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Antony Blinken In Saudi Arabia On New Middle East Tour; U.S. Vows Further Action Against Iran-Backed Militias; Israel Accused Some UNRWA Staff Of October 7th Involvement; More Than 100 Dead In Chile Wildfires, State Of Emergency Declared; Millions Of People At High Risk Of Flooding In California. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired February 05, 2024 - 10:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi. This is CONNECT THE WORLD with Becky Anderson.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: And this hour, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi
Arabia, starting what is a new diplomatic push after days of American airstrikes across the Middle East.
Also, millions of people are at serious risks from floods in California as record rainfall there hits the states.
More than 100 are killed as deadly fire fires wildfires sweep through Chile.
And I'll speak to tennis star Emma Raducanu as top players in the women's game clash in the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open.
Right this hour, the U.S. Secretary of State is in Saudi Arabia. This is his fifth Middle East trip since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, Antony
Blinken back in the region, trying to jumpstart diplomatic efforts for a new temporary truce. He has just arrived for his meeting with the Saudi
Blinken also set to push for urgently needed help for Gaza. We'll have much more on the ground situation in Gaza in a moment.
Well, Blinken's visit coming just after the U.S. targeted Iranian backed militia in Iraq and Syria, in retaliation for the deaths of three American
soldiers in Jordan, The U.S. vowing to take further action against those militia. These attacks drawing the ire of Iran.
The U.S. and U.K. also hitting Houthi targets in Yemen again to respond to continued attacks against commercial shipping in the Red Sea.
Ben Wedeman back with us this hour from Amman and Nic Robertson joining us from Tel Aviv.
Nic, let's start with you. Get the situation from the ground if we can from you as Blinken begins his tour, it does seem as if he is pushing once again
for a temporary truce, still no real substantive talk of a permanent truce or ceasefire at this point.
So, what is the backdrop to this trip with regard what's going on on the ground?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, I think the backdrop at the moment from the State Department's perspective is that the
ball is in Hamas's call at the moment to consider the proposal for hostage release that was put forward by Egypt, Qatar, Israel over the -- over the
past -- about a week ago.
But of course, a backdrop politically here for the Prime Minister Netanyahu is that the hard line right-wing members of his government are threatening
to collapse the government if he goes for a deal, which would give Hamas what they've already said they wanted, which is a permanent ceasefire. And
a significant number, a serious conversation about release of their prisoners is what they're saying. And that -- at the moment seems like a
red line for Prime Minister Netanyahu.
So, when Secretary State Antony Blinken actually gets here to talk about that, the point of pressure that would come from the United States would
therefore be on Prime Minister Netanyahu to compromise his position, which means going against some members of his government, and so far has not
indicated is willing to do that. I think that's the backdrop.
The other part of the backdrop, of course, is that the State Department and the White House generally don't feel they get too much movement out of
Israel towards what they want, unless they actually send their top diplomat here to Israel. This will be his fifth visit to the region, sixth to Israel
since October 7th.
So, doubling down -- doubling down on the previous messages, which include protecting civilian lives better than Israel is doing at the moment in
Gaza, and improving the humanitarian situation into Gaza, which has still since Secretary Blinken's last visit a month ago has not improved
incredibly and has lurched at moments to be even worse in terms of getting aid through to Gaza. So, I think all of those on the agenda.
But a new thing I think gives us a sense of what's really happening in the deeper background is appearing on the agenda for Secretary Blinken them
more prominence talks about planning for the day after and that gets to the importance of the meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi
Arabia, talking about reconstruction, talking about reform of the Palestinian Authority, talking about the governance for Gaza.
All those things that once there is some kind of ceasefire will need to be energized and actioned almost immediately.
ANDERSON: Ben, let me bring you in at this point. Without substantive talk or evidence that there is a permanent ceasefire in the midst anytime soon,
what is likely to be the regional message to Antony Blinken? After all, you know, in Saudi, in Qatar, in Egypt, we have heard echoes, a message echoed
around this region that without a permanent ceasefire at this point, not only what is going on in Gaza continues, but this escalation around the
region is risks continuing.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think the worry across the region, whether we're talking about Saudi Arabia, Iran, whoever,
there is worry that certainly what we saw in the aftermath of that strike on -- that drone strike on U.S. forces in Jordan that left three soldiers
dead. And the strikes -- the American strikes that happened, that there's a real risk that ripples of the Gaza war throughout the region could get out
And I think even the Iranians would welcome a lessening of tensions in the region, they've succeeded at showing the United States and Israel, that
they can make life very difficult through the their allies, the Houthis, for instance, they've been able to make it so far out of the world's five
biggest commercial shipping lines, as well as British petroleum are now diverting around to Africa to avoid the Red Sea.
