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CONNECT THE WORLD

Violence in Syria; Greek Bond Swaps Explained; Bigger Picture for Europe

Aired March 8, 2012 - 16:00   ET

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


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Tonight on "Connect The World," abandoning the Syrian regime.

(PLAYING CLIP)

(UNKNOWN MALE) (In Arabic)

(TRANSLATOR): I do not want to end my life servicing the crimes of this regime.

(END CLIP)

ANDERSON: In the highest level defection since the uprising began, the country's deputy oil minister says he is joining the revolution.

(ANNOUNCER): Live from CNN London, this is "Connect The World," with Becky Anderson.

ANDERSON: Tonight is this a sign the Syrian regime's inner core is cracking? All the U.K. Ambassadors to Syria certainly think so.

Also tonight on track to avoiding a messy default, Greece does what it takes to get its hands on another multi-billion dollar bail out.

And he lost his wife and his town in the devastating tsunami. Now a year on a local mayor is trying to rebuild his life brick by brick.

First up this hour, cracks are starting to appear in the Syrian regime as a senior official defects urging his colleagues to abandon what he calls the "sinking ship." Deputy Oil Minister, Abdo Hussameldin, is the highest ranking official to resign since the uprising began.

Now in a video message posted on YOUTUBE he said he can no longer serve a quote, "criminal regime that kills innocent people." Opposition activists say at least 62 people across Syria were added to the death toll today. These amateur pictures are said to show the devastation Homs after a week long -- weeks long, in fact, military assault.

U.N. Humanitarian Chief, Valerie Amos, briefly visited the hardest hit neighborhood yesterday accompanied by aid workers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMOS: The devastation there is significant. The -- that part of Homs is completely destroyed. And I'm concerned to know what has happened to the people who lived in that part of the city.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: All right. Valerie Amos there. All this coming as we are seeing possible new evidence of torture in government run hospitals in Homs. CNN's Arwa Damon joins us from Beirut with more on that story, and indeed more on today's high level defection.

Let's deal with that first Abdo Hussameldin posting our -- his announcement on YOUTUBE earlier today. Did he explain why he was defecting?

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In broad brush strokes he says that he can no longer be a part of this regime, as you were mentioning there that continues to brutally massacre its own people. He accuses the (inaudible) government of pushing the country to the edge of an abyss. He is currently in hiding. And one has to recognize just how difficult and dangerous it is for people to defect.

Others who have defected in the past have described or said that the government effectively has a ban on all officials traveling outside of the country without specific permission. This particular defection -- the details unclear just yet. But part we are hearing of an elaborate plot that was quite some time in the making.

And as to whether or not it could signal a greater fracturing of the Syrian government, well, we're going to have to wait and see. Activists most certainly are hoping that it is going to push other people to defect as well. Because up until now this is by and large a government that has continued to maintain a fairly strong grip on power, Becky.

ANDERSON: All right. Well this all of course on a (inaudible) but fresh images out of Homs only go to underscore the hell people are living in there.

DAMON: Yes. And those images posted to YOUTUBE said to have been filmed in the military hospital in Homs alleging to show detainees chained to their beds groaning in pain. Activists have long accused the Syrian government of torturing people in need of medical care. And there's also one particular video that shows a man in a morgue, and the voice on that is narrating saying that the man arrived with a gunshot wound to the ankle to the military hospital in Homs and was then tortured to death.

Activists have continued to describe horrific scenes of torture, and we do continue to see YOUTUBE videos emerging showing beatings, and often times you also see those videos showing lifeless corpses returned to their families bearing very difficult to watch signs of torture as well, Becky. And all of this are -- is one of the many reasons why activists are saying that this is really a government that just quite simply has to go.

And those that are carrying out these attacks most certainly have to be held accountable.

ANDERSON: Arwa Damon for you tonight out of Beirut our -- of course you will be well aware have spent the last year in and out of Syria. Presently you are obviously not able to report from there. Arwa, thank you for that. Arwa Damon in Beirut for you.

Calls to arm the Syrian rebels are picking up more and more converts around the world. But at least one influential figure says that is a very dangerous idea. Interesting. Kofi Annan, the new U.N. Arab League Envoy to Syria says, and I quote, "Further militarization of the crisis would only make things worse."

