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Haitians Shelter In School To Flee Rising Gang Violence; IDF Carries Out Operation Around Al-Shifa Hospital; Donald Trump Warns Of "Bloodbath" If He Loses In November; Hamas Official: Latest Ceasefire Proposal "Logical"; Omani Foreign Minister Joins Calls For A Ceasefire. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired March 18, 2024 - 10:00   ET



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

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Welcome back. This is the second hour of the show, it is 6:00 p.m. here in Abu Dhabi. It is 10:00 a.m. in

Haiti. CNN reporting from Port-au-Prince where the crisis of gang violence is deepening, leaving the country virtually paralyzed.

In Gaza, the Israeli military launches a raid on the Al-Shifa Hospital complex, where tens of thousands of civilians have been seeking safety. A

doctor says the hospital's surgical building is on fire.

Oman is stressing the need for a ceasefire before Israel's planned operation in Rafah begins. We'll bring you my exclusive interview with

Oman's foreign minister about the global calls for de-escalation.

And unexpected victory for Vladimir Putin after an election that offered Russian voters no real alternatives and no real choice.

Well, the security situation in Haiti is growing ever more dangerous. It is by far the largest gang uprising in years there and it shows no signs of


As we've been reporting, gangs have been launching a series of coordinated attacks against government institutions for weeks now. They currently

control 80 percent of the capital according to the United Nations and they are also choking off critical food supplies, water and other essential

items pushing Haitians into a humanitarian crisis.

CNN's David Culver and his team have been in Port-au-Prince, the epicenter of the gang violence conditions for them have been extremely dangerous.

Earlier, they filed this report on how the police are now relying on community vigilantes to help them combat the gangs.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, police stations like this one here in Port-au-Prince are main targets for gangs. They feel like as soon as they

can get ahold of a station like this, they can then take siege and take control of much of the community. And they've tried coming after this, one

many of times. Reinforcements have been built up, not only because of the police, but because of the community. They built barricades all around


For the police station to function properly, they need to rely on the community and to have these almost vigilantes building a lot of the

barricades to keep out any gang members.


ANDERSON: Well, people are in camping out in schools there, trying to escape what is this rampant violence outside. David went to speak to some

of those gathered, have a look at this.


CULVER: So, this was a school here in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and every single classroom that we pass, like this one here, has now become a dorm

room, essentially.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of people who have made this a recent campsite. And as you can see, a lot of them are following surrounded are

curious of what we're doing, because for them it's a distraction, really.

And you talk to a lot of these folks, and they've come here in the past couple of weeks because of the most recent surge in violence and gangs

taking more and more territory here in the city.

But these folks have also been on the run from their own homes, for months, if not years.

She just got this small bag of rice, and she's going to cook it up for seven people. And a lot of them tell me, they don't know where their next

meal is going to be.

One little girl, 8 years old, saying, she goes to bed every single night hungry. And a lot of that is because in the past two weeks, in particular,

supply lines, especially for programs of international aid like the World Food Programme have been severed.

So, while these organizations are trying desperately to get to them, it's not just about getting them into Port-au-Prince, it's been about giving

them into communities like this.

The challenges logistically are immense. They're dealing with this at a level that they have not faced prior. I mean, it's unprecedented. And the

pain, you can sense it in the kids' eyes and their parents who feel helpless at this point. But for them, it's about pushing forward.

I ask one woman how you get up every day and move ahead. She said, with the grace of God, then admitted in the same breath that sometimes they feel

they'd be better off dead than living.

David Culver, CNN, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.


ANDERSON: William O'Neill is a U.N. Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti. He joins us now from New York and it's been a file

that you've owned for the U.N.


As you -- as you listen to David's reporting, and you see what is going on on the streets of Haiti, through the reporting that we didn't get out of

them, what do you make of the situation, Sir?

WILLIAM O'NEILL, INDEPENDENT EXPERT ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN HAITI, U.N.: Thank you for having me. It's absolutely catastrophic as your reporter has shown,

this has reached an intensification, a level of violence that I've been working in and on around Haiti for 30 years, it's never -- I've never seen

anything close to this level of violence, of displacement.

