Return to Transcripts main page
CONNECT THE WORLD
Afghan Government Upset Over Being Shut Out Of Taliban Negotiations; Destruction of Syria's Chemical Weapons Behind Schedule
Aired June 5, 2014 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Plucky number seven, the world's leading industrialized nations stand up to their former classmate Vladimir Putin in
his absence. But on the eve of the D-Day commemorations, they still have their own internal battles to fight.
Also ahead, Russia isn't the only shadow hanging over Obama's trip to Europe, the release of this man Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is still
causing a presidential headache. We're going to tell you why.
And Bashar al-Assad isn't going anywhere any time soon and neither, it appears, are his chemical weapons. The latest on those weapons from the
organization tasked with removing them.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.
ANDERSON: A very good evening. It is 7:00 in the UAE.
The U.S. president has had plenty to deal with in central and eastern Europe this week. Now, he's turning his attention to his allies in the
west whilst Russia still casting a shadow.
The roll call of world leaders gathering this Thursday was missing one big name, Mr. Vladimir Putin. What was meant to be a G8 summit in Sochi,
because a G7 summit in Brussels following the Kremlin's actions in Crimea.
Well, Barack Obama will have dinner with French President Hollande later on Thursday. On the table, the issue of BNP Paribas. The largest
French bank faces fines of $10 billion by U.S. authorities for evading international sanctions. France, though, is pushing back.
Even if he would have like it, Mr. Obama was unable to avoid the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Germany's prosecution has launched a
probe against U.S. intelligence services. Now they are accused of eaves dropping on Mrs. Merkel's phone.
Well, possibly the easiest meeting was the one with the British Prime Minister David Cameron. They discussed Ukraine, energy security and
tackling global terrorism.
Well, our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is in Brussels watching what has been a busy, busy day. He's with us now.
One leader we can safely say Obama won't be dining with on this trip is President Vladimir Putin. What's Obama's next move with Moscow at this
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, there's a possibility -- and President Obama said this -- there is a
possibility that he may cross paths even see, even speak with Vladimir Putin in an informal way in France on the beaches of Normandy. They'll
both be at the same event together. Their both having dinner with President Hollande at separate times on the same evening.
So his message is going to be a very clear one. He said when he sees him, it echoes the communique issued by the G7 that President Putin has an
opportunity right now to recognize President-elect Poroshenko in Ukraine, an opportunity to dial back the support for the armed separatist militias
in the east of the country, the opportunity right now to stop weapons flowing across the border into the east of Ukraine from Russia.
The test is really going to be, he said, whether or not Vladimir Putin does this.
And he's also set essentially a time line saying this cannot drift on as it is. It can't go on for months. We need to see in three or four
weeks if President Putin has listened.
Both he and Prime Minister Cameron, as you say, in lockstep.
This is what they said today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia needs to recognize that President-elect Poroshenko is the legitimately elected
leader of Ukraine and engage the government in Kiev. Given its influence over the militants in Ukraine, Russia continues to have a responsibility to
convince them to end their violence, lay down their weapons and enter into a dialogue with the Ukrainian government.
DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The G7 nations have stood united, clear in our support for the Ukrainian people and their right to
choose their own future, and firm in our message to President Putin that Russia's actions are completely unacceptable and totally at odds with the
values of this group of democracies. That is why Russia no longer has a seat at the table here with us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTSON: And that's what Prime Minister Cameron said is the message that he would deliver when he sees President Putin later today.
So he's going to hear it from the French President Francois Hollande. He's going to hear it from the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. And he's
going to hear it from British Prime Minister David Cameron.
If he doesn't listen, the threat is for sectoral sanctions, an increase of sanctions on Russia.
ANDERSON: Fascinating stuff.
All right, Nic, thank you for that.
U.S. President Barack Obama also spoke about the prisoner swap that led to the release of U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl last week. Despite
the criticism back home in Washington, the president says he stands by his decision.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I'm never surprised by controversies that are whipped up in Washington, right, that's -- that's par for the course. But I'll repeat
what I said two days ago, we have a basic principle. We do not leave anybody wearing the American uniform behind. We had a prisoner of war
whose health had deteriorated and we were deeply concerned about and we saw an opportunity and we seized it. And I make no apologies for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: And meanwhile, Bergdahl's hometown of Hailey in Idaho has canceled homecoming celebration. Officials say the town lacks the
infrastructure to support an event expected to draw large crowds of supporters and protesters.
And according to a website that tracks messages on Twitter, several lawmakers from both parties deleted tweets of support after learning more
facts about the deals with the Taliban.
All right, we're learning more details about the lengthy behind the scenes negotiations for the release of Bergdahl. World affairs reporter
Elise Labott joining us now live from Washington with more.
