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U.S. calls Talks with Taliban "Candid & Professional"; Early Elections are Response to Deadly 2019 Crackdown; Officials: 41 Percent Voted in Iraq, Lowest Turnout Since 2003; U.S. Says Taliban to be Judged on Actions, Not Just Words; Family Urges Iran to Let Baquer Nazami Leave; Why "Squid Game" has Become Netflix's Newest Hit. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired October 11, 2021 - 11:00   ET




ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN, Abu Dhabi. This is "Connect the World" with Becky Anderson.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: Candid and professional that is how the U.S. is describing its renewed talks with the Taliban. I'm Becky

Anderson a welcome back to "Connect the World".

This weekend was the very first time the U.S. sat down face to face with the Taliban since they took over Afghanistan again. These are members of

the Taliban delegation after arriving in Doha where these talks were being held, they discussed with U.S. safe passage for U.S. citizens, former

Afghan partners and foreign nationals as well as humanitarian assistance and human rights.

But Washington is warning that it isn't closer to officially recognizing the new Taliban government. State department stressing that the Taliban

will be judged on their actions, not on their words. Alex Marquardt joining me now live from Washington. What happened during those talks in Doha, do

you think to elicit that description, candid and professional and water links of substance was actually achieved?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR U.S. CORRESPONDENT: Well Becky, I think what they're saying here is that they covered a large range of topics ranging

from counterterrorism to economic and political issues to humanitarian aid.

When the U.S. says it is sending an interagency delegation what that means is it's sending top officials from across the U.S. government from

different departments and agencies. And I put your second question directly to the state department a short time ago asking what concrete measures were

agreed to.

And the state department declined to comment. So what it feels like now what it looks like is that this was a foundational conversation and all

these different subjects. What's interesting, Becky is to look at the people who were part of this U.S. delegation.

The most senior member of it was the Deputy Director of the CIA, Debbie Cohen. So that reflects the emphasis on the U.S. side, on the conversation

about counterterrorism getting the Taliban government to go after ISIS-K to isolate Al Qaeda. That, of course, is a major question.

Then you had the number two, from the Afghan - the Afghan reconciliation office at the state department. So you have all these deputies, Becky, and

that is that will certainly drive home the point that the U.S. is not normalizing or recognizing the Taliban government in Kabul.

Major emphasis for the U.S. is going to be getting out the remaining American citizens, as well as Afghan allies who worked with American

officials. And then, of course, both sides working very hard to make sure that there is humanitarian aid for the Afghan people.

We're watching the Afghan economy collapse; we're watching the Afghan health care sector collapse. We are, you know, seeing winter fast

approaching. And so the U.S. wants to make clear that it wants to help with humanitarian aid, but it wants that aid to go directly to the Afghan people

while the Taliban is saying that the this conversation about humanitarian aid should not be tied to political issues.

Again, we are hearing the U.S. saying that the Taliban will be judged by its actions and not by its words, and a major area where that is going to

be put to the test is what is happening, how much - how much power and access to society, women and Afghan girls get, of course, but the signs

that we're seeing out of Afghanistan right now are not very good.

The impression that we're getting from the Taliban side, in terms of what they're saying about these meetings over the weekend in Doha is a bit more

positive than what the American side is saying the Taliban said in a statement that they considered this a good opportunity of understanding.

They said that this may pave the way for more meetings in the future. Becky, I think it is very safe to assume that there will be more meetings

in the future because the Taliban is in control of the country. They are the government in Afghanistan and both the Taliban the U.S. and the

international community all want a stable Afghanistan, Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes, absolutely. You make the very important point. This is not in the present normalization of relations between Washington and the



ANDERSON: Crucial to Washington, the Biden Administration going forward will be support from the Taliban to counter extremism in Afghanistan. You

talked a little about that at the beginning of this report, did they get that support?

MARQUARDT: There's no word that they actually - that they have gotten that support out of these meetings. But certainly the U.S. government, the

Pentagon, in particular, have talked about efforts that the Taliban has made to go after ISIS-K in Kabul and across the country.

We know that the Taliban helped keep ISIS-K at bay, to some extent during the mass evacuations at Kabul Airport. Of course, they weren't entirely

successful. We saw that horrific suicide bombing at Abbey Gate that killed over 170 Afghans and some 13 American service members.

It is clear though, that of course, that ISIS-K is very much an adversary of the Taliban and that to some extent, there will be the two sides, the

U.S. and the Taliban will work together to go after ISIS-K targets, that's going to be much harder for the U.S. now that it has completely pulled out

of Afghanistan, they are leaning on what they are calling over the horizon strikes against ISIS-K which means coming from outside of the country.

