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Connect the World

Turkey Voice Concerns over Finland, Sweden NATO Bids; CNN's Amanpour Interviews Taliban Deputy Leader in Kabul; World Leaders Visit UAE to Pay Tribute to Sheikh Khalifa; Ukrainian Official: Reports of Rape Surged after War began; Vote Count Underway in Parliamentary Elections; Ukraine's Kalush Orchestra Wins Eurovision Song Contest. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired May 16, 2022 - 11:00   ET




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

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: I'm Eleni Giokos in Abu Dhabi. Hello and welcome to "Connect the World". Now NATO expansion is another

step closer today with the Swedish government's official announcements that it intends to join the alliance. And you heard it earlier on CNN, the Prime

Minister citing Russian aggression and its war on Ukraine, saying joining NATO is the best way to ensure her country's future security.

This follows Finland's Parliament formally announcing its intent to join NATO with a vote there expected tomorrow. Now Sweden's Prime Minister says

there is strength in numbers.


MAGDALENA ANDERSSON, SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER: We have had a long conversation within our party. Sweden has already got support for important

NATO countries like the U.S., Germany, the UK, Spain, and we will do this process together with our neighboring country Finland.


GIOKOS: Russian President Vladimir Putin today said Sweden and Finland entering NATO won't pose a direct threat to Russia but will provoke a

response. I want to bring in Nina Dos Santos connecting us from Stockholm today. Jomana Karadsheh is in Istanbul, as Turkey's leaders voicing

concerns over these looming NATO applications and we also have Melissa Bell having the latest on the ground in Ukraine. She's in Lviv for us.

Nina, I want to start with you because semantics here actually matter. There's a sense of urgency. But there's also a process that needs to get

underway, which could take some time. We've ascertained that Sweden is on board; the Finns still need to vote tomorrow. But you have to have all

countries agreeing as well. Where are we in this process right now?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. All 30 members of NATO and one of them Turkey began to voice some concerns, in particular about

Sweden over the course of the last few days that appears as though Turkey might have been torn down from its position.

But obviously Sweden has taken in a number of asylum seekers, including from the Kurdish community. And the President of Turkey believes that many

of these Kurdish separatist groups should be called terrorist organizations.

So that is a point of political leverage that Turkey is trying to use and to try and torpedo that in this project infancy. What we have is a pushback

from Sweden and other powerful members of NATO. Sweden's Defense Secretary is going to be heading to Washington D.C. this week to meet with Lloyd

Austin, the U.S. Defense Secretary.

We've also got Antony Blinken, talking about how much support there is from a U.S. perspective for these countries to join NATO. And even just today,

what we've seen, as Sweden government has announced that it will go ahead with his bid to join NATO is a raft of other Nordic countries that are

members of NATO as well, like for instance, Iceland, Norway or Denmark, uttering their support and Charles Michel the Head of the EU Council as


So this is a much choreographed political series of statements. It's going to culminate, possibly tomorrow, maybe even the day after with a joint

applications signed by both Finland and Sweden to join NATO strengthen numbers, it's likely that the Finnish President Sauli Niinisto is going to

come here to Stockholm, to have that ceremonial signing.

And then of course, we'll see the ambassadors of these countries send the message over to NATO, that these nations want to join each of those 30

countries then has to debate it and rubber stamp it. But the whole procedure is set to culminate with the NATO meeting that's taking place in

about a month or so in Madrid.

That is when all 30 members will get a chance to really get around the table and discuss this serious the important move by these two Nordic

countries that could reshape the geopolitics and security architecture of this part of Europe Eleni.

GIOKOS: Yes. And Jomana I want to bring you in here. It is a delicate moment and President Erdogan voicing concerns right now at this juncture, I

mean, it's raising questions; will it derail the process of Sweden and Finland joining NATO?


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think Eleni initially when President Erdogan first made those comments on Friday saying that he

doesn't view Sweden and Finland's membership positively that he has concerned about their support for "Terrorist Organizations". There was a

lot of concern about where this was headed?

But over the weekend, we've heard from Senior Turkish officials from President Erdogan's

National Security Adviser from the Foreign Minister really explaining Turkey's position saying that this is not a firm no, that they are not

saying that they're going to block these two countries from joining NATO.

