Return to Transcripts main page
Quest Means Business
Heavy Gunfire In Northern Gaza, Clashes In Khan Younis In South; Blinken Urges Israel To Do More To Protect Civilians; Babies From Gaza Recover In Egypt, Some Without Mothers; Save The Children Head: Death And Destruction "Overhwleming"; US Republican Presidential Candidates Debate In Alabama; Donald Trump Skips Fourth Presidential Debate; Accounting Expert Testifies In Trump's Defense; Trump Present For Defense Witness In Fraud Case; U.S. Senate Republicans Block Aid Package For Ukraine; Call To Earth: Africa's River Systems; Aviation Industry To Hit Record Revenue In 2023. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired December 07, 2023 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Look at the markets. As one hour left to trade, the market, the Dow is up. It's been a bit choppy, but the
gains are small, and they seem to be holding as we go into the last hour of trading. The markets and the main event that we are following today.
Israel says it's eliminated two more senior Hamas members with fierce fighting underway now throughout Gaza.
Jabs and one-liners at the Republican presidential debate. Was it more heat than light? And did anyone make any progress?
And Lord Cameron, the British foreign secretary, to US politicians for supplying more funding to Ukraine and prevent a win for Putin.
Tonight, in Dubai, live from Dubai on Thursday, December the 7th, I am Richard Quest and in Dubai as elsewhere, of course, I mean business.
Good evening. It is a milestone of sorts. It's now two months that the war between Israel and Hamas has been ongoing. And there is no end in sight.
The Israeli military is fighting in all areas of Gaza. These images will give you an idea of the scale, the aftermath of a strike in northern Gaza
from across the border. And the IDF says it's killed several senior Hamas members, releasing this photo showing 11 members of the northern Gaza
brigade -- five of them labeled as eliminated.
The Israeli forces also say they killed two other senior members of Hamas's intelligence command center. Jeremy Diamond is in Sderot.
The common popular view early in the war was that Israel would keep going for as long as likely and possible before the US/EU or anybody else would
force it to back off. But they -- I mean, I don't know whether that holds true still, bearing in mind the intensity and ferocity of the fighting
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's no question, Richard, that the US pressure has been ramping up on Israel. Just today, President Biden
speaking again with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this was their 16th call and it was to talk about Israeli military activity in Gaza.
We know that US officials have been urging Israel to carry out its operations in southern Gaza in a very different manner than they did in the
north -- to effectively not replicate the kind of carnage that we saw at the level of civilian casualties in northern Gaza in the south.
But if you see the images that we have been seeing from the first days of Israel's southern offensive, they are very similar to those that we saw in
northern Gaza. In several strikes, you can see women and children being pulled from the rubble.
Now, Israel has leaned more on evacuation orders, releasing an image -- a map of Gaza that divides the strip into hundreds of districts to urge
specific areas to be evacuated. But the feasibility and the efficacy of those methods so far is in question, particularly, as we have seen civilian
casualties mount once again in recent days as Israel has bombed key southern cities in Gaza of Rafah, Khan Younis, as well as the city in
central Gaza of Deir al-Balah.
We know that the Israeli military is pushing forward with its offensive despite the pressure from the United States and others. We have seen images
of Israeli troops in the northern part of the city of Khan Younis, Israeli armored vehicles, as well as tanks pushing into that key city in the south
as they look to not only decimate Hamas's military capabilities in the south, but also go after Yahya Sinwar, the group's leader in Gaza.
Now, the question is, at some point, will the US clock tick to the end and force Israel to change its methods or to ramp down the fighting in Gaza?
There is some sense that perhaps by the end of the year the military will have to shift to less intense fighting in the Gaza Strip.
But for now, at least, Richard, we are witnessing intense battles being carried out between Hamas and Israel, not only in southern Gaza but also
behind me in northern Gaza where all evening we have been hearing artillery and airstrikes, as well as machine gun fire in the distance.
QUEST: Okay. So to your point that you started at the beginning, this idea that don't fight in the south as you fought in the north, is it too soon to
say whether they are or not?
DIAMOND: Maybe. But what we're -- the picture that we're getting, Richard, in these first few days indicates that there hasn't been a significant
shift in the way that the Israeli military is carrying out this operation. They are still carrying out airstrikes that do result in civilian
casualties. Israel will say that they are proportional strikes and that there is an acceptable level of civilian casualties based on the military
targets they're going after.