Now he heads to Damascus on Saturday to encourage what he calls a diplomatic resolution.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KOFI ANNAN, U.N. ARAB LEAGUE ENVOY TO SYRIA: People throughout the region and the world are deeply troubled by what is taking place. The level of violence is excessive and unacceptable by any standards. This cannot continue. The violence and the killing must stop, and stop immediately. There is an urgent need for us to change course.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Well, some observers suggest that Annan should go to Russia and to China as well. Now those countries have twice vetoed U.N. Security Council resolutions on Syria. Russia said they amounted to regime change. They say that's why they vetoed them. It also argued that NATO had overstepped the U.N. mandate on Libya setting a bad precedent there.

Well, in fact now Russia suggests Libya's new rulers are, and I quote, "Exporting terrorism to Syria."

(VIDEO CLIP)

(TRANSLATOR): We have received information that in Libya with the support of the authorities there is a special training center for the so- called "Syrian revolutionaries." The cadets are being sent to Syria to attack the legal government. This is completely unacceptable according to all legal basis.

This activity is undermining stability in the Middle East. Bearing in mind that Al Qaieda also operates in Syria, the question arises whether exporting the revolution is turning into the export of terrorism.

(END CLIP)

ANDERSON: While serious accusations there (inaudible). Jomana Karadesheh joins us now from Tripoli. What's the Libyan government's response, Jomana?

JOMANA KARADESHEH: Well, Becky, to give you a bit of background, the Libyan government and the Libyan people have been pretty vocal in their support for the Syrian opposition saying that they know what the Syrian people are going through, because they compare it to what they went through themselves.

But when it comes to military support for the Syrian opposition like these Russian allegations of a training camp here in Libya for Syrian fighters, officials are denying this. We heard this today from the Libyan Prime Minister, Abdurrahim El-Keib, during his visit to the United States. Here's what he had to say.

(PLAYING CLIP)

EL-KEIB: As far as training camps, unless there's something that is done without government permission, which I doubt, I'm not aware of any.

(END CLIP)

KARADESHEH: But Becky, it is worth noting that there is a lot that goes on here that the government is not aware of. Hundreds of militias operate in this country pretty much freely without government control. Now there have been reports also, Becky, over recent months of Libyan fighters making their way into Syria to fight side by side by the free Syrian army. But these are unconfirmed reports.

Back in December a top Libyan rebel commander did say that he made a visit to Syria. He met with members of the free Syrian army to see how they could help them in their fight against the Assad regime. And he said that they were not really in need of fighters. What they needed was equipment and arming. But on the official level here, Becky, it does seem that it is more diplomatic and humanitarian support.

Just this week the Libyan government has pledged $100 million in humanitarian aid to the Syrian opposition.

ANDERSON: Jomana Karadesheh, thank you for that.

Out of Tripoli tonight, our voice on the ground there. Jomana, thank you. Now back to Syria then.

My next guest says support for Bashar Al Assad is fading fast. Predicting he has just months left in power if not just weeks. I spoke earlier with Simon Collis, the British Ambassador to Syria who is probably here in the U.K. The British have closed down their consulate there. Asking him first about the significance of today's high level defection of the deputy oil minister. This is what he said.

(PLAYING CLIP)

SIMON COLLIS, BRITISH AMB. TO SYRIA: The resignation of one individual on that -- on their own, even somebody of ministerial rank is obviously only going to be of limited significance. I think what it does is show a trend. And I think there are many others likely to be within government, or -- or in the business community around the government who will have concluded like this -- this man that there is no future for the country while the regime is in place.

ANDERSON: You said in the past couple of weeks that you see the Syrian regime being toppled this year -- possibly within weeks. What evidence do you have of that?

COLLIS: This is a regime that has become quite brittle, quite fragile. Its support has eroded from the inside. I personally doubt that it will -- that he'll still be there beyond the end of this year. But you can't say it's impossible.

ANDERSON: If he goes, and when he goes, who or what takes its place? Aren't you concerned given the chaos that is now Libya? And lets remember that was an organized opposition where the west was able to sort of coalesce around. What happens next in Syria, cause that doesn't exist there, does it?

COLLIS: If violence stops, if there is an end to violence which is the first thing that the Arab League plan talks about -- withdrawal of the regime's military forces, and end to the killing machine. Then it's possible to create the space for peaceful political activity. There needs to be a release of detainees. Journalists and others need to be able to come in properly.

And you can get some kind of normal political process going which can lead to a -- a transition. So that's the policy goal. I think it is achievable, but it won't be easy.

ANDERSON: How much more death and destruction would you need to see by the Assad regime before you as a British ambassador in Syria at home of course in the moment, informed your prime minister that you believed a military option was now necessary.

COLLIS: A military option is not the right tool for the job. It's not an available tool. But it's also not the right tool...