So we've heard Obama being dogged by issues in Washington even though he's thousands of miles away in Europe. He said in this Q&A session with
reporters just an hour or so ago that he saw an opportunity and he seized it so far as the Bergdahl story is concerned.
What does he mean by that?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, obviously these negotiations have been going on with the Taliban since about 2010, 2011,
picked up over the last year with the Qataris. But they've been in fits and starts. And the U.S. never really knew if this was going to come to
In the last few weeks, the Taliban said, look, we're ready to make a deal. These messages were being past back and forth through the Qataris.
The last few months, sometimes it would takes weeks for the U.S. to hear back after they passed a message to the Taliban.
But in the last few weeks, they saw it was all coming together. The president in the Qatar -- the emir of Qatar spoke on the phone. They
realized they had a deal. And they wanted to go for it.
Becky, it's not only about this proof of life and Bowe Bergdahl's health that they were concerned about, but they thought -- and when you're
talking about this 30 day notification of Congress, what people are telling me is, listen, that was a really long time to execute a quote, unquote
"handshake" with the Taliban and leave that deal hanging out there. They were afraid it was going to leak. They didn't know what the commanders in
the field, the Taliban foot soldiers holding Bergdahl would do if they got wind of this deal. So they wanted to strike while the iron was hot, so to
speak, and just go for it.
ANDERSON: You're looking at pictures, viewers -- just so that you know, and as Elise knows, too, of the actual swap, as it were. This was
the Afghan side of the swap. And this is Bergdahl being released by the Taliban. This was compelling footage. And came out just in the past 24
Elise, very briefly, this proof of life video that Obama apparently saw in December 2013, it took some five months afterwards to get the
release of Bowe Bergdahl, is it clear at any point that we as an audience, as it were, and congressman, lawmakers on Washington -- in Washington on
Capital Hill -- are going to see that video?
LABOTT: Well, I think it's possible, Becky. I mean, clearly what the people saw -- congressmen are saying that they did see a very disturbing
picture of Bowe Bergdahl, that his health -- or as some congressmen are saying, he looked drugged. So if this controversy drags on, perhaps it's
possible that they will show that proof of life video.
But again it's not only about the proof of life that the administration is arguing. They felt that they really needed to get --
take care of this deal while the getting was good.
ANDERSON: Elise Labott in Washington for you.
And we've got more on the political fallout of the prisoner swap later on Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson.
Skepticism over the deal goes beyond members of congress on Capitol Hill. The Afghan government is said to be furious about the release of
these five senior Taliban members. We're going to take a look at how the controversial deal is playing in Afghanistan.
Well, as expected, Bashar al-Assad has been overwhelmingly reelected president of Syria. The win, his third, gives him another seven year term.
According to state run television al-Assad received almost 89 percent of the vote. But opposition groups and many western nations say that the
election was rigged and that only Syrians in government controlled areas could vote.
Well, this was the first presidential election the country has held since the civil war broke out, of course, three years ago. The fighting
far from over. Barrel bombs continue to fall in parts of Syria. And despite the UN's efforts, chemical weapons remain inside the country.
Well, joining me now from the United Nations is Sigrid Kaag who is the head of the joint mission between the UN and the Organization for the
Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. She joins us now live.
I understand that Secretary Ban Ki-moon now says that the June 30 deadline for eliminating those weapons won't be met. What do you know?
SIGRID KAAG, ORGANIZATION FOR THE PROHIBITION OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS: That is correct, the deadline will not be met, and that's for two reasons.
Primarily because the deadline was set to confirm the overall destruction of all of the chemical weapons program of Syria and with the remaining 7
percent still being in country and the destruction process still to start outside of the country when it concerns the materials themselves, it's
impossible to meet the deadline because it takes about 60 days.
ANDERSON: Who is holding things up?
KAAG; It's a complex situation, as you know, Becky. It's a country at war. The last 7 percent of the material is literally stuck at one site.
The government has reiterated on many occasions was unable -- unable to get it out in a safe and secure manner. And a number of times, key members of
the council have also confirmed that the security concerns in that area are legitimate.
So we're pushing. We're urging. We're obviously asking that this is done immediately when conditions permit. But the clock is ticking and has
been ticking for some time.
ANDERSON: Are chemical weapons still being used by the government or the rebels as this point?
KAAG: Well, my mission is one of implementation of the mandate, which is to ensure that the entire weapons programs is rendered inoperable and
destroyed. And a lot of progress have been made.
If your questions is on the allegations of use of chlorine gas. AS you know, the fact finding mission recently had to return to The Hague
where it concerns it where it will continue its work from there. But it's very hard.
ANDERSON: So you don't have evidence on the ground that chemical weapons are being used by either side at this point, is that correct?
KAAG: There are a lot of reports in the media and I know a number of member states have made these assertions. They have information. We are
not an investigation mission. We're not inspecting. We are really looking to achieve completion of the mandate, which is eliminating the program.
