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CONNECT THE WORLD

Tenth Anniversary of War in Afghanistan; 'The Boy Mir'; Three Women Share Nobel Peace Prize; How Nobel Winner Heard News; Last Year's Peace Prize Winner Still Behind Bars in China; Libyan Revolutionaries Storm Sirte; Russian President Calls for End to Violence in Syria; Fitch Downgrades Italy's, Spain's Credit Ratings; Police, Protesters Scuffle on Wall Street; Iran Blames US Government for Wall Street Protests; New Haitian Prime Minister Calls for Unity; Jurors Hear Tape of Police Questioning Conrad Murray; No Facebook Streaming for Michael Jackson Tribute Concert; Euro 2012 Qualifying Games; Rugby World Cup Quarterfinals; Runner Aspires to Run Mile on Moon; Parting Shots of Belated Super Bowl White House Visit

Aired October 7, 2011 - 16:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against al Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: A decade on and nearly half a trillion dollars later, what's been achieved in Afghanistan?

Live from London, I'm Becky Anderson.

Also tonight, this time last year, he won the Nobel Peace Prize.

But has Lui Xiaobo Lui Xiaobo managed to win his freedom?

And why the Occupy Wall Street Movement is a hot topic in Iran.

This is CONNECT THE WORLD.

Ten years ago today, bombs began falling on Afghanistan -- a dramatic beginning to a U.S.-led war that would claim early victories, but slowly grind into a fierce counter-insurgency with no clear end.

Well, the decade mark passed with little fanfare in the United States or in Afghanistan itself. U.S. President Barack Obama issued only a written statement playing up the positives. He says the Taliban have been driven out of key strongholds.

Listen to what his own former top commander in Afghanistan had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM BROKAW, HOST: Ten years later, on a percentage basis, where are we, 50 percent of the way home?

GEN. STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL, FORMER U.S. COMMANDER IN AFGHANISTAN:

Yeah, I think we're probably -- I think probably a little better than 50 percent. But the last parts that need to be done in terms of creating a legitimate government that the Afghan people believe in, and, therefore, providing a counterweight to the Taliban idea, as well as the Taliban forces, I think that's going to be a hard last percentages to close.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: General Stanley McChrystal there.

Well, tonight in our special coverage of Afghanistan, we'll ask what a decade of war has really accomplished and what might lie ahead.

Well, we're going to speak with our man on the ground in just a moment.

First, let's get a look at where we are by the numbers.

Since 2001, the U.S. has spent some $444 billion on the war effort in Afghanistan. According to a CNN count, more than 2,700 troops from the U.S. and its coalition partners have been killed, the majority of them U.S. servicemen and women.

Well, many more civilians have died, with around 10,000 Afghans killed since 2007 alone.

Well, currently, more than 138,000 foreign troops remain in the country. Most of them, about 98,000, are from the United States. And it is expected that 68,000 U.S. troops will stay on in Afghanistan after September 2012.

Well, an enormous investment in the war that began after the Taliban refused to turn over Osama bin Laden in the wake of September the 11th. Now, the Taliban were quickly bombed out of power only to regroup once again, emerging as a formidable force.

Let's get you to Kabul tonight and to Nick Paton Walsh.

What's the story on the ground -- Nick?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, obviously, I think the key question after a decade of war here, the blood and treasure expended, is what condition has it left Afghan society in for the Afghan people?

Now, we have a worrying snapshot for a part of the country which does, it seems, out of con -- the control of the Afghan government and NATO, where a warlord appears to run his own fiefdom and dispenses his own form of justice.

And I must warn you, this report does contain some graphic images of an execution.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALSH (voice-over): You're witness to a public execution.

The crime?

Murder.

The judge?

The local warlord.

The executioner, the victim's father.

But this mobile phone footage isn't from the Taliban era, it's from September this year. After a decade of American troops here, a brutal tribal form of justice is back. On his knees, Narouz (ph), who is condemned for killing his lover's husband, prays.

The father approaches his son's alleged killer.

"Hold the gun right," he's told.

(GUNSHOT)

WALSH: "Stop shooting, you donkey," they say.

The warlord ordered the father to only shoot twice, we are told, but the father just didn't stop. He's still alive, they say. But not for long.

(on camera): That video was shot in Ghor, a remote area in the west of the country out of the reach of the Afghan government and NATO. The warlord, Mullah Mustafa, and his men, rule by the gun, keeping the Taliban out, we are told, in an exchange the government let them run their own fiefdom.

It's not a kind of compromise the United States imagined a decade ago, bringing a kind of swift and brutal justice, as one eyewitness to the killing told us.

JALALUDIN, EYEWITNESSES TO EXECUTION: Mullah Mustafa gathered mullahs to carry a verdict according to Islamic Sharia law. The mullahs asked the father to forgive Narouz (ph) and to take some of his family's land and women in compensation, but the father refused, so the mullahs ordered an execution.

Mullah Mustafa doesn't take bribes, everyone says. Narouz tried to buy his release, but the mullahs refused.

WALSH: The executed man's cousins say they were beaten during questioning, but understand the mullahs' form of justice.