The bigger question, Becky, the much more complicated one is how will the Taliban approach Al Qaeda, which of course they have given refuge to in the

past, of course, remains a major enemy for the United States.

ANDERSON: Yes, good point. Alex. Thank you. A little later this hour, I'll be talking to you Habiba Sarabi, who is one of four women who took part in

negotiations with the Taliban in Doha at the end of 2020. And tonight, she's got a message for the international community about Afghanistan's new

Taliban government that is later this hour.

Well, that brings us to another of the U.S. President's diplomatic quandaries and that is China and Taiwan. Joe Biden says he's come to an

understanding with Chinese President Xi Jinping about Taiwan his part, President Xi said Saturday, and he wants a peaceful reunification with the


However, he is sharing of China's military might by flying warplanes over Taiwan, even during Sunday's National Day festivities in Taipei. Let's

bring in Will Ripley he is covering the story from Taipei. Joe Biden has pledged to put an end to endless wars with a policy that he describes is

endless diplomacy.

And we've seen that policy, of course, in Afghanistan, what is his leverage here, given the current clash between Washington and Beijing?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a really good question, Becky, because it's a very attractive bipartisan issue, to come to the defense of Taiwan.

I mean, Republicans, Democrats, they can all get together and agree that they want the world's only Chinese speaking democracy, which by the way, is

strategically very important

It's located on the first island chain; it's the world's leading conductor - leading semiconductor manufacturers home. It's 100 miles from the

outlying islands of Japan, I mean; you can go down the list of why Taiwan really needs to remain a democracy from the U.S. and Japanese perspective.

And you can also see why it's so attractive to Beijing, which has considered this essentially a rogue territory that they have not only never

ruled out taking back at any time, but they've said inevitably, it will be reabsorbed with the mainland. So try being President Biden, right in the

middle of that.


RIPLEY (voice over): Taiwan's growing arsenal on full display at this weekend's National Day Parade to defend against a growing threat from

China. This small island is spending big on weapons, many made in the USA. F-16 fighters, patriot missiles $5 billion in U.S. weapons sold to Taiwan

last year.

Taiwan arm sales skyrocketed during the Trump years. The former president's hardline stance against China, one of the few Trump era policies embraced

by President Joe Biden, defending Taiwan's democracy against authoritarian China has rare bipartisan support. Some worry Washington politics may be

provoking Beijing, even pushing Taiwan and the U.S. into dangerous territory.

JESSICA LEVINSON, LAW PROFESSOR, LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL: If you do take steps to look like you are aggressively defending Taiwan, then you arguably put them

in a more vulnerable position. You arguably again, irritate China.

RIPLEY (voice over): Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-Wen says the island is on the front lines of a much bigger battle.

TSAI ING-WEN, TAIWAN PRESIDENT: Free and democratic countries have been alerted to the expansion of authoritarianism and Taiwan is on the forefront

of the defense line of fellow democracies.


RIPLEY (voice over): China sent a record 150 warplanes near Taiwan in just five days this month. Biden's balancing act, calming cross strait tensions,

defending democracy, and preventing a conflict that could cost American lives.


LEVINSON: I think Taiwan really presents a challenge to any American presidential administration because you're trying to balance competing


RIPLEY (on camera): This is an extraordinary site. Four kinds of domestically produced missiles rolling through the Capitol in front of

Taiwan's Presidential Palace, an ominous sign of escalating regional tensions.

CHANG YAN-TING, FORMER TAIWANESE AIR FORCE DEPUTY COMMISSIONER: We cannot control whether or not the Chinese Communist Party has the ability to

attack Taiwan. But we are able to control and make sure it does not have the motivation to do so.

RIPLEY (voice over): Every Chinese leader since Mao has vowed to take control of Taiwan. Analysts say President Xi Jinping may be the first with

a military mighty enough to do it. Even as he calls for peaceful reunification.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoever wins Taiwan wins the world.

RIPLEY (voice over): China is locked in territorial disputes across the Indo-Pacific region. Taiwan, Beijing's biggest unresolved issue, and some

say, Biden's biggest test.


RIPLEY: And yet, the mood here in Taiwan is not perhaps what international viewers might expect by watching the news coverage and reading the articles

talking about the dire dangerous situation. People are just wrapping up a really long holiday weekend; the mood at the parade, even when the missiles

were rolling by was jovial.

People were cheering for them to cheer for the F-16s when they flew overhead and that massive incursion of Chinese warplanes that was all over

the international news, barely even made the local reports here in Taiwan.

So it kind of reminds me of the being in South Korea at the height of tensions with the North. People go about living their lives, enjoying their

lives in the world's only Chinese speaking democracy not thinking too much about this potential behemoth that could change everything.

