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Struggling Economy Is A Key Issue In Turkish Presidential Election; Russia Acknowledges Retreat Around Parts Of Bakhmut; Source: Israel-Islamic Jihad Ceasefire Talks On Ice; Former PM Imran Khan Granted Bail By high Court; major Shift In Immigration Rules As Title 42 Expires. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired May 12, 2023 - 11:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ZAIN ASHER, CNN HOST: In two days, voters will head to the polls for what some are describing as Turkey's most critical election in modern history.
We are live for you in Istanbul.
But first, Wagner chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin, says that Russian forces are losing ground in Bakhmut parliamentary -- paramilitary, rather, leader has
been in a public dispute with the Russian Defense Ministry for months over one of the toughest battles in the Ukraine war.
And Islamic Jihad militants in Gaza launched rockets into Israel intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system. The two sides have been
exchanging fire for days.
And a pandemic air expulsion rule called Title 42 has expired in the U.S. Thousands of migrants have made their way to the U.S. Mexican border hoping
to enter the U.S. and hoping that it will be easier now. But American officials say that is not the case, and they've snuffed up to handle the
Stay the course or upend Turkey system of centralized presidential powers and is one of the main choices facing voters in a high stakes and by all
accounts very close to presidential election this Sunday.
Also, the opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu with a slight lead over President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The election results will be closely
watched in the U.S. and Europe and in Russia, and could have a huge impact on Turkey's future foreign policy.
One of the central reasons for that, a weakened economy, skyrocketing inflation, a dramatic fall and the value of the Turkish Lira versus the
U.S. dollar and rising unemployment have made voters unhappy with President Erdogan's policies.
Now, if Kemal Kilicdaroglu goes on to win the election, who will be managing Turkey's economy? One name mentioned to lead the overhaul, Ali
Babacan, the former Economy Minister oversaw an economic boom in the 2000s and early 2010s. He's a founding member of Erdogan's AK Party, but resigned
And Ali Babacan, who is also the chairman of the DEVA Party joins us live now from Ankara. Thank you so much for being with us.
Obviously, the economy, when you think about it, is one of the key issues in this election. You think about just how much inflation has risen, more
than 85 percent. You think about the fact that Erdogan has been reluctant to raise interest rates. You think about what that has done to the Turkish
Lira. Just walk us through what your policies are going to be going forward. If you do end up as the economy minister.
ALI BABACAN, CHAIRMAN, DEVA PARTY: Well, greetings from Ankara, my hometown. This is the last rally of this election campaign. And we are
going to be voting starting from Sunday morning. Turkey has been going through difficult times, difficult times in terms of economy, in terms of
democracy, in terms of foreign relations. And we have -- we are ready to change many things.
Actually, this is an election for democracy in Turkey. Yes, I have dealt with the economy for a long time. I was also foreign minister of Turkey.
And what is needed in Turkey urgently is rule of law, fundamental rights, freedoms, and better functioning democratic system. These are features of
ASHER: All right. It looks as though we were having technical difficulties with Ali Babacan there, who was talking to us about what he would do if he
ended up in the economy minister position. Hopefully, we'll have him back. My producer just telling me we do have Ali Babacan back.
Ali, can you hear me?
BABACAN: Yes, I can hear you.
ASHER: Yes. You were talking to us about some of the economic issues that Turkey has faced over the past couple of years. Before your shot started
ASHER: Could you just walk us through that again, please?
BABACAN: Of course. Well, I'm the leader of DEVA. Now, we are one of the six parties forming the coalition. And after this, I will be one of the
vice presidents. So there will be ministers in charge of different issues like economy, like justice, and so forth. But I do have an 11 years of
experience in being Turkey's economy minister and deputy prime minister during former times.
We -- at the fundamentals of our economy, we need to have stronger rule of law. We have to have democracy. We have to have fundamental rights and
freedoms. Only by strengthening the fundamentals we will be able to strengthen our economy. Of course then we talk about economy. It should be
about rationality. It should be about rule-based approach. It should be about strong institutions. So we have to revitalize our main institutions.
Also, we have to make sure that there is the separation of powers. We have to make sure that there should be checks and balances in our system. What
is at the core of the problems right now in Turkey is the system, the presidential -- so-called presidential system that was instated in 2018.