ABDUL GAFOR, EXECUTED MAN'S COUSIN (through translator): After the murder, Narouz was the suspect. But he said he had been helped by me and my cousin. For that reason, we were interrogated and beaten a lot during the questioning. But once the case went to the mullah, Narouz changed his story and said he'd carried out the murder alone.

SIKANDAR, EXECUTED MAN'S COUSIN: Law and order would be good here. We would like strong government. There is no police or government presence here. And Mullah Mustafa has government contacts. If Narouz hadn't murdered someone, then Mullah Mustafa would have not touched him.

WALSH: The story is simple -- a jealous man kills his lover's husband. The punishment, an eye for an eye. NATO spent billions trying to bring law and order, but a decade after the Taliban, compromise and continuing chaos still leaves some Afghans with an old, clumsy form of justice.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

WALSH: Today's anniversary here in Afghanistan has, to be honest, passed pretty much without commemoration. And I think it's fair to say that Afghans have been dealing with conflict of some form or another for the past 30 years. So yet another anniversary may mean a huge amount for the U.S. population, but less so here. It's just more of the same -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Nick, stick with us as we move through what is special coverage of this 10 year anniversary.

Nick Paton Walsh on the ground for you in Afghanistan.

Well, the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, made a frank admission as he reflected on ten years of war. He said, telling the BBC, "We've done terribly badly in providing security to the Afghan people," calling that the greatest failing of his government and its NATO partners.

Well, earlier, I spoke to the former head of Afghanistan's National Security Directorate, Amrullah Saleh.

And I began by asking, 10 years on, are things better or worse, as far as he is concerned, in Afghanistan.

This is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMRULLAH SALEH, FORMER HEAD OF AFGHAN NATIONAL SECURITY DIRECTORATE: It's a much better place, but it could be still far better if we had an accountable, visionary, competent administration. Things are much better, but as -- as I said, it can -- there can still be improvement if the government of Afghanistan respected the (INAUDIBLE) of democracy and rule of law itself.

ANDERSON: Ten years on, the mercenaries have taken their money, the consultants have taken their fees, some $2 billion in aid has been pumped into Afghanistan and hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent on the military surge there.

What's happened?

SALEH: What has happened, of course, there are undeniable achievements like schools, hospitals, roads, political participation, a government which, in the past, did not exist. These are achievements. Afghanistan has a place in the world and people have a better life than they had before. Poverty is less than before.

But the -- we were never perfectionists and we are not going to be perfectionists ever.

But where we have failed collectively is persuading Pakistan to honestly cooperate or coercing Pakistan out of compulsion to cooperate. That -- that has been a major failure.

And the consequence of that failure, both for NATO allies and for Afghan people, has been massive.

ANDERSON: So a decade on, what happens next?

SALEH: What happens next, we are in the stalemate and we are heading toward a -- a deeper stalemate. In order to create a breakthrough in the situation, yes, the Afghan National Security Forces have to be strengthened, but we have to fundamentally come to terms with Pakistan -- how you treat Pakistan and--

ANDERSON: Do you do that by getting into bed with India?

SALEH: Well, it -- it can be -- well, partly, yes.

Why not?

If Pakistanis are not being cooperative, if they are being deceptive and if they are (INAUDIBLE)--

ANDERSON: And you say they haven't.

SALEH: They haven't. If they have been behind sufferings for -- both for you and for us, why we should be afraid of allying ourselves with people who help?

So, why we should be--

ANDERSON: Is Afghanistan--

SALEH: -- hostage of Pakistan?

ANDERSON: Is Afghanistan headed toward a civil war at this point?

SALEH: Well, I disagree with that terminology. If Afghanistan fails, it will be our collective failure, not the Afghans' only, but the international community and NATO, as well.

So don't blame the Afghans that when things don't work, they go to fight each other. When things don't work, it will not work both for you and for us equally.

ANDERSON: Just one of the voices you'll hear as we move through this half hour here on CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson.

We'll bring you special coverage of tenth anniversary of the war in Afghanistan.

Up next, faith and fatigue -- nick's back with something live from Kabul, looking at the emotional cost of the conflict.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: We've been now talking a lot about the Afghanistan war by numbers, how much it costs, how many troops and civilians are involved.

But in the end, it's really about who does the breathing (ph). And from Bagram Air Base, my colleague, Nick Paton Walsh, puts a human face on 10 years of sacrifice in Afghanistan.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALSH (voice-over): It began when they landed in Bagram and here it goes on.

(PRAYING)

WALSH: Ten years of jet fuel, faith and now, fatigue. Here you can see what it takes to carry on through this decade's wars. Lieutenant Colonel Eric Albertson is chaplain to thousands, but in his several months here, affected by the very few.

LT. COL. ERIC ALBERTSON, U.S. ARMY: A number of our soldiers that are on their third, fourth or, in some cases, their fifth tour, there is a fatigue factor -- emotionally drained, physically tired. We've had instances where soldiers have taken their own lives here. And that's -- that's tragic. We've had about six or seven since I've been here.

When someone takes their own life, there's almost a sense of, you know, you've reached out to me for everything else, why didn't you reach out to me for this?

