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Fidel Castro Hands Power over to Brother; White House Diplomacy; Syria Leader Urges Troops to Steps up Readiness; Al Qaeda in Lebanon; Arab Impact

Aired July 31, 2006 - 23:00   ET


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on the phone): Well, Raul is kind of at times a mysterious figure. And depending on who you talk to, you get a wide range of opinions as to what he could mean for the Cuban government and essentially its relationship with the United States, as many people here care so deeply about.
But there are some who say Raul is a heavy drinker, who many say he doesn't have the charismatic leadership abilities of his brother and because of that won't be able to carry on much like his brother. But there are also many people who think that he might perhaps be a little bit more open to dealing with the United States.

I've read accounts of people who think he may have a more of a Chinese approach to the system that he creates in Cuba. And so many people would be interested to see if that means he might be perhaps a little bit more open to dealing with the U.S.

But this is a man who has spent very little time in public. He's rarely seen in public with his brother, Fidel. And there are many people who think that he's also in charge of the military as well. So he's a mysterious figure in many ways.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We should also point out that we are getting pictures from our affiliate WSBN in the Little Havana section in Miami. People dancing in the streets at news that Fidel Castro has at least temporarily handed over power to his brother. Obviously we don't know the full details of exactly what his condition is.

Shasta Darlington, what do we know about his health? I mean, obviously we have seen him pass out at one point on camera, falling down. Do we know what kind of surgery he is having?

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN HAVANA BUREAU PRODUCER (on the phone): He's had intestinal surgery. Basically he had internal bleeding due to high stress. He's undergone the surgery, and he's now recovering. And it does sound serious, but for a 79-year-old man, I think we can say he's in pretty good shape. He still can speak for two, three, even four hours without even taking a sip of water. Without pausing.

Just less than a week ago he gave long public speeches in two different cities in the same day. So he has had his health problems, but he has recovered as well.

COOPER: All this information, I mean we don't know independently his health condition. This is all just coming from the Cuban government, that's correct? I just wanted to make sure that's clear. Is that right?

DARLINGTON (on the phone): That's correct. That's correct. Basically his personal secretary read aloud a statement that Fidel himself wrote, explaining to the Cuban people his health condition. That he would be handing over power, handing over the leadership of the Communist Party. That his brother would continue in charge of the armed forces, and even postponing his birthday celebration. He'll be turning 80 on August 13th -- Anderson.

COOPER: Has there been any reaction in Havana? I mean have you -- I don't know what time this exactly occurred. But, I mean, has there been any reaction in the streets of Havana?

DARLINGTON (on the phone): The statement was read aloud on television at 9:15 in the evening, which is a time when most Cubans are in their homes. And there actually hasn't been any sort of really obvious reaction. People are still gathering along the sea wall which is what they usually do in the evenings to drink, to talk, to socialize.

On the surface, things actually look pretty normal. But this is big news. This is the first time, despite his previous health problems, this is the first time that the president has handed over power to his brother. So I expect that there will be some concern, some anxiety about what's next. Despite the fact that power is expected to be returned to Fidel Castro -- Anderson.

COOPER: Shasta Darlington, appreciate your reporting. And Ed Lavandera as well. We'll continue to follow this story throughout this next hour.


COOPER: Many developments here thought in the Middle East in the war zone to tell you about. It has been a very busy weekend indeed, a very bloody weekend in deed.

A major air strike in Qana in south Lebanon. You can hear behind me right now some pretty heavy shelling, outgoing artillery firing positions in south Lebanon from the Israeli artillery units all along the border.

Let's take a look back at what happened over the last 24 and 48 hours.


COOPER (voice-over): In Qana, Israeli air strikes Sunday killed more than 50 people, mostly women and children hiding in a basement. Israel quickly expressed regret, but the outcry and fallout was fast and furious.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot be expected to negotiate or discuss anything else while the ruthless, pitiless sword of the Israeli war machine continues to drip with the blood of innocent women and children.

COOPER: Lebanon's prime minister canceled a critical meeting with Secretary Rice, as images of the dead women and children in Qana ignited protest.

In Beirut, thousands filled the streets. Some stormed the U.N. compound there.

In Gaza, the same scene.

Meantime, in New York, the U.N. called an emergency security council meeting. With outrage spreading across the Arab world and beyond, the U.S. won its first concession from Israel which agreed to temporarily stop its bombing.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: I welcome Israel's decision to suspend aerial attacks for 48 hours as it investigates what happened at Qana.