International organizations very much disagree with that picture. And we are also watching as the humanitarian situation in southern Gaza is
beginning to deteriorate much as it did in the north in terms of hospitals running out of medical supplies, lacking fuels to carry out their
operations, humanitarian organizations saying the shelters are overcrowded. And at some point, there is simply no more place for civilians in Gaza to
go to. Yes?
QUEST: Yes. So, as we get this ongoing list from Israel of this person eliminated or that person, do we have any feeling or idea of how many more
or, I mean, how much of Hamas's top brass, if you will, has been removed?
DIAMOND: The Israeli military has cited figures indicating that some half of battalion commanders in Hamas have been killed. They pointed to this
picture that you showed in northern Gaza where five out of the 11 senior commanders of the northern brigade were killed.
But, ultimately, Richard, the Israelis have one key target, and that is Yahya Sinwar. They have made it very clear that they are targeting him in
southern Gaza, trying to locate him and, ultimately, trying to kill or capture him.
QUEST: Jeremy Diamond who is in Sderot tonight for us. Thank you.
The US Secretary of State is pushing for more aid to reach Gaza. The United Nations estimates that 80% of the people there have now been displaced.
A State Department official says the Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke today to Israel's Minister of Strategic Affairs and told him, Israel
must do more to protect civilians. During an interview on Wednesday, CNN's Gayle King pressed him on the issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONY BLINKEN, US SECRETARY OF STATE: They, nonetheless, have an obligation to do everything possible to protect civilians, to distinguish
between terrorists and innocent men, women, and children. And this is something that we've been on.
GAYLE KING, CNN HOST: And that part doesn't seem to be going so well, Mr. Secretary, about keeping the civilians safe.
BLINKEN: But what we're seeing now is we're seeing some, I think, important steps being taken as they're operating -- they're beginning to operate in
the south of Gaza.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Signs of hope for some premature and sick babies that were born in Gaza. Remember that some of the newborn were transferred from the Al-Shifa
Hospital in northern Gaza to Egypt. Doctors say that most of the babies are improving. And many of the parents though, unfortunately, are still
Reuniting these babies with their families will not be easy as Larry Madowo explains.
LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every breath is a miracle for these babies born prematurely during the war in the Gaza Strip. They're
here because Israeli forces ordered the Al-Shifa Hospital in the north evacuated, claiming Hamas terrorists operated from there.
Baby formula is the only source of nutrition here. Many of the mothers have not been found yet. Nobody knows if they're alive or dead.
Shaimaa Abu Khater just arrived and is meeting her daughter for the first time since she was born 38 days ago.
(SHAIMAA ABU KHATER speaking in foreign language.)
MADOWO (voice over): "Your father says to tell you that he loves you," she tells the baby Khenda (ph), her voice breaking. This is the closest she can
get to her own child. She was incubated as soon as she was born.
(SHAIMAA ABU KHATER speaking in foreign language.)
SHAIMAA ABU KHATER, MOTHER OF PRETERM BABY (through translator): We were under siege in the north. I didn't know anything about my daughter. We had
no connectivity. When the truce came, I found out that she was in Egypt.
MADOWO (voice over): Khenda and 11 other preterm babies from Al-Shifa came to the new capital administrative hospital in Cairo over two weeks ago.
Nine more have arrived from across Gaza since.
MADOWO (on camera): How relieved are you to be able to see your baby, finally?
ABU KHATER (through translator): I'm very happy. Thank God. Today, I felt like a mother because I've never seen her before. I just want to hold her
into and touch her.
MADOWO (voice over): Doctors say she will be able to hold her daughter soon.
MADOWO (on camera): All the babies in this neonatal intensive care unit are under six weeks old, and yet they have already been through so much in
their short lives -- a war and a risky journey across the border from the Gaza Strip to here in the Egyptian capital.
(voice over): Sawsan Abu Amsha gave birth to twin girls two months early, just six days after the Israel-Hamas war started in the north.
(SAWSAN ABU AMSHA speaking in foreign language.)
SAWSAN ABU AMSHA (through translator): There were airstrikes and heavy bombardment; the dead everywhere. It all weighed down on me, so I had labor
pains and cramps. They took me to Shifa Hospital, and I spent a week in the ICU.
MADOWO (voice over): One of the girls has been discharged from the NICU, and she can breastfeed her in the nursery, but the twin sister remains in
an incubator. Their mother never thought she would see them again.
ABU AMSHA (through translator): Shifa was under siege. Out of despair, I lost hope and I left. I wanted to take my girls with me, but the doctor
said if I did, they would die. They said to leave them and God would protect them.
MADOWO (voice over): Doctors say that all of the babies are doing better than when they arrived in Cairo.
