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Connect the World
Flight Departures Resuming in U.S. after Major Outage; Zelenskyy Thanks Ukrainian Troops for their "Bravery & Steadfastness in Defending Soledar"; Police Detain 1,500 People after Attacks on Government Buildings; Kremlin Tempers Comments on Soledar Operation; Protesters March for Freedom, as Regime Crushes Dissent. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired January 11, 2023 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: This hour air traffic slowly resuming after a major system outage in the United States halted all
flights earlier today. I'm Becky Anderson. Hello and welcome back to "Connect the World".
It is eight o'clock in the evening here in Abu Dhabi and we begin with a backlog of thousands of flight delays in the United States after a key
safety system failed at the Federal Aviation Administration. Now the FAA says normal U.S. flight operations are now resuming.
Earlier the tech outage forced all domestic departures to be halted. U.S. President Joe Biden says in his words, they don't know what caused it. A
senior U.S. official tells CNN there's "No evidence of foul play".
We're joined now by CNN Aviation Analyst Peter Goelz, Former Managing Director of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. It is good to
have you with us. Just explain what we understand to have happened?
PETER GOELZ, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, all pilots have to check a system called the notice to - used to be called the "Notice to Airmen" than the
corrected understanding that they're actually women pilots. And it was called notice to air mission.
And before you fly, it's part of your checklist to review these notices. And the notices give you up to date, vital information about the airports
that you're going to whether runways are closed, whether lightings around, whether certain navigational aids is functioning properly. It also gives
you information about you know, other airway problems.
And every pilot has to check this before they take off. And this system went down and went down last night. And so the morning Russia flights could
not take off because the pilots did not have this critical information. Incoming flights--
ANDERSON: This is the tagging system as I understand it.
GOELZ: --on the controllers.
ANDERSON: Understood. So this is the no tam system. And let's just explain what the outage to this system cause? What was the impact, sir, at its
GOELZ: Well, so far at least 5000 plus flights were canceled this morning. And in the United States, where they rely heavily on what they call a hub
and spoke system that kind of outage at the beginning of the day, is going to throw the entire system into chaos for at least the next 24 hours.
ANDERSON: We're looking at flight boards as you and I talk. Images of flight boards from one of the airports affected today. The knock on effect
then and you're speaking to me on CNN International, there will be people all over the world you may be either at an airport, about to fly into the
States or hoping to get into the States or have a flight booked. What's your advice? What are the expectations at this point?
GOELZ: Well, I think the issue is for overseas travelers coming into the U.S., I don't think their flights will be significantly altered or
interrupted. But once they get on the ground, if they have a connecting flight, perhaps to another city that's where the challenge is going to be
and people are going to have to stay on top of their flight plans very carefully.
Because if you've got 5000 flights canceled before nine o'clock this morning, it's going to have a ripple effect throughout the system for the
entire day and probably into tomorrow as well.
ANDERSON: One senior source speaking to CNN has said there is no sign of foul play. Earlier this morning Joe Biden himself the U.S. president went
out and said it wasn't clear what had happened. Clearly, it's good news to hear from a senior official that there is no foul play or at least that is
the understanding at present. Still though this will be a concern to people won't it?
GOELZ: Well, of course, you know I mean that was a quick call on the part of the President and then the administration? And apparently the folks at
the Department of Homeland Security saw no, you know, warning signals are telltale signs of terrorist intervention.
But still, it just simply underscores the fragility of the system that that if it ever can go down, you know, on a computer glitch, what happens if
somebody targeted it and wanted to take it down? So I think there's going to be ramifications of this event well into the coming year, as the
Congress and the administration reviews, exactly how secure flight is in the United States?
ANDERSON: And the Department of Transportation has said that they will review the technology failure that caused these flight disruptions. I mean
for some context here, sir, just how old is this system?
GOELZ: Well, the system itself was first put in place in the 1940s. But it's been upgraded. You can get these notices on your, on your phone, you
get it online, you get it. You used to go to the airport, check in, print out the no tams of the airports you're going to in the areas you're going
So I mean it's been upgraded over the years. Now, the question is, is it the latest technology? It is not. And as this failure showed, they really
are going to have to review this. And they're going to have to make further investments in the system to protect it.
