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Connect the World

Pakistan Strikes Militants Inside Iran; Another Flashpoint Flaring Up In The Wider Middle East?; Interview With Former Pakistani Ambassador To The U.S. Husain Haqqani; U.S. Carries Out Fourth Strike On Houthis; Shipping Companies Shying Away From The Red Sea; Report: Israeli President Outlines Vision For Gaza After War; Law Enforcement Response To Uvalde School Shooting "A Failure"; Ukrainian Troops Facing Shortages On The Front Lines; Gaza Suffers Longest Internet Blackout Of The War; Death Toll Climbs In Gaza As Israel Launches More Strikes; Qatar Mediates Aid Deal For Gaza; Economic Outlook For 2024; World Leaders In Davos Discussing The Future Of The Global Economy; Interview With Mubadala Managing Director And Group CEO Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak; New Hampshire Primary Could Be Decisive For Candidates; Countdown To New Hampshire Primary. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired January 18, 2024 - 10:00:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is CONNECT THE WORLD.

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN HOST: Pakistan strikes inside Iranian territory, killing at least 10 people. This hour, I'll be speaking to the former Pakistani

ambassador to the United States.

But first, this just entered CNN. A U.S. Department of Justice probe has just dropped off. And it says that the law enforcement response to the

Uvalde School shooting was "a failure." We'll have much more on this story in just a moment.

Also, ahead. The U.S. carries out its fourth strike in less than a week on the Houthis in Yemen. Hours before the strike, the Biden administration re-

designating the rebels as a terrorist organization.

Medicine and aid for both Palestinians and the Israeli hostages has reached Gaza under a deal mediated by Qatar. We'll be hearing from Qatar's foreign

minister on those details.

Welcome to the second hour of CONNECT THE WORLD.

Welcome to the second hour of CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Eleni Giokos. I'm in for Becky Anderson.

And we are going to start with the aftermath of those Pakistani strikes in Iran coming just two days after Iran launched attacks inside Pakistan. This

is video from Iran's Sistan and Balochistan province, where Pakistan says it hit hard outs used by separatist groups. Both Pakistan and Iran claim

they targeted militants from their respective countries.

But in both cases, civilians are reported to have died. Pakistan had warned of retaliation after the Iranian strikes. Its leaders cut short overseas

trips to hurry home. The caretaker prime minister flying back from the World Economic Forum in Davos.

But let's take a look and take a step back for a moment and give some context on the Balochistan region. It lies at the intersection of three

nations, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan.

Baloch people are some of the region's poorest, despite the area they live in being rich in natural resources. Baloch separatists have complained that

they're not seeing the benefits of their mineral rich lands. And for decades, insurgencies have erupted on either side of that volatile 900-

kilometer border between Pakistan and Iran. Making certain Baloch militants a common enemy for both countries.

Now, separatists have long demanded independence from Pakistan, angered by what they say is the state's monopoly and exploitation of resources. The

insurgency has fueled a spate of deadly attacks in the country in recent years.

Iran also facing a long history of revolts from Baloch minorities. Jaish ul-Adl, the group Iran attacked this week is just one of many operating

within the country. Now, according to the National Counterterrorist Center, it often targets Iranian security personnel, government officials, and

sheer civilians.

So, while the two countries do share a common separatist enemy, it is highly unusual for either side to attack militants on each other's soil.

But of course, this all comes against the backdrop of the war in Gaza. And as Iran's allies and proxies in the Middle East launch attacks on Israeli

forces as well as its allies.

All right. So, look, Iran says it struck separatist militants in Pakistan just one day after it carried out strikes in Northern Iraq and Syria. And

it appears Tehran is flexing its muscles to show it is prepared to attack its enemies in the region. Given the spillover of what is happening in

Israel and Gaza, Iran's actions are naturally stoking fears of further escalation.

So, tonight, we ask, is this another flashpoint flaring up in the wider Middle East? And here with me in studio is Pakistan's former ambassador to

the United States, Husain Haqqani. It's so great to have you with us.


GIOKOS: We really appreciate it. Lots of questions coming to the fore. First and foremost, what do you make of your government's decision to

strike back and retaliate in Iranian territory?

HAQQANI: Once the Iranians had struck inside Pakistani territory, Pakistan had no choice but to retaliate. Iran could have apologized. It had several

hours to do that. I think that that was suggested to the Iranian leadership. They chose not to do it. The Iranian leadership probably wants

to project strength in time for their elections, which come in later this year.


So, that's why they have added Pakistan to the list of the various places where they are targeting their perceived enemies. But this was not

essentially a message of war to Pakistan. Even after the strike Iran's message has been, we are brotherly countries. We only struck our terrorists

that were on your territory.

GIOKOS: It's interesting. The language is really interesting. But the world is watching on, and seeing tension within the region and basically

start -- the starting point is Israel-Hamas. That is what we're seeing.

