Return to Transcripts main page

Connect the World

Russia Continues Air Assault on Ukraine; W.H.O. Chief: Countries Understandably want to Protect Citizens; NFL's Damar Hamlin in Critical Condition after Cardiac Arrest; Thousands of European Ski Resorts Close over Lack of Snow; Ronaldo's Saudi Move Comes Amid Bin Salman's Vision 2030; Familiar Faces Returning to the Big Screen in 2023. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired January 04, 2023 - 11:00   ET




ELENI GIOKOS, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: I'm Eleni Giokos. I'm in for my colleague Becky Anderson. Hello and welcome back to "Connect the World".

We're live in Dubai today.

Ukraine's attacks on Russian forces inside Ukraine are adding a new dimension to the war with unusually blunt criticism coming from inside

Russia. Russia's Defense Ministry now says 89 soldiers were killed in the New Year's strike on a military barracks in a Russian occupied region of


The Kremlin is calling that the deadliest single attacks on its forces during the war. It says master use of cell phones by its soldiers allowed

Ukraine to trace the barrack's location. A notable pro government blogger in Russia calls that explanation not convincing and a blatant attempt to

smear blame.

And Ukraine is painting an even deadlier attack on Russian forces in the Kherson region. We've got Scott McLean back with us this hour in Kyiv. I

want to first talk about this attack by Ukraine on Russian forces. What more do we know?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look, in many cases, it's likely that the soldiers haven't even been buried yet. You already have the Russian

Ministry of Defense saying yes, we are going to investigate this. But the conclusion of that investigation is already abundantly clear.

And that is this use of cell phones that, as you said, allowed the Ukrainians to easily target that location. The Ukrainian says that look

using cell phones that close to the front line is generally not a good idea. But they say that it was actually the Russians inability to actually

covertly get some of these new conscripts to the front lines.

You also mentioned there's criticism from within Russia as well. And that pro-Russian blogger, you mentioned is very well respected even by the

Kremlin, having recently received an award for from them from Putin himself in fact.

And he says that, look; this explanation is maybe a little bit too simple. It could have also been a Ukrainian drone surveillance that tipped off the

location or maybe even an informant as well. Whatever the cause the Russians say that the military officers who were responsible for this, for

allowing this to happen will be held to account but the reality is that some of them may no longer be alive. The Russians it confirmed that a

Deputy Commander was the one that was killed.


MCLEAN (voice over): Digging through the debris of one of the deadliest strikes so far, dozens of Russian conscripts were stationed in the school

that once stood here. They were killed just moments into the New Year in an apparent Ukrainian attack using U.S. made Highmark rocket launchers.

Now diggers sift through what little remains of their barracks, while anger in some quarters of Russia grows. One lawmaker claimed the military hadn't

given the soldiers "The proper level of security". Individuals should be held criminally liable Sergei Mironov said.

On Wednesday, Russian officials said bodies of 89 soldiers were found at Makiivka, an occupied city in Ukraine's Eastern Donbas region. This would

represent one of the worst Russian losses in a single episode of war. But the Ukrainians and now one top Russian military bloggers suggest the figure

could be higher.

Earlier on Tuesday - cast doubt on the official death toll which then stood at 63. Despite the official statement of the Ministry of Defense, he said

the exact number of casualties is still unknown. Some of the dead came from Russia Southwest Samar region state media reported it showed mourners

laying flowers for the victims.

Meanwhile, Russia continues its air assault on Ukraine. This strike Monday night while a French reporter was on air was part of a barrage of strikes

in - near Kramatorsk. One of the strikes hit a hockey rink causing extensive damage inside. Russia may be down, but they're not out.


MCLEAN: Now Eleni, the Ukrainians are also claiming that there was a second similar massive strike against Russian troops around the same time this one

on New Year's Eve at a barracks and a weapons cache in the town of - this is in the southern Kherson region the occupied part of the Kherson region.


MCLEAN: Ukrainians claimed that there were some 500 Russian troops who were either killed or injured in that attack. But it's important to point out

that CNN is not able to verify that number and Russia has not even yet felt the need to acknowledge that attack at all.

It seems clear though, from this that the Russians are realizing that they're perhaps underestimating the ability of the Ukrainians to strike

using that high mars mobile artillery rocket system. The Ukrainian says that there will be more of these kinds of strikes coming in the future

because of their ability to locate where Russian troops are actually hiding behind enemy lines Eleni.

GIOKOS: Scott McLean, thank you so much! And in what could be considered a bit of irony, a Ukrainian intelligence assessment says a downed Iranian

attack drone recovered in Ukraine had American parts and it contained parts from several other nations.

