Return to Transcripts main page
Connect the World
Biden Arrives In Saudi Arabia After Stop In West Bank; Saudi Arabia Opens Its Airspace To Israeli Civilian Flights; Biden To Walk Political And Diplomatic Tightrope In Saudi Arabia; Majority Of Arab Youth Sees U.S. As An Ally; Sri Lanka Swears In New Acting President; Russian Missile Strikes Bombard Mykolaiv; Ukrainian Farmers On The Frontline In War On Food; COVID- 19, Banking Scandal Take Toll On China's Economy. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired July 15, 2022 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it's 10:00 a.m. in New York. It's 5:00 p.m. right here in Jeddah. This is a special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD,
with me, Becky Anderson, as we follow Joe Biden on his first tour of the Middle East as president of the United States. A very warm welcome from
Right now Joe Biden is in the air on route here. He departed Israel and over the next -- the course of the next couple of hours we'll break down
the key issues and political optics and much anticipated greetings. But for all of you at home, here's what you need to know.
This is a very significant day in resetting America's relationship with this region. Why does that matter, I hear you ask. Well, not only do you
need the buy-in from this region when it comes to ensuring global energy security at a time of high oil and gas prices, which are of course hitting
pocketbooks around the world, you'll also need the support of players here on tackling the climate crisis and ways to deescalate tensions in global
We're going to have a lot more on what Joe Biden hopes to achieve here in Saudi Arabia in just a moment. Well, earlier today he turned his focus to
the Palestinians. Here's what he said after meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Palestinian people are hurting now. You feel -- you can just feel it. Your grief and frustration.
In the United States we can feel it. But we've never give up on the work for peace. You know, there must be a political horizon that the Palestinian
people can actually see or at least feel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: What is his administration then going to do about that hurting and about achieving that peace? Well, today, Joe Biden announced $100
million in aid for East Jerusalem hospitals. He also reaffirmed his support for a two-state solution. But urged Palestinians to strengthen their
institutions and he promised that the U.S. would keep pushing for a full and transparent investigation into the killing of Palestinian-American
journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
An empty seat facing the podium where Biden and Abbas was speaking held a large photo of the late journalist where she would have been sitting. Other
journalists wore T-shirts with her face on them.
Hadas Gold is back in Jerusalem. You were earlier in Bethlehem. And a very poignant image. How did the U.S. president address the murder of the
HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was something that everybody felt as though he had to do. It was a subject that he could not avoid because
it's so much been dominating the thoughts of so many Palestinians over the last two months or so since she was killed in May. And in fact it was
staring President Biden in the face as he entered Bethlehem, as his motorcade entered Bethlehem, they passed right by the separation wall and
along on that separation wall is a giant mural of Shireen Abu Akleh, as well as throughout Bethlehem today.
As we were driving around, you could just see lots and lots of posters of her face calling for justice. And as you noted at the press conference
itself, we couldn't see it on camera but what Biden could see when he was looking out at the journalists, it's all of the Palestinian reporters
essentially wearing these black T-shirts with Shireen's face calling for justice. And of course as you noted there was the empty chair there for
Shireen because if she was still with us she would have been there covering it as the top Al Jazeera reporter.
Unfortunately, though, as President Biden was starting to speak about her he did stumble over her name a little bit. That does always hurt a little
bit when it's somebody who was well-know, such an icon to so many not only Palestinians but people around the world who watch to hear the president
stumble over the pronunciation of her last name. But he did acknowledge her and what she meant for so many people. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Her death is an enormous loss to the central work of sharing with the world the story of the Palestinian people. I hope that her legacy, her
legacy will inspire more young people to carry on her work of reporting the truth and telling stories that are too often overlooked.
The United States will continue to insist on a full and transparent accounting of her death and will continue to stand up for media freedom
everywhere in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLD: Now her family had demanded a meeting with President Biden while he was in the region. That obviously did not happen. Instead Secretary of
State Antony Blinken has invited the family to meet with them in Washington. The family said they are considering that offer -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Let's talk about the Jerusalem leg of this trip. Israel may want ironclad commitments from the U.S. that it is in lockstep with Tel Aviv on
Iran and the need for a military plan, plan B, and that's effectively what they got, although there was some disagreement about what that might look
like. But that's not what we are hearing from Gulf and other Middle East leaders who -- they worry of the Iranian regime's intention see de-
escalation as the best way forward.
I wonder whether the Israelis got what they wanted from the Biden administration as they -- you know, Washington has made clear, part of this
trip is about sort of reinforcing the idea that they want to see Israel better integrated into this region with all the Arab countries.