He went to one of these schools, this is when -- this was starting when I was in Haiti in October, November, my last mission, this was already

becoming a challenge with the big increase in number of internally displaced persons in Haiti, and they would take over schools because

schools would be a relatively a safe place, they would have a wall, a gate, some of them even have toilets and running water.

But then, they were no longer schools, they had become IDP camps. It's totally understandable. But the lack of access to education, access to

health care in these neighborhoods, or hardly any hospitals or clinics functioning now on Port-au-Prince, running out of blood, oxygen tanks, all

kinds of medical supplies, it's -- you cannot exaggerate the level of despair and shortages of basic needs and the necessities of living in Port-

au-Prince, especially, but also around and other parts of the country to different levels.

ANDERSON: There's two questions here, isn't there? How the Haitians help themselves out of this? And what can the international community do and

have they turned a blind eye effectively and allowed this to happen?

Let's start with what is going on in the ground. I mean, 80 percent of controlled now by gang, certainly in the capital. That is a frightening


I spoke to Wyclef Jean (ph) recently who said any solution needs to have those who are armed. He was talking about the gangs at the table having

discussions about what happens next. Do you buy that as an argument?

O'NEILL: No, not at all. I completely disagree. I think it's -- they can do a negotiating future role for them as you would -- like as we would -- you

wouldn't do with Hamas. You wouldn't do with these people either. These gang leaders are killers, they're cruel, they're murderers, the rapes, the

sexual violence. No, they need to be arrested, tried and spend some time in prison.

The gang members and here maybe it's what Wyclef is alluding to -- is alluding to, most of the -- not the leaders, but the members of these gangs

are teenagers in many cases, often forcibly recruited, often with no options in their futures.

I know a Catholic nun who works with gang members. And she said they will come up to her, the teenagers, and say, sister, help me get out of this. I

don't want to be doing this. But I get a hot meal a day, I get $10.00 a week, I get a rifle. And I have -- but I have no other options.

So, for those, yes, we have to have massive programs immediately, as soon as it's safe to get them into schools, job training, they have to do

something to pay for what they did in terms of restitution, planting trees, cleaning canals, there's so much that needs to be done. They don't belong

in prisons.

But for the leaders, no, the only negotiation with them is lay down your arms, and you will be kept in a safe prison and you'll go to trial.

ANDERSON: Well, who's going to organize that? Who's going to organize the laying down of arms of these gangs who are now effectively running the

capital in most of the country?

O'NEILL: Well, that where -- that's where the international multinational security force that's supposed to, this was so frustrating. I don't think

the international community has turned a blind eye on Haiti far from it. But the international really has not been nearly quick and forceful enough

to deal with this crisis in Haiti, which has now been going on.

It's not just the last two weeks, it's 2.5 years since the president was assassinated, was even getting really pretty bad before the president was


So, the Haitian national police need help. They should take the lead. They actually are doing -- I'm amazed that even with all this problems they

have, the shortages, they're being outgunned because most of these weapons and arms come to the United States, which is another issue. Why can't

United States stop the importation of bullets and weapons to the gangs?

But the HNP, the Haitian National Police are actually doing fairly well. They've had a couple of recent victories against the gangs. If we could get

them some support from the international led by the Kenyans but other countries too, with intelligence, with helicopters, with tactical planning,

and with support and operations, I think these gangs are not quite as powerful as the media sometimes makes them out to be.

ANDERSON: The consequence of what is going on on the ground is a huge effort by so many Haitians to get out. We've seen, you know, a number, a

very small number making it for example into the Dominican Republic over the weekend. We know that there are thousands on the move out of the

country when they can get out of the country. And when the airport is working, however they might do that.


And they're pitching up on the borders of the United States. And there are those in the -- in the states who will say this is creating, you know, a

real problem. There are amongst what, you know, both Democrats and Republicans are now agreeing is a real problem on that U.S. southern


Do you expect that to get worse, not better? And what do you make of these reports that Guantanamo Bay could be an opportunity for America, for the

accommodation of Haitians who are trying to escape what is happening on the ground?

O'NEILL: Well, Guantanamo, we've seen this movie before, I was involved in lawsuits. I'm old enough in the 1980s against the Reagan administration,

which was the first time that the United States used Guantanamo to detain Haitians who are trying to flee the Duvalier dictatorship on boats to try

to get to the United States. I think it would be a huge mistake. It just -- it would be horrible.

