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Israel-Hamas War; Tension Growing In The Middle East As Gaza Suffers More Attacks; Biden Weighs Response To Deadly Drone Attack In Jordan; Farmer Block Key Routes Outside Paris; LGBTQ+ In Nigeria Targeted By Dating Apps; Neuralink Installs Brain Implant In First Patient. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired January 30, 2024 - 10:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is "Connect the World" with Becky Anderson.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Well, hello and welcome to what is the second hour of "Connect the World" with me, Becky Anderson, live from

Abu Dhabi.

This hour, a new proposal for a potential pause in the fighting in Gaza and the release of hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners is being

presented to Hamas. Now, this is a melding of different proposals from Hamas itself, from Israel, Qatar and Egypt. The United States also weighing


Now, multiple officials are voicing optimism that if this succeeds, the plan would be compelling, strong and filled with hope. And frankly, Gaza

and the wider region are in desperate need of some hope right now, especially as we wait to see how the Biden administration will respond to

the widening of this conflict after a deadly strike on a US military base in Jordan carried out by Iran-backed militia based in Iraq. Fears of a

widening war coming against the backdrop of the daily horror of war inside Gaza, especially for women and kids.

Now children like this little girl, six-year-old Hind (ph), was trapped inside her family's vehicle for over 18 hours after it was fired upon by

Israeli forces. She was in the car with six of her family members, all of whom were killed in that attack. The Palestine Red Crescent has dispatched

a team to rescue her, but contact with them has been lost.

Well, in Gaza City, Palestinian state news reporting at least 25 civilians killed in an Israeli strike on Monday and several others injured when a

family home was hit by shelling. CNN cannot confirm reports coming out of Gaza but the IDF has confirmed it is once again operating in the northern

part of the enclave.

The Israeli military says it's fighting pockets of what it calls resistance three weeks after declaring Hamas command structures there dismantled. As

you can see, parts of the north are already flattened by earlier battles.

On the diplomatic front, as we've noted, Hamas saying it is, and I quote them, here studying this new international proposal for a truce with

Israel. But it is warning any deal must include the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza. For the latest on all of this, Alex Marquardt

joins me from Washington, Jeremy Diamond is in Tel Aviv.

Alex, let's start with you. Let's talk about what we understand to be the parameters of this deal, and this is really important. What does it

include? And ultimately, what's the nth degree at this point?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think we're being very careful, Becky, to call this a framework that we have the

broad strokes of this framework and not an agreement. And that's because every official we hear from every source we speak to cautions that there is

still a lot to be worked out, that there are a lot of details that need to be ironed out to get this across the finish line. But in terms of the broad

strokes that we are told have been agreed upon by the major parties that Hamas is now studying. So we have not gotten their response yet, is that

there would be multiple phases to this pause in the fighting, hostage releases, Palestinian prisoners release.

The first phase, according to an official I spoke with, said there would be a pause in the fighting for some six weeks. That's when the civilians who

are being held by Hamas and other groups would be released. That pause could then be extended beyond those six weeks once the IDF soldiers, the

men and the women, are released by Hamas and the other groups for holding them. And the bodies of the hostages, who have either been killed since

October 7th or were killed on October 7th, their bodies taken into the Gaza Strip.

Now, this is something that, according to the -- an official who's familiar with the discussions, was agreed to by the parties who met in Paris on

Sunday. That was US CIA Director Bill Burns, as well as his Egyptian and Israeli counterparts, and the Qatari prime minister who then came here to

Washington, DC. And he went on to talk about this, the progress that had been made for the possible implementation of this framework.


And I asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken after his meeting with the Qatari prime minister about this proposal. He called it strong and

compelling, and said that there is real hope going forward.

So, Becky, while there's a lot of caution that this is not yet a done deal, at the same time there does seem to be quite a bit of momentum and

optimism. Becky?

