U.K. Prime Minister to Argue against a Second Referendum; Saudis Slam U.S. Senate for Vote against Crown Prince; Yemen Clashes Continued
<Show: CONNECT THE WORLD>
<Date: December 17, 2018>
<Head: U.K. Prime Minister to Argue against a Second Referendum; Saudis
Slam U.S. Senate for Vote against Crown Prince; Yemen Clashes Continued
despite Cease-Fire Agreement; Horrendous New Assault Case in India; U.S.
President Slams Russia Probe as Problems Mount; CNN Goes inside Tunnel
Running from Lebanon to Israel; British Prime Minister Theresa May
Addresses Parliament. Aired 10-11a ET - Part 1>
<Sect: News; International>
<Byline: Becky Anderson, Bianca Nobilo, Sam Kiley, Nikhil Kumar, Boris
Sanchez, Ian Lee>
<High: Prime Minister’s own party want to bring the question of Brexit
back to the people. The Saudi ministry of foreign affairs slammed the U.S.
Senate on their vote to condemn the Crown Prince for the murder of Jamal
Khashoggi. Six years to the day since a gang rape caused outrage in India
and this time it is the rape of a 3-year-old.>
<Spec: Europe; United Kingdom; Theresa May; Brexit; Saudi Arabia;
Congress; India; Rape; Children;>
[10:00:00] BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome, you’re watching CONNECT THE WORLD. I’m Becky Anderson, live from Abu Dhabi, it is 7:00 in the evening.
And we begin tonight in London with the U.K. Prime Minister in the fight of her political life. Yes, again. Right now, whispers of a second Brexit referendum reverberating through the U.K. and the hallowed halls, it seems, and between some of Theresa May’s most senior allies. U.K. media says prominent politicians in the Prime Minister’s own party want to bring the question of Brexit back to the people. As Mrs. May faces the rising momentum against her deal, she is set to address Parliament in just a few minutes time to firmly opposed the possibility of a second vote.
Turmoil, gridlock, and most of all uncertainty, it sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Bianca Nobilo is in London to shine a light on all of this. This lady is certainly not for turning is likely what we will hear. Reminiscent of the first female British Prime Minister back in the 1980s. In fact, back in 1980, Margaret Thatcher. What is she likely to say today? And what is her argument against going back to the general public?
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we’re expecting the Prime Minister to try to dispel all notions that a second referendum would be the solution here. She is expected to say it would cause irreparable damage and cause more divisions in society at a time when Britain is desperately trying to unite them.
She is also expected to say that a second referendum would just bring everything back to square one. At the moment, we’re at this impasse, as many people on either side, in fact, some Brexiteers, many Remainers think that a second referendum could be the logical way forward to break this deadlock. Where she is saying no, because it would go back to square one.
Now, of course, Becky, that would depend on what kind of question was put forward on a second referendum, as to whether or not it would just be a simple re-do of the initial vote or something different. But she is really fighting again for her deal, and even though she is safe, from her back benches -- because she won a confidence vote last week. We are hearing more and more reports that Labour are expected to launch a vote of confidence in the government, or in the Prime Minister, in the coming days. And that indeed has been the strategy that they said that they would take. Jeremy Corbyn has said that they will try to get an election on the table and he would do that through trying to challenge the government of the day. And if they lost the vote of no confidence, that could precipitate an election. And he said if they can’t do that then the Labour Party will push for a second referendum. So, there’s a huge amount at stake today -- Becky.
ANDERSON: So, what is the likelihood at this point of a second referendum? And if a second one or a third or fourth or fifth, and until those, who want to remain in the U.K., get the answer or the decision that they want.
NOBILO: So that’s one of the chief criticisms of those who voted to leave, is that the establishment just is trying to get the correct answer, and that’s been a criticism for a long time now. A journalist coined the phrase the “never-endum” and that’s also another worry it would go on and on.
In terms of whether or not it is more likely now, I do speak to MP’s who say that Brexit doesn’t feel like the foregone conclusion it once did and the second referendum could be a logical way to break out of this deadlock that they’re currently finding themselves in. Also, to quote military strategists, you’re judged by the strength of your enemies. And essentially what the Prime Minister is doing today, the Prime Minister is standing up there and trying to say this is not the way forward. So, she thinks this is important enough that the momentum has built to such an extent that the voices advocating this are loud enough that she needs to stand up there and say to Parliament, no, we should not do this. We’ve had Tony Blair, John Major, former Prime Ministers come out and advocate for this solution as well. So, the pressure is mounting. I’ve been speaking to the People’s Vote. They feel good. They have a sense of optimism. So, clearly, a lot to be concerned about if you’re the Prime Minister.