ANDERSON: Yes, that's fascinating. Thank you Will! With an historic moment for Iraq, the nation's first ever early elections, it's what many Iraqis

wanted after a deadly government crackdown. So why are we seeing the weakest voter turnout in two decades?

Well, that is the question I'll ask the Editor-in-Chief of the national newspaper and we will discuss how Iraqis apparently feel about their

political leaders. Also ahead we'll speak with the man that seeking global support to get his ailing father out of Iran that all coming up after this.


ANDERSON: Well, a disappointing turnout reported for Iraq's historic early parliamentary elections.


ANDERSON: Officials there say barely four out of 10 what they describe as eligible Iraqi voters cast ballots over the weekend. That's the weakest

turnout since 2003, the year of the U.S.-led invasion. Well, Sunday, the prime minister urged people who hadn't voted yet to get to the polls.


MUSTAFA AL-KADHIMI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER: Now the blue ink is on my finger, God willing today it will be on all the fingers of Iraq. We all have to

contribute to change our reality. I want to tell Iraqis that we still have time ahead of us today. Go out and vote change your reality for Iraq and

for your future.


ANDERSON: Well, apparently his words didn't resonate as much as he had hoped. The results are set to be announced later today. This was as I said

Iraq's first ever early election. Protesters pushed the government for this after what was a deadly crackdown two years ago when security forces killed

hundreds of Iraqis demanding better living conditions.

My colleague Sam Kiley was on the ground at the time covering those anti- government sentiments. Here part of that reporting.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): More demonstrators pour into confront the military. They're carried by the three

wheeled tuk-tuks Iraq's cheapest form of transport.

KILEY (on camera): This has been going on for about four weeks. This is very much the tuk-tuk revolution.

KILEY (voice over): --one risk being identified because he's committed to this revolution long term. He said our demands are clear. We want a nation

we want our nation back because it's been lost. The government hasn't done anything and it's been 16 years no investments, no industries, they've done

nothing good for us.

KILEY (on camera): The Iraqi authority's reaction to this revolution effectively can be summed up by the look on that famous painting by monk

the screen, a completely incredulous misunderstanding, lack of understanding about what to do with a country that is exploding under their



ANDERSON: Well, that was 2019 a live version of the 2021 Sam Kiley joining us now. You call it the tuk-tuk revolution back in 2019 it doesn't seem to

have carried over to the ballot box. Is it clear why?

KILEY: Well, I think many Iraqis and there's been a lot of reporting by CNN and others on this over the last year or so but particularly in the run up

to the election have been bought off, Becky, and there's been a lot of reports of mainstream political parties buying access to political voters

cards to the elect - electorates cards, the extent to which that's actually translated into electoral fraud.

We don't know yet. It is the biggest United Nations electoral observation operation going on this year that will be declared a free and fair or

fraudulent by the UN later on. But nonetheless, this indicates, though, a level of cynicism, I think that is undermined a great deal of the energy

that we saw back in 2019.

Of course, in 2019, there was also a bloody operation that sort of near revolution that they saw on the ground, 600 people were killed. A lot of

the energy went out of it when there was a change of government Prime Minister Al-Khadimi came in promising these early elections.

And then the winds into the air have gone out of the balloon, I think as a consequence, partly I think, possibly of COVID. It's difficult to maintain

revolutionary energy when you're in under lockdown, but equally, the ability of the mainstream parties to get back a lock on the body politic.

Getting their body politic of Iraq, heavily in a headlock with no great surprises now anticipated after these early elections being called Becky

even though there are 3200 candidates going to the polls, a drop a 3.5 percent drop in the turnout not catastrophic, but clearly could have been a

very different thing if more people had turned out.

ANDERSON: Yes, and on another day, I just want to read a headline out that we're just alerting here on CNN. OK, I think we've lost them. Alright,

well, that was Sam Kiley reporting from here Abu Dhabi.

My next guest is an expert on Iraq and a good friend of this show standby Sam; I'm going to come back to you. I want to bring in Mina Al-Oraibi. Now,

she tweeted earlier, some important context all of this when quoting Iraqi Higher Elections Commission on voter turnout.

Remember, they count the percentage of registered voters who voted rather than the percentage of those eligible to vote. Some Iraqis didn't even get

registered because the IITC - the IITC has not counting. Mina's Editor-in- Chief at "The National" she joins us now live.


ANDERSON: And I just want to get you to explain to our viewers why you specifically wanted to make this point.

