediate and

meditate and tone down the vitriol and rhetoric that serves only to strengthen the radicals and weaken our friend's belief in our values.

The author of those words Feisal Abdul Rauf joins us now live. One prominent institution that led the argument against building that mosque

was the anti-defamation league. And just a few days ago, its CEO wrote an op-ed for CNN apologizing for the position his organization wrote.

He wrote, and "I believe the stance we took is one for which we owe the Muslim community an apology". Together, one can see how the Cordoba House

could have helped to heal our country as we nursed the wounds from the horror of 9/11. Do you accept that apology?

FEISAL ABDUL RAUF, FOUNDER & PRESIDENT, CORDOBA HOUSE: Absolutely, Becky. In fact, the - did a remarkable turnaround took incredible courage for him

to do so. His message was extremely well received in our community.

And we received, I personally received many, many numerous emails or phone calls from people in our community saying, hey, let's this appears to be

the time to let us you know, build this entity again and what it did, what it meant and what it intended.


RAUF: And for someone like the CEO of the ADL to endorse this project, I think goes to show that, that there are many, many people in the, within

the Jewish community understood the intentionality and the objectives behind the Cordova house and its mission.

And being a place where, where the best of what America means to the whole world, as a country, that is, that is predicated and dedicated, the

proposition that all men are equal, all human beings are created equal.

And the American experiment of creating a society, which aspires to be coherent and in spite of the - of its being a cross section of all of

humanity, so this is sort of a house is all about to be to participate in this, this important experiment about America means to the whole world.

ANDERSON: Your vision through that project was to foster better relations between the Islamic world and America, how would you describe that

relationship at present?

RAUF: Well, the relationship cuts across many dimensions. There's the political the geopolitical dimension, the --which is, like, you know, the

American presence and Military footprint in many parts of the Muslim world.

The engagement in their political affairs, which is, which has been really been the primary issue, causing much of the aggravation. In addition to

that, there's also what I call the sociological dimension of American, I am sorry, Muslim communities recently immigrated in the last century to the

west to United States, and to other European countries and trying to assimilate.

And from what we know of what happened to previous faith communities and even national communities that immigrated to the United States. It took

typically three generations for an American Jewish community to evolve that that had roots in America that felt American and felt equally American,

equally Jewish.

And when that happens, it becomes accepted. So part of the mission of the Cordova house was too was to accelerate that process.

ANDERSON: I want to talk about Islamophobia in the U.S. today and get your sense of, of what the situation is. And we've just, we've just related the

latest Pew Research, which is, which is disappointing at best.

And I'm worrying very worrying at 82 percent of people believing that Muslims have had experienced some sort of discrimination or Islamophobic

rhetoric or behavior. Look, obviously, Islamophobia, as we all understand, grew a lot after 9/11.

Unfortunately, it exists today. And in the wake of Afghanistan's fall to the Taliban, for example, many people in the U.S. began spreading alarmist

and Islamophobic disinformation and attempts to block Afghan civilians getting into getting into the United States.

Why after 20 years, have we not moved on from this rhetoric? And how would you describe the state of play today?

RAUF: Well, I would say that the sentiments that are expressed, I mean, look, Islamophobia certainly exists. And we're certainly very pleased that

the ADL, the Anti-Defamation League, understands it's - has committed itself to working with Muslim community to combat anti Islamophobia anti-

Muslim sentiment.

But having said that, there also has been a rise in anti-Semitism in the United States, that of the Trump years have been really to ramp up the

differences in that exist in America and to polarize it. And you know, human beings are people whose emotionality can be, can be amplified and

calm down.

So, part of the work of people like ourselves, religious leaders, political leaders, thought leaders, you know, in the media, et cetera is to

contribute and to inform and to educate people so that we, we rise up to the best in what it means to be human.

We all have every human being has, you know, the higher the higher self and their worst self, our best days and worst days and the same is true of

offices size in the community. But we have to steer it we have to lead it.


RAUF: And this is the work that we all have to do together you with the media, we in the religious field all of our political leaders et cetera.

ANDERSON: There is a real responsibility on everybody. Look, I want to just stick to where we are at today. I mean, this is we are on the eve of 9/11.

And in Afghanistan, the Taliban are in control. This is a radical Muslim group now in charge of Afghanistan's government. What do you make of that?

RAUF: Well, it's impossible. Of course, there's a sense of disappointment in what has happened in Afghanistan. But Afghanistan is a country which had

the attention not only of Afghanistan. It's bordered by Iran, it's bordered by Pakistan, and India has an interest in it.