ANDERSON: Bianca’s in London, and the British Prime Minister is expected to speak in the next few minutes and when she does, of course, we will bring you that speech live.
Well, another leader under pressure this week is U.S. President Donald Trump, for a variety of reasons. As we will hear later on. Not the least the support, or his support for Saudi Arabia’s controversial Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. That has been in the spotlight of course, despite, or to some because of Trump’s background of the Saudi Royal. The U.S. Senate upping the pressure on Riyadh. A vote in the Senate last week backed a resolution condemning the Crown Prince for the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
[10:05:04] Well, the Kingdom’s ministry of foreign affairs then slammed the U.S. assembly.
The Kingdom categorically rejects any interference in its internal affairs, any and all accusations in any manner that disrespect its leadership and any attempts to undermine its sovereignty or diminish its stature.
A complicated story. Sam Kiley joining me to break it all down. It might be complicated but the statement is pretty unequivocal, isn’t it? Back off, is what they’re saying.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Back off, and here is a list of reasons why. And they laid them out pretty clearly and we talked about this in the past haven’t we, Becky? First of all, Saudi Arabia sees themselves as the leadership if not the leading nation in the Muslim world. Of course, the guardian of the two most holy places. Then reminding the U.S. Senate in particular that it is Saudi Arabia that helps to stabilize oil prices. Then adding that it is deeply involved in cooperation with the United States, especially over combatting terror.
Behind the war efforts -- or rather the peace efforts in Yemen. Reminding again that they are actually pursuing peace in Yemen. Because of course, the Senate not only condemned Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi murder but also drew attention to the continuing support of the United States for Yemen and that’s going to get voted on. It’s anticipated next year.
So, you’ve got a whole realm of issues that the Saudis are reminding the Americans in particular of how important they are in that relationship. And in a sense, they’re not wrong. Their problem is that the worm has turned now. For all of their lobbying efforts in Washington, over the years, Senators Corker and Graham, former great supporters, feel betrayed effectively and that’s why they’re having to go on the defense.
ANDERSON: And you rightly pointed out that the Senate overwhelmingly approving by a resounding bipartisan margin a resolution that would require the U.S. to end its military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. This measure, though, is bound to die in the House. And won’t actually get the U.S. out of the war. So, what’s the point?
KILEY: I think the point is they’re making a point. There is deep concern, and I’ve been talking to leaders not just in Saudi Arabia, but in this part of the world here in the UAE, that there is a frustration across Washington, in general terms. But particularly when it comes to the war in Yemen, a sense that there is blind support that has been offered to the Saudi government in particular over the years is no longer assured and that does worry the Saudis. There will easily come a point, where, for example, renewed weapons contracts might be in doubt with the United States and the Saudis are completely dependent on American weaponry. They can’t just switch fire as they’ve hinted that they might do and go and buy their weapons for example off the Russians or former soviet patents because the machinery just won’t work together.
ANDERSON: That is also the argument from Donald Trump, isn’t it? Back the Saudis or they might go away. So, it’s from both sides, that’s a redundant argument, isn’t it?
KILEY: Well, it’s a redundant argument, in that they can’t pull themselves apart. They are sort of velcroid that are bound together, but they are, throughout the Khashoggi issue, in a sense, Donald Trump has perhaps uncharacteristically remained rather statesman like in pursuing a pragmatic relationship with the Saudis. It’s a difficult part of the world. His argument is we need the Saudis, particularly when it comes to seeing what is perceived to be a threat from Iran. And they are deeply intertwined economically. Not the least on keeping their oil price --
ANDERSON: Let’s look at the facts on the ground so far as Yemen is concerned. Because last week, historic talks between the Houthi rebels and the Saudi backed government resulted in a ceasefire agreement in the port city of Hodeidah. Now this ceasefire was supposed to take place immediately according to the U.N. but there are reports of clashes still taking place. The U.N. special envoy to Yemen tweeting that he expects parties to respect their obligations, in the Stockholm Agreement.
How committed are both sides to this ceasefire? And if and when it starts, how will it be enforced?
