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Taliban Push More Tolerance Image Despite Harsh Actions; Taliban say they are Ready to Engage with International Community; China Launches Fund to Preserve Biodiversity; Pro-Independence Leader Soured Relations with China; Delta Variant Wrecking-Havoc in War-Torn Syria; DC Reveals New Superman is Bisexual in Upcoming Comic. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired October 12, 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: Well, tonight more offers of aid for Afghanistan, but is the money enough? I'm Becky Anderson. Hello and
welcome back to "Connect the World".
The European Union acting today to head off a humanitarian catastrophe they say in Afghanistan, while warning that money alone will not be enough to
stop it the EU pledging an additional $800 million in emergency aid at what was a virtual G20 summit.
Now this is part of a $1.1 billion package that the EU says will address urgent needs in the country and in the region. But it's still just a
fraction of what is needed for a country already struggling through economic decline and prolonged drought even before the Taliban takeover.
A new development aid remains frozen until the Taliban meet five benchmarks including respect for human rights and in particular women's rights. U.S.
President Joe Biden among the leaders participating in that summit today, the White House saying they also focused on counterterrorism efforts
including threats from ISIS-K and ensuring safe passage for those wanting to leave Afghanistan.
Now this all happening is the Taliban held face to face talks with EU and U.S. delegations in cancer an EU spokeswoman calling it an informal
exchange that "Does not constitute recognition of the interim government".
Well, the Taliban insists their approach to governing is gentler and less oppressive than in the past. But CNN's Chief International Correspondent
Clarissa Ward found out that the Taliban's actions do not always match their words. They're reporting, warning her report from Afghanistan
contains disturbing images.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is the image the Taliban want to project friendly and pious, bringing peace
and security on the streets of Ghazni City Taliban official Mawlavi Mansoor Afghan (ph) goes from shop to shop talking to the owners.
He asks how the security situation is with the Taliban in charge. The situation is good Praise be to God the man says. It may well be a
performance for our cameras, but it is telling the Taliban wants to show they have changed.
WARD (on camera): When you're talking to the men and some of them don't have long beards. Are you saying anything to them about their beards or
does it matter right now? We tell the people that this is the Prophet Muhammad Sunnah and make them aware, he says but we don't want to force the
people to do this.
WARD (voice over): And in another part of the market, the newly resurrected much feared religious beliefs are also keen to show they are taking a
lighter touch. They gather the shopkeepers to introduce themselves and warn them about the importance of following the Sharia.
Make sure your women cover themselves one Talib tells the crowd they should not travel without a close male relative. A man stands nearby casually
smoking a cigarette a punishable offense under the previous Taliban regime but no one says a thing.
Back at their headquarters at the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention Advice, the men are still settling. Up until recently this
was the ministry for women. Then man now in charge seems leery of my presence and refuses to meet my eye. He says their mission is to help
Afghans embrace Islamic rule.
WARD (on camera): And what do you do if they're not following your interpretation of Sharia law?
MAWLAVI ABDULLAH MOHAMMED, TALIBAN MINISTRY OF PROPAGATION OF VIRTUE & PREVENTION OF VICE: We act with accordance to Sharia law. Firstly, we
inform people about good deeds. We preach to them and deliver the message to them in a nice way. The second time they repeat it to them again. And
the third time we speak to them slightly harshly.
WARD (voice over): If its word sound like talking points, that's because they are. As we leave, he hands us a newly issued Taliban booklet outlining
the group's gentler approach.
WARD (on camera): So he says that this book contains the rules for how they should carry out their work.
WARD (voice over): But old habits die hard and back in Kabul it's clear not everyone is following the new guidelines.
WARD (on camera): It's badly bruised.
WARD (voice over): In a secure location where he shows us the ugly marks left behind after he says he was whipped by Taliban fighters. We've changed
his name for his protection. He tells us three fighters stopped him at a busy traffic circle for wearing western style clothing. They took him into
a guard hot and demanded to see his cell phone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had photos in my phone related to gays also the clothes I was wearing were a gay style. They took me and covered my mouth
two of them held each of my hands and the third hit me first with a whip and then with stick.
