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Fareed Zakaria GPS

Interview with King of Jordan; Thousands Turn Out For March In Memory Of Russian Oppositionist Boris Nemtsov; Interview with Isaac Herzog

Aired March 01, 2015 - 10:00   ET



Welcome to all of our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria. Coming to you today from the ancient citadel, high atop Amman, Jordan.


ZAKARIA: And the centerpiece of today's show will be an exclusive interview with the king of Jordan, His Majesty Abdullah II. His first interview since ISIS released gruesome video documenting the murder of one of his nation's heroes, an Air Force pilot.

What was his reaction as a king?

KING ABDULLAH II, JORDAN: And the gloves have come off.

ZAKARIA: As a father.

ABDULLAH: Disgust, sadness to the family.

ZAKARIA: And how far will his nation go in response to try to defeat ISIS?

ABDULLAH: This is our war.

ZAKARIA: Then from next door, the man who could upset Israeli politics. A poll this week has Isaac Herzog's party dead even with the party of the current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

And elections are just 16 days away. What does Herzog think of Mr. Netanyahu going to Washington? I'll ask him.


ZAKARIA: But first here's my take. Washington is getting enthusiastic about ideological warfare these days. Not Democrats versus Republicans, but rather Americans versus Islamists.

Having spent the last two weeks insisting that we label jihadi terrorist Islamic, many now cry we must fight them on the ideological front. Fine. But such a struggle against radical Islam would be different

from past cultural struggles and would yield somewhat surprising recommendations for action.

Our image of an ideological war comes from the Cold War, a titanic struggle between two complete world views. But that struggle was so pervasive and intense because the enemies' ideas were potentially attractive to anyone anywhere in the world. Communism and capitalism were both secular ideologies, each trying to seduce the world's undecideds into its camp.

It's difficult to remember today that for decades communism was alluring to tens of millions of people. In the 1920s and '30s, many of the Western world's greatest intellectuals like the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw and the historian H. G. Wells were enamored of it. In 1940s, communist parties got large chunks of the vote in free elections in France and Italy, leaving many observers to worry that those countries would choose to become communists.

Around the world the appeal of socialist and communist ideas was real and at times very strong. Radical Islam by contrast is severely limited in its global allure.

Almost by definition it is deeply unattractive to all non-Muslims. Even within the Muslim world radical Islam does not do well. In the half of that world that votes, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Turkey, Iraq and Pakistan, parties based on such ideologies have garnered very few votes. Thus the ideological war today is really and crucially a struggle within Islam.

That's a war that has to be waged by Muslims. If outsiders like America want to play a role, they should try to listen to and support those Muslims fighting the good fight. It's irrelevant what Barack Obama wants to call ISIS. What matters is what the locals here in Jordan and in other Arab countries want to call it.


ABDULLAH: Against these people --


ZAKARIA: As you'll hear in a moment, the king of Jordan thinks such people should be described as outlaws of Islam.

Whatever the phrase, the effort seems similar to that of the Obama administration, to deny these groups the mantle of religion, and in effect to ex-communicate them from mainstream Islam.

The ultimate irony is that if one does understand the ideology behind ISIS properly it leads in an unusual direction.

Graeme Wood in his much discussed "Atlantic" essay discusses the prospects of greater American military involvement against ISIS.

"The biggest proponent of an American invasion is the Islamic State itself," he writes. The provocative videos are clearly made to draw America into the fight. An invasion would be a huge propaganda victory for jihadists worldwide. Instead Wood counsels containment, selective airstrikes and support from Muslims who are working to dissuade their brethren from falling prey to radical Islam.

In other words, fighting an ideological war against ISIS actually points one towards a sophisticated strategy that employs military restraint and political cooperation with Arabs.

I wonder if those clamoring for such a struggle are still on board.

For more, go to and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.

King Abdullah II ascended Jordan's throne just over 16 years ago. And there arguably has never been a more tense time during his reign. By the U.N.'s count, there were more than 800,000 refugees in Jordan in January. Some say the number is higher. One refugee camp is now the fourth biggest city in Jordan.

Outside Jordan's borders, it has ISIS in Iraq and Syria, which has spilled over into Lebanon and Turkey, and now perhaps even further afield. It has the Palestinian problem in Israel and the West Bank right next door. Most recently, Abdullah has had to lead his nation through the sadness and anger that flowed from the brutal murder of one of the nation's air force pilots by ISIS.

We met in the Al Hussein Palace in Jordan's capital Amman.