COOPER: But just hours later the air strikes in southern Lebanon resumed. Israel saying the agreement didn't apply to all targets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we are being very clear and we're sticking to what we are doing. We never said it would be a total cease-fire.

COOPER: As Red Cross and U.N. workers arrived in Qana to survey the damage, and Hezbollah fired more rockets into northern Israel, Israeli ground troops launched another ground offensive in southern Lebanon.

Soon after Israel's prime minister made what was already obvious on the ground, unmistakably clear.

EHUD OLMERT, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): No cease-fire. No cease-fire.

COOPER: Israel now planning to call up thousands more reservists as it broadens its assault on Hezbollah. The U.N. Security Council putting off action on a peacekeeping force, and Secretary Rice and her boss facing growing pressure at home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The sickening slaughter on both sides, Mr. President, must end, and it must end now. President Bush must call for an immediate cease-fire. This madness must stop.


COOPER (on camera): Well, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has now returned to Washington. She has briefed the president at the White House. But diplomatic efforts continue to continue. Major diplomatic efforts. Some of them seen, some of them unseen.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice plots the next diplomatic steps with her boss President Bush. U.S. credibility is on the line.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are going to work with our allies to bring before the United Nations Security Council a resolution that will end the violence and lay the ground work for lasting peace in the Middle East.

MALVEAUX: That resolution includes a permanent cease-fire, a deployment of Lebanon's army in Hezbollah-controlled areas, a global embargo against rearming Hezbollah, and a new international force to help enforce any cease-fire.

Israeli officials indicate for now they are on board with Rice's resolution, which does not require Israel to immediately stop its attacks.

OLMERT (through translator): I have to say that everybody has said to me, no cease-fire. No cease-fire.

MALVEAUX: That position has earned the condemnation of European and Arab allies alike, raising the stakes even higher for Rice's diplomatic mission.

Over the past two weeks, Rice refused to accept an immediate cease-fire, saying the U.S. wanted something more permanent. But she also made it clear the U.S. was pressing Israel to use restraint in targeting Lebanese civilians and infrastructure.

But after the mistaken bombing of a U.N. peacekeeping post last Tuesday, and Sunday's mistaken bombing of a refugee shelter in Qana, Rice's word is being questioned and U.S. resolve is being tested.

DAN BENJAMIN, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: There's no question that the United States has a public relations disaster on its hand. The question really is whether the leadership is prepared to ride it out in order to achieve its strategic goals.

MALVEAUX: But the Bush administration is heartened by what it sees as an emerging tough stance towards Iran. Which it believes may have orchestrated Hezbollah's attacks to distract attention from its nuclear program.

Monday the U.N. Security Council passed its first resolution, giving Iran until the end of August to freeze its uranium enrichment program or face possible economic sanctions.

BUSH: It goes to show that when America takes the lead and works with our friends, we are able to accomplish diplomatic objectives.

MALVEAUX: But political analysts say time is not on the administration's side. Israel says it needs perhaps up to two more weeks to carry out its military campaign against Hezbollah. The U.S. will be back before the U.N. Security Council by midweek to broker its resolution. And what the administration calls a sustainable peace. BENJAMIN: From the U.S. perspective, if there are more civilian casualties in the manner of Qana, then it's going to be a very, very difficult passage for the United States.


COOPER: Suzanne Malveaux joins me now.

Suzanne, how big a burden is this for President Bush right now? I mean how much of this is overshadowing any other things he may be trying to do?

MALVEAUX: Well Anderson, it's only 100 until the midterm elections for Congress. Already the concern from the White House is that they are going to be paying the political price of Republicans that is. And today case in point, the president was in Miami at a port, essentially talking about the economy as well as the government hurricane preparedness for the height of the hurricane season. Got very little attention. Instead, even the president acknowledging that he had to address the Middle East crisis at that particular event.

So obviously trying to focus on some domestic issues. But the bottom line here, Anderson, is not going to get very much done on that front until they deal with this Middle East crisis.

COOPER: Suzanne Malveaux, appreciate it.

While diplomats talk, soldiers are fighting on the ground. If anything, things seem to be intensifying. Could be leading up to some sort of a settlement. But right now, things seem very tense along this border. We are seeing a lot of troop movements. There has been a lot of shelling all night long.

To talk about the latest, we are joined by former Retired Brigadier General "Spider" Marks.