ANDERSON: Jeremy, let's bring you in at this point. I mean, we certainly know that David Barnea was in Paris at this meeting where this latest

proposal was put together. We also know that Hamas has been indignant about the fact that they are looking for a permanent ceasefire at the end of any

proposal. So, what do we understand to be Israel's position on all of this? Because thus far officials have made it very clear, Israel's Defense

Minister Gallant telling troops just yesterday, this is a long war but in the end we will break Hamas.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And those comments by the Israeli defense minister have also been echoed by the

Israeli prime minister himself, who has made clear that he is not backing off his objective of trying to destroy Hamas, to dismantle this militant

group inside of Gaza, and to ensure that it is no longer in power in Gaza the day after this war ends.

And so, that is why, even as Israeli officials say that they've seen this summit in Paris as constructive, that significant progress is clearly being

made, they're also cautioning that there are still significant gaps that remain between these two sides. And that is the main thrust of those gaps

is this notion of whether or not this next truce between Israel and Hamas is going to be a truce over a period of weeks, over a period of months, or

whether it is going to actually lead to an end to the war altogether.

That is the position that Hamas is taking. Even as they are saying that they are studying this latest framework agreed to by Israel, the United

States, Egypt and Qatar. They are also cautioning that they are viewing it and reviewing it in the context of whether or not it is going to ultimately

see Israeli troops leave the Gaza Strip and ending the war effectively. So a lot of optimism, but a lot of caution as well that certainly seems to be


ANDERSON: What are us officials, Alex, telling you about the importance of finding an end to this conflict as quickly as possible? We do know, of

course, that there are American hostages still being held in Gaza.

MARQUARDT: Yes. And that is one of the two reasons that US officials are so keen to see some kind of agreement come into effect. The US has about half

a dozen hostages who are still believed to be held in Gaza. US, of course, wants to see those citizens out. But at the same time, what we hear from US

officials is that they really see an agreement as the key to unlocking not just a longer pause in the fighting, a longer truce, but also a pause that

would allow humanitarian aid to get in. Of course, that's been very difficult for the past few months. That will allow Palestinian civilians to

go home or what remains of their homes.

And then, Becky, during that pause in the fighting, that's when some of the tougher discussions would take place in terms of Palestinian governance.

What would the revitalized Palestinian authority that the US wants to see, what would that look like, would it be a technocratic government, that's

something that has been discussed. What role, if any, would Hamas have in that government.

So the sense that I'm getting is that essentially the US wants to get to that pause in the fighting, get to see the hostages released as many as

possible, and then go on to tackle some of the more difficult discussions while the fighting has stopped. But, Becky, what you're not hearing from

the US is we want a ceasefire. The US is being very careful not to say that there needs to be an end to the war.

What they're saying is there needs to be a pause in the fighting to allow for everything that I've just mentioned, the hostage releases and aid to

get in. But they're not certainly being as firm as other countries about the need for an immediate ceasefire that would lead to an end to this war,

because the US continues to support Israel's position that they need to get rid of Hamas in Gaza, Becky.

ANDERSON: Good to have you, Alex. Thank you. Jeremy, and I want you to stick around for a moment because you've just returned from Southern Gaza

with some remarkable reporting. Tell us what you saw there.

DIAMOND: Yes, Becky. Well, a week ago, we did an investigation that identified 16 cemeteries damaged or destroyed by the Israeli military. In

the wake of that reporting, the Israeli military actually invited us to join them inside southern Gaza, just east of Khan Yunis in Bani Suheila,

where that was one of the 16 cemeteries that we identified.


They wanted to show us why they say they destroyed that cemetery. But ultimately, after a three hour visit, we really left with more questions

than answers.


DIAMOND: This is no ordinary quarry. It's where the living once buried their dead. Gaza's Bani Suheila Cemetery hollowed out by Israel excavators.

These were all graves. This was a cemetery. But the military says that they were forced to come in here because they discovered a Hamas tunnel running

right underneath that cemetery.

But the Israeli military failed to prove that stunning claim during a three hour tour of the area. They invited us here a week after we first uncovered

this graveyard's partial destruction using satellite imagery, part of a CNN investigation that found 16 cemeteries in Gaza damaged or destroyed by the

Israeli military.

DAN GOLDFUSS, IDF COMMANDER: This whole area here is a military compound from the mosque over there, underneath the graveyard, all the way down

north and south. My forces, the beginning, who tried to flank this area, were fired from this area again and again. They couldn't understand why.

DIAMOND: So that's how you determine that there was a tunnel here, because you were being fired upon?

