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Gadhafi Regime Cracking?; The Endgame in Libya

Aired March 22, 2011 - 21:00   ET


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, battle for Libya. Gadhafi's still attacking his own people. Rebel fighters pleading for help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight snipers are firing indiscriminately at anything that moves.

MORGAN: Now the allies are fighting over who's in charge.

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: It will be other members of the coalition that on a day-to-day basis will be sustaining the no-fly zone.

MORGAN: And President Obama faces a firestorm at home. Republican Rick Santorum says there's nothing the president can now do to make this right.

RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: What we have here is mission confusion. We have no idea how -- what the real commitment is of our -- of our military and why they're there.

MORGAN: And in Japan, tsunami ghost town. A city that was once home to 10,000 abandoned by rescuers. I'll talk to one of the few people left behind.

This is a special live edition of PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT in New York.

Good evening. More and more extraordinary videos are emerging from Libya today. Most of them shocking in their graphic violence. They show how desperate the battle for the country has become. Take a look at this.

CNN can't independently confirm where and when these videos were shot. But our best information is that this one shows street fighting in both Tripoli and Benghazi in recent days. As you can see, the fighting escalates from gunshots to hand-to-hand combat.

We also have this very disturbing video. It appears to show the bodies of an entire family killed in Misrata. It was uploaded to YouTube earlier today.

Tonight we're covering breaking news all over the globe. Live reports from the very best of CNN's correspondents from the Middle East to Japan. We begin with the crisis in Libya. And two leaders head to head. Tonight President Obama cuts short his Latin American trip to return to the White House and meet with his security team and gave his frank assessment of the mission in Libya so far to CNN.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So far in accomplishing the very specific objectives of the mission under the U.N. charter, which was to establish a no-fly zone, to make sure that we provided humanitarian protection at a time where that was urgently needed.

Gadhafi had turned his troops on his people and said that they should go into Benghazi, a city of 700,000 people, and show no mercy. And because the international community rallied, his troops have pulled back from Benghazi.


MORGAN: And we'll hear -- we'll hear more from the president later in the hour. Meanwhile, today a defiant Moammar Gadhafi showed absolutely no signs of backing down.


MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LIBYAN LEADER (Through Translator): We are leading the revolution against imperialism, against despots. And I tell you I do not scare, nothing scares me. No hurricane scare me. I don't get scared by the hurricanes. Not even by the place that is sending rockets.

I am here resilient, I have the right. I am here, I am here, I am here.


MORGAN: That doesn't sound like a regime on its last legs, does it? But what's the situation on the ground? Are there any signs that his regime is cracking?

Joining me now, the latest from Tripoli is CNN's Nic Robertson.

Nic, pretty defiant stuff there from Gadhafi. We've learned to recognize this kind of thing from him. And never quite sure whether it's really what he's thinking or not. But what did you make of it?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think he's set himself up here to cast himself in the country as victims, to characterize the campaign -- the coalition campaign as a crusader war because he thinks that's going to bring him support in the country and in the region, and he's continuing to do it.

You know, when he gave that speech tonight, that was about 200 yards from the missile strike on his compound just a couple of nights ago. And this was -- I think part of his defiant message. If you missed me a couple of nights ago, here I am a few hundred yards away. Of course a lot of people out there with him, showing support for him and they've been there on state television. They keep showing these pictures, so finally Gadhafi actually shows himself and shows himself to be here in Tripoli. He's not backing down.

MORGAN: And Nic, you were brought to the port area in Tripoli by Gadhafi government escorts. What did you see there and how were you treated?

ROBERTSON: You know, this was the naval part of Tripoli harbor area, which is a pretty big area. The naval parts, a smaller part. We were taken out on part of the harbor to some of the warehouses there. There were naval ships there, we weren't allowed to film the naval ships. We were taken to the warehouses there, which had -- which had been hit by missiles.

We were shown surface -- what appeared to be surface-to-air missile transporter systems. Four of them had been hit, and what was quite incredible was they were inside this warehouse that had a thin tin roof. And one of the missile strikes was right at the back of four of these missile transporter systems.