But this is about Turkey, raising some issues some concerns that it wants, addressed, that this is about its own national security, and that it wants

security guarantees from these countries that it accuses as Nina mentioned there, of providing support for Kurdish militants, groups, the separatist

group, especially the PKK, that is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey by the United States and the EU.

And what Turkey is saying is that members of the PKK have been operating in Sweden, specifically and also in Finland, and also raising concerns about

another issue that has always been at the heart of disagreements between Turkey and other NATO allies, including the United States, and that is

arming the Kurdish Syrian Group, the YPG, that Turkey considers to be an extension of the PKK.

And they accused Sweden against specifically of providing support and arming the YPG. So they want these issues addressed. And they have started

talking the Turkish Foreign Minister sat down with his Swedish and Finnish counterparts over the weekend in Berlin. And they Turkey says it's provided

them with evidence to these allegations, and also that they have they're getting some proposals from these two countries to try and resolve these


But also Eleni, if you listen to the tone that we're getting from officials, including the U.S. Secretary of State NATO leadership, they

don't seem very concerned about this right now. They seem quite confident that they're going to be able to work through this and address Turkey's


But very interesting, I have to mention a number of Turkey analysts and experts who have been watching this closely saying that OK, while Turkey

might have some security concerns right it might have legitimate concerns to bring up with these two countries.

This could also be Turkey here trying to assert itself as an important NATO member that it wants a seat at the table when the big decisions are being

made, and that wants to be consulted and not taken for granted.

GIOKOS: Yes. And while these discussions are happening, in terms of issues being raised, and debates in Parliament's and votes, what really actually

matters and the reason that we're seeing more countries wanting to join NATO is what's happening on the ground in Ukraine and Melissa Bell, we have

you in Lviv right now.

We see major shifts, and we're seeing the Ukrainians showing a hell of a fights and resistance in certain parts of the country. And this could be

significant at a time where you see Vladimir Putin talking about dire consequences. When and if should NATO expand further? Tell me about what

you're hearing at the moment?

All right, I think we have - all right, we've lost Melissa. But I'm going to get Nina to pick up for us in terms of the consequences the threats,

frankly, Nina coming through from the Russians that if Finland and Sweden were to join, what would that potentially mean for security and Europe?

SANTOS: Yes, well, this is a huge realignment of NATO, and also this security architecture in this part of the world. For Sweden, this is a 200

year project of neutrality and military non-alignment that is coming to an end.

This will have a big impact on the national identity here. And it'll also have a big impact on the security of this part of the world because Sweden

has said as part of its conditions for joining NATO it doesn't want any military bases to be stationed on its islands here in the Baltic Sea, which

is super strategically important for the Nordic countries, but also for Russia as well.

The Island of Gotland in the middle of the South Baltic Sea faces Kaliningrad the Baltic enclave of Russia and Russia has intimated that it

could place nuclear weapons in that enclave and perhaps even point them in this direction if Sweden and Finland were to join NATO.

So Sweden is trying to play it from a very sort of safe perspective, if you like they don't want NATO bases. They don't want any nuclear weapons on

their land. But the reality is, is that in the meantime, these countries recognize that they may be vulnerable for a few months as they try and get

those other NATO members to sign on the dotted line as you heard they're not least Turkey.


SANTOS: We had a press conference earlier today with the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition and they said that they are prepped for

potentially disinformation, about cyber warfare from Russia. Russia has made it clear it wants to retaliate. But it's not quite clear when if and

how it might do so, Eleni.

GIOKOS: Yes, that's the big question. What would you know this mean? Nina Dose Santos, Jomana Karadsheh thank you so very much for your insight,

brilliant work. McDonald's is saying goodbye to Russia. The fast food burger chain announced it is selling its business in the country.

McDonald's temporarily shut down more than 800 restaurants in Russia shortly after the war in Ukraine started also exiting Russia French

Automaker Renault. The company is also selling its business including its stake in auto manufacturer ladder. CNN's Anna Stewart joins me now from

London. Anna gives me a sense of what this final exit from these two mega companies will mean for Russia?

