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Joe Biden Vows To Respond To Deadly Drone Attack In Jordan; Antony Blinken Meeting With Qatari Prime Minister; UNRWA Urges Donors To Reconsider Funding Cuts; Rocket Warning Sirens Sound Across Central Israel; Ukraine: Russia On The Offensive Across Front Lines; Vladimir Putin Tries To Protect Image Of Stability In Russia; Three United States Troops Killed In Drone Attack In Jordan; War Leaves Pregnant Women And Babies Without Adequate Care; Carroll On Court Showdown With Trump: He had No Power; Tree House In Amazon Serves As Classroom. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired January 29, 2024 - 10:00   ET



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

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: A Middle East region embroiled in the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza is further on edge today after a drone attack

killed three U.S. troops in Jordan and wounded more than 30 others. It happened at a remote U.S. outpost near Jordan's border with Syria. The U.S.

is blaming Iranian backed militants operating in Syria and Iraq.

U.S. President Joe Biden is vowing his country will retaliate, "At a time and a manner of our choosing". Iran calls the accusations it was involved

in the attack as baseless.

Ben Wedeman is connecting us from Beirut this hour to give us a breakdown of what the latest is. Look, Ben, here's the reality. Iran says that they

were not involved. They also say that they don't want a direct confrontation with the United States. They don't want to see an escalation.

The U.S. saying pretty much the same thing, even though we know the U.S. says they will respond when they are ready. What more can you tell us?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we know is that this situation has many diplomats and officials here in Beirut very

worried that this could actually escalate into something much bigger.

At the moment, what we're seeing is essentially a low intensity regional conflict involving the United States and a variety of groups that are in

some way backed by Iran.

But the question is, how can the U.S. respond to please the domestic critics of President Biden, and at the same time, avoiding an all-out war.

Now, we heard, for instance, Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator from South Carolina, tweeting for instance, hit Iran now, hit them hard, but to

actually hit Iran means, they're opening up a Pandora's box of war that would not only involve Iran and the United States, but all of Iran's allies

across the Middle East.

And keep in mind, of course, the U.S. has a sprawling military presence across the Middle East, it's got 900 troops in remote bases in eastern

Syria, it's got more than 2,000 in Jordan, it's got 2500 in Iraq, in addition to a variety of other military facilities and personnel in the

Persian Gulf.

So, the United States is -- has to approach this very carefully. Now, what we've heard time and time again, of course, is that the best way to de-

escalate, if that is the desire is for the United States to put pressure on Israel to end its 115 day war in Gaza.

But the United States, at least publicly doesn't seem to be making the connection between all its problems and challenges and the attacks on U.S.

facilities in the Middle East, totaling almost 160 since mid-October, and the fact that the United States is broadly seen throughout the Arab and

Muslim world as Israel's main backer, funder and supplier of weaponry that makes this war possible, Eleni.

GIOKOS: Yes, really good points there. I mean, going back to what you said, in terms of perhaps the epicenter of this increase in strikes that we've

seen in the region, which by the way, have often happened, but not to this extent, if there is a truce or a pause or end in the war in Gaza, does that

necessarily mean that we'll see, you know, all these umbrella groups and these other groups that are linked to Iran stand down? Is that the

prognosis we have right now?

WEDEMAN: But certainly what we saw in late November, when there was that seven day truce between Israel and Hamas, for instance, the border between

Lebanon in Israel was quiet. There were no strikes or counter strikes.

Today, we know already Hezbollah has hit nine times Israeli positions on the border. We don't know how many counter strikes have happened, but there

was quiet.

Now, the Houthis for instance, say that the reason why they are targeting navigation in the Red Sea is because they want to stop ships from going to

Israel, to stop or somehow affect Israel's war in Gaza.


And certainly, the Houthi is despite what the Americans and the British and other allies stress about the fact that it's a danger to navigation in the

Red Sea. Many people in this part of the world are applauding the Houthis because unlike many Arab regimes that sit on their hand and moan about

what's going on in Gaza, the Houthis are actually doing something concrete about it, Eleni.

GIOKOS: All right. Ben Wedeman, thank you.

Now, the U.S.'s top diplomat has been meeting with Qatar prime minister today. It comes after a weekend meeting in Europe, between the U.S., Qatar,

Israel and Egypt aiming to secure a hostage deal and pause fighting in Gaza.

Israel's prime minister's office says that the meeting was constructive, but that, "significant gaps remain achieved".