China borders with it, the Soviet Union or ex-Soviet Russia, is interested in - it's on Chinese doorstep. So the vectors acting on Afghanistan are not

just purely within Afghanistan, they are within the whole region.

And that is why it requires a regional approach to address this issue of the stability of the country. It's, it's, I mean, right now, there's

concern even in the media that we read in the Western media, that Afghan is, is on the verge of being a failed state all over again, its economy is

in shambles.

You know, it's whatever funds it has, has been frozen. So it's it doesn't all go well, for the, for Afghans and it is difficult.

ANDERSON: And you talk about other countries in this region needing to step up and do what they need to do. We broadcast from Abu Dhabi, I'm hearing

the Gulf.

And when we look at that kind of wider region, do you believe Muslim countries are doing enough to address Islamophobia to prevent Islamophobia

elsewhere in the States, for example? And if not, what more could they be doing?

RAUF: And that's an excellent question, Becky, I'm glad you raised that question. They can do so much more. There's no doubt in my mind, they can

do so much more. And we certainly look to their assistance and help in bridging this, Richard.

Because the fact of the matter is, United States has major interests in that region. I mean, they're the countries that were responsible for, you

know, helping negotiate the settlement, Qatar. I mean, ISIS has a huge Military base in Qatar. Base in the Emirates base in Bahrain, you know,

airbase, whatever we have, like, we have a very heavy presence there.

So the interests, the mutual interests of the United States and these pretty wealthy and countries who are able to punch way above their weight

and their contribution and their excellent relationships with United States. It behooves them to leverage that, to help address the issues of

Islamophobia, especially in the United States of America.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. Look, we should talk again, it's --

RAUF: I look forward to.

ANDERSON: It's been really good having you on. Thank you very much indeed, for joining us.

RAUF: My pleasure, Becky and God bless thanks.

ANDERSON: Is any government better than no government? Well, we turn back to Lebanon. And I want to put that question to an expert, who I have to say

is frankly, very skeptical.



ANDERSON: We want to get you back to one of the big stories that we've been covering for you over the past couple of hours and that is Lebanon's new

government. Its formation ends the power vacuum that has lasted over a year. Najib Mikati is the third politician charged with forming a new

government since a massive explosion destroyed Beirut's Port last August.

The Prime Minister and the cabinet resigned after that blast and Lebanon has been run by a caretaker government since then, and when I say run let's

be quite frank. That is a very loose term when it comes to Lebanon.

Making matters worse, the country has struggled with an economic crisis that can only be described as out of control. Well, my next guest has

studied Lebanese politics extensively and tweeted this reaction to the new government "After 13 months Lebanon finally has a new government with

little knew about it. With minor exceptions it was formed by the very politicians vilified and rejected by the popular protests, which toppled

two previous cabinets. Hezbollah still looms large directly and through allies".

Firas Maksad joins me now from Washington. Now you are not mincing your words there. Let's be frank I don't think anyone expected anything

different. Is this though, a prime minister, who has done enough to convince those that could help Lebanon out because quite frankly, it's not

helping itself at the moment? So has he done enough to convince France, the U.S., the IMF, and others that this is a government that they can work with

because that is where the action starts, isn't it?

FIRAS MAKSAD, DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC OUTREACH, MIDDLE EAST INSTITUTE: Becky, it's wonderful to be back on your show. Thank you for having me. I think

the answer to that question is unfortunately, yes. I think that there's a great deal of pragmatism in Washington and in European capitals.

There's a fear of widespread instability on the Eastern Mediterranean Lebanon borders, Syria is home to many refugees, and is teetering on the

edge of financial collapse. So in many ways, the West just wants to put a lid on the crisis in Lebanon or prevented from escalating.

However, the Prime Minister Mikati did not meet the aspirations of the Lebanese who have been taken to the streets now for all the years demanding

better governance demanding an end to corruption and demanding, frankly, to have new blood in the new and the political system in Lebanon.

This, as I said in that tweet, this is a reinvention of this same political establishment that has governed Lebanon, at least since the end of the

Civil War in 1996, the so called Second Republic.

ANDERSON: Let's just get back to that original tweet that I read out because by the way, folks, Firas have got a great tweet thread today. But

you say that with minor exceptions, this was formed by the very politicians vilified and rejected by the popular protests which toppled two previous


And then you go on to say Hezbollah still looms large, directly and through allies. You've just explained that this is likely to be a cabinet that the

West can work with not a cabinet that the Lebanese people is going to be impressed by?


ANDERSON: But this here, I want to interrogate. Hezbollah still looms large directly and through its allies. Just explain what you mean by that.