ZAKARIA: Your Majesty, thank you so much for joining us.

ABDULLAH: Good to be here, Fareed. Thank you.

ZAKARIA: This the first time you're speaking to the world since the death of the Jordanian pilot and that brutal video. Tell us what was your reaction when you first saw the video?

ABDULLAH: Well, in actual fact, I didn't see the video. And many of us refused to see what I think is propaganda. Obviously I had a detailed brief of what happened. We couldn't escape seeing, obviously, pictures in the newspapers. Disgust, sadness to the family. I had met the family on many occasions. My heart went out to the father, the mother, the brothers and sisters, his wife. They'd only been married for five months.

Anger as son of the Arab army, the Jordanian Armed Forces, Moath, God bless his soul, he's a brother in arms. And so I think all Jordanian soldiers past and present were angered and disgusted by the brutality of what Moath was put through.

And I think if ISIS or Daesh, as we call them, try to intimidate Jordanians, I think just have the reverse effect. If you look at our history, we're a country that's used to being outgunned and outnumbered. And we've always punched way about our weight. And I think if anything Daesh has now got us as a tiger by the tail. And it just motivated Jordanians to sort of rally around the flag and the gloves have come off.

ZAKARIA: What do you think they were trying to do with the video?

ABDULLAH: They're always trying to intimidate, scare, put fear into people's hearts. And, you know, this is -- this is a group that works by intimidations. That they're trying to invent falsely a linkage to caliphate or a caliphate link to our history in Islam which has no truth or bearing to our history.

To bring in deluded young men and women that think that this is sort of an Islamic nation, and it has nothing to do with our history. And actually the barbarity of the way they executed our brave hero I think shocked the Muslim world, specifically Jordanians and people from this region. That it had nothing to do with Islam. And it's intimidation that I think they use as their major weapon.

ZAKARIA: The Jordanian government promised an earth shattering -- earth shaking response, as I recall. So far what we've seen hasn't quite seemed that dramatic. Is there more to come? Is -- how should we interpret what's going to happen?

ABDULLAH: Well, you know, earth shattering is -- from all military capabilities is not something that happens overnight. There has been a massive response from air campaign. There are continued operations going on in Syria. We are coordinating with our friends in Iraq. And there is a long-term approach to this issue.

And again, this is one of the issues that I'd like to point out to you. One of the things that the ISIS and Daesh has been saying is why is it that we are being picked on by fellow Muslims, why did the Jordanians get involved in this war. Well, this has been our war. This has been our war for a long time. Against these people that -- for lack of a better term, many of us are calling -- these are outlaws, in a way, of Islam that had been trying to use expansionist policy.

The minute that they set up this irresponsible caliphate to try and expand their dominion over Muslims. They try to make themselves look as the victims. That it is, you know, us Muslims preying on them. Well, what about the hundreds if not thousands of Muslims that they have killed in Syria and Iraq over the past year and a half. The tribes that we have a responsibility to reach out to in eastern Syria and equally as important in western Iraq that had been executed in large numbers over the past year and a half.

So this is our war. And we have a moral responsibility to reach out to those Muslims to protect them and to stop them before they reach our border.

ZAKARIA: In Syria, are you not inevitably aligned with the Assad government in the sense that if ISIS is your main threat, Winston Churchill said when -- you know, he said if Hitler were to invade hell, I would make common cause with the devil.

Do you have to at some level de facto side with Assad?

ABDULLAH: Well, this is part of the confusion when it comes to the international community. I mean, how do you deal with Syria because at the moment there's two stories. There's the issue of dealing with the regime and the issue of dealing with ISIS or Daesh.

We have always believed in Jordan that there has to be a political solution for Syria. What has taken prominence at the moment is ISIS, Daesh, at this stage. So are we trying to chew gum and walk at the same time? And this has to be decided by the international community. We believe that there has to be a political solution that brings sort of the moderate forces and the regime to the table because there is this bigger problem.

That has not been clarified at the moment. So coalition, Arab Muslim, Western, so to speak, can only do so much in Syria against ISIS. But at the end of the day it's got to be the Syrians themselves especially when you want to reach the heartland of ISIS which is Raqqah.


ZAKARIA: When we come back with His Majesty King Abdullah II, I will ask him what he wants to call the radical Islamists or radical extremists that President Obama doesn't want to call Islam, when we come back.



ZAKARIA: We are back with His Majesty, the kind of Jordan, Abdullah II.

President Obama has gotten into a little trouble or at least has received some criticism because he says he doesn't want to call groups like ISIS Islamic extremists because he doesn't want to give them the mantle of legitimacy by acknowledging that they are Islamic.