WARD (on camera): What reason did they give for doing this to you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When they were beating me, they kept saying I was a gay, I should be killed. They had very scary faces. They were enjoying beating
WARD (voice over): That lurid brutality was on full display weeks earlier in the Western City of Herat, when the bloodied bodies of four men were
hung in public for all to see. The Taliban said they were kidnappers killed during a raid.
On one man's chest a grim warning, abductors will be punished like this. Remarkably many in the crowd seem to approve of the Taliban's medieval
display. People are really happy about this decision this man said, because people believe that by doing this kidnapping can be removed from this
In another grotesque display two alleged criminals their faces painted were humiliated before a jeering crowd. Punishment the Taliban favors for petty
thieves. After the corruption of the former government, the group has seized on a frenzy desire for swift justice, but they are savvy enough to
know how it looks to the rest of the world.
Backing Ghazni our attempts to see the justice system in action are repeatedly stonewalled or told that the Sharia High Court is closed despite
the people waiting outside. As we try to persuade the Taliban to let us in we see two men head into the court. Our Taliban minder relents and lets us
But in the courtroom, the judge makes it clear we are not welcome. Tells him to stop he says we are quickly ushered out.
WARD (on camera): We've been trying all day to get into the Sharia court. They're not letting us but they also won't give us a reason.
WARD (voice over): It may be that what happens behind closed doors here doesn't fit the Taliban's new carefully cultivated image and that the
movement born in conflict is still brutal at its core. Clarissa Ward, CNN, Ghazni.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, my next guest just hosted the Taliban's Acting Foreign Minister in Doha in Qatar Sultan Barakat is Director of the Center for
Conflict and Humanitarian Studies at Doha Institute, and you can see them both here in this photo that he tweeted out. And Sultan Barakat joining me
Candid and professional is how the U.S. at least described their talks with the Taliban's representatives in Doha and without disclosing, I have to say
the substance of what was discussed. What came out of your conversation with the Acting Foreign Minister?
SULTAN BARAKAT, DIRECTOR, DOHA INSTITUTE CENTER FOR CONFLICT & HUMANITARIAN STUDIES: Well, we didn't go into the details of what was discussed, between
Taliban and the U.S. But in general what was said during the one and a half hour conversation, which can - which is available on YouTube for everyone
to watch, was first that they seem to have a genuine will to reform the what was in the past, the conditions under which the Taliban were known.
They are keen to engage with the rest of the world. They would like ideally, to be able to receive international assistance, particularly
development assistance, maybe humanitarian assistance in the short term. They have made some commitments towards specific targets for girls'
education and in particular, on human rights on inclusion in terms of politics with other political parties.
And he was arguing throughout that what is required really is a bit of time. His arguments centered around the fact that they have been only
empowered for a few weeks and the world seems to be demanding of them what the previous government could not achieve in 20 years, with the support of
many, many nations and billions of dollars.
BARAKAT: So time was one aspect. We also discussed and he kind of dodged the question around whether there are differences in opinions within the
movement. I personally believe maybe some of the forces started to appear now that the challenge is very different.
In the past, when they were fighting, they were all united, they had very clear one target to get the room they perceive as occupiers out of the
country. Now with the reconstruction state building coming challenges they have slightly different I think priorities.
And some particular conservative elements among the group may view issues such as gay rights or similar issues, as too controversial for them to even
tackle at this stage.
ANDERSON: Because those patients are incredibly important that there does seem to be disconnecting between what the team in Doha is saying and the
group's actions on the ground?
BARAKAT: Yes, I think it's important to understand the nature of Taliban, the movement. It's made of many, many layers and lots of alliances between
smaller groups and tribal groups, from different parts of the country. And they all come under extremely different cultural understandings also - on
the graphical position, and so on.
So there is no one uniform opinion across the movement. And the greater you go into details, the greater the differences appear to be. They all agreed
on the bigger picture, ideology, but the moment you start discussing sub policies, and how they can be applied, and when should they be applied and
to whom should they be applied?
I think it is inevitable that there will be more than one view on this. And they have their own way of making decisions, which tends to rely on
extensive and sometimes really extended negotiations amongst themselves, and to the leader comes up with the ultimate that all then follow.