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it'd be very interesting for Russia. And of course, this builds on some corporate news we had last week,

Shell also sucked in the French bank or exiting their businesses. So we had a spate of Western companies saying they were suspending all their


They were closing down shops, they were putting pause on factory floors. And now they're actually exiting. And the two statements we've had today

from McDonald's and Renault have been really interesting almost for different reasons.

For McDonald's this is really symbolic. They opened in 1990, just before the Soviet era collapsed. The images of Russians queuing for a McDonald's

burger, the absolute icon of American capitalism will be remembered by the world and I think so will their closure.

And their statement today was really powerful. They say they're selling their entire restaurant portfolio. And in their statement, they said they

intend to initiate the process of de arching those restaurants, which entails no longer using the McDonald's name, the logo, the branding the


And the statement essentially went on to say that their values do not align with Russia. So this is a very final exit from McDonald's. I wouldn't ever

expect them to return to this market given the statement. And then we had the statement from Renault the French carmaker very different statement in

a way they are exiting their business.

They are selling that nearly 68 percent stake in the Russian company - which owns the larger brand, however, they're very much keeping their

options on the table because they have a six year buyback option with windows in that six years, which could see them return into that


So really different statements, but clearly a sign that businesses at this stage are looking to exit and they're putting big hefty charges on their

financial statements they are exiting Russia at least for now.

GIOKOS: Anna Stewart thank you so much. Now coming up, the Russians occupied their villages and the devastation left behind goes far beyond

bombs and bullets. Two women share their horrific experience. And CNN's Christiane Amanpour speaks exclusively with the Taliban Deputy Leader what

they discussed after the short break.



GIOKOS: Afghanistan is in the grips of a humanitarian crisis almost half of the population 20 million people are currently experiencing acute hunger.

And that's according to a UN fact report.

And nearly a year after taking control of the country, Taliban leaders are facing fierce international criticism for gradually removing woman's

rights, most recently a decree ordering woman to cover their faces in public.

CNN Chief International Anchor, Christiane Amanpour spoke exclusively with Sirajuddin Haqqani, the deputy leader of the Taliban and acting interior

minister in the Afghan government. And Christiane joins me now live from Afghanistan's capital Kabul.

Christiane, really good to see you, incredible that you've got to speak to the Taliban, but again, we have to also take this with quite a large

measure of sobriety here and say that their messaging must have been absolutely planned.

What did they tell you in terms of trying to really push through a lot of the promises that they've been giving the world over this past year but

have clearly broken?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, it was an incredible sit down with this man who has been not only part of the leader

of the feared Haqqani Network for a while. Also, as you know, the United States has a bounty on his head because of they accused him of being

responsible for attacks on Americans for attacks on the former president of this country.

But the fact is, he's now the most powerful government minister, he's deputy Taliban leader. And he is, as you say, the interior minister in what

is still an acting government or an interim government some nine months after the fall of Kabul last August, because they call it the liberation of


So it was very clear that they do want to re-energize or actually start some kind of, you know, relationship with the international community. No

country has actually recognized the Taliban.

And many countries have imposed very harsh sanctions, the United States have, the UN has they have been carved out for humanitarian assistance;

there have been carve outs for business as well.

But the clear attempt by Haqqani and his more pragmatic group of Taliban leaders based here in Kabul is to try to do the kinds of things that they

promised they would do, for instance, allow women and girls to keep working the women girls to keep going to school.

And he assured me that soon, those were his words, soon, once the proper measures had been put in place, this suspension of girls going back to

secondary school would be reversed and it'd be able to go back.

And I said, well, you know, these promises have been made before. And it appears that part of this new edict on covering and the what they call in

the West, the burqa, what they call here, the clattery, potentially might have been a stop to the very, very conservative hardliners, in order to get

these schools reopened.

We're not entirely clear about that. But Haqqani said that, this is not mandatory, and that it is advisory only but you know when the edicts go

out, they do have a chilling effect, which I put to him.

But he is one of those and many in the West concur. In fact, they say that, yes, he is accused of all these crimes or this terrorism, but he is also

somebody who we can work with. This is the paradox.

He is pragmatic, he has made good measures to combat terrorism, he pledges and he said to me, that this will never be a country again, that could be

used as a breeding ground to threaten either United States or its allies.

And they mentioned these Western officials that Haqqani was the first to put women back to work in his own ministry, the interior ministry. So this

is an extremely complex situation.