ANDERSON: Never ever?

COLLIS: ... for -- for the job. I'm not saying never. But what I'm saying about the situation now, and the outlook that we can see, the way to solve this crisis is through intensified efforts to isolate the regime politically and economically. To support the opposition. To do some urgent work to get humanitarian assistance to where it's needed, and to do work on -- to increase the work that we are supporting on accountability so that the leaders of this country, and the officers who are obeying their orders realize that they will be held to account one day for actions which they are committing now.

ANDERSON: Do Russia, and to a lesser extent China, have blood on their hands?

COLLIS: I think they must answer for their actions. And they must -- they must justify their actions where they can. We don't think that supplying weapons to this regime is a -- a right or defensible course of action. We don't think that defending this regime from being held to account for its actions is helpful. And we don't think that it helps find a political solution to the crisis, which is the key -- the key issue.

ANDERSON: The British ambassador to Syria, and Syrians. As you know, living in Homs have been under attack by their own government for weeks. The city itself, one of the most dangerous places that we have sent 18 journalists yet. We've done that so the victims can be given a voice.

Join us for a CNN special presentation, "72 Hours Under Fire." Oh, it's going to bring us an unfiltered account of life and death in the besieged city. That is Friday night, 8:00 in London just before this show. Nine in Berlin, and midnight in Abu Dhabi.

You're watching "Connect The World," live from (inaudible). Iran ready to reengage with the international community over its nuclear program. That's the question. See what the country's ambassador to the IAEA says. Plus Prince Harry of Britain is wrapping up his Diamond Jubilee visit to the Caribbean while the queen starts her own tour back home.

And it's the match that's rewritten champions league history. No. We're not talking about (inaudible). We're going to find out why this (inaudible) team is making front page news. That after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Welcome back. You're with "Connect The World," here on CNN. In Nigeria one British and one Italian national held hostage since last May were killed by their captors earlier today. British Prime Minister, David Cameron, says they died before a joint British-Nigerian rescue operation could reach them.

(PLAYING CLIP)

CAMERON: Preparations were made to mount an operation to attempt to rescue Chris and Franco (ph). Together with the Nigerian government today I authorized it to go ahead with U.K. Support.

It is with great regret I have to say that both Chris and Franco have lost their lives. We are still awaiting confirmation of the details. But the early indications are clear that both men were murdered by their captors before they could be rescued.

ANDERSON: Nigerian television reports and (inaudible). President (inaudible) announced the arrest of the kidnappers a short time later. But now some of the other stories that are connecting our world tonight. Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency says that Iran is now, and I quote, "Ready to reengage with the organization."

The declaration comes after inspectors complained about being denied access to suspected nuclear sites in Iran last month. The ambassador insists that Iran is not developing a nuclear weapon, and says Iran has been cooperative in dealing with the Atomic Energy Agency.

(PLAYING CLIP)

SOLTANIEH: And in 2005 the (inaudible) two times access. And I was accompanied by the inspectors. And therefor no...

(CROSSTALK)

(UNKNOWN MALE): ... but just in February...

SOLTANIEH: Now, how come all of the sudden since 2005 or from the last almost 12 years now for the last days does something going on? That is what I said...

(CROSSTALK)

(UNKNOWN MALE): It was just in February -- it was just in February the Iranians prevented IAEA inspectors from visiting the site. They turned them away.

SOLTANIEH: That is -- I already said. It was not an agenda of the word (ph).

(END CLIP)

ANDERSON: An Australian businessman has pleaded guilty to strapping a fake bomb around a school girl's neck in order to extort a ransom. Paul Peters attached a black box to 18 year old Madeline Polvers (ph) neck, and told her it was a bomb. He fled to the U.S. after last year's extortion attempt in Sydney in Australia.

Now Peters was arrested soon after in the state of Kentucky.

Britain's Prince Harry is wrapping up his Caribbean tour to (inaudible) Queen Elizabeth II's diamond Jubilee. The queen also kicking off her own diamond jubilee tour in England with the help of Prince William's wife. Well, our royal correspondent, Mr. Max Foster, is traveling with Prince Harry, and he joins me now from Montego Bay in Jamaica.

Its been a -- a three leg affair this. A successful trip so far as Harry's handlers I'm sure are concerned. Max how do -- or does the palace measure that success for a tour like this?