ANDERSON: It's good to have you sir. Now to of Alexandria in Virginia where the time is just after 11 o'clock in the morning no doubt the flights
locally to you have been impacted as they have across the domestic U.S. space. Thank you.
This isn't just a domestic issue as we've been discussing. Let's get you to London where CNN's Salma Abdulaziz is live from Heathrow Airport. And to
your understanding from those that you've spoken to both officials and passengers, what's been the impact there Salma?
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So far really, Becky, what officials here are waiting for what airlines here are waiting for what passengers
here are waiting for is that ripple effect that knocks on effect to take place. It was only just a force in a few hours.
We do understand on the ground in the United States, there's going to be a ground delay program put into place to address that backlog. That means of
course that all those flights won't take off at the same time. Of course, it'll be staggered departure. And you can expect that that results in
delays and possibly cancellations.
And Becky, our producers have been working the phones they've been calling airlines and airports, particularly across Europe, of course, hundreds of
flights every day between Europe, the UK and the United States. So that's where you're going to see a huge impact.
And already we know from Air Canada, that's the foreign carrier with the most flights into the U.S. and into the United States. They say their cross
border operations have been impacted. They don't know yet to what - to what extent?
Virgin Atlantic as well saying some of their U.S. departures has been affected. They're preparing potentially for more impact. British Airways
says it's continuing as planned, but we have looked on that board and Heathrow Airport and we are seeing delays already across the European Union
into the United States.
And then even in Amsterdam as well preparing for delays again, at Paris, Charles de Gaulle preparing for delays, really all across these major
European airports after what was already a hectic travel season. And I'll point to Heathrow Airport here where I am in particular.
This was a travel season where they were extremely short staffed, where they were suffering under several different strike transport strikes that
happened across the country. So coming on the back of that this is just another thing compounding the travel disruptions we've been seeing.
We've already spoken to at least one passenger here in Heathrow Airport, who was flying to the United States to Dallas via American Airlines. They
say they sat on the tarmac for three hours unclear what caused that delay? But again, that knock on effect, potentially impacting dozens, if not
hundreds of these flights going forward Becky.
ANDERSON: Salma Abdulaziz is at Heathrow Airport for you. Thank you Salma! Well, I want to get you to the ongoing battle for the Ukrainian town of
Soledar. And the conflicting information on just who controls that town?
We've been telling you about the importance of Soledar this week on "Connect the World". Russia, wants to capture the town not only to claim a
much needed battlefield victory in this conflict but to take control of its salt mines.
ANDERSON: And what is it a network of tunnels there. Now that in turn could facilitate Russian efforts to capture the key city of Bakhmut, which is
just 15 kilometers away. Earlier today, the Head of the Wagner Group Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed the entire area around Soledar is under Russian
Ukraine denies that and the Kremlin will only say there's a positive trend in the fighting. CNN's Ben Wedeman and his team traveled deep into the
battle zone near Soledar to see what is happening? He has just filed this report for us a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Soledar is just behind us. We're about five miles seven kilometers from the site where this battle
is raging. You can hear artillery, most of it outgoing in the direction of the town.
That town has been the scene of intense fighting in recent weeks. And it appears that the situation for Ukrainian forces is increasingly difficult.
Now Russian sources particularly the so called Wagner Group, that private military company says that they've taken essentially control of the city.
But the Ukrainians insist that they still have control of parts of it, at least but it's questionable how much longer the Ukrainians can hold out as
this goes on? I'm Ben Wedeman, CNN reporting from outside Soledar.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: I want to bring in Scott McLean. He's back with us this hour from Kyiv. And Ben hearing artillery there as he describes it, most of it
outgoing and it is the Wagner Group, the private military group, run by a let's call him a friend of President Putin, who is claiming control.
Just explain to us what you understand to be the relationship between what is going on, on the ground, with Wagner Groups and other Russian Military?
Is it clear at this point, because it's not clear who is in control? And the Ukrainians are saying certainly the Russians haven't got control of
that strategic town. But I think there's a really important second layer here as to the efforts, the work the momentum that Wagner has on the
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and one of the things that you hear often from the Wagner Chief is criticism of the sort of elites of Russia,
who are running the show, including the Defense Minister himself, whether that's direct or more passive aggressive, but he has made abundantly clear
that it is his troops, he believes, as part of the Wagner Group that are the only ones that will truly be able to make huge inroads when it comes to
And obviously, they have not had a whole lot of success in Bakhmut and so this huge buildup of Wagner troops and also regular Russian military troops
in Soledar is a huge test of whether that is actually the case?