The most important thing Eleni, to remember is that all the sanctions on this government simply hurt the people here. And that's what is the moral

imperative to try to get aid to the people here.

GIOKOS: Yes, I mean, multiple crises playing out at the same time. I'm really curious whether you believe that there might be some kind of split

in terms of ideology in the Taliban leadership, whether you got any sense of that, and how this perhaps differs from what you saw in the 90s when the

Taliban took over that period and how different the messaging is?

AMANPOUR: Well, look there is some differences, no doubt back in the 90s. They will all the hardline they all represented the incredibly conservative

traditional hardline what they call Kandahari type Taliban. That's what they all were, they were not a government back then they were a movement.


AMANPOUR: They did say things. They said things to me that they never actually fulfill particularly about girls and women's rights. And that was

always the motif about Afghanistan, under the Taliban was about women's rights.

And the desperate poverty, the grinding, terrible, terrible struggle that these people go through, and are now plunged back into that. You mentioned

the UN report that nearly half the population here some nearly 20 million people face acute hunger.

Another UN agency, the WFP says that about 9 million face famine like conditions. The IRC, the International Rescue Committee says that nearly

half the Afghan people today survive on less than one meal a day.

I mean, this is really dire, really, really dire, and a complete change from just nine months ago. So there is according to many Western officials,

and what I've been able to glean in the small amount of time that I've been here now 48 hours.

But talking to people before I got here, there does seem to be a split that absolutely does, with the vast majority being much more pragmatic, wanting

to work with the international community, obviously wanting to be recognized having the sanctions removed.

But even around the country in the most traditional areas, we've seen protests by religious leaders by traditional leaders, including men who

want their girls to go to school to secondary school as well as primary school.

So this is something that this Taliban has to reckon with because they want to be seen as legitimate government meeting their own people's needs, as

well as trying to get on better with the international community. So it's a conundrum.

GIOKOS: Christiane, really good to have you there, an important country that we must not forget, and we must still focus on acutely. Thank you very

much. And we have the full interview with Christiane and the deputy Taliban leader Sirajuddin Haqqani, just about 90 minutes from now; you don't want

to miss that.

And Christiane will be reporting live from Kabul, and that's on Amanpour 6 pm in London, 9:30 pm in Kabul right here on CNN.

Unacceptable and unjustifiable, that's how the brother of slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh is describing the actions of Israeli police.

During her funeral footage on Friday showed police beating pallbearers with batons.

Police blamed rioters for starting the violence of Akleh was shot and killed in the West Bank last week. Palestinian and Israeli authorities are

carrying out separate investigations. The journalist brother spoke out a short time ago, take a listen to this.


TONY ABU AKLEH, SLAIN JOURNALIST'S BROTHER: The police we saw on the videos how they have to do actually against pallbearers carrying the casket with

batons, beating them, smashing the hearse. This was unacceptable, unjustifiable, and they could have easily dropped the road. They didn't

want to see the funeral leave the hospital. But the attack was intentional and --.


GIOKOS: World leaders are descending upon the UAE to express condolences over the loss of longtime President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. A

U.S. delegation led by Vice President Kamala Harris visited the UAE today.

Harris met with the UAE's new President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Sheikh Khalifa's half-brother, and express condolences.

Sheikh Khalifa died on Friday; he had suffered a stroke in 2014. And power had largely been handed over to Sheikh Mohammed. The two men are credited

with bringing the UAE much closer to the west.

Let's talk more about the legacy of Sheikh Khalifa and where the UAE is heading. Next I'm joined by Ayham Kamel. He is the Head of the Eurasia

Group's Middle East and North Africa research team, really good to see you.

I want to talk about legacy. And I think this is a really interesting time to reflect on the incredible progress the UAE has seen specifically under

Sheikh Khalifa. But many of the policies or ideas or visions were put in motion by the founding father Sheikh Khalifa's father.

AYHAM KAMEL, DIRECTOR, MIDDLE EAST & NORTH AFRICA, EURASIA GROUP: No, I think you're looking at in many ways; of course, Sheikh Zayed has created

really the platform for the country to move forward. Dubai has done quite amazingly in over the last three decades.

But Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed even before assuming power for the last decade when de facto he has been ruling the UAE he has created a platform

for the UAE to jump to another level not just economically, but geopolitically.

The UAE has soft power and MBZ has a very clear ambition to make the UAE and mid-tier Global Power not just a powerful country in the neighborhood a

very clear vision for this even.


GIOKOS: I want to talk about policy continuity. And we know Sheikh Khalifa was, of course, largely out of the limelight since 2014. And it's actually

been Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed that has been pushing a lot of goals forward. Are you expecting a seamless transition here and not much to


KAMEL: I think in terms of the transition, I will be seamless, it'll be stable, and it's really not controversial. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed has

been de facto ruling and has built quite a bit of a support base in terms of the different emirates and globally.

Of course, as a President, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed would want to create his own legacy around that. So certainly, there'd be plans to advance on

several policies - areas that will be your focus.

I think perhaps one of the biggest challenges facing the UAE is a different geopolitical reality in which the U.S. is less engaged in the Middle East

as a whole, and their rising powers and rising interest with countries such as China.

So I think it's a very delicate transition and very delicate environment for Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed.

GIOKOS: Ayham, I have to say, we've seen so many world leaders as well dissent on the UAE, you're talking about a different geopolitical scenario

that is playing out. And it seems that, you know, seeing the U.S. coming through the UK, France as well, what message do you think that sending?

KAMEL: The message is quite clear, in my view, is we want to build a stronger relationship with this new entity, which is the UAE, particularly

around the leadership of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed.

So there's a lot of trust, really, that is around the leader specifically, and an attempt to signal that these countries are serious about either

maintaining the strategic links, or reformulating in a way that remains stable.

I think for the U.S., the biggest message over here is although Biden is not there; President Biden hasn't really been as engaged even on other

subjects. So I wouldn't necessarily look at it as detrimental the UAE Saudi relationship.

GIOKOS: All right. Thank you so much. I am good to see you. Thanks for that analysis.


GIOKOS: Right looking ahead on "Connect the World" Lebanon's high stakes election. We're watching to see if the results will be enough to revive its

failing economy and the former ISIS hostage who is now an advocate for rape survivors around the globe.

My conversation with Nobel laureate Nadia Murad, that's coming up.



GIOKOS: Failure army is touting a major victory on the front line. This video shows a unit raising a blue and yellow stripe Flitz stake at the

border of Russia just outside of Kharkiv.

The area has seen intense fighting for weeks. Now overnight, another Russian missile hits Odessa, a key port city on the Black Sea. They also

hit a hospital in - Donetsk on Sunday, the main staging area in Russia's Eastern offensive way intense combat is underway.

The Head of the regional government says there have been at least 11 artillery attacks over the last few days. Ukraine's Prosecutor General is

investigating more than 11,000 allegations of war crimes.

These include the deliberate bombing of civilians, killings, torture, and the use of rape as a weapon. CNN's Sara Sidner spoke to two women about

their ordeal when their village was occupied by Russian troops and a warning some of the language you're about to hear is graphic.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In this pine forest, the remnants of a nasty battle caught in the crossfire, a quiet farming village

in Ukraine's Provari district. Here Russian soldiers are accused of doing more than destroying homes to women say they raped them too.

MIKA, RAPE SURVIVOR: What that son of a bitch did to me was horrible. He forced me to, I can't talk about it. I'm ashamed and scared.

SIDNER (voice over): She shows us where Russian soldiers fired a shot in her home in March. She says she heard them say their names.

One was Oleg, the other Danya.

MIKA: Danya started to pull me by the hood. I told him it's painful. He said come with me.

SIDNER (voice over): She says they dragged her down the street to her neighbor's small farmhouse. They're a grandmother, her daughter; her

daughter's husband and her grandson were all inside sleeping when the soldiers arrived.

SIDNER (on camera): What happened when the soldier showed up at your house?

MIKA: I hear them banging at the door so hard that everything around was shaking, even the windows.

SIDNER (voice over): She says she stayed in the house. Her son in law went outside with the soldiers and the neighbor.

MIKA: There was a short conversation. Then there was a sound like a bang, shuttling a firework. My body was shaking.

SIDNER (voice over): They killed him; she says they took his wife while the Russian soldiers marched the two to this empty house. She said she heard

them talking.