But Haitians are going to try to get out that the problem now is that it's just so hard. Port-au-Prince in the region has an open air prison. I mean,

air, land and sea are virtually the -- I mean, there have been reports a few vehicles have gone overland through mountain passes, very harrowing

journeys of eight, nine hours to get to Cap-Haitien.

But it is really really hard to get out now. The gangs control all access. They've controlled -- they -- you can't -- the airports still closed, they

retook the port yesterday, the containers, they looted UNICEF containers that had all kinds of medical equipment for neonatal cases, for children,

it's just -- but once we were outside the Port-au-Prince area where there are some gangs in other parts of Haiti, they might be able to get across

the Dominican border, which is not easy because the Dominican have tighten it up. They have elections coming in May, the last thing they want is a

surge of Haitians. And then, going by sea is always very treacherous.

So, you never know, the hurricane season is just winding down. This is the usual time of year when Haitians will try to get take to sea. But it's hard

to say.

I would just say this, I saw the governor of Florida deploying helicopters and troops to go to the south for some expected surge of Haitians. I would

urge those troops and resources to be used turning around and to stop the weapons and guns and bullets that are leaving the port of Miami to get to


Because then, if Haiti is stabilized and it's safe, Haitians won't want to go out. They will try to stay and build their country. That's the way to

really solve this problem, is bring security to Haiti.

ANDERSON: William O'Neill with some analysis and insight which is so important as we continue to report on what is an escalating situation. Sir,

it's good to have you, thank you very much indeed.

Gaza's largest hospital is at the center of a major Israeli military with health officials saying civilians have been killed and injured.

This video of Al-Shifa hospital complex coming from the Gaza health ministry. Witnesses say, the raid is ongoing. One tells CNN, Israeli

bulldozers and military vehicles are demolishing and excavating at the edges of that complex.

Now, the IDF says the operation began after intelligence indicated senior Hamas leaders had been operating in the hospital and that its troops

responded when they were fired at. Well, ahead of that, it dropped leaflets warning civilians to evacuate.

The broadcaster Al Jazeera has said that one of its reporters and his crew covering the raid were arrested and severely beaten by Israeli forces

before being taken to an undisclosed location. CNN has asked the IDF for comment and so far has had no answer.

Jeremy Diamond is with us this hour from Jerusalem. You have been following this extremely closely from your position there in Israel. What is the

situation at Al-Shifa hospital now as we understand it?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, this appears to be an incredibly dire situation. It's important to keep in mind that as this

Israeli military operation is ongoing, there were an estimated 30,000 people who have been sheltering at that hospital in northern Gaza where we

know of course that the humanitarian conditions in general in northern Gaza have been rapidly declining.

And so, as the Israeli military launched this significant military operation overnight, sending in tanks and other military vehicles,

including bulldozers to the edges of the grounds of Al-Shifa Hospital. And entering that compound, there are of course, a significant number of

civilians there.


The Israeli military carried out a number of strikes in the area resulting in significant destruction and multiple casualties. According to the

Palestinian Ministry of Health, rescuers were told have been unable to reach many of those who are trapped under the rubble and those who are

injured due to the intensity of Israeli military fire.

Now, the Israeli military for its part, says that senior Hamas operatives have been using that Al-Shifa Medical Center compounds. And they also

alleged that Hamas fighters have been firing at Israeli troops from the grounds of that hospital. We cannot of course at this stage independently

verify that in part because we are not able to go into Gaza and report from there ourselves.

What is clear is that there is significant destruction a surgical building at the compound appears to be on fire according to a doctor at the scene.

There are casualties in and around the hospital and thousands of people who appear to be trapped inside that hospital.

Now, in the wake of this as we're getting developments on the status of that military operation, the Israeli military's claiming to have killed a

senior Hamas operative at that hospital. They say that Faiq Mabhouh the head of Hamas is internal security Directorate. They see that he was killed

in an encounter with troops at the compound.

Now, all of this of course, Becky, is reminiscent of the fact that the Israeli military stormed Al-Shifa Hospital back in November, when they

claimed that Hamas was operating a major command and control center beneath the grounds of the hospital. They did show evidence of a significant tunnel

infrastructure beneath that hospital compound. But they did not -- they were not able to substantiate their overall claims about there being a

command center beneath that hospital.