GOLD: Well, when it comes to the Iranian nuclear issue, I think that the Israelis did get a hardening of the language from the president because
while the Americans had always said that all options are on the table, they did get out of President Biden in that interview with Israel Channel 12
that they would be willing to use force if necessary against Iran.
Now President Biden and Prime Minister Yair Lapid of Israel are still diverged a little bit on, you know, how to get there because Biden still
says that he wants diplomacy. And he was asked specifically at the press conference whether there would be sort of a deadline and one they would
just say, you know what, we're done with the negotiations with Iran, it's over, your last chance, and he didn't give a deadline but he did say they
would not wait forever.
While Prime Minister Yair Lapid standing right next to him said specifically words will not be enough, diplomacy will not be enough. He
believes that the only way to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon is to put a credible military threat on the table.
And listen, Israel can do some military threats, can strike some military target, but they would need American help and support to really be able to
present a big credible threat to the Iranian nuclear program. And in terms of the regional integration I mean Israel will be quite pleased when today
was finally announced that all flights to and from Israel will be allowed to fly over Saudi air space.
This seems like a minor thing but a few years ago that would have been unthinkable, the same it's unthinkable that now tourists can go back and
forth between Israel and the UAE. This is all part of this more regional integration that the Americans are trying to push, recognizing that it's
not like Israel and Saudi Arabia are going to sign a normalization agreement tomorrow but that these are the baby steps towards that ultimate
goal for Israel.
Having a normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia would just be the crown jewel for them in these normalization agreement. And it's important also to
show that for so long, going back to the Palestinian issue, for so long Arab countries, there was this idea that Israel can't normalize relations
with Arab countries until the issue of Palestinian statehood could be settled. And now what we're seeing is a shifting, a shifting to the belief
that the concern over Iran and other regional concerns are honestly trumping the concern over Palestinian statehood.
ANDERSON: Yes. Good point. Hadas Gold in the house, in Jerusalem. Thank you, Hadas.
Well, as we mentioned, U.S. President Joe Biden, he's about to land here in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia in the next hour or so. And before he left Israel,
as Hadas just pointed out, he praised what he called a historic decision by the kingdom to open its air space to all civilian flights including those
to and from Israel. In a released statement, Mr. Biden said this, "While this opening has long been discussed, now, thanks to months of steady
diplomacy between my administration and Saudi Arabia, it is finally a reality."
But before this deal, Israeli airlines that were headed to Asia including China or India had to take a detour around Saudi Arabia adding hours to the
journey. That's why this is significant. And in another sign of normalizing relations, Axios reports the Israeli government has approved the parameters
at least of a deal around two strategic Red Sea islands.
I spoke with Axios' contributing correspondent Barak Ravid about the significance of that deal. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARAK RAVID, CONTRIBUTING CORRESPONDENT, AXIOS: As you said, this thing was in the works for months. The White House has been negotiating quietly
between Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt on a much broader deal than just the overflights. The overflights are one part. The second part is the deal
around two strategic islands in the Red Sea that are going to be -- finally are going to be totally transferred from Egypt to Saudi Arabia.
And Israel needed to give an OK to this process which happened yesterday. Only after Israel gave its OK the Saudis agreed to the overflights. And I
think that the significance here is that this opens the way and creates this momentum that can, you know, down the road, six months from now, a
year from now, two years from now, get us to a whole new chapter of the Abraham Accords in some sort of a normalization agreement between Israel
and Saudi Arabia.
This will be a roadmap. It's not going to be like this one giant leap from zero to 100. We moved I think today from zero to 20. And in two years'
time, I think we can close this gap between 20 and 100, but it will happen very gradually.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Yes. Barak Ravid there. Well, for more on the significance of this, our international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson back with us. And I
just want to pull up this graphic, Nic, for our viewers showing how much these overflights actually reduce the fly time because this is significant,
and this is a major policy win, isn't it, for everybody involved?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: You know what, it absolutely is. I mean, this signals to the world that Saudi Arabia is
changing the policies for which it has been criticized, for which it's been demonized. This is Saudi Arabia signaling again with another step in its
way of opening up to the world. It was visas for tourists not so long ago allowing them to come in.
But this is yet another signal. And it will, it'll save airlines money, it will make flights shorter. Of course airlines are desperate to save costs
right now so this will really, really be a benefit for them.
ANDERSON: That's a very good point. Well, I don't want to be sort of, you know, weasel mouth about this but there is still no roadmap to
normalization. Joe Biden would have loved to have taken an Israeli-Saudi roadmap to normalization with him but he's not. So let's just talk about
what it is that Joe Biden brings to the table when he meets King Salman, MBS, the crown prince, here and other GCC and regional leaders over the
next 48 hours.