MAKSAD: Well, first, Becky let me point out that it's quite an irony that Beirut which has been known as the cultural capital of the Arabs, a

cosmopolitan hub on the Eastern Mediterranean. The new Lebanese Culture Minister is Hezbollah, belongs to Hezbollah.

And, you know, we all know what Hezbollah represents in terms of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, and its aims to spread beyond its borders. Now,

I do think that the West does face a difficult policy dilemma in Lebanon.

On one hand, they do not want a rubber stamp and give credibility to a government and a political order that is beholden to Iran through

Hezbollah. But on the other hand, there's this urge for stability and to avoid further chaos. There is also - powerful argument put forward that

Iran and Hezbollah stand to benefit further, should there be a full economic and financial collapse in Lebanon, because Iran has taken

advantage of instability throughout the Middle East?

And for those reasons, I think in that tough policy dilemma, the West is going to come out on the side of actually working with this Lebanese


ANDERSON: Does the West have a genuine concern about the danger of Lebanon becoming another Afghanistan from international community negligence?

MAKSAD: I think the answer is yes. I mean, I've heard this from American official's time and again, there is a need as perceived by Washington to

avert that worst scenario. Now, unfortunately, Lebanese politicians know that very well.

And have taken full advantage of that over the course of the last 13 months it took to put this cabinet together. Essentially, the message from the

Lebanese oligarchy is, it's either us again, in a different form different faces, new names in the cabinet, but it is us, it is the Hezbollah

beholding corrupt political order in Lebanon, or its total chaos.

And there is an understanding that the West has an aversion to total chaos and therefore will choose to work with them.

ANDERSON: Let's be clear. For those watching this show that doesn't follow Lebanese politics as closely as you do. There is an election next year this

is a government that effectively will take us through to a vote. And you have tweeted today the West must insist on free, timely, a free timely vote

next year vocal support for genuine reform and threatened sanctions on those empower to enrich them.

Is that likely, at this point, because there are genuine stakeholders in Lebanese politics that are not going to want to see any of the above?

MAKSAD: There is no guaranteed outcome that true reformers, those people who would have seen take the street time and again, in Lebanon will emerge

victorious in the upcoming there's a municipal parliamentary and eventually presidential election. So next year is going to be a pivotal year for


But I do need to highlight that although that movement, civil society in Lebanon, definitely the last this round. They did not get the people they

needed to see and wanted to see in government, they still need to work and come together, mobilize organize in the lead up to those important


I do think that there is pressure there ought to be pressure from the international community to hold this current government to these

constitutional deadlines, these constitutional commitments these elections must be had on time, and then it is going to be up to the Lebanese people

to at least if not win makes a significant dent - significant inroads into parliament's into local government and municipalities.

And I have to say; recent elections at the level of association and trade unions have been have been quite successful for Lebanese Civil Society. So

no, not all is lost. There is hope but a lot of work ahead for the Lebanese.

ANDERSON: Firas, it's good to have you on again, sir. We'll have you back. Thank you very much indeed for joining us. And I have to say a sigh of

relief on the currency markets at least a short term bump in the Lebanese currency that had hit the floor. We will continue to watch that that no

surprise the currency markets were looking for something anything that they could that would provide a sense of relief.

Just ahead on "Connect the World" France getting a serious grip on COVID infections. Could this be a watch and learn moment for others?


ANDERSON: We'll tell you what is happening in Paris? And Cuba will soon vaccinate children as young as two years old. We'll take a look at the

homegrown vaccines that scientists say are safe and effective. You're watching CNN I'm Becky Anderson. This is "Connect the World".


ANDERSON: Well, the U.S. government is imposing stringent new COVID rules that will impact about 100 million Americans well two thirds of the

workforce. President Joe Biden is directing the Labor Department to require businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure their workers are either

vaccinated or tested once a week.

He says vaccinated America is frustrated with the 80 million people who still haven't gotten a shot. Also, under the new rules, all federal

employees must get vaccinated and all healthcare workers at facilities getting money from the government health insurance scheme must get the


Well, as America rolls out these tough new rules so once deeply vaccine hesitant France now appears to be leading the way somewhat that's making

life unpleasant for those refusing to get the shots. It's a controversial gamble, but France has managed to avoid a fourth COVID wave. So could that

be a lesson in this for the United States? CNN's Melissa Bell takes a look at that from Paris.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It was the push back in July that made all the difference.

EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: We are extending the use of the health pass to push as many of you as possible to go and get vaccinated.