OSAMA AL KHOLY, PROFESSOR OF PEDIATRICS, ZAGAZIG UNIVERSITY: Well, most of the cases are growing well, increasing in weight. They have good general
condition, tolerate oral feeding. Some problems in some patients, but not too much.
MADOWO (voice over): In fact, eight have made it out of the NICU into this nursery, but reuniting them with their parents might be harder than saving
AL KHOLY: We know only the name for the mother, but we don't not know where is the mother is now.
MADOWO (voice over): Larry Madowo, CNN, Cairo.
QUEST: For those who remain in Gaza, of course, the situation is much worse. The Palestinian Red Crescent says a lack of fuel is crippling their
operations and stopped work at its ambulance center in the north.
And the head of Save the Children said conditions in Gaza have made their job impossible. She wrote on X the death and destruction have overwhelmed
every system that would normally protect civilians.
Janti Soeripto is the president and CEO of Save the Children with me now, in the US. The -- I'm just looking at some of the quotes from the -- your
CEO and others, "We are running out of words to describe the horror." A message from Gaza itself. The world has a responsibility to act
immediately. But the reality is, what would you like them to do?
JANTI SOERIPTO, PRESIDENT AND CEO, SAVE THE CHILDREN: So thank you, Richard. It is actually day by day getting a simpler message -- we need the
fighting to stop.
There is no safe place at all in Gaza at the moment. People are being asked to move further south even more. They were asked to move south a couple of
weeks ago. Many of them went south. But about 300,000 had to remain in the north.
As you just showed on a previous segment, there are people in hospitals who can't move. There are still people stuck in the north. There was very
little aid coming through to the north at all -- no fuel. And now, they're being asked to move even further south -- south from Khan Younis where they
-- where a lot of people ended up.
SOERIPTO: So there is no safe space. And we have a -- because the fighting is going on, the end of the humanitarian pause a couple of days ago, there
is no way for us to actually deliver what little supplies that we had left.
QUEST: The problem that you face, of course, as indeed to all of the agencies is that Israel knows all that. Israel knows that they're pushing
the people into a smaller and smaller area, and that the situation is appalling. But they seemed determined to finish the job. And to some extent
their closest allies -- the US, the UK, the Europe -- are not pushing for a ceasefire as people, like, you would want.
SOERIPTO: That is, indeed, true. So we're are asking ourselves what that -- what does that finish the job really mean? How many more children need to
die before we think that the job is finished?
We think it is absolutely unconscionable what's happening. It's completely, you know, failing the children and the civilians of Gaza. There is no basic
necessities going in at all. So, you know, at the moment, we're just withholding clean water, food, basic items to the civilian population of
And frankly, as humanitarians, we -- you know, we're watching this train wreck happening and, you know, asking ourselves, what else can the US
government and other governments do to bring more leverage on, if possible, to the parties here to stop the fighting and allow humanitarian operators
to do their work?
QUEST: You see that the reality might be, something that, you know, no one really wants to face, that the allied nations of the US, UK, et cetera are
-- I mean, Lord Cameron specifically said today, you know, Hamas can't be seen to win because then nobody is safe in Israel's security.
Now, I realize that that's -- to a certain extent, that's not your problem, in a sense. Your problem is the children who are being maimed and killed.
And I start to sort of feel slightly depressed, as I'm sure many people, at this ever-circular motion that we go through.
SOERIPTO: I'm amazed that we're even still talking about winning or losing in this situation. Nobody is winning here. That ought to be super clear.
QUEST: If you can't get a ceasefire, and many have tried, if that can't happen, how do you manage this? How do you ensure the least loss of child
life? Because, essentially, it pains me to put it in those rather unpleasant terms, but that's what you're talking about.
SOERIPTO: Yes. And we did see, when we had the humanitarian pause that lasted for a full of seven days, even though it wasn't enough, we would've
prefer to see many more days, of course, but aid delivery was possible.
Aid was coming in. We managed to regroup with our colleagues. We have 25 colleagues in Gaza. We regrouped. Humanitarians all across the various
agencies were working together, with the UN agencies as well, to figure out where do we go, where are the most vulnerable, how do we get supplies
there, how do we get to the north?
So -- and we have our10-point plan that we can use to go in once the fighting stops. We know how to do it. This is -- in a way, that is what we
do all across the world.
We restore the water infrastructure. That's the first thing you do. I mean, this is also a public health disaster in the making -- waterborne diseases,
et cetera. We know all that. You go in with the water infrastructure, you rebuild structures, you rebuild hospitals and schools, and you bring in the
necessary supplies and humanitarian workers actually help deliver those basic services.
