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CONNECT THE WORLD

Protests Over U.S. Raid; Helping the Victims; Demjanjuk Convicted

Aired May 12, 2011 - 16:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MAX FOSTER, GUEST HOST: Tonight, a Libyan rebel leader says Misrata has been liberated.

So is the suffering of its people finally over?

Now, expats are returning to give the opposition a helping hand, plugging in to help lead the charge against Tripoli.

Plus, as the uprising in Syria spreads, we'll hear from a reporter who witnessed the violence firsthand.

And five years in jail for helping to murder thousands of Jews -- has justice really been served?

These stories and more tonight, as we connect the world.

First, though, putting reports from the battlefield into perspective. We're going to break down for you the uprising in Libya and in Syria this hear, reminding you what first ignited the demand for freedom and how authorities chose to crack down instead of give in and what's at stake, also, for the world.

In Libya today, NATO unleashing new air strikes on Tripoli, while rebels are fighting to break what many call a stalemate after months of civil war.

And in Syria, what could be a very trouble -- troubling development for the regime. The uprising has spread to the heart of the country's second largest city. Some wonder whether the capital, Damascus, could be next.

Let's begin, though, in Libya. Those NATO air strikes came just hears after Moammar Gadhafi silenced doubts about his fate with his first televised appearance in weeks. But perhaps the biggest news of the day came east of Tripoli, in the flashpoint town of Misrata.

Fionnuala Sweeney has the latest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FIONNUALA SWEENEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (voice-over): Libya's rebels say they've scored a decisive victory Thursday. They claim to have liberated the city of Misrata, under siege for the past two months.

MARIE COLVIN, FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, "SUNDAY TIMES": People were crying and hugging each other when they got that airport, when they got that air academy, when they were able to stop rockets from the south.

Now, this is not a complete victory. Remember, we're still -- there are still tanks and rocket launchers both west and on the east. But this was a big breakthrough for the rebels of Misrata.

SWEENEY: The claims cannot be independently verified, but if true, losing Misrata would be a setback for Moammar Gadhafi, who already has his hands full in Tripoli. Thursday, four rockets struck one of his compounds, killing at least two people.

Hoping to put to rest questions about the location of the Libyan leader, state TV adds these images said to show Gadhafi meeting tribal leaders on Wednesday. It was the first time he'd been seen in nearly two weeks.

Meantime, rebel leaders visited London Thursday, seeking more humanitarian and economic aid. And while international support for the rebels grows, U.K. leaders say the clock is ticking for Gadhafi.

WILLIAM HAGUE, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: Time is against the Gadhafi regime. In many conflicts, we are told time is not on our side. Actually, in this case, time is not on Gadhafi's side.

SWEENEY: Libya's rebel leader will seek further U.S. support when he visits the White House on Friday.

Fionnuala Sweeney, CNN.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

FOSTER: It's been nearly three months since the conflict in Libya first started.

Here's a look at how things have developed.

It all began on February the 17th when activists called a Day of Rage, as they called it, to protest against the Gadhafi regime. Within days, the country's second city, Benghazi, was largely under opposition control.

Now, as rebels fought government troops, the city of Misrata, in the west, fell into opposition hands by February the 24th, although the city has been heavily contested ever since.

On March the 5th, anti-government forces met in Benghazi to declare themselves the sole representatives for Libya. And 12 days later, the U.N. Security Council authorized the no fly zone over the country and measures to protect civilians, as well.

Now, on March the 19th, strikes were targeting Gadhafi forces advancing toward Benghazi. And since those first strikes, there have been 208 aircraft involved and more than 3,000 sorties. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates also said today that the U.S. has spent around $750 million so far.

Now, today -- sticking with that -- the opposition stronghold of Benghazi remains with nearby Tubruq, Bayda and Ajdabiya, in rebel hands. The cities of El Brega, Sirte, Misder (ph) and Tripoli remain firmly in the hands of the government forces. And fighting between both sides continues in other towns.

The area between El Brega and Ajdabiya has been in constant dispute, of course.

Now, the rebels are getting help from rather unlikely fighting forces -- some Libyans who've created new lives overseas are now returning, giving up creature comforts to -- to risk everything for the revolution.

Our Sara Sidner had exclusive access to the group.

And she joins us now.

You're in Benghazi -- Sara.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's correct. And these men came here from all corners of the world to Benghazi. Many of them didn't know anyone. They came here and through word of mouth were able to find each other.

And they have one main goal, and that is to topple the Gadhafi regime.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SIDNER (voice-over): On the beaches of Benghazi, this unit is the latest weapon in the revolution. These masked men have traveled thousands of miles to prepare for a fight in the capital, Tripoli, to end Gadhafi's regime once and for all.

They arrive from Ireland, Spain, France, Poland, Greece, Italy and Canada -- more than 85 strangers originally from Tripoli now form the Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had a perfect life. I couldn't complain. I had a good salary. I had a good job. But the situation demands this. I mean, we can't rely on other people to come and do our duty for us.