I should mention as well, Becky, something that Ben didn't mention in that piece. But that he pointed out to us is that several kilometers away from
Soledar there are of course, Ukrainian troops on the ground, some of them doing maintenance, some of them working the supply lines, and none of those
troops, he said, seem to indicate that they're in any kind of imminent danger.
They appear calm; there are no signs that there will be any kind of withdrawal or retreat at this stage of the game. We heard from a Ukrainian
soldier in the city yesterday or in the town I should say yesterday who said that everyone believes that there will be a withdrawal from the
Ukrainians at some point.
The question is whether when that is actually going to come? And the Ukrainians have made clear that they are open to the possibility of
withdrawing if it means saving life and limb so that these troops can go on to fight another day.
Ben also mentioned Ben and his team also mentioned that there are plenty of signs of the number of international donations of equipment that the
Ukrainians have gotten. You see, equipment and medical vehicles from the United States from the UK and across mainland Europe, as well. And I'm sure
that the list goes on.
But this is just what he is seeing in Soledar. And one other development today, Becky, is that when it comes to equipment, President Zelenskyy
traveled to the Western City of Lviv today to meet with his Polish counterpart and announced that the Polls will be giving donating to Ukraine
Now you may have seen vehicles that look like tanks in the news lately, including the Bradley Fighting Vehicles and similar ones from Germany and
France, but these are not actually tanks. They're not as heavily armored as proper tanks and this is something that the Ukrainians had been asking for,
for a long time.
MCLEAN: They feel like this could make a very big difference on the battlefield. President Zelenskyy also hinted that there was this one other
country that was also going to be contributing tanks to this international effort.
One of the reasons why the United States hasn't sent them just yet is because they say that their tanks are simply more complicated, too big of
gas guzzlers. And so they were hoping that other countries would step up. And now we're seeing the first signs that international allies actually are
ANDERSON: Fascinating Scott is in Kyiv. And with the story on the ground, which is, frankly, slightly confusing, it is not clear who has control of
that town? And it is a strategically important term to both sides. Later in the newscast I'm going to talk to an expert on Russia's military, who says
that the Wagner Chief's efforts to capture Soledar are a means to a much larger end in what is the Russian political and military hierarchy? And
that is coming up in about 20 minutes time do you stay with us for that?
Well, no word yet automotive in today's attack at one of the busiest rail hubs in Paris, at least six people were injured earlier the - train
station. Police say the suspected attacker was disarmed by off duty officers and by border police. Melissa Bell reports.
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Six people were injured at one of Paris's busiest train stations early Wednesday, when a man armed
with a homemade blade went on a bloody rampage.
We saw two people on the ground an onlooker told French TV. One was hitting the other people tried to pull them apart, and that's when the attacker
pulled out his weapon. The French Interior Minister later at the scene, said off duty police officers stopped the attacker shooting three times.
It was all over within a minute.
At 6:42 am an extremely threatening individual attach people at the entrance and then inside - he said at 6:43 he was neutralized by the police
forces by police officers who were out of uniform.
BELL (on camera): This is one of the busiest train stations in Europe and that attack that took place at 6:42 it took place even as it was filling up
with commuters. Beyond that perimeter is where it happened and it was in the space of that minute that the assailant managed to ruin six people,
including one critically.
BELL (voice over): The suspect now in police custody is also in a critical condition. The Paris prosecutor's office said his motive isn't known but
authorities say this is not being treated as a terrorist attack. Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris
ANDERSON: Well, retake the power up the rallying cry in Brazil. We're going to take a look at how supporters of the Former President Bolsonaro may be
detained? But they're not deterred days after the capital riots. Well say marching for freedom as the regime cracks down a report on the protests in
Iran and the harsh consequences after this.
ANDERSON: Security has stepped up across Brazil today after supporters of the Former President Jair Bolsonaro called for new protests. And the
President is warning any threat to Brazilian democracy will be punished to the full extent of the law.