ROBERTSON: You know what the biggest thing he brings is him, his administration, his attention, the opportunity for the king, for the crown
prince, for the ministers to say, so what is your strategy, Mr. President, for the region? You've tried the pivot to Asia, we're a vital use to you,
you've come to recognize that. We are part of the future energy solution future, food security solution.
But what are your answers? What is it you want us to do? How do you want to have a relationship with us? We've got all these high gears about what we
want to do with you. This I think is what they're going to get from it. The win for the Saudis is President Biden coming reengaging with them. And
that's a lot from where he's been.
ANDERSON: Absolutely. Because at the end of the day, somebody was pointing out earlier on, it shouldn't naturally be a big deal that a U.S. president
comes to Saudi. They do.
ROBERTSON: It's been 80 years.
ANDERSON: There's been 80 years of it. But this one has just become really controversial because of Biden's comments in the campaign -- on the
campaign trail ahead of his election when he calls this place, or certainly the crown prince, the de facto leader here a pariah.
I want to bring up this quote from the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., Her Highness Princess Reema Al Saud, writing in "Politico," and I quote her
here, "Long gone are the days when the U.S.-Saudi relationship could be defined by the outdated and reductionist oil for security paradigm. The
world has changed," she wrote. "And the existential dangers facing us all, including food and energy security and climate change cannot be resolved
without an effective U.S.-Saudi alliance."
They want to see a more nuanced relationship built on a number of issues, energy security, energy diversification, education, investment in
technology. And they want to see everybody at the same table talking a more long term nuanced approach to this relationship, don't they?
ROBERTSON: You're hearing a lot of frustration in there, right? You and I have both heard that in conversations we've had here. One of the
conversations the Saudis want to have is, yes, we're getting out of oil, we see us ourselves as a future energy provider. We're going to do that with
green, sustainable energies. We think that's the way forward. It's our survival, our economic future, we're committed to it.
But let's have -- let's not have a turn to Saudi for, you know, oil versus giving them security. Let's turn to us to have an intelligent discussion
about how we actually navigate our way to that change because as they see it, and I think much of the rest of the world sees it, oil is not
There's going to be a need for it. There has to be a transition and an evolution in that direction, and this is part of what the Saudis are
ANDERSON: Yes. And people have pointed out to us here this is something we have been saying, they say, for some time. The Saudis, the UAE, you know,
persuaded to commit to some net zero goals before COP last year only to see the West reneging on their climate commitment because of the mess that is
energy security, whereas this country and others saying, listen, we're going to stick to us, energy transition is imbedded within the --
ROBERTSON: And being frustrated. To be -- from what I -- from Saudi officials that I've engaged with over the past year, particularly right
after COP 26 in Glasgow, a real frustration, verging on sort of anger that on the one hand that they could be told to dial down the amount of oil that
they're outputting, and then --
ANDERSON: Dial it back up.
ROBERTSON: Dial it back up, and it's like, so what is the message? What is the strategy? And they think that they're ready to sit down and have that
conversation. This will be one of the things that they want to have with President Biden.
ANDERSON: Fascinating times. Fascinating times. Look, I know you're signed up. I want our viewers to know that you can sign up for a really deep
insight and analysis on all of the biggest trends and stories out of this Gulf and Middle East region. That is by subscribing to our newsletter
"Meanwhile in the Middle Easter." That Web address is there for you on your screen. Just do enter your e-mail address.
It's a jolly good read, and when we've got such a focus on this region, stories from and on the Middle East region, from my team and others around
the region, it's just so important. So it's there for you at CNN.com/MidEastnewsletter.
Right, just ahead, energy will be looming over Joe Biden's Saudi visit. We know that. Up next, I'll be talking to an expert and all things oil about
why the president could see his political savvy tested.
ANDERSON: All right. Welcome back to CONNECT THE WORLD live from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia where we are watching U.S. President Joe Biden. He's due to
arrive here within the next hour, direct from Tel Aviv.
The president's visit here is being called crucial, spurred on by energy diplomacy. That could translate into more oil to ease gas prices and
inflation in the U.S., but it also collides with his previous condemnation to the rule of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Now you all know from watching this program, the kingdom cuts a dash on the global economic stage, and Saudi Public Investment Fund is one of the
world's largest sovereign wealth funds and it is a leading catalyst for what is known here as Vision 2030.
Launched in 2016 by the crown prince, this is the country's economic transformation program. And here are some of the household names that the
fund is invested in. Uber, SoftBank, Newcastle United, and many more investments across the Middle East. And of course the arena where Riyadh is
a really big player is energy. And as you can see, Saudi Aramco, the second only to Apple among the world's most valuable publicly traded companies.
And you won't be surprised to see the kingdom is among the world's top producers, second only to the United States.