KILEY: Look, that is the question, and that is the question that hasn’t been answered. How do you enforce it? There was this vague but optimistic commitment on both sides to demilitarize in the first instance the port around Hodeidah. What the Houthis have said since then is that who is going to fill that vacuum? There was this talk of national security forces but nobody knows what that even means. That has left, if you like, a bit of daylight around for both sides to continue, I have to say relatively low levels of clashes, nobody should expect that the shooting is going to stop immediately.
[10:10:00] But I think certainly from the Houthi perspective in talking to them, they feel that they didn’t get enough out of this agreement. They haven’t, for example, been able to secure unfettered access to Sanaa airport, which they had been arguing for. Nonetheless, there is now a list of prisoners, nearly 8,000 on each side, the modalities of that have been agreed, there are going to be prisoner swaps and releases from detention which include the Saudi-led coalition. Which is a big step forward I think from the Houthi perspective. But ultimately, the Houthis have to make a calculation, they can’t win this war, can they still have a roll in it a political dispensation, going forward, in that country. That is the expectation, and they need to be able to dial down the level of violence, or risk defeat.
On the other side, of course, there is a question, can they be victorious ever without causing a humanitarian nightmare, 14 million people in danger of starvation. That ultimately, I think is why there is still optimism because the consequences of continued war is so catastrophic.
ANDERSON: There is definitely momentum. It feels like for the first time there is momentum for some closure on this because of what is happening on the ground. When and how that closure is affected is still a question which neither you nor I can get an answer at this point. Thank you. Sam Kiley in the house.
Still to come, six years to the day since a gang rape caused outrage in India. A new case horrifying the nation. This time, involving a 3-year- old, a 3-year-old, that story coming up.
ANDERSON: You’re watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I’m Becky Anderson. It is quarter past 7:00 or thereabouts here in the UAE.
To a story, because this is important, that is so shocking, so heart breaking, one that tragically sounds so familiar right now, in India. A 3- year-old girl recovering in hospital, police say she was assaulted and raped, just outside the capital of New Delhi. The child is now in a stable condition and a suspect has been arrested. But if this case wasn’t already horrendous, there is another deeply-disturbing aspect to this story.
[10:15:01] This happened six days -- six years to the day where fatal gang rape of a student on a moving bus, an attack that led to protests across India, and calls for changes in the law. Although as you process the latest news, you may be forgiven for asking exactly what lawmakers have really done. Nikhil Kumar is in New Delhi. First, what more do we know about this latest shocking case?
NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Becky, the details are still limited. We’ve been told that the attack took place yesterday, Sunday. As you say, six years to the day, of that brutal gang rape in 2012. The police are yet to confirm that this is a case of rape. They are waiting for the results of medical tests that were done on the girl. She’s in the hospital. She is stable. The case was first highlighted by the head of the Delhi commission for women, a statutory body here that’s meant to promote women’s safety. And she said that the girl had been brutally raped by this man, 40-year-old man allegedly, yesterday. And that he was then found by neighbors and beaten up, and then the police were called. And he’s been arrested.
But we are still waiting for the police investigation to unfold. They are still waiting as I said for the results of the medical tests. As you say, all of it, taking a step back, all of it is a reminder of the larger problem of sexual violence here. You’ve mentioned the protests in 2012, we had protests earlier this year in April, prompted by a series of rapes. One of them involving in fact, an 8-year-old child. So, it is all once again turned the spotlight on this very serious problem, which sadly, Becky, doesn’t seem to go away.
ANDERSON: And to reinforce that fact, one statistic that the team found here is that there is a reported rape every 13 minutes or so in India. What are lawmakers saying they will do, or prepared to do at this point? We talked about this six-years anniversary. The question is out there. What has been achieved if anything?
KUMAR: Well, Becky, if you speak to, you know, lawyers, activists, people who work in this area, day in and day out, work to make sure that this problem is dealt with, that more is done, they will tell you that since 2012, and the aftermath of that brutal gang rape, there have been many changes which have been positive. There have been changes to the entire legal structure that governs sexual violence in this country. Including for example broadening the definition of what counts as rape. A measure that was introduced to make it easier for authorities to prosecute cases such as this.
But then they also point out -- and they have been pointing this out again and again and they said this when protests took place in April of this year -- that’s where the laws have changed, and changed for the better, enforcement and the strength of institutions to actually implement these laws, that that is lagging behind again and again.
The protests earlier this year -- I mentioned the case of the 8-year-old, there was another case that led to those protest, it involved a 16-year- old. In that case, one of the men accused was a sitting lawmaker, of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party. Part of the allegation was that he had been able to evade arrest for about a year, because he had been able to manipulate the state institution, the local police.