Is this in any way correlated to what we're seeing in Gaza? Because you insinuated a short time ago that Iran is flexing its muscles, but is it

connected to what we're seeing in Israel-Hamas?

HAQQANI: I think Iran's motivations might be connected because it wants to show the Arab and the Muslim world that it is a power to reckon with and

that it is the power that can actually help groups like Hamas and others who have genuine grievances.

But the operation itself is not connected. After all, what does Iran get in terms of its bigger role in the Middle East by hitting in Pakistan, which

is a country with which it has always had good relations and has always avoided conflict.

GIOKOS: So, this is opportunistic, would you say, by Iran?

HAQQANI: I would say it is opportunistic. They were looking for targets and they thought, let's do this as well. Pakistan being a nuclear weapons

power. It's easy for Iran to score points with the Iranian populace that, hey, we are powerful enough to lash out even at one of our most powerful


GIOKOS: So, I do want to play some sound from the Pakistani foreign minister's spokesperson. And we spoke about the language a short time ago,

but listen to what she had to say.


MUMTAZ ZAHRA BALOCH, SPOKESPERSON, PAKISTANI MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Iran is a brotherly country, and the people of Pakistan have great respect

and affection for the people of Iran. We have always emphasized dialogue and cooperation in confronting common challenges, including the menace of

terrorism, and will continue to endeavor to find joint solutions.


GIOKOS: Brotherly love. This is what we were talking about. The language is quite interesting. Clearly there is no intention for more of what we've

been seeing.

HAQQANI: On either side, by the way.

GIOKOS: On either side. But look, you know, Pakistan and Iran have been allied on so many issues. Does this break the relationship?

HAQQANI: It does not break the relationship, but it does harm it. Pakistan will be a lot more wary of Iran now. It has always tried to be a balance.

It had done a balancing act with Iran. Even though Pakistan has supported the Arab countries historically on most issues when it comes to Iran versus

countries the Arab countries. Pakistan has been cautious.

It may, it may start tilting more towards the Arab Gulf countries because Iran has now added Pakistan to the list of countries that it strikes.

GIOKOS: I mean, many are worried, you know, what happens next? Is Iran going to retaliate? We don't know. But the timeline is interesting, because

Iran had ample opportunity to engage with Pakistan. They had joint military exercises this week. The Iranian foreign minister as well as the Pakistani

caretaker prime minister were meeting in Davos. Two hours later, a strike happens.

Why not coordinate when you're dealing with similar threats?

HAQQANI: That is a million-dollar question. And the very fact that Iran did not choose to do that shows that there was no imminent threat to Iran.

This was purely performative. It was meant to score a point, and they did.

Now, problem is Pakistan's leaders can't afford to let Iran score a point at Pakistan's expense, which is why they had to strike back. Now, that

they're even there might be better chance for both sides to talk to each other. Although, for the moment --

GIOKOS: So, no retaliation from Iran, do you think?

HAQQANI: I hope not. Because if it is, then we are headed for a wider conflict. Remember, Pakistan does have a much larger army than Iran.

Pakistan does not seek conflict. It would certainly not want conflict with a brotherly Muslim country. But if Iran tries to expand this, Iran will

have bitten more than it can chew.

GIOKOS: Ambassador, great to have you with us.

HAQQANI: Pleasure being here.

GIOKOS: Thank you so much for your time. Good to see you in studio.

And there is a lot more on the story on our website. Please take a look. We've got analysis on why these cross-border attacks are happening now and

why experts believe Iran and its proxies have been emboldened by the Israel-Hamas war.

Also, what Iran may have to gain by spreading conflict across the region. That's at or through the CNN app on your smartphone.

Well, American forces carried out a fresh round of strikes against the Houthis in Yemen, according to U.S. officials. It's the fourth time the

U.S. has launched attacks on the Iran-backed rebels in less than a week. It comes after the Houthis used drones and missiles to attack Western

commercial ships. And after the U.S. announced it is re-designating the Houthis as a global terrorist organization.


Meantime, Tehran's top diplomat says attacks by Iranian aligned groups in the Middle East won't stop until Israel's war on Hamas in Gaza ends. His

comments echo remarks by other Iranian allies.


HOSSEIN AMIR-ABDOLLAHIAN, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): The security of shipping and maritime navigation is a serious focus of the

Islamic Republic of Iran. But the safety of the Red Sea today is tied to the situation in Gaza. We will all suffer and be hurt if the genocide and

crimes of Israel in Gaza are not stopped, and the different front lines remain active.


GIOKOS: Well, CNN's Natasha Bertrand joins us with more from the Pentagon. Natasha, good to see you.