This of course just days after Bolsonaro loyalists rioted in the capitol. Hundreds have been arrested including an ex-military police commander.
Well, Bolsonaro's Former Justice Minister who just becomes the Federal District Security Chief is also wanted and charges of attempting a coup.
Well, the protests were of the election of Lula Da Silva who himself served time before his corruption convictions were unveiled. Well, an Adviser to
Mr. Lula Da Silva spoke with CNN's Christiane Amanpour about Sunday's mayhem, have a listen?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CELSO AMORIM, BRAZILIAN PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, certainly there was a failure and, you know, the responsibility for the security in the Federal
District, which is the equivalent of your deed District of Columbia, is of the local police, military police, which is run by the local government.
And I think these were - they were actually not acting and it's very difficult to separate exactly what was just incompetence and what was
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, 1500 people were detained over the protests more than 500 were arrested. CNN's Isa Soares tells us many of those who back Bolsonaro
ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Pro-Bolsonaro supporters defiant and remorseful. Victories ours they scream. Our flag will never be
red they chant a direct reference to President Lula da Silva's left wing Workers Party. They leave the Federal Police Academy as free men and women
after being questioned about their alleged role in one of the ugliest days in Brazilian politics.
Some of those still inside complain of the conditions. It is awful food not even dogs eat this one says. There's some authorities have vowed to punish
those involved. Those found to have violently played a part in tearing through the democratic institutions are being accused of terrorism and
attempted coup among other offenses.
One Senator tells me that a large number of them have been free but many are still inside. Authorities are trawling through all the intelligence all
the video to find out what role they played on that Sunday as they run riot through the capital.
A protester who acknowledges she went inside but denies being part of any violence tells me her story. Its chaos here because we don't know anything
they can't say exactly if people are imprisoned if they're going to get out she tells me.
For 50 days she says she was protesting outside the army headquarters in Brasilia hoping the election that she says was robbed from Jair Bolsonaro
would be overturned. For many like her the issue is Lula a man who previously served time on corruption charges.
Those were later thrown out on a judicial technicality. Our intention she asks, not agreeing with everything that was happening she says. The ballot
boxes we keep claiming this all the time asking for help from the armed forces to help the people she asked.
I asked her if her actions make her a terrorist. I'm not a terrorist. I don't have weapons she tells me but those that did carry them left their
mark on this country's institution tearing through the halls of power here with - eyes and even grenades according to the Justice Minister, in an act
that can only be described as an attack on Brazilian democracy.
Back at the federal police I asked the same protester if she regrets anything. I don't regret it. I don't regret it. Because I was an armed I
didn't go with a mask. I didn't go with glasses. I didn't go with a bomb. And this is a challenge for Lula da Silva, who has been on the job for just
over a week, uniting a polarized country, a movement that is angry and simply refuses to accept defeat. Isa Soares, CNN, Brasilia.
ANDERSON: One of the cities where protests are being called in a few hours is Sao Paulo. CNN's Shasta Darlington is live for us there. What are the
expectations at this point Shasta?
SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky it's pretty incredible but just three days after those violent riots, authorities are indeed
stepping up security across the country, preparing for planned protests at the end of the day, right here in Sao Paulo.
The supporters of Former President Jair Bolsonaro are calling on Brazilians to take to the streets again, to protest against what they claim without
any evidence. We're rigged elections. So they're calling for them to come out here on Avenue - in Brasilia, the National Forest Troops have been
deployed, to try and prevent any protesters from getting close to official buildings and of course, invading them or causing any damage the way they
did on Sunday.
And all of this, even though at this point, we really don't know what the turnout will be given the high level of rejection by the broad Brazilian
population to all of the violence that happened on Sunday. In the meantime, authorities have gone from arresting and detaining those suspected of
participating in the riots, to actually honing in on the political and business forces that they suspect were enabling and aiding the rioters.
Which means that yesterday evening; the Supreme Court ordered the arrest of the top two security officials in Brasilia during the attacks. They argued
that the obvious lack of police presence was a direct result of "Omission and connivance".
So this includes Anderson who was the Justice Minister for Bolsonaro and had recently taken over as the top Security Chief in Brasilia, as well as a
- who was the police commander during the attacks on Sunday, both men have since been fired.