And activists say that until these things are fixed, until it is made sure that the police is truly independent, that the judiciary is truly independent, that there are measures in place for the police to implement the new laws that are introduced by Parliament, that other things are done, such as the introduction of safe public spaces. You speak to women in Delhi, working women in Delhi, they will tell you that they feel nervous compared to other cities walking out at night. Unless those things are fixed, this problem is not going to go away -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Nikhil is in New Delhi for you. Sir, thank you for that.
Washington getting ready to turn out the lights for the Christmas holiday. But Donald Trump’s White House sure doesn’t seem to be in a festive mood. And in his final week of business before the new year, after countless court filings by the Special Counsel in the Russia probe, and other U.S. prosecutors it is now crystal clear that the President is under scrutiny on multiple fronts from his businesses, to his campaign, to his administration.
Well, Mr. Trump went on a Twitter tirade over the weekend, bashing the Russia probe, as a Democratic scam. And calling his former attorney Michael Cohen a rat. His current lawyer Rudy Giuliani was asked about Cohen’s plea deal, while making the rounds on Sunday talk shows. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST, ABCS “THIS WEEK”: They found Cohen credible, providing valuable information about Russia-related matters for its investigation. Also, about his contacts with persons connected to the White House, in 2017 and 2018, and they seem to be getting it there, both collusion and obstruction.
[10:20:00] RUDY GIULIANI, DONALD TRUMP’S ATTORNEY: Isn’t that prosecution by innuendo? I have no idea what they are talking about. Beyond what you just said I have no idea what they’re talking about.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, let me ask you few specifics.
GIULIANI: I have no idea -- I know that collusion is not a crime. It was over with by the time the election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, the goal post has certainly shifted this year when it comes to Mr. Trump’s defense. I want to bring in Boris Sanchez in Washington. Do we expect any more dramatic cards to be played in the Mueller probe this week? Do you think we’re in the lead-up to the festive season?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It’s certainly possible, Becky. As we’ve seen, information comes from the Special Counsel at unexpected points. Obviously, Michael Flynn, the President’s former national security adviser, the general, is set to be sentenced this week. So, details may leak out of that, that could be pertinent to the alleged collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russia, during the 2016 election.
What you’re seeing now is effectively a public relations campaign by the President’s attorneys. You played that sound from Rudy Giuliani, and just yesterday, during that same interview, he acknowledged some new details that contradicted what we had previously heard from the President. He essentially admitted that in a written question, from the special counsel, to President Trump, the President answered yes to a question about Michael Cohen’s contacts with Russians during 2016, about building a Trump Tower in Moscow.
The President and Giuliani acknowledged that the President may have had conversations with Cohen about that as late as November 2016. That goes into election day. Giuliani says the President doesn’t exactly remember the last time that those conversations took place. He said it is also possible that they happened in June or July of that year. That’s around the time that the DNC had found out that they had been hacked by the Russians.
Obviously, that contradicts what we had previously heard. Not only from Michael Cohen who said that those conversations about a Trump Tower in Moscow ended in January of 2016, but also from the President himself. Who as you know repeatedly had said that there were no contacts between anybody on his team and Russians during the campaign season. Again, there is what Rudy Giuliani is saying and then there is what is actually going on or what has gone on and obviously we don’t know the extent of the evidence that Robert Mueller might have at this point -- Becky.
ANDERSON: No, of course. Looming over all of this is the prospect of a partial government shutdown. The deadline to reach a budget agreement as I understand it is Friday. And President Trump insists the deal must include funding for a border wall with Mexico. The Democrats call that a nonstarter and say they won’t budge. First, Mr. Trump seems quite blase about the prospect of a shutdown over the Christmas period. Why?
SANCHEZ: Yes, there is that small detail of the government may shut down in five day, right. Yes, he seems to believe that he is secure in his place. If you recall last week, during a meeting that he had with Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer, he effectively said that he would take the blame for a government shutdown. He believes that funding for his border wall is a fundamental issue. He certainly believes that his supporters are behind him.
Look, on the calendar right now, he’s scheduled to leave for Mar-a-Lago to spend the holiday in Florida on Friday, the same day of the government shutdown. It is unclear if that is still the plan, but it wouldn’t be surprising for the President to leave Washington under those circumstances. Democrats here have essentially offered a number of different offramps so to speak, whether continuing resolutions, or to fund the department of homeland security for about one year, the President has balked at that, he is demanding $5 billion for his long-promised border wall -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Boris Sanchez, in the house for you, thank you, sir.