General Marks, appreciate you being with us.

First of all, Syria announcing -- or the president of Syria announcing his troops need to get into a heightened state of readiness. What do you make of that? I mean, if Syria -- it could just be saber rattling, but if Syria did enter into this war, into this conflict, could Israel actually fight a three-front war?

BRIG. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, Anderson, it could. And by way of explanation, Syria's mobilization is simply that, is a declaration of a mobilization. Syria has a large army, but it has been defeated in major conflicts since 1948.

By way of comparison, because of this announcement, let me lay out the forces that we are going to see. As we zoom into the map, first of all, let's look at Israel. Now, we've been talking about the IDF for a while, but let's review what it is they have.

This is a nation under arms. A little less than 500,000 folks, men and women are in uniform with full mobilization, about 170,000 in the army.

But of note, it relies very heavily on maneuver forces. These are tanks and armored personnel carriers. This is what they do best because they have interior lines. They want to be able to maneuver from wherever their fights are.

Now, by way of comparison, Syria has a force that's about half the size of Israel's military. It has about 225,000 men that are in uniform. But what's of significance with Syria's force is that this is a Soviet-trained military. Trained and equipped. They rely very heavily on their artillery and rocket and missile systems. This is what the Soviets did. This is what Syria does. And this is where the major difference exists between the IDF and Syria's forces.

Now it's, also important that we talk about Lebanon as well. We haven't seen the Lebanese military engage. They primarily are a security force. They have about 61,000 troops that are under arms at any one time. And just less than 70 aircraft. But Anderson, these aircraft have probably been reduced in numbers based on Israel strikes over the course of the last three weeks.

And then certainly we have been spending a lot of time talking about Hezbollah. About 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers, they have been unmasked. They've been weakened. They've been atritted. As well as their rocket systems. And without about 100 a day for the last three weeks, you can see the reduction from 15,000 probably down closer to the 10,000 range in terms of their rocket system. Those are all of their rocket systems that we've seen. And some we haven't seen yet.

Now, what's really important, Anderson, it's important to realize that these are very truncated spaces. Very, very small. If you go from the edge of the Golan Heights that Israel has occupied a lot of defensive positions, to the Mediterranean, it's just 40 miles. But from the border of Lebanon, down to the Gaza, that's 140 miles. That's where Israel could fight a multiple-front war. They have interior lines, but they've got to rely on their maneuver in order to do it. This is a very tricky fight were they to do that.

COOPER: What do you make of what's happening on the ground right now in south Lebanon in terms of this ground war? Several days ago Israel's government voted not to widen the ground campaign. Israeli military officers wanted that. Now, in the late hours on Monday night, Israel security cabinet voting to do just that. And calling up some more 15,000 reserve troops. Does that surprise you at all?

MARKS: Anderson, it does not. And we've discussed this over time. Especially within about the last week and a half, that Israel is beginning to realize that it cannot achieve its objectives against Hezbollah through the air and by artillery and their own missile strikes. They can't do that. As precise as they want to be, they can't achieve the reduction of the Hezbollah forces as much as they would like to. They have to get across the border with ground soldiers in direct combat in order to get Hezbollah reduced and to get them out of their hindsights. They've got to deny them that sanctuary which they currently enjoy.

COOPER: General James "Spider" Marks, appreciate it as always. Thanks very much, general.

MARKS: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: When we come back, we are following two developing stories right now. The breaking news out of Cuba. Fidel Castro handing over power to his brother, while he undergoes an operation. Allegedly, according to Cuban government, for intestinal problems. We'll have more on that. And reaction from Little Havana in Miami where people were seen dancing in the streets.

And more about the ground fighting going on right now in south Lebanon. Stay with us.



COOPER: We continue to follow this breaking story out of Havana, Cuba. Fidel Castro having now handed over power temporarily, according to the official announcement, to his brother Raul.

WSBN, our affiliate in Miami, has shown us some video that we're showing to you of people dancing in the streets in the Little Havana section of Miami, reacting to this news obviously very favorably.

We have a number of correspondents covering this story from -- not only from Havana, but also Susan Candiotti is in Little Havana in Miami.

Also joining us on the phone is CNN's Rick Sanchez out of New York and Ed Lavandera out of Texas.

Susan, let's start with you. What's happening there?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on the phone): Well, you painted the picture as well, Anderson. What we are here seeing all are people waving their hands, waving the Cuban flag.