The U.S. maintains that these strikes are to deter the Houthis and destroy capabilities. We've spoken about it. We just heard the Iranian position. It

feels pretty clear that we are seeing further escalation beyond the borders of Israel and Gaza. So, what is the U.S. strategy right now?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Well, the Pentagon continues to insist that the war between Israel and Hamas remains contained

to Gaza. They say that the attacks that we are seeing, for example, from the Iran-backed Houthi militants in Yemen, the Iran-backed attacks on U.S.

and coalition forces all across Iraq and Syria, those are not a direct offshoot of what is going on in Israel and Gaza, and instead are rather

opportunistic by these Iran backed proxy groups to attack U.S. forces and Western and commercial shipping in the Red Sea.

But, you know, the question remains of how plausible that is because the Houthis have been saying quite clearly that they are not going to stop

their attacks until the war in Gaza ends, until Israel ends its hostilities there, until the U.S. And the West stop supporting Israel's operations


But here's what Pentagon Press Secretary Pat Ryder said yesterday when he was asked this very specific question.


MAJ. GEN. PATRICK S. RYDER, PRESS SECRETARY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: Clearly, there are tensions in the Middle East. There have been tensions

there since the Israel-Hamas conflict has kicked off. But to answer your question, no. We currently assess that the fight between Israel and Hamas

continues to remain contained in Gaza.


BERTRAND: Now, the U.S. has continued to carry out strikes on Houthi positions inside Yemen. And so, the fear among many is that this is going

to continue to draw the U.S. military in deeper and deeper.

We saw just yesterday that the U.S. conducted new strikes on Houthi positions that had missiles and missile launchers preparing to launch

against commercial ships in the Red Sea. And we have asked repeatedly whether this approach is sustainable, given that the U.S. quite clearly is

worried about escalation in the region.

For now, all central command in the Pentagon are saying in response to that is that they're going to continue to defend U.S. naval assets in the region

as well as commercial shipping. However, the question remains, of course, of how far the U.S. is willing to take it in terms of trying to degrade

Houthi capabilities, trying to interdict Iranian weapons supplies to the Houthis, and trying to stop the broader attacks by these Iran back groups

on U.S. forces, Eleni.

GIOKOS: Right. Great stuff. Thank you. Natasha Bertrand for us.

A number of shipping companies are shying away from the Red Sea because of the Houthi attack. U.S. officials are warning American merchant ships to

steer clear, and some insurers are refusing to cover U.S., British, and Israeli vessels against war risks.

The CEO of shipping giant Maersk says the disruption could last more than a month and result in shipping delays and price hikes.

CNN's Richard Quest spoke to Vincent Clerc at the World Economic Forum in Davos.


VINCENT CLERC, MAERSK CEO: The level of threat today is really, really hard to assess on an objective basis, and I completely understand that. For

us, this is really about guaranteeing the safety of our crew, of our ships, and also of the cargo that our customers are trusting us with.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR: So, you're going to have to take the long way around, which is down and around. That's about 10 to 14 days, depending on

the -- as I understand it.

CLERC: That's about correct.

QUEST: Please. Correct me. But what does it add in terms of cost?

CLERC: So, actually, the exact cost of it is something that is really unfolding and that we're trying to get our arms around. You have different

levels of cost. The first one is, it takes about 8,000 miles more to get from China to the U.K., south of the Horn. That takes these couple of


That means that we have ships that suddenly have to sell full throttle. That means more emission, more fuel. It means also that they will not be,

despite that, back on time in China. That means also the containers take longer time to turn. So, you just have costs piling on here. And the longer

this is going to last, the more this is going to cost.

QUEST: So, how much of that cost can you pass on? I mean, I suppose it's already on the high stage, you can't. But freight costs are going up. We

know that. Is that you pushing them up? I don't mean you personally, but you know.


CLERC: I think actually, we have -- thanks to maritime law, actually, who makes or has anticipated cases such as this one, we have actually the

possibility to adjust the freight that is on the water for the extended transit time. And that's also what has been in the -- what is in the

process of being applied.

But further to that, there is a lot of costs that are going to pile on the longer this takes. And initially, we thought this was going to be a fairly

short disruption. Now, I think our base case is more going towards month of disruptions, and that means a lot more cost.


GIOKOS: While tensions continue to escalate in the Middle East, Israel's president is already outlining a broad vision for the region after the war

in Gaza, and he says the vision includes rebuilding the enclave, a dialogue between Israel and Palestinians, and normalizing relations between Israel

and Saudi Arabia. Here's more from his remarks at the World Economic Forum.


ISAAC HERZOG, ISRAELI PRESIDENT: The Saudi option, as part of it, as the whole normalization process, is the key to the ability to exit from the war

into a new horizon. It's still delicate. It's fragile. It will take a long time. But I think that this is actually an opportunity to move forward in

the region, towards a better future.


GIOKOS: Right. And more on our breaking news this hour, the U.S. Justice Department has completed its assessment of law enforcement's response to

the 2022 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, calling it a failure.