The Iranians have shown that U.S. forces in Iraq, in Syria, even we can say in Jordan, are vulnerable to forces that are friendly -- militias that are
friendly allied affiliates with Iran.
And so, I think that they've shown what they can do. You know, the Iranians as -- remember, historians say, the Iranians invented chess. And I think
the Americans are playing checkers. They're reeling from one crisis to another, reacting. You have Secretary Blinken now on his fifth, sixth or
seventh, whatever it is, trip to the Middle East, trying to patch up some sort of resolution to the war in Gaza and everything else that's gone with
But they're scrambling to do it. I think the Iranians have shown that they can disrupt things, that they can make life difficult for the Americans.
And now they're going to sit back and watch as Secretary Blinken tries to accomplish something. If he does, probably better for all. If he doesn't,
I'm sure the Iranians have a plan for that as well, Becky.
ANDERSON: Both of you, thank you very much indeed for joining us.
So, there is some context for this trip as the war of course rages on. Israel's defense minister has his eye on the southernmost city in Gaza.
Last week, Yoav Gallant vowed that the IDF's next step in its military offensive is Rafah. A city pressed up hard against the Egypt border.
The United Nations says a 1.9 million Gazans have been internally displaced and many fled to Rafah, following explicit instructions from the IDF to
move south as Israel relentlessly bombed the enclaves northern cities.
On Thursday, the United Nations said that more than 1.4 million Gazans are, "Already crammed into that area".
Well, Rafah, of course is also where aid has been entering into Gaza, albeit at a glacial pace. But we do know it has been an ongoing fight to
get those lifesaving supplies that are getting in to where they need to be most.
UNRWA, the agency, the U.N. agency for Palestinians now says one of its aid trucks was hit by Israeli fire on Monday, and this comes after the U.S. and
other top donors suspended donations to UNRWA after Israel alleged that a small number of employees were involved in the October the 7th terror
attacks. Almost 20 countries chose to withhold funding. As you can see, they contributed more to UNRWA in 2022 than all other countries combined.
UNRWA now says it will, "Most likely have to suspend its work not only in Gaza, but importantly across the Middle East by the end of this month if
funding suspension continues".
A former UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness told Middle East Monitor, "Continued pressure must be brought to bear on the Western States to resume
their aid. They should not be let off the hook". But, he said, "I think it's high time that the Arab states realize that this is their problem
also, and they need to step up to the plate financially."
Chris Gunness joins us now live. And I want to talk about the fact that the agency head Philippe Lazzarini is actually in region as Antony Blinken is,
doing a regional tour. He is -- he'll be in three Gulf States this week seeking to drum up support after key donors, particularly those from the
West suspended their funding.
Let's just talk about firstly, Chris. And you've got, you know, years of experience working with UNRWA and working across not just the Gazan file,
but the wider agency file. What is the risk here? Will funding run out by the end of this month? Let's be very clear about this. And if so, what's
the impact, Sir?
CHRISTOPHER GUNNESS, FORMER UNRWA SPOKESPERSON: The answer your question is yes. And UNRWA has made that very clear to all of its donors.
Let's talk about Gaza first of all, 1.2 million people are on -- on UNRWA's food file, the people that were being fed by UNRWA. That was before the
seventh of October, so that number will go up.
So, with this shameful decision, we are increasing the chances that people who are already facing hunger will slip into starvation. And that certainly
as a result of this decision, the shame that it's poor donorship, I should say.
Across the region, UNRWA educates 550 odd a thousand children each day. UNRWA has seven million patient visits in its primary health facilities.
UNRWA distributes double that amount of food that it sees in Gaza almost in the rest of the region. Its Relief and Social Services program assists some
of the most vulnerable disabled children, women, the most marginalized in these communities.