ANDERSON: And we just saw from my colleague, Clarissa's reporting that although the Taliban's religious police has been instructed to be more
moderate, vulnerable, Afghans say brutal justice is still being meted out. They're clearly not showing the world that observer can indeed change its
stripes are they?
Look, Qatar today, has said that it does not see the recognition of the Taliban as a priority. However, engagement does remain important. And we've
heard from the EU that these talks are specifically informal, the U.S. is certainly not recognizing the Taliban by holding these talks with them in
Doha. Do you think the Taliban shares that view that recognition is not a priority for them?
BARAKAT: No, I think they seek recognition. And they have been seeking recognition as a movement for many, many years. And I think they've smartly
used part of the negotiation with the United States, and then between them and the rest of the Afghan people to get some form of recognition from the
rest of the world.
And as you know, they were invited around the various capitals, to try and encourage them to move in, in a way of peace. But now I think it is
important to them, and the sooner it comes, the better. But they're also pragmatic about the position of the international community.
They understand that the international community is under pressure from its own people that are importers back home. They have certain demands and
priorities. And I think they accept that. And for now, a degree of dialogue is very important.
I think it is important to avoid a humanitarian disaster with the coming of very harsh conditions of winter in Afghanistan, coming straight after the
drought, the displacement that happened inside the country, all of this creates a very difficult humanitarian situation.
ANDERSON: Yes, and it's quite clear from the international community at this point, their assets will be frozen until more is seen from the Taliban
with regard their attitude towards women's rights and human rights et cetera.
Look, you just said the interview or the discussion that you have with the Acting Foreign Minister is online and you know it's there for people to
ANDERSON: I just want our viewers to have a listen to some of what was said, hold on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMIR KHAN MUTTAQI, TALIBAN ACTING FOREIGN MINISTER: The agreement of Doha of February 2020, between Afghanistan and the world, particularly with the
United States of America, is to be defined as good relationship fact. I believe that the full implementation of the Doha agreement can between us
and the United States of America tackle any problems between our relationships?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Let's be quite clear. And I'm looking at this from Washington's perspective to a certain extent. One important strand from the Doha
agreement was a pledge by the Taliban to prevent groups like Al Qaeda, for example, from operating in areas under Taliban control.
But in the most recent round of talks, just over this weekend, the Taliban said they would not cooperate with the U.S. over counter terrorism. Did you
discuss that? And why is that? Why have they said that, that is they will not support the U.S. in fighting extremism?
BARAKAT: I wasn't really part in those talks so I don't know why, why they would refuse that? But I suspect it's because maybe allowing the guys back
to fight terrorism means also that the U.S. will inevitably infringe on the sovereignty of Afghanistan, again, the U.S. will only be able to use drones
in its fight against terrorism in Afghanistan.
And of course, the optics of that will not be good for the Taliban and their followers to having pushed them out of the country to allow them the
free hand to operate inside the country. The difficulty, I think, between the two is no means of verification, objective, an independent means of
verification that the Taliban have really met the conditions of the agreement.
At the same time, the Taliban, I think, may understand the Doha agreement may be slightly different from what the U.S. or how the U.S. does. In the
U.S. - from the U.S. side, it was very important that the political settlement between the Taliban and the rest of the Afghans is an integral
part of this agreement.
They somehow managed to extract that dimension of the agreement, partly because they say that the president fled the Palace on the 15th of August,
therefore, there is no government to negotiate with, and partly because they really never maybe intended to negotiate to that to this level of
But in any case, they don't see eye to eye on this agreement until now, some of the conditions that are embedded in it, like a release of prisoners
is no longer there, because they've already managed to release all their prisoners. And the only way forward, I believe, is to introduce a good
verification mechanism to ensure that the Taliban genuinely have addressed the issues, particularly in relation to uptime.
ANDERSON: So yes, I mean, I'm interested to know what you think that mechanism would be. I mean, what does that look like? There is a complete
deficit of trust, as far as the international community is concerned. I mean, in recent operating in Al-Jazeera, you write, "Humanitarian
assistance is one of the only common languages shared by the Taliban in Kabul and the West today".