MIKA: They were calling each other by name saying look that we're going to --.

SIDNER (voice over): She says she tried to reason with the soldier who would hold of her.

MIKA: Danya told me he was 19. I told him I was 41; my younger son is the same age as you. I asked him if he has a girlfriend. He said yes, she's 17.

But I haven't had sex with her. Then why are you doing this to me? He answered because he hadn't seen a woman in two weeks.

SIDNER (on camera): She says the soldier promised not to kill her. But when she escaped, she had to risk her life just to get home because this village

was under heavy bombardment.

MIKA: There were bullets flying around from the forest. I thought oh my God, someone will see me and kill me.

SIDNER (voice over): The two women survived the assaults, but then became the target of nasty gossip by other neighbors who saw Russian soldiers

roaming around one of their homes.

Grandmother Valentina explained why saying her traumatized daughter went to the Russian commander, demanding help burying her husband.

VALENTINE, MOTHER OF RAPE SURVIVOR: You guys came at night and kill him. You have to help us bury him. We are standing on the grave.

SIDNER (voice over): She takes us to her backyard and points to two patches of dirt. Her daughter couldn't bear the pain and left the country her

neighbor decided to stay and fight back.

MIKA: Did they see it? Did they see it? They didn't see it. I can accuse some of them too.

SIDNER (on camera): Do feel like you've been punished twice, once by the rape and then a second time by the rumors in the village?

MIKA: Yes, it's really true. But God can see everything.

SIDNER (voice over): Since the war began, the Ombudsman for human rights of Ukraine says reports of rape on a new hotline have exploded.

LYUDMYLA DENISOVA, UKRAINE OMBUDSMAN FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: There are more than 700 calls since the first of April.

SIDNER (voice over): The United Nations says rape is often used as a weapon of war. But the ombudsman says tracking down evidence and identifying

perpetrators of any war crime is especially daunting.

SIDNER (on camera): It sounds to me like many of these war crimes will go unpunished. How do you not lose your mind listening to these horrific

stories of rape?

DENISOVA: It's very difficult. You know someone has to do it for our fighters risking their lives on the front lines. They are in danger every

minute, this is my own frontline.


SIDNER (voice over): One of Ukraine's top prosecutors is investigating this case and told us the details described by these women behind this gate very

clearly constitute war crimes. This survivor says she intends to help them prove it.

SIDNER (on camera): What should happen to the soldiers?

MIKA: I want them to be punished by the court, the judges must decide what to do with them, shoot them, kill them, tear them apart, the Basters.

SIDNER (voice over): Sara Sidner, CNN, Brovary District, Ukraine.


GIOKOS: And as Sara noted, the UN says rape is often used as a weapon of war, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Yazidi activist Nadia Murad knows this

all too well, and she was abducted and enslaved by ISIS back in 2014.

Since her escape, she has become an advocate for survivors of sexual violence. As reports of rape began to surface from Ukraine, she urged world

leaders at the UN to take action.


NADIA MURAD, YAZIDI ACTIVIST: If women, who have suffered such immense loss and incredible pain, can find the strength to not only rebuild our lives,

but help our families, communities and entire countries.

Surely the rest of the world can find the strength to take meaningful steps to end sexual violence in conflict.


GIOKOS: Murad recently launched the Murad code and initiative that provides a guide for how best to support survivors. The guide has been translated

and provided to the Government of Ukraine. And I spoke to Nadia Murad about her reaction when she first heard the reports from Ukraine.

MURAD: I was not surprised because sexual violence, we know that when in any conflict, sexual violence is something that, that terrorist groups and

even oppressive regimes they, they always look at it.

And it's always it has been in the past, and even now, it has been seen as a side effect of conflict. But that is not true. You know, sexual violence

is - it has been in the past, and even now, it's been used as a weapon of war, to destroy communities.

They know that that woman, women, you know, they are so important to communities, they keep communities strong, healthy, and united so when you

target them, you are cutting off life support for - in prison, I mean for present and future generations, and that can last for many generations.

GIOKOS: You spoke to the UN a few weeks ago, and you were pleading for the international community to recognize this issue and take action to support

survivors, specifically in terms of what's happening in Ukraine right now drawing on some of your harrowing experiences.