It's not just in Gaza. It's also across the region, a region which Mr. Blinken, Mr. Sunak and others say they want to try and stabilize.
Well, what better way to destabilize the region than to cut off UNRWA's lifesaving and stabilizing programs across this region, which frankly,
today is a tinderbox.
It's a disastrous decision. And if I might just finish, not just poor donorship, it's a violation of humanitarian principles, impartiality and
neutrality. It's a violation of international humanitarian law, the instrumentalizing of aid in this way, it's a violation of the ICJ's
interring measures, and it's a violation of the Genocide Convention. I could go on. Its poor donorship, and it needs to be reversed. And by the
way, it's based on a very dodgy dossier.
ANDERSON: Well, hang on, you -- neither you nor I, nor, as I understand it, actually, the U.N. itself has actually seen the substance of this dossier.
I mean, these are allegations by Israel at this point. And so, I don't think that we should go down a route of talking about what is in a dossier
that neither you or I have seen.
You are suggesting -- hang on, sir. You're suggesting it's a dodgy dossier. So, let's leave the internal investigation to play itself out at this
point, because that is important. Whether or not that is an independent internal investigation is also up for discussion. And that needs to be
But let's be quite clear here. We've got upwards of 20 significant donors suspending their aid at this point, you've called on the region or the Arab
states to pony up. Lazzarini has been here today in the UAE, I know he's going on to Qatar and Kuwait. I know that he has had a warm reception here
in the UAE. I think it would be unfair to suggest that there is -- there are efforts being made. Certainly the UAE is committed to supporting UNRWA.
So, you know, at this point, I think given where we are at, what needs to happen next? It will be good, obviously to your mind to see these donations
sort of restarted but failing that, what needs to happen next?
GUNNESS: Well, you brought in the question of the Arab states. In 2022, all of OPEC made a profit from its oil of $888 billion. Now, UNRWA's total
budget is about 1.5 billion that is 0.02 percent of OPEC's revenue, its profit in 2022. In a heartbeat, these Arab countries could fix UNRWA's
And by the way, that would break this western stranglehold over UNRWA that's allowed it to weaponize the agency, and frankly, to Israel's
bidding, because we all know that the underlying of this is the desire by the far right government in Israel to destroy UNRWA. They said it on the
record, it's on the mistaken belief that if you get rid of UNRWA, you get rid of the refugees they serve.
And of course, that's just a sort of far right fantasy. These would remain people within aidable rights, whoever's looking after them. So, you know,
let's make that clear.
But what has to happen now, this shameful decision must be reversed.
And also, I would like to see part of the investigation, maybe not the secretary general's investigation, which by the way, OIOS (PH), I think
will do an independent investigation. They've investigated UNRWA before. And that led to the resignation by the way of a Commissioner General in
So, let's be clear, I would like to see the spotlight turned on the donor, if they are accusing UNRWA of lacking neutrality, I would say they've
lacked neutrality in instrumentalizing UNRWA, using it for political and punitive purposes. Are they really fencing their humanitarian decision
making from political influence? I think not. They need to be investigated justice. They're calling for UNRWA to be investigated, because they are
politicizing aid in exactly the same way that they are accusing UNRWA of politicizing aid.
ANDERSON: Let's be quite clear, once again, this -- the suspension of this funding by more than 15 of the agency's most important donors is of the
bank of Israel's allegations involving 12 or 13, as I understand it, of the 13,000 staff.
And again, that investigation has now been opened by the U.N. And so, we must not let that investigation work its course as it were. But you -- the
points you've made have been heard, and we will continue to pursue this story.
Ultimately, there are issues here that need to be addressed. There are also as we have been reporting, millions of people who depend on aid, which at
present comes from this agency, there is no other agency set up to support the Palestinians as this is. And the question is what happens to them if
this aid runs out at the end of the month?
Good to have you. I'll have you back. Thank you, sir.
All to say it was a hell is not enough. Residents of Chile described running for their lives to escape raging wildfires as the flames swallowed
up cars and homes. We'll have a live report from one of the hardest hit areas coming up.
Plus, an atmospheric river wreaking havoc in California. Intense flooding, leading to hazardous rescues like this as well as evacuations, mudslides
and power outages, more on that is coming up.
