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Your World Today

The Year in Iraq; Egypt Forgery Trial; Iraq Insurgency

Aired June 28, 2005 - 12:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is YOUR WORLD TODAY.
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: After surviving more than 80 years of Iraq's turbulent history, its eldest lawmaker killed in an instant in a targeted attack.

JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Fury in Egypt. Supporters of an opposition leader call his trial a farce.

VERJEE: A step towards justice in Pakistan. Thirteen men implicated in a gang rape are re-arrested.

CLANCY: And tall ships and small ships, warships and cruise ships, they crowded England's south coast to mark an epic naval victory.

VERJEE: It is 5:00 p.m. in Portsmouth, England; 9:00 p.m. in Islamabad, Pakistan. I'm Zain Verjee.

CLANCY: I'm Jim Clancy. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is YOUR WORLD TODAY.

VERJEE: Your window to the world, here on CNN International.

We're focussing today on the tumultuous year in Iraq since the handover of power by coalition authorities.

CLANCY: It's been one year of some high points and successes, as well as some defeats for the fledgling Iraqi government, from an election that rally marked the proud purple-stained fingers of Iraqis, to this relentless insurgent violence and the struggle to forge a new constitution.

VERJEE: So let's turn back the clock one year to June the 28th, 2004, a year in the life of an emerging nation.


VERJEE (voice-over): One year ago, the U.S. held a secret ceremony, handing over power to the new unelected government of Iraq. The handover was scheduled to take place on the 30th of June, but was moved up in the hopes of preempting threatened attacks by members of the Iraqi assistance.

Iyad Allawi, a former Ba'athist with ties to the CIA and Saudi intelligence, was chosen as prime minister. Allawi suggested that Marshall Law would be in order, given the increasing number of insurgent attacks. Allawi also announced that the U.S. would transfer former dictator Saddam Hussein to Iraqi custody.

Wind ahead to January 30, 2005. Elections for a Transitional National Assembly take place with a strong turnout and without major insurgent sabotage. The assembly is charged with writing a constitution. The deadline is August 15.

On the anniversary of the handover, the latest in a series of suicide attacks kills a Shia tribal leader who's a member of the national assembly. Sheikh Dhari Ali al-Fayad (ph) is the second member of the assembly to be assassinated since the Shia and Kurdish- led government took office two months ago.


VERJEE: The ongoing violence is eroding American support for the U.S. policy in Iraq. A new CNN-"USA Today"-Gallup pole poll shows 53 percent believe it was a mistake to send U.S. troops into Iraq. When asked who's winning the war in Iraq, 34 percent say the U.S., 14 percent say the insurgents, half say neither side.

CLANCY: U.S. President George W. Bush is scheduled to lay out his Iraq strategy in a televised address to the American people within a matter of hours. Aides say it's going to be very specific.

Now, you can see his address here, live on CNN, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time in the U.S. That's midnight Greenwich Mean Time, 1:00 in the morning in London, 8:00 in the morning on Wednesday in Hong Kong.

When Saddam Hussein was removed from power, Iraqis were hopeful a new day had dawned in their country. But the slow progress in providing basic services like security, water and electricity is overshadowing any signs of progress.

Jennifer Eccleston spoke with three Iraqis with different views of life in Iraq today.


JENNIFER ECCLESTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Iraq took possession of its sovereignty last June, Dr. Razika Alibadi (ph), a specialist in blood diseases, echoed the hopes of millions of Iraqis. A change of fortune was within her grasp and her country's. One year later, at her ward in Ibn Al Baladi Hospital, she says change is apparent. But...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But (INAUDIBLE) wars regarding security.

ECCLESTON: For Dr. Razika (ph), the violent insurgency and the lack of personal security overshadows a year with the transfer of sovereignty and elections in January. Instead, she said it's a year of misery, misery over losing colleagues to bombings and kidnappings, misery over not feeling safe enough to walk freely in her own city. And most of all, misery for her young patients, victims of a debilitating blood disease she believes already suffer too much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are waiting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. It is a tunnel. It's a dark tunnel now. But we are searching to find the light.

ECCLESTON: Engineer Saad Badri shows us a painting he drew when he was in his own dark tunnel in 1982. He says the eyes project a fear that he and his country had no future.

Twenty-one years later, from a balcony in his Baghdad apartment, Saad Brdri saw what he says is the beginning of the light at the end of his tunnel, the iconic moment when Iraqis pulled down the statue of Saddam Hussein. A symbol of a regime and a man deposed, a day he will never forget.