WALSH: The ripples of a suicide reach far. Master Sergeant Guadaloupe Stratman is in this war so her three sons won't be. Her three tours marred by the recent loss of a friend in Iraq.

MASTER SGT. GUADALOUPE STRATMAN, U.S. ARMY: It's -- it was actually -- she overdosed herself. So -- and like she was younger than me, so I didn't -- I thought she had a lot to live for. I don't know why it happened. I wasn't necessarily talking with her frequently at that time, but it -- it hurt me a lot.

How -- because I knew her. I knew what some of her dreams were. And now she didn't get to -- get to live those dreams. It's like it ended.

WALSH: This was a dirt road a decade ago. Now, it's home to one in nine of America's troops in Afghanistan.

(on-camera) When the Americans landed here 10 years ago, it was on this Russian-made runway. And now, they've been here nearly a year longer than the Soviets.

(voice-over) The cost to the Soviets, huge. The total cost to America still unknown, although, signs of sadness and change are everywhere. The prison here now gone, its Afghan prisoners elsewhere. Soon troops will leave for good, but will carry away with them the scars of here and Iraq.

LT. COL. JAMES DAVELL, U.S. ARMY: What I do every year is I call the family, either the spouse or the parents of the individual that -- that has been associated with me, that was lost in combat. And then I also call a very close friend of mine that was injured, severely injured on the day that that occurred. I've said I make three calls a year -- actually four. I'm sorry, four calls a year to -- to the family members.

And I wouldn't say it makes me feel good or bad. I just think it's something that I need to do.

WALSH: The closing stages of a war longer than anything America has ever coped with before.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ANDERSON: That's right. And even with the Taliban forced from power, security still a major issue, of course.

Nick joins us once again from Afghanistan's capital, Kabul -- and, Nick, is there any progress on the security front?

WALSH: A very good question, Becky.

Frankly, as the former general here, David Petraeus, used to say, this is a battle of perception. But certainly the perception inside Kabul, the capital over the past few months, is that security has been getting worse.

Thank for -- thanks to a number of high profile attacks which have penetrated inside NATO's supposedly most secure area. Really, it comes down to number crunching, frankly. The United Nations and NATO having very different perceptions of how violence has improved or -- or worsened over the past few months.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALSH (voice-over): The United Nations this week reported security incidents were up 39 percent on last year, revealing an 84 percent rise in civilians killed by armed clashes on the ground and an 18 percent rise in those killed by NATO airstrikes.

NATO responded, releasing, for the first time, its numbers. Their accountancy is totally different, measuring not all violence, but rather attacks made by the insurgency. And compared to last year, they are 2 percent down and 17 percent down if you just compare the summers.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

WALSH: Obviously, the question is Afghanistan safer is key not only to justify any sacrifices that have gone past, but also explaining to the American people and the world, frankly, that the U.S. can start withdrawing its troops and handing security here over to Afghan forces -- Becky.

ANDERSON: That's right.

Nick Paton Walsh on the 10 year anniversary of the Afghanistan War for you out of Kabul this evening.

Nick, thank you for that.

Lucy Morgan Edwards is a former political adviser to the E.U. ambassador to Kabul.

She's with me now in our London studios.

I wanted to just quote to you part of Obama's -- President Obama's statement today. It was a written statement today on this anniversary.

He said -- and I quote -- "After a difficult decade, we are responsibly ending today's wars from a position of strength."

Does that resonate with you, given what you've seen on the ground and just given what Nick was reporting in his piece on stress in Bagram Air Base?

LUCY MORGAN EDWARDS, FORMER POLITICAL ADVISER TO E.U. AMBASSADOR TO KABUL: I mean this -- this is a statement I entirely disagree with, because Afghanistan, after 10 years, remains virtually at the beginning of the U.N. Human Development Index. That's in terms of maternal mortality, infant mortality, sanitation. We know about the -- this increase in security incidents, the bold attacks by the Taliban right at the heart of - - of Kabul a couple of weeks ago.

And the fact that Taliban reconciliation doesn't seem to be going to happen any -- any time soon.

ANDERSON: Talking to the Taliban seems to be the new strategy, of course. But we've heard from retired U.S. Army general, Stanley McChrystal today. He said NATO forces are barely more than halfway toward reaching their goals.

He also said today, and I quote, "The United States began the war in Afghanistan with a frighteningly simplistic view of the country. It lacks the knowledge to bring the conflict to a successful end."

Is he right?

EDWARDS: Yes, he's definitely right. The problem is that the military, I think, has had too much say, almost in the strategy. And the strategy is a continuation of the strategy that we were following in 2001. It's an escalation of that.

Now, you've got the military asking for more time, more money, more troops.

When is it going to end?

I think -- I think, really, it's -- it's time that we really change our way of thinking and start listening more to Afghans.

ANDERSON: And the question, of course, is now what lies ahead?

You've written a book, "The Afghan Solution," subtitled, "Abdul Haq, The CIA and How Western Hubris Lost Afghanistan."

Exaggerated, pride, arrogance, call it what you will, we pushed our way, didn't we, into a civil war of which we knew very little about in 2001 and know less about today?

So what happens then?