FOSTER: Well, I think you just measure it on whether the queen is happy. He's here representing the queen, and apparently she's been in touch and says she's thrilled. And Prince Charles apparently has been laughing at the pictures. Particularly the ones we showed, Becky. You've seen (inaudible) they are on. But Prince Harry wrapping things up with a walk about in (inaudible). And just expressed the sort of success of this I guess.

He was meant to walk all around the town, but actually only got one block down. And absolutely mobbed by fans who were trying to get close to him, and then had to be called off. So he headed off to a beach party instead. And island out here. It was a private beach party. That was last night. I (inaudible) caught up with him there, had a conversation with him. And he was clearly pleased with how things have gone.

So he's been getting the message clearly that its been going really well. And we learned that every day he's been getting advice from a -- a secret aid. Well, it was secret until we found out it was Prince William texting Harry every day, giving him advice on how to balance the formality with the informality that we know Prince Harry was trying to get across as well as representing the queen.

The queen herself out with Harry's sister-in-law, Katherine, in less how I should say starting a (inaudible). So the queen is doing that. And her siblings and grandchildren are doing the international tour. And again remarkable crowds. One (inaudible) on a royal visit. (Inaudible) helped by the attendants of Kate. But a good start to the U.K. Tour, all building up, of course, Becky, to this big weekend at the beginning of June where there will be the -- the main celebrations for the diamond jubilee.

And we'll be back (inaudible) of course.

ANDERSON: That's right. Max, thank you there. Sixty years in (inaudible) the throne of course.

Coming up on "Connect The World," both (inaudible) the city, and matches the (inaudible) league matches. So I (inaudible) Alec Thomas to find out how both those teams (inaudible) tonight. It appears Greece shall (inaudible) much talked about hair cut and private (inaudible) quarters (inaudible). Well, that means that Greece companies, businesses, banks, and the rest of Europe after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: You're watching "Connect The World," live from London. Welcome back. If you're just joining us, this is the show where you're going to get your (inaudible) headlines at this point. I'm Becky Anderson.

Manchester City had no trouble seeing off the Portuguese leaders (inaudible) in the Europa League Round of 32. But another Portuguese team has proven to be a lot more difficult challenge. Don Riddell joining us now.

It's not a devastating loss for city this, but it is certainly some cause for concern.

DON RIDDELL: Yes. Given that Manchester City are the top team in the premier league. They're having a fantastic season in England. And of course they were hoping to be competing in the Champion's League at this stage. But they're having to slum it in the Europa league. And they lost today to sporting Lisbon by (inaudible). And you'll note a disaster because it was only a (inaudible), but really not the kind of result they wanted to get.

And they did make a lot of changes from the weekend to be fair. But still, not a great result from them. Zendow (ph) scored the goal for the Portuguese, and they could have had more than that one.

Meanwhile, Manchester United are also slumming it in the Europa League right now. This is not where they wanted to be. They're at home to athletic Bill (inaudible). Just a few minutes to go at old (inaudible), and they are losing -- sorry. I take that back. It's -- they're drawing with the Spaniards.

ANDERSON: You're teasing them.

RIDDELL: One -- one all. They really scored in the first half. But at the moment they're really on the back (inaudible). (Inaudible) are all over them. And you know, United's defense in the last couple of games really has started to look pretty sloppy. And they'll need to sort that out if they're going to go any further in this competition. And if they're going to catch City in the Premier League.

ANDERSON: (Inaudible) at best let's say. Both Manchester clubs of course were not (inaudible) Champion's League months ago. Amazingly though a team from the Cypress has reached the final eight. This is a fantastic story.

RIDDELL: It is. It's a brilliant story. They've been playing in the Champion's League since June. All the top teams go into it in October. That' when they kick off. But (inaudible) had to qualify in June, and they've made it all the way to the quarter finals. They beat Leon on penalties last night.

And I have to look down at some of my notes here, because these numbers just are -- they are quite simply incredible. This is a team whose average attendance is less than 10,000. Their record signing cost just over $1 million. They said the most money they spent in the last three years was a total of $1.2 million Euros for three players in one (inaudible).

And here they are. They're going into the draw for the quarter finals. They could get (inaudible). They could get (inaudible).

(CROSSTALK)

ANDERSON: (Inaudible) spends on a night out in Manchester.

RIDDELL: Absolutely right. You know, it's...

(CROSSTALK)

ANDERSON: ... you think?

RIDDELL: Well, yes. I mean, for them and for Cypress getting to the last round was a record. I mean, they are in completely uncharted territory at this point. You would have to say if they run into the likes of Barcelona, it's all over given that Barcelona were just scoring for fun last night.