SAAD BADRI, ENGINEER: People proved that they are thinking people. They are brave people. They are -- they can cooperate. And do miracles.

ECCLESTON: But Saad Badri says even that day paled in comparison to another, the day he and eight million other Iraqis voted.

BADRI: This is the point where the political process begins. I'm very happy at that moment. I think it's a great moment.

ECCLESTON: The father of two says the cycle of violence makes his heart skip a beat every time his teenage son and daughter leave for school. But still, there is much to be proud of.

BADRI: Change begins, because the country needs change. You see? With every change you should be optimistic.

ECCLESTON: Ahmed al-Baraq (ph) shared that sense of optimism a year ago when he sat on the Governing Council. But the human rights lawyer says his hopes are now tempered. He wonders how Iraqis can claim sovereignty while foreign forces still occupy their country when Iraq's military can't secure its borders, its cities, its infrastructure and it's people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't have a switch to make it on and off to have your sovereignty back. I think we must accept the idea of having our sovereignty graduated day by day.

ECCLESTON: Al-Baraq (ph) is helping to graduate his country's sovereignty by helping write his country's new constitution. It's one step forward in the race for Iraq's political ownership, he says, but crossing the finish line requires something else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you identify democracy, you will find the answer. Democracy means giving the authority from hand to hand peacefully.

And if we make this possible, without interference from an outside force, from the international -- multinational forces, I think this will be a big achievement. And this is -- will be the refalling of the statue of Saddam, not (INAUDIBLE), because at that point you are having our country back.

ECCLESTON: Three Iraqi voices, one common theme: sovereignty is a great first step but means little when real change often feels so far away.

Jennifer Eccleston, CNN, Baghdad.


VERJEE: We'll bring you more on Iraq a little bit later in our program.

A chaotic scene in a packed court in Egypt as a challenger to President Hosni Mubarak faces trial. Ayman Nour plans to run against President Hosni Mubarak in the September election. His case was adjourned for two days, but supporters say the case is just another attempt to sabotage his political campaign.

Ben Wedeman has more from Cairo.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CAIRO BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): The man who would be president in Egypt in the defendant's cage in a Cairo courthouse. Ayman Nour is the main challenger to 77-year-old President Hosni Mubarak in the country's first ever multiparty presidential elections scheduled for later this year. But now he's on trial for allegedly forging signatures on a petition to legalize his Ghad or tomorrow party.

Before the trial began, hundreds of his supporters gathered on the steps of the courthouse with low expectations of a fair trial.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I assure you, this day is a real comedy. This is a real comedy because...

WEDEMAN: They claim that charges are baseless, fabricated by a regime facing a wave of unprecedented anti-Mubarak protests and ever- louder demands for democratic reform.

WAEL NAWWARA, GHAD PARTY: They're in sort of a panic. So whatever they tried to do to suppress the voice of the people, it comes back at them. In fact, the people just become louder.

WEDEMAN: Inside, other supporters and reporters struggled with riot police to get in the courtroom.

(on camera): Covering this trial is like covering a football match, and I feel like the football. I've spent the last two hours being pushed and shoved, kicked around. My glasses are broken. And I'm soaked in sweat.

(voice-over): There was little order in the court.

Nour's wife, Camilla (ph), foresees a long and crippling trial.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a nightmare. This is a nightmare that will go on for a while.

WEDEMAN: Last week, Nour met with visiting American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Nour's initial detention in January chilled ties between Washington and one of its key Arab allies.

This trial and the uproar that goes with it may end up with the Mubarak regime's commitment to democratic reform in the dark.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Cairo.


CLANCY: We're going to take a short break here. But coming up next, a closer look at Iraq, one year after the handover.

VERJEE: And also, the flow of foreign fighters into the country. And we'll talk to "TIME" magazine's Michael Ware after a break.


VERJEE: Returning now to Iraq, the U.S. military has been vocal about the importance of choking off the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq. Recent operations near the Syrian border have taken aim at these outsiders and the people and the places sheltering them. Jane Arraf takes a look.


JANE ARRAF, CNN SR. BAGHDAD CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This border crossing with Syria has been closed since last year. But that doesn't stop people from crossing, including what some top officials say is an increasing number of foreign fighters.

