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U.S. and U.K. Strike Iran-Backed Houthi Fighters in Yemen; Huge Protest in Yemen After U.S. & U.K. Strike Houthi Targets; Biden: U.S. Strikes on Iran-Backed Houthis Send "Clear Message"; Israel Disputes Genocide Claims At The Hague; South Africa Accuses Israel of Genocide In Gaza At UN Court; Iowa Preparing For Republican Caucuses On Monday; Exploring Reaction to U.S. Military Action In Red Sea; CNN Looks Ahead To The Africa Cup Of Nations. Aired 9-9:45a ET

Aired January 12, 2024 - 09:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: It is 5:00 P.M. in Sana'a where massive protests have broken out after U.S. and coalition air strikes

targeted multiple Houthi sites inside Yemen.

It is 3:00 P.M. in the Hague where the International Court of Justice is deliberating after Israel defended itself against an allegation of


And it is 6:00 P.M. here in Abu Dhabi, CNN's Middle East programming hub. I'm Becky Anderson. Welcome to "Connect the World." Let's get straight to

what is our top story.

And we start with escalating conflict in the Middle East. The U.S. and U.K. hitting dozens of Houthi targets in Yemen to try and blunt weeks of Houthi

attacks on shipping interests in the Red Sea.


You are seeing some of that operation here on your screens in video released by Britain's defense ministry. A U.S. official describes the

destruction of Houthi assets as significant. And you can see here the locations of some of the targets hit. A British minister describes the

strikes as limited and proportionate and tells the BBC that no more U.K. missions are immediately planned.

Video from Yemen posted on social media shows flames and smoke rising into the night sky. Military spokesperson for the Iranian backed Houthi says, 5

people were killed and 6 others were wounded. And the strikes sparked this huge protest in Yemen's capital, Sana'a with Houthi leaders vowing


They also say the Red Sea attack will or attacks will continue to show support, they say, for Palestinians in Gaza as the Hamas-Israel war rages

and the civilian death toll in Gaza climbs. Well, there is an awful lot to unpack here.

I'm going to start with Paula Hancocks, who is set here with me in the studio. We gave our viewers a sense of just what happened overnight. Tell

us, what do we know about what was struck inside Yemen?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, Becky, what we've heard so far from the U.S. military is that their intention was to degrade the ability of the

Houthi rebels to be able to attack these commercial vessels in the Red Sea.

So what they targeted, and there was over 60 targets, were specifically where these rockets were being launched from, the infrastructure that the

Houthis have, command and control nodes, munitions depots, launching systems, production facilities, the air defense radar systems. So all of

these elements we're hearing from the U.S. side, is going to prevent them from being able to carry out the significant amount of attacks that they


We haven't had an update, though, as to how successful they were. Clearly, they're going to be looking at whether or not they need to go back and try

and, destroy more in that area.

ANDERSON: Yeah. They called these significant and proportionate. NATO has said that these were defensive. This was in -- designed to preserve the

freedom of navigation in one of the world's most vital waterways. Both the U.K. and the U.S. describing these as defensive in self-defense.

The question remains, is this a one-off clearly or whether these will continue. How is the world and, specifically, this region reacting?

HANCOCKS: Clearly, there's concern, because this is the first time that the U.S. and its allies have targeted Yemen, specifically, since this recent

escalation in intentions in the war in Gaza. Now we've heard from Saudi Arabia, for example. They've been conducting months long peace talks with

the Houthi rebels, so they are concerned, they said.

They say they are, deeply concerned, and we can, read out the exact statements that they have saying that, While the kingdom stresses

importance of maintaining the security and stability of the Red Sea region in which freedom of navigation is an international demand because it harms

the interest of the entire world, it calls for restraint and avoiding escalation in light of the events the region is witnessing.

So they are saying, they understand how important it is that the Houthi rebels are stopped and that this freedom of navigation is allowed to take

place in the Red Sea. But they also know that any retaliation from the Houthi rebels may not only target U.S. and U.S. -- and U.K. assets in the

region, but also Saudi Arabia as well.

ANDERSON: Yeah. Let's remember Saudi embroiled in a war in Yemen since 2016. There's a ceasefire at this point. Nobody around this region, I can

tell you from talking my sources as well, nobody wants to see that war start again.


People are tired of war in this region. It has been a mission and a strategy for de-escalation. There is a real concern at this point, that

there is a risk of a wider regional conflict off the back of what is going on in Gaza at present. And this is why, I think, as you rightly point out,

we are seeing the tone of a Saudi statement like that. Paula, thank you.

