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Hala Gorani Tonight

Simone Biles Withdraws From Women's Gymnastics Team Final; Haiti's Presidential Security Coordinator Arrested; First Person Tried Under Hong Kong Security Law Found Guilty; Capitol Officers Deliver Emotional Testimony About January 6th Attack; U.S. Formally Ending Combat Mission In Iraq By Year's End; Southern Europe Fighting Wildfires Weeks After Northern Floods. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired July 27, 2021 - 14:00   ET



CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everybody, thank you for joining us live from CNN London, I'm Cyril Vanier in for Hala Gorani.

Tonight --


SIMONE BILES, U.S. GYMNAST: It's OK sometimes to even sit out the big competitions to focus on yourself because it shows how strong of a

competitor and person that you really are.


VANIER: That advice from star Olympian Simone Biles after she withdrew from the team gymnastics competition. The world just wants to know, is she OK?

Then a CNN exclusive, Haiti's investigation into the assassination of its president hits road blocks, literally. How police have been hampered since

the night of the murder.

And more on the shocking testimony we just heard in Washington D.C. as a U.S. House Select Committee opens its investigation into the January 6th

attack on the Capitol. All right, so let's begin in Tokyo and a stunning upset for team USA at the Olympics.

And a shock move, Simone Biles, the world's most decorated gymnast pulled out of the women's gymnastics final today after stumbling early in the

competition. Russia went on to win the gold, with team USA taking silver. Biles says she was afraid that the stress she felt was hurting her team's



BILES: No injury, thankfully, and that's why I took a step back because I didn't want to do something silly out there and get injured. So, I thought

it was best if these girls took over and did the rest of the job, which they absolutely did. It's been really stressful these Olympic games I think

just as a whole, I'm not having an audience there, a lot of different variables going into it. It's been a long week. It's been a long Olympic

process. It's been a long year. So, just a lot of different variables and I think we're just a little bit too stressed.


VANIER: Our Coy Wire is in Tokyo. Coy, walk us through everything that happened this morning.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Cyril, I mean, gymnastics is one of the Crown Jewels of the Summer Olympics and the most dominant gymnast of

all time has just pulled herself out of the team competition due to mental reasons. She said this was the first time that has ever happened, that she

usually perseveres through things. But this time was clearly different. Here's how she described what happened ahead of the competition.


BILES: I was just like shaking, could barely nap. I just never felt like this going into a competition before. And I try to go out here and have fun

and warm up in the back, went a little bit better, but then once I came out here, I was like, no, mental is not there. So, I just need to let the girls

do it and focus on myself.


WIRE: So, Cyril, the big question now is, will the mentals, as Biles phrased it, return? She said she's been fighting those demons, she called

them, and that she has to focus on her mental health. She also said, quote, "we have to protect our body and our mind. It just sucks when you're

fighting with your own head. Cyril?

VANIER: Coy, have you ever covered anything quite like this? I mean, for an athlete of this stature to pull out at this level of the competition when

there were such a level of expectation?

WIRE: This is unique, in that the Olympics are every four years, right, Cyril? So about two months ago, one of tennis' biggest stars, Naomi Osaka,

of course, who lift the cauldron here at the Olympic games, she withdrew from the French Open, citing mental health.

At 23 years old, Osaka is the highest paid female athlete in the world according to Forbes, so to have huge superstars like Osaka and Biles

pulling out of major competition so close to one another, Cyril, you'd think that would be almost unimaginable to happen.

VANIER: And just to confirm, she is still taking part in the individual competitions that are lined up, right?

WIRE: Yes, that's right. Biles said the team is planning to have a mental rest day, a half day Wednesday. She has one team silver already and

individual competitions start Thursday. So, she could still win six medals overall. That's if, Cyril, she chooses to compete. The world is waiting, as

you mentioned in the open of the show, hoping that she's OK and seeing if she can continue to compete here in Tokyo.

VANIER: Coy Wire, thank you very much. Let's go now to Dr. Jarrod Spencer; a sports psychologist, he joins us from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Doctor,

your take on what you saw, what happened today and then what you heard?

JARROD SPENCER, SPORTS PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, it's wise. I mean, clearly, she's able to perform skills that nobody else in the world can do.