GOLDFUSS: Yes, sir.

DIAMOND: Our journey to investigate the Israeli military's claims begins in the rubble of what they say was a residential building.

Even just standing at the mouth of this tunnel, you can feel the humidity just like emanating here. And this is the way that we go in to what they

say is an extensive tunnel system in Bani Suheila.

We descend into a dark, seemingly endless labyrinth.

There's just tight spaces like this in certain parts of this tunnel. But then you get here, you have full headspace pretty much. All throughout it,

you can see that there's electricity, there's telecommunications. The Israeli military says that this tunnel system actually leads to a Hamas

command center, which they say was used by Hamas fighters to coordinate their attacks.

The Israeli military says, this is that command center. Multiple rooms equipped with plumbing and electricity, maps like this once lining the


You can see a kitchen here equipped with a sink, running water with the pipes running through the tunnel wall. You have a fan, plates. I mean, you

could imagine this being in a house, but instead it's deep, deep underground.

Where are we right now? I mean, what's above us?

GOLDFUSS: So we're in the headquarters of a Hamas commander. Above us is a cemetery that I showed you from the outside.

DIAMOND: If you look at the satellite imagery of this cemetery, there is a wide area that the military has cleared. Why is that necessary in order to

uncover these tunnels?

GOLDFUSS: We had to reach the tunnels. We had to reach the tunnels. We had to uncover the tunnels. We had to prevent from the enemy to flank us.

DIAMOND: But there's no way for us to verify whether we are actually beneath the graveyard. General Goldfuss takes us back out of the tunnel,

but not into the cemetery. Instead, we leave the same way we came in before walking back to the enormous hole where the cemetery once stood.

GOLDFUSS: Please hold on one second.

DIAMOND: Yes. We're asking the general if we can actually see the shaft to the tunnel.

But the answer is no.


GOLDFUSS: There's all kinds of machinery which I don't want you to take pictures for security matters --

DIAMOND: What about if we don't film it? We just look with our eyes.

GOLDFUSS: (Inaudible) might fall in. The whole thing can collapse. Or you have to walk to the edge. The edge is not secured, can collapse. There's

machinery, so on. It's not something I'm going to take a risk on. Sorry.

DIAMOND: The Israeli military later provided this drone footage showing the tunnel shaft we entered and another one nearby. CNN geolocated the footage

using this satellite image, this outline shows where the cemetery once stood, and these are the two tunnel entrances clearly outside the

graveyard. As for the tunnel they say they found here where the cemetery once stood, the military never provided any evidence.


DIAMOND: And we pressed the Israeli military multiple times for that evidence of this tunnel they say exists beneath the cemetery. Instead, they

released another press release yesterday, which actually only poked more holes in the story that General Goldfuss told us when were both in that

command center that he said was beneath the cemetery. The press release that they released shows a map, and it actually places that command center

well outside the cemetery bounds. Just more questions, ultimately, from this visit than we actually got answers or conclusive evidence. Becky?


ANDERSON: Jeremy Diamond is in Tel Aviv in Israel, thank you.

We'll say this out, the US Congressional Committee is meeting to discuss the continuing threats of Houthi rebel attacks on Red Sea shipping. That is

a huge spillover, of course, from the Israel-Hamas war and a continuing headache for President Joe Biden, who has faced backlash from some members

of his own party for ordering strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen to try to deter these attacks.

And now he faces yet another difficult decision, how to respond to what was a drone attack in Jordan that killed three US troops and injured dozens

more. Natasha Bertrand is back with us this hour from the Pentagon. And this is a very difficult situation for the Biden administration. We are

clearly seeing evidence of a widening of this conflict, that there is no doubt.

The question is, how does the Biden administration deal with that and address the very, very clear national security issue that it faces, or at

least its troops in the Middle East face at present?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It's an extremely delicate situation, Becky, because the US has to find a way to deter these Iran-

backed groups really for good, but not do too much where it risks sparking that regional war and getting the US embroiled in a conflict directly with

Iran, something that the US has said repeatedly that they do not want to do. And so, this is what the Biden administration is weighing right now.

And it's why I think, you haven't seen an immediate response to that attack on Sunday.