MINA AL-ORAIBI, FORMER SENIOR FELLOW, INSTITUTE FOR STATE EFFECTIVENESS: Thanks, Becky. Well, it's an important point because the 41 percent turnout

is actually higher than the reality because if you count how many Iraqis are above the age of 18, and therefore eligible to vote, it's a higher

percentage than those who are registered to vote and those who are not registered or not registered for a number of reasons.

Some of them are internally displaced, some of them to be displaced, were counted, others weren't. Others haven't gone out and registered. Also, as a

protest of saying, we don't even believe in the system, we don't want to get registered.

So in reality, only 34 percent of Iraqis above the age of 18, who are inside the country and are eligible to vote, voted. And that's different

from 41 percent because you're talking only about a third of the electorate actually going out or those who are eligible to vote going to vote.

ANDERSON: So why is that Mina?

AL-ORAIBI: Why are they boycotting?

ANDERSON: Correct?

AL-ORAIBI: Well, for a number of reasons. One, they don't want to rubber stamp, a political system that determines who will form the government,

almost irrelevant to who actually comes out on top. So Iraq's political process this is the fifth election cycle in the country, always ends up

with big political parties that have lot of money and the influence to be able to contest the elections, but they never can form a majority.

So in the end, they sit together, they strike deals, they divvy out governmental positions, and they form a government that often is far from

what people they want. Now they can - the politicians can turn around and say, but we are democratically elected, and therefore we have legitimacy

from the street.

So people want to take away that legitimacy and say, well, actually, no, you only represent a third of us. The rest of us don't agree with this

political system, but don't want to bear arms. The protesters, Sam was eloquently speaking about and covered on the ground.

The protesters' who went out to protest two years ago, wanted early elections, but not in a vacuum, having elections with the same sort of

political makeup, while allowing militias to continue to bear arms and intimidate people while allowing corruption that funds these political

parties doesn't solve much.

So people didn't go out to vote to say, hang on, we called for early elections within a much greater context of reform, and a much greater

context of political activism, that awards people for delivering - politicians for delivering services for the people, not simply having

enough money, and at times guns to push their way through the ballot box.

ANDERSON: To your point, have listened to what one Iraqi activist had to say earlier.


KHALED AL-KINANI, CIVIL SOCIETY ACTIVIST: The truth is, I went to the polling station at 4 pm, around two hours ago, and saw the low and

unsatisfactory turnout, I hope that it will remain like this so that the parties see the reality and know that people are tired and bored by them.


ANDERSON: So this is reflective of a wider view. And to a certain extent, we're talking about sort of younger generation here. This is, you know,

this is a young generation, effectively voting, you know, this is the lowest turnout since the U.S. invasion in 2003.

So this is - we're talking here, about the sort of end of U.S. occupation are a new generation who are quite frankly, protesting what is there? If

that's the case, what's the fix at this point?

AL-ORAIBI: The fix is a long one. One, you need constitutional change, and amendments, which are boring, but important that can fix some of the

problems we have in the country. The next fix is for these political parties to realize that if this time, they're only getting a third of

voters to actually come out and vote for them the next time, it could be even worse.

So they need to start representing the people and changing their way of acting, which actually means delivering services. I mean, at the end of the

day, people want basic services, electricity, safety, good health care, decent enough education from a rich country, let's not forget Iraq is one

of the richest countries in the region in terms of resources.

And yet that doesn't trickle down to people. The fixes are fighting corruption, and that's why it is so important for be it the UN or the

international community. As they congratulate Iraqis on having a relatively peaceful and good Election Day. The outcome has to be that we actually see

change being implemented in a new parliament.

Iraq's parliament has one of the world's best paid MPs in the world and yet one of the lowest outcomes in terms of new legislation being passed. They

need to start legislating. We need to start putting in laws that can actually serve the people but also delivering on the ground.


AL-ORAIBI: And the fix will also include whatever the political makeup of the next government being held accountable by checks and balances, we need

to strengthen judiciary, you need to give the president the role that they are supposed to play.

The moment so much has been sucked into a parliamentary system that is that then produces a coalition government where everybody covers each other's

backs, because they all cut up the pie, so to speak, and get certain benefits for their political parties, or their own personal interests, that

dynamic needs to change.

And unfortunately, the ballot box hasn't produced that change time and again, so this time, people staying away from the election, the way of

saying the entire system is dysfunctional, we don't buy into it.

ANDERSON: You are speaking very specifically to a generation that won't change period. This though, is the likelihood that the Shia majority led by

Cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr will remain in the driving seat. So when we sort of step outside of the sort of domestic story, which is absolutely front and

center here, and you absolutely to point that out.