So, this is obviously a very active and ongoing situation. And we will get more reports as the day goes on about casualties and about what exactly the

Israeli military says they are carrying out at this hospital.

ANDERSON: And this is, of course, Gaza City. And real criticism about what is happening on the ground as a result of the Israeli assault in that part

of Gaza.

Commissioner General of UNRWA, which is a U.N. agency for Palestinians, of course, they're in Gaza. Philippe Lazzarini says today on X and I quote

here in part. "Famine is imminent in the northern Gaza Strip expected to arrive between now and May," Jeremy. He goes on to say, two million people,

the entire population of Gaza is facing crisis levels of food security, or worse, he tweeted this when he also reported that he'd been denied access

into Gaza himself the head, of course of UNRWA.

That's just a snippet of what was a rather long post. We're also hearing further criticism about what is going on and how it is impacting the people

of Gaza, Jeremy?

DIAMOND: Yes, that's right. The European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell is also now accusing Israel of using starvation as a, "weapon of

war," accusing Israel of provoking a famine in Gaza, and noting that this is not a natural disaster. But he says a result of Israel preventing the

entry of aid.

Noting that there are hundreds of aid trucks waiting at the border to undergo those Israeli security checks, and to be able to enter Gaza that he

says are being prevented by the Israeli government.

Now, the Israeli officials for their part have repeatedly denied that they are blocking aid from getting in. I want to first play Josep Borrell's

comments and then tell you the Israeli response.


JOSEP BORRELL, E.U. FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF: Because this is -- this for me is not a natural disaster. It's not a flood, it is not an earth quake, it's

entirely manmade, by whom? Let's dare to say it, by whom? By the one that prevents humanitarian support entering into Gaza, by the lack of access, by

the acute insecurity inside Gaza.


DIAMOND: Now, Israeli officials for their part deny what Josep Borrell is alleging there in a tweet of the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs,

saying that Israel, "Allows extensive humanitarian aid into Gaza by land, air and sea for anyone willing to help despite Hamas violently disrupting

aid convoys and unrest collaboration with them. We persist calling on Josep Borrell to stop attacking Israel and acknowledge Israel's right to self-



Now, regardless of this back and forth, and there is, of course significant evidence of Israel obstructing the entry of some aid into Gaza, in

particular into northern Gaza.

What is clear, Becky, is the fact that conditions on the ground are not improving despite the frantic efforts of multiple countries to airdrop aid

to try and get aid in now via this new maritime corridor. The situation is only worsening as of now.

UNICEF now says that one in three children under the age of two in northern Gaza are suffering from acute malnutrition. That is double the figure that

they had announced back in January, Becky.

ANDERSON: All right. Jeremy Diamond is on the ground there and we will have more on Gaza.

Later in the hour, Paula Hancocks is in Doha, where Qatari and Egyptian negotiators are working to make progress on ceasefire negotiations as the

Israeli intelligence chief is set to arrive there for talks.

Plus, I speak exclusively with the foreign minister of Oman, who says a ceasefire deal is the linchpin of peace in this region. He explains why

that would ease tensions across the board, or from the talks to the situation on the ground, CNN taking a deep dive into the war between Israel

and Hamas and all the news around the region. Sign up for our newsletter.

Meanwhile, in the Middle East, we'll tell you what is happening now and why it matters. Just use the Q.R. code there on your screen.

Also coming up, migrants as, "animals" and a, "bloodbath" over imported cars. Those the words of the Republican nominee Donald Trump for president,

of course, and those are controversial comments he made over the weekend. We are live from the U.S. Capitol.


ANDERSON: Well, now to the latest controversial comments by Donald Trump, not for the first time he referred to migrants as animals. And while he was

talking about imports in the auto industry, he warned, what could happen if he loses in November, take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to put a 100 percent tariff on every single car that comes across the line, and

you're not going to be able to sell those car. If I get elected.

Now, if I don't get elected, it's going to be a bloodbath for the whole - that's going to be the least of it. It's going to be a bloodbath for the



ANDERSON: Trump's campaign team insists that this is all about cars. But some Democrats suggest his choice of words is, well, more ominous. CNN's

Alayna Treene following this from Washington, Alayna.


ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Yes, well, Becky, shortly after Donald Trump's remarks on Saturday in Ohio, we did see the Biden campaign seize on those

comments and specifically the term bloodbath to predict -- predicting that there'd be a bloodbath if he were to lose the election. They argued that it

was a sign that Donald Trump wants another January 6th, they said that it's dark and violent rhetoric that many voters will reject at the ballot box

come November.

The Trump campaign, however, also rushed to clarify those remarks. They insisted that he was talking about the impact on the auto industry, the

impact on the economy, they called it an economic bloodbath. That is what Donald Trump was referring to.

We also heard the former president today respond himself directly on True Social, claiming that the media and Democrats were trying to twist his

words, and that he was referring, again, to the impact on the auto industry.

But look, regardless of what the meaning was there, Donald Trump on Saturday delivered a very dark speech. He really used the type of fear

mongering we saw him implement on the 2016 campaign trail. And he used that effectively to instill fear in Americans that if he were not to be elected,

that America would be worse off. That's the same type of rhetoric we heard him use on Saturday.

And, you know, from my conversations with the Trump campaign, I think he's going to continue to use that on the trail and throughout the general


And as you mentioned, Becky, he also made some other comments that were concerning both to Democrats and Republicans. At one point, he used

dehumanizing language to talk about migrants, he argued that he doesn't think of them as people, particularly those who were imprisoned for violent

crimes and as you said, calling them animals.

He also repeated a vow that he's made before which is that a day one priority for him if he were to reclaim the White House would be to release

those imprisoned for their role on January 6th, he referred to them as hostages.

And one of the leading critics we heard on that was his former Vice President Mike Pence. Mike Pence speaking on some of the shows on Sunday

said that he disagreed with that word. He thought it was an inappropriate word to describe those who were convicted for their role on January 6th,

arguing especially that it's inappropriate, given there are so many Americans being held hostage in Gaza, Becky.

ANDERSON: Good to have you. Thank you.

Coming up, an exclusive interview, Oman's Foreign Minister tells me why he thinks the U.S. can still be a broker of peace between the Israelis and

Palestinians, more on that is coming up.

And an election in Russia that is being called neither free nor fair. Vladimir Putin secures a fifth term in office.



ANDERSON: Welcome back, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. Well, the latest round of hostage and ceasefire talks are

expected to resume in Qatar in the coming hours. As well as telling CNN, an Israeli delegation led by the country's spy chief will travel to Doha and

is expected to meet with the Qatari prime minister and Egyptian mediators there.

Now, it comes as Hamas defends its latest ceasefire proposal, calling it "logical"

CNN's Paula Hancocks is in Doha, and she joins us live from there. Paula, what do we have at this point?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, we know that there were some key meetings on the Israeli side on Sunday. They had a wall

cabinet meeting, a security Cabinet meeting. And within that, what an Israeli diplomatic source tells us, they decided their red lines.

So, the Mossad director, David Bernea are coming here to Doha to start those talks this Monday, knows exactly how far he can go and what he can

agree to, and where he has to walk away.

So, we have heard the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu call this counter proposal from Hamas. absurd and unlikely, but he has still sent a

delegation here, he is still pushing forward with this. So, that is giving some hope that potentially there is something to be done.

Now. The counter proposal from Hamas, we've heard from a senior Hamas leader, they believe that it is logical, they believe that they have

clarified their position. And we've heard from Hamas officials in recent days as well that they believe that they have been flexible.

So, the latest they have is they want to see in phase one because this would be a multi-phase negotiation and ceasefire is within the six weeks

ceasefire that's expected they want 700 to 1000 Palestinian prisoners to be released. And in return, there could be all female hostages, including IDF

soldiers, the elderly, the injured, and the sick would be released.

That's according to other officials and sources that could amount to some 40 hostages. So, that potentially is phase one. We have heard though from

an Israeli diplomat, our diplomats are familiar with these talks that they believe this will be a hard sell for Israel. And we've heard in Israeli

officials say that they believe that there are very tough negotiations ahead.