SIDNER: A few weeks ago, 28-year-old Bashir (ph) traded in his life as a well-paid software developer in Canada for a rough existence in the revolution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I tried to stay there and live with it, you know, just send money or collect donations and go on protests and stuff. But I realized that's not enough. And I couldn't sleep. I couldn't work.

SIDNER: Now, day and night, he and the others are working hard to learn the mechanics of war.

(on camera): These fighters are learning all sorts of different weapons on all sorts of different terrain. We're here on the beach in Benghazi and they are learning right now how to set up a mortar.

(voice-over): The rebel stronghold is the second largest city in Libya, but it still operates like a village. Word of mouth can lead you to what you're looking for. And that's how this group of men found each other. They say they have no agenda beyond ousting Colonel Gadhafi.

(on camera): There are people who are worried about terrorism and they see guys with their faces covered and with guns.

Are any of you involved in that sort of activity?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

SIDNER: Had you ever held a gun before?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. My first time in my life ever I had a gun. But we're not a part of any terrorist group. Like I said, we're a mix of everyone.

SIDNER (voice-over): Their fight is deeply personal. They fear for their family members who still live in the capital.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're just civilians. And we're just here to get them out and that's it, I'm going to throw my gun.

SIDNER: But not before the job is done. So day and night, these men train together, they live together and they pray together -- patiently waiting for the chance to put their plan into action.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIDNER: And just to give you an idea of what it's like for them to have come here from places of comfort, they are living in tents, living in one large tent together. They're eating rationed food. And day and night, as I mentioned, they -- they are training and trying to learn things that they never had been exposed to.

So it is a very difficult time for them, a difficult life. But they all are very determined to go through with their plans -- Max.

FOSTER: Yes, I want to ask you about that.

How are they keeping motivation going after these months and when they haven't got the weapons that they need?

How are they keeping motivated to carry on with this fight?

SIDNER: They're motivated by what they're seeing in the news, basically. Any time they see, for example, an air strike hitting a Gadhafi compound, any time that they hear of protests in the capital, specifically in the capital, Tripoli, any time they hear that the rebels were able to inch one step closer to overtaking Misrata or taking over another city, they get a lot of a boost from that. And that's how they're being able to go forward.

They do honestly believe that they will be victorious. And they do honestly believe that Tripoli will eventually fall.

And here in Benghazi, what's happening is that you have a whole group of people, many intellectuals, trying to get together to come up with a constitution and an interim government.

So all that's happening here in Benghazi. And this, as you know, is the rebel stronghold, where there's a lot of support for these men who come from abroad and elsewhere to join the fight -- Max.

FOSTER: Sara Sidner, thank you very much, indeed, for that.

Now, even with some of the world's most powerful militaries attacking Gadhafi's forces, Libyan rebels still haven't managed to turn the tide of this war.

Earlier, I got some perspective on all this from Christopher Hill.

He is a former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and he's well versed in Middle Eastern affairs.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTOPHER HILL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: They're going to have a, you know, a tough -- a tough effort to try to get those lethal weapons. If they have to go back to the U.N. Security Council, it will be very tough. And I think NATO has really kind of done as much as they can do within the confines of that Security Council decision.

So I -- I think it is going to be tough.

FOSTER: Do we actually know that this is a legitimate opposition, a legitimate new government?

HILL: Well, I have no doubt that many people in Libya, beyond the opposition, beyond the -- the rebels -- would like to see Gadhafi take a hike and take a vacation and get out of there. The problem is that I don't think the rebels have articulated a sort of vision for the future that people necessarily find inviting.

So, again, I don't think they've kind of created a kind of political process that people would accept them coming into government.

FOSTER: Not much consensus, really, outside Libya on how to support this revolution.

Is there just a general sense of fear of reliving Iraq if they send in the ground troops, which one suspects that they do want to do behind the scenes?

HILL: Well, I -- I think the opposition is trying to make clear that, you know, they need more forces on the ground. And I'm -- I have no doubt that if NATO put a brigade of troops down, maybe even a battalion of troops, they could take Tripoli.

The question that the military always asks and diplomats ask is, OK, then what next?

And I think the idea, of course, would be some sort of provisional government with some sort of provisional elections.

But in the absence of any real institutions that function in their country, I think it could be -- it could be very problematic. And for that reason, I think people are a little reluctant to, you know, get their feet on the ground there.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

FOSTER: Christopher Hill there at the Tedexdu Conference (ph) in Colorado right now.

And now, I also spoke to him about the crisis in Syria. And we'll bring you his thoughts on that a little later in the program.

And we'll hear from a Western journalist who posed as a tourist to find out what's really going on inside Syrian borders.

Also still to come, convicted of killing nearly 28,000 people at a Nazi concentration camp.

Is this finally the end to the decades long Demjanjuk saga?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: A verdict 60 years in the making. John Demjanjuk is found guilty of accessory to murder in what may be the last major Nazi trial in Germany.

Coming up, the struggle to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive when so many of its survivors are slipping away.