EDWARDS: Well, the situation today is much more complex than it was 10 years ago. And I think that's the difficulty. Ten years ago, the warlords were in exile. We brought them back. We -- we legitimized them politically. We armed them. They've now gone back to their fiefdoms and they're going to be fighting out for -- for territory in the same way that they were during the early 1990s.

The Taliban, I think, were also ready to come to the negotiation table in 2001, but they were not allowed to participate in the Bourne Agreement (ph). And, in fact, we made the mistake of -- of failing to understand that -- the stratified nature of the regime, that there were moderates who weren't necessarily extremists, people we could have spoken to, people who would have, perhaps, pushed out al Qaeda. And these are the -- the guys that Abdul Haq was engaging in his peace plan with the ex-king who, who was going to come back as a unifying umbrella.

ANDERSON: Mullah Omar is still around, the head of the Taliban, probably on the Pakistan side of the border, most intelligence suggests, and the new leader of al Qaeda also still around, possibly south of the border in -- in Pakistan, or so intelligence suggests.

Do they matter?

EDWARDS: I think they do matter, yes, definitely. I think they matter symbolically. And, in fact, Abdul Haq had -- had some of the guys he'd been fighting with during the 1980s, some of his ex-commanders, were actually providing the bodyguards for Mullah Omar in 2001.

ANDERSON: Right.

EDWARDS: But, you know, despite this -- and, in fact, he said it's -- it's likely important that the West doesn't bomb the country, because if -- if this happens, it's going to change all of the -- it's going to change the country of the night, the people who he had been talking to would have peeled away, perhaps gone back to their families, because they were moderates, leaving the extremists in charge of the guns.

And unfortunately, this has -- this is what's happened.

ANDERSON: The drawdown has effectively begun.

Does Hamid Karzai continue to run this country, mid-term?

EDWARDS: I think NATO run the country. I think, really, the big problem with the drawdown and the transition narrative is that I think as soon as we leave, time is going to be numbered for Hamid Karzai. I don't see that he's going to last for two years in the same way that President Najibullah lasted two years after the Soviets pulled out and left a national army.

I think it's going to be more like a couple of months at the most.

ANDERSON: Lucy, we're going to have to leave it there.

We thank you very much, indeed, for joining us this evening.

EDWARDS: Thank you.

ANDERSON: More on this somber anniversary still to come.

We'll move beyond the front lines and mark ten years of war through the eyes of an innocent, the boy Mir and his compelling story is just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: We've seen many stories from Afghanistan's front lines over the past decade, haven't we?

But the impact of war on the Afghan people has been a rarer picture, I'm afraid, until now, at least.

British filmmaker, Phil Grabsky, has just premiered his documentary, "The Boy Mir." It follows the real life journey of an Afghan boy from age eight through adulthood, and in doing so, also tells the story of Afghanistan.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE BOY MIR," COURTESY SEVENTH ART PRODUCTIONS)

ANDERSON (voice-over): The images of the Taliban's disruption of the stone Buddhas of Bamyian had stuck in his mind. He had the setting -- Afghanistan. And the idea -- to explore the rebuilding of this shattered country in the wake of its 30 year civil war.

But what filmmaker needed was a protagonist.

PHIL GRABSKY, FILMMAKER: My very first tape, he kind of peeks down the camera. And -- and I noted him because he had this beautiful hat on and this beautiful face and he was always smiling.

ANDERSON: His name was Mir. That was in 2002. But every year since, Grabsky has revisited Afghanistan. And through this young boy's growth, he's recorded progress in the war-torn nation.

GRABSKY: And very quickly, I thought, actually, he is an interesting character, because if I focus on the adults, I'm going to be looking at -- the previous awful 25 years. The film is going to be looking backward. If I focus on this little boy, not only is it going to have some energy in the film, it's going to take me places where the adults wouldn't, but also you're going to start thinking about, well, what's going -- going to happen to him rather than what's happened to them.

ANDERSON: The first years or Mir's journey were captured in the boy who plays on the Buddhas of Bamyian. The Taliban had recently been ejected and promises of Western support to rebuild had been made.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE BOY MIR," COURTESY SEVENTH ART PRODUCTIONS)

(ON SCREEN)

MIR: Look at the American planes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Hopes were high for this family living as refugees in a cave.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE BOY MIR," COURTESY SEVENTH ART PRODUCTIONS)

MIR: Then I'd like to teach.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: But in the new film, "The Boy Mir," we see those aspirations somewhat dampened.

(VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE BOY MIR," COURTESY SEVENTH ART PRODUCTIONS)

(ON SCREEN)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get away from me. I don't have a penny. I'm in debt myself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Despite more than $400 billion worth of foreign aid and intervention over the past decade, the hardship remains.

GRABSKY: The stories that come through are about poverty and education. They're not really -- they don't talk about the Taliban. There's only one moment in the film where you see anybody praying. I mean Islam is not really an issue either. It's that day to day grind of water and -- and bread.

ANDERSON: The poverty has put Mir's dreams on hold. He's been forced to leave school and work in a coal mine to help feed his family.