Well, my next guest says, and I quote, "No unilateral increase in oil supply from Gulf producers is expected during Biden's visit. If there is
one, it has to be in the context of OPEC Plus.
Here with me now is Amena Bakr, chief OPEC correspondent and Dubai deputy bureau chief of Energy Intelligence.
I've read out what you've suggested. So what can we then expect Joe Biden to take away from this trip?
AMENA BAKR, CHIEF OPEC CORRESPONDENT, ENERGY INTELLIGENCE: I absolutely stand by the previous reporting, which I made, Becky. Joe Biden will not be
going home with additional barrels that would be committed unilaterally from the UAE or Saudi Arabia during this trip. Perhaps there is going to be
an increment but it's going to be a small increment, but it has to happen in context of the OPEC Plus agreement.
We have to wait until the 3rd of August when the OPEC Plus group meets, and see the outcome of that meeting. Today, we won't see additional supply from
ANDERSON: That's fascinating. Saudi Arabia barely recognizable even from five years ago. We spoke earlier about Saudi Arabia attempting to move away
from the oil fought security paradigm. One of the largest wealth funds in the world now, certainly divesting. Is this the beginning, do you think, of
a new look Saudi when it comes to its -- you know, it's energy beat as it were?
BAKR: Absolutely. I mean the kingdom has been diversifying its economy today, and Biden comes to the Gulf in a completely different context. This
is the new Gulf. This is the Gulf that's being led by young leaders, and he needs to realize that this countries have ambitions that they want to meet
and he needs to support these ambitions of these states.
And in context, Becky, he also comes here when there is an energy crisis. He needs the Gulf States to help him through this time.
ANDERSON: I want to bring your attention to this speech from the UAE president, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, pledging support for global
energy security. Both you and I live in the UAE. This was an address to the nation, and in part this is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOHAMED BIN ZAYED BIN SULTAN AL NAHYAN, UAE PRESIDENT (through translator): We will also continue to consolidate our nation's position as a reliable
energy provider, and support global energy security as a fundamental driver of global economic growth and development.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Note the word reliable.
BAKR: Yes. Absolutely. We noted the word reliable. And this is something that both the UAE and Saudi want to continue being a reliable source of
energy to supply the global market. And what the UAE is doing, Becky, it's building its capacity. It's investing and increasing its upstream capacity
to five million barrels a day. Previously they set 2023 but we have recent reporting saying that they're going to do it even earlier.
ANDERSON: The "New York Times" reporting Saudi Arabia and the UAE may add over a million barrels per day in September. I hear what you said at the
beginning of this conversation. There is an opportunity, a window there because there is a new phase in the OPEC Plus quota deals at this point.
Could that happen and what would that ramp up in production mean?
BAKR: A million barrels is a lot of oil, Becky. We are dealing with a situation where the OPEC Plus group has limited spare capacity that needs
to be managed wisely, and the leadership of the UAE and Saudi Arabia know that. If you use up all spare capacity, prices are just going to keep
increasing. They don't want to do that. So any increment is likely to be gradual.
ANDERSON: It's also important to note, now that it's suggested to me that the White House is frankly being pretty naive in its understanding of the
gasoline market. You might, you might send from here, you know, a million, two million, three million. However much it is that isn't gasoline, it's
ANDERSON: And it is refining capacity issues which there are because of underinvestment in the States over the years. You're not going to convert
that oil into gasoline and get it to the pump and reduce the prices anytime soon, correct?
BAKR: Absolutely right. There is a constraint when it comes to refining capacity. And more oil doesn't translate immediately that anyone at the
pump will immediately feel the impact of lower gasoline prices. So you're absolutely right in saying that, Becky.
ANDERSON: You speak to energy ministers all the time. You are so well- connected of, you know, I haven't seen your Rolodex and your speed dial but I know it to be true. What's the atmosphere from those energy ministers
around the region and that Joe Biden arrives here? Describe it.
BAKR: One of cautious optimism, they are confident and they will stand by their beliefs. They have been managing this market, Becky, since -- through
the worst crisis. They are experts at doing this. So I would say one of confidence.
ANDERSON: Finally, just before I let you go, I think it's important to point out on a regular basis we have heard Joe Biden talk about the
increase -- the significant increase in fuel and food prices as Putin tax. Let's be quite clear, and we've seen the most recent inflation numbers in
the U.S., 9.1 percent, we're seeing similar numbers around Europe. It's a real mess at the moment. Let's be quite frank. And we're just seeing some
numbers out of China on growth. Those are really messy.
This isn't just a Putin tax. This isn't just about the war in Ukraine, is it? The fact that we are seeing the price of oil where it stands today.
