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Connect the World

Russia Ramps Up Attacks On Ukraine, Arab League Restores Syria's Membership After 11 Years, More Than 1,600 Evacuated From Zaporizhzhia Front Line; EU Cancels Europe Day Reception In Tel Aviv; China: Relationship With US Is "Ice On"; Allen, Texas Mourning Eight People Killed In Shooting. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired May 08, 2023 - 11:00   ET




ZAIN ASHER, CNNI HOST: This hour, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is back, a look at what that means for the region. But first, Russia hit Ukraine

with a barrage of missile and drone strikes overnight ahead of Victory Day tomorrow. Ukraine's military says 61 airstrikes were launched. An

investigation is underway into the mass shooting in Texas. The gunman opened fire at a shopping mall killing eight people and wounding at least

seven others.

In Turkey, the Vice-Presidential candidate for the opposition was hit with stones during a rally in the run up to the elections. Presidential and

power -- parliamentary elections are slated for Sunday

All right welcome to our second hour of Connect the World; I'm Zain Asher for you in New York. On Sunday, the Arab League voted to reinstate Syria as

a member effective immediately. The organization does not dictate policy for member states but the reinstatement paves the way for serious dictator

Bashar al-Assad to reinstate -- reenter rather in the world stage. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad became a pariah after he brutally crushed popular

uprisings that began in 2011.

The country has been engulfed in a devastating civil war ever since. 350,000 Syrians have been killed and millions more have been displaced. The

Arab League Secretary General is making it clear that decision on readmission applies to the block itself, not to individual countries. CNN's

Nada Bashir has a look this hour and how exactly we got to this point.


NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER (voiceover): An unthinkable prospect now a reality. The Arab League has reinstated Syria, more than a decade after

Damascus was suspended over President Bashar al-Assad deadly crackdown on antigovernment protests. Now talk of an Arab led political process to end

the bloody Syrian civil war that has haunted the region for years.

AYMAN SAFADI, JORDANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: What we're talking now is a political process in which the Arabs will have a leading global role in

efforts to try and bring about a solution to the-- to the crisis and in order for us to succeed, we will all need to work together.

BASHIR (voiceover): Syria says it welcomed the announcement and that it will participate in strengthening joint action. The decision to welcome

Syria back into the fold hasn't come as a total surprise, following a series of diplomatic victories for Assad. Last week, Iran's President

Ebrahim Raisi, met with Assad in Damascus, a first for an Iranian Head of State in 13 years. And in April, a similar visit to the Syrian capital by

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister. But not all Arab states are supporting Syria's return, including some that have actively supported Syria's rebel


Qatar's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Majed bin Mohammed Al-Ansari, said his country continues to stand against the normalization of ties with the Assad

regime. And among those most wary of Syria's ascent, Israel, the IDF suspected of hitting targets inside Syria to prevent Iran from gaining a

foothold as part of their proxy war with Iran. And for the millions of Syrian refugees brutalized by Assad's war, it may be hard to accept this

decision as anything but a betrayal

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And this means nothing to us because we are displaced and forced to leave our towns. They are just like him. This is why they

took him back. They are all useless.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Instead of Arab leaders helping us and getting us out of those camps, where we suffer and live in pain, they whitewash the criminal

and killers' hands from our blood.

BASHIR (voiceover): President Assad could not participate in the upcoming Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia. But the League Secretary General has

been clear, this does not mean an end to the Syrian crisis.

AHMED ABOUL GHEIT, ARAB LEAGUE SECRETARY-GENERAL: The return of Syria is the beginning of a movement, not an end. The direction of the resolution to

this crisis in Syria will take time for procedures to be implemented. And it will be gradual.

BASHIR (voiceover): Shifting politics changing the landscape of the Middle East, but caught in the middle Syrian refugees and citizens still facing an

uncertain future with no clear indication of how or when President Assad will be held to account.



ASHER: Nada, accountability is of course an important point. Because we're talking about a regime that has bombed tortured and gassed its own people.

Just walk us through what sort of a solution we could see here, given Syria's reinstatement in terms of solution to the crisis,

BASHIR: You're absolutely right, Zain, I mean, this is a stark reality that the Syrian people are now facing the prospect, of course, of normalization

totally of those ties between President Bashar al-Assad regime and its Arab neighbors. Now, of course, there is the hope by the Arab League that this

could potentially lead to some sort of political solution, a solution are brought about by the Arab nations themselves, as opposed to through Western


That was certainly the message from the Arab League Secretary General. But of course, this has been condemned by members of the international

community, not least the United States. We've heard in the State Department already saying that they will not seek to normalize ties with President

Bashar al-Assad's regime, nor will they offer their support to other nations choosing to do so. But the focus now for the Arab League is to

establish -- reestablish those channels of communication and dialogue with President Bashar al-Assad regime in order, in their words to bring about

some sort of political solution.