But you never know. They fancy themselves at home. They've won five of their seven games at home in Europe this season. Who knows?

ANDERSON: If you're watching in Cypress tell us how you feel tonight. I'm a great fan of (inaudible). I'm going to share (inaudible) here. I've spent a lot of time in pubs when I was a kid. And I absolutely love the place. Good on your guys. Let us know how you feel.

Dom is on of course in an hour with World Sports. I'm still here for the next half hour with "Connect The World" (inaudible). Still to come, a rare display of art in a war zone. (Inaudible) woman taking a dangerous risk to express herself in Afghanistan.

And (inaudible) bring up his kids alone. The Japanese mayor who lost more than just his town to the country's devastating tsunami. Then we hear how he is (inaudible) one year on.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: In London, welcome back. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. Time to check the world news headlines for you.

Syria's deputy oil minister says he can no longer serve what he called a criminal regime that kills innocent people. In a video posted on YouTube today, he announced his defection, urging colleagues to also abandon the Syrian ship.

Britain's prime minister says an Italian and a British hostage were killed by their captors in Nigeria during an attempt to free them. The Nigerian government says the captors have been arrested.

Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency says the country is ready to reengage in talks about its nuclear program. He said Iran would never give up its nuclear activities, but insisted they were not pursuing a nuclear bomb.

Reports indicate three quarters of private Greek bondholders have agreed to take big losses on their investments. The so-called haircuts will allow Greece to write off billions of dollars in debt. International lenders are requiring it before they approve more bailout money.

Well, those bond swaps, thresholds, haircuts. How does this key component of the Greek bailout really work and what does it all mean? Well, Jim Boulden came into the studio to lay it out for me just a little earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM BOULDEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The idea is they should get something instead of getting nothing. So, Greece has said, OK, let's have a negotiation. Basically, first of all, let's say this is the debt. More than 50 percent, about 53.5 percent of that debt will be thrown away. You can throw it into the bin.

What's left I then give to Greece and Greece gives me new debt. This new debt is for a longer period and a lower yield. The goal is, of course, so that Greece will pay, effectively, maybe $100 billion less in debt.

ANDERSON: All right. So, you're looking at $100 million less in debt, what? Over a -- what sort of period of time?

BOULDEN: A couple decades, yes.

ANDERSON: How much does this save the country?

BOULDEN: Well, the hope is that Greece could save something like 3 billion euros a year in debt repayments, so we have a check here for 3 billion euros. This money can be used to pay off the loans they're getting from the IMF, the ECB, and that money can be used, also of course, to help Greece rebuild its economy.

ANDERSON: Assuming that this works, Greece will still be working these, of course.

BOULDEN: Yes.

ANDERSON: These are euros.

BOULDEN: Indeed. And --

ANDERSON: That's a good question, though. Will they be working in euros going forward?

BOULDEN: I think they will be. I think there's no -- there's no legal way they can leave the euro anyway. But the hope is that when this deal is done in the next 24 hours or so, and then they start renegotiating for the new debt, then they get the second loan.

So, they get money from the IMF, they get money from the European Central Bank, they get money from the eurozone partners.

That money, that huge money, $160, $170 billion in tranches then goes to help Greece actually pay its bills.

ANDERSON: Brilliant.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: You get an idea of the impact that this will have for Greece and why it's so important. But what's the bigger picture for Europe as it struggles forward? We'll, I'm going to discuss that with Stephen Pope, he's managing partner of the Spotlight Ideas. Probably forgot more about this European debt crisis than I will never know, and I did business journalism for more than a decade.

It's one of these stories that you just -- it's difficult to get your head around it. Jim explaining it really well, there. Have we crossed the T's and dotted the I's on Greece now?

STEPHEN POPE, MANAGING PARTNER, SPOTLIGHT IDEAS: It's largely yes, because we've got sufficient numbers of people signing up for the PSI agreement, and it looks as though we will not have to activate the Collective Action Clauses, so there's no CDS trigger going through there.

What I think is going to be the issue, though, is the private sector investors take this huge hit. They're around 73 percent net to write-down on their asset value. They get rolled over into new 30-year bonds, which will become illiquid.

But the ECB are sitting there happily taking their full repayment, because they said, well, we were ahead of the game in assisting Greece in terms of its monetary transmission.

ANDERSON: All right. So, what you're suggesting to me, and this isn't a fair playing field, effectively, at this point. What, though, does it mean for Europe going forward? Because to a certain extent, my sense is we can sort of box up Greece and put it there --

POPE: Right.

ANDERSON: -- but we're going this way. What does it mean for Europe?