And if there's a little ounce of hesitancy in the mind, that could significantly impact the body, and she could have a catastrophic injury.

And so, when she's twisting and spinning and flipping at those speeds, she has got to be a 100 percent confident.

And if she feels right now that mentally, she's not as sharp as she needs to be, and it really becomes a wise decision to say, let me step back, work

on my mindfulness, get my head in the best place I possibly can, and come back out and perform then.

VANIER: I'm not sure we have ever had this kind of conversation -- no, let me rephrase that. I'm not sure this kind of conversation about athletes has

ever been normal before. I feel this is all very new.

It's been normal to say, well, you know, the athlete has a quad injury or the athlete has a lingering injury, so it's normal for the athlete to

perhaps not compete in this particular event. I don't think it's ever been normal before, before right now, this moment in history, to say, well, if

they're not right mentally, they shouldn't do it.

SPENCER: Well, you're absolutely right. And the reason is because of the pandemic. I mean, we've all now known coming through this pandemic that

it's OK not to be OK. And every one of us is struggling with some anxiety, stress and depression.

And with Naomi Osaka's situation just a few months ago when she withdrew from the French Open, what we knew then was that the world rallied around

her and the stigma for mental health began to fall. So, what we are seeing, you know, are athletes now saying, hey, it's OK if I'm not OK. And you

know, if I have an invisible injury, right?

And often times, mental health is an invisible injury, that's OK too, and I could treat that. I could work with the sports psychologist on that. I

could make the necessary adjustments so that I can come back and be at my best. And I guess now we're at a place now where we all know it's OK not to

be OK.

VANIER: Listen to -- I want to read you her Instagram post from the day before the competition, and in retrospect, it does read like a warning. She

said, "I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times. I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn't

affect me, but damn, sometimes it's hard, ha-ha." I mean, should we have seen this coming?

SPENCER: Yes, because she's normal. And this is something --

VANIER: No, but wait, well, hold on, doctor, she's not -- she's not totally normal. She's the most decorated gymnast of all times. She has achieved

legendary status in her sport. She's not normal. I'm not saying that she's not allowed to experience what she's experiencing, but she's not normal.

And I mean --

SPENCER: Sure --

VANIER: This in a nice way.

SPENCER: Yes, you're very complementary. I don't know her. I've never met her. I've never worked with her, but yes, she is exceptional. But when I

say that word, she's normal, what I am saying is that too often in life, we look at athletes in particular, and because they have this amazing

physicality and these very unique skills, we often assume that mentally they're equally as developed.

And the reality is that may not be the case or even if they were mentally developed, I mean, who's really mentally prepared for the pressure cooker

of the biggest stages like we're seeing now in the Olympics during a pandemic.

And what we know is that underneath it all, these are often, like, 15 to 25, 30-year-old athletes. And emotionally, they can struggle too just like

the rest of us. And we can't judge a book by the cover. So, if we do that, we might say, oh, they must be all tough. Well, sometimes real mental

toughness is saying, I'm not OK, and that's OK.

VANIER: So, what would you say then to these two groups of people. One, athletes who are -- or people who are preparing to become athletes. And

number two, viewers and fans who judge this and who drive the narrative around the athletes?

SPENCER: Well, I'd say hold up a mirror to yourself first before you go and judge her and pass words on her about why she should or shouldn't do this,

and what the ramifications are, and look at ourselves and say, how are we doing and could we perform in that kind of pressure cooker? Very few human

beings could ever do that.

And so, I think it's important for us to all look at ourselves, look at our families, look around us and say, you know what? Maybe, this is a time for

that mental health stigma to fall within me and around me, with the people around me because if she's struggling, it's OK for the rest of the people

to be struggling. And maybe someone in your family or on your team is struggling as well, and maybe it's time to go support them.

VANIER: Dr. Jarrod Spencer, thank you very much for your time today. Pleasure talking to you.

SPENCER: My pleasure. Thank you.

VANIER: The Haitian prosecutor tells CNN the coordinator of presidential security has been arrested as part of the investigation into the

assassination of President Jovenel Moise. It's an important development in a search for answers that's been hampered in part by suspicious obstacles

and threats. CNN has obtained internal Justice Ministry documents which reveal the road blocks investigators are facing. CNN's Matt Rivers has this

exclusive report.



MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The assassination of President Jovenel Moise rocked Haiti, and finding out who

did it and why has become an all-consuming question on the island. But for some of the people investigating who took the president's life, it has

meant risking their own lives to do so.

CNN has obtained a copy of a previously unseen formal complaint filed with Haiti's national police in which several Haitian court clerks, key figures

in criminal investigations detail the death threats they've received in the past few weeks.

"Hey, clerk, you can wait for a bullet in your head. They gave you an order and you keep on doing" -- read one text message. The threat comes from

someone anonymous, angry that the clerk has not followed certain instructions about whom and what to investigate.

(on camera): The threats appear to be just one startling example of what appear to be consistent patterns of intimidation and a failure to follow

procedure throughout the investigation into the president's death. CNN has spoken to multiple sources close to the investigation who detailed what

they believe are clear attempts to block investigators and therefore the public from finding out more about who killed the president and why?

(voice-over): Starting just a few hours after the assassination, around 7:00 a.m. outside the presidential residence. Sources tell CNN, multiple

court clerks were kept outside a police perimeter for more than three hours after arriving, even while other law enforcement was inside. Normally

experts on Haiti's legal system say clerks enter a crime scene right away to officially document any evidence and to take statements from key

witnesses per Haitian law.

(on camera): It's unclear why in this case they were delayed. But when they eventually did make it into the presidential residence just down the street

behind me, sources tell us that not one of the roughly two dozen or so guards present at the time of the assassination were still there, meaning

no witness statements were immediately taken.

(voice-over): Later on that day, there was a fierce gun fight between Haitian security forces and some of the alleged assassins at this building.

Multiple suspects were killed, all of whom were Colombian. Sources close to the investigation tell us court clerks were not immediately allowed into

the shoot-out scene, which would have been filled with evidence, including, we're told, the bodies of the dead Colombians.

In an official document filed with Haiti's top prosecutor, clerks describe examining the bodies not here at the shoot-out site, but here outside of an

office building just down the road. That suggests the bodies had been removed from the crime scene before being processed. No official

explanation of why that happened was given.


RIVERS: A few days later, authorities start to zero in on this man, Christian Emmanuel Sanon as someone who allegedly recruited and helped

organized some of these men seen here, the large group of Colombians and several Americans Haitian officials allege carried out this crime. We

haven't heard from them publicly.

A source close to the investigation previously told CNN Sanon told investigators he is innocent. It was around this time that the anonymous

phone calls started. According to the official complaint filed with police, obtained by CNN, clerks received multiple threatening phone calls telling

them to stop investigating two suspects in the case and remove them from their reports.

According to the complaint, the calls were followed by this text message, quote, "they told you to stop going around searching people's houses in the

president assassination case, and you refused. You've been told to take out two names and you refused.

We're watching you." Sources close to the investigation tell us the clerks were also told to add unrelated names to their reports, people who had no

clear connection to the crime. It's unclear who made any of the calls or sent the text messages. And then there's what happened with the FBI.

Special agents from the bureau invited in by Haiti's government went to the presidential residence about two weeks ago to collect evidence. Sources

tell us, the agents managed to find a lot, including the megaphone used here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: DEA operation. Everybody back up, stand down!

RIVERS: This is from the night of the assassination where one of the suspects is keeping people away from the scene by claiming it was all a DEA

operation, something the agency and Haitian officials repeatedly denied that it was. Sources tell CNN FBI agents were a little surprised to find so

much evidence still at the crime scene and left wondering why Haitian authorities hadn't already collected it. Those sources added they do expect

the FBI will have continued access to evidence that they requested.


VANIER: All right, Matt is with us from Mexico City. Matt, I just wonder after this reporting -- and great reporting by the way, whether you got a

response to that story, a reaction from authorities in Haiti?

RIVERS: Well, of course, Cyril, we reached out to multiple Haitian government agencies seeking response before this story was published. And

the only person that we heard back from actually right before the story first published last night was the top prosecutor in Haiti, who said that

actually, there had been a lot of death threats received by different people involved in this investigation, including himself.