Driving up, it's pure gridlock here in Little Havana in that section of Miami, where of course this story is perhaps most meaningful and was staging ground for reaction. Where all the politicians will go, where anyone goes to gather to view, to air their views about what's happening at this time.

And that there is an air of jubilation here. They must remember to keep it tempered because we don't know exactly where this information is leading and whether Fidel Castro will (UNINTELLIGIBLE) from his surgery. It is being reported in Cuba at this moment.

Perhaps you can hear the horns honking. I guess we got pickup trucks, waving flags, waiving white rags as well. There is a lot of happiness here. People here obviously were many Cuban exiles have come to gather, where many Cuban exiles have come to live, Cuban- Americans. Because for them, the ultimate result here would be -- the optimum result for them would be for a change of power. This is what they have been waiting for a very long period of time. And for now, this has become the gathering spot for them to watch out. To ride this out and see where this news is going -- Anderson.

COOPER: CNN's Rick Sanchez is following this story out of New York.

I guess you know, Rick, there have for long, many years, been questions about who would succeed Fidel Castro. It seems from this announcement at least, we at least have some sort of an answer to that. Right now his brother Raul is the chosen successor, no?

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on the phone): There is no question, Anderson, as we watch this story unfold if nothing else, whatever Fidel Castro's condition is at this point, the fact that he would give -- hand power over to Raul. Even if only on a temporary basis, solidifies in the eyes of most of us who have been watching this story unfold over the last several decades that Fidel Castro trusts his brother Raul. Perhaps more than (UNINTELLIGIBLE), perhaps more than Allah Kong (ph) and some of the other main players in Cuba.

This is something we've seen coming for some time, where essentially with Castro, ever since the Ochoa affair where Fidel Castro decided that he would hold a court against some of his top military officials, the ones he thought he trusted the most. Ever since then, power has been going into the hands of Raul Castro. The military power, the secret police in Cuba. And we've seen this coming for quite some time.

Who knows what it means in the future, though? Who knows? We are seeing pictures out of Miami. But what one really wonders, Anderson, is what will the reaction be in Cuba?

Remember, there's a lot of people in Cuba who aren't necessarily -- they are obviously Castro (UNINTELLIGIBLE). He also has people who are non-supports, but still respect Fidel Castro. Will they have the same level of respect or fear of Raul that they had of Fidel for so many years?

Most people have watched Cuba over the last several decades would say no, they won't. Because they're two different types of personalities, two different types of leaders, two different types of people. And that Raul Castro may not have the muster to (UNINTELLIGIBLE), to use an American word that we used during the last election, that his brother does. That could hurt him. There could be problems internally -- Anderson.

COOPER: We talked to a CNN producer in Havana a short time ago. And saying that as of yet, there's been no visible demonstrations or anything on the streets in Havana. The announcement being made on the Cuban television around just after 9 p.m., Monday evening.

CNN's Ed Lavandera's following events out of Texas.

Ed, what do we know about Raul Castro? I mean Rick was saying that it's sort of a question about how much power he has, whether he has the confidence, whether he has other people's confidence really to rule effectively. LAVANDERA (on the phone): You know I think what will be interesting to watch is that remember, Raul Castro, while he has control of the military, the secret police and much of the power that his older brother has put him in charge of. But there are other players in this scene as well that will play -- and here's the interesting part. They have been very dedicated, they have been towing the party lines for decades.

So you have there are three names that kind of pop to mind. One who's in charge of the Cuban assembly. Another who is the foreign minister of Cuba. And also the vice president of the country as well. These are three men who have been towing the Castro line for several decades. And it will be interesting to see how exactly they play into this, into the relationship with Raul Castro, because as of right now, they've always backed the imminent dictator there, Fidel Castro, and didn't say anything against him.

Now, whether or not they continue to tow that line with the youngest brother is -- becomes the head of the country, if that indeed does happen, that will be very interesting to see. And there are many people here in the U.S. who hope there will be some sort of power struggle that perhaps that would pave the way for some sort of change in the regime there.

That's what a lot of people here in the U.S. will be looking for in the months ahead if this change of power does indeed happen.

COOPER: And of course what we know at this hour is what the Cuban government has announced on television. In Cuba, essentially saying Fidel Castro is undergoing surgery. Some sort of intestinal surgery due to stress that he has been under in recent weeks.

And while he is recuperating and undergoing that surgery and then ultimately recuperating from that surgery, perhaps for as many as several weeks, his brother Raul Castro will be in charge.