Do you think he's right?

ABDULLAH: I think he is right. And I think this is -- this is something that has to be understood on a much larger platform because they are looking for legitimacy that they don't have inside of Islam. When we're asked in this debate, you know, are you a moderate or an extremists. What these people want is to be called extremist. I mean, they take that as a badge of honor.

If you ask me am I moderate or an extremist, I'm a Muslim. These people, in the terms that is being used more and more, these in Arabic are called khawarij, these are in a way outlaws that are on the fringe of Islam. And if you look at sort of the way that they are presented inside of our religion, these are sort of takfiris. And takfiris inside of Sunni Islam. Sunni Islam is 1.5 billion Muslims. They represent only 1 percent.

Out of that may be 200,000 to 500,000 of these people are actually takfiri jihadist. These are the crazies of this element. So to label Islam under the term of extremists and moderates is actually completely wrong. So I think by making this comparison that they're extremist Muslims actually is working exactly what these people want.

No, we are Muslims. I don't know what these people are. But they definitely do not have any relationship to our faith.

When Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, came out with his manifesto, even extremist organizations completely backed away from what he said. So he has nothing to do with the tenets of Islam which is tolerance that reaches out to other people.

ZAKARIA: How should the West handle this? Should this -- the response to ISIS the essentially an Arab response, a Muslim response, or should the West be in the lead?

ABDULLAH: This has to be unified. I mean, I've said this to leaders both in the Islamic and Arab world and to the world in general. This is a third world war by other means. This brings Muslims, Christians, other religions together in this generational fight that all of us have to be together. So it's not a Western fight. This is a fight inside of Islam where everybody comes together against these outlaws so to speak together.

And it's a short-term part of this, which is the military part of the issue. There's the medium part, which is the security element to it. And then there's a long-term element to this, which is obviously the ideological one. And that's the one the stood more complicated and more difficult.

ZAKARIA: In Sunni Islam, as you know, there is no real priestly hierarchy. There are no -- there are no popes or really anything like that. But there is historically a great weight given to people who have some family association with the prophet. And the Hashemites, your family is regarded as descending from the prophet.

Given that, do you think that when you hear talk not just from people in ISIS but people who did the things they did in Paris about blasphemy and about the punishments of blasphemy, do you think that any of this has any basis in Islam?

ABDULLAH: Well, again, those that are trying to use -- there's a difference, and I'm sure we can get into this, between freedom of speech and hate speech. So both Rania and I were present there in Paris because it was the right thing to do to stand up against violence and terrorism. But we were also there in Paris to stand in the name of a young Muslim policeman by the name of Ahmed, who is the first policeman to be at the scene of that crime who paid with his life defending the laws of France.

We were there to also defend those innocents that were killed in the name of Islam, whether it was the 150 odd school children that were killed in a school in Pakistan, whether it was, you know, the thousands that were killed in a Nigerian village in a single day or the thousands of Muslims that had been killed every day in Syria and in Iraq. So the issue of the blasphemy, if anybody understood the prophet, may peace be upon him, and how he used to look at life, he was persecuted at the beginning of bringing Islam together, and he always forgave.

There were some brutal things that happened to him, to his family, and he always forgave those around him. So for these extremists now to be able to sort of be the defenders of his honor, when they don't understand who he was, I find so insulting in a way, because he would have always forgiven. But that's not what they want to do. They want to create that hatred.

My brother, His Holiness, the Pope, again spoke out that, you know, the sort of vilifying of religion is something we all have to stand together. And then you see these -- the good stories that unfortunately not reported enough in the media. So when you look at what's happened over the past several months, when people or extremists in Sweden went and sort of painted insulting graffiti on a mosque door in the city in Sweden, the Swedish people came out and put paper hearts on the door of that mosque.

In Cologne, Islamaphobic groups went out chanting against Islam. The Great Cathedral of Cologne turned out its lights in protest against that. Last week young Muslims in Oslo held hands around a synagogue to show a ring of peace. These are the messages that we're all united together against this fight. And not to fall into the trap that the extremists want on either side to create hate between religions. That's what we have to concentrate on.

ZAKARIA: When we come back, more of my interview with the king of Jordan. I will ask him where ISIS gets its money when we come back.


ZAKARIA: We are back with His Majesty, King Abdullah II of Jordan.

Your Majesty, people are puzzled about the way ISIS seems to be able to finance itself, the sophistication of its media operation. But let's start with the money. How do they have so much cash?