You know, on all sides, there is a strong will to communicate yet what is missing is an effective medium for dialogue. What do you mean by that?
BARAKAT: I think there's still a need to build confidence. I think a political settlement overall in Afghanistan still needed as much as it was
in the 14th of August. It's still - it hasn't. They haven't reached that. And the Taliban understand fully that there is no way they can control the
whole country in a sustained way on their own.
They must reach some kind of settlement with the others. And then in terms of humanitarian assistance, I think it could be taken as a first step to
start further engagement with the Taliban and better understanding and then on the back of this, you can introduce more complex, sophisticated
mechanisms that they would allow him to look at different types.
And what at this moment, what appears from their position is that they have for almost 18 months, avoided targeting any American soldier. There have
been no American casualties for a long time. They have the United States in its evacuation.
The evacuation of 120,000 people could not have happened without the Taliban coordinating very closely with the United States maybe with the
support of Qatar some stage, but they were on the ground and they allowed this to happen.
BARAKAT: They continued to show cooperation in terms of safe passage to people out of Afghanistan, but in return the international community has
blocked their assets. They basically disabled their banking system, which they see as very unfair.
If you don't want to give money, fine, but why would you disable the banking system and then push the whole economy underground and that is
going to be very dangerous in terms of context, and other criminal activities. And I think humanitarian aid may be that one possibility, where
the two sides see eye to eye, and it would be of use to all.
ANDERSON: Fascinating. Thank you very much indeed, for your perspective. You most fight climate change that's the message for many countries ahead
of COP-26. Ahead, we will look at some new initiatives. Plus, China puts on a shelf Taiwan but it might not be achieving the desired effect. Ahead,
we'll look at how the tension started?
ANDERSON: Well, we are less than three weeks away from what has been billed at least they huge UN Conference on climate change. It's in Scotland and
the call for action is getting more urgent. The Head of COP26 as its known today calling on the nation's top economies to "Kick coal into the past".
He says they need to phase it out and stop financing new coal projects overseas. He also had this message for world leaders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALOK SHARMA, PRESIDENT, COP26: Under the G-20 Climate Energy Ministers meeting in July, every g 20 countries agreed to set out ambitious 2030
emissions reduction targets before COP26. The UK, France, Italy, Germany, the EU, Canada, the U.S., Argentina, Japan, South Korea and South Africa
have done so now the rest must deliver.
And all eyes will be on the G-20 leaders meeting at the end of this month. We know we can only tackle climate change if every country plays its parts.
So I say to those G-20 leaders, they simply must step up ahead of COP26.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: So Alok Sharma says the coming weeks - we're really talking days aren't we are crucial in combating climate change. But these weeks could
also see more fuel shortages and sky rocketing prices and fuel shortage of course, putting fossil fuels back in play and driving the price of oil and
gas skywards is not clear how all of this will come into play?
Nevertheless, we are seeing a slew of new commitments. Today France took big step President Emmanuel Macron pledging nearly $35 billion dollars for
a massive plan to green its economy. Chinese President Xi Jinping promised $233 million to help preserve the biodiversity of poor countries and 31 new
countries have signed on to an initiative from the U.S. and EU to cut methane which is a potent greenhouse gas.
ANDERSON: Well, these are busy days for our Chief Climate Correspondent Bill Weir. He is following it all from New York. I want to talk briefly
about how Joe Biden's Administration in signing back on to the climate crisis file as it were, has provided some momentum certainly for efforts to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions and has put COP26 clearly in play?
Before we do that, just take a stab at sort of, you know, giving us a series to where we are at where we're sort of three weeks out from COP26 we
are seeing an energy squeeze the rise in fossil fuel prices. We've seen in some countries signing on to net-zero goals and others still wanting. Where
are we - should we be giving the world at an A plus at this point or a C minus?
BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: We should giant I for incompletes Becky because of the nearly 200 countries that signed on to
Paris, only the Gambia the tiny African nation is actually meeting their pledge in practical terms on the ground, everything else is promises and as
mom used to say, promises, and $1 will get you a cup of coffee.
For perspective, though the UK of the developed countries is the closest to meeting their goals. And that's why the MP there, Alok Sharma is being
scold and saying you guys need to step up to the plate, but you touched on it, just an example in China.