If that is all there is to this story, we do not know. All we know right now is what the official line from the Cuban government is. We'll continue to follow it throughout this next hour.


COOPER: When we come back, the latest developments out here from the war zone, along the Lebanon-Israel border. Stay tuned.



COOPER: We continue our breaking news coverage of events out of Cuba. Right now Fidel Castro, the government there announcing that he has handed over power temporarily to his brother Raul Castro. There is now a reaction from the Bush White House.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is covering that.

Suzanne, what's the White House saying?

MALVEAUX (on camera): Well, Anderson, it's very brief. It's from Peter Watkins, of course, who is on duty at this time for the White House. He says that the Bush administration, the White House, is monitoring the situation very carefully. He goes on to tell me that they cannot speculate on Fidel Castro's health. But then that the White House statement, the position is we continue to work for the day of Cuba's freedom. We may get some more details tomorrow morning -- Anderson.

COOPER: all right. And obviously a reaction already in Little Havana. We've seen pictures of people literally sort of dancing in the streets. Obviously there are people watching this situation very closely indeed, as we will continue to throughout this next hour.


Suzanne Malveaux stays with us. We want to switch gears and talk about what is happening on the ground here and also diplomatic efforts happening in the Mideast crisis.

Not only am I joined by Suzanne Malveaux, I'm also joined by John Roberts who is elsewhere along the Israel-Lebanon border, and CNN's Nic Robertson, who is live in Beirut.

John Roberts, I want to start off with you. You have had a very busy night indeed. Monitoring troop movements along this border and there have been many troop movements indeed, no?

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there have, Anderson. It was a very busy night. And it appears to be off to a very early start in terms of what today holds.

About five minutes ago, there was an enormous explosion just over a hill top. Just beyond me here. We thought originally, that it might have been a Katyusha rocket being targeting at this town, but it seems by the amount of smoke that it probably was an Israeli bomb dropped on the other side of the border.

We saw a lot of troop movements. Last night a combat engineering unit going over the border in their armored vehicles, all set and ready to go. Also bringing with them some of those big bulldozers that they use to clear roads and build berms.

Typically, combat engineers are the first ones to go in. They clear the roads, they build defensive fortifications in order for the ground troops to follow in behind them, the ones that will actually do the fighting. So, all indications, Anderson, that something fairly significant is about to happen here. And we expected it may happen in the next 24 to 48 hours based on what the Israeli government said yesterday.

COOPER: Nic Robertson, more than I guess 36 hours now after that terrible air strike in Qana in south Lebanon, those pictures that were beamed around the world. Right now the death toll at least 54 people dead. Many of them children at least 17 children's bodies found in the rubble.

What has been the reaction now that some more time has passed? I mean does the anger continue to grow? Are there more demonstrations? Is the Lebanese government weakened even further. And Hezbollah strengthened even more?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well there haven't been further demonstrations. We didn't see any today. And I think the indication is that really the politicians took control of the situation. They realize that there was a potential for volatility. They realized that during those periods of volatility, you can -- people will perhaps exploit that, and exploit that politically, exploit that to create divisions. Although the country is -- and the politicians do try and remain united.

We have seen more troops on the streets. The U.N. building that was attacked now has plenty more both police and Lebanese army around it so that's sort of heading off the potential for any further attack on it. But I think really the politicians here are trying to maintain control of the situation, maintain unity, and really keep the focus on Qana, on what happened in Qana, rather angry demonstrations and violent reactions in Beirut -- Anderson.

COOPER: Suzanne Malveaux, did what happened in Qana change Secretary Rice's timetable for involvement here by the U.S.?

MALVEAUX: Well, absolutely. It dramatically shrunk that timetable. What you are hearing privately, of course, from Bush administration officials was that look, we want to wrap this up as quickly as possible. There is a sense of urgency. Now that is spilling out into the public discourse. We are hearing it from the president, we heard it from Secretary Rice, essentially that they feel as they are running out of time here. They are pushing Israel to wrap this up as quickly as possible.

Many U.S. officials acknowledging privately they cannot afford another Qana incident, otherwise this whole thing falls apart.

COOPER: Suzanne Malveaux, thanks. John Roberts and Nic Robertson, as well.

When we come back, is al Qaeda looking for a foothold in south Lebanon? And have they, as some say, already found one? That story next on 360.