For the last five years, the system produced lots of issues, lots of problem for Turkey, crisis after crisis. So we are also targeting to change
the system so that the system will be a strong parliamentary system. So we are heading for and targeting for a strong democracy in Turkey, democracy
at the standards of the European Union, democracy at the standards of castle of Europe, which Turkey is a full member of.
ASHER: Obviously, democracy is hugely important, especially given the accusations that Erdogan has really spent the past few years trying to
consolidate power and that Turkey has moved towards authoritarianism.
But just going back to the economy, one of the reasons why President Erdogan has, of course, been very reluctant to raise interest rates is
because he feels as though -- he has felt as though it would damage the economy from a different perspective, just in terms of wanting to make
exports that much more attractive.
When you think about what that has done, the refusal to raise interest rates and what it meant for the lira back in 2021, the fact that the lira
lost a significant percentage of its value, from that point onwards, what does that meant for ordinary people in Turkey, especially with inflation,
especially with just how much food prices, for example, have risen?
BABACAN: Well, at the -- at the core of the issue in Turkey, we have the lack of an independent central bank. So the central bank has to be
independent and should target price stability. And that is not the case for fears (ph) in Turkey. Has personally got the control of the central bank.
And the central bank made some irrational steps, which made a huge loss of credibility for our monetary policy.
And there is actually no economic policy right now in Turkey. There are just some random steps of the government and the random steps of the
central bank. That's why I mentioned stronger institutions. So we do need a stronger central bank, which is an independent central bank. We do need a
strong treasury. We do need strong banking supervisory and regulation authorities, and only by strong institutions our economy will be strong.
And we have prepared everything. We have agreed on 2,300 steps of reforms as six parties together. And by these reforms, we are going to be moving
forward. So we need to have a rational fiscal policy, a rational monetary policy, rational banking policy, and, of course, structural reforms moving
I have run Turkish economy in 2003 for when we had the crisis. I was the head of Turkish economy during the 2008, 2009 global crisis, mortgage
crisis and so forth. So we had two major rounds of crisis solution. And this will be the third time that we are going to solve this crisis because
we have a very good team very capable and also trustworthy team who are going to be in place. Right after the elections, we are going to take over
and bring rationality.
ASHER: Yes. There are so many headwinds facing Turkey at once. It's not just the cost of living crisis. It's also what happened for the earthquake.
The earthquake costing the economy about 84 so billion dollars, shaving off about 10 percent of Turkey's entire economy, such reversal of fortunes,
especially given that in the early part of Erdogan's reign. We saw economic expansion despite some other headwinds there that you point out.
All right. Thank you so much for being with us. Ali Babacan live for us there. Appreciate it.
BABACAN: Thank you. Thank you very much. Greetings from my (inaudible).
ASHER: Of course. I want to now bring in Ravza Kavakci Kan, who's a member of Parliament from Istanbul representing the AK Party. She joins me live
now via Istanbul. Thank you so much for being with us.
I just want to talk about the political landscape right now. When you think about some of the difficulties and the challenges or the AK Party going
into Sunday's election. You look at the fact that we just got news that a third-party candidate, Muharrem Ince, just dropped out of the way. Many
people are saying that his votes or the votes that he would have gotten are now going to go towards the CHP party.
Just explain to us how that development, the fact that Ince has now left the race, how you think that will affect the AK Party's chances on Sunday.
RAVZA KAVAKCI KAN, AKP ISTANBUL MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Hello, Zain. My name is Ravza I'm a member of parliament, as you mentioned, representing AK
Party. I just came back from campaigning. I would like to start off by thanking the hundreds and thousands of volunteers who have been working day
and night to gain the support and the hearts of Turkish citizens. So they will vote for AK Party and make AK Party lead Turkey through these
difficult times for the next five years.
And, of course, I am very, very -- I find it very unfortunate that Mr. Ince had to feel that he had to resign. And according to his statement, the
reason behind his resignation was the opposition's personal attack on him supported by the attacks of fettered terrorist organization, which was
behind the 2016 military coup attempt in Turkey that costs the lives of our 251 citizens.
And President Erdogan, upon Mr. Ince's statement, invited all Ince's supporters, and we know that Mr. Ince had resigned from the CHP. And we
invited all the supporters with our president and all our party members to join us, the AK Party and we are confident that we will be getting the
support of Turkish population like we did during the previous elections.
ASHER: The belief though, I mean, yes, you touched on one of the reasons why Mr. Ince dropped out, he did say, and you're right about this, I don't
want them to blame me, if they end up losing. No one to blame me if they end up losing, obviously talking about the CHP.