But of course, as you mentioned there, for many Syrians, millions of Syrians who have already faced so much hardship of these horrific

atrocities at the hands of President Bashar al-Assad, over more than a decade. Now, this is a real blow to any hope of seeking accountability.

We've already seen countless people killed; we're talking about nearly half a million people killed over the course of the Civil War. Millions of

people according to the UN, at least 14 million people made refugees by President al-Assad's war.

And of course, here in Europe, we've seen the impact of that. We've seen the countless death a dizzying number of deaths on the Mediterranean with

many families risking absolutely everything in search of safety. And there is a real sense of apprehension of fear now amongst Syrian refugees, as we

continue to hear conversations around the prospect of potentially being returned to Syria, if those ties are normalized, particularly in countries

like Lebanon and Turkey.

There's neighboring countries which have already taken in so many Syrian refugees. So, there is a real sense of fear. Now, of course, and for many

Syrians, for many members of the Arab community in general, this really has been seen as a betrayal. The Arab League maintains that this is really an

effort to secure that political dialogue to bring an end to this crisis. But the road ahead is long, Zain.

ASHER: Yes, controversial decision to say the least. Nada Bashir live for us there. Thank you so much. And you can follow the story. With our

Meanwhile, in the Middle East newsletter, it drops three times a week and there's a story up now on why the U.S. and other Western nations are

objecting to Syria's readmission into the Arab League. Obviously, Nada Bashir has just touched on that as well. And why those objections are

unlikely to matter. Use the QR code on the bottom of your screen to access the newsletter.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: You said that's not as low and all those old evils that modern Russia is bringing back will be defeated,

just as Nazism was defeated.


ASHER: Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, vowing to beat the evil of Russia as Nazi Germany was defeated. Mr. Zelenskyy was at an event marking

the end of World War Two. He wants to move Ukraine's official V Day commemoration so they don't coincide with Russia's. Mr. Zelenskyy spoke

just hours after a fresh wave of strikes against Ukraine. Dozens are reported across the country. The military says it shot down all 35 drones

that were fired at Kyiv but the debris caused some damage and one person was killed in Odessa.

Meantime, officials in Russia occupied parts of Zaporizhzhia say they are under fire from Ukraine. Chief International Security Correspondent Nick

Payton Walsh is there for us. And speaking of Zaporizhzhia, we know that the Russians are ordering evacuations around the nuclear plant there. Just

walk us through what more we know on that front, Nick.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's not just the nuclear plant, Zain. Across the front line since Friday,

there's been a consistent call from Russian appointed officials in those occupied areas to pull civilians back. And that's a long, lengthy front

line in the south here along the Zaporizhzhia area where many think Ukraine's counter offensive either has or will get underway.


Now, that's important, because we're now beginning to hear too that that's been realized. Local sources saying that one particular town Polohy has

seen civilians pulled out on buses. Videos of buses carrying people away from multiple settlements along that area, reports of fuel shortages cash

problems for ATM machines, cell phone outages to that suggests that certainly Russia's presence there is being fast diminished. And that may

mean that there's a military there who are willing to fight on quite possibly.

Although some Ukrainian officials have said, as we've seen in the past, that indeed, the civilian evacuations have provided cover for the Russian

military to sneak out too. In fact, Ukrainian officials have gone even further to suggest that to the coastal towns where some of these civilians

have been evacuated, the civilians have gone to a place called Berdyansk and soldiers have gone to another city called Mariupol, very heavily

damaged at the start of the war.

Unclear quite what the truth of all of this is, but they will certainly if the shortages of fuel, food cellphone access true in these frontline towns,

that will have a severe knock-on effect to Russian troops there because they effectively live symbiotically off the population using cell phones to

communicate so often amongst their commands. So, we may begin beginning to see slowly Russia's presence on that frontline erode. Unclear -- unclear

whether that's because of their own shortages or their own chaos in their own morale or because Ukraine has been effectively and silently building

pressure across those areas too.

But not quote on effect of that could potentially be substantial because a lot of the satellite imaging of Russia's defenses in that area have put the

great weight of them in the north, in the first area that is essentially being evacuated of civilians now. Now there may be other mechanisms that

Russia has put in place, having learned its lessons deeper inside that Zaporizhzhia territory, but it's flat, open wide ground, often with no real

substantial settlements or populated areas at all, until you reach the coastline.