Well, the Middle East is a crucial region for Donald Trump in terms of foreign policy. Something we of course cover very closely on this program. Us being here in the Middle East programming hub for CNN. And so, I guess Donald Trump might be interested in watching this next report, which is an exclusive look at Israel’s military operation along the border with Lebanon, targeting Hezbollah. Ian Lee has the details.
IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There is a secret in this hole. Those responsible prefer you not to know. We drop a camera down. Past tens of meters of hard limestone, to reveal a sophisticated tunnel. Complete with ventilation, lights, it is large enough for an NBA player to stand in. Israel says it is the work of Hezbollah. The Lebanese militant group with ties to Iran.
(on camera): It was important for the Israeli military to drill as close to this wall as possible. And that’s because on the other side of this wall is Lebanon. And what they wanted to show is how Hezbollah’s tunnel began in Lebanon and entered Israel. Finding this tunnel, though, wasn’t so much on what they saw, but rather, on what they heard.
[10:25:00] (voice-over): Vibrations from drilling exposed the digging. This video shows when the Lebanese militants first discovered their tunnels were no longer a secret.
(on camera): In that video, we see an explosion. What can you tell me about that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The explosion, we decided not to kill those people walking in the tunnels, it was a warning for the other side, to stay out of the tunnels, and we have the tunnels booby-trapped.
LEE (voice-over): Four tunnels have been uncovered so far. The army expected to find more. Israel says they violate a 12-year-old ceasefire. U.N. peacekeepers who monitor the border are investigating. Secrets of sophisticated technology provides a location and then they start to drill. There is little margin for error.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it drills half a meter to the right or half a meter to the left, that’s it. You’re out. You’re not in the tunnel and you didn’t achieve your goal.
LEE (on camera): Kind of like finding a needle in a hay stack.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is more complicated than that.
LEE (voice-over): The army says that uncovering the tunnels early has limited the threat, but they had the potential to do Israel great harm. Thousands of civilians living near the border at risk of kidnapping or worse. A senior Hezbollah official previously told CNN the group was surprised by Israel’s operation, but neither confirmed nor denied that they were digging tunnels. Meanwhile, Israel continues to dig down. To build up security. Ian Lee, CNN, on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon.
ANDERSON: Right, and Theresa May gearing up to make another appeal to parliamentarians in the U.K., to trust her, and her deal, to get Britain out of the European Union. Sounding very much like the last, and only other political female leader of the U.K., and now the Tory head in fact, Margaret Thatcher. Her great line of course was this lady is not for turning. Those words were famously spoken back in 1980. She vowed to keep on her own steady course, despite pushback from within her own Tory party’s ranks. Let’s remind yourself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARGARET THATCHER, THEN BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: For those waiting with bated breath for that favorite media catch phrase the U-turn. I have only one thing to say. You turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning. And I say that not only to you. But our friends overseas as well. And also, to those who are not our friends.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: She sound so pressing, doesn’t it? That determination and steadfastness seen right now in Mrs. May, as she continues to insist this lady, in 19 -- in 2018, sorry, is not for turning. Tough words from one Conservative prime minister. We’ll hear what the current prime minister has to say about the likelihood or not of a second Brexit referendum. That’s after this short break. Do stay with us.
[10:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ANDERSON: Let’s listen in to the British prime minister Theresa May.
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: -- on the Sea of Azov and Russia’s continued violations of international law. We agree to roll over economic sanctions against Russia and we stand ready to further strengthen our support in particular for the affected areas of Ukraine.
And second, we also agree to work together on tackling the spread of deliberate large scale and systemic disinformation, including as part of hybrid warfare. On this, I outline some of the world’s leading work that the U.K. is doing in this field. And I was clear that after we’ve left the European Union, the U.K. will continue to work closely with our European partners to uphold the international rules-based system and to keep all of our people safe. And that is why it is right that our Brexit deal includes the deepest security partnership that has ever been agreed with the EU.
Mr. Speaker, at this counsel, I faithfully and firmly reflected the concerns of this House, over the North Ireland backstop. I explained that the assurances we had already agreed with the EU were insufficient for this House. And we had to go further, in showing that we never want to use this backstop and if it is used, it must be a temporary arrangement.
Some of the resulting exchanges at this counsel were robust. But I make no apology, I make -- I make no apology for standing up for the interests of this House, and the interests of, and the interests of our whole United Kingdom.