The reason why he did that is because he felt obviously under pressure. There were some attacks. However, there is this feeling now that now that
he's out of the race, that that will be damaging for your party, the AK Party.
Again, just to reiterate my first question, what do you think Ince dropping out of the race will change just in terms of your party's fortunes on
Again, it's very unfortunate that this had to happen, but we are -- have an open invitation to all who would want to support our party.
Look, last elections, 29 million people voted for AK Party. They wanted President Erdogan to be -- to continue to lead. And in the previous
package, there was a discussion about the referendum, the presidential system as well. And we all know that Turkish people voted to have the
presidential system intact.
So I think the Turkish people will continue supporting the president and AK Party who actually have solutions for the problems, especially Turkish
youth, who are very, very intelligent --
ASHER: Actually, a lot of -- a lot of Turkish young people --
KAVAKCI KAN: -- who have -- who have
ASHER: -- A lot of Turkish young people are actually looking towards the CHP Party now. And when you talk about what the AK Party's fortunes were
two decades ago, when Erdogan first came to ballot, I mean, things were very different back then. I mean, obviously, back then, the perception of
Erdogan was far more positive. He was seen as a reformer. He was seen as somebody who had champion economic expansion. He was seen certainly as
somebody who was a voice and a champion of the working class.
Things have changed, especially since 2021 when you've seen a decline in the value of the lira, when you've seen inflation skyrocket, when you've
seen the cost of living crisis. Just explain to us why you think there is so much disenchantment, especially among young people.
You look at the recent polls by (inaudible) saying the other one has about 43 percent in terms of popularity, and Kilicdaroglu is about 49 percent.
Why do you think there has been such reversal of fortunes in terms of the popularity of the AK Party?
KAVAKCI KAN: Well, Zain, you have -- you asked too many questions in one, but I'll try to answer them one by one. Of course, what I hear from you
exactly is what I hear from the opposition. And it's exactly the same things, same arguments that they make. So it's something we hear a lot.
However, you have your polls, or the opposition has their polls, I should rather say. And then we see the reality on the ground. You mentioned some
youth, majority of youth. And I couldn't hear any research on that.
But I -- what I see from the youth in Turkey, yes, they do support AK Party. And you are right, things are much different from 20 years ago.
Twenty-years ago, a woman who wears the headscarf couldn't be in a parliament. Twenty years ago, a person couldn't say that they're Kurdish
out so openly. Twenty years ago, (inaudible) citizens were considered the other 20 years ago.
And this is my late friend (inaudible) who is an Armenian Turk, who was an Armenian Turk who passed away. Our beloved member of Parliament's colleague
said that, as an Armenian citizen, he always felt like the other before AK Party.
Yes, things have changed. And economy, yes. Turkey just like European countries, many of our neighbors and the United States, has the challenges
to face with COVID, the global economic crisis, and also the current situation right in our neighborhood, Ukraine and Russia.
But Turkey is still was the country, the only country under the support of the UN or request -- upon the request of the U.N. rather, who could broker
a deal, green (ph) crisis deal that prevented green crisis from happening. So I think that people know that, especially the youth know that.
ASHER: Well, I think we can both agree there are a lot of challenges facing President Erdogan this time around, especially given you know what happened
with the earthquake and many people blaming the government for a very slow and disorganized response, but we do have to leave it there. Thank you so
much for joining us.
All right. Be sure to watch CNN special live coverage of the 2023 Turkey elections hosted by Becky Anderson. That's this Sunday 9:00 P.M. If you're
watching from Istanbul, 10 o'clock at night, if you're watching from Abu Dhabi right here on CNN.
Up next, stunning new footage from the frontlines around Bakhmut, Ukraine. The battlefield you see maybe shifting in Ukraine's favor. We have a live
report for you when we come back.
And this is what CNN's crew in Israel saw above their heads a short time ago. We'll go live to the Israeli Gaza border, the latest on the rockets,
and airstrikes flying back and forth. That story, next.
ASHER: The tide may be turning in Ukraine's favor in a city and its horses have been trying to keep from one. And we have new dramatic footage showing
the battle for Bakhmut.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: Russia is now acknowledging its troops have been forced to pull back from northern areas around Bakhmut. The head of the Wagner Group says, it's
not a two tactical retreat, but rather Russian forces are simply falling out of formation.