They're trying to decarbonize, they're making all these grand pledges about not building any new coal fired power plants, but they're having a huge
power crisis. Now a coal shortage, thanks to climate fueled flooding which has shut down dozens of coal mines there.
So the irony there is that the effects of that coal is keeping them from burning more coal, which is changing the politics of how fast they get off
of coal. In the United States here's a great example.
This is yesterday in Mississippi; they imploded parts of the Kemper Power Plant, which is supposed to be a model for the world on so called clean
coal. When they built this in 2014, even the UN said, boy, this is going to be great. $7.5 billion dollars later, it never worked. And so they blew it
And the reason they kept it going so long is ideological led Republicans poured money into this trying to save the coal industry so that's sort of a
lesson in the in the pragmatics of this. And even in California, which is leading the United States is trying to lead in sort of climate pledges.
Southern California Edison, the power company in the Southern part of the state is calling them out saying we're going to miss those targets by 30
million tons metric tons of carbon. Of course, they're incentivized to call them out, because they're an all-electric utility. They don't sell oil, gas
And so there - they get more profitable, the faster that state electrifies. But it's a lesson in how promises are one thing and actually meeting those
ANDERSON: Yes. And Bill look, I mean, this is certainly not the last time that you and I are going to speak in the next couple of weeks. And as we
move towards COP26, it's so important to recognize that at what a crucial time, in so many promises being made is, we are still lacking in so much
detail from so many nations around the world as to exactly what they propose to do, rather than just making promises.
And you know, and important to note that there - that we are effectively saying fossil fuels renascence at this point, because of this supply crisis
that we see in so many parts of the world. Let's be quite clear, the pandemic, recovery, obviously, providing, you know, impetus for these
economies and therefore demand for energy.
And but so many of these things are so difficult to sort of square off, aren't they? And you and I can discuss all of it as we move through the
days and weeks to come. It's always a pleasure having you on sir. Thank you very much.
WEIR: Thanks Becky.
ANDERSON: Indeed, Bill Weir just underscoring some of the challenges out there on either side is budging and tensions between China and Taiwan show
no sign of letting up. We're going to take a look at how that is making U.S. foreign policy trickier?
ANDERSON: Well, a pile of challenges on U.S. President Joe Biden's Oval Office desk quite daunting. It extends overseas to Taiwan, the Chinese
government showing off its military muscle just across the water from Taiwan.
And as you can imagine, that is not helping the already high tension between Washington and Beijing before the end of the year. Joe Biden the
Chinese President Xi Jinping, I expected to meet virtually.
Mr. Biden will have a balancing act of sorts to do calming tensions across the strait between Mainland China and Taiwan and defending democracy on the
island. For its part Taiwan's government says it will not bow down to China and will fight to preserve that democracy.
China, on the other hand, expects an eventual reunification with what it considers a breakaway province. Will Ripley is in Taipei with the story for
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Forceful words from the head of the world's largest one party state. China's president
saying a reunification of China and Taiwan, "Will definitely be achieved". Taiwan's president firing back, pledging not to bow to pressure.
This as the island shows its military might. Days after Taiwan's defense ministry said nearly 150 Chinese war planes flew over four days in its air
defense zone. Tensions between the two governments may be reaching a boiling point but they've been brewing for decades and a complex
relationship that began with war.
In 1949, the previous Chinese government fled to Taiwan after a brutal civil war with the communists. Those communists set up what is now the
People's Republic of China. Both sides claimed they were the true authority of the island, and then came decades of hostility with no travel, trade or
even communication between the two sides.
In the 1990s, relations between Beijing and Taipei began to thaw; authorities put aside the issue of sovereignty in favor of more economic
and cultural cooperation. Still, China insisted Taiwan was a breakaway province that must eventually be reunited with the Mainland, even if that
means by force.
In Taiwan, two parties began to form, one that was more aligned with the People's Republic of China, another in favor of complete independence. In
2016, the pro Independence Party nominee, Tsai Ing-wen was elected President of Taiwan.