BELL (voice over): Within 24 hours, almost a million appointments had been booked with a health pass which shows whether you've been vaccinated or

have had a PCR test within 72 hours, suddenly needed to enter restaurants, museums, cafes and bars and now extended to employees of any business that

serves the public.

ANAIS MAJDOUBI, FULLY VACCINATED TO KEEP HER JOB: They say do you have the choice but you don't really it's either you get vaccinated or you pay for

your tests. So it is a trivial choice.

BELL (voice over): Anais says she wasn't going to get vaccinated, like 60 percent of those polled during France's second lockdown in December. For a

long time, the United States was ahead of France in terms of the proportion of the population that had received at least one dose.

Then in July, Macron took a gamble. Just as vaccination centers were emptying as vaccine hesitancy kicked in. And French hospitals were being

overwhelmed by the Delta variant.

BRUNO CAUTRES, POLITICAL SCIENCES PO: They took the risk to say I will make the life of the non-vaccinated very difficult, which is very, very, very

dangerous statement.


BELL (voice over): Protests followed by one of the biggest came on July 31st, just a couple of weeks after Macron made his speech. Across France

204,000 people took to the streets according to the interior ministry. But for all the noise that very same day, more than double the number of people

required to be getting an injection.

The reason says this French lawmaker that most people understood that the alternative was yet another lockdown.

MONIQUE IBORRA, FRENCH LAWMAKER: It was saying to the French, she says that if you're vaccinated, you can live like you're used to this health pass

will give you your freedom back.

BELL (voice over): Now France has one of the best vaccination rates in the world over 62 percent. And despite the spread of the Delta variant,

hospital admissions have gone down.

CATHERINE HILL, EPIDEMIOLOGIST: The Delta variant goes faster with enough people are vaccinated to sort of balance between being more contagious and

meeting more people who are immunized.

BELL (voice over): Macron's gamble depended on his being able to act at a national level with strong executive powers and a solid parliamentary

majority, none of which Joe Biden has on his side. But the French model does show that with some encouragement, even the vaccine hesitant, can be

convinced that in the extraordinary circumstances of a pandemic, individual liberties must end where collective responsibility begins. Melissa Bell,

CNN, Paris.


ANDERSON: Well, the World Health Organization says Africa will get 25 percent fewer COVID-19 vaccines than expected this year. COVAX, the

W.H.O.'s vaccine sharing program has delivered 5 million doses to African countries. Some reports show three times as many doses have been thrown

away in the United States alone since March on the W.H.O.'s Africa Director says this waste and the rollout of booster doses by a number of countries

now are contributing to the COVAX shortage.


MATSHIDISO MOETI, W.H.O. AFRICA DIRECTOR: If producing countries, and companies prioritize vaccine equity, this pandemic can be over quickly. But

yesterday, the COVAX platform shipment forecasts for the rest of the year were revised downwards by 25 percent in part because of the prioritization

of bilateral deals over international solidarity.

G20 Health Ministers have this week expressed their support for the global 40 percent vaccination target. This goodwill needs to be accompanied by

concrete actions and financing for the global fight against COVID-19 to succeed.


ANDERSON: Well, the CEO of W.H.O.'s view. Well, Cuba wants to get its kids back to school so doctors there are giving COVID-19 vaccines to children as

young as two. Now while some other countries like China and Chile say they will give vaccines to children Cuba is thought to be the first to vaccinate


The nation has so far recorded more than 6000 COVID deaths and is now using its own home grown vaccines that Cuban scientists say are safe and

effective. Let's get you to our man in Havana, Patrick Oppmann, who has more on the story. What are the details here? This is a serious push, isn't

it to get kids back into school? But also we're talking about youngsters, his youngest two?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Becky. But it's all about what didn't happen this week, which was Cuban students was supposed to go

back to school on Monday and at the last moment, the government here had to cancel classes because of the Delta variant like so many other places,

we're seeing a surge in new cases, including really for the first time children are getting us sick.

And then that has been obviously very concerning. So they have changed their strategy here somewhat, and they are beginning to prioritize children

as well as the elderly as well as healthcare workers, as well as the hardest hit areas like here in Havana, which, up until now have been the

priorities for the vaccination campaign.

And the Cuban government says that over 4 million people have been fully vaccinated that they've done studies now on children, and they feel that

these vaccines are safe and effective. There are parents that I've talked to, though, that say they have concerns that these vaccines are very new

and that there has not been a lot of data released to international observers.