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh joins us live now from Zaporizhzhia. Obviously, you have Prigozhin calling out the Russian military here saying that actually,
they've lost about five square kilometers of territory just in one day alone. Just walk us through on what we know on that front.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And this is kind of the culmination of a week now of Yevgeny Prigozhin using
the Telegram social media channel to publicly call out the Russian top brass.
He did in fact say that two days ago, he might even abandon Bakhmut. The outcome of this extraordinary bout of criticism of Russia's top brass has
been today Yevgeny Prigozhin to claim that Russia's Ministry of Defense troops have moved into the outskirts of Bakhmut around his Wagner
mercenaries who hold the city, and essentially over the past 24 hours have given up five square kilometers to the northwest of that city area.
And now he says this now has given Ukrainian armed forces the high ground which can be very advantageous for them moving forward. And indeed too
someone that is backed up by a statement from the Russian Ministry of Defense that sort of somewhat deceptively, almost borrow from Prigozhin
description of it.
Talk about their soldiers moving back to a more advantageous position. Prigozhin called that out really saying that any Russian minister of
defense needed to stop lying about the reality of the ground. But this bickering between Russia's military elite, the mercenaries on one side
demanding more shells, artillery shells from the military on the other, the military moving in it seems on the outskirts of the city, yet, pulling back
in some areas.
And the mercenary, Wagner Group, staying in the city center and claiming that they continue to take more areas there. That is simply the worst
signal, almost unimaginable, frankly, a year ago, in Putin's Russia, showing how rattled, how dis-unified Moscow's military elite are in this
key city that's been such a symbolic task for them.
They've utterly failed to comprehensively taken, and now in fact, seeing Ukraine in small amounts here. Let's not overstate the significance of
these advances in small amounts, though beginning to reclaim territory that could herald something more what it absolutely unequivocally does in the
days and weeks ahead is give a signal of probably low Russian morale, low Russian cohesion ahead of Ukrainian counter offensive, which senior U.S.
official said, has begun its shaping operation stage.
That's essentially where key parts of Russia infrastructure, fuel supplies, other elements of their occupation of southern, Eastern, and Crimea in
Ukraine may well end up being targeted with precision strikes. That's basically what we've been seeing, frankly, over the past two to three
weeks, citing reports from pro-Russian officials in the occupied areas, but a sign of the building potential intensity as a head of Ukraine's counter
offensive and his president says yet to start wanting more Western weapons.
And to this startling display of Russian disunity and tiny, tiny amounts of retreat around Bakhmut, a city which they've invested. That's the wrong
word. Entirely squandered so many thousands of human lives and tries to capture. Zain.
ASHER: Our Nick Paton Walsh live for us there. Thank you so much.
A diplomatic source tells CNN talks to bring about a ceasefire between Israel and Islamic Jihad are on ice. And the skies over Israel and Gaza are
proof of that. Islamic Jihad has expanded the scope of its rocket attacks targeting Jerusalem for the first time.
In this latest conflict, Israel has responded with airstrikes in Gaza. Palestinian officials say Israel has hit numerous apartment buildings this
week, and at least 90 families have lost their homes.
Our Ben Wedeman has been watching the rockets flying over his head. He is on the Israeli Gaza border. So Ben, just walk us through what you're seeing
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we've seen, Zain, is within the last few hours, Israeli airplanes have been striking
targets throughout the Gaza Strip, from the north to the south.
In Gaza City itself, they struck one apartment building, killing two according to Palestinian medical sources, wounding several others.
Now, there is word that perhaps one of the dead is a senior official in Islamic Jihad's military wing. In fact, Islamic Jihad put out a statement
just a little while ago that they will be sending a message shortly. And that is according to that statement, your sling. And we think they're
referring to David's Sling, this latest missile defense system deployed by the Israelis. They said your sling will be of no use.
Now so far at this point, it appears that the death toll in Gaza has reached 33. That includes those two reported deaths in the last hour or so.
The Israelis say that almost a thousand missiles have been fired from Gaza since the beginning of this latest round of hostilities early Tuesday
around 700 of those missiles managed to cross into Israel, most, of course, were intercepted, one did get through yesterday, causing the one and only
Israeli fatality in this conflict.
Now, there are ongoing mediation efforts, but they seem to have hit a dead- end at this point. In fact, one diplomatic source telling CNN that those talks, at this point, are on ice. And therefore, it's not clear at all how
much longer this is going to go on. Significantly, the Israelis continue to say that they are targeting exclusively Islamic Jihad. They're not focusing their fire on Hamas, which
is the de facto government in Gaza.