SOERIPTO: That is what we would do with another extension of the humanitarian pause.
QUEST: So you're ready to do it?
SOERIPTO: We are very ready to do it.
QUEST: I'm grateful for you giving me your time tonight.
SOERIPTO: But we need the fighting stopped.
QUEST: Thank you very much, Janti. Right, well .
SOERIPTO: Thank you, Richard.
QUEST: . we certainly heard that. And we'll follow on. Thank you, thank you very much.
And so, to politics in the United States, the Republican presidential candidates faced off on the debate stage last night. Former President
Donald Trump, again, refused to show up. The debate had its fair share of testy exchanges, some of them were quite rude. In a moment.
QUEST: Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor, faced sharp attacks last night from her Republican rivals as they went head-to-head on the
latest debate floor. Haley has been gaining in the polls and getting key donors onboard. Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis accused her of caving into
The businessman, Vivek Ramaswamy, says Haley is in the pocket of Boeing, because she served on its board. And Ramaswamy also peddled conspiracies,
calling the Jan. 6th riot an inside job. However -- and this is a key point -- he was blasted by the former New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CHRISTIE, FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: You go out on the stump and you say something, all of us see it on video, we confront you on the debate
stage, you say that you didn't say it, and then you back away. And I want to say what .
VIVEK RAMASWAMY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'll say exactly what I said, Chris.
CHRISTIE: No, I am not done yet.
RAMASWAMY: Well, this is .
CHRISTIE: Now, look .
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hold on, hold on.
CHRISTIE: Let me tell you something, this is the fourth debate -- the fourth debate that you would be voted in the first 20 minutes as the most
obnoxious blowhard in America. So shut up .
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: As it stands, all of this was really for second place. Who is going to get it? Because former President Trump, who basically has not taken part
in the debates, is leading his Republican rivals by a wide margin and refused to face them. This is the Poll of Polls, 61% of Republicans say
they'll likely back Trump in the primary. DeSantis and Haley have double- digit support. Ramaswamy and Christie are trailing.
Mia Love is in the -- is a CNN political commentator, former Republican congresswoman. She joins me now from Utah.
I thought what -- the best bit I thought I heard was when, you know, Christie compares -- well, first of all, he asks the others, is Trump fit
to serve? And they don't answer. And then he compares Trump to Voldemort -- he who shall not be named. At what point do the other Republican candidates
have to deal with this issue?
MIA LOVE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think they follow the polls, and if their polls are sliding, they have to course correct. If their polls are
doing well, then they would -- they just keep doing what they're doing, like Trump.
Trump doesn't go to these debates because he's doing well without them. Why fix something that's not broken? So he's not going to these debates. He
just -- he's just staying away from them because it's working for him.
QUEST: Right. But I was at an event here in the UAE, and there were some -- there were several Republicans who were there -- conservative Republicans.
And even then, you know, you can't get people to actually commit. They'll say in privately one thing about Donald Trump, but they are terrified of
doing it publicly. And I guess that's how Trump wins.
LOVE: Well, there are still a good group of Americans out there who are supporters of Trump. And that's what -- that's the group that they're
afraid of losing. You know, just some blue collared, really hardworking Americans that have liked Trump and have liked the policies, so they're --
they do not want to lose that group if they don't have to.
QUEST: How horrified, if at all, were you -- right, how horrified were you, if at all, on Trump's comments in the Sean Hannity interview earlier this
week, where he basically said, yes, day one I'll be a dictator? And then he goes on to talk about how -- you know, the (inaudible) to revenge against
A lot has been made of it, but it's not moving the needle against Trump, is it?
LOVE: Well, it's really interesting because one of the things that I really dislike when I was a member of Congress, when I would listen to the
president speak, he would say things like, when I took power -- when I took power. I was like, what is this, a dictatorship? You took power over our
country? We're not living in a monarchy here, okay? It was just really interesting.
QUEST: If we look at -- I mean, you summed it up at the beginning, didn't you? Donald Trump doesn't need to because he doesn't need to.
And with the numbers as they are, I mean, he doesn't need to debate because he doesn't need to. And with the numbers as they are, the Republican Party
might as well just pack up, go home, give the crown to him and let him -- make him the presumptive nominee.
LOVE: Well, you know, you've got Nikki Haley who took the best and weathered it well. I mean, she weathered what they were throwing at her
pretty well. And I don't think it's over with her. I think she is going to probably the only one on the stage that can actually beat Donald Trump, at
least from what I saw last night.