And he also said that he would try and secure some more protection for some of those investigators. And that's it. So, not exactly a very reassuring

response from the Haitian government. I can tell you that the story is making waves in Haiti today, both in Haitian local media, on Haitian social

media, Haitian Twitter, Facebook pages, and yet, we've still heard nothing from the government. So, whether they are preparing some sort of response

or not, we simply do not know. But at the moment, they are avoiding talking about our reporting at this point.

Maybe part of the reason that they're avoiding talking about this is because of what we still do not know. Even despite all of that information

that we just put out there to our viewers, Cyril, we still don't have a motive behind why the president was killed. We don't have a mastermind of

this operation. What we do have, though, is clearly these judicial investigators being kept in the dark in what appears to be a very

coordinated effort to keep those from -- who are seeking the truth from finding it.

And when you take all of the stuff that we laid out in terms of breaches in investigative protocol in terms of these death threats that were very

explicit, at the very least, Cyril, I think it leads us to question the veracity of the statements that are being put out by the government in

regards to this investigation.

How much do we believe what authorities are putting out there, when this is what we know is going on behind the scenes?

VANIER: Yes, and that's a much-needed reminder on your part, Matt. We still do not know why the president of Haiti was killed and who was behind it.

Matt Rivers, appreciate your reporting, thank you very much.

Still to come tonight, the U.S. walks a political tight rope with China, pushing back against its aggression in the Indo-Pacific. But is the door

still open to cooperation? Plus, Europe battles southern wildfires just weeks after floods farther north. More on the European climate crisis next.


VANIER: Well, the first person tried under Hong Kong's sweeping national security law has been found guilty of terrorism and inciting secession.

Tong Ying-kit was accused of driving his motorcycle into police officers while carrying a large banner with the protest slogan, "liberate Hong

Kong". CNN's Kristie Lu Stout has more.



KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): I'm outside Hong Kong's high court and the verdict is in a landmark case. The city's first trial

under the national security law. Twenty-four-year-old Tong Ying-kit has been found guilty of incitement to secession and guilty of terrorism, a

serious offense under the national security law, punishable with up to life in prison. And he has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Tong was arrested

on July 1st, 2020, hours after the national security law was imposed.

He drove a motorcycle while holding a protest flag with a ban slogan, "liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times", and he was convicted for

driving into several riot police officers as they tried to stop him. The judges said his actions caused great harm to society.

Tong was denied bail and a jury, a significant departure from Hong Kong's previous legal system. The trial was presided over by three judges picked

by Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to hear national security cases. Critics say the trial is part of an ongoing crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong.

JOSEPH CHENG, POLITICAL ANALYST: The crux of the matter is that the Hong Kong government would like to fully exploit the national security law to

prosecute pro-democracy activists, accusing them of advocacy for independence, thus testifying this severe crackdown.

LU STOUT (voice-over): Western governments have slammed China's tightening control of Hong Kong, but Chinese officials remain unwavering in their

support for the national security law.

CARRIE LAM, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, HONG KONG: I would honestly ask you what sort of freedoms have we lost? What sort of vibrancy has Hong Kong been eroded?

If you look at the stock market, the property market, and the technology sector, the start-ups, even us in Koshina(ph), they are all booming because

of the support from the Central People's government and because of the restoration of order and stability in Hong Kong.

LU STOUT (on camera): The national security law has dramatically transformed the political landscape in Hong Kong since it was imposed as of

July the 26th, 138 people have been arrested under the law, including protesters, activists, journalists, opposition lawmakers and students as

young as 15. Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.


VANIER: The U.S. Secretary of Defense says China's actions in the Indo- Pacific are threatening the sovereignty of other countries. At a speech in Singapore, Lloyd Austin denounced Beijing's territorial claims in the South

China Sea, saying they have no basis in international law. He also said the Biden administration wants to solve disputes peacefully, but warned that

China's forceful behavior doesn't line up with that goal.


LIOYD AUSTIN, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE, UNITED STATES: Unfortunately, Beijing's unwillingness to resolve disputes peacefully and respect the rule of law

isn't just occurring on the water. We've also seen aggression against India, destabilizing military activity and other forms of coercion against

the people of Taiwan, and genocide and crimes against humanity against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.


VANIER: So, let's discuss this with Max Baucus; former U.S. ambassador to China, also a former U.S. senator. Ambassador, I confess I never know

exactly what to make of these talks because I don't know how much of the statements is political theater, how much is sincere. What do you make of

what you're seeing?