So, the knock-on effects of this partial removal of civilians could be significant. We simply don't know how well prepared the Russian military

are. We do know that publicly they'd been a bit of a mess over the past week with a key Russian military figure, the mercenary head of Yevgeny

Prigozhin, head of the Wagner group saying he would leave the fiercely fought over eastern city of Bakhmut if he didn't get the ammunition he

wanted. Well, today, you suddenly reversed the fact that the decision he made to leave tomorrow saying he got what he wanted.

We don't know if that's true. We don't know if he's essentially having a public conversation with himself and the Kremlin have simply ignored him.

All of that is unclear, but it's certainly given off a signal of disunity amongst the Russian military ranks ahead of this well planned, possibly,

slowly executed Ukrainian counter offensive. A lot of the signaling we're hearing from those frontline towns and we've -- we've -- we've -- seen

ourselves as an uptick, certainly in shelling motion around those areas.

But without doubt there are definite bids by Russian officials now to pull civilians away from the area, whether that heralds some wider change in

their positioning we'll have to see in the days ahead, Zain.

ASHER: Yes, you've got the Ukrainian counteroffensive there. You've got the comments the rant by Yevgeny Prigozhin, as you just talked about. And on

top of that, the drone attacks as well. A lot for Russia to deal with given the Victory Day celebrations tomorrow. Nick Paton Walsh live for us there.

Thank you so much.

Even as Russia prepares to parade its military might through Moscow, its army is turning to the relics of its past to re-equip its beleaguered

forces in Ukraine. Tanks not used since the Cold War, are being pressed back into service a sign of just how desperate Russia is how they're

becoming to keep up their fight on the battlefields. CNN's Clare Sebastian has more.


JOHN DELANEY, SENIOR CURATOR, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEYM: What a missile will do is it'll fly over the tank then down and in 90 degrees straight into the

top of the area which is less well defended.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): This scenario has played out hundreds of times over the past 14 months, Ukraine using Western

weapons to devastating effect. Russia, According to one recent estimate has lost up to half its operational tank fleet in this war. Now Western

officials say Russia's dusting off much older models to replace them.

DELANEY: This gun was used on the SU-100 tank destroyer in 1944. So, the Second World War gun--

SEBASTIAN (voiceover): Including the T-55 first built in the 1940's. This one now housed at the Imperial War Museum outside Cambridge. Satellite

imagery for a storage facility in Russia's Far East showing dozens of tanks have been removed in the last year. This image showing the T-55 at that

same facility. Video that first surfaced in March also showing a train load on the move reportedly somewhere in Russia. The Russian Ministry of Defense

hasn't confirmed their deployment. But in recent weeks, well connected Russian bloggers have begun showing T-55's in Russian occupied territory in



DELANEY: There so many of these were manufactured over 100,000 altogether and the parts -- the basic mechanical parts are all interchangeable. So,

there will be vast stockpiles of these.

SEBASTIAN (voiceover): The T-55 was a central piece of the Soviet Union's Cold War Arsenal helping crushed democratic uprisings in Eastern Europe

Hungary in 1956. The Prague Spring 12 years later, but by the time Iraq used them in the Gulf War in the early 90's--

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We took out the 14 T-55 tanks.

SEBASTIAN (voiceover): They were already outclassed by U.S M1 Abrams, and British challengers. Earlier versions of the tanks NATO countries are now

supplying to Ukraine.

TREVOR TAYLOR, PROFESSORIAL FELLOW IN DEFENCE. RUSI: I think faced with Western weapons; the Russians must expect very heavy casualties if they

expect to move forward using that type of system.

SEBASTIAN (voiceover): Experts say behind the official propaganda Russia cannot build new weapons quick enough.

SEBASTIAN: Western sanctions primarily targeting Russia's access to higher tech pots for weapons have made it much harder for them to manufacture more

modern equipment older simpler tanks like this, thousands of them just sitting in storage provide an alternative. But this against say a leopard

two or a challenger what happens?

DELANEY: If it's a one-on-one tank engagement over a reasonable distance, this will lose every time but in in wooded or closer built environments,

this is adequate.

SEBASTIAN (voiceover): It's also simpler to maintain and train on the newer systems and advantage for Russia's mobilized troops.

DELANEY: Dig a pit sit it, sit the tank in the pit so you can only see the turret and then that can be used to defend the front line against the

counter attack.

SEBASTIAN (voiceover): Russia is now digging in with everything it has. As Ukraine gets ready for what maybe its biggest counter offensive yet. Clare

Sebastian CNN, Duxford, England.


ASHER: All right, up next on Connect the World; the two sides in Sudan's brutal conflict are finally talking. We'll talk to the foreign minister of

a neighboring nation about his efforts to make peace next door.