I'm Max Foster in London.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

And here's a look at the other stories that we're following this hour.

The treasure trove of intelligence from Osama bin Laden's compound suggests al Qaeda's top man was very much in charge. Handwritten journals reportedly show bin Laden was in regular contact with Al Qaeda operatives plotting new attacks. Some residents of the Pakistani town where bin Laden was found are furious about the U.S. raid.

Nick Paton Walsh reports from there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some of the anger we're seeing across Abbottabad at the moment, they're not here because they believe bin Laden was ever a resident of this town. I think most people in this crowd have never really accepted that the world's most wanted man lived in Abbottabad for a while.

They're really here because they are furious at the United States, at what they see as an invasion of their sovereignty by those Navy SEAL helicopters that attacked the bin Laden compound.

Here, really, we're seeing protesters holding signs, some in English - - clearly for an external audience. Also, organized flags from one of the main Pakistani opposition parties, trying to harness this popular anger at the United States.

And I think, really, this is where the argument over the next few weeks is going to develop.

Does this kind of popular fury become any kind of larger, political momentum and change the already fractured relationship between Pakistan and the United States?

Remember, Islamabad and Washington were already at each other's throats before the bin Laden operation even happened. And increasing recriminations and accusations between those two cities will play out in the forthcoming weeks.

And we're really going to have to see whether or not the bin Laden operation is still going to allow America to function in the way that it has done inside Pakistani territory or whether it will see some kind of final end to America's presence in Pakistani soil.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Abbottabad.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

FOSTER: Meanwhile, with president -- Pakistani president, Asif Ali Zardari, visiting Moscow. Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, says bin Laden's death will help Moscow fight its own Islamic insurgency.

It's the Pakistani president's first visit to Moscow since the Soviet Union collapsed. The two men are looking to strengthen the economic and political ties between Islamabad and the Kremlin.

A pair of deadly earthquakes shook the old town of Lorca in Southeastern Spain on Wednesday. That was part of a church crashing down, just barley missing a reporter. Thousands of frightened people slept outside on Wednesday night, fearful of aftershocks and more falling debris. At least nine people were killed.

This year, CNN's Freedom Project is shining a light on the horrors of modern-day slavery and what organizations, aid groups and ordinary people are doing to help stop it.

One of those groups is The Body Shop, which has gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures on a petition to help young victims of sex trafficking.

CNN's Dan Rivers caught up with members of the group in London today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this colorful gathering in London's Trafalgar Square is part of a huge Body Shop campaign to try and get better protection for children who are the victims of trafficking.

Here's what they're going to hand in -- the biggest petition ever to be given to the current coalition government this morning -- 735,000 people in Britain have signed it, part of a worldwide campaign that has involved 5.9 million signatures that will eventually be handed in to the UN.

Why has the Body Shop decided to get involved in this?

CHRISTOPHER DAVIS, INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR, THE BODY SHOP: The Body Shop started this campaign in response to the millions of children who are being trafficked for sex every year across the world. I think the reason that people have come to the Body Shop and signed is because we are calling for governments to change.

RIVERS: So all those are now going down to Downing Street to hand in the petition on this large yellow bus, on which there are a number of U.K. lawmakers who are also very committed to this issue.

What, specifically, is the problem in the U.K. that needs addressing by this government?

PETER BONE, BRITISH MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Well, there's an absolute scandal. And I know David Cameron is very concerned about it, as prime minister. The Body Shop, expats, 3,000 million people, are demanding that the government takes this seriously and that we actually get guardianship so that people who are -- who are rescued from trafficking are actually looked after by the state and properly represented. And that would be a huge step.

RIVERS: It's not just the British prime minister, David Cameron, and his deputy, Nick Clegg, who have received these petitions, it is a truly global campaign involving 50 countries. It's hoped the organizers will be able to hand in more than six million signatures to the U.N. by September.

Dan Rivers, CNN, London.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

FOSTER: You can access more stories and videos on modern-day slavery, plus information on how you can make a difference. That's all at CNN.com/freedom.

Now, from young Ukraine to American autoworker to convicted Nazi war criminal -- coming up, an international legal saga lasting 30 years may be coming to an end in Germany.

Plus, for weeks, we've been watching violent YouTube videos trickle out of Syria. But now, a Western journalist has made it in and out. And we're going to talk to him about what he saw, just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: An elderly autoworker was found guilty today of helping to kill nearly 28,000 people at a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. John Demjanjuk was sentenced to five years in prison but was released pending an appeal -- another step in a legal saga that has already dragged on for 30 years.

CNN's Diana Magnay reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the year-and-a-half he stood trial as an accessory to 27,900 counts of murder, John Demjanjuk has kept his thoughts hidden behind a baseball cap and dark glasses.

Slumped in a wheelchair or laid out on a hospital bed, the 91-year-old Ukrainian hasn't uttered a word. His only comment on proceedings coming in the form of three written statements, in one of which, he wrote: "I survived the brutality of Stalin and the Nazis and the wrongful death sentence in Israel. Now, at the end of my life, the nation that so mercilessly and cruelly murdered millions seeks to destroy my life and dignity and to extinguish my mind in this politically motivated show trial."