MAX BAUCUS, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO CHINA: I think that the Wendy Sherman talks with Foreign Minister Wang Yi, really a repeat of what happened in

Anchorage between Tony Blinken and Yang Jiechi, that is that we now realize there are two equal countries in the world. That is China thinks it's co-

equal with the United States, and if China thinks so, that's all it counts. And China, therefore is not going to be bullied by the United States at

least in China's view.

And therefore, with respect to Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Tibet, that China will not change its behavior because of sanctions by the United States or strong

statements by the United States. And China feels it does not have to change its behavior. And as -- I think we're facing a very difficult stalemate now

between the United States and China. And it's going to take a lot of really creative hard thinking on both sides to try to figure out how we get this

relationship put together.

VANIER: OK, so, what's the Biden administration after in these talks, and how can it achieve those goals?

BAUCUS: Well, I think the Biden administration clearly wants some peace in the South China Sea. It wants to allow Taiwan to have more independence,

and it basically wants to stop forced labor as it perceives it in Xinjiang. The trouble is that a lot of the U.S. statements, they're public. And the

more they're public, the more they criticize China, the more that emboldens the hawks in China, and the more China is going to dig in.


It just -- we're just in a bad spot where they're just no trust between the two countries. And when there's no trust, each side tends to, you know,

raise or escalate with more heated rhetoric. Another issue we're facing frankly here is, domestic politics in the United States. President Biden

cannot in any way be perceived as weak on China.

The Republican Party won't let him be weak on China. Because that -- if he is perceived as weak on China, that's going to make it very difficult for

Democrats to win in the '22 elections that's coming up in November '22. And that's just boxing him in, makes it very difficult.

VANIER: Well, so, maybe that explains then why China says that the Biden administration is essentially pursuing a similar policy to Trump's, of

confrontation toward China and building up tension with China. Is that fair or unfair?

BAUCUS: Oh, I think it's accurate. I think that whereas most people thought that Joe Biden would be reasonable with respect to China, at least from

China's perspective, that is the election of Biden would be the floor of the deterioration of the relationship between the two countries.

That's not happened. It's not happened for two reasons. One is that domestic politics in the United States just won't allow Biden to be

perceived in any way as potentially weak on China. And second, Joe Biden cares a lot more about human rights than did Donald Trump.

And so when he talks -- when he, Biden talks about the forced labor in Xinjiang and Hong Kong and so forth, he means it, whereas Trump didn't, and

the Chinese see that. And that makes it even more difficult for them, and it causes, frankly, more strain. And add to that, it's just way too much

public rhetoric, both sides. If these negotiations were met in a closed room, where the press is not there, then it's more likely that they're

going to be some accommodation.

VANIER: All right, former U.S. ambassador to China, Max Baucus, thank you very much for coming on the show.

BAUCUS: You bet.

VANIER: Still to come tonight, chilling testimony from U.S. police officers about the deadly January 6th insurrection, what they witnessed that day and

what they're demanding now. Stay with us.




VANIER: A U.S. congressional committee has held its first hearing on the deadly Capitol insurrection on January 6th. Four officers who were on the

front lines during the attack gave vivid testimony of what they went through, some of them describing being brutally assaulted by Trump

supporters, who stormed the building.

And one officer fought back tears as he shared his experiences. He urged lawmakers to investigate the insurrection and hold those responsible to

account. Congressman Adam Kinzinger is one of the two Republicans on the committee.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): We still don't know exactly what happened.


Because many in my party have treated this as just another partisan fight. It's toxic and it's a disservice to the officers and their families, to the

staff and the employees on the Capitol complex, to the American people, who deserve the truth, and to those generations before us, who went to war to

defend self-governance.

Because self-governance is at stake. And it's why I agreed to serve on this committee. I want to know what happened that day. But more importantly, I

want all Americans to be able to trust the work that this committee does and get the facts out there, free of conspiracy.


VANIER: CNN's Jessica Dean joins us from Washington with more. Jessica, this is a moment of national reckoning post-January 6th in the U.S. Bring

us up to speed on what we heard this morning.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you heard from these four officers, both from the Washington Metropolitan Police Department, which came in as

backups, and also the Capitol Police officers, who were on the frontlines from the beginning about just how awful, how extreme, how violent things

were here, how they were being attacked, the names they were called, the racial slurs they were called by this mob of insurrectionists that

descended upon the Capitol on January 6th.