We're here two days later, and the US has still not conducted the retaliatory strikes that it has promised. So we are waiting for that. But

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, he previewed this a bit, and he said that the response will likely be"multi-leveled, common stages, and be

sustained over time."


BERTRAND: A powerful response from President Biden is expected after a drone attack in Jordan killed three US servicemembers and injured dozens


ANTONY BLINKEN, US SECRETARY OF STATE: This is an incredibly volatile time in the Middle East. I would argue that we have not seen a situation as

dangerous as the one we're facing now across the region since at least 1973.

BERTRAND: US officials tell CNN that Biden is under increasing pressure to respond more forcefully to stop the targeted attacks by the Iran-backed

militia groups against US and coalition forces in the region.

SABRINA SINGH, PENTAGON SPOKESPERSON: We know these groups are supported by Iran, and therefore they do have their fingerprints on this.

BERTRAND: The attack happened Sunday at Tower 22 in Jordan, a military outpost near the borders of Iraq and Syria. The enemy drone approached

around the same time that an American drone was returning to the base, causing uncertainty and delaying the military's response.

US officials are now trying to determine if the drone followed the American drone or if the timing was a coincidence. According to the Pentagon, since

October 17, Iran-backed militia groups have targeted US military personnel and bases over 160 times despite a number of retaliatory attacks by the

United States targeting their munition supplies in Iraq and Syria, and killing a militia leader in Baghdad.

The Defense Department has now identified the three soldiers killed as Sergeant William Rivers, Specialist Kennedy Sanders, and Specialist Breona

Moffett. 24-year-old Specialist Kennedy Sanders' parents wish for their daughter's service to her country to be remembered.

ONEIDA OLIVER-SANDERS, MOTHER OF KENNEDY SANDERS: She was definitely a free spirit. Her personality was contagious. So I just want people to remember

that, you know, even though her time was short on earth, she lived her life to the fullest and she enjoyed her life.

BERTRAND: 23-year-old Specialist Breona Moffett's mother describes how she was waiting for her daughter to call her back when she was killed.

FRANCINE MOFFETT, MOTHER OF BREONNA MOFFETT: We would have held on to that phone call as long as possible. Oh my God, I love you. Make sure that she

knew how much we loved her and that we never wanted her to feel alone. And that we would always be right there by herself.


BERTRAND: Now, 40 other US servicemembers, at least, at this point, were injured in this attack, including many who suffered from traumatic brain

injuries. And eight personnel actually had to be medically-evacuated from Jordan to Baghdad, three of whom had to be further medically-evacuated for

additional treatment to Germany at Landstuhl Regional Medical facility, one of the biggest DOD hospitals outside the US.


And so, it remains to be seen what their condition is. However, we are told that one of them was in critical condition when he was transported to

Landstuhl. Becky?

ANDERSON: Natasha is at the Pentagon. Natasha, thank you.

From the occupied West Bank, the official Palestinian news agency says three Palestinian men were assassinated inside a hospital. Now, this video

that you are about to see now shows undercover Israeli forces infiltrating the hospital, the Ibn Sina Hospital, disguised as medical staff and

Palestinian civilians.

Israel's far right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir shared this clip on social media, congratulating the forces on a "impressive operation

against what he called terrorists." Well, officials on both sides confirmed that the IDF killed three young Palestinian men. Hamas said the men were

Jenin Brigade's fighters, which is an umbrella group of Palestinian factions, and that one was a member of Hamas's military wing.

Well, following this is our senior international correspondent, Ben Wedeman. Ben, what more do we know at this point?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we know, Becky, is that sometime between 5:00 and six 6:00 in the morning that these

group of soldiers dressed up as civilians, women medical staff, entered the hospital, the Ibn Sina Hospital, which is within walking distance of the

Jenin Refugee Camp, which has been the scene of multiple Israeli incursions over the last few months.

They went to the third floor. And there, they brought out their weapons. And according to what we're seeing on the CCTV footage, they went to the

room where Mohammed Jalamneh, and two others were. This was very early in the morning. It appears they were in bed at the time.

We have seen pictures of the bed in which one of them was killed, and there's blood on the pillow. So it appears that they were shot point blank

by this Israeli hit squad.