The 575-page report says police officers almost immediately stopped once they heard the sound of gunfire as the shooter killed 19 students and two

teachers. The report says it took one hour and 17 minutes from the point the shooter walked into the school until he was stopped. And we'll have

much more on this from Uvalde later this hour and throughout the day.

Right. And still to come, shortages of ammunition, old outdated equipment, just some of the challenges facing Ukrainian troops on the front lines as

the U.S. president urges lawmakers to send help, and fast.


GIOKOS: Welcome back. The U.S. president, Joe Biden, is urging Congress to act now to help Ukraine and his warning about "the strategic consequences

of inaction." During a meeting at the White House Wednesday, President Biden implored lawmakers to find a way out of a month's long impasse and

pass a bill to send more funding to Kyiv.

Some Republicans continue to demand that any new aid be tied to passing legislation, to tighten security at the U.S. border. But congressional

leaders emerged from the meeting say they are hopeful a deal can be reached.


CNN's Senior International Correspondent Fred Pleitgen is live in Dnipro, Ukraine for us. And. You know, the reality in Ukraine, for Ukrainian, and

the military is one of immense need. Meanwhile, in the U.S., you still have these debates going on on whether they're able to give the aid that is

required so that you can -- Ukraine can continue its military response to what Russia is doing.

What is -- what are the needs on the ground right now? And what impact are these delays having in Ukraine?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they certainly are already having very big impacts here on the ground. In fact,

the defense minister of this country, he came out and he said that the lack of ammunition especially is very urgent and pressing. He said that today

for the Ukrainian military.

And you know, Eleni, that's something that we've also seen on the ground as well. We were actually on two front lines that are among the most kinetic

here in this country, where the Russians really are pressing, the Ukrainians are trying to hold that back. But one of the things that's

hampering the Ukrainians is a distinct lack of ammunition. Here's what we witnessed.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): The battle is already in full swing when the artillery unit gets their orders. Their battle cat Sioma (ph) follows the

commander to the U.S.-provided M777 gun, and they get to work.

PLEITGEN: So, the soldiers have now been given in target and they're working as fast as possible to try and fire as many rounds as accurately

towards the Russian positions.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Three rounds, that's it. The commander tells me ammo shortages are a real problem here.

There is more of a deficit, he says. When we were in Zaporizhzhia direction, we used 50 to 60 shells a day. Now, it's 20 to 30, maximum.

The resupply truck only brings a few more rounds. And with U.S. military aid ground to a halt, things could get even tougher for the Ukrainians


We're near Marinka on the eastern front. The Russians recently managed to take Marinka after essentially annihilating the entire town with their

artillery. Moscow's forces face no ammo shortages, the Ukrainian say, after getting around a million artillery rounds from North Korea in the past


Even as we prepare to leave, the position is under Russian fire. We drive away constantly watching for Russian drones and possible artillery impacts.

Different day, different frontline, similar problems for Ukraine's forces, major shortages. We're in the battle zone near Avdiivka with a Special

Forces unit called Omega.

It's 22 degrees below freezing. They want to fire artillery rockets that the Russians, but lacking western arms, they've mounted a Soviet era

launcher on a U.S. made pickup truck. They set up fast, but then this --

PLEITGEN: So, one of the issues that the Ukrainians have using this very old technology is that sometimes it simply doesn't work. It's very cold

right now. They think something's frozen and it's just not working.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): All they can do is de-rig and leave before the Russian see them.

We wanted to strike at the enemy's positions, but unfortunately, sometimes it happens, the equipment does not work, he says. Technology does not stand

still. And as we can see in this war, the technologies from the West are giving very good results.

The unit later did manage to fire three rockets after troubleshooting for several hours, delays that can be costly in a war where Ukraine is already

badly outgunned.


PLEITGEN (on camera): Badly outgunned, lacking ammunition, and lacking western weapons. And one of the other things that the Ukrainians keep

saying, what they also, of course, need is air defense systems to protect cities like the one that I am. But of course, like all the other big

Ukrainian cities as well. That's one of the big fears among the Ukrainian government, is that if U.S. aid does dry up, for instance, missiles for air

defense systems, that that could be an issue.

So, the president of this country, Eleni, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, he came out and he said, of course, Ukraine is always going to keep fighting because

they believe that if they stop fighting that it will mean the end of this country, but he also has no illusions about the fact that if they don't get

aid from the U.S. that Ukraine will be weaker, leading to more casualties on the battlefield and very possibly also among Ukrainian civilians as

well. Eleni.

GIOKOS: All right. Fred Pleitgen for us. Thank you so much.

Well, let's get you up to speed on some other stories that are on our radar right now. A big win in Parliament for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ayes to the right, 320. The noes to the left, 276. The ayes have it. The ayes have it. Look.