BAKR: Sure. I agree. It isn't just about the war. Geopolitics of course does factor in, but it has to do with underinvestment, too. A lot of
underinvestment in the upstream sector and a lot of push that has happened in previous years towards a very speedy transition where you don't have
renewable energy being able to supply the base load. We would be in a completely different situation if we were. So underinvestment is a big part
of the story, Becky.
ANDERSON: We'll see what happens going forward. It will be really interesting, the next COP meeting of course is in Egypt, the one that
follows that is a big one, it's in the UAE. So the kind of climate crisis energy transition and diversification story is very squarely focused on
this region for the next 18 months. Let's see what happens with the story of investment.
Always a pleasure.
BAKR: Thank you. Thank you.
ANDERSON: Thank you very much. It's nice to have you here in Jeddah with us.
BARK: Thank you.
ANDERSON: All right, still ahead a crucial day for the U.S. president as Joe Biden heads here to Saudi Arabia, we'll tell you what the Arab youth
think about their American visitor. A conversation with a Middle East senior journalist when we return. Plus Russian missiles pound the southern
Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv where two universities have been hit. We'll speak to Ivan Watson about the intense fighting that continues in the
ANDERSON: Right. Welcome back. I'm Becky Anderson in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. You are watching a special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD.
Well, some welcome news as U.S. President Joe Biden arrives here in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia within the next hour. Over 90 percent of Arab youth from
ages -- excuse me -- 18 to 24 say they see the United States as a strong ally of their nation, according to a new survey. Two-thirds say their
country's relations with the U.S. will improve under President Biden.
Well, let's talk about this and other issues with Faisal Abbas. He's the editor-in-chief of "Arab News" which is a leading Middle East English
language daily here. And while leadership in this region has been pretty skeptical, let's be quite frank, about Washington's commitment to its
security guarantees and more of late, this is still a very -- clearly a very important message from the region that its youth clearly see the
relationship with the U.S. is important still.
FAISAL ABBAS, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, ARAB NEWS: Absolutely, Becky. I mean, let's not beat around the bush, we are hard wired in this region regarding our
alliance with the United States. Our education, our medical institution, all our facilities and all our upbringing we've grown up knowing what
America stands for and believing in American values.
Now the political relationship can go up and down but at the heart of it everybody in this part of the world I think understands that this
relationship is ironclad.
ANDERSON: That's fascinating. Despite that, Joe Biden won't be meeting with the region's youth when he comes here and your paper "Arab News" conducted
a poll recently with YouGov about the Arab world's sentiment towards the Ukraine war, for example. But what's most interesting was who Arabs pointed
the finger of blame at. Almost a quarter of the people surveyed around 24 percent pointed the finger of blame for the conflict squarely at NATO while
more than 1 in 10 said U.S. President Joe Biden was responsible. Only 16 percent blame Russia.
These findings lay bare the extent of the distrust of the West felt by people in the region. Is that fair?
ABBAS: Absolutely. And I'll tell you why, Becky. Look, on one hand yes, we absolutely expect more from the United States, as I said all our upbringing
and our history that this partnership is important and it's what keeps the whole region safe. But at the same time because we expect more from the
United States there is seriously a bitter feeling about the U.S. foreign policy in recent year.
What comes to mind immediately is the kind of withdrawal from Afghanistan, almost embarrassing withdrawal from Afghanistan last year. Libya and more
recently Ukraine. As you rightly pointed out the majority of Arabs across the Middle East --
ANDERSON: And this is a very wide survey, wasn't it?
ABBAS: Yes. Yes. I think 19 countries and 66 percent are indifferent towards the war and the majority blame NATO and the U.S. Clearly the idea
here is had NATO brought in Ukraine earlier this whole thing might have been avoided.
ANDERSON: I want to bring up this quote from the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Her Highness Princess Reema Al Saud, writing in "Politico",
I quote her here. "Long gone are the days when the U.S.-Saudi relationship could be defined by the outdated and reductionist oil for security
paradigm. The world," she wrote, "has changed. And the existential dangers facing us all, including food and energy security and climate change,
cannot be resolved without an effective U.S.-Saudi alliance."
And I thought that paragraph in that op-ed immediately summed up what I hear from so many in the political sort of leadership world in this region.
They want to see a more nuanced relationship built on energy security, you know, and other security, not just the sort of security guarantees that
we've talked about ad nauseam in the past. This is a very different kingdom, for example. It's a very different Gulf that Joe Biden will visit.
Actually I can't tell you the last time he was here but it will certainly have been before the Vision 2030 was launched here. There's just this
sense, is there not, that the White House is playing catch up at this point with the region which is on the move?
ABBAS: Hundred percent. I believe, if I'm not mistaken, the last time President Biden was here was in 2011 to pay his condolences.