Now, one of the people who was killed, Basil Al-Ghazzawi, was somebody who was in the hospital because he was wounded in an Israeli airstrike on the

Jenin refugee camp back in October that killed four people, among them a 15-year-old boy. Now, according to the doctors at the hospital, he was

partially paralyzed in his lower body, so he was bedridden.

Nonetheless, the Israelis are saying that these three were planning an imminent attack on Israeli targets. That they were ticking time bomb, and

perhaps that's their justification for this rather unorthodox operation.

Now, we did hear from Hamas that all three were members of the so called Jenin Brigades. These are fighters from the Jenin Refugee Camp, who by and

large, have spent the last few years really just fighting Israeli troops, as the Israeli troops, as I said, have repeatedly raided that refugee camp.

I was there in November at that hospital, and also at the refugee camp, and I see the level of destruction the Israelis wreak on the camp every time

they go in.

Now, the modus operandi of this operation, this raid, was not unique. We know that the Israelis in other instances have gone undercover. For

instance, a few years ago at Birzeit University outside of Ramallah, an Israeli squad went in disguised as a Palestinian television crew and nabbed

a student leader there. Becky.

ANDERSON: Ben Wedeman with more. Ben, thank you.

Well, coming up, as the Middle East threatens to boil over, we look at the possible next steps for the US President Joe Biden, as he tries to stop the

situation from tipping out of control. Plus, farmers in France maintaining roadblocks outside of Paris. A look at what is fueling their anger and how

the government is trying to respond.



ANDERSON: You are looking at French farmers using convoys, of tractors to block key roads outside of Paris -- just outside of Paris. Farmers have

been protesting for more than a week across France. This is their second straight day of road blockages or blockades. This protest part of a growing

movement to put pressure on the government there to ease taxes and regulations which farmers say is impacting their livelihood. CNN's Melissa

Bell joined us from just south of Paris where the farmers have set up a blockade.

You were, when we spoke last hour, sort of in amongst it in the middle of the motorway, as I can see you there again. And this is a complete, what do

we call it? There's no movement here at all. What's going on and why, Melissa?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No movement at all. This is the part of the motorway, Becky, that leads into Paris. And what we've seen since

yesterday are these farmers who'd been spreading their discontent fairly widely across France, blockading roads with their tractors elsewhere around

the country, dumping manure outside of local stores, setting tires and waste to light to try and draw attention to their anger.

It had begun in the south of France more than a week ago, and it's now moved progressively close to Paris. And we're now just on the outskirts of

Paris. Their plan is to stay here, Becky, until they get what they want from the government. Now, what they're complaining about are a combination

of higher production costs as a result of the EU subsidy system and government efforts to bring down food inflation for people. Coupled with an

extraordinary amount of red tape, they say, that makes it simply impossible for them to do their job.

For instance, what French farmers say is that it takes them an entire day each week just to fill out the paperwork that they need in order to get

their subsidies from the common agricultural policy. So it's a number of different issues that they say have driven them to this, to trying to put a

stranglehold around the French capital in order to bring it to a halt. It is a siege that they're threatening.

For now, just a few of these main roads into Paris are being blocked. Their threat, though, is that this will get greater now. Now, as you can see,

well just behind me, where they've had set up a little while ago, a big screen. They were listening to Gabriel Attal, the French prime minister,

make a series of announcements to the French parliament.

For now, I have to say, it was a very broad speech, very fiery. He's new in his job, he's very young, and it was his job to try and show that he was

determined to change the way the French state worked. In terms of specifics for farmers, it was fairly short on those, but we expect more measures to

be announced today.

Much more crucial, though, Becky, is likely to be this meeting on Thursday. EU leaders will meet. And remember that this is now a European wide

problem. Each set of farmers from the particular countries has their own set of grievances. But altogether, European wide farmers feeling the brunt

of European regulations that are making their jobs harder.


European attempts to import cheap food, both grain and meat, and milk, from outside the European Union, where they say the measures, the requests, the

demands being made of farmers there are far less stringent. So there's an injustice, they say, at the heart of the system that they are no longer

willing tolerate.