GIOKOS: The House of Commons approved Mr. Sunak's controversial asylum bill on Wednesday. It sets out a plan to send migrants who arrive in the

U.K. illegally to Rwanda while their asylum claims will be processed.

The policy was previously declared to be in breach of U.K. law by Britain's Supreme Court. The bill now heads to the House of Lords.

An Ecuadorian prosecutor has been assassinated. The country's attorney general says Cesar Suarez was leading an investigation into this month's

ambush attack on a local TV station. He was killed in his car on Wednesday while driving to a drug related hearing. A source in the A.G.'s office tell


South Korea's prime minister says he's not worried about rising tensions with North Korea. Kim Jong Un this week said North Korea is ending any

attempt to seek reconciliation with the South. The South Korean P.M. had ducks who said, people in the South Korea -- in South Korea are accustomed

to such behavior from the North.

Ahead in economic news, we hear from one of the biggest names in sovereign wealth funds to get his outlook for the world economy in 2024. We'll be

right back.


GIOKOS: Welcome back to CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Eleni Giokos in Abu Dhabi.

Now, more on our breaking news. The U S Justice Department's assessment of law enforcement's response to the 2022 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas,

which it calls a failure.

Just moments ago, CNN's Shimon Prokupecz gave details of the report and its stinging criticism of Uvalde's law enforcement officers.


SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: So, the key points in this in this some 600-page report, very thorough, very

significant. And I should stress, Danny, that we got this report from a family member. Family members were allowed to pick up reports today. The

Department of Justice made it available for them after they met with them last night, they allow them to come this morning and pick up their report.

And that's how we've reviewed it, and that's how we obtained it.


And the key thing in all of this is really just lays out the failures that day by law enforcement in their response to the police shooting.

Specifically, the leadership, the commanders of the different police departments that responded to the scene.

We have the sheriff, you have the local acting -- the Uvalde acting police chief, and also the school -- the former school police chief, Pete

Arredondo. They've really placed a lot of the blame and a lot of the lack of leadership and command on him, on Pete Arredondo, and also the Uvalde

police chief, Mariano Pargas. Those two individuals are playing a big role in this report.

And essentially, what they're saying is that they didn't set up a command post. They didn't give instructions for officers, and that they treated the

scene like as if it was a barricaded scene, not an active shooter, despite several indications that there were children inside the classroom, there

were teachers inside the classroom, people were alive inside the classroom, there were gunshots still coming from the classroom, and there was several

moments and many opportunities where police could have taken advantage of the situation and gotten inside that room and try to save kids and

teachers, and they never went inside. And so, the report is highly critical of the response.

And the other thing, Danny, that this report does is it highlights how poorly the victims were treated on that day, the survivors and how they

were handled and not given the proper medical care. The way the parents of these children were treated that day. The way they've been disrespected by

the leadership of this community, city officials, law enforcement officials. The lack of transparency. The lack of accuracy.

Really just top to bottom, the entire thing complete mess with the response. The way the crime scene was handled by law enforcement officials,

they go into that. So, really, there's really not a whole lot of positive from that day in this report and just really a critical, critical look at

the failed response.


GIOKOS: All right. Shimon Prokupecz there giving us a breakdown on what the report on the Uvalde School shooting entailed.

All right. Well, turning to our top story. For more than five days now, Gaza has been almost cut off from the outside world. In a near total

communications blackout, it is the longest period without internet and cell phone service since the war began, leaving Palestinians with no way to call

for help amid ongoing Israeli attacks. CNN's Nada Bashir has more. And a warning, some of the images in her report are disturbing.


NADA BASHIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL REPORTER (voice-over): Relentless strikes, piercing the night sky of Khan Younis, Gaza once again plunged into eerie

darkness. Endless tragedies on the ground, obscured by the longest communications blackout imposed on the strip thus far. What little video is

still able to reach the world paints a troubling picture.

At the Al Nasser hospital in Gaza South, not only one of the last still functioning here, but also where the World Health Organization says some

7,000 people were sheltering.

Families yet again, have been forced to flee. Civilians and patients seen here carrying their children and belongings.

As Israeli forces who said they were targeting a Hamas rocket launched against the IDF from the hospital complex, close in.

AMR TABASH, JOURNALIST (through translator): There was heavy fire Al Nasser hospital and in the vicinity. We're seeing huge violent bombings

here. We've been trying to share video of what is happening from the highest point at the hospital. But as you can see, the bombardment is


BASHIR (voice-over): Israel maintains it is targeting Hamas infrastructure and tunnels where hostages are said to have been held, which Hamas denies.

As the sun rises in Gaza, the death toll also climbs. Families carrying the bodies of those who did not survive the night.

My life, my life, this mother cries over child.

Tiny bodies wrapped in shrouds, carried in the arms of the bereft parents.

Now, amongst the more than 10,000 children said to have been killed in a war they had no part in. Those figures provided by the Hamas run health

ministry in Gaza grow more shocking with each passing day. More than 24,000 people killed in just over three months.