Demjanjuk, the prosecution alleges, was a camp guard at the Sobibor death camp in then Nazi occupied Poland, there, supposedly responsible for sending thousands to their deaths in the gas chambers.

Thomas Blatt was one of Sobibor's few survivors. He remembers how much he feared the so-called Trawinki Guards or vakmina (ph).

THOMAS BLATT, SOBIBOR SURVIVOR: The vakmina served as the last link in the chain to murder people. When people went to the gas chamber and -- and the vakmina then (INAUDIBLE) to their quarters, I remember seeing their shoes were bloody, bloody shoes.

MAGNAY: Demjanjuk has spent years behind bars already, five years on Israel's death row. In 1988, he was sentenced to death after a court ruled he was the notorious Treblinka camp guard, "Ivan the Terrible."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel good.

MAGNAY: That sentence was overturned after key witness testimony proved "Ivan the Terrible" was someone else.

(on camera): The Trawinki Guards were themselves prisoners of war and the last link in the S.S. chain of command. For years, their role was overlooked by the German criminal justice system, intent on prosecuting those of higher rank. One plaintiff at the trial, who lost his wife at Sobibor, says he was looking for a guilty verdict, but no punishment, justice, not vengeance, the desired outcome for some who actually remember these times.

Diana Magnay, CNN, Berlin.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

FOSTER: Well, the trial of John Demjanjuk is one of nearly 1,000 Nazi trials in Germany since 1945. The most famous took place soon after the end of the war in Nuremberg, where the International Military Tribunal charged 22 major war criminals with war crimes and crimes against humanity. Nineteen of them were convicted. Twelve were sentenced to death.

In 1960, Israeli secret agents found one of the architects of the Holocaust -- the Holocaust, Adolph Eichmann, hiding out in Argentina. They brought him to Jerusalem to stand trial, where he was found guilty and sentenced to death. His execution is the only death sentence Israel has ever carried out.

Since then, the overwhelmingly majority of war crimes trials have involved lower level officials like John Demjanjuk.

Well, for the survivors of the Sobibor death camp where Demjanjuk allegedly worked, the conviction brings relief.

Joseph Bialowitz grew up learning about the horrors of the Holocaust from his father, who made a daring escape from Sobibor in 1943.

He also co-authored the book, "A Promise at Sobibor" with his father.

Joseph joins us tonight from Oakland, California, with reaction to today's verdict.

Thank you so much for joining us.

JOSEPH BIALOWITZ, CO-AUTHOR, "A PROMISE AT SOBIBOR": Thank you.

FOSTER: Nothing will resolve matters for you, I guess.

But has it helped, at least, this sentence today?

BIALOWITZ: Yes, definitely. I spoke with my father this morning, after the verdict. And we're both very pleased and -- and proud of the German justice system for pursuing justice in such a dignified manner and for establishing the guilt of Mr. Demjanjuk in this -- in this case.

Then again, nothing can ever really compensate for all the suffering that was inflicted there -- unimaginable suffering upon tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children.

So the how many years he receives is -- is really not relevant. More important is that he's been found guilty.

FOSTER: What about the sentence, though?

What do you make of it?

BIALOWITZ: I -- I think the German justice system did what it could. And we're -- we're satisfied with it. I think throughout the trial, Mr. Demjanjuk's silence really was something that we -- we were hoping that would not take place. We were hoping that he would actually show some remorse or some repentance or at least show some sympathy for the victims, regardless of his role in -- in the crimes.

But -- but he didn't. And so it makes it very difficult to feel sympathy for him, even at his -- at his -- at his advanced age.

FOSTER: For you to reach the best con -- resolution that you can, you and your father, does he need to accept what he did publicly and admit guilt?

Or are you happy with the fact that, you know, a court in Germany has found him guilty?

BIALOWITZ: Certainly, Mr. Demjanjuk still has the ability to -- to accept guilt and to tell the -- the real story of what happened to him. And what happened to him was undoubtedly terrible and -- and he faced an unimaginable choice, which is -- which was to murder or be murdered.

And the fact of the matter is that -- that he and Ukrainian guards like him at Sobibor oftentimes chose to participate in murder rather than be murdered themselves. And -- and they had no right to save their skin by killing other people or participating in the killing of others.

My father recalls Ukrainian guards who escaped from the camp. These guards had -- had guns at their disposal at times. They had the ability to resist. They had the ability to -- even to sabotage what was going on there. But faced with this choice, we'll never know how he reacted, because he's been silent. And -- and I would like to see him speak about how he faced that choice.

You know, people, during World War II, throughout Europe faced unimaginable situations. And it's our job today to imagine ourselves in their shoes, because these situations can happen to us one day. And we have to know that we can react in ways that are very heroic at times.