Now they were destroyed by this very close strike, there were other strikes in and around the same area, but there were also other weapons systems in that area that the government officials didn't want us looking at too closely, appeared to be bombs or missiles of some type of description.

What the government was saying was that this essentially is not a valid target because they were saying it's a training -- it did have some training and repair areas that we saw. But it also had these missile systems that were -- that were used by the Navy. They were Navy equipment. So this very much a military site, Piers.

MORGAN: And Nic, there are regular reports in the last 24 hours that at least one, maybe two of Gadhafi's sons have been killed in recent bombings.

What do you know about that?

ROBERTSON: I don't put any faith in those reports. We've heard those reports circulating around the -- picked up in the -- by many of the opposition. It's perhaps wishful thinking on their part that this -- that the regime would be going down. At one point a few days ago, there was talk that a -- that a fighter jet had crashed on that palace compound, and that had led to the death of a couple of Gadhafi's sons.

There's no evidence to support that. And certainly from what we're hearing from the sons that are talking if not directly, indirectly to us right now, they're denying this. And there's no -- we haven't seen any evidence to back this up whatsoever. And it doesn't seem -- just doesn't seem credible right now.

MORGAN: Nic Robertson, thank you very much indeed. Going to turn now to Arwa Damon who's in rebel territory in Benghazi who has some breaking news on exactly where Gadhafi might be right now.

Arwa, you've been talking to the army opposition chief of staff who was a former minister of the interior who defected from Gadhafi and was close to him. What are you hearing about where Gadhafi might be?

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Piers, there was speculation on his part earlier before we saw Gadhafi's speech that perhaps he was seeking refuge in a bunker complex he apparently has built in the southern portion of the country, according to General Abd Al-Fattah Yunis.

It was built specifically for this purpose. Of course, it does now seem since he did make that TV appearance that he was obviously not there. But it is quite interesting that Gadhafi felt if in fact it is true that he did have to take these kinds of measures to potentially protect himself from exactly this kind of an armed uprising.

MORGAN: Did your source tell you how the opposition is holding up?

DAMON: Well, he says that they're holding up quite well. The general most certainly does feel as if the no-fly zone, the air strikes have of course worked out to their benefit. They've brought Gadhafi's military machine to a grinding halt.

The challenge now is how to get Gadhafi's military out of these cities and towns that they do now control. The challenge being that since they are within the civilian population one cannot use an air strike against them. And so the opposition has to fight it out.

And then we run into the problem. They say the problem being that they basically do not have the equipment and the weapons that they need because they're still getting hammered, they say, by Gadhafi's tanks and by the artillery.

MORGAN: We're getting lots of reports and pretty disturbing video from Misrata in particular. Are you getting any sense that it's becoming a particularly intolerable place for the people there? We're hearing reports of no power, no water, hospitals filling up. And the video evidence we have is pretty compelling. They're taking a hell of a bombardment there.

DAMON: Piers, every indication is that not only are they getting bombarded, but they're also getting massacred. Yesterday I met a woman whose daughters actually live in Misrata. She was very distraught, beside herself, trying to get ahold of them. She hadn't been able to get through to them for about a week.

And even more disturbing in her case was that she saw on television what she believed to be video of their damaged home. Every single account that we hear from Misrata, from areas like Zaltan and Zallah of these ongoing clashes is much more chilling than what we are hearing the day before.

And people in these areas are desperate. We keep hearing the people of Benghazi also calling for help from the people of Misrata. But in this case you see the coalition with its hands tied to a certain degree because this is -- these are places where Gadhafi's military is inside the city limits.

So an air strike in this case is not an option. What the opposition would ideally want to do is push the front line all the way from where it is right now in Ajdabiya to places like Misrata that they could then -- in their words -- liberate them. But that's still, if one would have to look at the situation on the grounds, is quite a long ways off, Piers.

MORGAN: Arwa Damon, thank you very much indeed.

As the battle rages in Libya tonight, is the coalition any closer to achieving its military objective?

Joining us now is General Richard Myers, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

General Myers, I can't really work out what's going on here, can you?

GEN. RICHARD MYERS, FORMER JOINT CHIEF CHAIRMAN: I think all we see is the military piece of it, Piers. And I don't think military action alone is going to be successful in whatever outcome people desire in Libya. Takes all instruments of national power, particularly the diplomatic instrument and we -- I don't know we have any visibility, at least I don't, into how that's working at this point.