ASHER: For the first time the two sides in Sudan's brutal armed conflict have sat down for talks. Representatives from each side met over the

weekend in Saudi Arabia while their troops continue to clash back in Sudan. Talks have been described as pre negotiation and it is unclear what

progress if any had been made thus far. Saudi foreign ministry says the two sides are just hoping to arrange a ceasefire at this point that will allow

humanitarian relief to get in neighboring.

South Sudan is among the nation's pushing for peace talks. I'm joined live now by South Sudan's Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Deng Dau Deng

Malek. Thank you so much, Minister for being with us. So just in terms of where we are and how likely we are to see progress here in Saudi Arabia.


I know that your president, President Kiir has spoken to both sides of the warring factions. Just walk us through what has come out of those talks so


DENG DAU DENG MALEK, SOUTH SUDANESE ACTING FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, thank you very much. From the date of 15 when the crisis started in -- in

Khartoum His Excellency, President Salva Kiir Mayardit reached out to President Burhan and also to committee. And on the 16th of April, they got

hit with states and government met virtual meeting. And the task His Excellency President Salva Kiir was president of Kenya and president of the

board to consult with His Excellency, President Burhan.

And he made a task that presidents have done it from that date up to now he had been consulting, including brokering the peace, the ceasefire that

commenced on the fourth of May, and that will end by 11. So, His Excellency, the President of South Sudan have been very active in trying to

help in getting peace back to Republic of Sudan.

ASHER: When you think about the ceasefire that your president announced, as you point out, and the ceasefire prior to that, that was negotiated by the

U.S. I mean, both ceasefires have been breached. And both, of course, have failed so far, to really put an end to the fighting. In terms of what we're

seeing in Saudi Arabia, are you confident that something concrete is going to come out of this?

MALEK: Well, first and foremost, it is true that there are isolated incident of violations in Khartoum and other places. But this particular

ceasefire, have allowed the diplomatic mission to be acquitted in Sudan. They have also allowed some excess of humanitarian in Sudan to happen. On

the agenda, pre negotiation, we welcome that particular renegotiation, because two sides can come and sit, definitely, by the end of the day,

there will be a set of -- of things that will be agreed upon by the two parties.

We know that it is not the face -- face to face talk. But the fact that the two -- the delegation from the Government of Sudan, the South, NRS agenda,

something positive will come out of that. We hope that this thing will happen.

ASHER: Yes, I mean, the fact that these talks in -- in Saudi Arabia are not exactly supposed to, or I guess, the focus is not necessarily ending the

conflict that they're being described as pre negotiation talks. Their focus is not on ending the conflict. The focus is on allowing a humanitarian

corridor to open up to allow the safe movement of civilians. I mean, what does that tell us about where or how far apart the warring sides actually

are? And what does that mean for the humanitarian situation on the ground?

MALEK: Well, today, President Rouhani sent an especial envoy to His Excellency President Salva Kiir and President Salva who received the follow

Ali the special envoy for al-Burhan and he delivered the message to President Salva Kiir Mayardit and His Excellency President reiterated the

importance of ceasefire to be respected by the sub and by RSF. As the first major to ensure that there is, you know, access to humanitarian. We are

very much aware that currently in Khartoum, the food shortage, the water, and also the hospital, is quite critical and quite challenge.

So, His Excellency, President reiterated disposition to the special envoy of president, President al-Burhan, we are also looking forward that he met

you will see this particular opportunity to be also sent is -- is -- is important to meet President Salva so that we can get an amicable solution

to the current problem in the Sudan. This effort together with the effort of data, so that it got really cool for a solution by Sudanese themselves,

but can be facilitated via our region and other international community like the U.S. and the Arab League and, and the other the African Union.

ASHER: And before I let you go, I just want to touch on the refugee situation for one second, I mean, when you think about the refugee

situation prior to the conflict, it was dire because from your country, from South Sudan, I believe it was something like 800,000 people had

actually made the trek to Sudan in order to sort of seek humanitarian assistance.


Now we're seeing the reversal of that train a trend I mean people who had prior left South Sudan in order to get to Sudan are now going back the

opposite direction. I think tens of thousands of people who are originally South Sudanese, are now heading back the opposite direction. So just walk

us through what sort of assistance your country needs from the international community to make sure that you have the infrastructure that

is needed to prepare for these new arrival. Especially given the food insecurity in South Sudan and also the economic situation.

MALEK: World today this morning, His Excellency, the President, had a telephone conversation with the representative of the UN Secretary General

in Sudan and they precisely talk about this humanitarian and their situation in the Sudan, and currently in South Sudan. South Sudan from the

15 of this month, we have received 50,000, both returnees and refugees that are crossing from -- from Sudan, and other international nationalities that

have come to South Sudan. It is true that South Sudan before is hosting 340,000 refugees from the Republic of Sudan.