Just a few miles from the border, in Karabilah, U.S. Marines last week fought a battle to eliminate foreign fighter safe havens. They found these passports in a house with weapons, rare tangible evidence of where they'd come from.

(on camera): There are nine passports here. They're form Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and the Sudan. They're all young men in their 20s who arrived in Syria over a period of five days at the beginning of June.

One of them, a Libyan, has an airline ticket and a boarding pass for a flight from Tripoli to Damascus on the first of June. Although they were found here, none of them have entry stamps to Iraq.

(voice-over): These Iraqi soldiers believe these Sudanese passports are fake, as does Hasan Abdul Seed, a Sudanese interpreter with the Marines.

HASAN ABDUL SEED, SUDANESE INTERPRETER: It's issued on 9 December, 2005. And they left 11 December, 2004. This means that a couple of days before they leave. So these passports were made on purpose, and we all know the purpose.

ARRAF: Although they all came through Syria, most of them went through third countries first, perhaps to cover their tracks, intelligence officers say. This officer says although they often find forged Iraqi documents given to foreign fighters, finding a group of passports like this is rare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's interesting about this one is, you know, we came through an area where they were at, and rather than risk getting caught as they tried to escape, rather than risk getting caught with those documents, they just left them in place.

ARRAF: The men either escaped or were killed.

The Marines believe they killed at least 50 insurgents in four days of fighting here. Some of them non-Iraqis.

Unlike local insurgents, the foreign fighters fight to the death. Although they're a minority, they're believed to account for almost all the suicide bombs. They play by no rules. Marines say one of the fighters they killed was waving a white flag but had a rifle hidden under his robe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Further upon looking at the man we killed, he appeared to be Sudanese. We believe he was Sudanese. And he still had the flag clenched in his hand with an AK in his hand.

ARRAF: For foreign fighters, there's no better place in the world right now than Iraq to fight Americans. Perhaps the easiest way to enter is through Syria.

This Marine battalion alone is responsible for 60 kilometers, 40 miles of border with Syria, essentially unpatrolled.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are no border police right now. There's no real Iraqi forces. We're getting the Army out here, we're working with the military side, but there really is no -- no border police. That's coming. That's in the future, but not right now.

ARRAF: Right now, there's a limited number of Marines in a vast territory. They can't patrol the border, but they can make it harder for foreign fighters to settle in one place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This whole war is a patience game. It's staying -- it's day after day, being there -- you know, to build up the government, to fight the insurgents wherever they show up, and to hunt them methodically day in and day out.

ARRAF: As the Marines hunt them, fighters seem to be continuing to stream into Iraq, following well-trodden paths from Syria to fight their brand with of holy war.

Jane Arraf, CNN, Karabilah, Iraq.


CLANCY: Throughout the course of the conflict in Iraq, "TIME" magazine's Michael Ware has gotten extraordinary access to Iraqi fighters. It's been a little bit of luck, a lot of courage, and probably even more hard work. He joins us now with his thoughts on the state of the insurgency, on this, the anniversary of the transfer of sovereignty. Michael, maybe it was hoping for too much, but people really thought by this point, a lot of the violence, particularly the suicide bombings, would have subsided. It appears the opposite is true. Why?

MICHAEL WARE, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, there's a couple things we could say about the insurgency right now. Apart from its very varied nature, many different groups fighting for many different reasons, the other thing you can say about it is, you have to acknowledge its dynamic nature, their ability to regenerate, adapt, re-invent themselves.

And the sands are constantly shifting. And they -- I just met with some of the leadership of some of the insurgent elements just in recent days. And we're seeing a reconsolidation. Groups who have grown up and have been working together are now forming more and more under rather interesting leaderships.

They are coming together and consolidating. And we're also watching as some groups gravitate towards Zarqawi's al Qaeda and drift away from them. And I'm now noticing another large segment of the insurgency moving towards Zarqawi.

So the insurgency is still in its full flight. It's constantly changing and adapting.

CLANCY: Are there discussions among Iraqis that the foreign fighters are targeting too many civilians, are destroying the Iraqis, the people themselves?

WARE: Absolutely. I mean, that's always been a major source of friction within the insurgency itself.

The homegrown Iraqi groups have always had enormous problems with the tactics of the foreign fighters. And during the days of Falluja, when it was an insurgent stronghold, there was a lot of difficulty within the ranks.