MORGAN: I mean the key thing for any military objective is you have to have a clear mission statement. Everyone involved in the armed forces must be aware of what the mission is. And then you have to have a clear and coherent endgame where victory can be determined and celebrated.

I just don't see that there's any indication from the coalition or President Obama about exactly what the mission is.

MYERS: Well, right. The no-fly zone is a tactic, not a strategy. And so I think the end strategy, the endgame, as you say, is the thing that has not been articulated as well as perhaps it could be if they have one. And the coalition -- you know, you have to worry about the coalition's cohesion given some of the actions we saw with some of the NATO countries today.

MORGAN: And also, I think quite extraordinary reports coming out that France, when it first started with air strikes on Saturday, may have acted unilaterally, and just gone -- gone in without telling people. Is that -- is that even possible that that can happen?

MYERS: I think it -- I'm sure it can happen. I mean France has got a great military. They're -- they're a big country. If they want to do it. And -- and it does seem like it was almost coincidence with the meeting that was taking place in Paris. So maybe they got a little ahead of themselves there on their timeline.

MORGAN: But I mean, you cannot have a situation surely when you have a coalition like this where anybody gets ahead of themselves. And I'm also curious what you think of the American position here because it's very, very unusual to see America in a position of acting as some kind of backup rather than front line assault weapon.

And most of the attacking appears to be being done by American forces anyway. Why are they pretending that they're not leading this?

MYERS: You know what, that's a -- that's a great question. And one that I wonder about, as well. As you see what's happening on the ground, as you see the interviews with General Ham, the U.S. commander, Africa Command commander, talk about this, clearly he's in charge right now.

And presumably, and everybody says, will hand that off to a coalition, to NATO, to be in charge at some point. Secretary Gates just reiterated that again today. But in the meantime, it's -- it is -- it seems to be an awkward situation for our military. On the other hand, no-fly zones, we know how to do that. That's something we've done before.

But again, that's the tactic. That's not the endgame. That's not the strategy. And that has yet to be revealed, I think.

MORGAN: Finally, General Myers, if you were running the armed forces right now in this operation, what would be the one thing you would want clarity on from President Obama?

MYERS: Well, I think any person in the military, certainly anybody in the modern military in the last couple of decades at the strategic level worries about mission creep, having an undefined mission and allowing it to creep.

I understand that pretty well having been around during Iraq and Afghanistan. Admiral Mullen I'm sure understands that very well as does his other military leaders. And then if you go down to a tactical level, I think when you have a civil war and we don't have the apparatus and the process in place to de-conflict targets, you worry about friendly fire or hurting a lot of civilians.

So at the strategic level I think it's mission creep. At the tactic level, I believe it's making sure you're on the right target.

MORGAN: It's a little bit of a mess, isn't it, General Myers?

MYERS: Well, certainly there's a lot of ambiguity, uncertainty that surrounds this situation on what is the endgame. And again, the military is the prominent actor right now, but I just remind people that it's really all instruments of national power that have to be brought to bear to focus, not just our national power but international power to focus on this problem and try to determine what that -- that endgame is and to make it happen. MORGAN: General, thank you very much indeed.

MYERS: Thank you, Piers.

MORGAN: Libya may be the greatest test that's been facing President Obama's administration. And one senior Republican believes that he's already failed it. And that Republican is former U.S. senator Rick Santorum who's a potential future presidential candidate himself. And he joins me now.

Senator, why do you think President Obama has failed this test?

SANTORUM: Well, he's missed -- he missed the opportunity, I think, very early on when the rebels were in a lean-forward mode. They were moving across the country. It looked like they had Gadhafi on the run. His military was -- you know was quite confused, weren't sure that they were going to continue to support him.

It looked like that was the opportunity for us to sort of engage and to support the rebels, recognize them, provide them some arms, maybe even air support with a -- with a no-fly zone.

And it would have been a tipping point that would have taken Gadhafi out. Instead, the president hesitated -- not even hesitated, he did nothing. He sort of sat back, made no comment. And then had his DNI, the director of National Intelligence come out and say, no, we think Gadhafi is going to win this thing.