In previous rounds of fighting between Israel and Gaza, the Israelis always stressed that Hamas as the de facto ruler of -- de facto ruler of the Gaza
Strip was responsible for any fire coming out of it.
In this instance, they seem to be focusing on Islamic Jihad not blaming Hamas, but they do seem to be putting pressure on Hamas via the mediators
to try to bring the situation under control and stop the rocket fire into Israel. Zain.
ASHER: Ben Wedeman live for us there. Thank you so much.
Still to come here on CONNECT THE WORLD, a major shift in U.S. immigration policy, what it means for migrants like these who are risking their lives
on this train, hoping that a better life is at the end of the line.
ASHER: Welcome back to CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Zain Asher in New York. Your headlines this hour.
Just two days ahead of Turkey's high stakes presidential election, the main opposition candidate is accusing Russia of election interference Kemal
Kilicdaroglu says his party has evidence of meddling. Russia denies it. A poll show Kilicdaroglu has a small lead over incumbent President Recep
Tayyip Erdogan who's been promoting big infrastructure projects on that campaign trail.
Diplomatic sources tell CNN that talks on a ceasefire between Israel and Islamic Jihad are on ice. The two sides have been loving rockets and
airstrikes back and forth most of the week. For the first time in this conflict, Islamic Jihad began targeting Jerusalem on Friday.
And Sudan's warring parties have signed an agreement that should pave the way for humanitarian aid to reach civilians. The U.S. and Saudi Arabia say
there is not a ceasefire but a quote declaration of commitment to help people in Sudan who are caught in worsening humanitarian crisis. It's meant
to help restore essential services like electricity and water and allow safe access to hospitals as well.
Free from custody. Pakistan's former Prime Minister, Imran Khan, walked away from court a few hours ago after being granted two weeks bail. He
tells CNN that he still fears that he's going to be rearrested. This video with Khan in the middle shows him arriving earlier at Islamabad's High
Court surrounded by heavy security.
His detention earlier this week triggered deadly unrest across Pakistan. And Khan's PTI Party is condemning the government's crackdown on nationwide
CNN's Will Ripley is following the latest developments for us. Will, obviously, Khan seems very certain that even though he's feeling better
right now that he is going to be re-arrested. Just walk us through that.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, and he can't be legally rearrested until Wednesday, Zain. So at least he has the weekend to
spend some time at home. He says he was able to speak with his wife. She also now is facing criminal charges.
And the reason why the former Prime Minister, Imran Khan, believes that he will be rearrested is because he thinks that all of this, these corruption
charges which his party, the PTI, claim are completely bogus. They say that the corruption charges are being fabricated by the current party that's in
power, the current government that's in power, including the prime minister, who has accused the, you know, the -- his predecessor and his
party, the PTI of, you know, pushing the country towards destruction.
And the PTI folks would say that their platform of anti-corruption and rule of law, you know, potentially has eyes on some of the people that are now
in power in the country. And so -- and so how do you solve that issue? Well, you get rid of the -- you get rid of the dissenting voices, and they
certainly are rounding up senior leaders of the PTI at a scale that's really striking.
Just last night, their spokesperson, Shireen Mazari, who appeared on this program on Tuesday, she's now -- she's one of the PTI Party leaders that
have been arrested. So they're rounding up senior leaders. And Imran Khan, obviously, if you put two and two together, he feels that they will --
there will be some other charges that come to the surface. And he'll be back behind bars and potentially his wife as well.
Now, the fact that Pakistan Supreme Court ruled his arrest unlawful and has granted a bail, it's certainly a promising development. And yet, the
reality on the ground is that protesters are angry, and they're facing off against some of the most hardened fighters that you will find in this part
of the world.
These soldiers in Pakistan have been deployed to fight the war on terror in the country's northern region for more than 20 years. So you have soldiers
that are used to fighting terrorists who, you know, who themselves are highly trained, and instead they're on the streets, you know, trying to
control civilians with zero training as for -- or very little training on how to handle a civilian protests.
So the fear amongst human rights groups and others is that these -- you know, what could be potentially a violent weekend or a violent week next
week, if -- especially if the former prime minister is re-arrested, it could result in much more brutality than the deadly protests that we've
already seen, Zain.
ASHER: Yes. As you mentioned, though, he can't be rearrested technically until Wednesday, so we'll wait and see what happens after that. Obviously,
this country has been through so much this week.