U.S. President Joe Biden authorized the strikes in Yemen, saying they are, quote, In direct response to unprecedented Houthi attacks." And a U.K.

minister calling the strikes, A necessary response in self-defense of our warships in the region.

Let's get the view from Washington. Priscilla Alvarez joins us from the White House. Priscilla, what has the President said specifically about this

strike and whether or not this is a one off, whether there is more of a long term plan at this point?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, he said that he will not hesitate to act further if these attacks continue. Leading up to this, the

White House had said that these Houthi attacks in the southern Red Sea were intolerable, going so far as to give a final warning.

But it was on Tuesday that marked the final straw when Houthi attacks in the Red Sea continued, targeting the a U.S. commercial vessels and U.S.

military vessels alongside it. That prompted President Biden to convene his national security team where they presented him military options and

ultimately, led to the President directing Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to carry out the response.

Now in a statement last night, the President saying the following, quote, "These targeted strikes are a clear message that the United States and our

partners will not tolerate attacks on our personnel. I will not hesitate to direct further measures to protect our people and the free flow of

international commerce as necessary."

Now the Houthis has since condemned this warning of retaliation, saying in their own statement by the Houthis' deputy foreign minister that America

and Britain, will, quote, "Pay a heavy price."

But, of course, these strikes come amid growing international alarm over the attacks in a critical waterway. Major shipping companies were having to

reroute and go, around the continent of Africa, which risks or poses a threat to the global economy.

And senior administration official said that they didn't want to get to this point, but it became clear that they just didn't have any other option

and that they do have more options on the table if they so choose moving forward. But the resounding message in all of this is that this is not a

measure to escalate tensions in the region. Now that this is a defensive posture that they are taking.

And Secretary of State Antony Blinken was there, earlier in the week where he was also So telling regional leaders at the time that if there were

strikes that they would be defensive in nature and not escalatory.

But, of course, the question remains as to what happens from here. The Houthis have said that they are planning some sort of retaliation. What

that happens and -- or what that looks like and how the U.S. responds thereafter, all remains to be seen.

ANDERSON: Let me bring in Bianca Nobilo. Thank you, Priscilla. The Houthis, of course, have cloaked these attacks on shipping, certainly at the outset,

in support of the Palestinians in Gaza. So we have an operation ongoing, which has escalated, at this point. Real concern. I mean, real concern

around the region that I am in that this is evidence of a wider regional conflict. Nobody wants to see that in this region.

The U.K. was very involved here. U.K. minister calling the strikes a necessary response in self-defense of our warships in the region. I mean,

there are questions being asked about what the rules of engagement are here. Be that as it may, what is Prime Minister Rishi Sunak saying about

these strikes?

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Becky, the Prime minister, as you know, is in Ukraine today, so he's in Kyiv. And perhaps the optics of that and

his location do underscore the fact made -- a point made by the defense secretary that Britain did not get to choose the timeline of this. They

were absolutely the junior partner in this operation.

And let's be frank, you and I both know that the U.S. not require U.K. military support to execute this operation successfully. It is a political

endeavor that the U.K. and the RAF were involved.

So we understand that four Typhoon jets took part in this operation. They used Paveway IV laser guided missiles to strike predominantly two targets,

one in the northeast of Yemen, which was used for reconnaissance and drones, and one further south, which was used to launch missiles and also

for drones as well, so we're told.


Now the operation, we understand, from British political figures, was considered to be a success. But we know that in this country, in London,

there have been tens, if not hundreds of thousands of protesters on the streets marching in sympathy with the Palestinian cause. People who are

reticent about any U.K. military engagement in the theater of that conflict, and they'll be worried about what this means.

But the prime minister has been at pains to delineate the fact that this is not engagement in the theater of war between Israel and Hamas. This is

purely a move of self-defense, one that they say is necessary, is proportionate to protect British interests and freedom of navigation. Take

a listen to what he had to say, Becky.


RISHI SUNAK, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Our aim is very clear. It's to deescalate tensions and to restore stability to the region. And that's why

allies over the past few weeks have issued several statements of condemnation of what's happening, calling on the Houthis to desist.

Indeed, just this week, we've seen a UN Security Council resolution condemning what's happening and saying the states have a right to self-

defense. We have acted in self-defense.