And as per the article written by Her Royal Highness Princess Reema, I couldn't have worded -- nobody could have worded it better themselves. This
reduction of the relationship into a purely transactional oil for security is almost insulting and definitely outdated.
Look, we know where we're going in this part of the world. We have Vision 2030 here in Saudi Arabia. You've seen Mohamed bin Zayed lay out his vision
for the United Arab Emirates.
ANDERSON: In his Address to the Nation earlier this week.
ABBAS: Saying, you know, very clearly we're going to be a reliable energy partner in the world and you know for sure there might be mistakes on the
way but you know Saudi Arabia, the UAE, where this region wants to go and where it's headed. What's lacking here in the picture is the kind of -- our
problem is the yoyo diplomacy or foreign policy of the United States, so you know, one day the Houthis are listed as a terrorist organization, the
other day they're delisted.
One day they're talking about delisting -- one day the Revolutionary Guards in Iran are a terrorist group, the other day they're not. And I think
President Biden himself recognizes this and that's actually the key takeaway I think from this visit is we hope that this visit outlines
America's vision for the region once and for all.
ANDERSON: That will be interesting to see, I mean just him being here is a big deal not that it should be because Nic and I were discussing earlier,
it's not actually a big deal that a U.S. president comes to Saudi. They've been coming for 80 years. But it was what Joe Biden said on the campaign
trail about the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman here which has made this such a big deal. And of course now, you know, people watching out for the
optics, see who, you know, who greets Joe Biden on the tarmac. You know whether there's a handshake or not. All of this is coming up. You and I
will speak in the hours to come.
Thank you very much indeed for joining us, Faisal Abbas in the house.
Coming up after the break, Ukrainian farmers say they are facing a Russian war against food. Ivan Watson is in the city of Mykolaiv, where farmers
trying to harvest wheat are finding themselves on the frontline. Plus Sri Lanka swears in a new leader after a chaotic week of unrest. More on the
tough road ahead for that nation's government. That after this.
ANDERSON: Well, after weeks of antigovernment protest over Sri Lanka's economic crisis, the prime minister -- new prime minister, Ranil
Wickremesinghe, was sworn in earlier as the nation's acting president during a ceremony in Colombo. He is replacing Gotabaya Rajapaksa whose
resignation letter was flown in from Singapore to the Sri Lankan parliament on Thursday. Rajapaksa fled to Singapore after demonstrators overrun the
Well, overnight Sri Lankans were celebrating on the streets after he resigned.
Kyung Lah has more.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The prime minister now being sworn in in just the last couple of hours as the acting president. So what we're seeing at
least as far as who is going to occupy the presidency now that he's being sworn in by a judge is there is some stability in the presidential office.
There's actually a person who's there instead of a president who has fled the country. So there is some semblance of stability at least for the time
being. There is going to be now an election, a decision by the parliament on who should not be the acting president but who will take that job full
But you are absolutely right, the big problem, the reason for all of this, which are the economic woes of this country which are very serious go
beyond just the mismanagement of the country. Yes, there has been political mismanagement that has fueled the economic crisis but those underlying
problem still exists. There is a lack of fuel, food, medicine, inflation is skyrocketing, double digit at 40 percent. So there has to be some sort of
The anticipation is that the IMF is going to come in to assist but without some assistance from outside, this is a country that will continue to be
very unstable. So whoever comes in next that person has a very big job ahead.
ANDERSON: Kyung Lah there.
A terrorist state. That is what Ukraine's president wants Russia to be officially declared after a horrific missile strike on the city of
Vinnytsia. This surveillance video shows the moment Russian missiles hit the city on Thursday killing at least 23 people. You can see people ducking
for cover as the blast blows out windows in the building. Dozens were injured and rescuers are still digging through the rubble of collapsed
buildings looking for eight others those still missing.
President Zelenskyy later said Russia has done what no other state would.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): This day has once again proven that Russia must be officially recognized as a terrorist
state. No other state in the world poses such a terrorist threat as Russia. No other state in the world allows itself to daily destroyed peaceful
cities and ordinary human life with cruise missiles and rocket artillery.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: The southern city of Mykolaiv was hit by a barrage of strikes overnight causing powerful explosions.
CNN's senior international correspondent Ivan Watson is on Odessa, not far from Mykolaiv where the fighting is intensifying. And from your vantage on
the ground, how have these strikes affected the communities that you pass through?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, when you drive into Mykolaiv where we were on Wednesday, you see shattered glass in the
windows of residential buildings and then you start to see damage in different places. We were in an elementary school that had been hit on
Tuesday morning in a barrage of several dozen missiles that hit the city. The Ukrainian government there says that today there were some 12 rockets
fired at Mykolaiv and two universities were pummeled multiple times by these attacks. At least four civilians wounded and rescuers are still on
the scene there.