National Security Correspondent Alex Marquardt is in Washington and back with an update. Alex, what can you tell us about these negotiations, these

mediation efforts, which we know have actually almost been derailed by so many other news lines that have come through from Israel, but can they get

together and decide on what happens next?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think Eleni, if you look at the pace of meetings over the course of the past few

weeks, they have really been picking up. We had the White House's top Middle East official Brett McGurk. He was in the region just two weeks ago

that was followed by this meeting yesterday in Paris with the CIA Director Bill Burns, his Israeli Egyptian counterparts, as well as a Prime Minister

Al Thani, who then comes here to Washington to meet with Secretary Blinken.

So, the pace of meetings really is picking up. The noises that we're hearing from all the different parties are positive. That is what one

source told me just yesterday, that the meeting in Paris was positive, productive. We heard, you know, constructive from the Israelis.

But everybody cautioning that we are not necessarily on the cusp of a hostage deal that would also see, hopefully a significant pause in the

fighting, a significant ceasefire. The Israeli saying that significant gaps remain. This is how the White House is John Kirby put it earlier today.

Take a listen.


JOHN KIRBY, PRESS SECRETARY, PENTAGON: I want to be careful here. I don't want to sound too sanguine. There's a lot of work that has to be done to

try to get another hostage deal in place that would result in a -- in a significant pause in the fighting, which would allow not only the hostages

to get out, but aid to get in and bring down civilian casualties. There's a -- there's a lot of promise here. And there's been very good discussions

with the Qataris, with the Egyptians, with the Israelis.

But we're not over the finish line right yet. And so, I can't tell you here this morning on Monday that we've got to deal that's imminently about to be


But we feel pretty good about the discussions and where they're going and the promise of something potentially pretty significant.


MARQUARDT: So, Eleni, what would something pretty significant look like, likely a two month pause in the fighting. That's what's on the table right

now. It would see these more than 100 Israeli hostages and hostages of other nationalities, I should note, be released in different phases. The

civilians first, women, children, the elderly, followed by the IDF soldiers, both men and women, the bodies of the hostages who have been


Hamas is certainly demanding that Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons be released. We believe that yet again, just like last time, it would be a

three to one ratio.

But Eleni, these are the broad strokes. But fundamentally, there's still a disagreement between Hamas and Israel, and that Hamas wants to see an end

to the war. They want this ceasefire agreement to be an end of war agreement. While Israel is not committing to that, they want to see the

hostages released, they're willing to stop the fighting for a good amount of time.

But then, they believe that they still have work to do for what they've been calling a complete victory over Hamas, to eradicate Hamas and that

part of their mission is far from done, Eleni.

GIOKOS: All right. Alex Marquardt, thank you. It's good to see you.

Well, as those talks develop, the situation in Gaza only grows more dire. 13 countries have now cut funding over the allegations that U.N. agency

staff in Gaza took part in the October 7th attack. CNN has not seen the evidence in of those allegations. A reminder that hundreds of thousands of

displaced Palestinians are dependent on aid from UNRWA and say some pause in funding would be disastrous.


FATIN SAFI, DISPLACED PALESTINIAN (through translator): The situation we live in right now has support from all around the world. The whole world is

responsible for the situation that we live in right now. It is a world that cuts the aid from children and women. We are not talking only food. We are

also talking on cutting medicine. They would also cut us off from the air if they can.


What is our fault as a Palestinian people? Our land has been occupied. Our houses have been destroyed. And we have been through many wars and this is

the worst. We don't have any hope in life.


GIOKOS: Well, also in Gaza, at least 10 civilians have been killed after Israel shelled an UNRWA school in Gaza City according to Palestinian state

news agency WAFA.

Meanwhile, heavy fighting continues in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, as many as 350 patients are still trapped in Nasser hospital. That is according to

Doctors Without Borders, which is vital medical services at the hospital have now collapsed. Staff are said to have very few supplies and are being

forced to reuse things like surgical gauze.

Now, in Jerusalem on Sunday, Israeli government ministers took part in a rally calling for new settlements in Gaza as well as the West Bank. Let's

go straight to Tel Aviv. We've got CNN's, Jeremy Diamond standing by.

So much news coming through whether it's at UNRWA school, the medical facility that was struggle, you know, when we're looking at the UNRWA

funding, being frozen by major donors as well, there's just so much that is happening right now.