What is your message right now? And what do you think they should be doing?

MURAD: We are working to make sure that what ISIS or - or other oppressive regimes are doing against women and girls is documented.

And that they are going to be punished to make sure that they will be held accountable for the crimes of genocide and sexual violence, to record

recognized what happened to Yazidis as genocide.

And to work on accountability and prevention, to make sure that what happened to me and to many women and girls around the world will not be

impeded right now in Ukraine.

GIOKOS: You mentioned prevention, and it reminds me of, you know, the messaging that you have been sending for so many years that the

international community you said at one point failed to save us that people stood idly by watching genocide and it was preventable.

The whole point about these situations is that people are watching on and they're not intervening. Are there any mechanisms that can be used to

intervene, to avoid atrocities like what you and your family have experienced?

MURAD: You know, in 2014 my family and I and thousands of other people in my village we were surrounded by ISIS for two weeks. Our goal was ignored

by the international community and by our own government.


MURAD: We were left behind for ISIS to commit genocide and use sexual violence as a weapon of war to destroy my community. And they succeed. And

that was, that was, it was possible to prevent.

I mean, we were telling the world and the world was watching as ISIS was public about the plan they set up for, for why they were there, and what

was their goal. And you know, even in today, we thousands of evidence, documentation and testimonies, we would be - the international community

has failed to hold them accountable for what they did to us.

So it is important that we act as soon as a conflict breaks out to make sure that we support survivors to make sure that we can prevent more

violence and rape against women and girls.

GIOKOS: Do you feel that the international response to what is happening in Ukraine is very aggressive? And it's shown what collaboration and

cooperation on the international front can do to assist countries when they have an aggressor like Russia? And do you feel that the same you know,

effort wasn't put into what we saw happening in Iraq, specifically for the Yazidis?

MURAD: No, nothing like, like, like what we are seeing right now in Ukraine, happened in Iraq to prevent that genocide against Yazidis. So it

is important and I am glad that the international community is taking action right now in Ukraine to prevent what happened in other places

against women spiritually and girls in Ukraine.

GIOKOS: Big thank you to Nadia Murad for sharing her story with us and up next, a big vote and an economic nightmare. Can a high stakes election turn

things around in Lebanon; we'll be live in Beirut next.


GIOKOS: Welcome back. Now votes are being counted in Lebanon after the country's first national elections since its economy collapsed. A popular

uprising in 2019 demanded the downfall of the ruling elites over allegations of corruption and economic mismanagement.

The United Nations and the World Bank say that mismanagement ended up causing a massive poverty crisis.


GIOKOS: CNN's Ben Wedeman spoke to people in Lebanon ahead of Sunday's ballot about their hopes for the future. Take a listen.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's a musical litany about all that's wrong in Lebanon. No water, no food, no

internet, no work, no fuel, no safety, no money.

This video clip put together by activist sums up the deep skepticism so many fields the country deep in crisis goes through parliamentary

elections. And none are more skeptical than the residents of the impoverished city --.

Sameer says he'd rather sell his lemons and waste time voting for any of the plethora of candidates. None of them is any good, he tells me. Once the

elections are over, they'll come with knives and start slaughtering everyone, a little bit of hyperbole perhaps the sentiment is clear.

WEDEMAN (on camera): In October 2019 tens of thousands of people crammed into this Martyrs Square the heart of Beirut demanding change. But since

then in Lebanon, the only change has been for the worst.

WEDEMAN (voice over): Briefly, there was hope. Three years ago anger over corruption and mismanagement ignited hopes that finally the rickety

sectarian system, erected after the Civil War could be replaced by something reflecting the will of the people, then came Coronavirus.

The already ailing economy went into free-fall; four and five Lebanese now live in poverty. The currency has lost 90 percent of its value. And this

Beirut port blast of August 2020, killing more than 200 people, wounding thousands.

Yet the political class that oversaw these catastrophes hangs on. The Shia militant group Hezbollah has held massive election rallies and attempt to

show it still enjoys widespread support, hoping to maintain its coalition that holds a parliamentary majority.

Others led by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the leader of the Sunni community are boycotting the vote. A fifth of the candidates claimed to

represent voices for change, but they're divided, disorganized and underfunded.