CNN exclusively obtained the Intel assessment. So how exactly could this happen? Natasha Bertrand is here to give us some answers. Natasha, I mean,

it's an unbelievable story. The very drones that are terrorizing Ukraine contains U.S. and Western made parts. So what do we know about the pots

themselves, as well as the manufacturers?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, Eleni. It's a really big problem. And this Ukrainian intelligence assessment that we obtained really

underscores illustrates the extent of that problem that is facing the U.S. and its allies here.

So this assessment based on a drone, that Ukrainian forces had shot down late last year, and deconstructed shows that of the 52 components that they

removed from that drone and examined, but 40 of them came from American manufacturers from about 13 different American companies.

Now, the remaining 12 components that they examined also came from many U.S. allies, places like Canada, Taiwan and Japan. So it's not a uniquely

American issue. But this really kind of drives home just how big of a problem this is for the Biden Administration, as of course, they're being

told by the Ukrainians that this is such a big problem considering how many of the drones Russia is using to attack Ukraine.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said just on Monday, that their intelligence suggests that the Russians plan to use these Iranian drones in order to

exhaust Ukrainian forces, civilians and infrastructure. So this is not a problem that's going away anytime soon.

And we should note that the companies of course, they say that they're not breaking any laws here. The sanctions laws are imposed, of course on

companies and entities that the U.S. determines are diverting these products for illicit reasons, such as use of drones and weapons.

But the companies say, look, we are trying our best to monitor our supply chains here. But the problem is that a lot of these components, things like

tiny semiconductors, for example, that are going into these drones and making them function are so small and easy to hide and ubiquitous, really

on the global market, that it is just really, really difficult for them to track and for the U.S. and the West at large to really do anything about

this Eleni.

GIOKOS: Yes, and clearly finding their way into Iran. Thank you very much Natasha Bertrand for your reporting. Russia is not only using drones and

missiles in those conflicts; disinformation is one of its most powerful weapons. There is no shortage of examples.

Vladimir Putin has claimed in his New Year's speech that the West was preparing for aggression in Ukraine, the insistence that atrocities in

Bucha were staged, and perhaps one of the most striking the accusation that Ukraine is planning to detonate a dirty bomb on its own territory to frame

Russia. CNN's Clare Sebastian reports on what this bizarre claim reveals about Russia's tactics?


CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): No one has ever successfully detonated a dirty bomb. So to help us understand Russia's

accusations and the myths David Butler, a Retired British Army Officer, an expert in radiological weapons is agreed to do a basic demonstration.

Butler used regular explosives here to disperse a kilo of plain flour. A dirty bomb would also use regular explosives to disperse a radioactive

substance. Very different though, from a nuclear bomb which creates a complex chain reaction by splitting atoms.

SEBASTIAN (on camera): So David, it's pretty windy conditions today, but what does this teach us about how a radioactive substance could spread from

a dirty bomb?

DAVID BUTLER, RADIOLOGICAL SPECIALIST: The main aim of a dirty bomb is to spread as much irradiated shrapnel and irradiated dust particles as far as

you can go. So the flour here demonstrates what would be left around the actual seat of the explosion but it's the radioactive footprint on the

ground that causes the long term effect.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: It is very simple. We even know where they are manufacturing it.

SEBASTIAN (voice over): Russia's accusation Ukraine was allegedly planning to detonate a dirty bomb on its own territory to frame Russia seemed to

come out of the blue, or did it? First came state media reports citing trusted sources, then unscheduled weekend phone calls by the Russian

Defense Minister to other nuclear armed powers.

Well produced graphics followed detailing the alleged sites where a dirty bomb could be built, even the exact radioactive isotopes to be used.

HAMISH DE BRETTON-GORDON, CHEMICAL AND NUCLEAR WEAPONS EXPERT: This looks as though it's been planned in great detail over many weeks, if not months.

This is straight out of the sort of Russian playbook in Syria, the Russians and the Syrians would suggest that the rebel forces are about to create a

chemical attack. And it was absolutely the Syrian regime that we're doing it.

SEBASTIAN (voice over): Well, inspectors from the UN's nuclear watchdog have now visited the sites in Ukraine that Russia named and found nothing

suspicious. That is not allayed fears in the West that Russia could still use this as a pretext to escalate, especially after recent losses and

retreats. One area of major concern according to experts, is this a Parisian nuclear power plant, which Russia controls.

BUTLER: One of the after effects of a dirty bomb is people breathing in the hazard the radiated particles.