And I've just got to remind the, you know, the viewers, we had an ICJ ruling the International Court of Justice on Friday, saying that things

need to change in order for some of the suffering to be alleviated, Jeremy, but what can you -- can you tell us about what we've seen in the last few


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, in addition to all of that, just moments ago here in central Israel, a barrage of rockets fired

by Hamas from the Gaza Strip towards this area, this is the first time that we have seen rockets fire towards Tel Aviv in weeks now. And we actually

saw some of the Iron Dome missile intercepts going up in the air, we heard at least three loud booms coming from the area of southern Tel Aviv, and to

the east of Tel Aviv as well. We know that there were sirens in several parts of this area, both around the airport, as well as in nearby towns

like Rishon LeTsiyon and Lod as well.

We know that the last time I can recall rockets being fired on Tel Aviv was on New Year's Eve when Hamas fired a barrage of rockets towards Central

Israel at the time. But this is obviously quite notable, in particular, because it comes as the Israeli military has been withdrawing thousands of

troops in the last couple of weeks from northern and central Gaza as well. And we have seen as they have which withdrawn troops that at times Hamas

has been able to reconstitute and be able to fire rockets once again.

Today, we know that as the sirens were being heard in central Israel, apparently journalists in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza actually saw rockets

being fired from that area. So, that is also particularly notable.

But just to add to all of the news that you were already talking about there, Eleni, clearly, this war continuing and we're seeing the impacts,

hearing the impacts in this area as well.

GIOKOS: Yes, you know, frankly, this is just pointing to intense fighting in terms of what we're seeing and the fact that you've been hearing the

loud sounds and rocket fire coming into Israel is significant in terms of what we've been seeing as these negotiations mediation talks, hopefully

still get underway.

Importantly, Jeremy, we know that we've seen images of detained Palestinians held by the IDF. But you and your team also witnessed this as

well. Tell me what you learned.

DIAMOND: Yes, that's right. On Saturday, we were near the border, the Israel Gaza border in southern Israel when we came across a pretty

startling scene and that was two dozen Palestinian men kneeling or sitting on the cold, wet ground blindfolded, hands tied behind their backs. It was

about 10 degrees Celsius at the time and they were wearing nothing but white coveralls, disposable white coveralls, they were barefoot.

And these men appear to be physically exhausted. They were -- their heads were kind of bobbing down. Some of them lay down until one of those men,

for example, was propped up by an Israeli soldier. There were several Israeli soldiers standing guard around them wearing balaclavas covering

their faces.

But the Israeli military for its part says that these men were all suspected terrorists. They said that they were detained in the Gaza Strip

and brought to Israel for further questioning. They said that they were about to be transferred to a heated bus that was waiting nearby.

When we arrived at the scene, we weren't -- and they said that they were quite quickly put in that bus. We were unable to actually verify that

because as soon as we started filming, an Israeli soldier came over and directed us to leave the premises immediately.

Now, we should note as it relates to the Israeli military's claims that these men are all suspected terrorists. We know in the past that there have

been hundreds if not thousands of Palestinian men detained in Gaza, sometimes arbitrarily simply for being in areas where civilians were told

to evacuate.


And in many cases, we know that those individuals have subsequently been identified as civilians by either their relatives or their colleagues. And

we also interviewed 10 Palestinian boys and men in December, who had been detained by the Israeli military held for five days without charges, and

ultimately were released after the Israeli military apparently determined that they were not in fact Hamas terrorists.

Those men also spoke of alleged abuse at the hands of Israeli soldiers. We saw wounds on their wrists from being detained for five days straight, they

spoke of beatings as well. The Israeli military for its part insists that it treats all of these detainees in accordance with international law,


GIOKOS: Jeremy Diamond, thank you so much in Tel Aviv for us.

I want to go back now to the strike in the region that killed three U.S. service members with our Oren Liebermann live from the Pentagon.

Oren, the U.S. is trying to decide now when, how, where there'll be striking back. They have committed to responding to the strike. That being

said, there's a big risk of further escalation from a regional perspective. What are you hearing?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, the U.S. is going to calibrate its response to avoid that regional escalation. There are calls

from congressional Republicans to strike Iran or Teheran itself, that I think is exceedingly unlikely.

First, because, again, the administration is trying to avoid an open war throughout the entire Middle East.

But second, Iran has tried to distance itself from these attacks. And there is some although perhaps not a great distance between Iran and its proxies

in the region, Iran arms, trains, funds and support these groups but doesn't always have direct control over exactly what they do.

Still, there is a clear need to respond from the administration against Iranian proxies, the U.S. still trying to figure out exactly who is

responsible, though the National Security Council's Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby, said, it's likely a group supported

by Hezbollah, one of the larger and more powerful Iranian backed groups in the region.

The question, how to respond here in a more forceful way than has been seen in the past, there have been more than 160 attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq

and Syria.