And they say, very much like you'll remember the yellow vest protests of a few years ago here in France. They were kicked off by that straw that broke

the camel's back. It was a rise in fuel taxes. Similarly, the drop really here that caused all of this to explode here in France was the announcement

that there would no longer be subsidies on the crucial diesel that many of these farmers use to run their farms.

So all of this combined now a major headache for the French government, and not only for European governments and for Brussels by the time they meet on

Thursday, Becky, to try and figure out how they can bring this sort of disruption to an end.

ANDERSON: Absolutely. And as we've been on air, we are hearing that Spanish farmers are set to join the growing European protest movement, calling for

better support for farmers. That's according to the three main agriculture unions today, Tuesday. And this follows, of course, protests in Romania, in

Germany, in the Netherlands and in Belgium. Good to have you, Melissa. Thank you.

Coming up, the heightened tension in the Middle East is proving to be a real dilemma for US President Joe Biden, both abroad and at home. A deep

dive on the way.


ANDERSON: Welcome back to "Connect the World" with me, Becky Anderson. Well, as we've been discussing this hour, US President Joe Biden is feeling

the effects from the Israel-Hamas war at home as well as abroad. He has faced criticism, primarily from Republicans, for not taking stronger action

against Iran or Iran-backed groups for their attacks.


And now he is under greater pressure to respond to what was a drone attack in Jordan that killed three US Troops and injured dozens more. As put by

our own senior reporter, Stephen Collinson, good friend of this sho, Biden cannot ignore the domestic politics. He wrote today, "no president can

afford to look like he has lost control when US troops are dead. This is especially the case for Biden, with accusations of weakness at the heart of

Trump's 2024 case against his successor. Stephen Collinson joining us now.

And this, you have described as a real dilemma, Stephen. And you wrote how exactly does Biden find the sweet spot between deterrence and disastrous

escalation? Will reprisals he does take put US forces at even greater risk, or will Iran just ignore them? Whenever a president takes military action,

you say they must consider what's next, not just how an adversary will respond immediately, but in months to come and how the US is prepared to

counter those reactions. Just expand, if you will.

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: Right. I think the President, Becky, has arrived at that point where presidents often arrive

when they are forced to take action. But all of the potential options they have are pretty bad when you play them out and how they may affect the

situation. In this case, in the Middle East.

The President has to either try to reestablish some kind of deterrence to stop these attacks from pro-Iranian militia against US facilities in the

Middle East, stretched all throughout the region, or he has to try and degrade the capacity to do so. At the same time, he's trying to stop this

war as he's been all along, erupting into a much broader, more dangerous regional conflict. That's why perhaps the option of actually attacking Iran

directly to send that kind of message, as many Republicans are calling for, is a very difficult one.

And he has this political tightrope as well at home, which is especially acute because of the 2024 election looming. He has to look strong. American

troops have died. Americans are looking for someone that is in control of the situation. The problem is that the Middle East is a very uncontrollable

region, as you know, and there are all sorts of pitfalls. And he really, for political reasons, as well as strategic ones, really wants to prevent

this spiraling into this much bigger conflagration.

Because politically, the idea of the US avoiding Middle East entanglements, especially, has been very important in presidential elections dating back

to 2008, in President Barack Obama's election. And Trump is already saying that Biden has got the US back into Middle East quagmire.

So it's a very tricky political and strategic situation. It's very hard to see how he can satisfy all the various pressures that are bearing down on


ANDERSON: And ultimately, you're right to say how he will deal with the various pressures that are building up at this point. He has, of course, a

team around him, and he will being advised as to what to do next. From your understanding of where that team positions its strategy with regard the

Middle East, what does come next?

I mean, I remember Jake Sullivan, the national security advisor, back in September. I mean, obviously this was before October the 7th. I remember, I

think it was late September, him saying we hadn't had a Middle East as quiet as this in some time. That was only three months ago. We now have a

US president who vowed to pull troops out of this region, for this region to get on with sorting its own backyard out now, as you rightly point out,

facing some almost unanswerable questions.

COLLINSON: Right. And I think that quote from Jake Sullivan is something that's going to accompany him into history and will not flatter him, even

though the wider context of it is perhaps slightly more broad. This is the problem for Biden he has all along. If you go right back to the Iraq war,

he was a great skeptic of prolonging US intervention when he was vice president during the Biden administration. He's been always on the side of

trying to get troops out.