NOBILO: Becky, the prime minister informed his counterpart, so the leader of the opposition, Keir Starmer, the shadow secretary of state for defense,

and the British speaker of the House of Commons last night about the impending military the operation. He will be addressing parliament on


Now for the moment, the opposition have presented a united front with the government. They've been very clear that they fully support the fact that

the U.K. took part in this military operation, and they've asked their own MPs to basically not comment and say anything else other than a show

support for the government. So that's quite key, Becky.

But I would expect on Monday, we might start to see more dissent and criticism of the government maybe for without the consultation of

parliament and, you know, people more widely.

ANDERSON: And we're certainly hearing that echoed by some lawmakers in the states. So why was it that Joe Biden didn't go to Congress, to ask

permission for this strike? We'll do more on that in the hours to come. For the time being, thank you very much indeed, both of you, for joining us.

Well, Israel says it is trying to keep Palestinians from being harmed in Gaza, not destroy them. Israel laid out its defense in a genocide case at

the Hague today. Its lawyers said that by warning civilians of its actions ahead of time, Israel is showing the exact opposite of genocidal intent,

and they slammed South Africa for bringing the case.

Take a listen.


TAL BECKER, LAWYER OF ISRAEL: It is respectfully submitted that the application and re request should be dismissed for what they are, a libel,

designed to deny Israel the right to defend itself according to the law from the unprecedented terrorist onslaught it continues to face and to free

the 136 hostages Hamas still holds.


ANDERSON: It could be days or weeks before the judges issue a decision on ordering a halt to Israel's military campaign. Now experts say it could

take years before a final ruling on the question of genocide is delivered.

CNN's Melissa Bell has more on South Africa's argument.


PROTESTORS: Free, free Palestine.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Passionate protests on the streets outside of court --

PROTESTORS: Free, free Palestine.

BELL (voice-over): As inside South Africa laid out the details of their case.

RONALD LAMOLA, SOUTH AFRICAN JUSTICE MINISTER: Even an attack involving atrocity crimes can provide any justification for or defense to breaches to

the convention.

BELL (voice-over): Israel has denied all accusations, calling the case a, quote, "blood libel." South Africa is accusing Israel of breaching the 1948

genocide convention through its military response to the Hamas attack, which it says has killed more than 23,000 people.

ADILA HASSIM, SENIOR COUNCIL, SOUTH AFRICA: At least 200 times it has deployed 2,000 pound bombs in southern areas of Palestine designated as



BELL (voice-over): But South Africa is also accusing Israeli leaders of making no distinction between Hamas and the civilians of Gaza.

NGCUKAITOBI: The genocide that intent behind these statements is not ambiguous to the Israeli soldiers on the ground. Indeed, it is directing

their actions and objectives. These are the soldiers repeating the inciting words of their prime minister.


BELL (voice-over): The moment welcomed by international groups in support of the Palestinian people, with many noting the importance of Israel's

presence too there to defend its response to the Hamas attacks on October 7th that killed at least 1,200 people.

BALKEES JARRAH, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: The fact that they're here, that they're represented, and that they're presenting their

formal response to South Africa's case is significant and suggests that they attach legitimacy to the court.

BELL (On-camera): Israel will be making its case here on Friday. But just after the South African delegation had finished, a spokesman for Israel's

foreign ministry dismissed their claims as groundless and false, accusing them of being the representatives of Hamas in court.


BELL (voice-over): But South Africa's goal, a call for the World Court to order Israel to stop the war.

MADONSELA: The consequences of not indicating clear and particularized specific provisional measures, which we fear be very grave indeed for the

Palestinians in Gaza who remain at real risk of further genocide elects.

BELL (voice-over): Melissa Bell, CNN, The Hague.


ANDERSON: And we'll get you live to The Hague next hour here on CNN.

Well, all of this, the ICJ KC strikes overnight inside Yemen and that tension in the Red Sea, all have a sort of direct line back to Israel's war

on Hamas, which, of course, is causing enormous losses in Gaza. Let's get you to Israel now and to our International Diplomatic Editor, Nic Robertson

in Tel Aviv.

Nic, you've reported from Yemen. You, are across the Houthi position well, and certainly, they are cloaking their actions in the Red Sea in support of

Palestinians in Gaza. And they have, effectively been successful in in pulling a response from this U.S. coalition. How do you, see or read what

is going on at present in the Red Sea, the response from the U.S. and U.K., and the risk that we are staring down the barrel of a further and wider

regional conflict here?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: There is a risk that this will escalate the situation, because it's bought more military force

into the region, and that's always a potential recipe for the destabilization.