SEBASTIAN (voice over): Well, the physical impact of a dirty bomb depends on the amount of radioactive substance used the power of the explosives and

the weather, there is one guaranteed effect fear. This was Moscow in 1995 Chechen rebels buried a radioactive puzzle at a popular park. Russian

authorities rushed to reassure the public it posed no threat.

SEBASTIAN (on camera): Is there an element do you think that they have launched this now very elaborate accusation against Ukraine of a dirty bomb

because it is something that has previously been associated with terror groups?

BRETTON-GORDON: Well, certainly the Russian propaganda and disinformation campaign is in full flow and trying to depict the Ukrainians as Nazis and

terrorists is absolutely what Putin is trying to do.

SEBASTIAN (voice over): The psychological impact of this carefully chosen accusation in itself a powerful weapon. Clare Sebastian, CNN near

Salisbury, England.


GIOKOS: The International Monetary Fund is pointing to the war in Ukraine and China's COVID crisis as major causes of global economic slowdown.

You'll recall last year was marked by a fear of recession and that fear hasn't gone away.

But in the U.S. Moody's Analytics, whose research is frequently cited by the White House is predicting what's been called a slow session. That's

when growth comes to a near stop, but a downturn is narrowly avoided. For Europe the picture is a bit different.

The IMF says the continents economy has been hit hard by Russia's war in Ukraine. And China's COVID chaos is doing a number on its economy. The IMF

goes on to say Beijing's pandemic problem will also have a dire impact across the world understandable or unjustified?

New debates today over COVID restrictions on airline passengers coming from China, the European Union is poised to join a myriad of countries requiring

testing. The fear, of course is that passengers will bring the virus in from China where it is flourishing after the government dropped its strict

zero COVID policy. Listen to what the Head of the World Health Organization just said a short time ago.


DR. TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION DIRECTOR-GENERAL: With circulation in China so high and comprehensive data are not

forthcoming. As I said last week, it's understandable that some countries are taking steps they believe will protect their own citizens. This data is

useful to W. H. O. in the world and we encourage all countries to share it.


GIOKOS: Well, Professor Devi Sridhar is the Chair of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland and she joins me now live via

Skype. Thank you very much, Professor for joining us!

We just heard from the W. H. O. they say they need reliable data. They're talking about more genomic testing more detail on hospitalizations, as well

as deaths. How would you characterize the current data set that China is releasing?

DEVI SRIDHAR, PROFESSOR AND CHAIR OF GLOBAL PUBLIC HEALTH, UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH: Well, it's not very useful. For example, official numbers of

daily cases they've released around 5000 were estimates from scientists are over a million a day and same with deaths. They're not reporting deaths in

a way that allows us to understand the toll of COVID-19 it'll only come later with excess mortality figures when we can see what has actually been

the jump and deaths in this period which will largely be due to COVID-19 spreading.


GIOKOS: Look, we've seen travel bans and restrictions before we've had hard lessons because of those restrictions. Do you believe that these are

justified right now the ones that we're seeing against China?

SRIDHAR: Well, it depends which ones you're talking about. I think right now, the main worry coming out of China, for countries like Britain and the

United States and Western countries where there's broad scale immunity is a new variant. And so they're I think the wastewater testing on planes.

So checking out there, what are the kind of mix of new variants we're seeing, as well as the random surveillance happening at airports where

people are being pulled aside at the test positive, having genomic sequencing done is useful just to keep a handle on is there something new


Or is it the same types of COVID that we have circulating already, and we had quite a lot of COVID in the West. So it's not really case numbers, it

would affect it'd be the type of COVID death that gets imported.

GIOKOS: Yes. And that's such an important point, because its variants, mutations, and we need to know, genome sequencing for that, what are the

probabilities of an unknown factor playing out here and new variants that could possibly spread worldwide, and that could take us back to the dark

days of the pandemic?

SRIDHAR: Well, I do think most scientists would agree the dark days of the pandemic are largely behind us, though, right now is probably the darkest

period for China as they take this major hit with a huge wave of cases.

And we have broad scale immunity vaccination also, people, many people have had COVID-19 will provide some protection against whatever might emerge.

And so I think right now, obviously, we need to prepare, we need to plan and we need to have surveillance, but there's no need to panic or worry,

we're in a much different position, visa vie this virus than we were three years ago.

And that's largely due to the scientific advances that have been made, and the knowledge we now have of how to treat this in hospitals and how to

prevent severe illness through vaccination?

GIOKOS: I think there's a sense of uncertainty sort of the unknown, right? You had China in many ways behind the curve, comparatively speaking to the

rest of the world, where other countries experienced surges, they experienced tough cycles, and now you have a country, the most populated

country in the world, zero COVID policy.