And we're nearly there. I think that should not be forgotten. We're nearly there.
ANDERSON: Sigrid, when you say that you're nearly there, how long will this take? Can you be definitive as this point?
KAAG: Definitive, no, but I think I'm very hopeful that the last 7 percent will be removed fairly soon and then the destruction outside of the
U.S. ship will start. And the chemical weapons program itself has many components. And all those based on the Syrian declaration have been
So the picture is complex, but a lot of progress has been attained. And the last 7 percent is really what's holding up the push for the last
mark when we're looking at work on the Syrian declaration as it was made.
ANDERSON: I know that you are on your way back into Damascus in the coming days, if not weeks, can you characterize how the government has
worked with you, if at all. Do you feel that the government has supported this mission?
KAAG: The government -- from the outset, we've always confirmed that there's been constructive cooperation at all levels politically,
operationally, a huge investment of time and effort has been required by the authorities. In any country, it's the state party, in this case Syria,
that is responsible and accountable. And tremendous time and effort has been dedicated to get this done.
The implementation of the program is always done by the state party. We verify. We inspect. We advise. We've coordinated. We've managed,
also, the politics of a technical mission. But there has been constructive cooperation from the outset, yes.
ANDERSON: Sigrid Kaag, good to have you on. Thank you.
Stay with us on Connect the World as we bring you another side of the crisis in Syria -- thank you -- what was supposed to be a shopping mall now
filled with refugees instead of store. See what life is like to Syrians making their homes there.
ANDERSON: This is CNN and Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson. 16 minutes past 7:00 in Abu Dhabi for you.
Now, let's to more on this Bergdahl story. U.S. officials remained uncertain of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl's safe return right up until the moment
the Taliban handed him over.
A source tells CNN that negotiations for the Taliban were long and they were arduous. And officials were concerned something would go wrong.
Now the five Taliban prisoners were freed from Guantanamo Bay, you'll remember, in exchange for one U.S. soldier. Now, after several members of
congress questioned why they were not informed about the prisoner swap deal, one independent senator from Maine says there was a reasonable chance
that Bergdahl would have been killed if the news had leaked.
Well, meanwhile Afghanistan is not happy saying releasing Taliban detainees to Qatar violates international law.
For more on the Afghan perspective on this deal, we're joined now by Christian Gustofson from London. He's a professor of intelligence studies
at Brunel University. To say that Kabul was angry is an understatement. I was in Doha just in the last couple of days when this story broke. I mean,
the word on the ground was that they were absolutely furious about this.
A rational reaction to what is effectively, as far as Kabul is concerned, the U.S. going behind their back and talking to the enemy?
KRISTIAN GUSTAFSON, BRUNEL UNIVERSITY: Yeah, high Becky.
Yeah, I suppose that the Afghans do have a reason to feel a bit upset. But you have to realize that the Afghan is looking after the Afghan corner,
it's not looking after the U.S corner. So in this case, that their interest is to defeat the Taliban. In this instance, the Americans by
making the swap have given five fairly powerful commanders back to the Afghans.
This reinforces the power of the Taliban and the fact that they didn't negotiate with, or they didn't bring the Afghans in, sort of looks to
Now I can understand why the American government didn't speak to the Afghan government from their point of view, but I can also understand why
the Afghans are a bit cranky about this.
LU STOUT: What do they do next? What's the position so far as Afghan is concerned? We're in the middle of a process of reorganizing the
administration, as it were. We haven't got a new president elected as of yet.
What is their current position vis-a-vis the Taliban, if anything at all? It's still no recognition, I understand.
GUSTAFSON: I don't suppose they really can.
Now, I mean, the Taliban as an organization using that word is to agree problematic, because it is actually several things. I think it was
actually the Quetta Shura that were holding Bergdahl.
And those factions that make up the thing called the Taliban do probably already have some roots and connections with different members of
the government, unofficial though they may be. But it is not the position for the Afghan government. They couldn't, I don't think rationally, while
they're engaged in the fight they're in, negotiate with the Taliban. It doesn't bring them any advantage. They need to demonstrate that they are
capable of maintaining security, that the current regime, though western established, is an Afghan one and one which offers the Afghan people the
best option for the future as opposed to the Taliban.
And I think especially urban living Afghans, of which there are an increasing number, get that they're best served by having a continuation of
the current Afghan government. But, you know, there are other aspects that are quite conservative and quite like, you know, some aspects of the
Afghan's political offering.
ANDERSON: The argument on the detractors of this deal is that by offering up five Taliban senior -- former senior leaders of the Taliban in
exchange for this one U.S. soldier, offers the opportunity for militants on the ground, not just in Afghanistan, but elsewhere, to take on U.S. or NATO
soldiers because they think there will be exchanges going forward. Is that going to happen, do you think? Is there a risk of that?