And this is almost a daily occurrence now in that city on the frontlines with the Russian frontlines. It's still in Ukrainian hands. There are still
estimates about 50 percent of the civilian population remaining there at this time, and it's probably striking that there have not been more
civilian casualties. It's a very bizarre scene right now in Ukrainian cities like Odessa where I am where an air raid siren went off just an hour
You can see sandbags behind me in front of the Odessa Opera House where ballerinas and the musicians were just in air raid shelters in response to
the air raid sirens, and yet they say the show will go on today. There will still be a ballet tonight. If you can imagine after sitting and hiding in
the basement for a half hour or so, worrying that this building could be struck. And you also see examples of how Ukrainians are just dealing with
this everyday reality of this war.
Since February, they've become accustomed to a certain degree of threatened uncertainty in their everyday lives. And many Ukrainians that I've spoken
to have said this is a kind of show of defiance. They're going to go on with life even though there is the constant and every present threat of
rockets and missiles raining from the sky at any moment -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Yes. This is the reality of this war which is quickly becoming a war over food, rather than just battles on the ground, of course. What's
your assessment of the crisis that's developing, Ivan?
WATSON: This is the harvest season. Everywhere you drive in southern Ukraine. You'll see these incredible fields of grain but the Ukrainian
government is accusing the Russian military of deliberately targeting these food stocks driving up global food prices. They are accusing Russia of
playing deadly "Hunger Games" in Ukraine.
WATSON (voice-over): A war against one of the biggest bread baskets in the world. Ukraine's fertile farmland now a battleground. Military drone
footage exclusively obtained by CNN shows Russian artillery pounding wheat fields, burning the summer harvest charcoal black. Farmers race to protect
their crops. Until Russia's invasion, Ukraine was the world's fifth largest exporter of wheat.
(On-camera): All right. This looks like some kind of munition over here.
(Voice-over): Now Ukrainian farmers are harvesting a deadly crop.
(On-camera): Mikhail says these are pieces of Russian rockets that they gathered out of the fields.
(Voice-over): Mikhail Lyubchenko takes me on a tour of his farm.
(On-camera): He'll show us. That's another shell strike?
(Voice-over): Acres of wheat waiting to be harvested within earshot of pounding Russian artillery.
(On-camera): This is absolutely surreal. We're amid the wreckage of previous battles, armored personnel carriers, military vehicles, and then
you've got farmers out here that are harvesting wheat right now. The vehicles that have been destroyed here, this could have happened back in
March, February, much earlier, but we're also seeing these impact craters from shell strikes that we're told probably took place within the last
couple of weeks.
(Voice-over): Despite the threats these brave farmers still bring in their harvest only to face another obstacle.
(On-camera): This is 3,000 tons of wheat from last year's harvest.
MIKHAIL LYUBCHENKO, MYKOLAIV FARM OWNER: (Speaking in foreign language)
WATSON: He can't sell this wheat because the Russian military has blockaded Ukraine's ports so there's no way for these to be sold except at an
(Voice-over): Ukrainian ports where ships once carried millions of tons of grains a month to global markets now blockaded by the Russian navy. The
logjam driving up global food prices, triggering warnings of famine in some of the world's poorest countries.
Last month the Ukrainian military forced Russian troops to abandon Ukraine's Snake Island in the Black Sea. The Snake Island victory freed up
channels to the Danube River. Ukraine reactivated Soviet-era ports on this waterway as an alternative route for the export of grain. But experts warn
the river can only handle a fraction of Ukraine's pre-war cargo.
This week Ukrainian, Russian and U.N. delegations meeting in Istanbul say they reached a deal in principle to resume shipments of grain by sea. But
Ukrainian farmers continue to face deadly threats on land making it too risky for many to plant crops for next year.
This frontline farmer vows not to give up.
Our soldiers are fighting and dying to get rid of these occupiers, he says. We need to feed our country, the soldiers and help the whole world with our
food. That's why we'll keep working.
He calls his farm the second front in this deadly war.
WATSON: Now, Becky, the U.N. secretary general, he has called this preliminary agreement that was reached in Istanbul this week between
Russian and Ukrainian military delegations and the U.N. a possible ray of hope because it could resume, could potentially create corridors for grain
exports. One of the proposals is to have a kind of control center with parties, representatives from each country in Istanbul that would help
enable the shipment of grain but one of the big challenges, if this does in fact move forward, will be demining the Black Sea.
We are here in Odessa. Nobody can even jump in the water to swim here because of the fear of mines both from the Ukrainians and the Russians that
are effectively blockade these ports. So just clearing that will be an enormous challenge. Ukrainian experts are predicting as of now that grain
crop for next year could be 50 percent lower than they are this year.