And Vali Nasr, one of our regular guests on this show tweeting today, and I quote, U.S. and Iran are at odds over JCPOA, but their interests may be

aligning in Iraq, neither will want al-Sadr control, which looks more likely, with this low turnout.

Let's just provide some context and geopolitical context, if you will. Bottom line, what are the consequences here of the likely outcome of these

elections, not just to Iraqis and young Iraqis super important, super important, but to the wider region here?

AL-ORAIBI: It's interesting because of course, Muqtada Sadr cannot be considered as part of this Iranian Islamist Shia grouping. He actually

stands a little further from them those, for example, Nour Al Maliki - represent political parties that directly get their funding and support

from Iran and make no, you know, question about their alliance with Iran.

-- has a tenuous relationship with Iran, he has always stood on this idea of an Iraqi nationalist line. However, he also has armed groups that are

closely affiliated with him for the longest time had the mighty militia, which raises a lot of concerns because of the role they played in some of

the sectarian violence in years past.

However, today, Muqtada al-Sadr wants to present himself as an Iraqi Nationalist Leader. And I think he will try to form a coalition with the

main Kurdish parties but also - who was the Speaker of Parliament and is now being cast as the main Sunni Representative.

So I think actually, the fragmentation within the Shia Islamist groups is greater today than it ever has been. And Muqtada al-Sadr has tried to step

away he completely does not agree with Nour Al Maliki.

Nour Al Maliki, who was Prime Minister of Iraq and oversaw the country at some of the worst sectarian violence in the country, but also during which

ISIS was allowed to come and take really important cities and parts of Iraq, including Mosul and Ramadi and others.

So actually, that competition between them could force a change that we haven't seen previously. But we'll have to see in the end. We've heard

reports today that the Head of the Kurds force Khani has actually gone to Baghdad because it remains very scared that there could be a coalition who

were their main protagonists are out of the picture.

ANDERSON: Mina, it is always a pleasure. Thank you so much an Iran -- an Iraq expert and good friend of this show thank you. Well, there is major

news out of Iraq as well today, government forces capturing a top deputy of the late ISIS Leader, Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, the Iraqi Prime Minister's

office says Sami was caught outside the country in a "Complex external operation".

No word when or where he was taken into custody? Sami is said to be the terror group's financial supervisor and the U.S. has offered a reward for

his capture. Up next, the Taliban and women's rights Habiba Sarabi took part in the Doha talk for the Taliban at the end of the year last year.

We'll get her view of how the international community should approach Afghanistan's new government that after this?



ANDERSON: Just get you more on our top story. Today candid and professional, that's how the United States is describing its latest round

of talks with the Taliban, their first face to face meeting since the militant group re took control of Afghanistan in August.

Now, this is the Taliban delegation talking with calorie representatives in Doha. The U.S. State Department is warning that it isn't closer to

officially recognizing the new rule is stressing that they will be judged on their actions not just on their words.

Well, Habiba Sarabi was on the Afghan peace negotiation team. She is also the first woman ever to have ruled an Afghan province. I'm delighted to say

she joins me live via Skype now from the Turkish city of Izmir, where she now lives.

Beyond the headlines and the description of these talks is candid and professional. And I know you are talking to people on the ground in Doha.

What was the substance of these talks? Where are we at with regard Washington and the Taliban government in Kabul at this point? Is it clear?

HABIBA SARABI, FORMER MEMBER, AFGHAN PEACE NEGOTIATION TEAM: Yes, to be honest, from my point of view, this talk aid is that both sides want to fix

their mistake, so the mistakes that have done before, so this is the time that they have to fix it.

The Taliban ones should know that if they want to be a part of the international community, they have to respect the rule of international

community. So if they want to get I mean, recognition, if they want to get legitimacy is first of all, what is the criteria for legitimacy.

If they want to get everything, so they have to respect, they have to respect the rule and all their treaties and human rights and woman rights,

which is very important. And after that they have to request for, for support and for this recognition and legitimacy.

ANDERSON: One thing that really stood out to me was the Taliban saying that in these talks that they wouldn't work would not work with the U.S. to

contain extremist groups in Afghanistan.

Isn't this ironic given that tap counterterrorism is the reason the U.S. got involved in Afghanistan and the wider region in the first place? And it

is what the U.S. says they will be determined to try and counter that being extremism going forward.

SARABI: I think the U.S. at the beginning of the withdrawal and walk out their troops. They understood that the extremist groups are existing in



SARABI: So if this 20 year war was about the counter terrorism, the terrorism, terrorism still exists inside Afghanistan and these extremist

groups are still exists inside Afghanistan.

So what does it mean for all this preparation for withdrawal, and the Taliban from the other side, so they are claiming that they are not allowed

any extremist groups? So you know, that how many member of their cabinet are from the group that they are on the blacklist, the sanction list.