Israel says that some 9,000 Hamas fighters were among the dead, though CNN is unable to independently verify this claim.

UMM MUHAMMAD ABU ODEH, DISPLACED PALESTINIAN (through translator): These were peaceful people. They were sleeping in their homes. The Israelis told

us to go to the south, so we came. But there's no safe place in Gaza. Not in the south, not in the north, not in the middle. Every area is being

struck everywhere is dangerous.


BASHIR (voice-over): The vast majority of Gaza's 2.3 million population are now internally displaced, concentrated in the south, where Israel's

bombardment is only intensifying. The unfolding catastrophe in Gaza now characterized by the U.N.'s humanitarian office as a stain on the world

collective conscience, a war they say conducted with almost no regard for the impact on civilian life.

And now, with little aid getting into the strip, a wall that is pushing Gaza past the brink of famine.

Nada Bashir Bashir, CNN in Beirut.


GIOKOS: Great reporting there by Nada Bashir. Well, Qatar is reporting some movement on the humanitarian front in Gaza, and it said Wednesday

evening that medicine and aid for Palestinians and Israeli hostages had crossed into the territory.

It is part of a new deal between Israel and Hamas mediated by Doha to deliver medical supplies to Israeli hostages. In exchange, Palestinian

civilians in the worst affected areas of Gaza would receive humanitarian aid.

In the last hour, my colleague and regular host of the show, Becky Anderson, spoke to Qatar's foreign ministry spokesperson about the deal.


MAJED AL-ANSARI, QATARI MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS SPOKESPERSON: The medicine was transferred and the aid of around 11 tons of medicine, medical

supplies and humanitarian aid was transferred into Gaza through the Egyptian Red Crescent and received by the Palestinian health ministry over


We still don't have confirmation on -- as you said, there's a communication blackout in Gaza. It is very difficult to get any information out of there,

but we are glad at least now that we have 11 tons of medical aid that otherwise wouldn't have been in Gaza.

You know, all the hospitals in Gaza are out of service. It's completely out of any kind of medical aid except for that coming in through the

humanitarian side. And especially, when it comes to the hostages, some of them have some chronic cases, as you said. And as a diabetic myself, I

can't imagine living a day without my medication. And therefore, it's good that we have this step now. And hopefully, it will lead to further steps in

the future.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: I understand that you're saying that communications are very, very tough, but let me just press you. As far as

the deal was concerned. I mean, when was this medication expected to reach the individuals? And exactly how will that be facilitated, Majed?

AL-ANSARI: In all likelihood, it could have already reached the hostages. We know that, as I told you, the pallets of medicine and medical kits have

already entered Gaza and already are in the hands of the health ministry officials over there. So, it is a matter of getting it to the people who

are in need.

So, in all likelihood, it has already reached, but we don't have any confirmation on that, and I'll certainly keep you posted. The idea was for

the health ministry officials to transfer the medication to those in need directly. And that was agreed between both sides on very strict parameters

between, of course, Israel and Hamas.

ANDERSON: Right. So let me get this quite clear. The Red Cross is not directly involved. If not, why not?

AL-ANSARI: Well, the Red Crescent from the Egyptian side, the equivalent to the Red Cross in Egypt, has been mandated with delivering the medicine

to the border.

As you know, the situation inside Gaza is very volatile. There is a complete, as you said, blackout of communication. But the security

situation is certainly not easy. It would be very difficult to involve people from the Red Cross or any other organization at the moment.


GIOKOS: All right. We're going to a very short break. I'll be back right after this. Stay with CNN.



GIOKOS: Well, let's take you to Davos, where right now world leaders are discussing the future of the global economy. One major talking point is the

growth in value of sovereign wealth funds.

Last year, assets managed by state owned investors hit, get this, almost $50 trillion in value. That's an increase of $1.4 trillion on the previous

year, but fall short of where things stood in 2021.

Now, this is according to data from Global SWF. Among the five most active state-owned funds last year were two from the UAE, Mubadala and Abu Dhabi's

Investment Authority. That's based on how much new capital they invested in 2023. $17.5 billion in the case of Mubadala. Becky Anderson spoke to

Khaldoon Mubarak, the head of Mubadala, and asked what impact his decisions in 2023, and what's driving the fund's investment in the new year.


KHALDOON KHALIFA AL MUBARAK, MANAGING DIRECTOR AND GROUP CEO, MUBADALA: So, '23 in a nutshell, I think was unpredictable. I think from our

perspective, our returns were very strong.

And, you know, I look at 10-year returns, I look at five-year returns, that's the kind of the consistency we like to always focus on in Mubadala.

And we're pretty similar. When you look at it, I have, you know, 9 to 10 percent returns over 10 years, 9 to 10 percent returns over five years, and

we're closing our numbers for 23, and we'll certainly be within that range if not higher.