The contradiction here, I think, is that he is also the most pro-Israel president, I think, in the last several decades, at least in the United

States. And really the only thing that is going to bring down these tensions, these supposed or perceived justifications for attacks on US

troops, will make them less vulnerable is an end to the situation in Israel, the war in Gaza.


That's why another thing bearing on the President's mind here is to avoid any action that upsets this rather delicate diplomatic process that's going

on, to try and create a ceasefire that has been presented to Hamas that could allow more hostages out and perhaps could be extended in the future

to try and end the war.

I have to say, though, the signs that the Israeli government are still listening to the United States are diminishing by the week. So that's a

very difficult thing, too. But ultimately, the only way the US gets out of this and Biden gets out of it in a political way that's satisfactory is for

the fighting to stop in Gaza.

ANDERSON: And that's not something that the US is prepared to push for at this point. Certainly the US not prepared to put pressure on Israel to

force a permanent ceasefire at this point. We know that there is a new proposal on the table being offered to Hamas at present, which may elicit,

at least in principle, some pauses in the fighting.

How much juice does this Biden administration then have left in its tank when it comes to pressure on Israel, Stephen? Is it clear at this point?

COLLINSON: I think that the President could put more pressure on Israel. He has been, as you say, been reluctant to come out and say that word

ceasefire. But the longer this goes on, the more US interests diverge from Israeli interests. I think it's possible that you could see at least some

more public dissent from the White House with the path that Israel has taken, although there is no real policy direction, as you suggest, that the

White House is changing its tack here.

But it becomes very difficult. We've got increasing pressure politically, domestically on the President. Almost every time he gives a speech, he's

out on the campaign trail now. He gets interrupted. He gets accused of abetting genocide by pro-Palestinian protesters. This is a very, very dicey

political situation as well.

If you could look back into last year and if you could say, if there's one thing that Biden did not want to have as he's running for re election, it's

the specter of another war abroad, especially in the Middle East, one that splits his coalition, his democratic coalition that he's relying on to beat

Trump, and it's all come to pass. So it really is kind of a nightmare scenario for the White House.

ANDERSON: Yes. And you just think about how you sort of bookended this presidency, started with, I mean, traumatic and disastrous pull out from

Afghanistan. And now there is this as we move into what is a really important election year. We are well into that election year, of course,

now, and it is only the end of January.

Always good to have you, Stephen, a real pleasure. Thank you. And be sure to read Stephen's.

Meanwhile in America Newsletter, you can get that at, the newsletter email to your inbox. Of course, you can also access that through

the CNN app on your smartphone, right.

Taking a short break, back after this.



ANDERSON: Pope Francis says he thinks critics of his new stance on same sex blessings will eventually come around, except possibly in Africa. The

pontiff told an Italian newspaper, the pushback from African bishops after he said priests could bless same sex couples was a special case because for

them, opposition to homosexuality is culturally ingrained.

All the new Vatican guidelines have received strong support from bishops across Europe, including catholic clergies in France, in Austria, and in


Well, in Nigeria, the LGBTQ+ community is being targeted through online dating apps. They are lured into relationships and then ambushed with

physical or verbal assaults, and often extorted. This is a practice called Kito. CNN's Stephanie Busari brings us an investigation as part of our as

equals ongoing series on gender inequality. And a warning, parts of her report may be difficult to hear.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They beat me up, stabbed me --

STEPHANIE BUSARI, CNN SENIOR EDITOR: Izzy's (ph) story is hard to hear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was being tied on my back, like my hands were on my back, so I could not do much. So they did what they wanted to do. They had

their way with me.

BUSARI: Raped, abused, and extorted, all because of her sexuality, a practice known in Nigeria as Kito. For Izzy (ph), whose real name is not

being used for safety reasons, it began when she met a woman online. They exchanged messages and soon agreed to meet in person at her date's house.

Izzy (ph) says it all changed when there was a knock on the door. Two men came in, and things quickly got violent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They stripped me naked forcefully and they were just playing with my private parts, playing with my body part.

BUSARI: As soon dawned on Izzy (ph) that the woman she'd been dating had set her up.