And now the Supreme Court is investigating them for terrorism, criminal organization and the violent disruption of rule of law. Meanwhile, Lula,
the new president was meeting with lawmakers in Brasilia to discuss the intervention in the capital, security forces and also just as a show of
force as part of this ongoing crisis, Becky.
ANDERSON: Fascinating. Shasta, thank you! Shasta is in Sao Paulo in Brazil. Well, ahead on "Connect the World" Ukraine and even the Kremlin are
disputing a claim by the Head of the Wagner Group that his fighters have captured a key town in Eastern Ukraine. We're going to talk to a Military
Analyst about Yevgeny Prigozhin and his hopes to accomplish or what he hopes to accomplish in Ukraine and beyond that is coming up after this.
ANDERSON: Well, more now on our top story, no evidence of foul play that is what a senior US official is telling CNN after a tech failure brought U.S.
flight departures to a standstill earlier today. Officials say operations at U.S. airports now getting back to normal after an FAA safety system went
offline. Now it is not known what caused the problem. There is though a backlog of thousands of flight delays according to air traffic tracker
Well as the battle for Soledar rages on in Eastern Ukraine, the Russian Mercenary Group, Wagner is playing a large role in the fighting there. That
group is led by Russian Oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin. He is overseeing various operations in Syria and in African hotspots for percussion.
For Prigozhin Wagner is a way to make money and gain influence in Vladimir Putin's Russia. And for Putin, these contract operations are a way to get
things done off the books as it were. Well, CNN has been on the ground in many of the countries where Wagner has operated in the past and continues
to do so in some. Here's a look at some of the reporting from my CNN colleagues.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A Russian mercenary takes a selfie video in Syria. It's a recruitment style pitch. Allegedly for the notorious Wagner Group, a
brutal force believed to be linked to the Kremlin.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is boot camp for recruits to a new army in the war torn Central African
Republic. The troops are being taught in Russian command which weapons are Russian too. It's taken months to get access to this camp. Officially, this
is a UN approved training. But the - instructors will talk to us or even be identified because they're not actually soldiers, they're mercenaries.
Deep in Sudan's Gold Country, miners toil in the searing heat, barely surviving in what should be one of Africa's richest countries. Providing
gold for a war a continent away we investigate a force more powerful than Sudan's government controlling its gold. For millennia Sudan has produced
some of the most sought after gold in the world, and Putin's private army than a toy us paramilitary group Wagner knows it.
ANDERSON: Well, earlier today, the Head of the Wagner Group Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed that the entire area around Soledar in the East of
Ukraine is under Russian control. Ukraine denies this and the Kremlin will only say that there is a positive trend in the fighting war.
Well, my next guest is an expert on Russian military activity and tweeted about a proposal by a reporter for Russian state media that quotes "Yevgeny
Prigozhin will be elevated to the rank of Major General after he declared victory in Soledar". The Wagner Group Soledar Offensive will further
boosting bolster his standing in Russian politics.
Samuel Ramani joins me now via Skype from Oxford in England. Can you just explain for our viewers who the Wagner Group is first and foremost and who
it is who runs it?
SAMUEL RAMANI, ASSOCIATE FELLOW, ROYAL UNITED SERVICES INSTITUTE: So the Wagner Group is nominally a private military company, but private military
companies are illegal under Russian law. In practice it's basically a paramilitary organization. At its goal still aligned with the Main
Intelligence Directorate, the GRU. The Head of the Wagner Group or its main financier is Yevgeny Prigozhin.
ANDERSON: What is the Kremlin gain from having him and the Wagner Group working for them effectively? And what do they gain from Wagner's mercenary
activities on the ground in Ukraine? Let's be quite clear about this.
RAMANI: Well, the Wagner Group first of all adds additional manpower to the Russia military. And 40,000 conscripts are prepared in the prisons before
the major mobilization driver announces a significant boost to the Russian fighting force.
RAMANI: Also, they have 10,000 private military contractors who have trained and have experienced in other battlefields like Ukraine, like Syria
or even Afghanistan and Chechnya and given the depletion of the number of Elite Core in history, of course of this war, that experience is quite
Also, the larger group is adept at seizing control of our mineral assets and carrying local interference and disinformation campaigns. So it can
really augment Russia's vision for hybrid warfare.