The Houthis, are casting these strikes that the United States and the U.K. and their allies in this operation in the Red Sea, are saying, strikes

against the Houthis. The Houthis are saying, no. They're telling the Yemeni people, this is a strike against Yemen. And that's a narrative that we're

hearing from Iran. It's a narrative we're hearing from, Hezbollah leaders in Lebanon, it's a narrative that we're hearing from Hamas here.

So it does, if you will, feed into the counternarrative and the Houthis and even Iran are saying that -- and others are saying that the United States

and the U.K. are in cahoots with Israel here, and the Houthis have said they'll continue to attack shipping in the Red Sea that they believe is

either Israeli owned or has Israeli interest behind it.

So it all feeds, the into the narrative that the United States and the U.K. are waiting in, are escalating this, and they're doing it in support of

Israel. That's the narrative that's used against them. And in that context, that can be quite an inflammatory narrative.

And, therefore, while the United States and the U.K. are hitting at the Houthis, they're also going to have to win on the diplomatic front, and

this will be very, very hard for them. That what they are doing, and they've said this to -- you know, they've said this publicly, and it's

understood perhaps in western cities and western capitals that this is very directly targeting the Houthis. and the Houthis targeting international

shipping, which affects many, many countries and even affects, you know, the pocketbooks of citizens from Europe to Africa to all over the world.

That's a harder narrative for them to win.

So in that context, There is that potential for further escalation. Military and raising, if you will, that narrative that the United States,

the U.K. are supporting Israel.


ANDERSON: More on this, as we move through the next couple of hours. Not least, more on the reaction around the region, particularly that from where

I am here in the Gulf. Real concern about an escalation here and real frustration, it has to be said, on the part of many around this region.

With the Biden Administration, what is the long term plan? Is this is defensive? Is this short term? Is this seen as leaving issues in this

region that it will be for the region to sort out. This is a Biden Administration who told this region to sort out its own conflicts. If there

is a perception now, that the U.S. is embroiling this region in further conflict, that is a problem to many, in this area.

Nic, it's good to have you. Thank you.

Well, the Republican caucuses in Iowa are just a few days away now, and you can expect them to be tough. I'm not just talking about the politics. I'm

talking about the weather too.

Coming up. What voters and candidates are facing?


ANDERSON: In 3 days from now, Iowa holds its Republican caucuses. But this morning, the state is facing dangerous winter conditions, forcing some

candidates to cancel campaign appearances.

We could be looking at the coldest Iowa caucuses on record. Who knows what that will mean for turnout? Well, front runner Donald Trump is returning to

the state this weekend after hearings wrapped up in his fraud trial. But Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis haven't given up hopes of chipping away at

Trump's lead.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Blizzard conditions hitting Iowa, bringing the campaign trail to a halt on the eve of former President

Trump's return to the state.

NIKI HALEY, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have got to tell you. Y'all, it is cold outside.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): The National Weather Service says, life threatening winter weather is expected to hit the Hawkeye state with wind

chills, bringing temperatures as low as 45 degrees below 0.

RON DESANTIS, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Temperatures are dropping. You know, my Florida blood is adapting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Nikki Haley canceling all her campaign stops Friday, opting for telephone town halls.

HALEY: We are a country in disarray, and the world is on fire. And the only way we get out of this is if we elect a new conservative leader to carry us

forward and leave the negativity and baggage behind.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): DeSantis continuing to slam Haley, likening her performance at a CNN debate to Hillary Clinton.

DESANTIS: It was me versus Hillary -- I mean, Nikki.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): And criticizing the large campaign donors supporting her.

DESANTIS: She has not gone to all 99 counties, doesn't like to interact with the voters. Thinks if they just spend, spend, spend, then somehow

that's going to do the trick. You know, that's not the way it works.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): At one event in Iowa, DeSantis battled not just Frigid temperatures, but climate protesters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How much money have you taken from oil companies?

DESANTIS: This is wrong with the college system right there. That's exhibit a.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Trump will hold his final events in Iowa this weekend after spending Thursday in a New York courtroom, speaking

during closing arguments in his civil fraud trial.

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a political witch hunt, the likes of which nobody's ever seen before. They owe me

damages for what they've done.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): The former president making the legal cases against him his central campaign pitch, falsely claiming they are

orchestrated by his political opponents to interfere with the election.