ANDERSON: Chile is under a state of emergency as devastating wildfires tear through great swathes of the country. More than 112 people are dead and the
president says he expects that number to rise significantly.
Hundreds is still missing, the president declared today and tomorrow national days of mourning. Well, a preliminary estimate from the finance
ministry says the Valparaiso region has suffered damage amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars.
Christopher Ulloa is with CNN Espanol. He joins us now live from Quilpie in Chile and the country right now experiencing a summer heatwave. How much
tougher is that making it for fire crews trying to control these wildfires, the evidence of which of course is all around you.
CHRISTOPHER ULLOA, CNN ESPANOL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Becky, yes, just like you're saying I'm going to show you right away in the images of my
cameraman Jose Vasquez (PH). The situation is just terrifying. We are in Quilpie one of the zones more affected by the wildfires and just you can
see, there are houses totally burned. There are cars that have been absolutely devastated by the wildfires and there's also some small that's -
- some little wildfires that are still kind of trying to light up, so it's a complicated situation especially because of the heat wave.
The firemen are still trying to face all of the situations that are happening right now at this moment in the location of Quilpie but just as
fast as they try to extinguish some fire -- some wildfire. In a couple minutes later or five minutes later, there's another wildfire starting
right away in another zone. So, it's a complicated situation.
Hundreds of families at this point have lost everything they have, they lost their homes, they have lost their parents, some children even and it's
a very complicated situation. They're asking for help for the government. They're asking for a special machines so they can start cleaning more
efficiently all of this zone.
If you can see at this point, Jose, if you can show to the people, the people is just trying to clean off the ruble, trying to remove all the
ashes but this is not enough. They're still asking for more help from the government. They need a special machines. They need food, they need water
and more security.
There are also reports from the people and also from the police that there are people trying to start wildfires intentionally so that (AUDIO GAP).
Again, so far, President Gabriel Boric has already declared two days of mourning days because of the gravity of the situation. They are also trying
to put all their resources in this zone in the region of Valparaiso but at this point, the priority, Becky, is to fight -- to fight all the wildfires
that are still going on. And also to evacuate the people that live close to all of this wildfires, Becky.
ANDERSON: Good to have you, sir. Your reporting is important. Thank you.
Well, in California, almost 40 million people are under flood alerts to start what is this working week. More than 14 million are under rare high
risk of flash flooding including downtown Los Angeles. There are evacuations, swift water rescues and a growing threat of mudslides in
places like Malibu and Beverly Hills.
CNN's Veronica Miracle is live for us in Santa Barbara in California, how things where you are?
VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What we are actually about an hour and a half from Los Angeles County and Santa Barbara was expected to have the
worst of the storm.
Yesterday, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff warning people they were concerned that this would be a life threatening event, they were concerned
that people would die. And it actually just shows how quickly things can change, how quickly things can move because the storm did not hit this area
as was feared.
Just yesterday, the area was being pounded by rain. And in fact this river behind us, there was debris coming down it was slamming up against the
bridge, and the water was coming up through here.
But now take a look. Look at how much the water has receded, how quickly things have changed. Even from this morning we've seen the water levels
diminish rapidly because the rain has stopped here and moved south down to L.A. county that is now seeing the worst of all of this.
This is incredibly good news for the people of Santa Barbara and this area. Back in 2018, about 15 minutes from here, 23 people died in mudslides and
so, everybody here heeded the warnings. They took everything very seriously, evacuation orders and warnings. People did not go out yesterday,
all of the businesses in the area were closed. And there was not a lot of activity because people were listening to those orders.
But it is great news here that not a lot has happened. A lot of the flooding that we did see yesterday has since receded and there is no rain
as of this moment. Of course, things can always change. There is rain expected later in the evening. And because the ground is so saturated,
that's tends to be when things happen. Mudslides can happen, debris flows can still happen here. All of the schools in the area have been shut down
out of an abundance of caution.
But today, people seem to be calming down, a bit of a sigh of relief if you will all over this community, back to you.
ANDERSON: Good to have you. That's your report from Santa Barbara in California.
Well now on CONNECT THE WORLD, a jury now deciding the fate of this woman. She is the mother of a teenager who shot and killed four people. The
question for the jury, should she be held responsible?