ANDERSON: Well, they're convinced that they've got control of this town, which is very close to Bakhmut and we've been explaining why that is
significant. And what I do think was important was that Yevgeny Prigozhin yesterday just suggested the Ukrainians have been fighting with honor it
did seem odd coming from a man whose reputation stands before him as it were.
Wagner's ambitions have not gone unnoticed in Washington D.C. Take a listen to what the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense said at a briefing
a few days ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA COOPER, U.S. DEPARTMENT ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR DEFENSE: In the recent past, we've seen that Wagner is advancing at a more rapid clip than
any other unit in the Russian military.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Cracks starting to emerge in Wagner's relationship, certainly with the other Russian military. Are we seeing cracks with the Kremlin,
particularly Russian Defense Minister Shoigu? And if so, what comes next? What's the end goal here for Wagner?
RAMANI: Prigozhin is that a long standing negative relationship with Sergei Shoigu that even predates his current war. In fact, it dates back to the
campaign in Syria, where the Wagner Group was often directly being hired by Assad over the Head of the Russian Defense Ministry, to carry out certain
guardianship operations as well as agency operations.
And now with Prigozhin trying to take advantage with the frustration amongst nationalists in Russia towards how this war is being prosecuted has
used his telegram channels to smear show Shoigu and grab him off.
So it appears that Prigozhin is trying to position himself as kind of a shadow Defense Minister of sorts, who is more respected than Shoigu, who is
a civilian, and also who has Putin's ear. So I think that this is a significant realignment in Russia elite politics that could make Russia
even more unpredictable and even more dangerous and even more resistant to diplomacy and towards the escalation.
ANDERSON: It's good to get your analysis. It's an important story, extremely important story on the ground. Sir we are 10.5 months into this
conflict and we have seen some of the most brutal trench warfare around Soledar as that battle continues important that we get the context from
The battle for Soledar thank you is putting a spotlight then on the Wagner Group and CNN takes an in depth looks at its controversial leader. Find out
why he is called Putin's Chef, and how he's used the war in Ukraine to raise Wagner's profile and his own? That is all on your CNN or of course
you can log email@example.com taking a break back after this.
ANDERSON: Iran's Supreme Court has suspended the execution of a 19-year-old protester amid an international outcry. The court had earlier confirmed the
death sentence for Mohamed Bara Ghani. Two executions were reportedly carried out over the weekend. The UN is accusing Tehran of weaponizing the
death penalty to instill fear. Jomana Karadsheh has more on the regime's efforts to crush dissent.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDE NT (voice over): Hijab or no hijab onwards to a revolution they chant death to the dictator. Those who know
the regime know it will never give up the hijab, one of the pillars of the Islamic Republic. But many say that's not what this is about.
It's about the right to choose the right to speak, to live with no fear to be free. The past few weeks, the world got to see just a little of how far
the regime will go to silence its own people. Any voice every voice can be silenced in the Republic of fear.
Dozens of journalists like Niloufar Hamide and Ilaha Hamide are behind bars that you were among the first to tell the world the story of Mahsa Zena
Amini, the regime's accused them of orchestrating the protests and being agents of foreign states.
Rights activist and blogger Hussain is no stranger to regime jails. He was violently arrested in September and reportedly tortured. This is what 64
days in the notorious Evin prison and a hunger strike did to - out for urgent medical treatment.
Many artists and musicians like dissident rapper - and rapper - who have been arrested, according to the UN rights groups and state media that two
are now facing the death penalty. And they were the voices that have been silenced forever. No one really knows how many hundreds maybe more.
For those mourning their dead are also being harassed and intimidated into silence. This grieving mother walked the streets holding up a portrait of
her 16-year-old - she wanted people to see her voice face and hear his name. They killed him. They shot him in the head she cried. They told me to
be silent. I won't be quiet. They will not be silenced they say this is a battle to save the future a battle for a free Iran, Jomana Karadsheh, CNN
ANDERSON: And that's it from us tonight. That was "Connect the World". I'm Becky Anderson. Marketplace Middle East is next.
ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 2023 in the GCC, it's an economy in full swing, partly thanks to the high price of oil last spring. And for
countries all across the Middle East, a drop in growth could be ahead. I'm Eleni Giokos. And this month on Marketplace Middle East we're attacking the
down on the region's economy as we navigate choppy waters in the year ahead, let's do this.
GIOKOS (on camera): Welcome to the global village in Dubai like so many different attractions here the Middle East is facing a multi speed economic
GIOKOS (voice over): According to the IMF's 2023 economic outlook for the region, oil exporting countries have been benefiting from higher oil
prices, with a projected windfall of about $1 trillion between 2022 and 2026.
But while GDP growth in the region was set to hit 5 percent, last year, in 2023, it's expected to fall to 3.6 percent. And for the third consecutive
year, inflation for the Middle East and North Africa remains in the double digits with forecasts of 12.4 percent in 2023, meaning skyrocketing cost of
living for people in the region.
It's the emerging markets who are facing the real bumps in the road. And this has driven them to borrow from the IMF. In 2022, a preliminary
agreement sits in - on its way to receive a $1.9 billion loan. And just a month ago, Egypt was granted a $3 billion package, all in the hopes of a
more stable and steady recovery.
For the Egyptians pavilion at the Global Village, you can find all sorts of interesting Egyptian made goods that have been imported into Dubai. But
Egypt's economy is facing a host of economic challenges. And the question becomes what is underpinning the economic volatility that the country is
Well, I caught up with the IMF, Middle East Director who talks to me about how the countries can mitigate some of these issues?
JIHAD AZOUR, DIRECTOR OF MIDDLE EAST AND CENTRAL ASIA, INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND: We have unexpected jobs. That came after the COVID Pandemic,
we were about to get out of it with growing recovery. And then we were hit by several shots. In the region, the war in Ukraine, food security issues,
the increase in oil and gas prices, but also the tightening of interest rates and the fight against inflation.
GIOKOS (on camera): So I want to talk about it regionally. Because we have strong oil producing countries in the region, we also have countries that
are being very hard hit by inflation. You're seeing that happening in Egypt.
You know, the likes of Jordan also coming under pressure. There's sort of a two speed world that is playing out in the region, what would you describe
regionally, the sort of scenarios that you're playing out for 2023?
AZOUR: We have 2023 for the oil exporting countries will be an acceleration of the recovery to maintain the drive for diversification. For the oil
importing countries, I think its different story, it's country by country. Priority number one is to fight inflation.
Because of the nature of inflation based on food and fuel it's important to preserve social stability, addressing the issues would require also to have
a very, I would say sound macroeconomic management reduce the impact of increasing rates on the refinancing.
Last point, which is important for all countries in the region, the long term matters and structural reforms that allow economies to be more
resilient, to be more able to attract investment, and also to be more productive is going to be very important for the next stage.
GIOKOS (on camera): Well, here is the Bahrain perversion there's a smile of optimism that fills the area with the strengthening of economies in the
GCC. And it's not just oil revenue that's catching the eye of experts, according to a PWC report, non-oil growth hit 9 percent in some Gulf
countries last year, and the question is, is it going to continue into 2023.
RICHARD BOXSHALL, MIDDLE EAST CHIEF ECONOMIST, PWC: Certainly, one of the things I'll be looking out for this year is a resurgence in the non-oil
economy, strong positive growth, showing that the GCC is more than just an oil economy.
One other area that I think will start to see acceleration in investment and effort is related to the energy transition with COP 28 taking place in
the UAE and various commitments from Saudi Arabia and various other governments. I really think 2023 might be pivotal year in which we see
investment in green technology and green energy.
GIOKOS (on camera): The question is where's this investment coming from? According to last year's World Investment Report by the UN Conference on
Trade and Development, only one country in the GCC, the United Arab Emirates ranked in the top 20 for inflows of foreign direct investment. One
analyst says the region may look to change that.
ROBERT MOGIELNICKI, SENIOR RESIDENT SCHOLAR, ARAB GULF STATES INSTITUTE IN WASHINGTON: We hear a lot about transformations and transitions in the
Middle East, the global energy transition, that kind of economic diversification transition.
The big transition that government officials in the region are going to be trying to achieve is that it is one in which the state and the government
is not the financier of first and last resort for all development initiatives, but rather where there's a healthy influx of foreign direct
investment to help support these economic plans.