So he really missed an opportunity to be a positive force. Hopefully had the opportunity in that interim period of time to work with the rebels, find out who they are, find out what kind of support they need. And find out what their -- what the regime would look like if we did support them.

And it seemed to be he was very disengaged and didn't participate in any of that to move the ball in the right direction.

MORGAN: Can you really blame President Obama for being at the very least extremely cautious here to avoid plunged America into a third battleground following Iraq and Afghanistan, given the mess that has been caused over there?

SANTORUM: I would say that this is nothing like Iraq and Afghanistan. Here you have a revolution that is taking place. You have an insurgency that is moving across the country, taking out the military, the Gadhafi military, as it's going along. And you could have been at a point here just to help.

I mean, just to add that tipping point moment that could have -- could have toppled a regime that was anything but friendly to the United States over the past 30 years. So to me, this was a -- a low- risk type of venture with a very high probability of success, and -- I don't know about how much better regime will get, but again, if we were working with them and coordinating with them, and making -- and getting assurances from them, then you know we might have had some sway into who the regime would be following up on Gadhafi. MORGAN: Senator, now we're in this, what do you think the endgame is? How do we know when we've won?

SANTORUM: Well, that's the real tough question. I mean the president sort of -- as everyone else was sort of jumping on the bandwagon of the rebels, eventually the president came along and said, well, you know, I'm for them, too. The problem is he said, I'm for them, too, and then did nothing to support them.

And watched silently as the gains that were made by the rebels were succeeded -- ceded back to Gadhafi and waited again to the French to get involved, the Portuguese, others to get involved, and to try help and push then the United Nations. And then the United States, seemingly in response to the United Nations, their humanitarian effort to stop a slaughter at this point, not to topple the country but simply to stop a slaughter of humanitarian, you know, of epic proportions potentially for Libya the president gets involved.

That doesn't sound like a winning strategy to me. It doesn't sound like someone who wants to follow through with what he originally said he was going to do, which is to try to depose Gadhafi. This sounds more like a very different mission. And what we have here is mission confusion. We have no idea how -- what the real commitment is of our military and why they're there.

MORGAN: Senator Santorum, thank you very much indeed.

SANTORUM: Thank you.

MORGAN: Coming up, the battle raging behind the scenes. Are the allies at odds over strategies in Libya? I'll ask the French ambassador to the U.S.


MORGAN: Watching extraordinary new video of rocket fire on the outskirts of Benghazi. Apparently from Gadhafi supporters towards protesters. There are reports tonight of dissension among the allies in Libya. Who's really in charge?

Joining me now is Francois Delattre who's the French ambassador to the United States.

Mr. Ambassador, thank you for joining me.

DELATTRE: Thank you.

MORGAN: President Obama spoke to President Sarkozy to review the situation in Libya today. How was that conversation?

DELATTRE: The conversation was great, Piers. And I must say that based on the values that our two countries share, the -- France and the United States have been from the beginning of the crisis and all along the crisis I would say in a very close coordination, on the same page.

And that's exactly the case tonight as the phone conversation between President Sarkozy and President Obama well demonstrated.

MORGAN: So at no stage in that conversation did the President Obama express any concern that the French planes went in apparently unilaterally on Saturday without actually getting express permission of America or the rest of allies?

DELATTRE: Not at all. And for one simple reason is that we didn't act unilaterally on Saturday. You know, according to all the information that we all have, there was an immediate threat against Benghazi, so we had to act, and that's exactly what the French planes did this Saturday in full coordination.

I would add, of course, with the allies. So in President Obama's conversation with President Sarkozy, there was no reproach whatsoever. Quite the contrary. There was a strong affirmation of our joint determination to carry out the mission because we think we have the moral and political responsibility to carry out this very important mission.

We have already saved lives. And quite frankly, on Benghazi, when the French planes were the first to intervene, we saved many lives, maybe we saved the Libyan position itself. And since then, we continue day after day within the coalition and with the strong support of NATO, of course.

MORGAN: Mr. Ambassador, do the French believe that Gadhafi is a legitimate target himself?