GUSTAFSON: I think there is a definite risk of that. I mean, we've established that there's a calculus for an exchange of prisoners,
especially American prisoners. In the past when there have been prisoners taken, that tends to be that foreign special operations forces will go in
like a hammer and try and get those individuals back. In some instances that's worked out, in some instances it hasn't.
But it sets a precedent that it doesn't pay to pick a fight by capturing an individual.
Here we've sent a slightly different message that there is a rational calculus for capturing and holding someone.
To that extent, it may make the potential lifespan of any foreign soldier who is captured slightly longer. At the other hand, it makes the
likelihood of those kidnaps happening probably greater. And that's not necessarily my calculation. I'm sure that's fairly evident to any Afghan
opposition, nor militant who wants to have a good.
ANDERSON: Fascinating. Kristian, thank you.
Live from Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. Coming up, the remarkable story of a man who won medals from both the
allies and the Germans thanks to his photographs of D-Day and its aftermath.
And World Cup wobble, Brazil may be getting a little nervous ahead of the big kickoff. But it's Qatar that at present seems to be feeling the
heat. More on that story after this.
ANDERSON: All right, you're watching this part of the show that is known as Globe Ex (ph). Time for us to introduce you to people and places
paving the way forward in what are the world's emerging economies, and that includes this region, for example.
If instances of corruption are proved, there will need to be a new vote, end quote. That was from the EUFA president when asked about Qatar's
hosting rights to the 2022 World Cup.
Well, speaking to a sports newspaper, Michel Platini said he doesn't regret his own vote for the tiny Arab nation and that it's important to
note that none of the corruption claims have been conclusively linked to that winning bid.
Well, these bribery allegations, which \raise their head as it were at the weekend, are causing a bit of disquiet, it's got to be said, amongst
investors. Losing the World Cup would mean, if it were to happen, a huge financial loss not only for Qatar, but for this entire region.
Our emerging markets editor John Defterios has been following that part of the story for you. And he joins us now.
This should have been a week of celebration in Qatar. I was there. I mean, you had this market upgrade, quite remarkable -- market upgrade.
This major airline gathering in Iarta (ph) celebrating 70 years of aviation history.
But it was the opposite, wasn't it?
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, indeed.
Well, you had this MSCI (ph) upgrade to go from frontier market, which is a riskier category, to emerging market status at a very good run up
leading into it, but they got very wobbly about the allegations linked to 2022. And it's a direct link why. And hat is because there's $200 billion
for a country that only has 1.6 million people, a fifth of those Qataris, that perhaps may not completely go through.
Now this is very early stages, as you suggest. Nobody has the bid away. But they're worried about the contracts going forward.
But look at the reaction. It had a $5.5 billion whack against the market cap. And the market was down better than 4.5 percent.
if we covered a half of percent, but we had three days of very heavy selling when in fact the markets in Dubai and Abu Dhabi were heading
higher, because they also had that MSCI upgrade.
Now the head of the Qatar Stock Exchange was in Dubai today. And he's suggesting this is an overreaction. There won't be any contracts canceled
even if something happened to 2022. Let's take a listen to what he said, Becky.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RASHID BIN ALI AL MANSOORI, CEO, QATAR STOCK EXCHANGE: We are confident that the World Cup will be in Qatar in '22. Second, nothing will
stop -- everything will go forward and process (inaudible). So, in Qatar, there are so many products stop it even before the announcement of winning
the World Cup.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEFTERIOS: Yeah his argument is is that, you know, we were building out even before we had the 2022 bid. You've been there a number of times.
It is a massive construction project. But just the question mark over whether anything is going to be pulled off the table could affect the
spending. This is record spending in Qatar. Again 1.6 million people, just spending $58 billion a year on their budget, and a lot of that
allocated toward infrastructure and a lot of it linked to 2022.
ANDERSON: To a certain extent, you could say he would say that, wouldn't he? Listen, it's going to go on.
DEFTERIOS: This is our position.
ANDERSON: ...but clearly there has been an investors wobble as you suggested on a market that has actually had a very good run, hasn't it?
DEFTERIOS: It's often overlooked.
Let's take a look at the last year. You know, they had the announcement, the indication for them joining the MSCI in June of 2013,
that's where we start our chart. Look at the march up through the summer. And then it just took off at the start of 2014. It was 52 percent gain.
Leading into this week, we had the three days of heavy selling and it's now up 48 percent in the last year. But often, again, nobody pays attention to
it. It's the second best performing market in the world. Number one is Dubai, kind of ranked one and two around the world.
ANDERSON: What's the comparison so far as...
DEFTERIOS: 115 percent for Dubai in one year, 198 percent in two years, going back to January 2013.
ANDERSON: It's always good to be living in a successful place, isn't it?
DEFTERIOS: No longer a cheap market, I should say.
ANDERSON: No longer a cheap place to live.