But what we're hearing is a similar set of conditions that we have been hearing for some time as certainly. The sticking point and the significant

gaps we see between the positions of Hamas and Israel is, of course, when it comes to a potential permanent ceasefire. Israel simply does not want

that at this point. Israeli Prime Minister making very clear again on Sunday that he intends to go into Rafah, and that that could take several

weeks, that operation. Becky.

ANDERSON: Paul Hancocks is in Doha. Well, it is day eight, Ramadan here in Abu Dhabi and around the region since negotiators missed making a deal by

the start of the Islamic holy month. The focus now is on reaching an agreement before it ends, and crucially, before Israel goes ahead with a

ground operation in Rafah. That is the focus of all key players in this region and Oman is no exception.

I spoke to Oman's foreign minister on Friday about that global call for de- escalation. Here's what he told me.


SAYYID BADR AL-BUSAIDI, FOREIGN MINISTER OF OMAN: President Biden has called the Israelis not to move on to Rafah. The whole world has is calling

Israel not to move on to Rafah. I think enough is enough. And I will join Vice President Harris call for a ceasefire now.


The whole of the Gaza Strip is in famine and it is unspeakable. And this not -- this has not been caused by a natural disaster or a disease, this is

the doing of the State of Israel in complete violation of international law.

ANDERSON: Israel, to your mind, weaponizing aid and intentionally starving Gazans specifically in the north.

AL-BUSAIDI: Yes, I think that is what is happening. That is what -- not only me saying that but the whole international community and U.N. agencies

really witnessing a deliberate policy of starvation and siege on the people of Gaza.

ANDERSON: Kamala Harris has called for a ceasefire, albeit temporary.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There must be an immediate ceasefire for at least the next six weeks.


ANDERSON: How much pressure Do you think America still can bring to bear on the Israelis at this point?

AL-BUSAIDI: in the 1990s, and you in no small part to the courage and wisdom of the then-Secretary of State James Baker, the United States

convened an international conference that would eventually lead to a historic agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. I think the United

States has the capacity to do exactly the same nowadays.

ANDERSON: Let's talk about the potential for a peace conference that you are calling for, including having Hamas at the table realistically, with

this current Israeli government, the country's most far right ever. Do you see them agreeing to that?

AL-BUSAIDI: The purpose of the conference will be to translate the will of the international community for a two-state solution into action.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: (INAUDIBLE) and I, agree about the urgent need to increase humanitarian aid in Gaza and get the ceasefire

deal. To get a ceasefire deal that sends our -- to sends the hostages home, and move toward a two-state solution, which is the only path, the only path

for lasting peace and security,

AL-BUSAIDI: whether today or tomorrow, the whole world has said again and again, there is no other way to have sustainable peace in the long term,

except the establishment of a two-state solution.

ANDERSON: Do you support Senator Chuck Schumer's contention that Israel now needs elections.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): The Netanyahu coalition no longer fits the needs of Israel after October 7th.

I believe that holding a new election, once the war starts to wind down, would give Israelis an opportunity to express their vision for the post-war



AL-BUSAIDI: That is for the Israeli people to determine. And all I am saying is that sooner or later, I think wisdom should prevail. A common

sense should prevail for peace for everybody in the region. Not just between Israel, and its immediate neighbors, but for the whole region.

ANDERSON: CNN has reported that US officials held in direct talks with Iranian officials in Oman, in January. This amid rising tensions around.

This region of the Gulf in the Red Sea, and the wider Middle East, marking the first engagement between the U.S. and Iran for quite some time. What

more can you tell us about those indirect talks? What came out of that?

AL-BUSAIDI: We need to get people to talk with each other and everyone has to be involved. Iran is part of the region. And I think engaging with all

the regional countries are very important element, a prerequisite for the escalation and for bringing a common goal of peace for the whole world. And

this is why I also said that both Israel and Hamas should be part of the solution.

ANDERSON: The Houthis are creating havoc in the seas around this region. They have said that they will stop when there is a ceasefire in Gaza. Do

you believe that? There are many who say that the Houthis are simply taking advantage of this, using the cover of Gaza to really up the ante in these

waters around the Gulf.

And have you been in touch with the Houthis and or spoken to Iran about their intentions going forward?

AL-BUSAIDI: Yes, I believe there is a very strong connection. In fact, it's the only connection between what's going on, on the Red Sea and what's

going on in Gaza.