There was tit-for-tat assassinations and there was a lot of friction. I mean, some of the Iraqi military officers who fought for Saddam and are now the insurgents tell me, you know, "Well, I fight for the Iraqi people. I'm not there to kill them," whereas the foreign fighters are very different.

One of them once said to me, "You know, I will kill 10 Iraqis to kill one American." And the Ba'athists and the Iraqi army fellows who were there took -- took great offense at this.

So, yes, there is. There's a great degree of conflict within the insurgency on this point and among the Iraqi people. However, we are now seeing Iraqi groups becoming much more involved in the car bombing than ever before. This is extremely disturbing.

CLANCY: All right. When you look at it, take us, if you will, inside here. Are the insurgents encouraged that now the president is having to discuss the possibility of naming a date for withdrawal, that U.S. support for the conflict in Iraq seems to be receding, and fast?

WARE: Look, they monitor the western press enormously. It would stagger you to understand how well tapped in they can be. So, yes, they're very aware of the fluctuating patents within U.S. domestic policy.

Now, in the past, when the administration in Washington has downplayed the role of the insurgency and trumpeted its own successes, the insurgents haven't cared for that, because they've known the reality on the ground. Now that public perception in the states is catching up with that reality, I'm sure they would just be thrilled.

I mean, I remember back in June 2003, just months after the invasion, when it was still uncoordinated, insurgents were saying to me, "This war is going to be won or lost on television." They were saying that their ability to withstand and endure the bloodshed would far outweigh the lengths of our political stamina.

This is just another sign of encouragement for them. And quite frankly, there is no disincentive for them to have any letup

CLANCY: Michael Ware, we're going to have to leave it there. I want to thank you very much. Michael Ware of "TIME" magazine joining us here on YOUR WORLD TODAY -- Zain.

VERJEE: Jim, let's look at some stories making news around the United States now.

Criticism of NASA from an oversight panel. It says that despite more than two years of painstaking work, the space agency has failed to meet the most important safety steps for getting space shuttles flying again.

The review was prompted by the Columbia tragedy. It's not clear if NASA will further delay a shuttle launch scheduled for July.

Officials at a Marine base in South Carolina say a water survival instructor will face a hearing similar to a civilian grand jury in the death of a Marine recruit. Nineteen-year-old Jason Tharp drowned during a water survival training in February. An investigation found his instructor either didn't recognize or ignored signs that Tharp couldn't finish the training.

An heir to the Wal-Mart retailing fortune has died in the crash of an ultralight plane he was piloting. The aircraft carrying John Walton went down on Monday almost immediately after taking off from an airport in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Walton was the son of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and was ranked by "Forbes" magazine as among the wealthiest Americans.

CLANCY: Is it a foretaste of the battle to come?

VERJEE: Up next here on YOUR WORLD TODAY, conflict in Gaza. But this time it's not between the usual suspects.

Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CLANCY: Time now for us to take a look at the markets.


VERJEE: We're going to update our top stories right after the break

CLANCY: Also ahead, we're going to take you to the Middle East, where the fortress by the sea -- some Israeli settlers vow to remain despite their prime minister's plan to withdraw from Gaza, as well as parts of the West Bank.

VERJEE: And later, a victory for women's rights champions in Pakistan. The country's supreme court interferes in a high profile rape case.


CLANCY: Welcome back to YOUR WORLD TODAY here on CNN International. I'm Jim Clancy.

VERJEE: And I'm Zain Verjee. Here are some of the top stories we're following.

In Egypt, presidential candidate Ayman Nour pleaded not guilty to forgery charges in a trial supporters say is aimed at disrupting his plan to challenge President Hosni Mubarak in September. Nour entered his plea from a cage in the packed courtroom.

An Iraqi police officer was killed on Tuesday when a suicide bomber detonated explosives near the entrance of a hospital in Musayib. 17 other people were wounded. And a member of the Iraqi National Assembly was assassinated in a suicide car bomb attack in northern Baghdad. Sheik Dhari Ali al Fayadh and his son and three bodyguards were killed while traveling in a convoy.

CLANCY: As the violence rages on in Iraq, opinion polls in the United States are showing public support for the war is sinking. President Bush is going to be addressing the nation Tuesday evening in an effort to shore up that support.

David Ensor joins us now with a preview -- David.

DAVID ENSOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, this speech, we can expect to hear the president ask the American people for resolve about Iraq and for patience.