We look at the future in a lens of the next 3, 5, 10 years. So, we look at that. So, the one-year aspect is frankly not relevant from how I think, or

how we think. It's more the trajectory, and that next 10 years. And that I'm very positive on.

ANDERSON: When I read the investor notes on the outlook for '24 and where the sort of -- you know, the hot button issues are, I see A.I., I see life

sciences and the healthcare, medical innovation. I see an aging population which speaks to the notion of investment in healthcare and medical

innovation. And I see what BlackRock have described as the rewiring of globalization.

Let's drill down a little bit. A.I., healthcare, life sciences, something that you've been invested in now for some time. What's your view?

MUBARAK: So, Becky, you walk around in Davos today and everywhere you see, you see A.I. You see signs of A.I. You see sessions, speeches, everything

is about A.I. This is a profound change that's happening with A.I., and it will have an incredible impact on mankind.

Now, you can invest in A.I. in different aspects. What we're focusing on is the enablers of A.I. So, what an A.I. needs, as you know, is compute. So,

there's a semiconductor, there's a chip aspect of it, there's the design, and then there's the foundry aspect of it. Then you have the data center


This technology requires incredible amount of data compute power. And we don't have enough data centers anywhere in the world. And that's an

important space, which again, we've been investing quite substantially in over the years, because we believe that demand for data center is going to

grow almost exponentially.

ANDERSON: Are you also invested in -- looking at investments in data in and of itself, data being the new goal?


MUBARAK: Absolutely. Data is the new goal. So, there's the data aspect of it, as almost a commodity. There is the data center aspect of it, which is

the infrastructure aspect, which is crucial. And I think it has an immense demand.

But then, and that's when we converge into the energy transition side, there's the energy side. The world went into a period over the last six,

seven years where we stopped investing in many aspects on conventional energy. And we did focus on renewal, but slow.

The reality is when you look at technology and when you look at the need I just described, we've under invested substantially in the demand for energy

going forward.

And as we see this explosion that's happening and will happen in the next five, 10 years, there's an immense demand for energy. And that'll come in

every form. It'll come in solar. It'll come in wind. It'll come in nuclear. It'll come in new technologies, SMRs, fusion, et cetera, that will come

over the years, which, by the way, will go faster with the infusion and the power that A.I. is going to bring to, I would say, philosophical and

operational capabilities in developing these technologies.

So, it's a very exciting area. We are heavily focused into investing in these two spaces and the conversion of these spaces. So, we're quite

diverse in terms of how we're looking at these spaces.

ANDERSON: You've got a keen eye on investments in Asia. Is that a policy of diversification, which is very intentionally away from the U.S. and

Western Europe? Or is it complimenting, you know, where you have been traditionally invested?

MUBARAK: We follow growth and we follow demand. That's what we look at. And we look at demand and growth within the lens of the sectors we like,

which we see are forward leaning where we see outsized returns --

ANDERSON: A.I., health care, clean tech, clean energy.

MUBARAK: Digital infrastructure, et cetera, et cetera.


MUBARAK: We defied our sectors. We look for demand. We look for growth. You go into Asia -- let's, let's move into Asia at this point. Let's start

with India. India, 7 percent GDP growth, 7 to 8 percent, one of the largest growing economies in the world.

ANDERSON: Biggest population in the world.

MUBARAK: Biggest population in the world right now. The largest growing middle-income segment in the world. Demographics are clear, has a very

positive demographic story, geography.

ANDERSON: And fits the UAE's investment strategy.

MUBARAK: Absolutely. That's one of the largest trading --

ANDERSON: The bilateral trading relationship is huge.

MUBARAK: One of our largest trading partners. And India, you know, you can't look at India just as India. India in itself is multiple big


You know, I just came back from Gujarat a couple of days ago, that's a 70 million population state with 42 ports, just to contextualize it. Then a

movement to Southeast Asia, you look at these markets that are developing very quickly, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore. Again, Indonesia, a large

population, requires everything, energy, data, technology, infrastructure. Very interesting economy. Again, growth. That's where we see growth also.

You then transition into Japan, Korea. Again, we're spending a lot of time on Japan and Korea. Markets that I see are going through a reinvention.

China. So, China is, let's be clear, the second largest economy in the world. China's public markets, their market cap is second to the U.S.

obviously, but then as big as the next, I think, two or three combined. And on top of that, it's a market that, over the last two years, has gone

through a major correction.

AMANPOUR: So, you don't see it as a risk?

MUBARAK: No, I think -- I look at it as -- I always look at, you know, obviously risk, but then opportunity. There's -- you know, in every market,

there's risk and opportunity. But from our -- and again, going back to that same premise I started with, when I look at growth and demand, there will

be demand and there will be growth in China. And accordingly, there's going to be opportunity.