But clearly, this is much more serious with three U.S. soldiers killed, and dozens more wounded, some had to be medevac to Germany for further

treatment. They are in stable condition, according to a U.S. official.

So, you see the need to respond, the U.S. trying to figure out exactly how it will do so and there is quite a spectrum in how it could calibrate that

response here.

GIOKOS: All right. Oren Liebermann, thank you so much.

And still to come on CNN, Ukraine is forced to play defense as it approaches the second anniversary of its war with Russia.

Plus, a look at how the Russian people appear to be feeling the impact of the conflict. We'll explain after this.



GIOKOS: Ukrainian military officials say Russian troops have gone on the offensive across much of the front line. They gave a blunt assessment of

the battleground situation in multiple news statements and social media posts. And they say fighting is intense in the Northeast a long stretch of

territory, where the regions of Kharkiv and Luhansk meet further south.

Ukraine says it's also facing increased pressure from Russian forces in the area around Bakhmut. And an army spokesman believes and says that Kyiv

believes Russia is trying to win back small pockets of that territory that Ukraine captured during its counter offensive in Zaporizhzhia region last


CNN's Fred Pleitgen is an eastern Ukraine with a closer look and -- at the war as it approaches its two year anniversary and a warning, some of the

images and content in his story are graphic.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): All-out warfare in unforgiving terrain. Forest battles in eastern Ukraine

facing a near constant Russian onslaught Vladimir Putin's army trying to break through Ukrainian defenses.

Dmytro is one of those holding them up.

The situation is very active and very tense, he says, because the enemy has much more equipment and manpower. Basically, every day they tried to storm

the positions.

A dead Russian soldier and a destroyed tank show just how close the Russians have come. It's a fight for survival and against the elements. The

trench cold, wet and soggy. The only heat coming from candles the soldiers cower around gathering strength to face overwhelming Russian firepower.

They shoot direct fire, planes are flying, basically, they have it all, he says. But probably the worst are tanks when they fire, you don't even hear

it. You hear an airplane when it comes over with a tank, you're in God's hands.

Artillery fire another threat here as we found out when we came under fire trying to make it to the area.

PLEITGEN: This is unfortunately something that when we work here in the east of the country happens all too often. We were getting ready to film

here and then all of a sudden we heard what appeared to be outgoing artillery, but then a shell came in (INAUDIBLE).

We're now trying to make our way out of here as safe as possible. That means we have to keep distance between our cars. But we also of course have

to keep moving the entire time to make sure that we can get out of here hopefully safely.

PLEITGEN (voice over): We believe a Russian drone spotted us and directed the artillery fire, but two can play that game.

Nazariy is a Ukrainian drone pilot, he guides Kyiv's artillery guns targeting Russian infantry, but also armored assault formations including

main battle tanks. He says ammo shortages mean he has to be extremely precise.

It's no secret were starved of artillery shells, he says. We tried to work as efficiently and accurately as possible to hit the enemy's firepower.

Trying to fight back any way they can on one of the toughest battlefields of this war. Fred Pleitgen, CNN in eastern Ukraine.


GIOKOS: As the war grinds on in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to protect an image of economic stability in Russia. And he has

boasted that Russia's economy has been resilient to international sanctions but a surge in egg prices is in Russia revealing cracks in the economy and

presenting a major test for Mr. Putin ahead of the country's elections in March.

CNN's Claire Sebastian reports.


CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When your husband spoils you with expensive presents, reads the caption. Russian social media

brimming with egg memes, making light of a new feature of Russia's upside- down war economy. Sudden and unexpected price rises.

Drive an hour outside Moscow, though, and it's no laughing matter for these pensioners.

Of course, we notice it, the pension is 13,000 rubles, says Lyubov (PH). That's less than $150 per month. Maybe we buy less meat, says Nadezhda

(ph). There's still enough for medicines. Egg prices rose 18 percent in December alone. Russian official data shows more than 60 percent over the

year, far outstripping overall inflation at 7.4 percent.


As images spread of lines forming outside supermarkets, this purportedly from Belgorod in December, Russia's president forced into damage control


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translation): I am sorry about this and want to apologize for this problem. This is a setback in the

government's work. Although they say this is not the case, I still think it is. The problem is related to a failure to increase imports enough.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): The government took the not-so-subtle hint. Eggs were exempted from import duties for six months and shipments started

arriving from Turkey, Azerbaijan, and staunch ally Belarus also ramping up supplies. Its president unable to resist a rare dig.

ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO, PRESIDENT OF BELARUS (through translation): Our own production covers our needs in terms of grain, pork, chicken, milk,

vegetable oils and chicken eggs.

PUTIN (through translation): Send some to us, don't be greedy.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): In Putin's surprisingly resilient war economy, the egg crisis reveals the biggest problem is not decline, but overheating.

Putin says this is about higher demand because of slightly higher wages. Partly true, economists say, but what Putin doesn't say is why wages are


SEBASTIAN: This labor shortage is a huge issue, right? Where does that come from?

ELINA RIBAKOVA, SENIOR FELLOW, PETERSON INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS: Mobilization. I think to me the key issue here is the fact that

there are a lot of deaths at war and then they have to be replaced. These people have to be replaced.

You know, the Russian officials trying to keep it very quiet, the numbers of how many people have died. SEBASTIAN (voice-over): The weaker ruble, a

direct result of sanctions, has also pushed up import costs for poultry producers. And then there's the wartime spending.

RICHARD CONNOLLY, ASSOCIATE FELLOW AT RUSI: The budget for 2024 envisages even adjusted for inflation, record levels of federal government

expenditure. So, when you put that alongside, you know, a supply side tightness with a massive increase in demand driven by the state, you've got

a recipe for inflation.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): President Putin now poised for the next price spike, a threat to his image of stability ahead of March elections, though

likely not his presidential shelf life.

Clare Sebastian, CNN, London.


GIOKOS: Coming up, three U.S. troops were killed at a base in Jordan. But why were they there in the first place and what options does President

Biden have to respond?

And a baby is born every 10 minutes in Gaza. Jomana Karadsheh brings us a look at what life is like for the enclaves most vulnerable.



GIOKOS: Welcome back to CONNECT THE WORLD, with me, Eleni Giokos.

Your headlines this hour: Iran executed four men Monday, accused of spying and planning attacks for Israel's spy agency, Mossad. The four were

convicted of planning to bomb a factory associated with the Iran's defense ministry in the city of Isfahan. But a Kurdish human rights group says the

men were political prisoners who did not receive proper legal representation.

Tractors and other farming equipment have reportedly begun blocking some roads in and around Paris. France's farmers have been protesting for more

than a week now, and they want better working pay, working conditions, and protections against cheap imports.

The U.K.'s King Charles III has just left London hospital, following planned medical treatment for an enlarged prostate. That's according to a

palace statement, which also thanked his medical team and said that his upcoming public engagements had been rescheduled to allow for a period of

private recuperation.

Now, since the Israel-Hamas war began, we've seen flashpoints involving the United States as well as regional actors. But for the first time, American

service members have been killed in a direct strike. A drone attack killed three troops at a remote U.S. outpost in Jordan, near the border with


Now, the U.S. president is blaming Iranian backed militants in Syria and Iraq, and has vowed to retaliate. Iran is denying any role in the attack.

The big question now is, how will the U.S. respond?

We have Jon Alterman here to discuss. And he is the senior vice president for the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

So, great to have you with us.

We're just showing you an image of a map of Tower 22 in Jordan. it's a remote outpost, not much as publicly known about it, how important was this

for the United States and the fact that it was striking and to reiterate, three people have been killed and 30 others injured. So, that was

significant for the United States in terms of losses here.

JON ALTERMAN, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: What is going on is a ton from the reason there are U.S. troops

there is principally, they were there to fight ISIS.

ISIS is still an issue in that part of Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and the troops are there as a rapid force. The other piece of it is there's a lot of drugs

smuggling of Captagon, manufactured by the Syrian government that is being smuggled into Jordan and throughout the Middle East.

It's a big problem. It's a -- it's a problem of smugglers, and I think there was probably some intelligence collection going on, about the drug

smuggling which your Jordanians are very concerned about.

Strategically, I don't think that the killing of three soldiers changes the game. The problem is that the Iranians and their proxies have been striking

out Americans more than 150 times since the Gaza war started. And how do you change their calculus?

GIOKOS: Yes, and what is the U.S.'s response? You know, a proportionate response. So, what does the U.S. do in the situation right now, because

there's worries about further escalation. Iran says they weren't involved. And this umbrella group, which they are going to call themselves Islamic


And at the same time, you have, you know, many from the Republican side saying, listen, strike Iran right now. And we're waiting to hear what the

U.S.'s next, do you know, move is going to be essentially.

ALTERMAN: Well, certainly, the U.S. can strike Iran. But the question would be, to what end? Do you really want to start an open-ended war with no

parameters for victory, where there are no fronts?