Analyst Lynn Zovighian wonders if the few reformers who might win seats in parliament can force the political elite to listen.

LYNN ZOVIGHIAN, ANALYST: The power is tone deaf and the change makers are catching the pulse of the people. But will those very few who end up in

seats of legislative power, will they be able to exercise change?

WEDEMAN (voice over): To so many however, it's all a theater of the absurd. Last month - and his family boarded a boat hoping to reach Cyprus, it sank.

His three children drowned. More than 30 people are still missing.

I wanted to live, he tells me to see my children grow up. My son said I want to be a pilot. My daughter wanted to be a teacher. Your dreams are for

your children. They killed my dreams. Amid says he won't be voting.


GIOKOS: So that's a snapshot of Lebanon taken just before Sunday's vote. We've got Ben Wedeman in Beirut for us. Ben, you said something that really

shook me four in five Lebanese live in poverty.

And you and I have discussed the incredible impact of inflation. It's one thing to vote. And another thing to ensure that there's will on the

leadership front to you know, create that transformation. Is there a sense it will happen this round?

WEDEMAN: Well, I must say there was a lot of skepticism about these elections than anything, but it would change. But in fact, what we are

seeing is that the sort of opposition that came out of the October 2019 uprising here has made significant gains, it seems.

Now only seven out of the 15 districts, electoral districts have reported results. But so far, it does seem a promising. I think five of those

independent candidates have been confirmed and of course there's more counting to be done.

So that is significant, despite the fact that there was there was no unified list of people affiliated with the uprising, but they seem to have

done fairly well. Other significant developments are that in southern Lebanon normally a Hezbollah stronghold, a pro-Syrian Hezbollah affiliated

candidate has been unseated by an independent.


WEDEMAN: And as well as many other pro-Syrian Members of Parliament who were are affiliated with Hezbollah, including the powerful deputy speaker

of parliament.

Equally significant, the vehemently anti Hezbollah, Lebanese Front, Lebanese Forces led by Samir Geagea now has become the biggest Christian

bloc and parliament, beating out the free Patriotic Movement, which is an important ally of Hezbollah and was previously the largest bloc in


Now, there have been many reports of irregularities. One box of ballots from overseas has gone missing. There has been some violence during the

elections. There's a cell phone video circulating of Hezbollah members stuffing ballots.

But nonetheless, it does seem that this election, contrary to the expectations of many could change things here in Lebanon, Eleni?

GIOKOS: So Ben, I have to say, I mean, you know, we know that we still getting results, those are still coming through. But as you ascertain some

of the numbers that have already come through showing that independent parties are gaining traction, so we'll definitely keep an eye on that, Ben,

really good to see you.

Thank you so much for joining us. Now up next on "Connect the World" appointment winner this year for the Eurovision Song Contest. Stay with us.


GIOKOS: All right, let's get you up to speed on some other stories that are on our radar right now. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is mobilizing his

country's army to help fight an outbreak of so called fever cases.

The country is in the midst of its first reported Coronavirus wave. Earlier South Korea said that it would spare no efforts to support North Korea

during the outbreak.

Leaders in Shanghai China say the city will be back to normal by mid-June. But the announcement was met with skepticism by residents who have already

injured seven weeks of strict Coronavirus lockdowns.

According to CNN calculations 187 million people in China are under some form of lockdown as the country presses ahead with a zero COVID strategy.

Now just into CNN, the French Prime Minister is stepping down.

Jean Castex led France's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. His long expected resignation is part of a government reshuffle following the recent

reelection of French President Emmanuel Macron.

And for tonight's parting shots, a small victory for Ukraine over the weekend away from the battlefield Ukraine's Kalush Orchestra won Saturday's

Eurovision Song Contest what they song Stefania.


GIOKOS: The band was initially the runner up to represent Ukraine, but they were elevated after it emerged that the winner had previously traveled to

Russian annexed Crimea. The group released a new music video for their song on Sunday. It already has over 6 million views.

The video shows scenes of destruction and devastation in Bucha and other cities around Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy congratulated the group on social media. Right, so thank you so very much for joining us. That was "Connect

the World". I'm Eleni Giokos in Abu Dhabi. CNN's coverage of Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues after this short break, take care.