POPE: Well, I think if we have the ECB taking a full repayment, what you're going to find out is that people who are now holding debt issued by Portugal are going to be similarly worried, because the ECB have a very large position in Portuguese debt.

Now, Portugal, if it has an issue, is a small element within the entire structure in the eurozone, but we go to its neighbor, Spain, and I think we can find that Prime Minister Rajoy has been a little bit of a disappointment so far.

For his first measure going back to Brussels is that they have to give Spain some accommodation on paring back its deficit levels. Then you have the Spanish banks, who are sitting there with assets in property and land still marked at 100 percent of the face value. It clearly is not worth 100 percent, so the write-downs are huge.

ANDERSON: What really matters, Stephen, is whether if I was running today a multibillion-dollar fund, would I be buying Europe again or not?

POPE: I think if you're there for the very short-term, quick trade, then you'll probably buy it tomorrow morning, hoping that you're going to see the opportunity to be out. But I think you would be looking to try and take quick profits on this, because once we have settled Greece, and if we find that the Greek banks are being subsidized by the government, and so shareholders --

ANDERSON: Which they will be, of course.

POPE: Of course. And bondholders and shareholders in the banks are getting a fully payout, whilst if you're in the sovereign name, which theoretically should be a better risk, but you're taking a deep cut, there's going to be a lot of resentment.

And of course, we haven't crossed the line, yet, in terms of are the Greeks going to allow foreign oversight on their national budget. That's another crucial issue to be tossed.

ANDERSON: What would you do if -- or what would you say if I came to you, then, tomorrow after I'd bought and sold Europe very quickly --

POPE: Yes.

ANDERSON: What would you say? Is Europe a decent bet going forward? I'm talking about, now, short, medium, and long-term. Because I'm told, and many people are beginning to wonder, whether this lost decade is now a reality for Europe.

POPE: Well, certainly I think there is going to be a continuation of this lost decade and struggling efforts to try and find growth on the Mediterranean periphery.

I think if you invest in the core nations, you're going to be in decent shape, but certainly, I think, going forward, you've got to be very sort of much prepared for a bumpy ride if you want to take the risk of buying Portugal and Spain. Because I think Portugal will be the next shoe to fall.

ANDERSON: Fascinating stuff, Stephen Pope, we thank you very much, indeed, for joining us. My goodness.

Up next, the mayor whose life was shattered by Japan's tsunami. His fight to make his town rise again. This is an incredibly inspiring story a year on. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: This Sunday will mark the first anniversary of a day that will haunt Japan forever. A day that saw at least 15,000 people killed and the lives of countless more transformed.

I want to give you a sense of what was going on in the town of Onagawa before the tsunami struck, before the devastating earthquake really annihilated things. Have a look at this.

This is a street view. Normal street for you. Take you down, take you around. All looks very normal. This is what happened after the tsunami. This is the same scene taking just a few months after that devastating, devastating destruction. This just really brings it home to you, doesn't it?

That was turned into a desolate landscape in a matter of minutes. But it's not just homes that were left in pieces. Kyung Lah has the story of one mayor who is working hard to both rebuild his town and his entire life.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Futoshi Toba is still getting used to driving his two kids to school. Not knowing what to really say to them.

His wife did all of this before she died in the tsunami, turning not only his world upside down, but Rikuzentaktata, the city he governs as mayor.

LAH (on camera): How challenging is it juggling being a father and the mayor of this place?

LAH (voice-over): "To be honest," he says, "I haven't done enough for my boys as a father. But I try to be there for them when I have time."

Time is in short supply for Mayor Toba. The work is overwhelming, getting funding for an eight-year reconstruction plan dealing with all the wounded neighbors and still clearing the rubble in a city gutted by the tsunami at a cost of $1.6 billion.

LAH (on camera): One out of ten people of Rikuzentaktata died in the tsunami. Then, more than 1,000 survivors left here, seeing little hope for the city's future. And you can see why. This is one of the main roads in Rikuzentaktata's downtown. A year later, there is still nothing here.

LAH (voice-over): "Rebuilding Rikuzentaktata will only work if survivors refuse to give up," says nurse Fumiko Suzuki. We met her last year right after the tsunami hit. She was in shock after losing everything, including her bedridden patients, a dozen who drowned as she made the gut-wrenching decision to save her own life and run to the roof.

LAH (on camera): Are you still in the process of healing?

LAH (voice-over): "One year isn't enough to heal," she says. "My job is to be with people and share their pain." It's why she won't leave her job or her town.