ENSOR (voice-over): This president has long favored speaking before military audiences, with their high level of respect for the commander-in-chief. But this speech is aimed at the nation as a whole, at a time when support for the Iraq war and for the president are slipping. SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president recognizes one of his most important responsibilities during a time of war is to keep the American people informed about the situation.

ENSOR: The latest CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll shows 53 percent of those questioned now say it was a mistake to have gone to war in the first place. Fifty-one percent say the U.S. should set a timetable for withdrawal.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Why would you say to the enemy, you know, here's the timetable, just go ahead and wait us out? It doesn't make any sense to have a timetable.

ENSOR: As for Mr. Bush himself, his approval rating is down to 45 percent, and only 37 percent think he has a clear plan for Iraq. With the insurgency exacting a high price in blood, it is time, aides concede, for the administration to do some plain speaking on the war.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Setbacks are inevitable, and important victories are seldom won without risk, sacrifice and patience.


ENSOR: White House officials say the only way the insurgency could win would be if it could convince the vast majority of the American public to oppose the war in Iraq, shades of Vietnam. They don't expect that to happen, but they do say it is time for the president to try to go public and shore up support some -- Jim?

CLANCY: "Time" magazine's Michael Ware said -- it was just minutes ago -- that in many ways the real battle for the insurgency in Iraq and for this administration is being waged on television.

ENSOR: It's a matter of public opinion in the United States. As everyone remembers in Vietnam, when public opinion turned decisively against the U.S. involvement there, it was only a matter of time before the troops came out. The insurgents have studied that piece of history and they'd like to try to repeat it. This White House wants to make sure that cannot be the case. And that is part of the reason the president is going out there tonight to speak to the public.

CLANCY: David Ensor reporting to us there live from Washington -- Zain.

VERJEE: Jim, for some insight now on the declining public support for the war in Iraq, as well as the latest polls, we're joined from Washington by our senior analyst Jeff Greenfield.

Jeff, does President Bush have a credibility problem?

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Well, just to clear up our credibility problem, I'm in New York.

But I think what's beginning to happen here is that people who have been with him on the war, like North Carolina Congressman Walter Jones, very hawkish Republican, saying you know what, after these number of losses, it's time we need to think about moving out. And what you have here is a conflict between some of the language of the president's own closest people, vice president calling the war in its -- the insurgency in its last throes. And generals who are saying, you know, the insurgency is as bad as it's ever been.

I don't think it's nearly at the level of say, Vietnam, because the level of losses and the level of troops involved is an order of magnitude smaller. But there are some people who are clearly -- if our poll numbers are right, beginning to say, you know what, maybe it was a mistake to get involved in the first place. If we're still stuck and we're not getting a straight answer from the top officials as to just what the situation is -- Zain,

VERJEE: A lot of people, Jeff, today asking the same question, what is it that the U.S. president really needs to do in the speech here? But how much is anything he says really going to make a difference?

GREENFIELD: yes, I think you're right. I think words at this point have a very short half life. I mean, David Ensor was quite right. When the president speaks in front of a group of military people, he's going to get tremendous enthusiasm in the responses. They're going to cheer, they're going to chant, they're going to be his people.

But what's going here, I mean, if you take the administration's view -- the supporters of the administration, it's misrepresentation in the press. They highlight the car bombings, they highlight the violence and they don't -- and they ignore the underlying steady progress that's being made.

The problem with that is that that message is a very difficult one to sell. To say stay with it, there's going to be violence for a ways to come. Secretary Rumsfeld raised the possibility of years more insurgency. And when you've told people back at the start of the war that we'd be greeted as liberators, that this was going to take a relatively short amount of time, that the cost was going to be far lower than what the cost is, then people tend not to believe -- to believe it when you say, stay the course, things are getting better.

And so I think words are going to have a very limited impact. The one thing I could imagine is, if the president tries to in some way emulate what Richard Nixon did in 1969, when there were big protests against the war, and he appealed to the great silent majority, those middle Americans, to say that the war protesters were not the real Americans. I don't know if he can deliver that kind of message in this kind of atmosphere, because some people on his own side are raising doubts.

VERJEE: How does President Bush's own numbers now compare with presidents in their second term at this point?

GREENFIELD: His numbers are bad compared to second term presidents. The only second term president at this point who had slightly worse numbers was Richard Nixon in 1973, and that's when the waters of Watergate were rising. On the other hand, as a substantive matter, I don't think that this yet, is anything like the trouble of Vietnam for Johnson, Watergate for Nixon, Iran Contra for Reagan or Monica Lewinsky for Clinton.