Thank you, sir.
The FIFA World Cup kicks off exactly one week from today where the host nation Brazil taking on Croatia in the opening match. That'll take
place in Sao Paulo.
But it appears fans from all over the world have already started flooding into another host country, and that is Rio de Janeiro. Some
400,000 visitors expected to pass through or stay there.
The latest world news headlines just ahead. Plus, from retail center to refugee camp, we'll take you inside an abandoned Lebanese shopping mall
now home to hundreds of displaced Syrians. That, after this.
ANDERSON: Welcome back. News just in to CNN for you. Freed prisoner of war Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is resting and showing signs of improvement
as he recovers at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. That is according to a Pentagon spokesman, this news just in.
Bergdahl, seen here ahead of his release Saturday, is conversing, we are told, in English, and is described as being more engaged in the
treatment. Well, the soldier has reportedly not yet spoken to his parents.
The other top stories for you this hour. US president Barack Obama says Russian president Vladimir Putin has, quote, "a chance to get back
into a lane of international law." Clearly a reference to the crisis over Ukraine, made during a news conference with British prime minister David
Cameron in Brussels.
Now, that followed a meeting of G7 leaders, notably, Mr. Putin wasn't invited to that meeting, and therefore the name of the meeting is changed
from G8 to G7.
Canadian police are hunting for a man who went on a shooting rampage in New Brunswick province. They say the 24-year-old shot and killed three
police officers and wounded two others on Wednesday. Now, they believe the suspect may be hiding out in a residential neighborhood near the city of
This new video shows the Sudanese woman who's been sentenced to death for not renouncing her Christianity. Meriam Ibrahim is seen smiling while
holding the baby girl she gave birth to last week, along with her young son. The Sudanese government allowed CNN to shoot this video inside a
prison clinic. Earlier media reports suggested Ibrahim gave birth in shackles.
Syrian state media reports say that President Bashar al-Assad has been reelected. He won 88.7 percent of the vote, they say, in the first
presidential poll since the civil war broke out there three years ago. Now, the election took place only in areas controlled by the government.
Well, hundreds and thousands of Syrians, of course, have fled the country, and they didn't cast ballots in the election. For many of them,
returning home may never be an option, and their new reality a cruel parody of the lifestyle they once enjoyed. This report from Hala Gorani.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was meant to be a shopping mall outside Tripoli in north Lebanon. But instead,
it's become a home for more than 1,000 Syrian refugees. A dried-up fountain, a staircase leading up to the upper floors, vestiges of a
partially-finished construction project.
The mall was abandoned before it was finished, and when the civil war broke out in Syria, families one by one started moving into the empty
shops. Sula Habib (ph) fled Hama almost three years ago. "What is life like here?" I asked.
"Well, it's hard, but we couldn't find anywhere better than here," he says. "We can't afford to rent a real apartment. Those cost up to $500 a
They say that when families started moving in, owners came to the mall to demand rent. Any way they can, these refugees try to make living here
tolerable. There are satellite dishes hooked up to old TVs, a little convenience store some here can't always afford to shop in.
GORANI (on camera): And as far as rents go here, there is actually a scale. The ground floor is considered less desirable. I'm told it's about
$100 a month. But the higher up you go, the higher the rents. If you live on the last floor of the shopping mall, I'm told it's $250 a month, and
that is a lot of money if you're a Syrian refugee far from home.
GORANI (voice-over): On the rooftop, a sign of what was once a restaurant. And on the other side of iron bars, a fully-equipped gym with
rotting workout machines. Kids here can only dream of getting in. The owner keeps it locked.
Back inside, the daily tedium unfolds slowly. Many say the worst part about living here is the boredom, the constant sound of kids playing,
echoing like in a tin drum. Never a moment's peace or privacy.
In another abandoned shop, Rabaab Sabaa (ph) and her 15-year-old daughter Fernaz (ph). Rabaab shows me video of what used to be her house
GORANI (on camera): So, this is the inside of her home in Homs that she says regime sympathizers destroyed and then burnt.
GORANI (voice-over): "This is my bedroom," she says. "I recognize it. All that's left is the window." her daughter, Fernaz, attends a
public school in Tripoli, takes a taxi every day to class.
GORANI (on camera): And what is it like to live here?
FERNAZ SABAA, SYRIAN REFUGEE: Not too beautiful.
GORANI: It's not beautiful.
GORANI: What's the hardest thing about living here?
SABAA: To communicate with people, because most of them hate Syrian people.
GORANI (voice-over): Other kids around here either don't go to school or attend a school nearby. Officials say it's partly funded with money
from Saudi Arabian charities, are many of the donations scattered here.
GORANI (on camera): Passing time any way they can in the long periods between odd jobs outside the mall, drinking tea, trying to keep the mall
clean. Refugees here say they won't go back until the regime in Syria falls. And that may mean many more years stuck in limbo, very far from
Hala Gorani, CNN, Tripoli, Lebanon.