Here's Officer Harry Dunn with his view of what happened. Take a listen.


OFFICER HARRY DUNN, CAPITOL POLICE: Telling the truth shouldn't be hard. Fighting for -- fighting on January 6th, that was hard. Showing up January

7th, that was hard. The 8th, the 9th, the 10th, all the way until today, that was hard.

When the fence came down, that was hard. We lost our layer of protection that we had. And the fence came down and still nothing has changed.

Everything is different but nothing has changed.

Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger are being lauded as courageous heroes and, while I agree with that notion, why?

Because they told the truth?

Why is telling the truth hard?

I guess in this America, it is.


DEAN: And so you could hear just how emotional it was. And, Cyril, again, this was the first hearing since the committee had been formed. And we

heard today from the committee chairman, after all of this testimony, that they are bypassing letters, asking people to come testify in the future.

They are going straight to subpoenas and they may be coming back from their August recess in order to hold the next hearing.

VANIER: Who else are we going to hear from?

Where do these hearings go from here?

DEAN: That's the question.

Where do the hearings go from here?

We heard from the police officers who asked, begged the Select Committee to get to the root of who was behind this, not just the perpetrators, not just

the insurrectionists that were here but also any politicians who may have been here, whether that is former president Donald Trump or any members of

the GOP who were here in the Capitol that day.

They asked them explicitly to look into that because, as law enforcement officers, they cannot do that. That is the role of this House Select

Committee. So we are expecting to see things go in that direction.

But it remains to be seen at this point exactly who will be subpoenaed. We know that they have talked about the phone call between House minority

leader Kevin McCarthy and former president Trump.

McCarthy has said he's willing to talk about it. So we will see who is subpoenaed to come testify before this committee and we expect that to

develop over the next several weeks -- Cyril?

VANIER: Jessica Dean in Washington, thank you for your reporting.

And we bring you more now on U.S. President Joe Biden's announcement Monday that the U.S. is formally ending its combat mission in Iraq by the end of

this year. The move comes at the urging of Iraq. Let's bring in our senior international correspondent Arwa Damon.

Arwa, we wanted to reconnect with you today.


VANIER: Because when we spoke to you yesterday, the announcement hadn't been made. We anticipated that's what they would say but they hadn't said

it yet. You told us yesterday that this shift from combat to advisory role is mostly semantics, in your view.

Can you expand on that?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, the U.S. already is mostly in an advise and assist role, despite the fact that

the troops are officially under the category of being combat forces.

So it's essentially changing their mission. But it's not necessarily changing the physical individuals who are on the ground. What is perhaps

most critical here, Cyril, is that the U.S. will be maintaining some sort of a military presence, no matter what you call it, in Iraq.

And this is a very different scenario than what we saw back in 2011, when then-President Obama ended up withdrawing all U.S. forces from Iraq after

the U.S. and Iraq were unable to come to an agreement as to how a military presence could be maintained in that country.

And that eventually did end up being one of the key factors leading to the reemergence of what was then the Islamic State of Iraq, which then very

quickly morphed and evolved to become what was later known as ISIS.

Neither the U.S. nor the Iraqi government wants to see that happen. However, the Iraqi government has been under intense pressure to remove all

foreign forces following the assassination of Iran's top general, Qasem Soleimani, early in 2020; that coming under the Trump administration.

And so for Iraq, this has been something of a balancing act because, on the one hand, they do want the U.S. presence there; the Iraqi security forces

do need continuous training. And, of course, the U.S. presence brings with it any number of significant assets and capabilities, from intelligence on


Now from the American perspective, Cyril, no matter what is being said publicly, this is not just about the potential battle against ISIS or

trying to deny ISIS the ability to regroup and launch significant attacks.

This is also about maintaining a counterbalance to Iran's influence, especially the influence of those Iranian-backed Shia militias. The United

States wants to ensure that it is able to maintain a foothold in Iraq to keep a closer eye on them, to keep a closer eye on Iran.

And more broadly speaking, again, going back to what we saw happening historically, when the U.S. military withdrew, Iran moved in to fill that

void and, again, neither the U.S. nor elements within the Iraqi government want to see that happen again.