So it means that it's a kind of controversial words and sharing wrong information. So if both sides, Taliban and the U.S. policymaker, both sides

should, should make it clear that what's wrong inside Afghanistan? They have to fix the wrongs the wrong policy, the wrong attitude and the wrong

action that they have been taken.

ANDERSON: Let's be quite clear, this is a group that you had been involved in negotiations with in Doha. You worked alongside some of your colleagues

extremely hard to try an effort, some sort of solution. Meantime, the U.S. went ahead and withdrew. We are where we are. What is your message to the

international community about doing business with this Taliban government in Kabul?

SARABI: So they have to be engaged. This is something that the people of Afghanistan need that support. They these miserable people, they are

suffering from poverty. They are suffering from the shortage of job, the economic crisis, a big problem.

They have to be engaged, but when they are engaged, it doesn't mean that it is recognition. They have to pressurize to Taliban not only the Taliban,

but the government. Some country that they are counterpart with Taliban, they have very close partnership with Taliban.

They can manage or they can support that to Taliban should restrict the rule. And the international rule, this is important that they can do it.

They can work, they have to work. I mean, the international community, because when they have when they withdraw from Afghanistan, they knew that

something is wrong inside.

And now they have to fix that the shortage and pressurize the regional country and the country that they are support.

ANDERSON: Let me just be quite clear. Does this mean recognizing the Taliban government, to your mind, is that what the international community

needs to do at this point?

SARABI: I think it will be totally I mean, a wrong decision if the international community makes the decision to recognize. They have to see

that the action of the Taliban, the practice that they are doing inside Afghanistan, of course, orally or during their speak or we are a statement

with this media statement.

They are sharing that we are distinctive, respecting human rights, women's rights, even said that we will have one woman member of cabinet or one

woman, nothing can be changed. So that's why it is from practice, from action to talk. It's quite different. The action should be much with their


ANDERSON: Habiba Sarabi, it's always a pleasure to talk to you. Let's stay in touch. We wish you the very best. Thank you very much indeed for joining

us today.

SARABI: Thank you.

ANDERSON: Important day.

SARABI: Thank you very much.

ANDERSON: Sources tell CNN, an Afghan interpreter who once helped rescue Joe Biden has now gone out of Afghanistan. The human first coalition, along

with the U.S. State Department successfully extracted the man and his family from neighboring Pakistan now in 2008.

The interpreter helped Mr. Biden then a senator when his helicopter was forced to land in the mountains of Afghanistan during a snowstorm. CNN is

reached out to the State Department for comment. We're going to take a very short break, folks back after this.



ANDERSON: Oman, pushing its economy forward and boosting investments in tourism this report from CNN, Eleni Giokos.


ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): One of the best ways to see Oman's natural beauty is on the water. So we're heading out with adventure

tour operator, Mark Evans.

GIOKOS (on camera): Good morning.


GIOKOS (on camera): What are you looking at?

EVANS: Well, you've chosen a great day. You've chosen a great day. The water is incredibly clean. And there's a lot of life down here already.

GIOKOS (on camera): That's gorgeous.

EVANS: I don't think we need to go out in the boat. You can go snorkeling.

GIOKOS (on camera): Absolutely beautiful, lovely to meet you.

EVANS: Yes, me too.

GIOKOS (on camera): Let's take your time. I'm so excited.

EVANS: Pleasure, pleasure.

GIOKOS (on camera): What do you have to show me today?

EVANS: Well, Oman sells itself I wanted to share you --

GIOKOS (on camera): All right, I am sold by the way. But let's go and take a look.

EVANS: Yes, great.

GIOKOS (on camera): Wow, how lucky. Dolphins, amazing look at that. We're surrounded by dolphins. I mean it's truly spectacular.

GIOKOS (voice over): With an escort of dolphins, we're sailing to an area just off the coast of Muscat called --. It's known as a great place to go

snorkeling. So that's exactly what we're going to do.

EVANS: And if we're lucky, we might see a turtle.

GIOKOS (on camera): I'm ready.

GIOKOS (voice over): As luck would have it, we see a turtle straightaway and lots of other beautiful marine life as well. Mark is originally from

the UK. He's always had a passion for the outdoors and has traveled the world. He came to Oman 17 years ago and decided to stay.

EVANS: It is just such a perfect place to live. It's the size of my own country in Britain but with only 4 million people. I can have 5g WiFi in a

beautiful coffee shop and in fantastic hotel. And yet within two hours' drive I can be at 8000 feet in the mountains or in a desert the size of

Belgium or backpacking into the mountains to a little village where there's no electricity and no water.