GRABSKY: It is extremely dangerous. And every time when I -- when we were there, Shari (ph), my colleague, Afghan colleague, or myself, if Mir had been working in the mine, he had red eyes. He was cough -- coughing all the time. It was affecting his health. This is -- but this is what poverty does.

ANDERSON (on camera): Would you say that in that decade, things have become tougher for the family tougher for families in Afghanistan?

GRABSKY: I get a little frustrated when I see people on television who often haven't been to Afghanistan and they say it's been a complete waste of time. It hasn't been a complete waste of time because there has been, due to the sacrifice of an enormous amount of people -- and that sacrifice has allowed for a -- a degree of security. I mean the fighting against the Taliban is, by and large, along the border with Pakistan.

So where Mir lives, for example -- and it -- it's replicated throughout many places in Afghanistan -- they have had a chance to develop. But it's been very, very slow and very, very patchy. And now, actually, the security is deteriorating.

It is true, unfortunately, that within two or three years, you might see civil war again in Afghanistan. And that's a great shame.

ANDERSON (voice-over): While foreign intervention was initially welcomed, the documentary shows that this, too, has changed.

GRABSKY: (AUDIO GAP) to poverty, lack of education and maybe a little bit more of the $700 billion should go in that direction and a little bit less on military intervention, which ultimately does something, but the trouble is every time that one errant missile goes into someone's house and kills civilians, you've created another 100 Taliban.

And who are the Taliban?

They're actually poor -- many of them are poor laborers, in many ways, who've had upbringings like Mir.

ANDERSON (on camera): What does the future hold for Mir?

GRABSKY: Well, he has held to this view throughout the film, throughout these 10 years, that he wants to be a teacher. Indeed, he used to talk about wanting to be prime minister, slightly naively. He hasn't really become cynical. He has -- he still remains optimistic.

And that, in a way, breaks your heart, because you think well, what opportunities does he actually have?

He isn't literate. He has left school now. There's nothing, really, within the village.

ANDERSON: Is Mir's story one that Afghans would recognize across the country?

GRABSKY: To some extent, Mir gives me a lot of optimism about Afghanistan because, actually, young men and women like him, full of determination, hard work, they don't want to fight. They're not really even that interested in religious battles or political battles.

They just want to get married and have kids. And if we can help them, then I think Afghanistan could have a decent future.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Phil Grabsky, the filmmaker of "The Boy Mir. And you can find a lot more coverage of the ten-year anniversary of the Afghanistan war on the website. The feature is called Ten Years, Ten Perspectives. And we ask soldiers, contractors, and Afghan civilians how the war has changed their lives. You can read their stories at cnn.com/ireports.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN with me, Becky Anderson. Coming up next, the moment a peace activist from Liberia learned that she was a Nobel Laureate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEYMAH GBOWEE, NOBEL PEACE PRIZE LAUREATE (via telephone): When you have good news, you want to share. I sat on a five-hour flight with someone I didn't talk to all night, and I turned to him and said, "Sir, I just won the Nobel Prize."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: The rest of her story after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: You're back with CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. It's just after half past nine in London, this is the world's news leader. Let's get you a check of the headlines this hour.

And today marks the tenth anniversary of the US-led war in Afghanistan. It began with an air campaign and the goal of ousting the Taliban and dismantling the al Qaeda terror network. Britain's Stop the War coalition says it's expecting a huge turnout tomorrow at a protest against the war.

Well, a military commander loyal to Libya's new government says the battle for Sirte will be difficult but must be done. Troops launched an offensive from the city's western side early on Friday. Forces loyal to former leader Moammar Gadhafi are said to be counterattacking from the rooftops.

Syrian activist groups report at least nine more deaths in the government's crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. Fresh rallies broke out across the country following Friday prayers.

And Spain and Italy are both being hit with a credit rating downgrade by Fitch. The ratings agency says the euro zone's debt crisis has intensified and doubts the countries have the ability to fix their huge deficits.

Well, three women from Africa and the Arab world will share the Nobel Peace Prize this year for their work promoting democracy and gender equality in their countries.

One of the women is well-known, the president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. But the other two names, well, they are less familiar. Leymah Gbowee is a peace activist also from Liberia, and Tawakkul Karman works for democracy in Yemen.

In announcing the prize today, the chairman of the Nobel committee stressed the importance of the work that the women do.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THORBJORN JAGLAND, CHAIRMAN, NORWEIGIAN NOBEL COMMITTEE: We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Well, all three women spoke to CNN about their awards today, beginning with President Sirleaf.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF, NOBEL PEACE PRIZE LAUREATE (via telephone): I tell you, I -- I received this through my special assistant, who was called from Norway to alert me that I was in the nomination.

And let me just say that I'm accepting this on behalf of the Liberia people. The credit goes to them. For the past eight years, we have had peace, and each and every one of them has contributed to that peace.

GBOWEE (via telephone): The key message is for me that women's needs, concerns, participation in peace and security process is paramount to any society emerging or inspiring to emerge out of conflict. There is no way that we can do peace without women.

TAWAKKUL KARMAN, NOBEL PEACE PRIZE LAUREATE (via telephone): I was very, very, very happy because -- not because of me, because the revolution, because the peace, people and youth revolution in Yemen.