And we're going to sit down with the tennis prodigy, Emma Raducano. We talked to her about her return to the world of tennis and her guardian
angel on the tour. Stay with us to find out who that is.
ANDERSON: Welcome back. It is half past 7:00 here in our Gulf programming hub of Abu Dhabi. I'm Becky Anderson.
President Joe Biden is looking for his base to turn out for him in this week in what is the presidential primary in Nevada?
It set to be one of the battleground states in November's election. Mr. Biden, went there in 2020, but only Joe, stand in 2016. Hillary Clinton won
by around two percentage points, when of course, she took on Donald Trump.
Ukraine's president says his country needs a leadership reset. Volodymyr Zelenskyy admitted to an Italian media outlet that he is looking beyond
just changes in military command. He is also considering replacing a series of state leaders.
The president stressed he had something serious in mind, but he didn't elaborate on who may be out of a job. Well, for now, Zelenskyy deciding on
whether to dismiss his army chief, following the failed counter offensive in eastern Ukraine.
And also on our radar, jury deliberations now underway in the U.S. manslaughter trial of Jennifer Crumbley. She is the mother of a teenager
who killed four people at a Michigan High School in 2021.
Now, this case is seen as a test of the limits of who is responsible for a mass shooting. The prosecutions argued that Crumbley is responsible for the
deaths, because she and her husband bought a gun for her son, who was 15 at the time, and she allegedly failed to get in mental health treatment
despite warning signs.
Well, those are the sort of, you know, underlying facts of the case, is it? Well, certainly the facts of the prosecution's case.
Jean Casarez is at the trial for us in Pontiac, Michigan. And I wanted to lay that out, because I think for those who may be unfamiliar with this
case watching internationally, I think it's important.
What would it guilty verdict mean, not just for Crumbley in this case, but for the wider sort of gun-related story for parents in the United States.
CASAREZ: Well, it opens up the door. Because prosecutors across this country have to be watching this trial right here in the United States in
the -- in the state of Michigan.
We're not too far from Detroit, and they have to be looking at their own situation. And today, it's a mass shooting, right? Because he killed Ethan
Crumbley, himself, pulled the trigger.
Jennifer Crumbley was miles away at her work. She wasn't anywhere near the school. But the prosecutor believes that she should be held responsible
that she caused the death of all four students.
Now, like you said, she and her husband had gotten a gun. It was purchased on Black Friday, several days before the mass murder happened for their
son. Now, they had other guns in the house. They'd had them, their hobby as a family was going to the range and practicing with some of the guns that
As it is the hobby, we learned during this trial of many people in this community. This is a community -- the dean of the high school said, during
hunting season, many of the students go out hunting with their parents before school, so we have to send out a notice don't wear your camo to
school. So, that told you a little bit about this community.
But now, Jennifer crumbly is saying that there were never warning signs. She did not think that her son had any mental issues at all. She thought he
was sad. Because his grandmother had died. His dog had died and his best friend had moved away. But she didn't think anything like this could ever
Jury is deliberating six men, six women, we don't know how long it's going to take. There is over 400 pieces of evidence from the prosecution alone,
ANDERSON: Fascinating. It's good to have you, Jean. Thank you very much, indeed.
CASAREZ: Thank you.
ANDERSON: Jean Casarez on the story for you.
Let's get you up to speed on some of the other stories that are on our radar right now. The prime ministers of Britain and the Irish Republic met
Northern Ireland's political leaders in Belfast earlier today.
Now, they are marking the return of power sharing in Northern Ireland after a two-year stalemate. Well, this comes one day after Sinn Fein's Michelle
O'Neill, made history by becoming Northern Ireland's first Irish nationalist leader.
Well, the death toll from a huge gas explosion in Nairobi last week has risen to six, after a government spokesperson said three more people died
from their injuries.
At least 59 people are still receiving care after the incident was seventh in critical condition.
Parisians have voted in favor of tripling the parking costs for some SUVs.
Now, this referendum calls for vehicles over a certain weight to be charged $19 an hour to park in central Paris versus just over $6 an hour for other
Now, if approved by local authorities, the increase would happen on September the first.
McDonald's says the turmoil in the Middle East is hurting its business. International burger chain reported overall growth in the fourth quarter.
But says growing tensions in the region are weighing on its sales there.