When stop the war in Gaza, we will de-escalate tension everywhere. I believe, the freedom of navigation, which is something we all call for,

will be resumed.

ANDERSON: As somebody who supports the people of Gaza and calls for a ceasefire, does that by implication suggest that you are supporting the

Houthis' actions? I mean, they are deadly.

AL-BUSAIDI: We are a country of peace, we call for peace everywhere, and we cannot simply expect the continuation of these atrocities in Gaza to

continue and witness it without lifting a finger on Israel. So, I think that is where really the solution begins.

ANDERSON: I did, with respect, to ask, whether you support the actions of the Iran-backed Houthi movement?

AL-BUSAIDI: We don't support violence, we don't support the disruption of people's lives everywhere. But we have to understand the causes and the

reasons and trying to address them at the roots of the problem in order to really have a sustainable solution.


ANDERSON: And that is the first interview that the Oman foreign minister has done with international media since October the 7th. And I want to be

quite clear here, Muscat has for years played a key role in mediating efforts to end conflicts around this region.

So, to hear the views there of the Oman foreign minister is extremely important as we continue to press for news and solutions on what is a

conflicted region once again.

Next up, that easy landslide for Vladimir Putin as he overwhelmingly wins reelection in Russia. We have the global reaction on that coming up.


ANDERSON: All right. Let's connect you to Russia now where Vladimir Putin has just secured a fifth term in office, following an election that is

being condemned in the West.

The Russian president has taken more than 87 percent of the vote, with virtually all ballots now counted.

He says the result sends a strong message to his detractors. Detractors who were notably absent from the ballot papers given that the election offered

no real opposition.

But Alexei Navalny's widow urged Russians to turn out on mass as a show of opposition and did so herself at a polling station in Berlin.

Fred Pleitgen has more from Berlin on the election, and its international reaction.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A landslide victory for Vladimir Putin that was never in doubt.


Securing the Russian president a fifth term in office and solidifying his grip on power with a record, 87 percent of the vote.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): There are a lot of tasks ahead of us. But when we are consolidated, and I think now it is

understood to everyone, no matter how hard anyone tries to frighten us, whoever tries to suppress us, our will our consciousness, no one has ever

managed to have done such a thing in history.

PLEITGEN: Both the U.S. and European countries are condemning the election, and he serious opposition candidates were banned in advance and dissent

effectively outlawed.

And yet, a surprising show of defiance, with protesters targeting dozens of polling stations across the country. Setting fire to ballot boxes, pouring

dye into others. While in Berlin, Germany thousands turned up at the Russian embassy, following calls from the opposition to swarm polling stations,

Including Yulia Navalnaya, widow of the late opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who died suddenly in an Arctic penal colony last month.

Navalnaya said, she wrote her husband's name on the election ballot and has vowed to continue his work.

And in his post-election address, Putin ordered in the volleys name for the first time, claiming he would have agreed to release him in a prisoner


PUTIN: A few days before Mr. Navalny passed away, some colleagues asked me if there is an idea to exchange Mr. Navalny, for some people who are in

prison in Western countries. Maybe you believe me, maybe you don't, the person who spoke to me had not finished his sentence yet, when I said I

agree. But unfortunately, what happened, happened.

There was only one condition that we will exchange him for. And that's not to come back.

PLEITGEN: Backlash not just from the U.S. and its allies, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, describing the election as "a sham".

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): These days, the Russian dictator is simulating another election. Everyone in the world

understands that this figure, as has often happened in history, has simply become addicted to power and is doing everything he can to rule forever.

There is no evil he will not commit to prolong his personal power. And there is no one in the world who is safe from this.

PLEITGEN: Russia's ally, China, though was quick to congratulate Putin's reelection. Saying, it "fully reflects the support of the Russian people.

With no one standing in his way, Putin is now on course to rule for as long as Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.


ANDERSON: And you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

I'm Becky Anderson. Time here, 6:47 in the evening. 10:47 on the East Coast. There is more news just ahead. Stay with us.



IDRIS ELBA, BRITISH ACTOR: (INAUDIBLE) I need to hear everybody.


ANDERSON: Well, the multitalented Idris Elba unveiling his new single last week called, La Trumpeta, with the British record label Defected Records.

Known best, of course, for his acting, he also moonlights as a well-known D.J.