And we ought to remember that this president has one thing going for him that no second term president has for decades. He has both houses of the Congress controlled by his own party. And that means that, for instance, hearings held to investigate what went wrong in Iraq are not going to happen because every committee is controlled by the Republican party. It's a huge advantage.

VERJEE: CNN's senior political analyst Jeff Greenfield in New York. Thanks, Jeff.

CLANCY: Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to withdraw settlers from Gaza and parts of the West Bank has generated major protests across his country in recent days. Mr. Sharon says the violence is not going to be tolerated, as it could threaten the state of Israel.


ARIEL SHARON, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): I especially warn against attempts by a small, lawless minority, like we saw a few days ago on the Gushpatid (ph) seashore, using violence against the army and other security forces. This minority does not represent the settlers. We all have to remember that the calls to refuse and to disrupt life in Israel endanger the existence of Israel and as a Jewish Democratic state.


CLANCY: Meantime, the Israeli military sentenced a U.S.-born soldier to 56 days in jail for refusing to take part in the demolition of a settlement in Gaza.

For more on the situation there in Gaza, where the settlers appear to be preparing for a real battle, let's turn to John Vause, who's on the scene.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the battle over disengagement, the rundown Palm Hotel on a Gaza beach, with spectacular views of the Mediterranean, could well be a flash point. For months now, hardcore protesters, along with families with young children, have been stockpiling food and water, fuel and other supplies. There are also weapons -- M-16s, handguns, possibly more.

(on camera): Are there weapons here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unfortunately not enough.

VAUSE (voice-over): The weapons, according to Dadiya Yataki (ph) are for protection against Palestinian militants. But when Israeli soldiers and police come to evacuate the hotel, she won't promise everyone will go quietly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I guarantee there won't be an earthquake? (INAUDIBLE).

VAUSE: Itamar Ben-Gvir has long been associated with the outlawed Jewish group Kakh (ph), listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.

ITAMAR BEN-GVIR, PROTESTER (through translator): If the army and police will make problems, we'll also make problems.

VAUSE (on camera): A big concern for Israeli security forces, suicide settlers, a small group of extremists willing to barricade themselves inside this hotel, threatening to take their lives as the ultimate protest against the disengagement. It's a tactic used before when Israel evacuated a settlement in the Sinai.

(voice-over): It's a tactic used before when Israel evacuated the Yemet (ph) settlement in the Sinai, part of a peace deal with Egypt. A handful of settlers, barricaded inside a bomb shelter, threatened suicide. A rabbi convinced them to leave quietly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not intending to die. I think everybody that's healthy and young is not intending to put an end to their life.

VAUSE: CNN was refused access inside the hotel, and was told none of the protesters were willing to talk to the media. Many settlers in Gaza, though, who've insisted on peaceful demonstrations for more than a year, are now worried by the more militant protesters on their doorsteps.

LAURENCE BEZIS, SETTLER: This is not the way we believe that we have to lead a struggle for this place.

VAUSE: The 140-room hotel was abandoned more than four years ago, shortly after the start of the Palestinian uprising. Most of the renovations are being paid for by Jewish groups in the United States, Great Britain and Canada. And a sign of what might still be to come, the hotel has a new name. The people here are calling it the "fortress by the sea."

John Vause, CNN, Gush Katif, Gaza.


VERJEE: A victory for one woman's bravery and persistence.

CLANCY: Coming up, Pakistan's judicial system reverses course in the extraordinary case of villager Mukhtaran Mai.



VERJEE: She says she wants vindication for her humiliation and punishment for those who gang raped her. The Pakistani legal system has been all over the map in this case of Mukhtaran Mai. The high court has finally stepped in, granting her latest appeal, and overturning the acquittals of her attackers.

Terrence Burke has more.


TERRENCE BURKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pakistan's symbol for women's rights and her allies walked proudly, that after Pakistan's supreme court ordered 13 men arrested for a second time in connection with the gang rape of Mukhtaran Mai in June of 2002. May, a villager in Pakistan's rural countryside, was raped and then forced to walk home naked. It is widely reported a local village council ordered the rape after her brother was accused of having an affair with a woman from a higher caste. A string of appeals left all but one of the accused free, until Tuesday.