And remember, Sobibor was not a place where just 250,000 people were murdered, it is also a place where the -- the greatest example of resistance by Jewish prisoners during the war was -- was shown. And about 200 of those prisoners made it out of the camp in an armed revolt. They risked their lives to do so and to stop the killing machine at Sobibor.

John Demjanjuk, if he continues to remain silent, we'll never know if he even tried to do anything like that. And -- and we need to remember that we have that ability always to resist when we're given an immoral order such as murder or be murdered.

FOSTER: Joseph Bialowitz, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us today.

Still to come on CONNECT THE WORLD, inside the Syrian borders -- we speak to a journalist who was held by government forces. What he witnessed during his interrogation and on the streets.

That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: You're back with CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Max Foster in London. Coming up, Syria and why it matters. A look back at the protest, the violent crackdown, and what it all means for the region.

Plus a story that spans half the globe and more than half a century. The US marine who took a souvenir from the World War II battlefield and years later sent it back.

And from saving patients to saving the planet, Becky puts your questions to Connector of the Day Kate Walsh.

All those stories ahead in the show for you. First, a check of the headlines this hour.

Libyan rebels fighting on the front lines in Misrata say they have not taken complete control of the city. That contradicts an earlier announcement. The rebels say some important gains are intact. They've recently taken Misrata's airport and the civil defense base.

For the second straight day, students have been demonstrating against Syria's government in one of the country's largest cities, Aleppo. The protests and the government crackdown are -- in response are spreading northwards.

Investigators say they'll know by Monday if the flight recorders from Air France Flight 447 can shed light on why it went down two years ago. The voice and data recorders were found in the Atlantic Ocean earlier this month.

Violence in Uganda today as thousands gather to welcome home opposition leader Kizza Besigye. Police fired teargas to disperse the crowds, and clashed reportedly broke out, leaving dozens injured. On the same road, a convoy heading the opposite direction carried President Yoweri Museveni, sworn in today for another term.

US evangelist Billy Graham is listed in fair condition after spending the night at a North Carolina hospital. A doctor says the 92-year-old has pneumonia. Graham checked himself in on Wednesday after feeling sweaty and having difficulty breathing.

Those are the headlines this hour.

Now, to Syria, where there have been more arrests and more disturbing pictures of violence as the government continues to clamp down on dissent across the country. And in troubling signs for the al Assad regime, the protests appear to be spreading.

A large rally erupted on a Thursday at Aleppo University in the heart of Syria's second-largest city. It could mark a new chapter in the Syrian uprising, and this is why.

While the unrest really began with a silent protest in Damascus back on March the 16th, there has been little show of discontent in the capital since. The clashes have been restricted to Syria's smaller cities.

The first killings were reported in Daraa, near the Jordanian border, and in recent weeks, the protest movement has spread throughout Syria. Within the past week, Syrian tanks have moved into Baniyas and Homs to crack down on dissent.

Well, the students now staging the first large protest in Aleppo, there are concerns that demonstrators will take confidence and again try and take hold of Damascus.

But while these latest developments will be of concern to the Syrian government, what does it mean for the rest of the region. Rima Maktabi explains why stability in Syria is so important.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RIMA MAKTABI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The stakes are high, not just for Syria, but its neighbors. The Damascus regime holds key cards when it comes to war and peace in the Middle East.

It supports and is highly influential with hardline Palestinian factions and Hamas, whose leader, Khaled Meshaal, lives in Damascus. It actively supports Hezbollah, the Shiite militia in Lebanon that has become a major political player there.

The United States accuses Syria of delivering sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah, which is believed to have some 40,000 rockets ready for another conflict with Israel.

Then there are the Golan Heights. Syrian territory captured by Israel in 1967. The Assad regimes have been the most hostile in the Arab world to peace with Israel. As Henry Kissinger once said, the Arabs can't make war without Egypt, and they can't make peace without Syria.

(CROWD SHOUTING)

MAKTABI: Syria also has a strategic alliance with Iran, helping spread its influence among Arab countries. Iran is one of the main sponsors of Hezbollah.

And finally, Syria's border with Iraq means that it has become an entry point for insurgents, but also home to hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have fled the violence there.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Well, according to a new UN report, Iranian weapons banned for exports under Security Council resolutions are making their way into Syria. So, does this give the international community more reason to act and take the same path as it has in Libya? Well, I put that question to former US ambassador to Iraq, Chris Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTOPHER HILL, FORMER US AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: I guess it's inconsistent. These issues are not unrelated. I think one could look sort of counter-factually. What would have happened had Syria blown its lid before Libya did?

But I think the fact that Libya was first I think really has, to some extent, informed the decision-making on Syria.

Now, that said, there are some objective concerns about Syria. One, that the opposition really doesn't have a central leadership. And two, that it -- it's sort of unclear how to -- how one would sort of affect an external policy.

Some other countries that don't share our views on Syria are out there, such as Iran. So, I think it would be rather difficult to proceed with some sort of international approach to Syria of the kind that took place in Libya.

FOSTER: Meanwhile, we have to suffer these horrendous images coming into us on these horrendous clampdowns in various parts of the country, and the world standing by and watching, whereas they do get involved in other conflicts.