It's an incredible country and I really lock my door. I feel incredibly safe. And the Omani people are very popular for a reason.

GIOKOS (on camera): It feels like I'm in the land of contradiction where on one hand I'm seeing tradition and culture, so entrenched in the way of

doing things. But at the other end of the spectrum, the country wants to diversify and modernize on all fronts.

EVANS: I think that's what makes Oman so special. It may not be the wealthiest country in the region. But in terms of thinking and wise

leadership and growth at a pace that does not destroy the culture but culture and economic development move forward hand in hand. Oman's got it

pretty bang on, I would say.


GIOKOS (voice over): The tourism sector is said to be one of the primary beneficiaries of the airport expansion. As part of its 2040 vision plan

Oman aims to attract more than 10 million visitors a year.

MOHAMMED AL BARWANI, CHAIRMAN, OMAN AIR: Tourism in Oman has been growing at about 8 percent a year. That is before the pandemic. And we expect that

growth to continue. Oman is unique. Oman is Oman.


ANDERSON: Welcome back to "Connect the World". Well, the family of an American citizen being kept in Iran is finally getting some high profile

attention to call for his release. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently tweeted Baquer Namazi needs immediate surgery and the Iranian

government should allow him to seek the medical attention necessary to save his life.

It's been almost six years since he has seen his children. At a time like this, he should be surrounded by his entire family. Well, joining me now

someone who is surely taking those words to heart, Babak Namazi.

He is the son of Baquer, who was released from prison but is not allowed to leave Iran and the brother Siamak Namazi who is still in prison Babak,

thank you for being with us today. What does this support from the U.S. Secretary of State mean for you?

BABAK NAMAZI, SON AND BROTHER OF AMERICANS HELD IN IRAN: Hi, thank you for having me on your show. The support obviously means that I have the

attention of the administration at the highest level. But obviously, making declarations and statements while appreciated, is not going to be


We require action. And we require immediate action for the sake of my father's life, to enable him to leave Iran and get a much medical attention

he requires.

ANDERSON: Have you personally spoken to Mr. Blinken about this?

NAMAZI: I spoke with him along with other family members shortly after he took office. It was a call with a number of family members of hostages and

Americans wrongfully detained all over the world. I anticipate being able to talk to him on this topic.

ANDERSON: Have you been able to make contact with your father? And if not, what do you understand to be his situation at present?

NAMAZI: The situation of my father is quite urgent. And we're very, very desperate. My father was detained for over three years, he was held

illegally by the Revolutionary Guards. He underwent about a dozen hospitalizations, two heart surgeries.

And he was released due to a very restricted furlough due to his ill health. About a year and a half ago, the Iranian revolutionary court

reduced the sentence to time served.

But for reasons which I cannot understand until today, he is prevented from leaving, he needs urgent medical care, his carotid artery is blocked at

between 95 to 97 percent. He is in imminent danger of a stroke.

And unless he is allowed to be in an environment, which is stress free, which is not at the risk of COVID, he will die. I am beyond desperate. I

have been desperate from the moment my brother was taken and shortly thereafter my dad was taken.

But right now, we desperately need the administration to engage and deploy whatever tools it has its position to save the lives of my father, my

brother and obviously there are other Americans were held hostage in Iran as well.

ANDERSON: I'm so sorry to hear this. I'm so sorry to hear what you believe your dad's going through. And indeed it must be awful feeling as helpless

as you must at this point. Have a listen to what the State Department spokesman Ned Price had to say earlier this week. In a telephonic State

Department briefing when asked by a reporter about your father's case, listen to this.


NED PRICE, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: With the talks in Vienna focus squarely on the nuclear program, we have taken advantage of every

single opportunity to raise the cases of Americans and other foreign nationals who are unjustly held against their will by Iran. We have made

very clear to Iran that this practice is unacceptable.


ANDERSON: Do you trust what he says? Or do you fear that the focus on these nuclear talks may frankly overshadow your family's case.


NAMAZI: I've feared that intensely. Ever since the new administration came into office, I was extremely worried that there's going to be the urgency

would be into taking forward the talks on the nuclear discussions and the hostages will take a secondary priority.

Just to a quick reminder, my family was taken during the Obama Administration; my brother was left behind in the 2016 opportunity to get

about. We saw two more exchanges through the President Trump's Administration, which again, my family, to our horror and devastation and

we're left behind again.

So of course, that fear is ongoing, that fear is ever present. I entered that this third administration with a lot of fear. I, in fairness, there

have been a lot of engagement. I do have the attention and I believe that it is a priority.