ALTERMAN: I think the administration is focused principally on how do we end the Gaza war? How do we end this thing that is tearing apart the

region? How do we work with our partners and allies in the region on getting back to an agenda of increasing more security,

Iran is interested in bolstering this axis of resistance, in creating all kinds of tensions and having the U.S. SWAT in SWAT. I think Iran has been

trying to probe American red lines.


This is clearly a probing of an American red line.


ALTERMAN: I think there will be an American strike, but is it actually going to stop the Iranians from doing the probing? I think it's very hard

to imagine a strike that would stop the Iranians from doing the probing that wouldn't risk throwing everything else the U.S. is trying to do in the

region up in the air, and have this big regional war that there's no real endpoint here.

GIOKOS: Because, look, the U.S. is saying that they're trying to deter Iran proxies, basically. But all we've seen is just constant back and forth. You

know, you mentioned that the war in Gaza, if the war in Gaza ends, does that then end the striking that we've seen, and also the trouble we're

seeing in the Red Sea, which is, of course, a very big worry, overall?

ALTERMAN: Look, it doesn't end it overnight. But it gives you a pathway to end it, it gives you a pathway toward reducing the American military

presence, reducing the tensions, reducing hostility to the United States, reducing popular support for fighting the United States.

It lets the U.S. be on the side of working for Palestinian national aspirations. So, that gives the U.S. something positive to work for in the

region. But I'm also struck that European countries, NATO allies, are not really -- a lot of them aren't rushing to support the U.S. in this global

security mission, certainly in the Red Sea.

And I think that the Biden administration has a very difficult time because people want there to be security, but they don't want to backed the United

States, and don't want to be part of what they see is American warmongering, or being charged as American warmongering.


ALTERMAN: And a lot of allies are sitting back. And I think that, that puts the Biden administration in a tough position. Then, of course, you have

American electoral politics, which makes this all very, very complicated.

GIOKOS: It does indeed. Jon B. Alderman, Great to have you on. Thank you, sir, for your time.

ALTERMAN: Thank you very much, Eleni.

GIOKOS: And the war in Gaza is taking a toll on tens of thousands of pregnant women. The few hospitals that are left are struggling under the

weight of war casualties. And routine maternity care often takes a backseat

CNNs Jomana Karadsheh brings us the story. But a warning, some of the scenes in her report are hard to watch.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Born into this world all alone. No parents by her side, and these stranger's touch

for the baby with no name, delivered by c-section last month to a mother already gone fatally injured in an explosion.

She has been in an incubator since. Stable now, but still fragile doctor say.

She is one of the nearly 20,000 born into this war. Every 10 minutes, a baby is born in Gaza. The U.N. says Gaza is where the blessings of life are

now a curse.

Omyesan (PH) is five months pregnant, like most Gazans, her family's homeless. This, the toilets of the school turned shelter is where they


This is our life in the toilet, Omyesan (PH) says. We lay our mattresses and sleep here.

Omyesan (PH) and her husband can hardly feed their children. There is not enough for their unborn child.

I'm in my fifth month, craving foods, but there's no food, no flour, nothing she says. She's not had her iron supplements, not even a checkup in


We wanted to check if there's a heartbeat, but there are no hospitals. They are only dealing with emergencies, she says. There are no scans to see if

the baby's alive or not. Life is non-existent for pregnant women.

Gaza's few remaining hospitals are overwhelmed with the seemingly endless flood of war casualties, there is no chance of carrying out routine care

and the estimated 50,000 pregnant women and their unborn babies are left out in the cold.

They're already precarious situation before the war now dramatically worse. About 40 percent of all pregnancies are now high risk, a group say.

Miscarriages, stillbirths, preterm labor and maternal mortality are much more likely.

For first time mothers like Hiyem (PH), the excitement is overshadowed by this miserable existence. That's now her life soon to be her babies.

Being pregnant with your first child should be nice. You eat, you rest, you sleep, but I didn't get any of that, Hiyem (PH) says. Instead, she's had to

flee several times, taking shelter in overcrowded hospitals, walking miles searching for safety.

After walking for many hours, I was exhausted, she says. The baby was very weak. They told me I should be staying in the hospital. But there was no

room. So, I had to leave.

She is now in this tent sleeping on a sand floor.


How will I give birth in war, when I have nothing for the baby. No formula, no diapers. We're in a tent and it's very cold for us. What would life be

like for a tiny baby born into these conditions?

It's how they sprint out classroom and what's left of northern Gaza is the only shelter Nijut (PH) could find. She barely made it through the

bombardment and labor. Now, struggling to keep her newborn healthy, clean, and warm.