ATIZAZ HASSAN, MAI'S LAWYER: All the accused, all the respondents, those who are alleged to have actually committed the rape and those who were part of the village jury, the jerga (ph) or the painchi (ph), be arrested.

BURKE: Mukhtaran Mai's case has proved divisive in deeply conservative Pakistan. On one side, traditionalists who demand a subservient role for women. On the other, progressive Pakistani women who are becoming increasingly vocal about their rights. This, a protest against a ban on women running in public. Two weeks ago, Mukhtaran Mai was preparing to travel to the United States to discuss the plight of women in her country. But Pakistan's government barred her from leaving.

T. KUMAR, AMNESTY INTL.: They apparently was nervous that her speech or her meetings in U.S. is going to hurt Pakistan's interest.

BURKE: Pakistan denies it, but drew strong criticism anyway, including from its key ally, the United States. Mai supporters held Tuesday's court decision.

SHAHNAZ PROGRESSIVE WOMEN'S ASSOC.: The great decision on part of the supreme court, I really welcome the decision. This is for 50 percent population, of women population of the country.

BURKE: A victory for women's rights champions in Pakistan, and a victory for Mukhtaran Mai.

Terrence Burke, CNN, Atlanta.


CLANCY: Let's check some of the stories that are making news in the United States right now. A 16-year-old boy reported in critical but stable condition now. He was attacked by a shark, and that forced doctors to amputate one of his legs. The boy was fishing with his brother on a sandbar Monday along the Florida panhandle when the shark bit. It's the second shark attack in that part of Florida in less than a week.

At least 20 large wildfires burning on the West Coast. Firefighters using air tankers to hold back a blaze in southwest Utah. The flames forcing hundreds of residents to evacuate homes. Dry storms are expected near the area today, bringing with them lightning and the possibility of more fires.


CLANCY: Next on CNN, tall ships on display as Britain remembers the Battle of Trafalgar.

VERJEE: Once again, Brittania rules the waves.


VERJEE: Welcome back.

The British coastal town of Portsmouth is being treated to a spectacular display.

CLANCY: It's a display mixing history with present-day sensitivities.

VERJEE: 170 ships from 36 nations are gathered at the port to commemorate the Battle of Trafalgar.

CLANCY: It's 200 years ago today that the naval battle off Spain, in which Admiral Horatio Nelson defeated the French and Spanish fleet and ushered in more than a century of British naval supremacy.

VERJEE: 17 tall ships are re-enacting the famous battle. But so as not to ruffle any modern-day European feathers, organizers are not depicting the battle as a contest between countries. Nelson's great, great, great granddaughter calls it a pretty stupid idea.

In the U.S., a statue called the Spirit of Justice is back on display in its full glory.

CLANCY: You see, the statue is a nude and when John Ashcroft was U.S. attorney general, let's just say that he wasn't that fond of it.

VERJEE: Jeanne Moos reports.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's curtains for the drapes. Not since the unveiling of Janet Jackson has a single breast been so singled out. Now you see it, now you don't. Now she's back. Her name is the Spirit of Justice. And her home is in the Great Hall at the Justice Department. Photographers love to hit the deck to frame her into the picture with bigwigs.

And no shot was more prized than when then Attorney General Ed Meese posed with a report on pornography while the Spirit of Justice let it all, or at least half, hang out. When John Ashcroft became attorney general...


MOOS: Someone decided it was more awful than awe-inspiring to have the toga-clad statue hovering in the background. Not good for TV aesthetics, said a spokesperson. An $8,000 curtain descended. Fairly or unfairly, there are two things that John Ashcroft got teased about.

ASHCROFT (singing): Let the Eagles soar...

MOOS: That song and this curtain, an easy target for cartoonists. Would someone please cover up that embarrassment?

(on camera): Not that we in the media don't occasionally get carried away with covering up things. Years ago, I did a story on Michelangelo's David, and higher-ups insisted that we put a blue dot over David's privates.

(voice-over): In another involving a guy who claimed to have been forced to have sex with aliens, we had to obscure the drawings of nude aliens. Makes the Justice Department statue seem down to earth.

Now that a new attorney general has replaced John Ashcroft, the Spirit of Justice is back and more than eagles are soaring.

ASHCROFT (singing): ... like she's never soared before

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


CLANCY: He really isn't that bad a singer.

VERJEE: And that is YOUR WORLD TODAY. I'm Zain Vergee.

CLANCY: I'm Jim Clancy. Thanks for being with us.