ANDERSON: This time, June 5th, 70 years ago, allied troops were making the last-minute preparations for the D-Day invasion. The battle
they fought against the Nazis in Normandy had profound significance, not only then and there, but on the outcome of World War II.
That is why so many world leaders will attend Friday's 70th anniversary events in France. Now, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin,
is included in those celebrations. To hear a look at the sheer scale of the D-Day events for you.
The D-Day invasion spanned a 96-kilometer stretch of the French coastline. More than 156,000 allied troops crossed the English Channel on
the first day of what was Operation Overlord. So at this time, 70 years ago, all those troops were getting ready on the English side. Remarkable
More than 2300 ships and watercraft carried troops, vehicles, and supplies. One veteran commented that there were so many ships you could
almost walk across the English Channel. Thirteen thousand paratroopers and gliders invaded France by air, and more than 11,000 aircraft supported the
invasion. There were at least 9,000 allied casualties on what became known as D-Day.
Well, one soldier carried not only a gun, but also a camera. Have a look at the photos that he took, and our Jim Bittermann has his story.
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In France, the old vets are gathering by the bus load. If they were 18
when they charged the beaches in World War II, they're 88 today. Some are getting a bit creaky.
Some, but not all -- 92-year-old American GI Tony Vaccaro moves along the French boulevards like a much-younger man. But it's not his youthful
gate that attracts the most attention, that got him a box full of medals from France, Luxembourg --
TONY VACCARO, PHOTOGRAPHER: Even the Germans.
BITTERMANN: And even Germany. It's what's been put on display at the Cannes Peace Memorial just a few miles from Omaha Beach, where Vaccaro
first came ashore 70 years ago.
VACCARO: And the first thing I see was this gun looking at me.
BITTERMANN: Because the young private was one of the few soldiers, other than official military photographers, known to have carried a camera
into battle. The result was 8,000 uncensored, sometimes raw photograph that follow the 83rd Infantry Division's journey from the landing in
Normandy to the end of the war in Germany.
VACCARO: I was with the same unit. I knew everyone intimately. The intimacy was at such a level that if I aimed a camera, they didn't react to
BITTERMANN: Vaccaro's photographs are believed to constitute one of the most complete collections of the war seen through the eyes of someone
who fought it.
BITTERMANN (on camera): Because he was a soldier with a camera and not really a photographer, Vaccaro could never get a steady supply of film
or a way to process it. So, he ended up begging or borrowing film wherever he could and processed it at night using chemical baths poured into two
BITTERMANN (voice-over): While many of his photos of the horrors of war are too graphic to broadcast, many of his most famous ones, like the
scene of a soldier kissing a young girl as her town celebrated its liberation, show there was humanity amidst the conflict.
Still, his experience left the war photographer fiercely anti-war.
VACCARO: You think we would learn a lesson with World War II. One of the greatest things we should have, we don't have. A Department of Peace.
We don't have it. You'd be surprised the need that we have to have that.
BITTERMANN: After World War II, the amateur war photographer became a professional portrait and fashion photographer and never went to war again.
Often lecturing to young people, Vaccaro has come back to Normandy repeatedly over the years, where he's something of a celebrity. And he has
every intention to come back here for the 80th anniversary of D-Day in 2024.
VACCARO: I'm going to do this at 102. My doctor says, "I don't know how you do this."
BITTERMANN: Jim Bittermann, CNN, Caen, France.
ANDERSON: And CNN will have live coverage of the commemoration ceremonies marking 70 years since D-Day. Chief international correspondent
Christiane Amanpour, Jim Bittermann, who filed that last report, and Max Foster will be among the team looking back at that historic event.
Join us Friday. Our special coverage begins 10:00 AM in central Europe, whatever time that is in the part of the world that you're watching
While many Syrians went to the ballot box this week, bombs rained down on others caught up in the country's civil war. That start contrast, the
focus of tonight's Parting Shots.
Take a look at these photos taken in Damascus the day President Bashar al-Assad won reelection. Smiling voters, cheering for the man who's led
the country through a devastating civil war that has killed more than 100,000 people, according to a UN estimate.
But Damascus has been largely untouched by the there years of fighting, unlike the city of Aleppo, which sits from 400 kilometers from
the capital. Syrians living there were excluded from the presidential vote, since it is under rebel control.
On Tuesday, Aleppo was hit by a barrage of suspected barrel bombs. It's not clear how many people were killed or injured in the attack, but
these images illustrate the disconnect between the bloody civil war and the Syrian government's propaganda.
With that, I'll bid you a very good evening. Back with your headlines in about 15 minutes' time. MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST is next.
JOHN DEFTERIOS, HOST: This week on MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST, an upgrade has markets in the UAE and Qatar flying high in 2014. We'll
explore the implications and where investors might go from here.