Although Cuba says that they are working with the World Health Organization eventually get authorization to use these vaccines in other places but it

really comes down to the fact that we have remained in lockdown now Becky for over a year. There have not been classes you don't have internet

commonly in people's homes here.

So Cuban students have to watch TV all day watching educational programs Cuban teachers recognize it, kids are just being left behind here that

there's a whole generation of students that are not getting the education they will need to progress.


OPPMANN: And so they are now beginning this massive, massive push vaccinating thousands of children every day starting this week with the

hopes that we can get them back in the classrooms very, very soon.

ANDERSON: Patrick Oppmann is in Havana for you. Thank you, Patrick. Well, it's nothing short of a dream come true for two teenagers one of them fresh

out of high school they will face off in an historic U.S. Open final on Saturday. I look at their wild rides to the top up next.


ANDERSON: Well, it's sure to be a battle for the ages on court this weekend. And those ages while they are pretty young 18 year olds Brit ever

Emma Raducanu was set to take on the 19 year old Leylah Fernandez in the women's U.S. Open finals.

It's the first time since 1999 that two teenagers are going head to head in a Grand Slam final and just as remarkable. Both players entered the

tournament unseeded. This is what sport is all about. World Sports' Don Riddell joining me with more on what is an historic day lined up. And these

are historic U.S. Open runs, right?

DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Oh, yes, absolutely. I mean both just extraordinary from whichever angle you kind of analyze them. I mean, let's

talk about Emma Raducanu for example. This is only her second major tournament. She made her debut at Wimbledon and did really, really well.

But this is only her second tournament. She had to qualify to get into the main draw. Since she's been in the main draw she hasn't lost a set. In

fact, she's won most of her sets handily. And she's ranked 150th in the world. It's just incredible. She surprised everybody and I think even

herself this is what she had to say after a semi-final win on Thursday.


EMMA RADUCANU, U.S. OPEN FINALIST: A surprise pretty yes - honestly I just can't believe it a shock. Like crazy all of the above to be in a Grand Slam

final at this stage in my career. I have no words.


RIDDELL: No words indeed. And then what about Leylah Fernandez, ranked 73rd in the world never been past the third round of the Grand Slam tournament

and here she is. Now she's beaten a couple of winners on her way to the final beating couple of past champions. She says she's motivated by her

school teacher who told her to focus on her schoolwork because she was never going to make it in tennis.

And her backstory is fascinating. She is from an immigrant family that has been taken in by Canada and her father, who hails from Ecuador, her mom's

from the Philippines. Her dad is just so grateful to their adoptive country.



JORGE FERNANDEZ, LEYLAH'S FATHER: Oh, my God. It means everything. We're an immigrant family and we had nothing - so Canada open up its numbers. And

please, they wouldn't have done what they did. They wouldn't have had the opportunities that I have. And I wouldn't have been able to give them to my



RIDDELL: Yes, Becky, it's an historic final the first time since 1999 that two teenagers will play in a Grand Slam final. And it just feels like a

final for this time. There is as you know the rise of nationalism in so many countries all over the world. And in both players here, we see what

diversity inclusion, acceptance can result in?

ANDERSON: And that poor teacher will know who they are, I'm sure that Leylah Fernandez was referring to when she said, that being told they

should concentrate on his schoolwork because he was no good at tennis is what being what's really inspiring it. You don't want to be - you just

don't want to be that teacher, right?

RIDDELL: No. It's hard, though, isn't it? I mean, I've got two kids. They're 15 years old. One of them wants to be a musician, and I'm trying to

encourage the music but I'm also trying to encourage the schoolwork. If that school teacher looks at what her former people could realize this

weekend, first prize is $2.5 million.

I estimate that to be more than a Canadian school teacher would make in the entirety of their career. So yes, lots to ponder, but the school teacher

was doing the right thing. You got to focus on your math.

ANDERSON: You're right.

RIDDELL: That's true.

ANDERSON: You're right. You're right. Look, let's not take it let it's not about the teacher anyway. It's about the - it's about the youngsters who

are absolutely nailing it in it. You know, one of them is going to win, and that's going to be amazing. And the other one's going to be the runner up

in the final in a U.S. Open.

I mean unbelievable stuff. Mate it's always good to have you it was a jam packed show and a jam packed week. That is it from the team here in Abu

Dhabi. Thank you for joining us, wherever you are working and watching in the world. I'm Becky Anderson and have a lovely weekend.


LYNDA KINKADE, CNN HOST, ONE WORLD: CNN is finding evidence of atrocities taking place In Ethiopia, here's what's coming up.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You just got a call that three bodies were found down at the riverfront. So we're running down to see what we can see.