QUEST: Now, is that -- right. Now, is that a -- do you think that's a prediction or a potential?
LOVE: Well, I can't -- I don't make predictions but, whatever -- prediction or a potential, either one, either one. But she's the only one
on the stage that can beat him. And I would not be surprised if she wins. I'm not -- that's not going to shock me at all.
It will shock a lot of people. But I see where she is on a lot of policies. She tends to talk about policy work. A lot of the candidates don't talk
very much about policy.
The American people want to know what you're going to do about the problems of today, what are you going to do to help them put food on the table, to
keep their children in good schools and make life better for them. They want to know what the plans and the strategies are. If you don't have a
plan, how can they -- there's no future, there's no bright future for them to look at, to look towards!
QUEST: I am grateful. Thank you very much for joining us. Thank you.
CNN will host two Republican debates in January. The first will be at the Drake University in Iowa on January the 10th. It's five days before the
famous Iowa caucuses.
And on January 21st, CNN will host a debate in New Hampshire. The primary in that state is just two days later. Both debates will stream live on CNN
Donald Trump was back today in a New York courtroom where he's fighting claims of civil fraud. An accounting expert testified in Trump's defense,
arguing the state's case has no merit, that Mr. Trump is accused of inflating his properties' values to help him and his business.
Professor Eli Bartov told the court that valuations are highly subjective. The former president said his expert witness found absolutely no fraud. The
former president expected to take the stand on Monday.
Brynn Gingras is in New York. So we had this expert testimony, which usually can be quite powerful. Was it in this occasion?
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, this is certainly the strongest witness that the defense has put on the stand, Richard, to
the point that you just laid out there for your viewers. He, essentially, said that this entire civil trial, the civil suit that the New York
attorney general filed against Trump and the other codefendants has no merit.
He said he's looked over those financial statements of condition that are at the heart of this case, and he's found no evidence that there's any
fraud and that there was no intent to defraud bankers or anyone else involved. He also said that there was no evidence of, you know, violating
any accounting regulations and rules, and also talked about how really, like you said, Richard, those financial statements are really subjective
when it comes to trying to get alone with bankers and with interest rates.
And so this, again, is really the strongest witness that the defense has put forward. It's also the second to last witness that we will see on the
stand in this civil fraud trial that has lasted for about two months.
GINGRAS: The last witness was Donald Trump himself .
QUEST: And we're going to listen to Donald Trump. He's speaking now. We're just going to listen to Donald Trump.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER US PRESIDENT: (Inaudible). We have proven many times over, even long before today, this (inaudible) conclusive, but we have
proven this is just a witch hunt by a political system that should be ashamed of itself. They're going after a political opponent.
This comes from Washington. This comes from Biden. This case is -- it's a joke. It's a joke.
The cash, we didn't even need the loan. We could've -- we had so much cash. We have far more cash that we had than the loan we're talking about.
This has come out loud and clear. I hope that the press to understand. I hope they treat it fairly. It cannot be more conclusive. And they're not
finished. They're going other figures that are even better. They're not finished because, over the years, the numbers got even better.
By the way, these loans were all paid off, just so you understand that. They were all paid off. These aren't loans that are due or defaulted on at
all. We never even got a notice of any difficulty.
The bank -- Deutsche Bank was extremely happy. They testified. They were extremely happy. They made their full money and some of the loans were paid
This is just a witch hunt with all of the -- with all of the problems that New York has that this horrible, absolutely horrible attorney general would
do. This is disgraceful. It's a disgrace to our country.
And again, I should be right now in Iowa and New Hampshire, South Carolina. I shouldn't be sitting in a courthouse. And I don't have to sit here. I
could just do what I want of whatever I want to do. I want to make sure that you get the true story because this is a --
QUEST: Donald Trump there, as he leaves court. Brynn Gingras is still with me.
You've heard it before. It comes from Biden; the case is a joke; it is a witch hunt. The loans were all paid off. I imagine you are eagerly
anticipating hearing what he says in court on Monday, when he is on the stand himself. But you probably have a good idea of what it will be.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it will probably be very much to what we saw last time he was on the stand about one month ago when the
state called him. He sort of attacked the judge in this case. He aired those same grievances you just heard him say there.
Yes, it is going to be pretty much the same thing. Yet he is still going to take the stand. He will have to be careful what he does say. That gag order
still in place, one that he had violated twice already.