Will Ripley live for us there. Thank you.
The U.S. is wanting migrants that the U.S. border is not open, even though a pandemic era fast expulsion rule has now expired. Migrants seeking asylum
in the U.S. now face new challenges and harsher penalties for entering illegally.
The mayor of El Paso, Texas, across from Juarez and Mexico tell CNN his city has not seen a huge surge of migrants but they're prepared
CNN's David Culver talked to migrants making the long dangerous trek north on a train ominously called the train of death.
DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're just outside Ciudad Juarez and this is the last train stop for this freight train that's eventually going to
head into the city. And you can see already dozens of migrants in several of these cars on top of them all about. They're asking us if we have water,
we have food.
We climb on. The train slowly starts up again heading north. We meet migrants from all over.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honduras.
CULVER: Honduras. He said he's Honduras originally and wants to go to the U.S.
Philippe Marcela (ph) from Colombia also hoping to enter the U.S.
I asked, her why the, she said, to have a better future.
Omar from Venezuela.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Baltimore.
CULVER: He's trying to get to Baltimore, Maryland.
We rode for an hour. He'd been on here for days, 12 days for Roberto and his family.
He's with his dad and his sister.
He says they've been attacked, they've been robbed, describes a really treacherous track.
Part of the train journey north for some is on what's called La Bestia, the Beast. It's also known as the train of death and often controlled by
cartels. Roberto wears a facemask to not infect the others, tells me he got sick early on in his travels.
There's a lot of them have been sick. And over the journey, he said he had to leave his two kids, young ones.
He tells me his two toddlers nearly died. So we sent them back with family in Honduras as he continues on. They stand, sit, and sleep on metal
construction beams covered in plastic, dirty clothes, and cardboard used to make it as comfortable as possible. The heat and sun brutal. At night, it's
the cold and wind.
The smells, arranged, sewage at times and burning trash as we drove past what appears to be an incinerator. Their souls worn down.
He says it's very dangerous for women too. And they said food is just really scarce right now.
Omar spent four days on board already. Food is run out. He showed us the little water he has left and the documents he clings to keeping secured and
Well, he's ready for all the different situations that would allow you to enter the U.S. but he's got it printed out in Spanish. And he's got the
address of his friend in Baltimore that he hopes to get to.
Four days on the train for him. He said the first day, it was got really sick because the sun was just so strong. And now he's making sure to keep
covered as much as possible. He wants to go to New York.
For Omar, it's a familiar journey. He left Venezuela six months ago, already expelled once from the U.S. for trying to cross. He'll try again.
Legally or illegally, he will cross, he tells me. I asked him if he's hopeful.
I've got a lot of faith, he tells me.
Ultimately, he hopes to get money to send back to his two kids in Venezuela.
As we pull in to Ciudad Juarez, about 25 miles still from the border wall with El Paso, we and the others climb out.
And that's it. You can see most everyone now getting off. It's basically the last stop.
Omar, among the last off, carrying his only belongings and somehow a smile.
Planning to cross immediately.
And most of those migrants we met had the same destination. This place right behind me the border wall. That's technically U.S. territory from
Mexico looking on towards Texas. And you can see it's been barricaded off by Texas National Guard and Texas State Troopers.
We've also noticed that the migrants have been split into various groups including single men, families, and unaccompanied minors to begin
processing their claims for asylum.
David Culver, CNN, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
ASHER: Many of those migrants David talk to are trying to get to El Paso, Texas. That's where we find CNN's Rosa Flores.
Rosa, actually the mayor of El Paso, Texas was on our air earlier today just basically saying that they haven't seen the surge in migrants that had
been anticipated when it was first announced that Title 42 was ending. Just walk us through what you're seeing where you are.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, I just got off the phone with someone from this city who says that they have about 150 migrants in
shelters. That's a very low number, Zain. This city is prepared to house more than a thousand migrants if needed.
But let me show you what I'm talking about when it comes to no change in the sense of no surge. I want you to look at this video because this video
was shot yesterday. And you can see that the crowd there is a lot larger.
According to the U.S. Border Patrol chief, in the past few days, there has been about 2,500 migrants in that area that you're looking at. And within
48 hours, they transported about 1,500 migrants out and yesterday afternoon, he said, that there was about a thousand.