We want to clean the classroom, but there is no disinfectant, Nijut says, there is no health care, no clinics, no vaccinations for the baby. War has

separated Nijut from her husband. She is only been able to reach him once when she told him they had a baby girl, Habiba.

Nijut's mother spends her days trying to find what she can to feed her daughter.

This is my first grandchild. It's supposed to be happiness, she says. But I couldn't celebrate. I wanted to prepare so many things for her to celebrate

her arrival, my precious first granddaughter. She didn't even get the new clothes I bought her.

It's never been harder to be a mother in Gaza. All you can do is hold your baby tight and hope you both survived this nightmare.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, London.


GIOKOS: Well, the International Federation of Journalists has warned Israeli officials, it will take them to court if journalists in Gaza are

targeted. The letter calls in Israel to publish specific policies and procedures to ensure the journalists are protected.

The Israeli military says it has never targeted journalists. Now, the Committee to Protect Journalist, says 83 journalists have -- and media

workers, have been killed since October 7th.

President Joe Biden says he's ready to take on Donald Trump if they run against each other for president. But for now, Trump may not be his biggest

challenge. What he really may have to worry about. That is all coming up. Stay with CNN.


GIOKOS: With the U.S. presidential race fast approaching, Joe Biden's support of Israel in its war against Hamas could be costing him votes.

He is facing new fallout after the deadly drone attack in Jordan. And many Democrats already wanted him to push for a ceasefire and it appears he may

be losing ground among Arab Americans and Muslims.

And the White House says, it's had more than 100 conversations with state and local leaders concerning aid to the people of Gaza.


For more, I want to go now to CNN White House reporter Camila DeChalus in Washington, D.C. Camila, great to see you. I read your fascinating piece on

And I -- you know, this is what you wrote, and it was really fascinating. You say, Biden has not been able to ignore the discord within his own party

as he attempts to turn the page to a general election campaign as cries of genocide, Joe, and ceasefire now following him around the campaign trail.

But just how much of a risk are these events? And what does it mean for his election campaign?

CAMILA DECHALUS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, right now, Biden is facing a potential -- really big issue and his campaign efforts to sway more voter

-- voters to support him and his reelection effort, and this could potentially be a fallout.

I've spoken to several progressive groups and Arab American and Muslim voters across the country. And they've said that they are disappointed and

frustrated by Biden's continued support for Israel and his refusal to support a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

Now his campaign is realizing that this is an issue and he's strategizing more ways to just connect and reengage with Arab American and Muslim voters

across the country. But so far, those efforts have failed.


DECHALUS: Just last week, a group of Arab American and Muslim leaders in the state of Michigan, which Biden narrowly won in 2020, announced that

they declined a meeting with Biden's campaign staff.

And so, now, they are really just working to keep these conversations ongoing and strategizing more ways to get voters across the country on

board with supporting Biden in 2024.

GIOKOS: Yes. Really good points there. You know, just how much pressure is he actually getting? Because we know that some, you know, of the electorate

might be shifting, and also disheartened by the way that he's dealt with the humanitarian situation or the ceasefire issue in Gaza.

But how much pressure is he getting from lawmakers as well?

DECHALUS: He is getting a lot of pressure, especially among progressive lawmakers. I spoke -- I've spoken to some of them, and they have just said

that. They are listening to their constituents back home, and their constituents are telling them that they want to see Biden support a

ceasefire, and that it can potentially impact whether they decide to vote for him in this upcoming election.

And so, that is something that I think the campaign is mindful of. That it's not just coming from outside groups. But also, these mounting

pressures for Biden's is to support a ceasefire, is coming from lawmakers.

And also, with staffers inside the Biden administration that have held their own events, just calling for an own visual, just calling for Biden to

support a ceasefire in Gaza. So, it's coming from outside groups and internally within his administration.

GIOKOS: Camila DeChalus, thank you very much for that update.

Well, we've been hearing from E. Jean Carroll about what it was like to face off with Donald Trump. In court last week, a jury ordered a stunning

payout in Carroll's defamation case against the former president, awarding her more than $80 million.

Trump had already been found liable for sexual assault and defamation in the civil trial. earlier on. She described the moment she felt the power

balance between them shift in the courtroom. Watch this interview on


E. JEAN CARROLL, AWARDED $83.3 MILLION IN DAMAGES IN CASE AGAINST TRUMP: Preparing to see him was terrifying. The days leading up as Robbie brought

me around stronger and stronger. It was so -- I hadn't slept, I hadn't eaten, I couldn't think, I lost my language when she was trying to prepare

me to go to do testimony in front of Donald Trump.