Also very important to remember here, Richard, in this case as we are winding up, this is -- the judge has already found that Trump and his
codefendants are liable for fraud. He has already listed some of the penalties that he wants the Trumps and the Trump Organization to face.
He is deciding how much money in disgorgement he will have to pay back to the state. That is what the attorney general is asking for is $250 million.
We will see where the judge lands on that.
There is a lot at stake here. And it is certainly winding down. We still probably won't know the answers to those questions for another month when
the judge makes a final decision. But like you just said, Monday is going to be another interesting day here in downtown Manhattan.
QUEST: And you will be there, in the cold and all of it, of course. You will be there to watch over the events for us. Thank you, Brynn Gingras.
The fight for funding, the U.K.'s foreign secretary warns of the dangers of not providing financial aid to Ukraine.
QUEST: The U.K. foreign secretary is urging U.S. lawmakers to pass a financial aid package for Ukraine. It follows Republicans in the U.S.
Senate blocking funding for the country as they wanted to tie it to changes in U.S. border policy.
Earlier today, Lord Cameron spoke to CNN ahead of his meeting with the U.S. secretary of state, Antony Blinken.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CAMERON, U.K. FOREIGN SECRETARY: I just absolutely know that this money will make a huge difference to a Ukrainian campaign that actually is,
in many ways, far more successful than people give them credit for.
They have taken back half the land that Russia stole from them. The other night they destroyed 20 percent of Russia's attack helicopters in one
night, thanks to American equipment. They have driven the Russian navy back across the Black Sea.
They are exporting grain again, so their economy is growing again. This is an investment into their success. And the worst thing in the world will be
to allow Putin a win in Ukraine, not just because that would be bad in and of itself but he would be back for more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Jim Sciutto is with me.
This is an interesting one, isn't it?
Because yes, there are some Republicans who do not want to fund the war. But it is the tying of it to border security in the South which ultimately
could defeat giving the aid at the time when it is needed.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: One hundred percent. I hear real pessimism right now about this aid package
passing. It has been up and down. A few days ago there was some confidence.
But that vote yesterday was telling. To be clear, this is aid not just for Ukraine but for Israel and Taiwan. So you have three allies here facing
genuine threats. Congress is really punting on it, tying it to what is a domestic issue, border security and immigration policy.
There is Democratic openness. The president said it himself yesterday, to concessions on immigration policy to get this through. But the two sides
remain far enough apart. Then we have Christmas coming. Congress is going to go home next week. So genuine fear that they do not get this done in
I have spoken to Ukrainians who say they are already rationing weapons in the field. They already feel that they are losing members of the military
as a result of this aid delay. If they do not get it by the end of the month, even more severe consequences on the battlefield.
QUEST: Those people who are trying to tie it to border security or whatever else it might be tied to, do they want Putin to win?
I'm guessing not.
But when you put it to these people that you talk to, privately, look, if you don't get off your backside and actually give them the aid, Ukraine
stands a real chance of losing, what do they say to you?
SCIUTTO: Listen, there is a portion of the Republican Party -- and, by the way, you have heard similar comments from the leading Republican president
for candidate, Donald Trump -- that is not fully on board with defending Ukraine. They will repeat tropes about how this.
Well, you know, Trump himself has said he would end the war today. Not clear exactly how he would do. It but he has also expressed admiration for
Putin. He has pushed some of these ideas that, well, maybe NATO pushed too far into Eastern Europe.
And is this really our fight?
You also hear Republican members of Congress saying, well, it's not a priority. We have to stand up to China now, which, as you know, doesn't
make a lot of sense, given that China is very much watching the West's reaction to the war in Ukraine to see how much Taiwan's allies would stand
up to any Chinese military activity around Taiwan.
SCIUTTO: So there really is no intellectual consistency on this, Richard. But it is an expression of the politics of this country. You have an
isolationist wing of the Republican Party, with a champion in the former president, Donald Trump, that is moving votes on Capitol Hill right now
QUEST: Right. Since I am fortunate and privileged enough to have you for a moment, I have to ask, what did you make of last night's debate?
SCIUTTO: Listen, for one, it doesn't have the leading candidate up there, right?
Donald Trump is still far ahead. This is a battle for second place. There is some excitement around Nikki Haley. You can see that in the debate
because she was very much the target of a lot of the jabs, particularly from DeSantis and Ramaswamy.
But I watch this, looking for serious policy points, particularly about international affairs but also about domestic policy. And you don't hear a
lot of serious policy points. You hear a lot of volume, a lot of personal attacks.