But we have also over 800,000, in Sudan, before the time, and, and it could be beyond 1.2 million that are in Sudan. So, the current humanitarian

situation is critically there. But we in South Sudan, we have saved, our borders have been opened to suit the needs that are coming, because before

Sudanese have gone to South Sudanese in their country. So, it is our time also to give the hand of support to those who are willing to come or those

who have been forced to come to South Sudan.

The little bread that we have will share it with our brothers and sisters from Sudan. And of course, we have discussed this with the humanitarian

agencies in the Republic of South Sudan, for them to be able to help us in meeting the dire situation that refugees are in now in our borders. We have

12 crossing point between South Sudan and Sudan along --the long border from the east to the west. And everyday 500 people cross from this 12

crossing point. So, it is true that the material situation is there and we have discussed this with a humanitarian agent in the Republic of South


ASHER: All right. Thank Deng Dau Deng Malek, South Sudanese acting Foreign Minister. Thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate it. At least

58 people have been killed and hundreds have been hospitalized amid ethnic violence in the Indian state of Manipur. Authorities say as many as 23,000

people have fled their home since violence broke out last week. The Indian Army has been deployed to the region to contain the violence. Here's the

latest from Vedika Sud.


VEDIKA SUD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the hillsides of northeast India, churches are under fire and angry armed mobs on the streets. Thousands of

residents forced to flee their homes as ethnic violence breaks out and India's monocle estate. Located on the Indian Myanmar border, it has for

decades struggled with insurgencies and violence between Christian and Hindu ethnic groups. Tensions boiled over last week when thousands of

people from the Christian hilltribes protested against the majority Hindu ethnic group potentially gaining official tribes' status.

Dozens of people have been killed and several hundred hospitalized. The government has shut down Internet access and security forces have been

deployed to end the violence. But sporadic fighting continues, forcing more than 20,000 people to flee their homes with little more than clothes on the

back and the children in tow.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: The Kuki militants attacked after surrounding our village in Phaikoh. They began firing at us with their guns. We panicked

and abandoned all our belongings and fled for our lives.

SUD: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the campaign trail this weekend has so far remained silent on the issue. But on Monday, his home minister Machado

local media that the tribe decision will be discussed with all stakeholders. Displaced residents from the hilltribe said they have no home

to return to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every one of us here we have never been afraid of it.

SUD: Many of the displaced villagers belong to the Christian Kuki and Naga people who reside in the hills along the Burmese border. There is history

of conflict between them and the Hindu Meitei's who make up more than half of the population and dominate state government.


They pushed to be recognized as an official drive to get better access to health care, education and government jobs has caused concern among the

Christian groups who believe they will be at a disadvantage.

Well, most of the fighting has now subsided. The problems at the core of this conflict remain far from resolved. Vedika Sud CNN, New Delhi.


ASHER: All right. Still to come here on CNN, authorities are searching for motive and a mass shooting at a Texas mall have a report on what we know

about the gunman so far including as possible extremists ties and an investigation is underway in southern Texas after an SUV slammed into a bus

-- bus stop rather killing several migrants that's after the break.


ASHER: Welcome back to Connect the World. I'm Zain Asher, your headlines this hour. One person was killed and several wounded in a wave of air

attacks across Ukraine.

The Ukrainian military says it shut down all 35 drones fired at cube but the debris did cause some damage. One person was also killed when a missile

hit a food warehouse in the Port City of Odessa.

The European Union has canceled a diplomatic reception in Tel Aviv to celebrate Europe Day because of Israel's move to send far-right Minister

into Itamar Ben-Gvir to the event. The bloc says it doesn't endorse Ben- Gvir's views, and it doesn't want to give him a platform to speak and diplomat tells CNN EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell was directly

involved in the decision.

China says its relationship with the US is "on ice" Beijing is urging Washington to stop condoning what it calls Taiwan's separatist forces.

China's Foreign Minister sat down earlier with the US ambassador in Beijing.

In Texas authorities are searching for a motive in Saturday's mass shooting that left eight people dead and seven others wounded at a shopping mall

near Dallas.

Officials say the gunman who was killed by an officer at the scene may have had links to right-wing extremism while authorities pursue their

investigation. Family, friends and members of the community are mourning the loss of the victims, CNNs Ed Lavandera is in Texas with more.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They come to leave flowers and reflect in front of a makeshift memorial honoring the shooting victims

just outside the outlet mall in Allen, Texas. Where on Saturday, a gunman opened fire killing at least eight and injuring seven others.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was the most terrifying moment of my life.