DELATTRE: The short answer is no. And we've been very clear here from day one, we think Gadhafi must go.

MORGAN: But if he's going to go and you're blowing up his compound, isn't that sending a rather big signal that you think he is a legitimate target?

DELATTRE: You know, Piers, if I may, we have to stick to the mission. We have taken the best military means we have with the support of NATO, the command support of NATO in particular.

We have to stick to the mission. We have a clear mandate from the Security Council. A clear mandate to use all necessary means, that the exact wording, to protect the civilian population in Libya and look what is going on today.

Combats are raging in places -- many places of the country. So we have to be tough on this one. And again, in terms of leadership, President Obama, President Sarkozy are exactly on the same page.

MORGAN: And briefly, Ambassador, are you seeking regime change?

DELATTRE: Again, we have a clear mandate of the U.N. Security Council that is about protection of the civilian population. That's one thing. Now if you ask me what is France's ultimate goal, I will answer very quickly, very clearly, Gadhafi must go.

MORGAN: Ambassador, thank you very much. DELATTRE: Thank you. Thank you.

MORGAN: Members of Moammar Gadhafi's own regime desert him. Coming up next I'll ask one of them what he thinks it will take to oust him.


MORGAN: Dramatic scenes in Misrata, a city under siege tonight. How long will that siege last and how will it end?

Joining me now is one of the first members of the Gadhafi regime to defect. Former Libyan minister of immigration and expatriate, Ali Errishi.

Now, Mr. Errishi, Colonel Gadhafi is going nowhere, is he? He made a very defiant speech today saying we will be victorious, we will not give up. They will not terrorize us. What did you make of that?

ALI ERRISHI, FORMER LIBYAN MINISTER OF IMMIGRATION: Well, let's not forget that about three weeks ago. As I said before, we had him in the ropes. He's not as strong as he would like to make us believe. So I say we are staying the course, and I hope that our friends will stay the course with us.

His terrorist organization has been dismantled piece by piece, and this is just a blaster, as I said before. He has no popular mandate. Just three weeks ago Tripoli was up in arms, this is Zantan (ph), Zawiya. And I'm not talking about just about the east. These are all western towns.

So I think that as much as he tries to -- try to make everybody believe that he's in charge, that he's steadfast, I think he's very, very vulnerable and we should keep the pressure on him.

And I cannot understand why people think that it is OK to hunt Osama bin Laden but it's not OK to hunt him. They're both terrorists. I'll list the definition of a terrorist -- what kind of people the terrorists kills. So I think that we make no apologies by asking the rest of the world to hunt him. He is a military target. The U.N. Security Council resolution is very clear that says to protect civilians by all measures necessary. The easy measure is just to get rid of him, because I do not think that the Libyan civilians can be protected as long as he is in power. It will be just an exercise in futility.

MORGAN: If I may jump in there, can you tell me about the nature of the rebels, because obviously at the moment we're watching all this unfurling without any real idea who these rebels are. And maybe you can enlighten us as to the nature of the types of people they are.

ERRISHI: OK. Let's not forgets that things happened since February 15. Things happened quite quickly. But just briefly and quickly because of lack of time, the word rebels really is a misnomer. They are freedom fighters. When you say rebels as if Gadhafi's terrorist organization that disguises itself as a government is still legitimate. The rebels or the freedom fighters are judges, lawyers, political scientists, men and women, and all the Libyan people. I mean, that is basically what it is.

If you are talking about institutions, whether they do have institutions, whether they are organized, this is a different question. As I said before, a price should not be put on our head that either we promise the world the ideal republic overnight are not worthy of their support.

We have the confidence. And we have the resolve to build a modern state with the institutions of modern state. We are capable to do it. And we are willing to do it.

MORGAN: I'm going to have to wrap you up there. Thank you very much indeed.

ERRISHI: Thank you.

MORGAN: Tonight, questions have been raised about why the coalition intervened in Libya and why now. Is it all about the people of Libya, or is it all about oil?

Joining me now is Peter Beutel, who is the president and founder of the firm Cameron Hanover. What's the answer to that question? Is it about people or about oil?