Since then, relations started to deteriorate again. China started using its massive economic power against the much smaller democratic island for about
24 million people. In 2018, they pressured international companies to consider Taiwan part of China and threatened to crack down on the business
of anyone that didn't comply.
Meanwhile, the U.S. which has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan showed commitment to the islands defense and to preserving peace in the
Western Pacific. That has been incensing Beijing, which believes Taiwan has no right to its own diplomacy.
RIPLEY (voice over): In the past, China has stopped short of a full scale military invasion. But every Chinese leader since the current government's
founder, Mao Zedong, has vowed to take control of Taiwan. Now with China's President Xi Jinping renewing his vows to bring the two together. Taiwan's
fate hangs in the balance. Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: On your perspective, from both Washington and indeed from Beijing, John Harwood is at the White House for you. I'm going to get you
to Tokyo for Selina Wang though. You've got the China perspective for us albeit from a different dateline, as it was.
Chinese says it's carried out beach landing drills in a province opposite Taiwan. This is the latest in China's moves around Taipei. It didn't link
the exercise is to current tensions. But what do we know of the details and of why these moves are happening now?
SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, it's clear that part of the purpose of this military drill is propaganda. This video was released a day
after Taiwan's National Day and you can see in the video soldier storming the beach, they're going through barbed wire; they're digging trenches in
But another key point here is the location this took place in Fujian Province would you say is directly across the sea from Taiwan. So it would
serve as a critical launch point for any potential invasion and also has a similar terrain to Taiwan.
This does critically come as frictions are building and China sending a record number of Warplanes to Taiwan's air defense identification zone,
critically not its sovereign airspace. So most analysts see this as a flexing a military muscle and not assign an imminent sign of the threat of
And from Beijing's perspective, Taiwan is an inseparable part of its territory even though the Chinese Communist Party has never ruled the
democratic Island. In every leader since Mao Zedong has vowed to take Taiwan but Chinese leader Xi Jinping is the first to command a military
that is strong enough to potentially plausibly do so.
And he has made it clear that reunification is not a question of if, but when. And also you have just last week, Taiwan's defense minister warning
that China would be able to invade by 2025, in that the situation is the most dangerous in 40 years.
And Becky as for why the world and why the U.S. should care, well, Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen has said that if Taiwan were to fall, it would have
devastating catastrophic consequences for regional peace stability and for democracies around the world.
Taiwan relies heavily on the U.S. support just last year buying $5 billion worth of weapons from the U.S. So the U.S. is facing a critical question
here. For decades, the U.S. has maintained this policy of strategic ambiguity where it officially recognizes Beijing over Taiwan, as most
countries do, but also supports Taiwan's right for self-defense.
So now, across the region, you have this growing question of whether that strategy should still be in place or if there should be a stronger
commitment from the U.S. Becky.
ANDERSON: And John, the Taiwanese words the Tony's leaders' words will have resonated in Washington. Just explain where the administration is at with
regard these tensions with China. What's the strategy here, sir?
JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, if you step back and look at the entire thru line of the Biden Administration's foreign policy.
And domestic policy for that matter, it's about standing up to a rising China both economically in terms of the United States developing its own
economy, developing its capacity to produce semiconductors compete in various ways, with the growth of China's economy, but also to stand up to
And this is a moment when Xi Jinping appears to be putting strategic ambiguity that, as Selina said, has been the United States policy to attest
now support for Taiwan is very strong in the United States. Concern about China is great in both parties in the United States.
But that's a different thing. Support is a different thing than when you the rubber meet the road on a potential actual military conflict. That's
going to be a very hard call for the Biden Administration or any president.
ANDERSON: Sure. And John, I'm losing count of the amount of times we have called a week that was as it were the most consequential in Joe Biden's
ANDERSON: But this week and this prevailing issue is certainly an incredibly important one for the Biden Administration. What would a win
here look like?
HARWOOD: Well, if you're talking about the legislative agenda, the Biden White House is feeling increasing pressure to demonstrate its ability to
bring Democrats together behind that economic package, which as I mentioned, is designed in part to enhance the U.S. economy to compete with
And that's part of the pitch to Democrats, as they try to get all 50 Senate Democrats and the overwhelming majority of House Democrats on board.