LAVANDERA: The Texas Department of Public Safety identified the suspect as 33 year old Mauricio Garcia. Police searched his home in Dallas Saturday


Neighbors tell CNN they saw police searching his parents' home in Dallas Saturday night. Garcia had been living in some form of temporary housing

according to a senior law enforcement source.

MOISES CARREON, NEIGHBOR: Nothing ever showed me any signs of hey, this guy seems to be the kind of guy that you know, would do what he did.

LAVANDERA: A neighbor described Garcia as someone who kept to himself a loner, and worked as a security guard. As investigators continue combing

the shooting scene, CNN has been able to determine the approximate path of the gunman's rampage using images and witness interviews.

He is first seen getting out of his car in the parking lot near the H&M store where he begins firing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He pretty much was walking down the sidewalk and he was just like, blazing for the most part and just shooting his gun.

LAVANDERA: According to witnesses, he then made his way to the northeast corner of the mall building. Bill McLean was in a cosmetic store there.

BILL MCLEAN, WITNESS: He's not running but he's kind of in a deliberate assault type mood, and he either had an M16 or an M4 carbine and he was

firing inside about four or five shots as he proceeded toward the hamburger place.

LAVANDERA: The attack ended when a police officer shot and killed the suspect in front of a burger shop.


LAVANDERA: Sunday afternoon, hundreds gathered at Cottonwood Creek Baptist Church, including Texas Governor Greg Abbott, along with state and city


KEN FULK, ALLEN, TEXAS MAYOR: We offer our sincere sympathy to the victims and their families.

LAVANDERA: It's a community seeking answers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel that it sort of brought us together.

LAVANDERA: The family of Christian LaCour identified the 20 year old as one of the eight victims killed. He worked as a mall security guard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was the kindest and sweetest most caring man you'd ever interact with. He was just the kind of person who would walk into the

store and everyone in the room would light up because he was there.


ASHER: That was CNNs Ed Lavandera reporting. And our Josh Campbell was also monitoring the developments for us. He's in Allen, Texas and joins us live

now. So Josh just walk us through what we're learning about the possible motives. I mean, given some of the potential right-wing extremist views of

the perpetrator. Was this a case of domestic terrorism?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so that is certainly the prevailing theory right now, by investigators. They tell us they haven't zeroed in on

one specific motive, but they are certainly looking at the possibility that this suspect this 33 year old Dallas man was motivated by far right


And that's for two reasons. I'm told by a law enforcement source that after this suspect was shot and killed by a local police officer here in the

middle of that mass attack, excuse me authorities found on his chest and insignia bearing the letters RWDS which the source tells me authorities

belief stands for Right Wing Death Squad.

It's the same type of insignia that we've seen, extremists here in the United States were on their chest at various rallies and protests across

the country over the last few years. I'm also told that authorities have been digging into the suspect social media. He has an incredibly large

social media presence to include postings, images, as well as written text. Authorities believe he posted about white supremacy about Neo Nazi.

So as they continue to look into the shooters past and gathers information, it certainly appears that they're getting the prevailing theory is that

this could have been yet the latest shooter here in the United States that was dug, committed to some type of act of violence based on radicalization.

ASHER: And what more do we know about the type of weapon that was used here, Josh?

CAMPBELL: So we have a picture that we obtained after the shooter was killed. What you see is hit him on the ground, next to him there is an AR15

style weapon. This is of course, the same type of weapon that we've seen in many mass shootings across the United States.

We're also told that we could see for ourselves on that picture. He also had multiple magazines, these are the contraptions that are put into the

weapon that provide additional ammunition after you go through one magazine, you reload. He had several of those magazines on his chest.

So again, it's so chilling to think that but for that police officer engaging the shooter stopping him shooting him dead, this could have been

so much worse. I'm also told by law enforcement source that authorities went through the suspects' vehicle that was here in the parking lot behind

me and found multiple weapons.

So we certainly came here with an arsenal intending to conduct this mass attack, of course, going back to that AR15 style weapons and of course, we

look at mass shooting after mass shooting in the United States this very high powered rifle has been seen time and time again.

Of course here in the United States it is legal to own this type of weapon. The same type of weapon that was originally designed for use on the

battlefield by military personnel is now causing unspeakable carnage here across the United States, Zain.

ASHER: Yes. And by the way, there have been around 200 mass shootings so far this year Josh Campbell, life was there. Thank you so much.


And we're also learning more about another devastating incident happened in Texas. CNN has obtained exclusive videos showing a group of bystanders

trying to restrain a man suspected of plowing his car into a crowd of people at a bus stop.

The witness says the man appeared to be impaired. This happened across the street from a shelter that was housing migrants and eight people were

killed. The terrifying moment was caught on surveillance video. You can see here just how fast that car really is going before hitting those people.