It was Chris Christie on the screen now who made the most spirited argument, that Trump is not fit for office. But a lot of the back and forth
just seems disconnected from, at times, the facts. And at times the seriousness of the issues involved.
And it remains to be seen whether these debates mean much. Whether any of those candidates on the stage can run a credible challenge against Trump,
once those first primaries and caucuses begin, less than six weeks away.
QUEST: Looking forward to. It thank you, Jim Sciutto.
QUEST: In Washington for us.
QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. As we continue we meet the man protecting one of Africa's largest river systems in the "Call to Earth" in a moment.
QUEST: The Kasai River in Angola is Africa's second largest river by volume. It flows directly into the Congo and supplies tens of millions of
people with fresh water.
Until recently, huge portions of it had never been properly documented by scientists. As part of Rolex's Perpetual Planet Initiative, the explorer
Steve Boyes has embarked on a series of expeditions to go discover and protect these river systems and the lives that depends on them.
STEVE BOYES, EXPLORER, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY (voice-over): The eastern portion of the Angolan Highlands water tower.
BOYES (voice-over): It was previously known as the "terra do fim do mundo," "the land at the end of the earth," by the first Portuguese
Was the farthest place from anywhere and it is.
All we have is satellite imagery to look at and try and prepare ourselves for what we are going to do that day. But we are the first people to
document these river systems. And when I say document, we are establishing early 21st Century river baselines, ecological and hydrological baselines.
I'm Dr. Steve Boyes. I'm a National Geographic Explorer and the project leader of the Great Spine of Africa series of expeditions.
I've never wanted to be anything else other than an explorer and a conservationist. I gave up writing my master's dissertation and, for the
next decade, my entire world was the Okavango Delta. I couldn't think of anything else. I never wanted to leave.
So I went to all the universities in the states around the world to advocate for the Okavango Delta to become a World Heritage Site, UNESCO.
And that happened. But within three months, we were in Angola. I had kind of broken out of that, you know, it has to become a UNESCO World Heritage
Site. And we went up to the sources.
We were the first group to do so. We were told by all of the top scientists, geologists, psychologists that these were seasonally flooded
wetlands. And when we get there, we find an ancient, crystal-clear, acidic source lake.
We see that that's surrounded and sustained by peatlands. And none of this is known to science. We crossed the entire Okavango River Basin, all the
way into the Kalahari Desert, beyond the Okavango Delta, followed the water to its end, exploring this entire water tower structure.
Now a water tower in this context is not a wooden structure on top of a building in New York. It is a high-altitude, forested watershed, high
rainfall with high water storage capacity due to peatlands. It's like a giant sponge.
Now that sponge is sustained by forests, protecting water or creating rainfall, receiving rainfall and flushing it down into the peatlands that
hold that water for thousands of years.
We've always wondered why Africa has the megafauna, why it has these great grand wildernesses, these great migrations. And it's because of these water
towers. Africa's managed to weather these climatic oscillations that have happened naturally in the past through this water storage capacity that
naturally exists in these high-altitude sources.
So these water towers are a keystone to our future. They're unexplored, unsurveyed, scientifically misunderstood most of the time. And that is what
we are urgently chasing after in the Great Spine of Africa series of expeditions.
This starts with exploration, discovery and science. We need to understand the flows of these rivers. We need to understand the importance of and the
nature of those sources. And then we work with local people who are already our guides, through all of our expeditions, to protect those landscapes
into the future.
This new center of endemism is emerging a large-scale water tower that wasn't known, peatlands that weren't known, source lakes that weren't known
are being documented for the first time in the 21st century. This is early 21st century exploration in reality.
QUEST: For more from Call to Earth, go to cnn.com/calltoearth.
QUEST: Right. Get out the bunting, let's have a brass band to celebrate. The airline industry is on track to hit record revenue this year. The trade
group IATA see those gains carrying over and forecasting more than $25 billion in profits next year.
That's a margin of 2.7 percent. You would be better off putting your money in the bank. On the other side of the coin, airlines are starting on high
capital costs, including major investments toward net zero. Willie Walsh, of course, is the DG of IATA. Willie is with me.
Now, hallelujah, making money, barely; 2.7 percent. Nothing to write home about.
WILLIE WALSH, DIRECTOR GENERAL, INTERNATIONAL AIR TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION: Well, it is better than making big losses, Richard. So I think there is
good reason for us to be optimistic. Still a long way to go in terms of financial recovery.
But demand for travel is strong. I think the general outlook is, you know, I think you could say we are optimistic about 2024.
QUEST: So what has to happen to start making better return on capital?
It is negative at the moment.