HILL: Well, that's right. If you look at the way the Assad regime or the Assad family has put down these rebellions in the past, it tends to be very brutal, of the kind that not even Mr. Gadhafi could have envisioned.

So, I think these are horrendous images, but they're also just a horrendous human rights situation for the people on the ground, and it does cry out for some sort of collective action. But I think it's going to be very problematic because I don't think there's any consensus in the international community about how to proceed with this.

And so, I suspect, very sadly, I suspect the situation's going to have to get worse before there is really a willingness to sit down and try to cobble something together in the UN Security Council.

FOSTER: But isn't Syria far more important geo-politically than Libya, for example?

HILL: I think it's -- it's a more complex problem. It's, as you say, more important, but it's also more compacted with issues that are important. For example, the Arab-Israeli peace.

It's also right next to Iraq, and it has a very strong Iran component and even Saudi component as the Saudis in recent years have grown increasingly concerned about Iranian influence there.

And finally, last but not least, it's also affected the situation in Lebanon. So, it's right in the middle of a very volatile area. And so, I think the clarity with which one can come up with a policy and go in is just not there the way it may be in Libya.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Christopher Hill, there. Now we now have one of the first accounts from a Western journalist who's been inside Syria. Martin Fletcher works for "The Times of London," and he managed to get into the country on a tourist visa, because journalists have been banned from entering.

He's now back in London. And earlier today, he described his experience in the flashpoint city of Homs.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARTIN FLETCHER, REPORTER, "THE TIMES OF LONDON": We were taken to a -- it was basically a subterranean basement detention center, no windows.

As we went in, in the main corridor at the far end, there was a very large pile of belts and shoe laces in front of the steel door. And I very quickly realized why they were there.

My taxi driver, they opened the steel door, pushed my taxi driver in. As they opened it, I could see dozens of young men sitting on the ground, huddled together. And I was held for about six hours, and during that time, they brought more -- at regular intervals, they brought more young men in.

Clearly, what they were doing was just rounding young men of a certain age up off the street wholesale.

FOSTER: Getting them away from any demonstrations --

FLETCHER: Stopping them protesting, yes.

FOSTER: Yes.

FLETCHER: This is fairly ruthless stuff. They're not tolerating dissent there anymore.

FOSTER: What happened after that, then, to you and your driver?

FLETCHER: At one point, they put a whip down rather ostentatiously on the table, consisting of two thick electric cables taped together. But I stuck to my story. I said I was a teacher on sabbatical, a teacher of history and politics, I like going to places that are in the news.

And my story was I was going to see the world's finest crusader castle just happens to be about 20 miles outside Hons, and I was going there.

I don't think they believed it, but they couldn't disprove it. They had no incriminating -- there's nothing they could pin on me. So, in the end, they let me go.

FOSTER: What's your conclusion from your visit about the success of this uprising?

FLETCHER: Well, I salute the bravery of the protesters. I think this is the most serious challenge there has been in 41 years to the Assad dynasty. But I think, frankly, the odds are stacked fairly heavily against it.

First of all, Assad is -- has quite a lot of support, still. And there is a lot of fear among the minorities, the Christians, the Alawites, to extent, the Kurds, that if he goes, the country will descend into this sort of sectarian conflicts that Syrians have seen on both sides of them in Iraq and Lebanon.

FOSTER: So, better the devil you know.

FLETCHER: Yes. The army is, unlike in Egypt, unlike in Libya, the army is united behind him and prepared to do whatever it takes.

And on the other side o the equation, the protesters are scattered. They're not very well organized yet. They're trying to get more organized. They don't have much leverage, purchase, presence in either Damascus or Aleppo, the second city.

And frankly, you're talking about tens of thousands, not hundreds of thousands, in a country of 22 million. They don't -- they don't have broad support across society. The middle classes are largely sitting this out.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Martin Fletcher, there, of "The Times" speaking to me earlier after his trip to Syria.

Now, still to come, a story of forgiveness, healing, closure, and respect which truly connects the world. The story of two men once engaged in a bitter war who were trying to help families finally come to terms with their loss.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: US landing craft and armored vehicles arrive on the beaches of Iwo Jima in 1945. The battle saw some of the bloodiest fighting of World War II's Pacific campaign. 22,000 Japanese soldiers died defending the island, along with more than 6,000 Americans. In this shot, US marines take cover from enemy fire.

The Americans secured the island on March the 26th, 1945, and Japanese soldiers surrendering in this picture, emerging from behind huge stones.

But the battle proved to be longer and deadlier than many had planned. US military resources took a battering, and the US abandoned its plan to invade the Japanese mainland.

Many of you will, of course, know this iconic photograph. Five US marines and a navy corpsman raising the US flag on tow -- on the top of Mount Suribachi.

Now, it's been more than six decades since the end of World War II but, for many, the scars still run deep. In this weekend's "World's Untold Stories," we meet two men who are trying to bring closure to families of Japanese soldiers killed in the war.