This is victory for Yemeni youth, for Yemeni peaceful revolution, for all our dreams that we will create, our country by this, by -- for it to be modern and democracy and civilian country.

This victory for youth, for women in Yemen, in Arab country, it's now -- this victory for all -- for youth in Libya, in Egypt, in Syria, for all people thinking and dreaming for freedom and dignity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: And you always wonder how those who win the prize learn the news, don't you? Well, one of the winners, Leymah Gbowee, told us earlier just how that happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GBOWEE (via telephone): I got off a red-eye from San Francisco this morning and put on my phone. I was anxious to put on my phone because my sister had surgery yesterday, and up until late night, she was still in intensive care and I had no word from her, so I was worried sick.

I turned on my phone, hoping that my other sister had gotten word from here, and then I see all these text messages. "Yippee!" "Congrats!" "Congrats!" And I'm a little bit confused.

Then I see one from my friend, Abby Disney (ph), and she says, "Nobel, Nobel, Nobel! Congratulations my dear, I told you you would get it."

And -- I just broke down and started crying. But the strange thing is, when you have good news you want to share. I sat on a five-hour flight with someone I didn't talk to all night, and I turned to him and said, "Sir, I just won the Nobel Prize."

(LAUGHTER)

GBOWEE: And he was like, "Really?" Because I really didn't look like a Nobel Prize at 6:50 this morning coming from a long flight.

And a guy in front of us apparently overheard the conversation, went to "New York Times," pulled out my picture, turned and looked at me, and said, "That's right."

And then this group of white men were hugging me and telling me "congrats."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: The new Nobel Peace Prize winners this year, 2011. Well, the prize winners will travel to Norway to collect their awards.

Last year's winner, has still not been able to collect his because he's behind bars in China. CNN's Eunice Yoon with this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

EUNICE YOON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A year ago, when Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo won the Nobel Peace Prize, Beijing was outraged, seeing the award as a celebration of a man who they deemed a criminal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is in isolation in the prison --

YOON: He was famously represented at the Nobel ceremony by an empty chair. In an 11th hour counteroffensive, a group of Chinese patriots launch their own version of the Nobel award, called the Confucius Peace Prize, named after China's greatest philosopher. The award was seen as a joke, the winner, a Taiwanese politician, never accepted it.

YOON (on camera): But that hasn't dissuaded the Chinese from trying again this year. In fact, some people here are so eager to challenge the Nobel Peace Prize, that there have been three competing movements to establish a Chinese award.

YOON (voice-over): The original patriots, after nominating peace- loving candidates, like Vladimir Putin, were shoved aside in favor of a second government-backed group, creatively calling their prize "The Confucius Prize for World Peace."

And now, Liu Haofeng, one of the organizers of the original Confucius Prize has started yet a third effort, which he calls "The Harmony Prize."

LIU HAOFENG, ACADEMY OF WORLD HARMONY (through translator): There are different opinions among us that cannot be compromised or settled, so we just split up.

YOON: So much for harmony. Meanwhile, the real Nobel Peace Prize winner, Liu Xiaobo, remains in prison, serving an 11-year sentence. His wife is under house arrest in Beijing.

YOON (on camera): And life for activists and other government critics in China is the most repressed it's been in over a decade in the wake of the Arab Spring. Human rights campaigners say that as long as Liu is imprisoned, China's efforts to present itself as a promoter of peace will face skepticism.

YOON (voice-over): No matter how many prizes organizers here choose to give out.

LIU HAOFENG (through translator): The more the merrier.

YOON: Eunice Yoon, CNN, Beijing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, discontent spreads across the States with demonstrations popping up across the country. As images like this are broadcast across the world's news media, Iran points the finger at the US government. We're going to have details on that and the rest of your other news headlines, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: All right. I'm Becky Anderson in London, 43 minutes past 9:00 here. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. A look at the other stories that we are following for you this hour.

Hundreds of revolutionary fighters in Libya are storming Sirte, the hometown of ousted leader Moammar Gadhafi. Revolutionary field commanders say a number of fighters on both sides have been killed and wounded. The pro-Gadhafi forces control tall buildings in the city center and have been attacking from rooftops, we're told.

Well, the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, has called on Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to end the bloodshed in his country or to face an end to his regime.

Meanwhile, human rights groups say at least nine people have been killed in demonstrations across the country on Friday. Protesters ranted in support of a newly-formed opposition, the Syrian National Council.

More worries of Europe's debt crisis after Fitch downgraded its credit rating for Italy and Spain. On top of that, Fitch's outlook for both countries is negative. That means they could be lowered once again.

Pictures have emerged of scuffles between police and protesters earlier this week in New York's financial district. Today marks three weeks of the Occupy Wall Street protest.

The demonstrations have now spread to other cities across the States, drawing international attention to American discontent. And in Iran, state-run media have laid heavy blame on the US government. Jonathan Mann reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN MANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Occupy Wall Street. Opportunity for Iran. Iranian news outlets are using the current protests to level harsh criticism at the US. State-run Press TV reports mainstream media in America are ignoring the protests and that police in New York are beating Wall Street protesters.