COOPER: Those pictures are of elderly residents in the town of Bint Jbeil being evacuated. Already Israel has called for civilians to get out of south Lebanon. Of course, it has been a difficult and dangerous journey for many to get out.

When we come back, I will have a lot more from Bint Jbeil. But first we want to talk about another terror group, perhaps working in south Lebanon. There is growing fear that Hezbollah is not the only terror group operating there. That in fact al Qaeda has already established a foothold of sorts in some parts of south Lebanon.

We asked CNN's Michael Ware to investigate.


MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The children in Qana. Grief turning to rage on Beirut's streets. Could this push Lebanon one step closer to the kind of violence al Qaeda has brought to Iraq? While so many hope the tragedy in Qana can force peace, al Qaeda may be planning otherwise.

AYMAN AL-ZAWAHIRI (through translator): The whole world is an open field for us. They attack us everywhere, we will attack them everywhere. They gang up to wage war on us. Our Islamic nation will fight them and wage war on them.

WARE: In his most polished video yet, bin Laden's deputy thrust Sunni al Qaeda into a conflict dominated by Hezbollah, a Shia rival.

If al-Zawahiri's message resonates anywhere, it could be in these overcrowded streets. Western intelligence claims al Qaeda resides here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In all these pictures which I'm seeing now all over the world, will create terrorism and will increase terrorism, you see. And a U.S.A. government will receive the action of this terrorism. Because the support of the American government to the Israelis in their envision and in their killing to our people. What will you expect?

WARE: Sheik Jumal Katab (ph) holds an MBA from the American University in Beirut. American and Israeli intelligence say his al- nua (ph) mosque is at the center of a swirling mix of al Qaeda-linked militia groups based in the camp. A charge he denies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the moment, I don't think al Qaeda will be present here in Lebanon. But if U.S.A. government will continue in their acts, I think they will create al Qaeda all over the world. Even in U.S.A.

WARE: His Hamas allies in the camp agree, calling al Qaeda's response to the Israeli operations understandable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This is normal. We as Muslims are like one body. If one organ is infected, all other organs come to the rescue.

WARE (on camera): Even though al Qaeda does not have the tow hold in Lebanon, it does in other countries. There is a sentiment that the longer this conflict drags on, the greater the risk that that may change.

As a senior Lebanese army officer told me, well, we all need help.

(Voice-over): In the end, the absence of a strong al Qaeda presence in Lebanon may not matter. Islamic militancy is already entrenched here. Ask those rubbing shoulders with Hezbollah whether Israel is crippling the guerrillas, and the answer is emphatic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's impossible. Impossible. Not possible. Impossible.

WARE: And for Hezbollah at least, it seems there is no shortage of Shia recruits, including this 11-year-old boy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We will remain in Beirut even if it's bombed. We will not let the shelters fill with people. Even if we turn into martyrs for God.


COOPER: Michael Ware joins me now from Beirut.

Michael, does the Lebanese government have control over this camp?

WARE (on camera): No, Anderson. None whatsoever. The Lebanese government can exercise no authority within the confines of this camp. The Lebanese army surrounds the facility and secures it. But once inside, anyone is untouchable. Lebanese police cannot go in there. The Palestinians administer the camp themselves, have their own makeshift courts and deliver their own services.

So we've seen in the past suspected terrorists or insurgents enter the camps and take sanctuary -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, I mean it doesn't look like any refugee camp I've seen. I mean, what's it like in there?

WARE: Well this is the thing about this camp. Like several others dotted across Lebanon, this one has been here more than five decades, since the creation of the state of Israel. You have 70,000 people living within less than one square mile. So, it's like a mini town itself. So there's lots of buildings, lots of little alley ways, nooks, these people have had lots of time to establish both their society and their strongholds -- Anderson.

COOPER: Fascinating. Michael Ware, appreciate it from Beirut.

When we come back, the killings in Qana. How the Arab world saw it on Arab TV. Stay with us.



COOPER: you are looking at live pictures from our affiliates WSBN and WLT in the Little Havana section of Miami. Music playing, people dancing in the streets. There is gridlock, all in reaction to the news that Fidel Castro has handed over power to his brother Raul. Temporarily, says the government of Fidel Castro, while Fidel Castro undergoes a surgery for what they describe as an intestinal problem due to stress that he's been under for the last several weeks.

We'll have a live report from Havana and from the Little Havana section of Miami, coming up in just a few moments.