Now, I want you to take a live look from this drone video that is live right now. And you can see that the numbers are very low. That number was
about a thousand according to the chief yesterday. Now, you can take a look at those pictures now. And you can see that the numbers have dropped
The other thing that I want to point out to you from this footage is the concertina wire that's along the Rio Grande. Now all of that was deployed
by the Texas National Guard, and actually did an overnight embed with them while they were preparing to deploy some of that concertina wire.
Now, it's probably difficult for you to see it from the air. But there are gaps in that concertina wire. And according to the commander who was in
charge of the mission, he says that once Title 42 ended, which now we're in a post-Title 42 era, they were going to use those gaps, not to allow
individuals to come into the country, but to allow people to return back to Mexico. Why? He says that National Guard members were going to be
explaining to migrants that now -- that Title 42 was lifted. There are legal consequences to entering the United States illegally.
And so they were going to offer those individuals a way back to Mexico so they didn't face those legal consequences. Zain.
ASHER: Rosa Flores, great reporting. And thank you so much for bringing that video to us. We were watching it as you're talking there. Rosa, thank
All right. Still to come here, how the aftermath of Turkey's devastating earthquake is impacting voters who have a big choice to make in Sunday's
ASHER: Turkey's main presidential candidates are making their final appeals to voters ahead of Sunday's high stakes election. Polls show opposition
leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, with a slight lead over President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Kilicdaroglu's six-party coalition wants to upend centralized
presidential powers imposed by Mr. Erdogan in recent years.
I want to bring in CNN's Jomana Karadsheh from Istanbul. Jomana, of course, just three months ago, Turkey was hit by that huge tragedy, that
devastating earthquake. Obviously in the run up to the election there, much of the earthquake zone isn't strongholds of the AK Party.
You just returned from that zone, just walk us through what you found and how much changed voters calculations there.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Zain, in the aftermath of that devastating earthquake, we were there on the ground in the
earthquake zone. And we saw the trauma, the shock, that initial reaction of people, you know, who've lost -- who lost their loved ones who lost
And then we really began to see the anger, as it was setting in. People blaming the government for the disastrous initial response, for the lack of
preparedness. And there were lots of questions about what sort of impact that is going to have on President Erdogan in these elections.
I mean, you only have to look back at history in this country back in 1999, when you have that massive earthquake near Istanbul that killed more than
17,000 people. And at the time, the failures of the coalition government that was in power, led to its collapse, and it led to Recep Tayyip Erdogan
coming into office.
So a lot of people were wondering, are we going to see a repeat of that this time? So this past week, we spent time in southeastern Turkey in some
of the hardest hit areas of that earthquake zone, we spoke to people about their life, their loss, about recovery, and of course, the elections.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARADSHEH (voiceover): Few are the tombstones that identify the dead. They call it the cemetery of the unknown where more than 4,000 victims of
Turkey's catastrophic quake are buried. Some of the youngest like here, with poignant clues left for those still searching for their missing loved
Time has yet to heal the wounds of the Broken City of on Antakya and its people.
Life, amid the ruins and mere existence in this deserted town where elections and campaign promises are overshadowed by despair.
Grief and pain still so raw for those who survived, left only to mourn. Meltem (ph) lost her mother, father, sister, brother, little nieces, and
the hardest loss of all her only child.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the last photo.
KARADSHEH: Little Ellen (ph) had just turned six. He was with his cousins for a sleepover when the earthquake hit. Meltem and her husband, I hung up
dug through the rubble with their bare hands. The three longest days of their lives ended when an Italian Search and Rescue Team recovered the
lifeless bodies of their boy and the rest of the family.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They keep them all.
KARADSHEH: The couple, like thousands of others, blame their tragedy on the state's initial chaotic slow response and on shoddy construction and
government amnesties for contractors who violated building codes.
On Sunday, they'll take their anger to the ballot box.
Over the years, they stole our future from us. Now, our loved ones were taken away from us (inaudible) says. Elections is our only way to hold
officials to account. We hope to slam the doors of hell shut.
Anger may not translate into any major surprises at the polls in the city historically split between the opposition and ruling party. But the stakes
are much higher in strongholds of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AK Party across the massive earthquake zone.
There was no time wasted to impact the hearts and minds of their people in places like Kahramanmaras, the epicenter of the devastating quake.
This hilltop project with a dozen newly constructed homes was inaugurated by the Turkish president. That kind of photo-op Erdogan needed in the wake
of the disaster.