GIOKOS (voice over): But could the current outlook for 2023 mean more investment, particularly when it comes to green energy? PWC's economist
BOXSHALL: When there's a lot of doom and gloom around the global economy from slowing growth, actually, the GCC is doing pretty well. When the GCC
is doing well, it brings in people and brings new investments and impacts on everybody's life because it's an oil economy. But it will become
important as a non-oil economy. The Middle East has to move in the energy transition and the GCC is right in the middle of all of that.
GIOKOS: Welcome back to "Marketplace Middle East"! And as we look into the New Year's economic outlook, the tourism sector seems to be getting back on
track and the World Travel and Tourism Council says that travel might be getting back to pre-pandemic levels this year. So what does this mean for
GIOKOS (voice over): According to the latest data travel and tourism's GDP growth was expected to have more than doubled in the Middle East in 2022.
With an 80 percent increase in spending from international visitors compared to the year prior. This boom will not only be a result of the
region's most popular destinations, but also some rising players.
MOGIELNICKI: Of course, you have established tourism hubs across the Middle East and North Africa, Jordan and Morocco come immediately to mind and
these countries know how to do tourism. I would look beyond these established tourism hubs toward the many tourist related projects and
initiatives taking place in GCC countries.
GIOKOS (voice over): Particularly Saudi Arabia still, according to WGCC, the Kingdom was the third largest invest in the sector worldwide in 2021,
of almost $37 billion injected into Travel and Tourism that year, with a government strategy known as vision 2030 it aims to attract 100 million
international visitors by 2030. This could also have an impact well beyond its borders,
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any developments in Saudi Arabia that is able to attract more domestic tourism to attract more Saudis to local offerings rather than
having Saudis leave the country. This of course is going to impact countries like Bahrain.
The other big impact that Saudi Arabia's big development and economic push into the tourism industry is going to have is on the GCC's established
tourism hub in the United Arab Emirates. They're looking of course to continue to make gains as well and continue to remain competitive.
GIOKOS (on camera): Which one is this? I think this is going to be good. Well, Saudi Arabia is filled with hidden gem and if there's one person who
knows what it is in store for the tourism industry is the tourism Vice Minister. I visited Saudi Arabia to catch up with Haifa Al Saud.
HAIFA BINT MUHAMMAD AL SAUD, VICE MINISTER OF TOURISM, SAUDI ARABIA: When vision 2030 was launched in 2016 the aim was to diversify away from oil and
what better industry to do that than tourism. We were at 3 percent contribution to GDP back in 2018. We're aiming to take that to 10 percent
by 2030, but also in job creation, and resolving unemployment. So tourism is at the forefront of our efforts.
GIOKOS (on camera): What would you say your big focus is going to be and opening up new markets? And what products are you selling right now?
AL SAUD: So visit Saudi has opened up 15 international markets across key destinations, whether it be in the U.S. whether it be in Germany, whether
it be in Asia, whether it so we're opening up across the world, we're also listening to trade.
So we've partnered up, for example, with Tripp to design packages for Chinese customers whenever the Chinese market opens up, and whenever China
opens up. So we have, for example, 80 tour guides that have been trained in Mandarin.
We have another 60 that have been trained in German, because we know that certain markets need to and require that language. So we're building our
offering and tailoring it to those customers' segmentations.
GIOKOS: Competition between countries in the region, I mean Dubai is still a hot destination, every country that I visited; they're positioning
themselves as like the place to be. Do you feel that this camaraderie in the region in terms of tourism? Do you feel that you've got to position
yourself and differentiate yourself?
AL SAUD: We have to act in this manner because as a region, we are immaculate to the world and we're stronger together. And I'll give you a
comparison to retail. Where do you find all the big brands? They're always on one strip.
Because they realize when they come together on one strip, people will come to that one strip versus when they're just spread out across you know the
city. So I'll give you that comparison to us as a destination we are stronger together. And competition is good. It's healthy.
GIOKOS: As we capture the last moments of 2022, we look forward to the year ahead. Well that's it for this edition of "Marketplace Middle East" if
you'd like to take a look at more of our stories you can check out our website from @elenigiokos here at the Global Village in Dubai. I'll see you