Negotiators appear to be making progress. So they've got a shot to do it, if not this week, this month.
So there is some sense of, of optimism here. But there's also a lot of anxiety in the White House because so many crises have converged upon the
White House at the same time, the resurgence of the COVID pandemic that may be easing a bit.
The pressure from China is another factor. And the difficulty in enacting its legislative agenda is a third bites poll numbers have eroded above 50
percent most of the year now, in the mid-40s. That poses a huge danger to Democrats in the 2022 midterm elections.
So they feel a strong need to get going and get going now. And one senior administration official told me we're going to get a deal this week or
we're going to try a new approach. We'll see what that would be.
ANDERSON: Yes, fascinating. Thank you both. Ahead on the show series Northwest is collapsing under the pressure of COVID-19. We'll speak with
the MSF, Head of mission for Syria, on how that organization is scaling up their mission to help.
ANDERSON: A damning report from UK lawmakers today slamming how the British government responded in the early days of the COVID pandemic. That report
from Parliament's Health and Science committees criticizes the delay in imposing an original lockdown. It also highlights failures in testing and
contact tracing. The Chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee said an attitude of fatalism dominated the early pandemic response.
What Syria nation still consumed by the Civil War has been going on for more than a decade is now itself fighting a massive onslaught of COVID-19
infections. Jomana Karadsheh takes us to one of the largest opposition strongholds Idlib Province. It's relative isolation, no longer protecting
it from this virus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Grief is no stranger to this part of Syria. But this time, it's not the bombs and
bullets. It's COVID-19 that's claiming more and more lives. The White Helmets known for their heroic rescues, pulling countless bodies from
underneath the rubble of bombed out buildings.
Now bury it looks dead. No one really knows how many lives COVID-19 has claimed. But every day since August, they've been digging new grooves. When
they're not faring the dead, the white helmets are still trying to save lives.
Transporting hundreds of patients to the few hospitals left standing after years of Russian and regime airstrikes. Hospitals treating COVID-19 are
overwhelmed. Oxygen is in short supply and so are doctors.
Officials here say there are only 200 doctors treating COVID-19 patients in northwestern Syria. Years of war have left this last major opposition
stronghold, home to more than 4 million people with only 900 doctors.
This nearly isolated part of the world was spared the worst of the pandemic. But health workers say the Delta variant is wreaking havoc with
limited testing capabilities. It's hard to know the real extent of the spread. Medical NGO say the situation is catastrophic, with a positivity
rate of more than 50 percent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: And you can see Jomana's full report firstname.lastname@example.org. I wanted to get you part of that reporting, though, because I'm joined now by Yasser
Kamaledin who is Head of Mission for Syria with Medecins Sans Frontieres, also known as "Doctors without Borders", of course and he's been with MSF.
Since 2012, the group operates in northwestern Syria, including in Idlib and you are on the ground. And you have visited areas where Jomana's report
suggests things are really bad. How would you describe the COVID situation there at present and what have you been witnessing?
YASSER KAMALEDIN, HEAD OF MISSION, MEDECINS SANS FRONTIERES SYRIA: Thank you so much, Becky, thank you for having me today. So the COVID-19
situation in northwest Syria at the moment is, indeed the worrying and catastrophic to not be exaggerating to say catastrophic.
Since a bit more than a couple of months now, we've been seeing a steady increase in the number of COVID patients. And this wave of COVID-19 has
proven to be way more aggressive when compared with the last wave that we saw in October last year.
It's aggressive in the number of patients that are receiving the severity of the symptoms that they show upon arrival and also in the debts of the
patients. The problem now is that the healthcare system in the whole of Northwest Syria is reaching its limits to how it can support the health
services for the COVID-19 patient and for the other patients as well.
ANDERSON: So MSF works in northwestern Syria. This is an area which is still controlled by forces who opposed Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.
Has there been any coordination between Damascus, Northwest Syria, on support during this pandemic? What are people on the ground getting in
terms of help?
KAMALEDIN: I cannot comment on of course, the political reality now, between Damascus and the opposition groups controlling the Northwest. But
the northwest of Syria is practically isolated from the rest of the government and the healthcare system is also isolated from the rest of the
So this means that the capacity of the healthcare system and that area the number of available doctors available nurses are of the trained and
experienced human resources is limited and pretty immobile in this Northwest area.