And now, an open economy is any modeling or projections that could give us an idea of what this could possibly mean, because people are afraid that,

you know, the virus could spread again significantly? And that could derail us from the path we're on right now, where we're like learning to live with


SRIDHAR: Well, the real tragedy, and the real hit from this wave of cases will be in China, because they have not vaccinated to a full enough extent,

especially elderly and vulnerable groups, there are still a significant number of people who are over at 80 over at 60, who haven't received a full

dose of vaccination to be protected from severe illness and death.

And so I think that's really where the epicenter of the pandemic is, right now. Other countries would be affected in the sense of the economic

consequences. We know you know, there's going to be supply chain issues, trade issues, economic issues emerging if as China takes this wave, but in

terms of it presenting a new variant that puts us back three years.

I think that's unlikely at this point. I think right now we're more likely and something that could be more transmissible could require another

booster. But as we've seen before, that's something that we can manage and move quickly to surveillance is vital to actually know what the variants

they have circulating there are?

What is causing most of the hospitalizations? And this is where you hear the W. H. O. calling on the Chinese government to be transparent saying;

we're all in this together, share your data with us. I know there's a political narrative it needs to be there in place where they keep saying

it's under control. But also that sharing of data is vital. So we know what is happening there so the rest of the world can prepare and respond quickly

if something does emerge that is unusual.

GIOKOS: And Professor, as you rightly says ensuring that China has resources and ability to deal with a surge. Thank you very much for joining

us. And the airline trade group is slamming testing requirements on arrivals from China.

The group's leader says it is extremely disappointing to see this knee jerk reinstatement of measures that have proven ineffective over the last three

years. We have the tools to manage COVID 19 without resorting to ineffective measures that cut off international connectivity, damage

economies and destroy jobs. Governments must base their decision on science facts rather than science politics.

Up next on "Connect the World" the outpouring of love and support for an NFL player fighting for his life.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are dying here.


GIOKOS: Tragic story here, what was supposed to be a seven day journey turns into a month long ordeal at sea the story of one Rohingya refugee,

when we return.


GIOKOS: The iconic Niagara Falls were lit up in blue the color of the Buffalo Bills football team, Tuesday night, just one of many tributes to

injured builds safety to my Hamlin. Hamlin remained sedated and on a respirator in a Cincinnati hospital. Hamlin's heart had to be restarted

after he suffered cardiac arrest during a Monday night football game.

His uncle spoke to CNN and said Hamlin's doctors are hoping to get him and breathing on his very own soon. And it seems his condition is trending

upward. Hamlin's uncle also spoke about what it was like to watch his nephew fighting for his life.


DARRIAN GLENN, DAMAR HAMLIN'S UNCLE: We were in Pittsburgh watching it on TV and his little brother was there with us. And when he seen his brother

dropped like that, and when I tell you I've never seen him crash scream like that, like we were trying to calm him down like yours. OK, you know,

he'll get back up he'll be back in the game. You know, we'll deal with the- -

Next thing you know, it's 10 minutes later, they're doing chest compressions this half hour later, they still not playing it. I'm like,

what's going on? What's wrong, my nephew. And then like when I say like now we were all in a room crying, man, we were all in tears, man. I'm not a

crier, but like I've never crashed so hard my life man just to know like, like my nephew basically died on the field when they brought him back to

life. I mean, that's just heartbreaking.


GIOKOS: Well, I'm joined now by a CNN colleague with important perspective on all of this. World Sports Anchor Coy Wire is a former NFL player himself

like Damar Hamlin. Coy played safety for the Buffalo Bills. Coy I was listening to Damar's uncle there and he was describing what it was like for

him and his family to watch this tragic accident.

In the meantime, we've seen unbelievable overwhelming support. We saw the Niagara Falls being lit up in blue. You're in Buffalo right now you're

experiencing firsthand just how people are supporting demand and also it is not lost on us. The decision to not get back on the field which I think

there's been a chorus of support on this decision as well.

COY WIRE, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: It's such a good point, Eleni, you know, I during my playing days, I was on the field two different times where

players were paralyzed on the field. There were the tears there were the ambulances and when that player was rushed off to the hospital, you know

the game went on. But that did not happen.

Monday night when the bills played the Bengals the decision to stop that game in progress represents a paradigm shift that is happening right now in

the NFL in regard to player health and safety. These are no longer perhaps the barbaric days of the past where players are looked upon as these

disposable replaceable pieces of you know, next man up mentality.