KAVEH TAGHAVI, PRESS TV HOST: More and more states seeing fed-up Americans denouncing institutions and system of American governance and corporate greed. Is the United States of America as united as its name suggests?

MANN: Press TV says many of the protesters with the Occupy Wall Street movement say they were inspired by the recent Tahrir Square protests in Cairo. Press TV's guest commentators say the current protests in the US could soon go the way of political uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya.

EDWARD SPANNAUS, EDITOR, EXECUTIVE INTELLIGENCE REVIEW: It's a revolutionary period, no question about it. Whether the movement is revolutionary remains to be seen in what direction it takes, but we are in a revolutionary period.

MANN: Back in August, Iran's state-run media also chastised British officials for their handling of riots in London.

And there's been, perhaps understandably, no mention in Iran's Wall Street coverage of the country's own post-election violence in 2009, when dozens if not hundreds of anti-government protesters were killed in clashes with police.

Jonathan Mann, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, Haiti's new prime minister says that he wants the country to come together as he helps it rebuild. Garry Conille was sworn in this week. He was the third person nominated by president Michel Martelly. The first two were rejected by senators. The new prime minister said he wants to build consensus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARRY CONILLE, PRIME MINISTER OF HAITI: As always in countries like ours, there's a lot of prejudice, and that we will quickly dissipate, and I think Haitians will learn very quickly that I'm here to defend their interests and to make sure that their lives can improve.

But I'm also going to be open to partnerships. This is a country where 80, 85 percent of our investment budget is coming from the international community. So, strong and responsible partnerships are going to be essential to achieving what we want to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Jurors in the Conrad Murray trial have been hearing a recording of police questioning Michael Jackson's doctor. In prior testimony, Dr. Murray told investigators that he gave Jackson a series of drugs.

Well, it's day nine of Murray's involuntary manslaughter trial. Jurors will determine if he is responsible for Jackson's fatal overdose. Here's some of what they heard a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT SMITH, DETECTIVE, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT: How long have you been doctor for Mr. Jackson?

CONRAD MURRAY, DEFENDANT: At first, I tended to him in 2006.

SMITH: And it was continuous, 2006 on?

MURRAY: No -- well, no.

SMITH: Or on and off?

MURRAY: Off and on. Intermittent.

SMITH: OK. Do you know if he was under the care of any other doctors?

MURRAY: He never disclosed that to me, but because he moved around so much, I would assume that he was.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Disappointment for Jackson fans. A Jackson family source tells CNN the plans to carry a Michael Forever tribute concert live on Facebook have been canceled.

Saturday's concert will be held in Cardiff in Wales. It was originally going to be streamed on the social networking site for a small fee, but the source says labels that own the rights to Michael Jackson songs have denied broadcast rights.

There's some of your headlines today. In the world of sport, what's going on there? Well, it's the latest in the Euro 2012 Qualifiers, and a look at the weekend's World Cup matches.

Plus, the ambitious athlete on the mission to the moon. How this long-distance runner plans to make sporting history in space.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: A very warm welcome back to CONNECT THE WORLD. The fight for a place in the Euro 2012 Championships intensify tonight as the second- last round of qualifying games kicked off around the continent.

Group B contestants Russia and Slovakia going head-to-head a short time ago. One of the many important clashes to be held this evening, 20 matches were played, giving teams a chance to secure their ticket to Poland and Ukraine next year, of course. Pedro Pinto joins me here.

I think he's been winding me up, because he's been telling me the score of the England match, and I simply can't believe it.

PEDRO PINTO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: I'm not! That's --

ANDERSON: Don't lie to the viewers.

PINTO: I'm not going to lie.

ANDERSON: You're going to lie to me, don't lie to the viewers.

(CROSSTALK)

PINTO: I won't lie --

ANDERSON: Come on, tell us what's new.

PINTO: -- either to you or the viewers. I'll get to that Slovakia- Russia game in just a minute. It does look like England, they're going to qualify for Euro 2012 because all they needed in the match against Montenegro away in Podgorica was a draw. They were two-nil up.

We were talking a while ago before your show started, and you said, "Oh, we're well on our way." And then, Montenegro came back and it's two- two. I can confirm that. They just scored an equalizer.

It's been a horrible couple of days for Wayne Rooney. On Friday, he found out his dad was detained by police as part of an investigation into match fixing, and tonight, he was sent off for kicking at a player needlessly.

So, right now, it's two-all. If England lose, they won't be able to qualify, but a draw will still do the trick.

A couple of other notes from tonight, 20 matches taking place. In Group B, Russia took a huge step towards Euro 2012 by beating Slovakia one- nil away, with a goal from Alan Dzagoev.

And finally, another big, big game. Greece beat Croatia in their group, and they only need a point from their final game to qualify. The winners in Euro 2004 with a big, big win. Croatia would have qualified if they would have won in Piaraeus today. Greece won, they went up to first place in the group.

ANDERSON: And the Greeks needed a result at the moment, it's a horrible time for them as far as the economy is concerned.

PINTO: It is. It is.

ANDERSON: So good for Greece. All right, big weekend ahead for the rugby fans out there, rugby World Cup Quarterfinals, am I right in saying that?

PINTO: You're absolutely right. You know your sport, don't pretend like you don't.