Now, it is worth noting that McDonald's, for the most part, licenses its brand to independent companies in the Middle East. But the company says
that part of its business grew just seven-tenths of a percent last quarter in the region compared to four percent in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Well, United Nations Security Council is due to meet later today after Russia, which is a permanent member, of course, requested an urgent meeting
to discuss America's series of airstrikes in the Middle East.
In the past few days, U.S. has launched dozens of strikes targeting Iranian-backed militia. This, they say in retaliation for the deaths of
three American soldiers in Jordan.
Well, the U.S. and U.K. also hit more Houthi targets in Yemen on Saturday, as rebels there continue trying to attack commercial shipping in the Red
Sea -- either Israeli or aligned to Israel or friends of Israel, with strikes getting roundly criticized in Yemen. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): What the United States is doing is showing partiality for Israel. They are in fact expanding the conflict in
the Arab world, even though they claim the opposite. Everybody knows that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, there is no sign that the U.S. plans to let up anytime soon. Here is what the National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, told CNN on
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE SULLIVAN, UNITED STATES NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: What it means is that we will take further action. I'm not going to obviously describe the
character of that action, because I don't want to telegraph our punches. But there will be further action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Natasha Bertrand, joining us live from Pentagon.
Interesting what we just heard from Jake Sullivan, there, given that critics of the Biden administration effectively have said that the U.S.
telegraphed these strikes, to the extent that actually their impact was lessened, effectively suggesting, and this is from critics of the
administration from hoax primarily, that this was more theatre than anything else.
What do we know about one -- the strikes that we've seen to date? And two, the possibility of more, and also the possibility that the U.S. still
insists that Iran as a target is not off the table?
NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Well, Becky, there was a substantial delay between the Sunday when that drone attack killed three
U.S. service members in Jordan. And then, the Friday night when we saw the U.S. take action against these Iran-backed groups in Syria and Iraq. And
there was some criticism of that delay.
As you said, people were wondering why so much time lapse, potentially giving these militants time to basically scatter and leave the facilities
where the U.S. knew that they were hiding.
But the explanation that we got on that from U.S. military officials was essentially that the weather was not ideal for the strikes until that
Friday, until the weather cleared up. And they had a better idea of exactly what they were targeting, and therefore, less of a chance that they were
going to kill, for example, civilians or endure unwanted casualties. And so, that was our explanation for the delay there.
But there is a sense in the administration that they don't want to escalate things beyond where they already stand. And therefore, the strikes were
kind of proportional in the sense that they degraded these facilities, including those used by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, but
didn't necessarily result in the kind of escalation with Iran directly that the U.S. has been trying to avoid.
And to that point, we have been told by defense officials that the current assessment of that strike is that no Iranians, including those affiliated
with Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps were actually killed in those attacks.
So, we'll have to wait and see how the administration continues its response. However, we are told that even though the administration is not
telegraphing that strikes are off the table for inside Iran, we are told that it is very unlikely that they will actually hit Iran directly. Becky.
ANDERSON: The U.S. accused by Iraq or groups in Iraq of the death of 16 civilians and injuries to 25 others during those attacks.
Good to have you. Thank you very much, indeed.
A test of democracy in Senegal. Elections there just weeks away now on hold. The opposition calling it constitutional coup and people are taking
to the streets. More on that after this.
Namibia is facing a new era after the former vice president Nangolo Mbumba, took the oath of office as President. He succeeds Hage Geingob, who died on
Sunday while being treated for cancer at 82.
Mr. Mbumba says he will not seek a full term in Namibia's election this fall.
Well, from a peaceful transition of power to an election crisis in another African nation. Protesters are back on the streets of Senegal's capital for
a second day, as Parliament there, debate to see the president's plan to postpone elections they were supposed to be just weeks away.
CNN's Larry Madowo, joins us with the very latest. And Larry, you know, one of more than 60 elections in ostensibly democratic countries, really, at
this point, putting the very notion of democracy and up for discussion in Senegal. What's the latest there?
LARRY MADOWO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The latest Becky, is that the National Assembly is debating that proposal by President Macky Sall to
delay the election by six months, and extend his tenure. Until then, there is violent opposition to that within the parliament and within the street.
In fact, we're seeing people on the streets of that car today for the second straight day, protesting that shop decision by President Sall.