WIRE: Ten years ago, five years ago, a year ago, they would not have stopped that game. So coaches would have told you to get back out there and

play on. So we cannot overstate how impactful it was for the head coaches involved for both teams for the commissioner of the NFL, and the others

making those decisions to say, you know what, you see the trauma in these players' eyes and on their faces. It's not right for them to play on.

The players are recognizing that too. Here's Bills lineman Dion Dawkins, who was on that field talking about how powerful of a decision that was to

not go on.


DION DAWKINS, OFFENSIVE TACKLE, BUFFALO BILLS: I'm truly blessed that we didn't have to keep playing. The fact that we didn't have to go back, like,

like, out there on that field and play, it just shows that there is care. And that's all that we could ever ask for is that, you know, we get treated

as people because, you know, like most people just treat us as athletes and as superstars and as some and some people like celebrities, but in that

moment, they treated us like people.


WIRE: That was Dion Dawkins there from last night; here on the East Coast, Eleni and the bills today they're going to try to get back to work with

heavy hearts. They will hold meetings in the building behind me they will be having a walkthrough and a walkthrough only.

And typically this is a day Eleni where they would have their most intense practice of the week in preparation for the game against the patriots this

weekend. And the team will not have any media availability; they are understandably still just processing everything that's going on with their

teammate, as he is in the hospital, still fighting for his life.

GIOKOS: Coy, thank you so much. We've learned so much from you and other players about the mental load that you've had to endure and carry over the

years. So we thank you for your insights.

WIRE: Thanks Eleni.

GIOKOS: And there is a small glimmer of something positive in this terrible story. Prior to his injury, Damar Hamlin had been trying to raise money for

a foundation in his hometown of McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania. He plans to use the money for Toy drives and camps for disadvantaged children.

Hamlin was aiming to raise about $2,500 but since his injury, the foundation has raised more than $6 million from donors all over the world.

You're watching "Connect the World" live from Dubai ahead. Not one but three humiliating losses for House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and his

bid to become that chamber speaker.

And in half an hour, he'll try again; we'll go live to Capitol Hill. Plus Portuguese football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo was officially unveiled by

his new Saudi Arabian club. Reports say he's made an historic deal.



GIOKOS: In just about half an hour from now, Kevin McCarthy is bruising battle to become speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives enters a

second day. On Tuesday, the Republican leader tried and failed three times to get the top job. About 20 hardliners blocked his path and a move that

exposes deep divisions within the Republican Party and threatens to overshadow its new majority in the House.

It's also the first time in 100 years that the House has not elected a speaker on its first day. U.S. president just weighed in on the gridlock in

congress. He called the political chaos embarrassing, listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: For the first time in 100 years, you can't move. I really mean it. I know, you know,

international relations. It's not a good look. It's not a good thing. This is the United States of America and I hope they get their act together.


GIOKOS: While CNN's Melanie Zanona joins me now live from Capitol Hill where it could be likely to another day of drama, as well as chaos.

President Joe Biden saying it's not a good look. Kevin McCarthy losing three votes yesterday, three times yesterday. What are we expecting to

happen today?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: That is a great question. Right now the big question is whether there even will be a vote. There has been

talking among Republicans about trying to delay another day, while Kevin McCarthy still tries to get those 218 votes that he needs to become


It's unclear whether Democrats are going to support that, or remember they need agreement in order to put off proceedings. So we'll see whether or not

that actually happens. But in the meantime, Kevin McCarthy has been negotiating; he was in talks last night, trying to work with some of his

critics to win them over.

Some of his allies have also been dispensed trying to figure out what they want at this stage, what could possibly be given to them to win over their

votes? Those talks were continuing this morning. I also saw some members of Kevin McCarthy's leadership team just moments ago heading over to his

speaker suite. So these talks are still very much ongoing.

Things are still fluid. But some of the opposition is standing firm. They're tweeting that they are prepared to not back down that they are not

going down without a fight. And I'm also told that some of the endeavor Kevin Republicans were calling some members who did vote for McCarthy last

night and trying to get them to flip their votes and putting pressure on them to join the opposition.

So they are trying to grow their ranks while Kevin McCarthy is still trying to lock down the votes. We are still at a stalemate, so it is unclear how

and if this is going to be resolved today.

GIOKOS: Yes, look, the optics of this is that the Republican Party is divided. Kevin McCarthy was talking about blackmail. We're talking about

infighting. The Republicans need to come together to make a decision here. And they need to do it fast, because this is going to have significant

consequences in terms of getting things passed in the House.

ZANONA: I'm sorry, could you repeat that?