But Izzy is far from being alone. CNN has spoken to 16 women here in Nigeria who describe being Kitoed, lured through online relationships to

meet people who then assault and often extort them. And these are just a fraction of the thousands of LGBTQI+ people subjected to this practice

here, according to data shared with CNN.

For Rafiate (ph), it started with pressure from her parents to be straight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was ridiculed. I was treated like a non-entity. I was extorted.

BUSARI: She moved in with a man she had met on Tinder who knew she was gay, but he soon turned it against her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He would tell me that, you know, I know something that people shouldn't really know about you. Do you know what they would find

out, what they would do if they found out you were like this?

BUSARI: In Nigeria's deeply religious and conservative society, where same sex relationships are outlawed, members of the LGBTQ+ community are

vulnerable to exploitation and attack.

AFOLABI AIYELA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE INITIATIVE FOR EQUAL RIGHTS: People in the community are regarded as less than, and they don't have the same

rights as everybody else. So it's very easy to take advantage of that. It's very easy to extort. It's very easy to target people in the community.

BUSARI: With the focus of Nigerian law enforcement on queer people as the criminals, experts tell CNN Kito victims find it difficult to find

resources to get help. Victims have instead taken things into their own hands, going online to warn each other of individuals who pose a threat,

doing what they can to shine a light on the abuse. While many continue to suffer in the shadows, unseen and unheard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the most painful part, when you're going through all sort of abuse because of who you are and you can't even say anything.

It's a different type of pain.


BUSARI: Stephanie Busari, CNN, Lagos, Nigeria.


ANDERSON: Well, moments ago, US President Joe Biden addressed the attack on US troops in Jordan. He is on his way to a fundraiser in Florida. Let's

just have a listen to what he said in response to some questions thrown (inaudible).




BIDEN: We'll see.


BIDEN: I don't think we need a wider war in the Middle East. That's not what I'm looking for.


ANDERSON: Joe Biden speaking moments ago. I don't think we need a wider war in the Middle East, he said.

Well, he brought electric cars and commercially made spacecraft into the mainstream. Now Elon Musk's Neuralink company has implanted a chip in a

human brain for the first time, or at least that is what the tech billionaire has been reporting, calling the initial results promising,

adding that Neuralink's first product, telepathy, could help people who have lost the use of their limbs. Well, Musk's startup has been given

testing clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration.

Let's bring in CNN's Clare Duffy. What more do we know at this point?

CLARE DUFFY, CNN REPORTER: Right. So, Becky, there's still is a lot that we don't know about this first procedure, this first human trial subject, and

what this will mean ultimately for Neuralink and its efforts here. Musk did say that the operation took place on Sunday and that this patient is

recovering well. But, of course, getting through this implantation surgery is really just the first step in this larger effort that Neuralink is

undertaking right now to test the safety and efficacy of these brain implant chips.

Ultimately, what the company wants to do is to use these chips to connect human brains to computers to, as you said, help with things like allowing

people who have been paralyzed to regain access to their limbs. Over the past couple of years, Neuralink has been facing regulatory scrutiny and

concerns over the safety of its procedures for animal test subjects. But the company did receive this approval to start human clinical trials late

last year.

I will say too, Neuralink is not the only company working in this space, which experts say does hold promise for people who are facing neurological

issues. But the proof will really be in how this first human trial subject fares over the coming weeks and months. And certainly, we'll be watching

with interest to see if Elon Musk has anything more to say about how this person is doing.

ANDERSON: And, Clare, just for clarity here, because Elon Musk has a sort of wide ranging portfolio of businesses from X to Space to Tesla, how does

this company and this project fit in?


DUFFY: It is interesting, Becky. I mean, it really is sort of like he's got this empire going on now. All of these different companies, you have space.

You have communications. You have now biotechnology. You have Tesla, which is one of the biggest car companies now in the world. It really does speak

to just how powerful Elon Musk is.

I think it is kind of interesting that they have had success now in finding humans who are willing to let Elon Musk implant a chip in their brain.

ANDERSON: Fascinating stuff. Good to have you. Thank you very much indeed.

And that's it for this edition of "Connect the World" with me, Becky Anderson. Thank you for joining us. Stay with CNN for more news.