ABDULLAH: Well, money does get supplied by individuals in our part of the world. And you've seen sort of a U.N. resolution recently to try and move us into international community to make sure those accesses are cut off. You've also got to remember that ISIS was fairly successful in taking over territory whether it was in Syria and more recently in Iraq where they overran banks and managed actually to capture a lot of money.

And then they ran their own economic industries so they were selling a lot of oil, producing about a billion dollars worth of revenue a year. That's been degraded quite significantly since because of coalition airstrikes. But they had this own ability to run their own economy quite successfully.

ZAKARIA: Do you think that defeating ISIS will require or should require American boots on the ground, American ground forces?

ABDULLAH: Well, look, I think that a lot of us are looking at this, it being sort of our fight, an Arab Muslim challenge, that trying to keep Western boots off the ground is I think an essential part of how we move forward. And I think this is why most of us are looking at it that way. At the end of the day --

ZAKARIA: Why? Do you think it would be -- it would be --


ZAKARIA: -- a gift to ISIS to have Americans?

ABDULLAH: No, we are looking at it. Well, I mean that could be an element of it, because I think sort of the perception that they will use as occupation as the wrong issue. They will obviously always use the idea of this is a crusade, which is not. Because it is actually, this is our fight. But at the same time when you look at Syria and you look at also Iraq, it's the integrity and the sovereignty of those countries. It has to be the Syrians dealing with their issues and Iraq is dealing with theirs. That doesn't mean that they can't be aided by air, possibly Special Forces type of operations in the future.

But those are things that are being looked at. What is I think more important is to look at the challenges and the holistic approach, and I think this is the challenge for 2015. Where the fixation today is, obviously, on Iraq and Syria. We can't forget the problems of Sinai. We can't forget the problems of Libya. And we must not forget the challenges to Africa, Boca Haram, Shabaab and the problems that these franchises, so to speak, are presenting to Asia. So, like-minded countries, Arab, Muslim, and the rest of the community, need to come together and so to bone up to how we can share responsibility, work together and deal with these problems in a holistic approach.

ZAKARIA: Do you think that Prime Minister Netanyahu has genuinely been making an effort to create a two-state solution to the Palestinian problem?

ABDULLAH: At this stage, nothing proactive will happen from either side, unfortunately, until we get passed the elections. My hope is that once we get past the elections, there is a serious commitment from both sides to move on the two-state solution. And the reason is if this is our generational fight against these havarige (ph), these outlaws of Islam, we have been talking about this global threat. What these people use as one of their main recruiting issues, rightly or wrongly, because the Israelis will say that these problems have got nothing to do with us and get upset sometimes when I say that all roads lead to Jerusalem, is it they use this as an argument.

So, we saw that the spike in recruiting in the summer when the war at Gaza happened, and 700 women and children died as a result, foreign fighters flocked to Syria and to Iraq because of what they perceive as the justice of the Palestinians and out of Jerusalem.

So if we're going to have any chance of winning this generational fight, this third world war by other means, if we can't fix this Israeli, Palestinian problem, this ongoing situation that's been there for many decades, then we have at least one hand tied behind our backs if we're going to deal with this. And so, this is the challenge to both Israeli and Palestinian leadership. You have got to understand that now this problem has been - become much bigger than yourselves. How are we going to be able to win this? How are we going to be able to justify us Muslims with the rest of the international community, fighting against these people, if this thing keeps bubbling? That's the major challenge, I think.

ZAKARIA: Your Majesty, pleasure to have you on. Thank you so much.


DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning and welcome to a GPS newsbreak. I'm Dana Bash. Fareed will be back in a few moments with much more from Amman Jordan on GPS, including an interview with the man who could disrupt Israeli politics and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's plans. But first, we get the latest news this morning. And we start in Moscow where organizers say more than 70,000 people showed up today to march in memory of Boris Nemtsov.

Now, Nemtsov was one of Russia president Vladimir Putin's fiercest rivals and critics. And he was gunned down on Friday on a bridge in the shadow of the Kremlin. Let's go straight to Moscow where we have reporters standing by. We're going to start with Matthew Chance. Matthew, what can you tell us about the mood there at this point? Is it more sadness? Is it anger or both?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it's a combination of both of those feelings. There's a lot of sadness about the fact that Boris Nemtsov one of the country's most prominent opposition figures has been gunned down so ruthlessly right here on this bridge, as you say, in just a short distance from the Kremlin. You can see traffic is back here now. But just about an hour ago there were thousands of people that had turned out to pay their respects, to express their sadness, but also their anger at the direction which Russia has turned with the killing of Boris Nemtsov.