GIOKOS: This is going to have significant consequences and getting items passed in the House. So we're going to have delays on priority items on the

agenda. Can you hear me?

ZANONA: Yes, yes, absolutely. This could paralyze business in the house. I mean, committees aren't able to staff up, they aren't able to pay their

staff or distribute loan payments starting January 13, that they don't pass a rules package. Let alone starting investigations or passing legislation

which are priorities. Meanwhile, members haven't been sworn in yet.

A lot of families are here they were hoping to watch their loved ones receive the oath of office that hasn't happened. They're just sort of stuck

in limbo. There's lot of small children that are missing school that were here for the big day and it just never panned out.

And sources also tell me that some of the new member officers and staffers haven't even been able to log into their computers yet. So a lot of the

drawbacks of this protracted fight are falling onto the rank and file staffers and the house just continues to be stuck in complete dysfunction

right now.

GIOKOS: Melanie Zanona, thank you so much for that update. All right, let's get you up to speed on some other stories that are on our radar right now.

Much of Europe is experiencing unseasonably warm weather. A French official says half of the 7500 ski slopes in France are currently close because of a

lack of snow and that climate change is to blame. Ski resorts in nearby countries are facing a similar problem.


GIOKOS: Iran's supreme leader is reiterating acceptance of women who don't wear the full hijab. The Ayatollah Khomeini made the comments in Tehran

earlier. After months of protests against government policies, the unrest was sparked by the September death of 22 year old Mahsa Amini in police

custody. And we're just getting word that one of Iran's best known actresses has been released from prison on bail. That's according to state


Taraneh Alidoosti was arrested after she criticized the execution of a man who was involved in those protests. The United Arab Emirates and China are

calling for an urgent UN Security Council meeting. They want to discuss Israel's newly appointed National Security Minister and his visit to the

Temple Mount compound known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif.

Itamar Ben Gvir's Tuesday visit to the Jerusalem holy site has been sparking international condemnation. The UAE is one of four Arab States to

have normalized relations with Israel following the 2020 Abraham Accords, despite the central issue for many Arabs of supporting the Palestinian


Last Thursday, Israel swore in its most right wing government in history, including Ben Gvir who has been convicted of inciting anti-Arab racism.

Meanwhile, in the Middle East newsletter says the new order in Israel is putting its Arab allies in an awkward position.

The effectiveness of the UAEs diplomacy within Israel remains to be seen. So far Israel's extremist minister seems unrestrained, referring there to

Ben Gvir's provocative visit to the Al Aqsa mosque compound. And you can sign up to have that story plus much more of our top analysis from across

the region delivered straight into your inbox at east newsletter.

So we bring you a stark story about a refugee who spent weeks at sea drifting in a boat with no food, water or medicine. She and her daughter

were among the 200 Rohingya who set off on the treacherous voyage from Bangladesh in November. CNN's Paula Hancocks has our report and we warn you

that some of the images are disturbing.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Despair and misery etched on every single face, one by one they collapse. Emaciated bodies are

clutching small children, others motionless, seemingly unconscious on an Indonesian beach. They are the Rohingya refugees left adrift on a boat on

the open sea, forgotten and ignored a human tragedy that keeps repeating itself.

Hatemon Nesa and her five year old daughter Umme Salima are among the 174 to reach out to your province after one month surviving on just three days'

supply of food and water. She has almost unrecognizable.

HANCOCKS (on camera): What happened when you got on the boat? He tells me there was no food no medicine, no water for all of those days only when it

rained. Could we drink rainwater? A few days into the journey, she says the engine broke down they were stranded in the Andaman Sea.

Hatemon Nesa remembers watching a baby girl die after drinking salt water. She says the boat driver jumped overboard and desperation from thirst and

hunger and died leaving his desperate human cargo to drift helplessly hoping for rescue. On December 18, more than three weeks after setting sail

Hatemon Nesa's brother back in Bangladesh managed to contact the boat trying to organize a rescue from a local boat in Indonesia.

HATEMON NESA: We are dying here. We haven't eater anything for 8 to 10 days. We are starving. Three people have died.

HANCOCKS (voice over): Hatemon Nesa says I felt I would die. I felt I would die on that boat. The United Nations Refugee Agency says 26 people died

before the boat was rescued by Indonesian fishermen and local authorities. The agency says several countries turned a blind eye.

BABAR BALOCH, ASIA PACIFIC SPOKESPERSON, UNHCR: We as --were reaching out from states to states in the region wherever we were getting reported this

is either close to one country or another. No one acted on those requests and appeals.