Back to you.
ANDERSON: Ivan, thank you.
Well, Joe Biden should be landing here in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia in the next few minutes and to that end if you look over my shoulder, you'll see
the traffic is now being held up the hotel that he is saying and it's just over my left shoulder. So the roads beginning to be blocked off for the --
in anticipation of the arrival of the U.S. president here on what is the second leg, and arguably the most important leg of his first tour of the
Middle East, as U.S. president.
More on that coming up of course Western Europe is ready to ball over. Coming up we'll take a look at the scorching conditions and how long those
conditions are likely to stick around. That after this.
ANDERSON: Welcome back. This is CONNECT THE WORLD wall live from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.
For the second time in as many months a sweltering heat wave is baking parts of Southern Europe. The record heat and tinder dry vegetation
sparking wildfires across Portugal, Spain, France and indeed Croatia. Thousands of people have had to be evacuated as firefighters try to contain
these blazes. France also dealing with wildfires. And in the U.K. a meteorologists have issued an extreme heat red alert for the days to come.
Well, global cases of COVID-19 meantime are up for the fifth straight week, I'm afraid. The World Health Organization reporting more than 5.7 million
cases, new cases from July 4th through the 10th. The fifth consecutive week of increases. Omicron remains the dominant variant around the world. The
WHO says it accounts for 84 percent of all sequences reported in the past 30 days. Cases of subvariants BA4 and BA5 also increasing.
Well, China's Zero COVID policy has caused an economic slump and a banking scandal, then you get the slowest growth since the start of 2020.
CNN's Selina Wang with this report.
SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They're all struggling to find work. These are migrant workers in Beijing. They congregate in labor
markets like this waiting day and night for a job.
This man tells me he lost his job because his factory shut down during the pandemic.
(On-camera): He is saying that it's harder to find work, the pay isn't good.
(Voice-over): He's been here for four days waiting 16 hours every day in the heat for a job, and still hasn't found one.
It's probably because of the pandemic, he says.
China's Zero COVID policy has inflicted devastating economic pain, grounding entire cities to a halt for months, shutting down communities
over a single COVID case.
(On-camera): And this is the result.
This was one of Beijing's most popular bar and restaurant areas packed with people. Now so many businesses are empty or have permanently closed down.
They're unable to survive these on and off lockdowns with no end in sight.
(Voice-over): Unemployment is soaring. People aren't earning as much so they aren't spending as much. But even saving has become a risky bet. Since
April, Brian hasn't been able to access several million RMB that he deposited in a small bank in Hunan, China. We are referring to him only as
Brian due to fears for his safety.
(On-camera): Was that your life savings?
BRIAN, BANKING SCANDAL VICTIM: Yes, for sure. I worked almost 10 years. And that's all I have with my family. I am losing my weight. I am losing my,
you know, my mind.
WANG (voice-over): He's one of hundreds of thousands of depositors, according to state media, across China currently fighting to recover their
savings from several banks in rural central China. Many of them, including Brian, traveled to Hunan for answers. In June, he says they protested
outside the local government building for five days straight. Brian traveled back to Hunan in July during a large-scale peaceful protest.
But police violently quashed the protesters. Videos show security officers dragging protesters down the stairs, beating anyone who resisted, including
women and the elderly, according to witnesses, leaving some of them injured, bloodied and bruised. A day after the violent protests, local
authorities promised to start giving small payments to some depositors. But it's unclear how many people are eligible and how much they'll pay back.
(On-camera): Are you worried that without this money, you can't afford a comfortable life for your family?
BRIAN: Definitely. All my savings is gone. And I just -- I just have my little baby. I have nothing for the family now.
WANG (voice-over): They cry and wail, exhausted. There's nothing these depositors can do. Authorities say they're investigating the cases but
experts worry this is just the tip of the iceberg.
MICHAEL PETTIS, PROFESSOR OF FINANCE, PEKING UNIVERSITY: I would be really surprised if you didn't see this spread in a lot of different provinces.
The country has enormous debt problems and very slow growth. This is the worst shape the economy has been in probably since about 30, 40 years ago.
WANG: For Brian, his vision of China is already shattered.
BRIAN: Suddenly, one day, all you earned is gone. Then you feel that, why do you still fight for it, fight for the future?
WANG: He's hoping to one day leave and raise his child far away from China.
Selina Wang, CNN, Beijing.
ANDERSON: Right. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Our show continues after this short break. Let me just leave you with this image. We are
awaiting the arrival of the U.S. president here in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. We are minutes away we are told from his arrival. Stay with us. We will be
back after this for the second hour of CONNECT THE WORLD.