Well, we caught up with a Hollywood star earlier this month and we talked about his early days on the why his relationship with his daughter and how

he wants to change youth culture in the United Kingdom and beyond.

You may have seen that interview if you didn't, it is online. But we also touched on some lighter topics, including his ideal Music Playlist Have a

listen to this.


ELBA: Big tunes don't stop to get enough my love to Michael Jacks. Bob Marley. Could you be love, Bob Marley, I love that tune.

I love playing African tech house at the moment. Not just African actually, just tech house. I'm interested in Lo Fi. Do you like Lo Fi?

ANDERSON: What is Lo Fi?

ELBA: So, Lo-Fi sort of like hip hop beats, with like loops and samples not designed to have songs on, just like really easy listening, but I loved

hip-hop element of it. And then, jazzy pianos, and I just can play forever. I love the beat of Lo-Fi. It's good for dinner pies.

ANDERSON: Excellent.

ELBA: Yes.

ANDERSON: And who would be at that dinner pies?

ELBA: You.

ANDERSON: Excellent, thank you.

ELBA: Barack Obama. I'd love to sit with him. I think he's fascinating. Marcus Rashford, David Beckham -- genius, really clever man. Taika Waititi.

ANDERSON: That's the dinner party I want to be at. No, we don't want anybody else. I'll do. That will be -- that the table I want to be at.


ANDERSON: That's the multi-talented and very impressive, Idris Elba. That really does sound like excellent dinner party, I have to say.

Well, Abu Dhabi where I am here is, of course already home to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and will soon welcome the newest branch of the Guggenheim

Museum. And now, a new art foundation has opened, dedicated to giving art lovers access to some of the private collections from around this region

and the world.

Here is a look at what is this exciting new place.


ANDERSON (voice over): Situate situated in the heart of Abu Dhabi's cultural district is a stunning new art center. Named after Lebanese

businessman, diplomat and philanthropist. The Bassam Freiha Art Foundation is the first private art institution on Saadiyat Island.

BASSAM FREIHA, PHILANTROPIST AND ART COLLECTOR: I want to build a museum to let anybody who would come, no fees, no nothing, to enjoy art and to love


ANDERSON (voice over): The foundation's first exhibition called Echoes of the Orient, brings together works from Freiha's private collection. It also

reclaims the orientalist narrative, by juxtaposing western portrayals with works by Arab modernists.

FREIHA: This is Italia Favio Fabbi made the most beautiful, colorful beauty of the Orient. Look at how they live in happiness, music, relaxed,

beautiful, lovely dresses.

ANDERSON (voice over): Freiha built his collections over the decades as a successful businessman and publisher in Lebanon.

He also held important diplomatic roles in the 1970s. His relationship with the UAE ruling family began when he was just 28 years old. Freiha credits

UAE ruler, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, with gifting the land, the art foundation was built on.

FREIHA: I went to him. I showed him the drawings and I said, it's up to you, Your Highness. You chose.

He looked up for about five minutes and set some place for it is the land next to the other museum, next to the Louvre, the Guggenheim, my late

father museum, it should be there. And I will give you the land, and I will do your dream for you.

ANDERSON: Architect Rasha Gebran turned that dream into a reality.

RASHA GEBRAN, ARCHITECT: As you can see the entrance is consistent of two broad surfaces that are fully clothed, and it represents Bassam standing

tall with wide shoulders and proud.

As you walk through the space, it will change from a solid to a perforated cladding. And these perforations are made up of different shapes and sizes

to elaborate on Bassam Freiha's storyline, achievements, and different influences he's had throughout his life.


ANDERSON: What does this mean to you? And how important is the emergence of these arts institutions in a country that you've spent so many years of?

FREIHA: I collected for half a century. Now, I am 84. I want to enjoy 50 years of hard work of art that makes the person happy, brings happiness,

brings contentment to the soul.

ANDERSON (voice over): The Art Foundation will also exhibit works from other private collections regionally and internationally, fostering cross

cultural exchange and support for artists around the world.


ANDERSON: Wonderful. And that is it for this show, CONNECT THE WORLD from Abu Dhabi this evening.

Stay with CNN. "NEWSROOM" is up next. Wherever you are watching in the world, from here it is a very good evening.