HANCOCKS (voice over): Stateless and persecuted these Rohingya refugees have known little peace having fled once for their lives five years ago in

Myanmar after a brutal campaign of killing arson by the military to Bangladesh and as sprawling refugee camp Cox's Bazar with little hope of a

life just survival.

MUHAMMAD TAHER, ROHINGYA REFUGEE: In Bangladesh, our life was difficult. We were banned from going out to look for work; the children could not go to


HANCOCKS (voice over): This year threatens to become one of the most deadly for the Rohingya and the Southeast Asian waters. UNHCR says at least three

boats were rescued in December one by the Sri Lankan Navy, two ended up in Indonesia.


HANCOCKS (voice over): But one boat carrying 180 people has not been heard from since the beginning of December. Its passengers feared loss.

BALOCH: These are literally death traps that once you get into those, you end up losing your life and this is done by the merciless human smugglers

and traffickers who don't care about human lives.

HANCOCKS (voice over): For Hatemon Nesa, it cost around $1,000 for a false promise of a seven day trip to Malaysia. A price so high she had to leave

her seven year old daughter behind with her mother in Bangladesh, assuming she would join later. They must bring my other daughter to me, she says. My

heart is burning for her.

All I ever wanted was to get an education for my children. She now faces the torment of living apart from one child while dealing with the trauma of

another. Paula Hancocks, CNN Seoul.


GIOKOS: Cristiano Ronaldo was officially introduced by his new Saudi club weeks after becoming the first man to score in five World Cups. We'll

discuss what this historic signing means for Saudi Arabia beyond football.


GIOKOS: Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo has now made his official presentation with his new club. Less than a month after Portugal

got knocked out of the World Cup, he says he's proud to play for Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr, where he reportedly signed a deal worth about $200

million a year.

This comes after Ronaldo's dramatic falling out with Manchester United in November and effectively marks the end of his top level career. Here's what

the 37 year old said.


CRISTIANO RONALDO, AL NASSR FORWARD: In Europe my work it's done, I won everything I played the most important clubs in Europe. And for me now it's

a new challenge, as you mentioned in Asia, I'm glad for that Al Nassr give me this opportunity to show and develop not only for the football but also

for the generation the young generation, the woman's generation as well. For the young boys and for me it's a challenge but in the same way, I feel

very, very happy and very proud.


GIOKOS: My next guest believes this high profile move is not just about football for Saudi Arabia. Journalist and Scholar James Dorsey write Mr.

Ronaldo also enhances Mr. Bin Salman's effort.


GIOKOS: That's the Saudi Crown Prince to replace a smaller Gulf States like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates as the hub for anything and everything

in the Gulf, whether it's sports or the regional seats of foreign multinationals and corporations. And James Dorsey joins me now.

Unbelievable package, I have to say it's over 200 million. This would make him the highest paid footballer in the world. It beats what Qatar paid for

Neymar da Silva. I want to quickly talk about what this means focus Cristiano Ronaldo.

JAMES DORSEY, BLOGGER, THE TURBULENT WORLD OF MIDDLE EAST SOCCER: Well, for Cristiano Ronaldo, it certainly means a very well paid end to his

footballing career as a player. But what it may also very well mean, depending on whether or not Saudi Arabia wins together with Greece and

Egypt, a bit for the 2030 World Cup, that he could be employed to the end of this decade, after it had been, after his footballing career as an

ambassador for the Saudi World Cup, much in the same way that David Beckham did for Qatar.

GIOKOS: Yes, I mean, it was interesting, that the quote, I just read, that you believe this is about, you know, the competitive environment that is

emerging in this region, you know, whether it's Qatar or here in the UAE, it's about who can become top in specifically sports and other industries

as well. Do you believe that Saudi Arabia now has that competitive edge with Cristiano Ronaldo?

DORSEY: Well, Saudi Arabia is, in a sense, Johnny-come-lately, to the game of being a major player internationally in sports that. Qatar and the UAE

were leaving that in the Gulf. Saudi Arabia has not only with the acquisition of Ronaldo, which is major, of course, because of his celebrity


It's going to be hosting a variety of different tournaments over the next decade, including Asian tournaments and - even the Asian Winter sports

games, and is likely to bid for the 1936 Olympics. So Ronaldo is in fact one chess pawn if you wish, in this much larger Saudi strategy.

GIOKOS: You also wrote in your piece that contrary to perceptions, Mr. Ronaldo's move is more than just about distracting from Saudi Arabia's

abominable human rights record. The reality is Saudi Arabia has been trying very hard, very aggressively to change perceptions towards the country. And

it's been interesting to watch this journey. What do you make of the efforts? And as you say, an acquisition, like Cristiano Ronaldo is one step

towards that.