LAH (on camera): When you look at the city hall, do you ever get used to the sight?

LAH (voice-over): "I don't like to come down here," says Mayor Toba. He only came here for this interview. Toba tries to keep his mind on the future, because the past is too painful.

LAH (on camera): Do you miss your wife?

TOBA: Of course. Why not?

LAH (voice-over): "It's so hard for me," he says, "to live without the person who was supposed to always be with me. I feel her telling me to work hard for this town. Someday soon, my sons will look at this town and understand why their father wasn't around more."

The mayor, his sons, the survivors, still getting used to the new reality. Rebuilding their town by rebuilding their lives.

Kyung Lah, Rikuzentaktata, Japan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, this is all that is left of Ishinomaki after the quake struck. Tomorrow on CONNECT THE WORLD, Anna Coren heads back to the devastated city to see how people are coping there one year on.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN with me, Becky Anderson. When we come back, people all over the world are standing together to mark International Women's Day. Today coming up, meet one of them who's blazed a trail through a very male-dominated industry.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Well, they are among the world's most powerful. They are innovators, they are at the top of their game. And they're the focus of our new series, Leading Women, which is kicking off today on a great day, International Women's Day.

This week, we introduce you to a woman who embodies what it means to make it big in America. But not just in any industry, in one of the most male-dominated arenas in the world. Have a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She's likely the most unconventional top executive you'll ever meet.

WEILI DAI, CO-FOUNDER, MARVELL TECHNOLOGY: Very cost-effective.

SHUBERT: She calls herself a geek, and it's easy to see why.

DAI: People today are developing technology, really need to address any size type of smart devices.

SHUBERT: The former software engineer is the only woman to have co- founded a global high-tech company. It's one of the world's top chip makers, and is a beacon in California's renowned Silicon Valley.

Seventeen years after starting the company with her husband and her brother-in-law, and now $1 billion richer, she has a potent message for anyone who will listen.

DAI: I believe every single woman could accomplish what I accomplish.

Yes, we're the glue, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

DAI: Women are the glue.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.

DAI: Hello, hello, hello.

SHUBERT: This dynamo with a multitude of talents is Weili Dai.

As co-founder of Marvell Technology, Weili Dai counts some of tech's biggest companies as her partners or customers. On this day, she's speaking at a luncheon at Microsoft.

We tagged along to follow this busy executive through her day. It's a packed room, filled with industry leaders and government officials eager to hear from IT execs on the latest in Cloud computing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the rare panels that has as many women as men, which I think is extremely good.

(APPLAUSE)

DAI: Think about all of you guys carrying some kind of devices. And guess what? You need to get the live data from the Cloud. So we can't avoid access the Cloud. That's why I call it like the air you breathe every day. It's a necessity.

SHUBERT: If this all sounds, well, a bit cloudy, and you're wondering why you may have never heard of Marvell, Dai says she's used to it. But rest assured, her company has likely touched your life in some way.

DAI: If you think about Marvell, we're the total solution providers. We're the pizza dough. We make the pizza dough. The tomato sauce are different operating systems, such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, REM. And the toppings are the applications.

So, essentially, we are the one-stop shop providing the guts of the electronic products in the world.

SHUBERT: This all amounts to selling more than 1 billion chips a year. The company reports its revenues topped more than $3 billion in 2011. Not bad, since it was Dai's idea to start the company, which eventually formed in 1995.

As vice president and general manager of communications and consumer business, Dai is a very public face for Marvell. Despite her founder and top executive status, she sits in a cubicle like her employees and still meets face-to-face with clients.

She hasn't strayed from her sales instinct, dating back to when she landed the company's very first client. Whether at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, in her native China, or in Washington, she is a visible figure on the global IT circuit. And at every opportunity, she touts the virtues of Marvell's latest innovation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this -- is this the device?

DAI: This is the mobile private Cloud. Things like this, very affordable, and it'll -- for classrooms --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How much does that go for for a unit, roughly?

DAI: $20.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really? Wow.

DAI: Any new technology adoption, you have to make it very affordable.

SHUBERT: Dai says it is critical to stay on top of the devices powered by Marvell's chips, including the latest generation Google TV, which the search giant unveiled earlier this year.

DAI: And I'm so proud we developed such advanced technology and partnering with Google and other partners in the ecosystem. I care about my partners, my customers. I care about their success, because I believe only if they succeed, then we'll be part of the success.