Senegalese people are very proud of a two term limits. They're very proud of the Constitution, democracy. It's a stable country in West Africa, one
of the beacons of democracy in the continent.
And they feel that this decision by President Sall, appears to violate the constitution and they don't -- they don't want it to go ahead. And that's
why you've seen this acrimonious debate in the National Assembly. It's been suspended at least twice so far.
And listen to this one gentleman on the street protesting today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MALICK DIOUF, PROTESTER (through translator): It's not whether we're afraid or not, it's a question of whether we're willing to let the regime that's
in place to move forward its political agenda, or to say no. And the answer for me is simple. It's to say no.
I'm a supporter of the Republic. I wanted the Republic to continue, I want the Republic's calendar to be respected.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADOWO: Last month, the constitutional council in Senegal, excluded some prominent opposition candidates from the ballot. And, at least, one
opposition party had asked for the election to be postponed. But the vast majority of opposition parties do not agree with this decision by President
Sall to do so. And that's why it's coming up for this debate.
This is the one that will determine whether he can go ahead and do so or not. There are some opposition candidates that remain in custody on Sunday,
during the first day of protest. At least one opposition candidate was reportedly arrested and one media outlet had its journalists, harassed and
its signal cut off.
This afternoon, the Internet on the mobile phones has been cut off across Senegal for subversive and hateful messages, according to the government.
But a huge deal of concern about the state of democracy in the country. Becky?
ANDERSON: Thank you. Larry, on the story for you.
El Salvador appears to be reelecting its president for a second term, with nearly a third of the votes counted there. Nayib Bukele has a commanding
lead in Sunday's election. He has already claimed victory and is promising a period of prosperity for the country. On Sunday, he vigorously defended
his anti-crime campaign under his presidency.
El Salvador has sharply cut its sky-high crime rate, but activists accuses government of authoritarian tactics including torture.
Well, coming up, what former U.S. Open Champion Emma Raducano says is on top of her priority list as she comes back from months of injury. That more
after this break.
ANDERSON: Well, some of the biggest names in women's tennis here in town, here in Abu Dhabi, for the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open -- one of those big
names, former world number one Naomi Osaka, who recently returned to the court after giving birth to her first child.
I spoke with a soccer before the tournament started about her return, not only as a player but as a mum. Here is what she told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAOMI OSAKA, JAPANESE PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER: For me, it's something that's changed my mentality a lot, and I guess forced me to mature. But,
yes, I don't know. It's a weird thing like you look down at your little baby's face, and, you know, there's so much joy in it.
But it would impact my game because I'm a lot more serious now. And hopefully that's not a bad thing. But just knowing that time is precious
and trying not to waste time on the practice court, waste time in the gym and be as efficient as I can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, also playing in the tournament is the British star, Emma Raducanu, who will take to the court shortly now -- shortly this evening,
sorry. Against the world number 36 Maria Bouzkova. Raducanu took the tennis world by storm of course in 2021, when she won the U.S. Open, a grand slam
at the age of 18 years old.
But she was out of action for most of last year, undergoing surgeries to her risks and to her ankle.
I spoke to her about her journey back to top former -- how she felt ahead of tonight's match?
EMMA RADUCANU, TENNIS PLAYER, 2021 UNITED STATES OPEN CHAMPION: Well, I'm playing, Maria, for like she is ranked 30 in the world. So, it's going to a
pretty tough match.
Yes. She is -- she is an opponent that it's extremely solid. Maria, I think that she's known to be very solid to not make mistakes. And I think to play
her in these windy conditions is going to be a challenge and difficult, because it's not always smooth sailing. You kind of, you come here, you
play, you test yourself out, you go back, you readjust.
ANDERSON: 2021, you are 18 years old. And there are times that you've said you almost regret winning that Grand Slam. Just explain what you mean by
RADUCANU: Yes, I think that when I was saying those things, I had necessarily had the time to take a step back and reflect. Now, in the
position that I'm in, I wouldn't trade it for the world.
But I think I was so wrapped up and so caught up in everything in the world when that happened after. And now, having come through injury with a
different perspective. I'm really -- I'm really grateful that I did so.
ANDERSON: I mean, you've had -- you've had surgery on both your hands, your wrists and an ankle. How did you cope?