ANDERSON: Khaldoon, you've name checked a number of countries there which will be going through elections this year in the U.S. Very likely we're

going to have a Joe Biden, you know, Donald Trump match up, a rematch, as it were of 2020. They take very different positions when it comes to, for

example, the clean energy transition, the world of tech. Does it bother you who wins that election? I'm asking you as an investor, an investor heavily

invested in the U.S.

MUBARAK: As an investor, it doesn't. It doesn't. And it doesn't in most places. And you have to learn to understand the market. Maybe that's my

pivot to Brazil and South America. We didn't know that market.

If we had this conversation 10 years ago, I would have -- you know, you would have asked me of South America, I would have, you know, drawn blank,

because we just don't have any tangible and direct exposure to that market. But it's a big market. So, we started to learn about that market.

And how do you learn? You go. You start traveling there. You start building a team there. You start investing slowly. You start building that

capability. And we've done that. And we've decided in South America to focus on Brazil to start with. And that was a good decision.


Now, as you know, Brazil is not the easiest of markets either. But over 10 years through a very focused and I would say disciplined investing

approach, we've done very well, we have a team in Brazil that today from a performance perspective, and they're mainly in private equity, it's

probably one of the highest performing teams investing in Brazil over the last 10 years. And that is comparable to almost all of our top tier peers.

So, we've done very well by following our ethos and following our disciplined approach towards investing.


GIOKOS: All right. Moving on now. And several Republican presidential candidates dropped out of the race after this week's Iowa caucuses. In less

than a week, New Hampshire's primary might thin out the field even more. That means the number two behind Donald Trump. That is all coming up right

here on CNN.


GIOKOS: Welcome back. And in just five days, there could be a very decisive moment in New Hampshire's primary and the Republican presidential


Donald Trump is focusing his attacks on Nikki Haley as he seeks to deliver a knockout blow in the New Hampshire primary.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If she wins, Biden wins. And I'm telling you that a vote for

Nikki Haley this Tuesday is a vote for Joe Biden and a Democrat Congress this November, because that's what's going to happen.


GIOKOS: Well, last night at her rally, Haley took a swipe at Trump's age.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. PRESIDENTIAL REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE: The majority of Americans have said they don't want their options to be two 80-year-olds

for president. We've got to move past that.


GIOKOS: Well, CNN's Omar Jimenez has the latest on the top three Republican presidential candidates.


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump juggling the courtroom and the campaign.

TRUMP: But I'm thrilled to be back in the great state of New Hampshire.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): The former president rallied voters in New Hampshire last night after he willingly spent most of the day in a New York

courtroom, hearing E. Jean Carroll testify against him in her civil defamation trial.

TRUMP: That's a nasty man. He's a nasty judge. He's a Trump-hating guy.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Trump clashed with Judge Lewis Kaplan, who threatened to throw him out of the trial for speaking within earshot of the

jury. I understand you're probably very eager for me to do that, the judge told Trump, Trump responding, I would love it.

TRUMP: This is a person I had no idea, until this happened, obviously. I have no idea who she was, and nor could I care less. It's a rigged deal.

It's a made-up, fabricated story.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Carroll is seeking more than $10 million in damages after a judge found Trump liable for his 2019 defamatory statements about

Carroll's sexual assault allegations.

HALEY: Chaos follows him, and we can't have a country in disarray and a world on fire and go through four more years of chaos. We won't survive it.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Back in New Hampshire, Nikki Haley is focusing her campaign squarely on Donald Trump, hitting back after a number of policy

and personal attacks by Trump, including using her birth name, Nimarata, in a post widely seen as a racist dog whistle.

HALEY: Now, I know Trump threw a temper tantrum about me last night.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Trump hit Haley for the support she's drawn from outside the Republican Party in the state.


TRUMP: Nikki Haley is counting on Democrats.

The radical left Democrats are supporting Nikki Haley, because they know she's much easier to beat than Trump.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Meanwhile, with no clear path in New Hampshire and two debates now canceled, Governor Ron DeSantis appears to be shifting his

focus to South Carolina, his Super PAC beginning layoffs and setting the stage for a likely final stand in Haley's home state.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), U.S. PRESIDENTIAL REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE: I want to pick up -- Doug (ph), it's everyone that goes out and votes for me is

going to help me get delegates, and that's what we want to do.


GIOKOS: Well, our thanks to Omar Jimenez for that reporting. Nikki Haley will join Jake Tapper for Republican Presidential Town Hall at New England

College in Henniker, New Hampshire. That is happening at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and 6:00 a.m. Friday for any early birds who want to tune in right here in

the UAE.

And just after this break, Kasie Hunt will have everything that you need to know, get you on -- up to speed on U.S. politics, on the state of the race.

I'm Eleni Giokos in Abu Dhabi. And that is it for CONNECT THE WORLD.