A new president for Egypt with hopes of economic stability. I speak with the man charged with creating a new fund to attract local investors.
Plus, diversifying your portfolio by collecting superheroes.
Welcome to MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST from the floor of the Dubai financial market. This is a landmark week for both the UAE and Qatar
getting upgraded by the market index group, MSCI. They're moving from the riskier category of frontier market to emerging market status.
In the case of Dubai, it is just one factor behind an 18-month bull run in the stock market, making it the best performer in 2014 worldwide.
DEFTERIOS (voice-over): Call it a perfect market storm. Not one of destruction, but of wealth creation. Securing the World Expo in 2020 is
one factor. Serving as a safe haven in a region filled with uncertainty another. And oil averaging over $100 a barrel for three years running is
driving growth through record spending on infrastructure.
ALIA MOUBAYED, RESEARCH DIRECTOR, BARCLAYS: The combination of a strong balance sheet that the UAE has been endowed with, but also a return
of confidence towards an emerging market that has a lot of promising prospect, linked particularly to the Expo 2020, but not only.
DEFTERIOS: Since the start of 2013, the Dubai market has enjoyed an impressive near 200 percent gain to be the best-performing market
worldwide. Veteran traders are making comparisons with the level of the Dubai index to that of the New York Stock Exchange and suggest it has not
topped out yet.
ZAKARIYA AL-ASSAR, DUBAI STOCK TRADER: Dow Jones now exceeded 16,500 points and still, Dubai 5,000, we are looking for more in our lot.
DEFTERIOS: The upgrade by MSCI of the three markets Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Qatar, has been a very welcomed icing on the cake. Asset manager
Saleem Kokar said this will allow these markets to get a slice of the $1.5 trillion of emerging market capital pool worldwide.
SALEEM KOKAR, HEAD OF EQUITIES, NBAD ASSET MANAGEMENT: You will get a level of comfort as emerging market fund manager when you're upgraded to
this level. And on top of that, you will see more and more institutions beginning to play in this space. So yes, it is a game-changer, but do not
-- don't bring it into a short time frame.
DEFTERIOS (on camera): It's been a long journey to go from frontier to emerging market status. The UAE, for example, had been knocking on the
door since 2009, but fund managers suggest this delay actually helped the markets and the companies mature.
DEFTERIOS (voice-over): However, with recognition to the bigger league comes attention and volatility. The trading floors may be quaint
with limited trading sessions, but they are active. On the day we shot this story, banking stocks were trading up 15 percent after a wild
correction earlier in the month.
KOKAR: You have to remember, just a couple of weeks ago, we went through quite a correction, and a lot of the blue chip stocks that we were
looking at came down between 20 and 30 percent, actually. And now we've recovered all of that, plus more on top. So -- but I do expect volatility
DEFTERIOS: These markets are just coming into focus after being overlooked for years between Asia and Europe, but with a combined market
capitalization of just under $0.5 trillion, they remain a tiny fraction of New York or London.
DEFTERIOS: While Dubai is ranked number one so far in 2014, Qatar is right behind in the number two position, driven in part because of the MSCI
upgrade, but because of record infrastructure spending leading up to the scheduled 2022 World Cup.
The Qatar Exchange Index took a knock earlier in the week after allegations swirled about payments by the Gulf state to secure that bid.
Qatar's World Cup committee denies those allegation.
Egypt, the most populous country in the region, ranks number three worldwide in terms of stock market performance in 2014. With a
presidential election now out of the way, investors are hoping for economic stability. Already, we're seeing the launch of the first exchange-traded
fund open to global investors. I spoke to the chairman, who has the mandate to put this together.
ALADDIN SABA, CHAIRMAN, BELTONE FINANCIAL: Well, we think the finding is very appropriate because Egypt has now approached finalizing its
political transition, and it gives the investors a good opportunity to come into the market at the time where the macro picture is changing to the
DEFTERIOS: Mr. Saba, is this an easy way for the fund managers to play Egypt but having not to go through all the detailed reports and pick
and choose very carefully some of the benchmark companies that you're talking about producing these sort of profits? What's the advantage, here,
of the ETF in your view?
SABA: Absolutely. There are a lot of emerging market managers and international managers who want to put a one percent, two percent position
in Egypt. And this saves them the trouble of going through individual company analysis, gives them a chance to bet on the macro picture. Quick,
easy, and very efficient.
DEFTERIOS: We know that investors like stability with General el-Sisi in the seat, here. But do you have a very clear roadmap of where he's
going with economic policy, or is that still to be determined?
SABA: We have a reasonably clear map. He had indicated in his press reviews his commitment to the private sector, his commitment to the
DEFTERIOS: Egyptians have always benefited from the fact that it's the most populated country in the region, 80 million, 85 million consumers.