SHUBERT: More than 30 years after coming to the US from China, Weili Dai's impact is not limited to business. In the coming weeks, you'll find out more about Dai's path to success, passion for education --

DAI: Oh, pleasure meeting you.

SHUBERT: Her family, and her life as a Chinese-American.

DAI: I love both countries. The mother land, the new mother land, both are dear to my heart.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: And next week, you're going to meet this month's other Leading Woman, a fashion designer Carolina Herrera, whose fashion empire spans more than 100 countries.

Now, there's a whole lot of information online about our Leading Women. You can find that at cnn.com/leadingwomen. And I want to hear from you. International Women's Day today, so let's just enjoy it. Women around the world, what inspires and motivates you? Tweet me @BeckyCNN. We don't get this opportunity very often, do we?

Now, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. When we come back, a brave graffiti artist in Afghanistan and what inspires her and how she plans to change the meaning of the burqa in her country.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN, live from London, 52- odd minutes past 9:00.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Well, the battle for control of Afghanistan is raging on as the Taliban claimed responsibility today for killing six British soldiers in their armored vehicle. But even in the war zone, pockets of art and beauty can be found, many of them created by one very brave woman. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh went to meet her.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When the Soviets loomed large here, they built this, a cultural center. It was ripped apart by civil war, but is now adorned by graffiti, the best work, these wispy figures of hope to some. The work of one of Afghanistan's more radical and perhaps bravest artists, Shamsia Hassani.

SHAMSIA HASSANI, ARIST: Usually, I use brush and canvass. On something like this, I like to do the walls with burqa in some new shape, because I want to show them it's a new, modern world, and you can see the shape looks very happy, I think.

The blue color is a freedom color, but it's not freedom for women. The blue color always is like a cage for them. But now, I want to change the meaning of burqa in Afghanistan. It's not a cage, it's a kind of respect.

WALSH: Taught by a British artist, she says she's not political, but being a public woman is by default political in conservative Afghanistan. She graffitis here among the stench of trash, syringes, and rubble because it's not safe to paint in the street.

WALSH (on camera): But you have to do your graffiti in secret, don't you really?

HASSANI: Not secret, but for now, it should be a secret.

WALSH: So, now it should be a secret?

HASSANI: Yes. I should do my graffiti some closed place, because of the bad situation, I cannot go outside to do my graffiti.

WALSH: It's dangerous.

HASSANI: Yes. Not dangerous, but it's -- the situation -- I don't know, it's not -- it's not OK for that.

WALSH: It's a complicated time for women in Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai days ago gave backing to a harsh edict from senior clerics that said it might sometimes be OK for a man to beat his wife, and that women should be segregated.

Fears are growing that one of the first victims of NATO's withdrawal here could be the gains of the last decade in women's rights.

WALSH (voice-over): Uncertainty that Shamsia, who won't speak ill of the Taliban or government, tries to capture in her art.

HASSANI: And blue one is sitting in her sleep thinking that, can she go up or maybe come down again? And she isn't there to stay. Maybe go up and maybe come down. I don't know.

WALSH (on camera): Are you worried that when NATO starts to leave, things will get more difficult for women?

HASSANI: Maybe. I don't know.

WALSH (voice-over): It is already too much for some. Three of Afghanistan's ten graffiti artists used to be women. Now, there's one.

HASSANI: The ten artists started, but all of them left graffiti work.

WALSH (on camera): Because it was too difficult?

HASSANI: It was difficult and they couldn't continue. I don't know the reason. We should ask them. I don't know.

WALSH: But the women stopped.

HASSANI: Yes.

WALSH (voice-over): These constraints don't stop her dreaming. She can't paint the entire building so, instead, used a computer to simulate what she'd like to do. Amid the war and depression, her work a statement of hope, a dream of the impossible.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Kabul.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, Nick's report particularly significant given that it is International Women's Day today. The 101st anniversary, no less. An opportunity, of course, to celebrate the progress that girls have made all over the world over the years, and a moment, of course, to remind ourselves, men and women, that the world is still a little bit lopsided.

Well, the work surely isn't over yet, not by a long shot. You've been tweeting me about International Women's Day. There's still time to send me your thoughts @BeckyCNN.

Benson Benich says, "It's more recognized in developed countries," that being the International Women's Day, "than in the underworld, or undeveloped countries." He says it's just like a passing day with only wishes.

Vanitha Pillay also writing to us tonight saying, "As a success as a female leader is know that despite your adversity, you've positively contributed to your team's empowerment."

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. I'm Becky Anderson. Thank you for watching. The world news headlines and "BackStory" are up next. Stay with us.

END