COOPER: But we wanted to return here to the crisis going on the Middle East, a crisis which has in some ways deepened and become more complex just in the last 36 hours, the last 48 hours as many in this region react to the killings in Qana in south Lebanon that occurred on Sunday. At least 54 people are dead there, a large number of them children.

And the pictures that we saw played over and over again on Arab TV on Sunday have had a major impact throughout the Muslim world. We wanted to take a look and show you what many in the Muslim world have seen on a variety of different Arabic language television stations.

CNN's Gary Tuchman reports.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The U.S. flag and patriotic American music, shrewdly used by Hezbollah's TV channel Al- Manar.

The news coverage of Israel's bombing in Qana, Lebanon, that killed more than 50 people, many of them children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beirut is free. Beirut is free. Beirut is free.

TUCHMAN: Looks very different on Arab channels than it does anywhere else. On Al Arabiya, a video promoting coverage of the Qana killings shows an out of context picture of a smiling Israeli soldier. A promo on Al-Jazeera made before the bombing, but used frequently after it, attempts to make the U.S. secretary of state look dishonest and cruel.

RICE: The safety of civilians, that all should be concerned about protecting innocent civilian life without protecting civilian infrastructure.

TUCHMAN: While western media show casualties, they are nowhere near the number and intensity shown on Arab TV.

Octavia Nasr is CNN's senior Arab affairs editor, who spends much of her time monitoring Arab media.

OCTAVIA NASR, CNN SENIOR ARAB AFFAIRS EDITOR: Basically, the way they see it is that this is war, this is real, and this is what's happening. So if you don't have the stomach for it, don't watch. But they don't feel like they have to cleanse it for their viewers.

TUCHMAN: Arab channels differ from one another in their journalism. But after the bombing in Qana, lengthy emotional narratives from witnesses were on all of them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We were not terrorists. These kids were not terrorists. Show them the images of the children. Show these pictures to Bush and Rice.

NASR: On Arab networks you hear more ordinary citizens, basically weeping, crying, expressing their feelings, their anger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Twenty-five children were killed under the rubble. These are the honor of Lebanon.

TUCHMAN: The anger is something all the channels have in common. But the channel run by Hezbollah corners the market on sarcasm and scorn and does it with no subtlety.

This video starts with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stating there's no struggle more ethical than our struggle. As it continues, Al-Manar TV puts a swastika on his arm and an Adolph Hitler-style mustache over his lips. Hatred, anger, sadness and emotion, all on the air on Arab TV.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, New York.


COOPER: When we come back, we'll have more on the crisis here in the Middle East.

And the developing story out of Havana about Fidel Castro. And reaction, the Little Havana section of Miami. We'll have a live report from the streets of Miami. Stay tuned.



COOPER: And you are looking at live pictures from our affiliates WSBN and WLTV. The Little Havana section of Miami. People celebrating, literally dancing in some cases, in the streets. Traffic gridlock in the area.

CNN's Susan Candiotti joins us by phone right now from Little Havana.

Susan, what are you seeing around you?

CANDIOTTI (on the phone): Let me describe the scene for you now. I happen to be standing outside of the Versailles restaurant where this morning, President Bush was with his brother Governor Jeb Bush, sipping some Cuban coffee and talking about (UNINTELLIGIBLE) freedom in Cuba (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

Who knows what lies ahead. Describing the scene now, I could best call it bordering on pandemonium. There are people lining the streets here. There is pure gridlock on the street known as Kyeocher (ph), which runs at the heart of Little Havana. Which of course is home to many Cuban exiles here in this community.

And joining me now live is a gentleman by the name of Eloy Saparro (ph) who is with the Cuban-American National Foundation from this committee. As a matter of fact that committee will be meeting tomorrow morning to talk about what possibly lies ahead.

Mr. Saparro (ph) left Cuba at just 15 years old. Called the Pedro Con Movement when children were flown here, leaving their parents behind oftentimes in Cuba.

Mr. Saparro (ph), can you tell us what information, if any, you have heard right now? What are you hearing from the Cuban-American National Foundation about the situation in Cuba?

ELOY SAPARRO (PH), CUBAN-AMERICAN NATIONAL FOUNDATION: Yes, we received three or four calls (UNINTELLIGIBLE) say four months for the republic. And some of the different Cubans think that if they end up -- that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) because they think he is dead. Otherwise he would never have transferred power in those conditions.