But we have markets, now, in the UAE and Qatar which have MSCI emerging market status. It's fairly competitive in the region right now. It's not
just the most populated country that investors are looking at.
SABA: I think the countries that have recently been included in the MSCI index have the ramp up of their stock in expectation of this
I think we're going to see their markets stabilize a little bit, and Egypt is going to get a lot more focus, post all the trading and adjusting
that the fund managers had to do for the MSCI inclusion. So, I think that was yesterday's story to some extent, and Egypt is tomorrow's story.
DEFTERIOS: Aladdin Saba, once again, of Beltone Financial based in Cairo. Well, exchange-traded funds, MSCI upgrades, all part of today's
market language, but investing is not all about number crunching. When we come back on MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST, why comics are no laughing matter
when it comes to managing your portfolio.
DEFTERIOS: Welcome back to MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST. We're on the floor of the Dubai Financial Market, and if you're like these gentlemen and
tracked this market over the last year, you had the opportunity to make a lot of money.
But perhaps you want to broaden out your portfolio, or lighten it up. Comic books are an option. Leone Lakhani has the story.
LEONE LAKHANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Could the Caped Crusader pay for your child's schooling? Perhaps the Man of
Steel could chip into a down payment for a house. Those comics are worth $800,000 and $0.5 million.
American superheroes fighting bad guys across generations now with high investment potential, according to Vincent Zurzolo, the co-founder of
one of the biggest comic dealerships in the world.
VINCENT ZURZOLO, COO, METROPOLIS COLLECTIBLES: These are very rare comic books. When you see these characters, everybody knows who they are.
These are what I call blue chip characters.
LAKHANI: Zurzolo is speaking from experience. Metropolis Collectibles' sister company, Comic Connect, holds the Guinness world
record for selling the most expensive comic in history.
ZURZOLO: Now, this is a superhero that started it all.
LAKHANI: A 1938 action comic, similar to this, when Superman made his first appearance. It was sold to an auction for $2.1 million in 2011. In
the past year, American classics like Batman and Captain America were the top sellers, according to the consultancy GPA Analysis.
Modern comics with TV or movie franchises behind them can also sell for a few thousand dollars each. Although Zurzolo says you have to choose
ZURZOLO: There are so many brilliant creators in the market now. Some of them are done in very small print runs, and so it creates a
LAKHANI: That's where the creators of "Nasser's Secrets" tried to do when he developed the Emirati sci-fi graphic novel. Here, he's showing us
his latest project.
KHALED BIN HAMAD, MOVING REFLECTIONS PRODUCTIONS: The animation that we're working on is an international concept, but with a local identity.
We're not competing with this region only. So you have to come up with something really interesting and something really global.
LAKHANI: He's not the only one. At a 2014 Middle East comic conference in Dubai, the region's local flavor was clearly evident, with a
Japanese illustration style known as manga gaining popularity. Qais Sedki is the author of "Gold Ring," the first Arabic manga-style comic.
QAIS SEDKI, AUTHOR, "GOLD RING": I thought if I take this international medium and I use it to basically tell a very Arabic story to
an international audience.
LAKHANI: But Sedki says it's been a tough sell.
SEDKI: Middle Eastern artists definitely have a very good fighting chance. What's missing in the region is people to take this form of art
PETER GEORGIOU, COMIC COLLECTOR: I myself prefer to buy books like these.
LAKHANI: That's essential for comic collectors like Peter Georgiou. He's been buying books for more than 30 years. His collection today is
worth well into seven figures, he says.
GEORGIOU: I have Spider-Man number one. In fact, I own Spider-Man one through a hundred.
LAKHANI: His most valuable ones are locked in a vault in London. Although he has a few tightly sealed at his apartment in Dubai.
GEORGIOU: There's books there which are, $10,000, $20,000 each quite comfortably.
LAKHANI: This year, he didn't see any Arabic comics he wanted, but he's always on the lookout for fresh ideas.
GEORGIOU: I notice very quickly how books kept going up. So then it became an obsession for the love of the books on the left and for the
investment on the right.
LAKHANI: Most of Georgiou's investments are in vintage American comics. He says they have the best long-term prospects. So, I wonder if I
can find one.
Checking the condition of the book for wear and tear, of course, is key. It's also important to go to reputable traders to avoid being
cheated. Aside from Metropolis, High Grade Comics is another well-known US dealer. After much deliberation, I've made my decision.
LAKHANI (on camera): So, I've taken the plunge and bought my first comic, and here it is, 1966 40th issue of a Spider-Man, cost me $350, but
Vince says in a few years, it could be worth double that amount. We'll have to wait and see.
DEFTERIOS: Leone Lakhani with some alternative investments there. And that's all for this edition of CNN MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST. From the
floor of the Dubai Financial Market, I'm John Defterios, we'll see you next week.