Both have returned artifacts taken from the battlefields once carried by those soldiers. In this special preview, the daughter of a veteran finds something in her mother's backyard that leads her on an unexpected and emotional journey.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eight years ago, in Buffalo, New York, Shannon Moore was cleaning out her mother's shed.

SHANNON MOORE, DAUGHTER OF VETERAN: I remember there were two jars on the floor, and there was this rag, I don't know, behind these jars. I was just, "Oh, wow, this has to be something from the war."

And I took it into my mother's house, then, and I showed my husband. And he was all excited, and he said, "Don't you know what that is? It's a Japanese battle flag," he said.

HOLMES: She knew the flag could have come from only one place, and only one person.

Moore's father fought in the Philippines during World War II. He died in 1975. Moore was only 10 years old.

MOORE: I don't recall him ever speaking of the war. I'm sure it was very traumatic for him, and he just never spoke of it. It -- you know, as a little kid growing up, I didn't really think about it, either.

HOLMES: Moore began researching the significance of the battle flags. She also learned that veterans in the US were trying to return flags and other items back to those families.

MOORE: We took it to the university because, just out of idle curiosity, we wanted to know what the flag -- what was written on it, if the soldier's name was on it, so if there was going to be any way we could locate the family.

Professor Shimojo translated everything for us, and he also located an agency in Japan that returns these artifacts back to the soldier's family.

HOLMES: At the newspaper "The Syracuse Post-Standard," Sean Kirst heard about Moore. His first thought was of Marty Connor, whose story he'd been following for more than a decade.

SEAN KIRST, COLUMNIST, "SYRACUSE POST-STANDARD": I read about Shannon in the Buffalo paper that she'd come into this flag and wasn't sure what to do with it, that she'd taken it to a translator, I believe. And so, I contacted her and just told her about Marty.

MOORE: You know, at this point, I know I wanted to return that flag to Japan, but something -- I was wondering, was this what my father would've wanted me to do? That hung over me. And I said that to Mr. Connor, and he said to me, he said, "Oh, your father knows what you're doing."

And it just took that, to hear that from Mr. Connor, it was OK. It's going to be OK, I know what to do, this is the right thing to do.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Well, Marty Moore (sic), who Shannon got in touch with in that piece, was an 18-year-old marine during World War II. He left Japan with more than just vivid memories, too. Moore (sic) came away with a souvenir shirt but, like Shannon, was inspired to send it back.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES (voice-over): At one altar in Nagano sits a white shirt in a frame. Shirakawa helped return the shirt in 2005 to the nephew of a Japanese soldier killed during the war.

MASAMI NAGAMINE, NEPHEW OF VETERAN (through translator): As you can see, this is the parcel tag, but it's in English, I can't read it.

HOLMES: Before the shirt was returned to the Nagamine family, it had been sitting in the home of Marty Connor for 60 years.

MARTY CONNOR, WORLD WAR II VETERAN: I had a shirt. This is a picture of the shirt. I had picked this up on the west side of Iwo Jima on the third day or fourth day. And took it from the pack -- there were three Japanese that had been killed by naval gunfire.

And I had taken it from a backpack of one of them. And I just threw it in my knapsack and didn't think any more of it.

HOLMES: For all those years, Connor thought the shirt had no identification. Eventually, he decided to include it with a shipment to Shirakawa. From what Connor thought was just a laundry mark on the shirt, Shirakawa was able to ID the soldier and find his family.

NAGAMINE (through translator): It's traveled so far, so long, for more than 60 years. I think my uncle's soul is feeling the comfort. He must be thinking, at this altar, I finally made it back to my home and my family.

He's the brother of my father. All of the family ancestors are dedicated here. I wanted him to rest in peace with the rest of the family.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Well, it really is a story of forgiveness, healing, closure, and respect, and an emotional journey that stretches halfway around the world and more than half a century. "World's Untold Stories: Bridging the Pacific."

It airs several times this weekend, including Saturday night at 9:00 in London, 10:00 in Brussels and Berlin, right here on CNN.

Ahead on CONNECT THE WORLD, an actress who's on a green mission. Find out what cause your Connector of the Day is backing. Stay with us. We are back in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: Tonight's Connector of the Day is an actress who is often saving lives but, for now, she's putting her patients aside and focusing on the planet. Let's get the low down on your Connector of the Day.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER (voice-over): Kate Walsh's meteoric rise to fame is one that most of the industry would only dream of. The hit television actress came to the world's attention as Dr. Addison Montgomery on the top-ranking show "Grey's Anatomy."

CRISTIAN DE LA FUENTE AS DR. ERIC RODRIGUEZ, "PRIVATE PRACTICE": Have you discussed chemo as an alternative to surgery?

KATE WALSH AS DR. ADDISON MONTGOMERY, "PRIVATE PRACTICE": Yes, but I believe surgery will be more effective.

FOSTER: After two seasons on the show, Walsh went on to star in her own drama entitled "Private Practice."