PETER BEUTEL, PRESIDENT, CAMERON HANOVER: Well, it's about both. But we're not intervening anywhere else, are we, right now? So if it were just about people, we would be in Bahrain or Yemen or somewhere else as well right this minute.

MORGAN: Tell me about Libya and oil. My understanding is they have -- about two percent of the world's oil production comes from Libya, but much more valuable to the west would be the vast oil reserves which lie in the country.

BEUTEL: It has the most oil reserves of any country in Africa. It produces about 1.6 million out of a total world supply of 88 million. So just around two percent. But its crude is a very light, low sulfur or what we call sweet crude that converts readily into gasoline. We get very high yields of gasoline and then diesel fuel, as opposed to the heavier ends, things like asphalt or residual bunker fuel.

MORGAN: And Mr. Beutel, the U.S. Treasury Department today banned Americans from doing business with 14 companies owned by Libya's National Oil Corporation. What effect will that have on Gadhafi and his regime?

BEUTEL: It will start to starve him of money. and that, of course, is the objective. You know, really, we're not interested in stopping his trade in dates or pistachios. We're interested in stopping everything that has to do with oil, because that's where the money comes from. So that's what this is al about.

MORGAN: And what does it mean for the average American who's worrying about how much it's going to cost to fill up their car with gas?

BEUTEL: Well, unfortunately, this happens at a time of year when prices go higher anyway. Twenty five out of the last 26 years, we've seen gasoline prices higher between March 15 and May 15. But it does mean that we're seeing prices now over 100. We've seen prices increase dramatically since September 1st.

We're up enough that it's costing the American consumer about 275 to 300 billion dollars more for oil than it was just six months ago. So it certainly didn't cause all of this, but it's making it worse. And it comes at a very unpleasant and unfortunate time in terms of our economic recovery.

MORGAN: Thank you very much, indeed.

When we come back, one of the most important questions tonight in just who are the rebels. Are they really an improvement over Gadhafi?


MORGAN: Both crew members from the fighter jet that crashed in Libya are safe tonight. An American plane picked up the pilot and Libyan rebels recovered the second crew member, caring for him until coalition forces could reach him.

Who are the rebels, and what do we know about them? Joining me is terrorism expert Neil Livingstone, and Robin Wright, the former diplomatic correspondent for the "Washington Post."

Let me turn to you first, Neil Livingstone. You've been in a Libyan prison. You've been interrogated by a Gadhafi family member. Are you surprised to see Colonel Gadhafi on television laughing off the NATO attacks in a rather gruesome manner?

NEIL LIVINGSTONE, TERRORISM EXPERT: Not really. He's lasted for 42 years and has done so with an iron hand over the country. And as a consequence, I'm not surprised that he wants to go out with his boots on, as we might say.

And we've not given him very many choices. There may be some diplomacy going on behind the scenes, but he doesn't really have any place he wants to go right now. We've frozen his assets. And those things may be negotiable at some point in order to push him out.

MORGAN: As you say, he's a fighter. He's been there over 40 years. He's been through similar stuff like this before and emerged victorious. What if he wins? What if we don't drive him out? What if this mission fails?

LIVINGSTONE: Well, that's where we really need plan B now. I'm not sure that the administration or the allies have thought this through very well. Look, I don't think he's going to be expelled from the country, because he's got more firepower. His army while not terribly well trained, is better trained and organized than the rebels.

And without some type of foreign intervention, he may be able to hold on there indefinitely. So we need a plan for how we deal with him in the future. I don't think we want an angry, sullen, isolated Gadhafi in the future, who has whatever revenues that he can still put his arms around, launching acts of terrorism or striking back at the west in some way.

This is the real issue right now. What is plan B if he holds on?

MORGAN: I mean, Robin Wright, never mind plan B, are you sure you know what plan A is?

ROBIN WRIGHT, JOURNALIST: No. I think there's an enormous gap between, as we've all talked about, the goal of changing the regime or seeing Gadhafi leave power and the humanitarian mission. That's the great vulnerability. The fact is that the opposition is very poorly organized.

They are surprisingly effective when it comes to governing Benghazi. These are lawyers and doctors, people who have professional experience, backed by a large number of youth. They have a will, but if not the way to get this mission accomplished on the ground. That's where the United States and its allies are vulnerable.