There's four quarterfinals, obviously, taking place this weekend, two of them on Saturday. And the one a lot of people are looking forward to on Saturday is the England versus France. These two teams, such intense rivals in the six nations tournament.

And a good story, here. And I think we can show the pictures, as well, because we're having a look at the French team training now.

What's been going on is that the atmosphere in the French camp is horrible, if you believe reports in the French media. The players and the manager aren't getting on, the media's criticizing the team.

So, what's happened is Lievremont, the coach of the national team, has been going -- growing a mustache as part of a bet.

So, the media, to kind of bury the hatchet with the coach, they all showed up to a press conference on Friday with stuck-on mustaches, as well, to kind of say, look, we've been criticizing you, but we're on your side.

There, you see. That -- and you know that mustache isn't real on that blonde girl, OK?

(LAUGHTER)

PINTO: Because it's not blonde. That's the only reason why.

ANDERSON: Of course.

PINTO: But anyway -- so, now the atmosphere has improved and they still feel, even with this bad atmosphere in the camp, that they can beat England. Ireland take on Wales --

ANDERSON: Good matches.

PINTO: -- in the Celtic rivalry on Saturday, as well.

ANDERSON: Good stuff. All right, good -- good weekend ahead for the --

PINTO: Yes. Intense.

ANDERSON: -- rugby fans out there, and some good soccer, as well. All right, thank you for that.

PINTO: Thank you.

ANDERSON: Pedro Pinto in the house, of course, at the bottom of the next hour. He's going to have highlights from some of tonight's European qualifiers, as well as a look at how rugby is bringing the island of Ireland together, he tells me.

Well, while players will have their eyes on the prize this weekend, one man has his sights on a very different sporting goal. Jonathon Prince ran from Los Angeles to New Orleans for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Now, he's taking long-distance running to a whole new level, let me tell you, with an ambition to become the first man to run a mile on the moon. Jason Carroll reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Skeptics said it couldn't be done.

NEIL ARMSTRONG, ASTRONAUT: That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

CARROLL: But not only did astronauts take that giant leap, they took a history-making golf swing.

ALAN SHEPARD, ASTRONAUT: I'm going to try it old sand trap style, here.

CARROLL: That was more than 40 years ago. Now, one Earth-bound athlete is striving toward making another lunar milestone.

JONATHON PRINCE, DISTANCE RUNNER: It feels like a dream, but it feels like living the dream.

CARROLL: Jonathon Prince's dream? Run a mile on the moon.

PRINCE: You can't help but stargaze at night. And I just wondered about the possibility of running the first mile on the moon.

CARROLL: Prince has finished ambitious runs in the past. In 2005, he ran from Los Angeles to New Orleans, raising more than $100,000 for victims of Hurricane Katrina. His new goal? Raise awareness in space travel while inspiring students to excel in science.

PRINCE: It's the demonstration for the current generations and for generations not yet born. To go beyond.

CARROLL: The question is, how to get there?

NASA LAUNCH ANNOUNCER: The final liftoff of Atlantis.

CARROLL: NASA retired its space shuttle program this year, so Prince will go the private route, flying onboard a rocket being developed by Space Exploration Technologies, SpaceX for short.

PRINCE: Private companies are now able to build rockets, fund it on their own, and sell trips.

CARROLL: But first for Prince, there's training.

PRINCE: Typically, I reach around 100 to 120 miles a week.

CARROLL (on camera): You have me beat by probably 120 miles.

(LAUGHTER)

CARROLL (voice-over): And that's just the beginning.

PRINCE: The gravity pressures, the buoyancy, everything. I have to reprogram everything I thought I knew about running.

CARROLL: Over the next few years, he'll learn about space travel at a private facility called NASTAR, the National Aerospace Training and Research Center in Pennsylvania.

BRIENNA HENWOOD, NASTAR: We are currently training the generation of folks that are not the astronauts. Jonathon is at the forefront of leading this new industry.

CARROLL: Prince has received funding he needs from donors and sponsors and hopes to blast off by 2016. Until then, the 31-year-old continues training.

CARROLL (on camera): I know you must have heard from the people who say that's a nice thing to say, nice goal that you've got there, but there's no possible way you're going to be able to do it.

PRINCE: Absolutely. And you know, skepticism is just -- it's just part of human nature. But at the same time, Kennedy had the dream to go to Apollo -- go to the moon with Apollo missions, so it's important to put massive action behind your dream.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Good man, Jonathon Prince with Jason Carroll for you.

The 1986 American football Super Bowl champions, the Chicago Bears, have been welcomed to the White House for what is a belated -- very belated -- reception with the American president, your Parting Shots tonight.

According to tradition, the team would've met the former president, Ronald Reagan, after defeating the New England Patriots more than 25 years ago. But the White House was forced to cancel that visit when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded.

Well now, over a quarter of a century later, Bears fans and Barack Obama himself, of course, making up for the team. Coaches and players were invited to come to the White House to be honored and to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their victory. He looks delighted, doesn't he?

I'm Becky Anderson, thanks for watching. The world news headlines and "BackStory" will follow this short break. You're watching CNN, don't go away.

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