VANIER: Arwa Damon reporting live from Istanbul in Turkey, thank you very much.

As Southern Europe is struggling to contain rampant wildfires just weeks after deadly flooding rocked areas farther north, both disasters are

leading to calls for urgent action on a worsening climate crisis. Scott McLean has more.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Day turned to night. In Sardinia, dark plumes of wildfire smoke blot out the sun. Wildfires are

raging across the Mediterranean island. it's dangerous to stay in one place too long.

A disaster without precedent is what the president of the Sardinia region calls it. He declared a state of emergency on Sunday. Hundreds have been

evacuated and the Italian government had to call in help from France and Greece, who sent firefighting planes.

Sardinia is hardly the only European region struggling with wildfires. Catalonia has managed to stabilize most of a wildfire that burned nearly

2,000 hectares of land.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We felt very helpless not being able to do anything. We were here, watching the flames that were getting

closer and closer and we cannot do anything.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Just over the Pyrenees in Southern France, it took 800 firefighters to bring a blaze under control. They say they're still worried

about the parched earth that could be jet fuel for a new fire.

And in Greece, too, dozens of firefighters are battling an inferno just north of Athens, warning residents to close their windows and doors. It

comes, of course, just weeks after devastating flooding in Germany and Belgium killed more than 200 people, with over 100 still missing.

Droughts are becoming more frequent and more severe in Southern Europe. The European Environmental Authority say that this region is at greatest risk

on the continent, as the impacts from climate change increase.

FRANS TIMMERMANS, EUROPEAN COMMISSION VICE PRESIDENT: The fact that erratic weather patterns are going to be the new normal means we need to adapt to

that and we need to prevent things getting worse.

And if we don't do something urgently -- and urgently, I mean now -- then, you know, climate crisis is going to get completely out of control and our

citizens do understand that we need to act now.


MCLEAN (voice-over): And as extreme weather and fire becomes the new normal for more and more of us, that action cannot come soon enough -- Scott

McLean, CNN London.


VANIER: And finally tonight, the Olympics may officially be without spectators. But when it comes to supporters, then it's a whole other

ballgame. Fans are finding increasingly creative ways to cheer on their teams, despite the strict COVID rules in place at the venues. Coy Wire has



COY WIRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Japanese softball fans cheering on their team from a local theater, as the Olympic hosts compete against

Team USA for the gold.

Audiences are banned at most the Olympic events due to coronavirus restrictions but that hasn't stopped the devotion of the fans, who've

waited years for this moment.

Olympic fever was also in the air at the women's triathlon Tuesday. Although spectators weren't allowed along the route, people eager to watch

braved the rain and lined up to cheer the athletes on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are keeping their distance, wearing masks. So we just feel like it's like most other places around the city anyway.

WIRE (voice-over): Japanese weightlifting legend Yoshinobu Miyake wasn't going to miss the chance to see his niece compete. The two-time

weightlifting gold medalist watched from a local training gym.

Unfortunately, Hiromi Miyake will not take home a medal this year.

Outside of Tokyo there's been just as much enthusiasm. Seventeen year-old American Lydia Jacoby taking home gold in the women's 100 meter

breaststroke, beating reigning champ Lilly King.

Friends in Jacoby's hometown of Seward, Alaska, went wild as she made history, becoming the first swimmer from the state to win Olympic gold. As

you can imagine, her parents were pretty happy, too.

Hundreds gathered at a shopping mall in Hong Kong to watch foil fencer Cheung Ka Long also make Olympic history, winning Hong Kong's first Olympic

gold medal in the sport.

Fans in Maidenhead, England, were ecstatic watching Britain's Tom Dean win the gold in the 200-meter freestyle. It was also one for the record books,

Britain's first 1-2 finish in 113 years.

COVID restrictions and spectator bans have made this year's Summer Olympics a bit more challenging but it definitely hasn't stopped the enthusiasm.

Where there's a will, there's a way for these loyal fans to root for their home countries -- Coy Wire, CNN, Tokyo.


VANIER: And that does it for us tonight. Thank you so much for watching. Much more Olympic action ahead on "WORLD SPORT," of course, up next on CNN.

Stay with us.