One of the signs that struck me, was "propaganda kills," it was one of the slogans that was being brandished on some of the signs. A reference to this idea that Russia has become a place where if you're opposed to the Kremlin, if you reject what the Kremlin says, you become an enemy of the state. And that's something that's been actively propagated by the governments of this country. And it's within that context that Boris Nemtsov was killed. And so, that's what many people who came to this rally today were concerned about, Dana.

BASH: And Matthew, what do we know about the suspect or potential suspect? Authorities apparently have a digital sketch. Can you give us any more information about that?

CHANCE: Yeah. A digital sketch. It's pretty vague. There's some vague description has been put out by the police. They are looking for somebody who is between 170 and 176 centimeters tall, things like that. I'm not clear that it's going to be the kind of description that is going to lead to a conviction necessarily in this case. And that's one of the big concerns here, too. Because Russia, even though it says it's going to bring the culprits to justice in this killing, it's got a very patchy record, indeed, in solving these kinds of political killings. The killers of Anna Politkovskaya back in 2006, a prominent journalist, who was a fierce critic of the Kremlin, the government, have been sent to prison, but the person who ordered the killing has never been found, likewise that of Alexander Litvinenko, the Russian agent, who was killed in London, also in 2006. And so, Russia has a very patchy record. And it is a great deal of skepticism amongst ordinary Russians that it's going to be any different this time.

BASH: Matthew, thank you so much. This is certainly a case where you think you're watching some kind of thriller. Unfortunately it isn't, it's reality. Thank you. We're going to go on to other news.

Now, yesterday Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro declared that authorities there had arrested an unspecified number of Americans, including an American pilot, for espionage. Maduro has claimed that the United States backed a coup plot against him. The U.S. has denied it, but President Maduro also announced that several high-profile U.S. officials including George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney would be banned from Venezuela.

That's all the time we have for this cut-in. I'm Dana Bash. This has been a GPS news update. Fareed will be back in just a minute from Amman, Jordan. He's going to have a man who just might be Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's political nightmare? It's not President Obama and it's not President Rouhani. This man's name is Herzog, Isaac Herzog. You're going to meet him in a moment.


ZAKARIA: Welcome back to GPS from Amman, Jordan. On Tuesday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address the United States Congress to warn it directly of the Iranian nuclear threat. It's a move national security adviser Susan Rice called destructive to the fabric of the relationship between the two allies. Two weeks later Israel will hold national elections. Labor Party chairman and leader of the opposition Isaac Herzog has emerged as this chief rival for the job. A poll this week had that two parties tied for the top number of seats in the new parliament. He joined me from Tel Aviv. Mr. Herzog, pleasure to have you on.


ZAKARIA: This week you said that Prime Minister Netanyahu's decision to speak to the United States Congress two weeks before the election, without informing the White House, was political spin. What did you mean by that?

HERZOG: That we make it clear to the American public and to our viewers that there is no difference in Israel as to the strategic threat that emanates from the Iranian nuclear program. Clearly, no Israeli leader, and me included, will ever accept a nuclear Iran. However, the way to deal with it in my mind should be different. And I think that Netanyahu's speech in Congress is a mistake. One needs to work together intimately with those who are negotiating the international agreement with Iran and make sure that this agreement is ironclad on delivery, namely that there will never be an Iranian nuclear bomb.

And when arguments emanate, such as the arguments surrounding the speech of Netanyahu in Congress, there are questions that are raised. There is daylight between us and the administration and that's not good.

ZAKARIA: And you would not have gone? Had you been prime minister, you would not have accepted the invitation to speak to Congress two weeks before the election?

HERZOG: I would make sure that nothing of this sort would be viewed as partisan in any way. The United States was always strategic for us, it was never partisan. Israel knew how to work the floor on both sides and keep unique relations with both parties. And I definitely believe that it is a mistake to present an elected official in the United States with a question whether he prefers the White House or he prefers Israel. There is no - there's - that shouldn't be even a question, because we have common grounds. And we have a, you know, we share the same objective of making sure that Iran won't have nuclear weapons.

Iran is a rogue state, a dangerous state. Iran spreads hatred all over the world. And Iran should be demanded by the international community in these negotiations to make it clear that it accepts Israel as part of the family of nations rather than calling for its eradication.

These are the issues that we should be talking about. We should define intimately between the administrations what is exactly a bad deal, because the president himself said rightly so, that a bad deal, then there is no deal.