RADUCANU: Well, I think initially, I was disappointed, of course, like anyone, when they found out they had to have three surgeries. I had three
in the same week. So, that was very difficult. I was very immobile. I couldn't do anything.
After the initial boredom and disappointment. I think that I quite enjoyed the time off because I felt like it gave me a time to reset and reflect on
why I do tennis, why play what I enjoy about it. And then, it really gave me time to miss it and be hungry again.
And I think me, when I have that hunger is yes, it's pretty dangerous. So, now, when I got back to training in late November, because I had a setback,
I was really, really looking forward to and just making the most of every second on the court.
ANDERSON: What's the strategy for 2024? And it's an Olympic year, of course, as well. You hoping to represent Team G.B. I assume.
RADUCANU: Of course, I would always love to play the Olympics because -- it's just something that if you play sports in your career, you want to say
that you've done and represented your country in that -- in that way. But time of year it comes on the clay after when wooden is quite challenging.
I think, for me, the goal and the priority this year is of course to finish the year healthy, and also to not just chase tournaments and chase points
because I feel like, in comparison to a lot of the other players on the tour, I am very undercooked because of, I went to school, and then I -- all
of a sudden, won the U.S. Open and then I just hopped from tournament to tournament.
So, I don't think I necessarily have all the base fundamentals locked down and when I do, then, I'm really looking forward to kind of then hopefully
capitalizing more tours and tournament.
ANDERSON: There are players on the tour who are out there really supporting you. How important is that?
RADUCANU: To have characters like Ons, honestly makes all the difference, and to have friends on the tour that you can hang out with, and make the
travel and the schedule a lot easier.
She is actually a great person and she's been a great friend to me. She's really looked out for me on the tour and kind of taken me under her wing,
which I really appreciate, because it's not always the easiest place being on tour.
And yes, she is -- she is really nice and obviously a great player. She has achieved so many finals and I'm crossing my fingers that she can win a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, Emma Raducanu there, certainly, 21. Real maturity there from Emma. And with some high praise for Ons Jabeur, the most successful
Arab tennis player ever, Naomi Osaka also echoing the praise for Ons. Lots of love, for what on paper are supposed to be rivals, of course.
So, when I had the opportunity to sit down with Ons, I asked her and she's here in Abu Dhabi. I asked her about how she can be so friendly in what is
such a cutthroat competition. Here is what she told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ONS JABEUR, TENNIS PLAYER, WORLD NUMBER SIX: The transition from juniors to professional is very tough, and I know that, you know. So, they're more
friendly in juniors less maybe friendly in professional circuit. And I feel for these young players that maybe they don't have a lot of experience, and
they are new, and they want to find a friendly face.
So, they know me. I'm always open to talk to even like chat about random things. Maybe not about fashion because I suck on that level. But in any
other things I'm happy to give any advice.
And I feel like it should be a friendly tour, but also a fierce competition on the court. I'm personally could do the difference, but I don't know for
other players. But I do understand that everybody has a different color -- character. But I feel like if you spread kindness, you receive kindness
also in return.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: She is an amazing woman, let me tell you. It's not the first time I've met Ons Jabeur, and you'll get my interview with her later at this
She is, of course, playing at the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open, which is WTA event. So, do keep a close eye on that. We talked tennis but we talk a
whole lot more a really, really good egg.
Well, for tonight's parting shots, the unifying power of music is highlighted by Sunday's Grammy Awards. The Recording Academy CEO took to
the stage to remember victims of violence at concerts and festivals from the Bataclan in Paris in 2015 to the Nova Music Festival in Israel on
October the seventh.
Harvey Mason Jr. made the point that the victims of those terrorist attacks were like so many of us, music lovers when he was accompanied by a special
string quartet, and together, they called for harmony.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARVEY MASON JR. CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, THE RECORDING ACADEMY: These musicians of Palestinian, Israeli, and Arab descent are here, playing
together. Now, is the time for us, for humanity to play together, to come together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: We all see Annie Lennox paying a moving tribute to Sinead O'Connor, singing, Nothing Compares to You. Lennox used her platform to
draw attention to the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNIE LENNOX, SCOTTISH SINGER-SONGWRITER: Nothing compares to you.
Artists for ceasefire!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: That's it from us. Stay with CNN.