The driver is in police custody. Authorities are still investigating the cause of the crash. Up next can Turkey's upcoming elections unseat

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. I'll put that question to the head of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute that story next.


ASHER: All right, take a look at this. This could be the man who unseats Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and what observers say is perhaps

the most consequential election in the country's modern history.

Kilicdaroglu has been described as Mr. Erdogan's exact opposite, a soft spoken career politician sometimes called the Turkish Gandhi.

Hopefully we do have a picture of him. There he is. He is leading a wide ranging opposition and has centered his campaign around undoing the

authoritarian measures slowly imposed by President Erdogan. Opinion polls are neck and neck and both candidates are in full campaign mode. Just look

at the huge crowd at this rally for Mr. Erdogan. Over the weekend though things started to get ugly.

The Turkish opposition vice presidential candidate was attacked with stones during a campaign rally. His bus was also pelted with rocks as well. The

Republican People's Party calls the attack on Ekrem Imamoglu provocation and says that he is fine.

My next guest Writing and Foreign Affairs says "the Turkish presidential contest may be the most consequential election this year either Erdogan

will lose giving Turkey a chance of restoring full democracy or he will win and lightly remain in power rather for the rest of his life. Soner Cagaptay

is Director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the author of The New Sultan, Erdogan and the Crisis

of Modern Turkey.

He joins us live now from Washington, DC. Thank you so much for being with us.


ASHER: Thank you. So the opposition is clearly sensing that this is their big moment. This is their chance to unseat President Erdogan. Do you expect

this will be a free and fair election just given how much power he has really consequent concentrated at himself over the past 20 years.


CAGAPTAY: Indeed, this is the most tightly contested race Erdogan faces. He's never won elections while not delivering growth, economy is not in

good shape. In Turkey on top of that the opposition is united. So on paper, the opposition should be winning. However, as you said, the race has not

been fair.

President Erdogan has almost complete control over Turkey's institutions, including election monitoring bodies, many of the courts 90 percent of the

media. He can write a narrative of any sort of political debate that he wants. So the race is completely unfair. But I think the vote is going to

be free. And that's what matters.

Turkey's citizens have been voting in free and fair elections since 1950, longer than the citizens of Spain have. And the vote itself will be free.

In Turkey, there is usually quite high turnout nearing 90 percent.

Citizens love to vote, show up at ballot stations observed the vote. So I think that we're going to see hotly contested race. Erdogan has narrowed

the gap using his control of institutions and the fact that this has been an unfair race, but the opposition candidate is still leading. So it could

be time for change in Turkey.

ASHER: So what's at stake here? I mean, just in terms of the country's economy, for example, I mean, inflation is rampant in Turkey. There's

obviously a massive cost of living crisis, then there's the issue of foreign affairs and how Mr. Erdogan has slowly sort of pivoted away from

NATO and the West, just walk us through what is really at stake here.

CAGAPTAY: A lot. So part of President Erdogan's problems is his own doing. Economy did quite well under him for about 15 years. That's his bright

side. He delivered growth lifted people out of poverty, improved access to the services, and he has built a base of adoring supporters, many of whom

he has lifted out of poverty who don't love him, but for the last five years or so economy has faced problems.

Mr. Erdogan embrace on orthodoxy. He believes that interest rates drive inflation and not the other way around. He's kept interest rates

artificially low that are scared away investors. On top of that, he's also become quite autocratic at home, I would say, the way I would describe

Turkey is that it's a democracy that has fallen under an autocrat.

And in foreign policy, Turkey is a coldly transactionalist (ph) country that plays Russia and the US against each other to get what it wants.

This could be a change -- time for a change in Turkey. Mr. Erdogan could lose. If he lost how would Turkey look like? The opposition would

immediately restore rule of law release unfairly imprisoned politicians (CROSSTALK)--

ASHER: And move away from authoritarianism, as well.

CAGAPTAY: The opposition would immediately abandon authoritarianism as well.

ASHER: Mm-hmm.

CAGAPTAY: Obviously turned to democracy, embrace a more pro transatlantic foreign policy, markets would rally. Turkey would see return to rule of law

and return to Orthodoxy. And more importantly, institutional autonomy, whether it's the central bank or the Foreign Ministry will be restored. And

I think all that would be bode well for Turkey's stability going forward there.

So a lot is at stake. You could get two different, completely different Turkey's. One that is an autocracy that has fallen under the rule of its

Sultan, and there is increasingly isolated globally. Another one that is aligned with the transatlantic community is democratic, and is attracting a

lot of investment.

ASHER: So how much does Turkey's geography or demographics rather -- how much do they factor into this? Because a lot of the provinces that were

struck by the earthquake were actually strongholds of Mr. Erdogan, just walk us through how that factors into the equation in terms of the outcome

of the election.