ZAKARIA: The Israeli NGO, Peace Now, has released a report that says that has been a 40 percent rise in settlement activity construction in the West Bank since last year. A lot of people believe at this point a two-state solution is really going to be very, very difficult. Do you believe if you were prime minister that there is an actual path to a two-state solution and what is it?

HERZOG: And it's still realistic. I don't agree with all these opinions. I think that it is viable. However, right now our relationship with the Palestinians is at a dead-end. It's actually one of the worst periods in the relationship. The Palestinians opted for unilateralism. They have come forward with unilateral steps both to the Security Council as well as going to the International Criminal Court against our soldiers who have protected our nation against Palestinian terror from Hamas. We will stop the unilateral action by the Palestinians and we will try to reignite the process. I will definitely try to reignite the political process with the Palestinians by way of including our neighbors in this process such as Egypt and Jordan on a regional platform and trying our best, again, not to give up but trying our best again. ZAKARIA: What do you make of this recent court decision in the United States awarding damages against the Palestinian authority? If you are trying to make peace, is that something that is not going to help because you need a partner, or is it something that has to be done? How do you view it?

HERZOG: First and foremost, we need to negotiate. That's what we need to do. We need to talk to each other. I've met Mr. Abbas, President Abbas a couple of times in the last year. And I must say I actually asked him, do you believe that there will be a day when you will be able to come to an agreement with an Israeli leader? He wasn't sure about his answer. And I really say to you and I say to our viewers, first and foremost we need to win trust with our neighbors. We need to extend our hand and see what and how they are coming into this again, yet again, not to give up, try, and not naive. I think that it will be much more difficult to start again, but we should start again.

ZAKARIA: What would be the biggest difference, Mr. Herzog, between you being prime minister and Bibi Netanyahu being prime minister a month from now?

HERZOG: Listen, there are many differences. First of all, internally I offer totally different economic, social economic platform, which strengthens and empowers the people, which returns money to them, which has a better division of income in our society and gives them hope. And secondly, I want to bring hope to our people, to my people as well as to our neighbors. I believe that in our region everybody ought to live quiet, tranquil and successful life. We have to do whatever we can to give hope to our children and to the next generations.

And I will try my best, I will try again, I will talk to the region. Israel should be part of that coalition, which fights extremism and works together towards peace and works together towards stability in the Middle East.

ZAKARIA: Mr. Herzog, pleasure to have you on.

HERZOG: Thank you, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: That was Israel's Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog. We asked Prime Minister Netanyahu to appear, but he declined our invitation. Next on GPS, the world's longest train journey was completed this week. We'll tell you where it went and why.


ZAKARIA: This week, the Federal Communications Commission voted to adopt strong net neutrality rules which would prevent Internet providers from giving certain websites faster or slower speeds, blocking sites entirely or potentially charging for preferential service. It brings me to my question, where does the United States rank globally in terms of broadband speed? Is it second, ninth, 15th or 27th? Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer. This week's book of the week is actually a play on Broadway. It's called "Disgraced." It's by Ayad Akhtar, and it's about the very struggle within Islam between radicals and moderates that we've been talking about these past few weeks. It's a riveting production. And if you're not in New York you can buy the book and use your imagination. They won the Pulitzer Prize. And now, for the last look. The world's longest rail journey was completed this week. A Chinese cargo train finished its first strip from the town of Yiwu in China to Madrid, and all the way back again as courts pointed out. That means it passed through no fewer than eight countries, China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, France, and Spain according to Chinese state media. The journey was more than 8,000 miles each way and each leg took roughly three weeks. To put that in perspective, the run for distance is equivalent to traveling between Los Angeles and New York approximately six and a half times or from L.A. to Sydney and back again.

The direct link to the West has been called the 21st century Silk Road by Chinese officials. It isn't just this isolated route, last year Xi Jinping announced a $40 billion Silk Road fund to boost infrastructure that could link markets across Asia and beyond. It's officially the year of the sheep, or by some translations, the ram or the goat. But perhaps the silkworm would be more appropriate.

The correct answer to the GPS challenge question is D. As of this Friday, the U.S. ranks 27th in broadband download speed, right behind Hungary and Bulgaria. According to the latest information from Internet analyst, Ookla Net index. Not great considering as others have pointed out, Americans pay a lot for their Internet. According to "New America," the majority of the United States Internet customers pay more than their counterparts in Europe and Asia.

Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. Coming from Amman, Jordan. We will see you next week in New York.