But her ambition doesn't stop there. She's also created her own perfume line. And today, Walsh is teaming up with the environmental group Oceana to make the case against offshore drilling. She spoke to Becky Anderson about why she chose this issue.

WALSH: Well, I started working with Oceana a few years back. I grew up in a coastal community in Northern California. And then, even when I moved to Tucson, Arizona, where I spent the remainder of my childhood, as a family, we would always vacation on the Sea of Cortez in the Gulf.

So the beaches and the oceans have been just a seminal part of my life and my childhood. And so to work with Oceana and ocean conservation was a natural fit, and Oceana is actually -- it's an international organization and they really get things done. They're nonprofit, but they actually -- they work to enact protective laws all over the world.

BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Good stuff. All right, a couple of questions on offshore drilling. Laree asks an interesting question. Do you think that the benefit of stopping offshore drilling would overshadow the downfall of so many people in the business losing their jobs? And that was a really important point, wasn't it, during this Gulf oil spill?

WALSH: The thing is that, although there would be job losses in off - - if we stopped offshore drilling, the potential -- there's three times as many jobs that could become available with different, cleaner energy sources, like wind power and solar power. There are other jobs to be had, there are. We just need to start making the change.

ANDERSON: All right, Keira follows, then, with an interesting one, as well. Do you think Oceana can have any real impact on a government that often gets, let's say, quite a lot of money from the oil industry?

WALSH: Yes. Well, I think that we have to. That speaks to a great issue. The very fact that there isn't another side of the story out there is because the oil industry has so much money to tell their side of the story and to market and campaign and lobby.

And we have to -- it's only advocates like Oceana and myself and other conservation groups, this is what we have to do.

ANDERSON: Well, listen, we wish you the best with what is a fantastic project. Humor our viewers, here. They want to know about you and "Grey's Anatomy" and the industry. Lucy says, "Is there a particular episode of 'Grey's Anatomy,' the great 'Grey's Anatomy,'" she says, "that really stands out for you?"

WALSH: Gosh. So many of them. I guess I loved the -- the bomb episode was pretty amazing. That was, I think, kind of iconic and sort of changed everything for "Grey's" and put it on the map in a hugely different way.

But I've just loved so many of those -- so many of the episodes. And I certainly had a great time going back and doing the musical episode recently, too.

ANDERSON: Ooh, what sort of --

WALSH: Even though they didn't really let me sing. I sang a little bit.

(LAUGHTER)

ANDERSON: Listen, what sort of impact has it had on your life?

WALSH: Oh, it was tremendous. It changed everything. I was sort of really fortunate to be a working actor, quietly working actor before then. But then, "Grey's" just kind of blew everything into the stratosphere, I think, for all of us, changed everybody's career.

ANDERSON: What are your fondest memories?

WALSH: I think -- we all kind of came up together, and that was really cool, to sort of experience just these massive changes in our lives and being visible and suddenly having paparazzi follow us around and going through all the awards show and everything. It was kind of cool to do it all together.

But -- and I guess just making some friends that I'm still very, very close with. You know, when you go through a big pivotal thing like that, you still -- we still hang out. I still see a lot of them, so --

ANDERSON: Good for you, good for you. George L. asks, you -- or he says, "You skyrocketed to Hollywood fame fairly quickly."

(LAUGHTER)

ANDERSON: And he said, "Was that overwhelming --"

WALSH: I have a jet pack on. It's crazy.

(LAUGHTER)

ANDERSON: He says, "Was it overwhelming?"

WALSH: Well, yes, in some ways, absolutely. But in other ways, I think that the public, because they see, oh, suddenly we're all -- but I think most of us had been, like I said, kind of working actors since we were either kids or for many years, and so we'd been working, but it was just more the public attention that was new.

ANDERSON: Sarah Lewis (ph) from LA says, "You've created your own perfume line called 'Boyfriend.' Why is it called 'Boyfriend'?" she says.

WALSH: Yes.

ANDERSON: And why did you decided to go into that venture?

WALSH: I -- I want -- I've always had dreams of being a fragrance mogul. No, I've always -- I've always loved fragrance. But it's -- "Boyfriend" has made, I'd actually -- my boyfriend and I had broken up, and I missed his scent.

So, I kind of thought, oh, I don't have to have a boyfriend to have a boyfriend. I'm going to go to the men's fragrance counter and get one.

And then, a little bell went off, and I thought, oh, wouldn't that be a great name for a fragrance, "Boyfriend." And then I went and developed it, and I wanted to do it and sort of maintain creative control of it, because the story was really -- sort of important for me in marketing and developing the whole brand.

So I -- instead of doing a licensing deal or a royalty deal, I made a -- I made a company and financed it myself. And so now -- and it's sort of a combination of a masculine and feminine scent, and it's doing all right - -

ANDERSON: And you made a lot of money out of a bad relationship, that's excellent, good on you.

WALSH: It's doing -- it's doing all right.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Good on her. I'm Max Foster, that is your world connected. Thank you for watching. The world headlines and "BackStory" will follow this short break.

END