But the reality is that Colonel Gadhafi cannot last. Both economically and militarily, he is under fire. The odds against him surviving this even physically are diminished, I think, by the day.

MORGAN: Neil Livingstone, one of the big concerns here for America in particular is the possibility of Islamic fundamentalists getting into these rebels in the way that we saw in Iran, for example. There are also reports that in Egypt, which was deemed to be Islamic fundamentalist free, that increasingly there is an influence spreading there of these fundamentalist.

So what is the concern right now here in Libya. And also more pertinently, when you see what's happening in Yemen, is that not a more direct threat to American, given the very high al Qaeda presence there?

LIVINGSTONE: Yemen is provably the next domino to fall. And there are already two insurgencies going on, one in the north, one in the south. That's also where al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula is located, which we now have identified as the most dangerous terrorist group potentially in the world today.

The real issue here is even in Egypt and Tunisia, we've seen regime change, but we really haven't seen revolution. We haven't seen fundamental reforms or changes in those societies. I think that we're going to have a period of chronic instability going forward until some of these issues are resolved.

And it's going to be the same in Libya, because the Islamists are going to try to get their piece of the spoils in each one of these revolts. And they're going to try to capture at least one or more countries where they can transform the country into the model that they -- that they are extolling.

Whether they're going to be successful, we don't know right now. But they're certainly going try.

MORGAN: And Robin Wright, one country we're not hearing much about at the moment, but which until all these uprisings in the Middle East kicked off in December was certainly being talked about, was Pakistan, and northern Pakistan in particular. What's been going on there throughout this period?

WRIGHT: Well, Pakistan has always been the most dangerous country in the world because of its nuclear capability and because of the instability along that volatile border with Afghanistan. It's clear that looming in the background is the challenge of what happens there.

But I think one of the interesting things that's happened in Pakistan is the growing rejection of the Taliban model. You've seen that happen in the Sawad Valley, where they moved in and took over.

I actually don't believe that the Islamists are a huge threat. I think that you will see the emergence of conservative Muslim parties that run for office. But understand that they -- this is a 21st century world where there have to be pluralities. Not only do you see these uprisings as a rejection of al Qaeda and extremism; they're also a rejection of the Iranian model and the idea of a theocracy.

The Muslim Brotherhood may do well in elections, but I doubt that they are, in the foreseeable future, likely to take over. This is a period of sorting through the political process. There's no question the Islamists will play a role.

But I think we get into a kind of hysteria in thinking back to the 1979 revolution in Iran, or thinking that al Qaeda and the Taliban-type forces are going to take over in any of these countries.

MORGAN: Neil Livingstone, Robin Wright, thank you both very much.

When we come back, I want to turn to the crisis in Japan, and a report from what was once a city of 10,000. It's now just a ghost town.



MORGAN: A strong earthquake was felt in Fukushima, Japan, at 7:12 this morning. More tremors for an already shell-shocked population.

Gary Tuchman is live for us in Tokyo tonight with the latest. Gary, what's been going on today? It sounds like it's been a series of tremors through the country.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Piers. We had three aftershocks within like 30 minutes a couple of hours ago. It increases the anxiety in this country, where you have 9,000-plus people confirmed dead, more than 13,000 people missing.

This is a really important point, Piers. It's very likely the ultimate death toll will be close to 22,000. The term "missing" is kind of a euphemism for dead. There may be some people found in shelters who weren't known about. There may be some missing who really aren't missing, with other family.

But all in all, it's very likely that most of these people are under rubble or washed out to sea. So we're talking about 22,000. This is a terrible tragedy.

MORGAN: Absolutely shocking. Gary, how much are the local people who are trying to repair this horrific damage concerned by world attention perhaps inevitably now moving back to the Middle East and Gadhafi and so on? Are they getting the attention that they need in Japan?

TUCHMAN: Well, they're certainly not getting all the attention they need. And they're certainly in need of a lot more money and certainly some food. That's one of the big problems here. People aren't going hungry in Japan like we saw in Haiti, Piers. They're not starving.

But the problem is this is the worst disaster here since World War II. I mean, they're used to living well in the nation of Japan. So a lot of people are having a tough time finding stores that have food, finding gasoline.