CAGAPTAY: Absolutely. About a year ago, President Erdogan his popularity was nose-diving because the economy was not doing well. And because the

opposition had unified, he has since picked up some support. And that was mainly because of financial inflows, money that came from UAE, Saudi Arabia

and Russia.

Three fellow autocrats, Vladimir Putin, the Saudi Crown Prince, and the Emirati Royal Family that wants to see Erdogan in power, I think because

they'd like to see a fellow autocrat with whom they can continue to challenge the US led liberal international order.

All these monies help stabilize President Erdogan in the polls, and he was picking up again. The earthquake, I think, stop that trend is normally

picking up in the polls. The gap was really narrow, but he hasn't really caught up with opposition leader Kilicdaroglu.

I think he's used the unfair nature of the election, the institutions and the race in the country to narrow the gap. So my guess is that if this is a

hotly contested race, let's say a margin of victory within one percent for the presidency, or a few seats for the parliament.

President Erdogan's game plan is to make it so close that he can contest the outcome. He can poll--

ASHER: Uh-huh.

CAGAPTAY: What President Trump did here, a pool at July -- January 7th, say the vote was rigged and call for his supporters to go on to the city



A clean victory for the opposition would be a wide margin, three points or more. So that results won't be contested. I think that is the only scenario

under which President Erdogan steps aside and Turkey changes government.

ASHER: OK, but under the first scenario, though, that means you predicted a runoff then?

CAGAPTAY: Yes, so there'll be a runoff for sure. If no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote on May 14th, which is likely the outcome, we're going

to see a runoff on May 28th. And I think that is probably going to be even more hotly contested the next two weeks, because it'll be a historic


Whichever way you slice this, these are historic elections, either 20 years of rule by Erdogan will end and Turkey will revert to democracy or he will

win and stay at Turkey is held as its Sultan forever.

A lot is at stake. He knows that he cannot afford to lose, he'll rely on his control of institutions, perhaps to create an even more unfair race in

the runoff. The opposition strength (inaudible) Kilicdaroglu, he said he's a soft spoken politician. He's the centrist and non-populist running in

this campaign against a populist who is a global brand.

Erdogan has invented nativist populist politics about 20 years ago with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and to choose since have become the

best practitioners of this kind of authoritarian populism.

ASHER: Mm-hmm.

CAGAPTAY: Other leaders have copied this model in Europe, United States, but they will be voted out. Erdogan is an example of this politics because

he's a political Dreadnought who has not been voted out. I think this is an historic election, not just in Turkey but globally, because Erdogan

invented authoritarian populism. If he's defeated, this will be the book end of authoritarian populist politics globally in the 21st century.

ASHER: And he's powerful Turkish leader since Ataturk. All right. Soner we have to leave it there. Thank you so much. That was--

CAGAPTAY: Thank you for hosting me.

ASHER: Excellent analysis. We appreciate it. We are right back after the short break in a moment.


ASHER: Now you're looking at anti-monarchy protests in London on Saturday as much of the city was celebrating the coronation of King Charles the


Police say 64 people were arrested on various charges. Meantime, privacy campaign groups have also criticized the use of live facial recognition

technology during the coronation, as well.

Three days of festivities for the newly crowned King Charles the Third have come to an end. Sunday Night featured a big concert at Windsor Castle, and

today the Royals took part in volunteering around England. Here's CNNs Royal Correspondent Max Foster with a roundup of the big weekend.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: The third and final day of coronation celebrations had a theme of volunteering it was called the big help out and

the Prince and Princess of Wales threw themselves in with their three young children. Prince Louis with his father driving a digger at one point, it

did look like it was almost tipping over but everyone was safe in the end.

This was a liberal moment of history as well, because this was Prince Louis first official public engagement, his siblings also throwing themselves in

an event with scouts.


This followed a big concert on Sunday Night at Windsor castle where the Prince of Wales gave a moving speech about his father, The King.


PRINCE WILLIAM, PRINCE OF WALES: As my grandmother said, when she was crowned coronations are a declaration of our hopes for the future. And I

know she's up there, finally keeping an eye on us. And she'd be very proud mother.


FOSTER: After Monday's public holiday to mark the coronation, Britain gets back to business on Tuesday. No big royal events on the horizon. Max

Foster, CNN, London.

ASHER: And thanks so much for watching Connect the World. I'll be back in a moment with One World.


ASHER: Hello, everyone. I'm Zain Asher, in New York. And this is One World. Ukrainian forces say they've intercepted and destroyed 35 Russian drones

which were headed for the capital Kyiv. Five civilians were injured by falling debris from the attack and it can actually--