And then, when we were in the courtroom, and Robbie went to the lectern, she said, good morning, E. Jean. Please state your name and spell it for

the jury, for the court.

And there he was, and he was nothing. He just no power. He had -- he was zero. That was -- I was flabbergasted. And from then, we just sail through.

She brought me in, she said, say your name and I just looked at Robbie. Saw he was nothing and it came up in there.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Did you -- did you make eye contact with him?

CARROLL: Many times.

HARLOW: And what was that like?

CARROLL: He is an emperor without clothes. It's like looking at nothing. It was like nothing.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Were you surprised by that? Because -- no, I can imagine -- but the environment, not just from

what you went through, but also the environment in that courtroom was a very different very volatile, very heated environment in terms of both

Donald Trump's attorney and Donald Trump for -- to end up like that. Were you surprised?


CARROLL: Yes, yes, I had been prepared for the worst force. You know, On the earth today, the most powerful, the most -- the most effective, the

most money, the riches, the most, you know -- you know, and there he is. He's nothing.


CARROLL: He's just the people around him who give him the power. It's the emperor without clothes. It's Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale. You

know. People just gave him clothes when he wasn't wearing any. That remember the fairy tale? So, that's Donald Trump.


GIOKOS: Carroll says the damages she was awarded will go to good use. She is pledging to use the money for women's rights causes. And still ahead,

we'll take you to a tree house like no other. It gives you new meaning to the phrase, higher education. We'll explain after this.


GIOKOS: A tree house in Peru is giving new meaning to higher education. The classroom is 30 meters off the ground. And as we hear from Rafael Romo,

environmentalists hope students will learn to preserve the Amazon.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Classes in session in Peru's Amazon rainforest. One of the most biodiverse places in the world

according to the World Wildlife Fund, the Madre de Dios forest covers more than 21 million acres and is home to a wide variety of plant and animal

species and more than 32 indigenous communities.

Deforestation and poaching have seriously harmed the area. But one local organization is working to conserve it. And they are using an incredibly

tall tree house to do it.

PAUL ROSOLLE, FOUNDER, TAMANDUA EXPEDITION: So, we had to find a tree that was at the edge of the terra firma that looked out over the rest of the

jungle. So, you have that view to the east.

ROMO (voice over): A conservation group called Jungle keepers partnered with online education company Udemy. These two groups are teaching students

in a 32-meter-high treehouse turned classroom.

According to Reuters, built from sustainable wood, the jungle canopy is solar-powered with high-speed satellite Internet. While it may take more

than 140 steps to get to the top, it's worth the effort as students are able to see the environment they're working to save from a unique vantage


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These people are not only learning their skills up there, but they're learning more about their surroundings, about their

community, about nature, about this land they're trying to preserve.

ROMO (voice over): Those new skills they hope will lead to new kinds of jobs in this area, where children as young as 11 or 12 are often forced to

leave school and work as miners or loggers in the Amazon, say the Jungle keepers.

They are giving local adults the opportunity to become forest rangers and learn how their land can be protected rather than contributing to


J.J. DURAND, VICE PRESIDENT, JUNGLEKEEPERS: Because they will have different jobs to do. Also, they can have a little bit of money, so they

can buy other things, then, only be logger.

ROMO (voice over): As they maintain the land, attract wildlife and report illegal activity, organizations like Junglekeepers are hoping to make a


Already the trends are positive, the non-profit MAAP says Amazon deforestation has declined with forest loss dropping by more than 55

percent in the last year.


Leaders in this initiative stress the importance of education in different communities.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It gives them the skills to not only better their own community, but then take that a step further and better themselves and

really get them to where they want to go and maybe put them in better situations moving forward.

It's a real game changer for them.

ROMO (voice over): A lofty goal for an even loftier classroom to save one of the most precious areas in the world.

Rafael Romo, CNN.


GIOKOS: That is really majestic.

Well, the Super Bowl matchup is set. The defending champions, Kansas City Chiefs will play the San Francisco 49ers in two weeks in Las Vegas. The

Chiefs grinding out a 17-10 victory over the top seeded Ravens in Baltimore. While the 49ers staged is selling second half comeback to defeat

the upstages Detroit Lions, 34 to 31, this is a rematch of the 2020 Super Bowl won by the Chiefs.

Well, that is it for CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Eleni Giokos, stay with CNN. Casey Hunt is up next with "STATE OF THE RACE."