People in the northern part of Japan -- I was there the last nine days. This is my first day in Tokyo, so I can reflect a little bit. The people in northern Japan really can't drive anywhere, because the lines for gas are seven or eight hours long. If you don't want to wait in line and they don't have gas, they're kind of stuck where they are.

And there's not a lot of places to get food and water in some stores. So it's a very difficult and trying time. Plus, so many of these people have relatives and friends who died. So it's just very sad.

MORGAN: It's a desperate situation, Gary. Thank you for your continued excellent reporting.

Japan's health ministry reports finding radioactive materials at levels they say drastically exceed legal limits in vegetables grown in Fukushima. Meanwhile, a Japanese city that was once home to 10,000 people is a ghost town tonight.

Keikichi Katsuta is doing everything he can to help the few people who are left. He joins me now from Tokyo. I don't know where to start with this really. You're in this town where 10,000 have just disappeared. Where do you even begin to start the process of rebuilding such a place?

HEIKICHI KATSUTA, JAPANESE CITIZEN: Well, the government and the authorities, they need to act quickly. I was at Fukushima yesterday, but no authorities working to help people. So I think this is the problem right now.

MORGAN: Obviously Japan has never been hit by anything like this since the Second World War. You've had the earthquake, the tsunami and the ongoing nuclear crisis. How are the people dealing with this? Are they able to cope?

I mean, the Japanese have shown remarkable calm and stoicism, but there must be a point at which even the Japanese people begin to really think what is happening to us?

KATSUTA: Well, I was not experienced the world war, the -- the -- the world war, so I don't know about that. But as you said, we haven't experienced this kind of disaster in a long time.

I saw the old devastated area, which everything is completely demolished. And houses and places along coastlines, everything was gone.

And yes, I believe that -- it was shocking to me, too, because I had never seen scenery like that. So to tell you the truth, I don't know how to recover this,. But the good thing is the Japanese people, we are very strong and we will coordinate to get away from this tragedy.

But I've seen the people finding their family's bodies out of the rubble. So I think that the -- right now, we need -- all the Japanese citizens, even far away from Fukushima or the other places, we need to cooperate and help.

MORGAN: Thank you very much, indeed. We wish you every success with the valiant effort you're doing to do what you can for those poor people up there.

KATSUTA: Thank you very much.

MORGAN: The revolutionary fever that's spreading across the Arab world has reached Syria. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets today. We'll have a live report from Damascus coming up.


MORGAN: That's new video coming to us from Libya. Again, we're not able to independently confirm where or when this video was shot. It appears to show a victim of a battle being aided by his comrades. We don't know if the man survived.

There are signs that the wave of revolution has reached Syria tonight. The United Nations Human Rights Office reports six people have been killed by security forces in the southern city of Dura. Protesters have been swarming the streets since Friday.

And joining us now on the phone is Wisam (ph). He's a protester in Syria. We're not revealing his surname to protect his identity. Wisam, you've been organizing protests. What's been going on in Syria today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the protests are supposed to be totally peaceful. We are -- people have been asking for more freedom. We have been living under emergency law for the last 15 years. The number of detainees in jail in Syria, of prisoners of conscience is tremendous.

Today in Dara town -- or city of Dara, where a lot of protests started a few days ago, and then amazing devolvement tonight, that Syrian security forces, backed up by the Syrian Army, invaded the Homari (ph) Mosque, which is the call of people who have been protesting -- protesting in Dara.

I have been receiving calls from Dara. And up to now, we are talking about six people confirmed to have been shot inside the mosque. Outside the mosque, this is a highly populated area. Casualties are being reported. Those protests were supposed to be peaceful, asking for liberty, asking for more political freedom in the country.

Unfortunately, the regime has turned this into bloodshed. This can't continue like this. President al Assad should start listening to his people. He should start listening to the young people of this country.

We want reform. We want an end for the corruption. This can't continue like this.

MORGAN: Wisam, thank you very much indeed for talking to me tonight. I appreciate it. We'll be watching those protests with great interest in Syria, as revolution spreads and continues to spread through the Middle East.

That's all for us tonight. Here's Anderson Cooper with "AC 360."