TRUMP: Every time somebody sees me in court, remember, Joe Biden and his thugs that surround him did it. They're trying to get a man in office that

can't put two sentences together.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Next week, Trump says he'll attend the start of the defamation case brought against him by E. Jean Carroll.

TRUMP: I want to go to all of my trials.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): The judge in that case has already found Trump guilty of defamation. This trial is just to determine damages. Last

year, Trump was found liable of sexually abusing Carroll after she accused him of raping her in the mid-1990s, an accusation Trump denies.


ANDERSON: Well ahead, U.S. led air strikes in Yemen push tensions in the Middle East even higher. Ahead, we take a closer look at how the region's

key players are responding.




ANDERSON: Well, welcome back. I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi, and you are watching "Connect the World" and the opening bell at the New York Stock

Exchange. It is 9:30 there, 6:30 in the evening here in the UAE.

This is how the New York markets are trading as they open on this Friday, and increased geopolitical tension sort of clouding, what is going on as

far as investors are concerned. And this is really the picture that we've seen all week. It's been a pretty troubling start to the new year, at least

for those who want to see these markets going higher and going higher quickly.

Let's take a look at the oil prices for you. And those prices, rose some 4 percent off the back of what was major news overnight of U.S. led strikes

in Yemen. Settling there, around about 2.5 percent, nearly 3 percent higher, and Brent crude certainly knocking on the door of $80 on the


Let's reset that top story, for you now. Rebel Houthi leaders are vowing to bond after a night of joint airstrikes by the U.S. and U.K. on Houthi

targets inside Yemen. More than 60 targets were hit at 16 locations held by the Iran backed militia according to U.S. forces? You can see some of those


Well, these strikes are a direct response to the dramatic escalation question in Houthi attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea in recent

weeks. 6 of the biggest shipping container companies are now avoiding the waterway effectively closing one of the world's main trade routes. Experts

warn that the disruption could unleash chaos on global supply change chains if it continues and hamper efforts to bring down inflation.

Let's look then at the regional reaction here. Bahrain is the only country in this region to join what is this U.S. led operation to protect the Red

Sea, known as Operation Prosperity Guardian.

After the strikes by that coalition overnight, Saudi Arabia says this, quote, "While the Kingdom stresses the importance of maintaining the

security and stability of the Red Sea region, it calls for restraint and avoiding escalation in light of the events this region is witnessing."

Now, look, Bahrain is the only Arab nation supporting this operation. Well, actually most countries here and, of course, around the world, benefit from

the free flow of trade. Why is that? Well, let's look at two regional leaders, the two heavyweights in this region, Saudi Arabia and the United

Arab Emirates where I am, and consider three points.

Point one, avoiding conflict. Saudi and the UAE have both been targeted by the Houthis. For instance, in 2019, Houthis claimed a number of attacks on

Saudi oil installations. That appeared to be, at the time, an extension of the war in Yemen. And in 2022, the Houthis claimed a deadly drone attack

here in the heart of Abu Dhabi at the time. That was described here as the UAE's 9/11, proving the rebel group can hit the regional powers at home.

Point two, protecting diplomatic gains. Saudi and the UAE just reestablished diplomatic ties with Iran to directly engage with one of

Iran's highest profile proxy groups could endanger that detente.

And finally point three, refusing to appear complicit in a U.S. effort right now, Houthis claim rhat their efforts are anti-Israel and pro-

Palestinian. And that complicates the situation for Arab states who are calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Even though as U.S. Central

Command has noted, most of the recent Houthi attacks had no connection to Israel. But consider the perception here.

Experts say it is possible that neither Saudi Arabia nor the UAE wants to be associated with U.S. led missions in the Red Sea as long as the Biden

Administration gives unfettered support to Israel despite massive civilian casualties in Gaza.

Look. De-escalation has been the clearly stated priority here and around this region of the Gulf. Saudi Arabia And the United Arab Emirates have a

vested interest in long term stability. These regional forces are not likely to sign up for anything that is going to be seen as defensive in

tone and shortermist in strategy. It just doesn't suit the economic vision in this region.


I want to bring in CNN's Chief National Security Analyst, Jim Sciutto, who is in Washington here. Jim, what do you make of what we've seen overnight?