And better margins?
WALSH: Well, I think there are some airlines who are doing very well and are getting close to returning. Indeed, I think a couple are probably
exceeding their cost to capital. But there is a long trail of airlines who are still going through a difficult recovery.
The industry, though, is moving in the right direction. I think, with a little bit of a tailwind, I think you could see a significant change in the
overall performance of the business.
QUEST: At COP here in Dubai where I am, there is a lot of talk at the moment. The reality is, the number one thing that will help aviation, most
of, all the introduction of SAF.
You just can't get it at the price you need or in the volumes that will be necessary in the near future. And I do not know that there is any easy or
any urgency about it at the moment.
WALSH: Well, I think the volumes are increasing. I think there is less of a focus of cost at the moment because, as you know, airlines are buying
every single drop that is produced.
In fact, next year we estimate airlines will pay an additional $US 2.4 billion above what they would've paid to secure all of the SAF that is
being produced. So what we need to see is greater production.
And we are seeing some signs that will lead in that direction, particularly in the U.S., where we are seeing petrol and state grants incentivizing
quite a significant investment in infrastructure to brew sustainable aviation fuels.
QUEST: On the other side of the industry, there has been some consolidation taking place, Alaska buying Hawaiian. SAS going across to Air
France. ITA about to be gobbled up by Lufthansa. And it is anyone's guess who will finally get their hands on TAP Portugal.
Are we in the midst, do you think, of a consolidation, a series of consolidation, that there is more to come?
WALSH: I think there is always more to come. As you know, personally, I favor consolidation. I think it is part of the solution to the long term or
structural unprofitability or low profitability that the industry has seen.
Now it is not the solution; it is only a part of. It but I think that there is a good case to be made for further consolidation in a number of markets
around the world, particularly in Europe, where it is highly fragmented.
QUEST: Funny, a recent survey -- you may have seen it -- half of men think they could land a passenger plane if the pilots became incapacitated.
QUEST: Half of them think they could do it. Now we have a bit of a softening. We actually -- we have got some sound of me actually landing a
plane in a simulator. You, of course, were a pilot. Have a listen to my bad efforts. You'll be able to judge for yourself how bad just by listening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looking good. You're red over white.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One hundred.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, looking good. Slightly to the right.
Oh, oh, oh, oh. Oh!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, brakes, brakes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: I think you can hear all you need today.
If you had to, Willie, could you land a plane still?
WALSH: Oh, yes, no problem. For me, it's like riding a bike, Richard. I'd have no hesitation in saying I'd be able to do it.
QUEST: And could most people even get close to it, do you think?
WALSH: I think it is a bit of a challenge. To do it properly or to do it anywhere close to a proper landing, you would need a bit of practice.
QUEST: Landing is an art, not a skill. Thank you, Willie. Good to see you, as. Always keep well. Have a good Christmas. Thank you, sir.
While we stay in travel, a travel mishap in Italy is making headlines. Tourists in Venice capsized a gondola after standing up to take a selfie.
The thing most people do not understand, gondolas are -- there is a picture of them going over. Gondolas are very hard to balance and maneuver, As I
discovered in Venice, in QUEST'S WORLD OF WONDER.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST (voice-over): Things go from wobbly to worse fast.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Step back a little bit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa, whoa.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Careful.
QUEST: That was very close. We nearly lost the camera.
Did we nearly lose you?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Poor Kevin. That was the closest I think I've ever come to nearly losing a camera. So I feel for those tourists who took that selfie.
I will have a Profitable Moment after the break.
Tonight's Profitable Moment, just listening to the airline industry's profits and it's so easy to get excited at the prospect of all $25 billion
or whatever. Then you realize just it's only 2.7 percent of a margin.
And this is coming at a time when the industry is going to have to spend a fortune on SAF, new aircraft, new engines. But the industry is not going to
be a robust position. And at a time when we're all wanting cheaper fares, you start to see the conundrum facing the global airlines.
We want to push down fares, we don't want to pay more for fuel, SAF is going to cost more and the planes themselves are pretty expensive to start
with. And this huge demand for them at the moment. I'm not doing a poor airlines, poor airlines. Believe me they'd remove every penny out of me
pocket if they could at every opportunity.
I guess what I'm saying is that this is an industry that's never made vast sums of money.
And as one airline CEOs once said, if he'd been there at the Kitty Hawk and the first plane flew, he's not sure he would have blasted it out of the
And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight. I'm Richard Quest in Dubai. Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead I hope it's profitable. I'll be in
London tomorrow. See me then.