DORSEY: Well, if you take the balance of what the World Cup brought to Qatar, despite the massive criticism, the issue of worker's rights on the

issue of LGBTQ rights, Qatar is come out of this shining. So the Saudis will look at this and basically say we can do the same thing. It's

important to them for two reasons.

One is the Saudi image problem or reputation problem goes far beyond a human rights. It goes back to a kingdom that for 70 years was secretive,

ultra conservative, and funded a supremacist interpretation of Islam globally. And it goes to the fact that Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince

Mohammed bin Salman specifically wants to restructure the Saudi economy, make it one of the most important economies in the group of 20, the group

that of the largest economies in the world, and he wants to diversify away from dependency on oil revenues. And so reputation plays a very big role in

that. And of course, the acquisition of Ronaldo supports that effort.

GIOKOS: So really good to speak to you. Thank you very much for your insights, much appreciate it.

DORSEY: My pleasure, thank you for having me.

GIOKOS: Well, the U.S. Soccer Federation - pleasure, is now investigating the men's teams head coach Gregg Berhalter. He is accused of kicking in

1991 his then girlfriend and now wife, he calls it a shameful moments that he regrets to this day. He also says someone contacted U.S. soccer during

the World Cup threatening to take him down.

The coach and his wife put out a joint statement that reads people can make mistakes and learn from them. People can also be forgiven for their

mistakes. Thankfully Rosalind forgave me.


GIOKOS: The intention of the statement is to provide transparency and to reinforce that a single bad decision made by a teenager does not

necessarily define him for the rest of his life. We will not hide from this. We didn't win and we won't now.

The disgraced founder of crypto currency exchange, FTX pleaded not guilty to all charges in the U.S. Federal Court on Tuesday. Sam Bankman-Fried is

facing multiple charges of wire fraud, and conspiracy for his role in what one prosecutor calls "a fraud of epic proportions".

Prosecutors allege he used customer funds to make investments in other companies donates political campaigns and cover loans made by a related

hedge fund. His trial is set to begin in October. And still ahead while some of this year's big movie releases will have a familiar ring to them.

That's coming up.


GIOKOS: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is now aligned certified pharmacies to dispense abortion medication. It says it will no longer

enforce a rule requiring the drug to be obtained in person at a clinic or hospital. The announcement comes days after the Justice Department declared

that federal law allows the U.S. Postal Service to deliver abortion drugs, something the Biden Administration believes could help protect access to

the medications in states that have banned abortion.

Hollywood Studios hope to get more people back in theater seats in 2023. And some of the notable releases have familiar names and faces. Chloe Melas

has a preview.


CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER (voice over): Nintendo fans are gearing up for the Super Mario Brothers movie set to release in April.

Actor Chris Pratt is the voice of Mario and the new animated film based on the iconic video game. The famous plumber and his brother Luigi travelled

through the Mushroom Kingdom in a quest to save a captured princess. Other big names lending their voices to the film include Anya Taylor joy, Jack

Black and Seth Rogen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, we come in peace.

MELAS (voice over): Pratt also stars in the latest from Marvel Studios, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3, with writer director James Gunn, bringing

the space trilogy to a close. Star-Lord Peter Quill leads the ragtag guardians on another dangerous mission to defend the universe. The film is

set to release in May.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who is this man?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Earth Godfather.

MELAS (voice over): Harrison Ford returns in June as the legendary archaeologists in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. It's been 15 years

since we've seen Indy on the big screen, and Ford says this is the fifth and final installment of the film franchise. In his newest adventure Andy

takes on former Nazis in an effort to help the U.S. government beat Russia in the space race.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now I am become death, the destroyer of world.


MELAS (voice over): Oppenheimer explodes onto screens in July, Peaky Blinders actors Cillian Murphy stars as physicists J. Robert Oppenheimer,

Christopher Nolan directs this drama about the father of the atomic bomb. The star studded cast includes Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr., Rami Malek

and Matt Damon.

And for much younger movie goers a much anticipated live action version of The Little Mermaid makes a splash and theaters in May. Up and Coming star

Halle Bailey plays the adventurous Arielle who falls for a dashing young prince while visiting the surface world. But a deal with the evil sea witch

Ursula puts her life in jeopardy. Chloe Melas, CNN.


GIOKOS: Not just for younger viewers, I'll be watching The Little Mermaid, thank you so very much for joining us. I'm Eleni Giokos in Dubai. "One

World" with Zain Asher is up next, stay with CNN.