CANDIOTTI: On the other hand, of course, there is no way of precisely knowing in Cuba what is the truth of what is happening at this hour.

What reports are you getting from people in Cuba about the state of affairs now? And just drawing this to a conclusion, what do you foresee will be happening in Miami tomorrow as people wait for news?

SAPARRO (ph): I just heard on the radio, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), They said they were monitoring their house. They would circle her house. And there was no indication in the island of this lady -- some of the troops in Havana and in the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) provinces.

CANDIOTTI: And you have to be (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in Miami to rapping up here, what evening was it.

SAPARRO (ph): Tomorrow is going to be a very exciting day I mean because we're going to find out. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) says pop the news. And pretty soon we're going to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) what the conditions are.

CANDIOTTI: Mr. Saparro (ph), thank you very much for joining us.

Again, we'll be on the scene probably through the night to report to you on what's happening. Back to you.

COOPER: Susan Candiotti reporting from the Little Havana section in Miami.


COOPER: We'll continue to follow developments out of Cuba.

And we continue to follow developments right here along the board were Israel and Lebanon. It has been a very busy 24-hour period. Though the number of incoming Hezbollah rockets and mortars was much reduced on Monday, there was still a lot of activity here along the border. Take a look.


COOPER (voice-over): Along the border an Israeli armored unit prepared for another day of fighting. Nearby, artillery units fired shells into a Lebanese town.

(On camera): Despite all the talk of the cease-fire, despite Israel's announcement of a 48-hour halt to their bombing campaign, the military activity here along the border continues.

(Voice-over): In Kiryash Mona (ph), by early afternoon, two Katyusha rockets had landed. We found this field in flames. They are flying low and dropping flame retardant on some of the fire that's over there.

(On camera): So far two Katyushas have hit in the areas around Kiryash Mona (ph) today. This fire has been burning out of control. We've been watching it for the last 30 minute or so. It's tough for firefighters on the ground to actually battle the flames because there's not a water source for them to use around here. So, they're primarily using these small planes.

(Voice-over): No matter how many passes the plane made, the flames continue to grow.

(On camera): They just dropped a load of retardant on this part of the fire. It doesn't seem to have done much good. The fire still is spreading. It looks like they are going to be coming back for another pass.

They brought in a second plane now. So there are two planes dropping retardant directly on this part of the fire. Looks like they are concentrating their efforts right here. This seems to be the worst of the blaze. Looks like the other parts maybe have gone out. They've made just about three passes in the last minute or so. Looks like they are coming in for another one.

They're also now an artillery unit is starting to lob some shells into south Lebanon from positions very close to here.

(Voice-over): There's no telling what Hezbollah had hoped to hit with their rockets. But this field certainly had no military significance.

(On camera): Katyushas are notoriously inaccurate weapons. They are basically point and shoot as we all know by now. As far as we know no one was hurt in this blaze by the rocket. But the fire has to be addressed by firefighters as quickly as they can. They are worried the flames will spread to civilian areas.

(Voice-over): In all, only three mortars landed in northern Israel today. A dramatic drop-off. Yesterday there were more than 140.

(On camera): This is a spot where a Katyusha hit in Kiryash Mona (ph) just yesterday on Sunday. When you look at the actual impact site, it's surprisingly not very deep. It's probably maybe about a foot deep from the sidewalk curb. It hit just next to the sidewalk. But these Katyushas are filled with shrapnel and filled with ball bearings that scatter out in all directions.

Look right over here. This van was pretty much completely destroyed by some of the shrapnel lit on fire. And as far out -- this may be -- we're about 30 feet now away, this metal bench is just filled with holes made by the ball bearings. You can see just ripping apart this metal going right through them.

(Voice-over): As many of half of the residents in Kiryash Mona (ph) have already fled. As long as the rockets continue to fall, they know that nothing is sacred. And nowhere is safe.


COOPER (on camera): And we'll have a lot more from the war zone when we come back. Stay with us.


COOPER: Here's a look at what's happening on "AMERICAN MORNING" tomorrow. A look at -- actually, it's a CNN exclusive look at some new technology that may make your check-in at the airport a whole lot more easy. That and all the latest news tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING," starting at 6 a.m., also to 10 a.m., Eastern Time. That's tomorrow.

"LARRY KING" is next.

And we leave you with pictures out of Little Havana, some of the celebrations, people reacting to the news that Fidel Castro has handed over power to his brother temporarily. Stay with us.


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