And the analysis that I've just, posited here about why it is that many must be thinking the UAE, the Saudis not involved -- certainly not publicly

involved in this U.S. led operation to effectively ensure the freedom of maritime in what are these incredibly important waters?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF U.S. SECURITY ANALYST: Listen. Perhaps not publicly involved, but perhaps Privately supporting these efforts here. It's so good

that you showed the oil price prior, because that's deliberate. Right? The Houthis want to exact an economic price, on the world in effect. And that's

what it does by attacking shipping in the Red Sea, because so much of the world's trade goes through there and then on through the Suez Canal and be


And a great way to get noticed is to exact an economic price, restrict shipping, send those oil prices up and others, of course, benefit from oil

prices going up -- the Houthis backers, Iran, Iran's backers, and increasingly Iran's allies, Russia. So there is benefit, you know, that old

question, cui bono. And you know who benefits from these kinds of attacks here.

It appears from the U.S. perspective, while these attacks have been going on for some time and while there has been some response, the U.S. has shot

down a number of missiles, et cetera. It was the attacks on Tuesday that were the bridge too far. Some 20 drones that specifically targeted U.S.

ships in the straits, so a direct attack on U.S. interests.

One ship in particular is carrying jet fuel, and the concern from U.S. officials I spoke with was that those drones, had they gotten through and

not been shot down, might have sunk that ship. So that that was the bridge too far. But, again, there are so many economic interests here that that

are a deliberate attempt to expand the cost of this conflict.

And the other point I would make, Becky, is that there's great concern, of course, about the conflict expanding. Understandable. And by the way, the

U.S. among the parties does not want to see a broader regional war here. But the fact is we have seen some expansion already. Iran backs Hezbollah.

Hezbollah has been increasing its cross border fire into Northern Israel. Iran backs militias in Iraq and Syria. Those militias have been attacking

U.S. forces in the region. And, of course, Iran backs the Houthis, and these shipping attacks have grown.

And one final note, Becky, I will say that, when you speak to U.S. officials, they say that Iran is not just quietly supporting or turning a

blind eye to Houthi activities here, but they are directly and operationally supporting these activities, providing intelligence,

information, as well as many of the weapon systems.

ANDERSON: Very briefly, Jim. Defensive -- in self-defense, proportionate, do you see these as a one off, or is there a longer term strategy here by

the U.S.? That's certainly a question that is being asked around this region.

SCIUTTO: No question. Well, senior administration official told me last night, this may not be the last word. Those were these officials' words.

These attacks last night. In other words, leaving open the possibility of further strikes against the ballistic missile sites, drone sites, radar

installations like those they struck last night.

To be clear as well, it seems that the U.S. is pricing in the possibility of a Houthi response as well. They said they would not be surprised by a

Houthi attack back. Of course, question is, how big? And does Iran get involved?

Since October 7th, Becky, I've been speaking to U.S. intelligence officials. Their assessment has been fairly consistent that Iran does not

want a broader regional war, a direct conflict with the U.S., but, of course, it's always difficult to gauge anyone's red lines.

ANDERSON: Absolutely. It's good to have you, Jim. Jim spent an awful lot of time up on that, northern Israeli border, on border with the Southern

Lebanon over the, past, what, 100 days? And your analysis and insight's so important, so thank you.

We'll be right back after this.



ANDERSON: Well, a feast for football fans getting underway, in a number of places, not least in Ivory Coast on Saturday. The host nation looking to

win its third ever Africa Cup of Nations. They kick off tomorrow night against Guinea Bissau.

Let's, bring in, Amanda Davies. A lot of eyes will be on Morocco. Of course, stay with the sensation of the 2022 Qatar World Cup, now aiming to

show why they are the highest ranked team in this year's competition.

We mustn't forget. We've got the Asian Cup going on in Qatar, of course, as we speak. It's a feast of football, Amanda.

AMANDA DAVIES CNN WORLD SPORT: Yeah. Very much so. It might not be a World Cup year, but that doesn't mean, there's not a lot of football to keep

people entertained. You mentioned Morocco and, the expectation and excitement, but, of course, with that comes a whole lot more pressure than

they are used to at this competition, the African Cup of Nations, because it's one they traditionally haven't done particularly well in. But, of

course, looking to emulate that success and go even further than at the World Cup in Qatar.

But we've got a big look ahead to that and more looking ahead to the, Asian Cup coming up in just a couple of minutes, Becky.

ANDERSON: Super. Thank you for that. Amanda is back, just after this short break. We'll be back at top of the hour for.