The era of Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been defined by a construction boom and he's promised to rebuild the earthquake zone within a year. And this is
what the opposition is up against convincing people that they too can deliver.
Thousands of subsidized housing units are under construction here. More rebuilding in the city center that's rumbled back to life. But beneath the
facade of normalcy, a reality of life in limbo.
Mealtime brings hundreds into the food queues. Those who have lost everything now rely on their state to feed them. Most still live in tents.
But not even the worst earthquake in generations seems to have shaken the loyalty of Erdogan supporters, and they're keen to show us as they wave his
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): As long as Tayyip Erdogan is in power, our houses will be built this man tells us.
Down the road, the city's old bazaar is bustling once again. Quake survivors struggling to get back on their feet. Now also facing their
country's crushing economic crisis.
This 69-year-old once Erdogan supporter says he's boycotting the vote. They see him as a saint. It's too much, he says. I can't afford to buy anything.
I survive on earthquake aid.
A cafe nearby is the only escape from it all for students like 18-year-old Zia (ph). He's a first-time voter but hasn't decided if he'll cast his
Should we worry about elections or about the collapse buildings or the lives lost? He says. About what surrounds us or my dreams?
Confusion, apathy, loyalty, anger, it's just all too much for those still trapped in a life from hell. They can only hope when the dust settles from
these most consequential of elections, they won't be forgotten.
ASHER: Jomana Karadsheh, reporting there. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. We'll have much more news we come back.
ASHER: A lab in California has made a major breakthrough that could harness the same clean energy that powers the sun to power our electric grid.
CNN's Bill Weir got a behind the scenes look at the lab.
BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Inside this building, some very smart people built a star on Earth. Not the Hollywood
kind, that's easy. No the burning ball of gas in the sky kind. One of the hardest things humans have ever tried.
TAMMY MA, LEAD, INERTIAL FUSION ENERGY INITIATIVE: I was at the airport when my boss called me and I burst into tears.
WEIR: Tammy Ma is among the scientists who have been chasing nuclear fusion for generations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Countdown for shot on my mark, three, two, one, mark.
WEIR: And in the middle of a December night, they did it.
And you only need a tiny little bit of fuel.
MA: That's right, yes. Because our little pellet that sits right in the middle, you can't even see it on this target. It's just two millimeters in
WEIR: That target includes an abundant isotope found in seawater, and goes into a chamber about the size of a beach ball in the '60s, but it's now a
round room 30 feet across with 192 massive lasers aimed at the center.
MA: They're big laser beams about 40 by 40 centimeters.
MA: Each one alone is one of the most energetic in the world. Every time we do a shot, it's a thousand times the power of the entire U.S. electrical
But your lights don't flicker at home when we take a shot. So what we're doing is taking a huge amount of energy and compressing it down and just
MA: So it's about $14 of electricity.
WEIR: The National Ignition Facility then amplifies all that concentrated energy on the target. And if they get it just right, more energy comes out
than went in with no risk of nuclear meltdown or radioactive waste.
MA: In a fusion power plant, you would shoot the same target over and over at about 10 times a second, dropping a targeted and shooting it with laser.
WEIR: So you'd need a target loader like a machine gun or something, right?
MA: We need a target loader. Exactly.
So there's still many, many technology jumps (ph) that we need to make. But that's what makes it so exciting, right?
JENNIFER GRANHOLM, US ENERGY SECRETARY: A lot of people were saying, you've invested all this money, it's time to pull the plug because you guys
haven't achieved ignition.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, it's called the National Ignition Facility, right?
WEIR: At some point, you better be.
GRANHOLM: At some point you better ignite. Yes.
WEIR: You ignite something.
GRANHOLM: I mean, it's really hard to replicate the process that's happening on the sun on Earth. It's just really hard. And so when that
happened in December, what it said is that this is actually possible. So it's no longer a question of whether, it's just a question of when that
fusion is actually possible. Now, let's get to work.
WEIR: Well, conventional wisdom and the International Energy Agency tells us it'll be decades before anybody's really plugging anything into fusion
electricity. There was a startup called Helion (ph), which says they have a reactor that can fire plasma rings at a million miles an hour, and will
demonstrate electricity by next year.
And in fact, in a first of a kind, power purchase agreement, Microsoft has already bought fusion electricity from Helion for the year 2028. The future
is coming fast.
Bill Weir, CNN, in Northern California.
ASHER: Great story. All right. Thank you so much for joining us. I'm Zain Asher. I'll be back with One World after the break.