ANDERSON: Yes, I mean, the numbers are not just limited. I mean, they are what something like 200 doctors in total am I right in saying that in that
specific part of the country.
And you know, people watching this can only imagine what that lack of support would suggest on the ground when you're seeing the sort of
catastrophic breakout that you describe. So what is it that Syria needs most right now? So what's your appeal here to the international community
and to those watching the show?
KAMALEDIN: If we talk about the northwest of Syria specifically, we are now practically running out of hospital beds running out of the critical care
beds. Oxygen is a practical problem. Recently, the testing capacity has decreased, we reached a point where a very little to no tests were being
done. So it means that for practically blind towards the progression of the COVID-19 outbreak.
I would say that there is a need for an urgent scaling up of the support to COVID-19 activities to enable all of the health factors, all of healthcare
professionals to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
And at the same time, not to disrupt the other lifesaving services or other diseases other than a COVID-19 that are, of course, affected by the
increasing number of patients and the shift to focus on this growing pandemic and the number of best that comes with it.
ANDERSON: So who is sending help, at this point? What help is being provided you've appeal for more, and what's the scope and scale of the
support on the ground, if any, at this point?
KAMALEDIN: So of course, MSF, as well as all of the other health factors running health operations in northwest Syria, I've scaled up already since
the beginning of this wave. But it's not enough the funding available is not enough to cope with the increase the needs, so more is needed in terms
of funding, if I can put it simply like that.
Also, flexible funding mechanism is needed to be able to scale up with the needed speed to cope with this pandemic because if you start at the middle
of the wave, it's already too late because it takes time to scale up the needed activities.
So currently, the available number of hospital beds is nothing compared to the number of population we're talking about more than 4 million people
according to the UN trapped in this area, Northwest Syria.
The number of hospital beds is not enough, the human resources available of course, it's not enough. And to mention as well, something very relevant
for the current COVID-19 crisis, it's the vaccination against COVID-19 which is going very, very slow at the moment.
ANDERSON: With that we're going to leave it there. But you were very much made your point and it's important to have you on, thank you very much
indeed, for joining us. We will be right back.
ANDERSON: Well everyone needs a hero and on Monday National Coming out Day in the U.S. the new Superman from DC Comics came out as bisexual. Jon Kent
is the son of the original Superman Clark Kent and Reporter Lois Lane.
ANDERSON: DC revealed that in an upcoming issue who will begin to same sex relationship and just like his dad, young Jon has fallen for a journalist.
DC says the new Superman is in keeping with the values, the characters have always represented, like the hope, truth and justice. Tom Taylor, the comic
book writer behind it all spoke to CNN earlier, have a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM TAYLOR, SUPERMAN COMIC BOOK WRITER: We're going to get some backlash for this. But the key for me isn't the people that are upset. It's for the
people that are welcomed in by this that say today, you know, this is more powerful than a locomotive, that this is literally the most powerful
superhero in comics.
And one of the best known all around the world is now bisexual. And I think that's a really big and really strong statement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Archeologists have discovered a huge winemaking factory near Tel Aviv, Israel that goes back about 1500 years. The facility is the size of a
football field and contains five large wine presses. Archaeologists say the facility was capable of producing about 2 million liters of wine a year.
The find is remarkably well preserved, including dozens of intact wine jugs of various sizes. Archaeologists say the fine reveals a truly sophisticated
industrial winemaking operation.
As for why so much wine was needed in ancient times while it was often used as a substitute for water, which was sometimes dirty and unsafe to drink
while they burst onto the music scene 60 years ago and broke hearts when they broke up.
Well now, Paul McCartney says it was John Lennon who decided the Beatles couldn't work it out. Well, for decades, fans have debated who was
responsible for the band's breakup in 1970, with many blaming McCartney.
But now more than 50 years later, he says it was Lennon who instigated this split. So now you know you have to wonder what other musical treasures
would have had if they had stayed together. For now I suppose we will get by with a little help from our friends. That's goodbye from Abu Dhabi on
world live from Dubai is next.