But I think we're well beyond best efforts, we're well beyond the public demands. Know everything that's been tried for the past six years does not

work. That's clear. We need it's time for action. It's not it's no longer time for best efforts or for statements.

And I believe there's an opportunity. And there's urgency and there is a requirement to save American lives. And that's expectation I have

especially in the case of my dad, it's no exaggeration, he's 85 years old.

This poor man has endured two years in the dungeons of IRGC. He has enjoyed not seeing and embracing his grandchildren for six years his children. And

he has to be witnessing every moment his son in captivity, and being completely helpless as a father and all this with a very bad health

situation which is deteriorating rapidly.

And what is extremely confusing is Iran took a step you know, said that let me set aside for a moment that you know the injustice of what's happening.

Iran took the step a year and a half ago of commuting my father's sentence and there were no conditions attached there was not a bad and even his bill

was released.

And they told us that sentence is completed and you know, goodbye and good luck, so to speak. And yet they refuse to allow my father to leave. So I'm

begging you on please.


NAMAZI: Follow your Iranian rules, he has no sentence left.

ANDERSON: Understand.

NAMAZI: Let him leave a man who has endured so much to come out and let us save his life.

ANDERSON: With that, we must leave it there. But we thank you very much in deed for joining us and the world has heard your - feel. Thank you.

NAMAZI: I appreciate it.

ANDERSON: We'll be right back after this.


ANDERSON: Netflix says a show that portrays a kind of economic Hunger Games could be as big as hit yet, squid game is a dystopian drama from South

Korea more from Paula Hancocks.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): On social media, these images are everywhere on television, everyone is talking about it. Amazon's

Jeff Bezos tweeted I can't wait to watch the show.

Already hitting number one in 90 different countries on Netflix Squid Game is a South Korean TV show where 456 debt ridden contestants compete in

childlike games for a prize of nearly $14 million, but the penalty for losing his death.


HANCOCKS (voice over): Show creator, Hwang Dong-Hyuk wanted to make this show for more than a decade, but studios rejected it.

HWANG DONG-HYUK, "SQUID GAME" CREATOR: When I showed it to people, a lot of them said that it was unfamiliar. It's strange and unfamiliar. What is

this? What the hell is this? They said this in negative way.

HANCOCKS (voice over): South Korea already has a strong film industry with deep talent pools and large profitable studios. But its TV shows were

predominantly romantic, so populous until Netflix arrived.

DONG-HYUK: I suddenly thought will I be able to bring the show to life as I wanted if Netflix is involved. I took that script from 10 years ago and

showed it to them. Netflix said they loved it.

HANCOCKS (voice over): Netflix says it has already invested some $2 billion on Asian Content. And we'll invest another half a billion on making new

Korean content alone this year.

MINYOUNG KIM, VICE PRESIDENT OF CONTENT, NETFLIX: I think in the past couple of years we've seen Korean content viewing grow four times in the

region, Parasite.

HANCOCKS (voice over): This is a golden age of Korean cultural exports, one win after another Music, Films, TV shows, dubbed --or Korean wave and it's

swept far beyond Asia, where it's been popular for the past two decades. Hwang says that this shows message resonates around the world.

DONG-HYUK: The world is getting much harder to live in. Even in the last 10 years wealth disparity is growing. Nations are facing economic strife and

the added element of the COVID pandemic has made the wealth gap even worse.

HANCOCKS (voice over): Social disparity mirrored in Oscar winning Korean film "Parasite". Film experts say that Content from South Korea with its

turbulent history of war and military dictatorship traditionally carries a strong political message.

HYE SEUNG CHUNG, PROFESSOR OF MEDIA STUDIES, COLORADO STATE UNIVERSIRY: Media is not just means of entertainment, like in the United States or in

the West, or media has been always considered a very important tool for political enlightenment or political resistance.

HANCOCKS (voice over): But it's not all politics.

CHUNG: It is still relatively cheap to produce some dramas in South Korea compared in America. And the Squid Game, each episode cost to less than $2

million, which is half of the price Netflix invested in each episode of House of Cards.

HANCOCKS (voice over): The younger generation is far more open to foreign language content.

JASON BECHERVAISE, PROFESSOR OF ENTERTAINMENT, SOONGSIL CYBER UNIVERSITY: If you look at those who watch Parasite, a big, big number of the kind of

audiences or the audience that went to see Parasite in the United States was younger people. And they've been really keen to kind of break that one

inch subtitle barrier.

HANCOCKS (on camera): The success of squid game is already helping other Asian content to trend on Netflix while other streaming platforms are

looking to replicate this enormous success. Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


ANDERSON: And believe me it is quite the watch. It is a very good evening from Abu Dhabi.