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Interview with Mohamed ElBaradei; Rebel Group Takes Key DRC City; New Concerns About Egyptian President; Bloodshed Continues in Syria; Future of Syria; White House Christmas Tree Arrives; Black Friday in US; Parting Shots: Early Beatles Demo on Auction Block

Aired November 23, 2012 - 16:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Tonight on CONNECT THE WORLD. Violent clashes in Egypt. Thousands take to the streets as President Mohammed Morsi defends a new decree granting him sweeping powers.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is CONNECT THE WORLD with Becky Anderson.

ANDERSON: Just before coming on air, I spoke to one of Morsi's biggest critics, Mohamed ElBaradei. Tonight, he tells me why he's branding the president Egypt's new pharaoh. Also ahead, Syria's war zone. The eyes of the world there being closed while Israel and Gaza hit the headlines. Why it's time to open them again. Also, coming up this hour, hard to believe the Beatles were ever rejected. Well, let me tell you, they were. Stay tuned here. What's on that binned demo tape?

First up tonight, protests going late into the night in Cairo's Tahrir Square. An outpouring of anger against the man some call the new dictator of Egypt. Demonstrators are furious that President Mohammed Morsi granted himself sweeping new powers. Reportedly staging a sit-in as we look at live pictures here of Tahrir Square tonight, demanding he retract his executive order. Let me tell you, those pictures show that these crowds are thinner than earlier, but still significant. Protests earlier today turning violent in Cairo, as well as other major cities. The president's opponents clashed with his supporters, and even set fire to offices of the Muslim Brotherhood in Alexandria and towns and cities elsewhere.

Well, President Morsi himself says he's not looking to grab power, but wants to achieve what he calls political stability.


MOHAMMED MORSI, EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): God knows that I will never oppress anyone, and I won't deserve to live if I did. And I'm looking at this matter, and I will be patient towards all violations. And I'm looking closely at the steps that we are taking. I have said before and I repeat again that I would never use the legislation against individuals, parties, men, women or Muslims or Christians for personal gains and to settle scores.


ANDERSON: The president speaking earlier on today. Well, in a moment, we'll be live with our correspondent Reza Sayah in Cairo, and you're going to hear from prominent opposition figure, Mohamed ElBaradei. First, though, let's just get you a closer look at the executive decrees that have triggered these furious protests. They prohibit any judicial oversight of presidential powers until a new parliament is elected. Remember, no date has been set for those elections. Also, judges cannot dissolve an Islamist-dominated assembly that is writing that new constitution. This is important, because there's been major controversy around this assembly, and judges were considering lawsuits against it. Secular and liberal activists complained they are not adequately represented. Mr. Morsi also fired Egypt's unpopular general prosecutor, which could pave the way for retrials of security officials accused in the deaths of protesters last year.

One of Mr. Morsi's most vocal critics is Mohamed ElBaradei, who has branded the president Egypt's new pharaoh. You may remember ElBaradei as the former head of the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog. He's also a Nobel laureate. He's become a prominent opposition leader in Egypt. He founded the Constitution Party earlier this year and has called for a boycott of the Islamist-dominated assembly now writing that new constitution. Well, today, he urged all Egyptians to go out and protest to help, quote, "save the nation."

Well, we spoke just before this show, and I put it to him that cynics might see his pharaoh comment as simply an attempt to grab the headlines and stir controversy. I asked him what he meant by that.


MOHAMED ELBARADEI, HEAD, CONSTITUTION PARTY: Well, Becky, I am not trying to be cynical. I'm just giving an accurate description to what happened. He now has turned the state or reduced the state to himself, to being one person. I mean, he has the executive power, the has the legislative power, and last night, he gave himself full immunity from any judicial review, and neutered the whole judicial branch. So I mean, you can see, it's unprecedented, it's unimaginable. It's more than what Mr. Mubarak ever had in terms of power, in terms of authority.

ANDERSON: Well, Morsi says that these are temporary powers, his supporters will argue he's using these powers to circumvent the lingering elements of the old guard, until a constitution is in place; helping, not hindering the development of a democratic society. What is your argument with that?

ELBARADEI: Well, I don't think he, there is no hindrance. I mean, this is, again, the language of a dictator. I mean, we have heard the same language from Mr. Mubarak before, from many other dictators, Becky. The judicial branch at least is the only residual branch that's still independent, that still has power. He does not like some of their decisions because it doesn't go with his views or whatever he has in mind or in store for it. But I mean, when you have, when you have everybody right now, I mean, right, left and center in opposition, when you have millions of people in the street today, university professors, doctors, lawyers, everyone.


ELBARADEI: Revolting against it, there's something wrong.

ANDERSON: You've also got all of Morsi's supporters, let's be fair, out in the streets as well. He says he has, and I quote him, no intention of using his new powers to settle scores against any one group. And yet you say his actions could lead to dire consequences. I want to be -- get you to be a bit more specific. What do you mean by that?

ELBARADEI: What I mean, I mean, there is already violence in the streets of Cairo, Becky, that lots of tear gases -- I guess today there were over 300 people who were taken to the hospital, you know, because of tear gases and other use of -- I have one young guy who got shot in the head yesterday, and he's clinically dead today. I mean, this is not the greatest scene (ph) you see up there, the jubilation we had was a peaceful -- so-called peaceful uprising a couple of years ago.

ANDERSON: Sure, we sympathize, we sympathize with anything that's going on in the streets that will hurt anybody who lives in Egypt, but Mohamed ElBaradei, Morsi did win this election with nearly 52 percent of the popular vote. His opponent today tweeted, and I quote, from Ahmed Shafiq, "Endorsing the position of ElBaradei and Amr Moussa and others, I urge all who voted for me to stand with us against the tyranny of the regime." What are you all calling for here, Mohamed? Is it fresh elections?

ELBARADEI: Well, what we are calling for now is civil disobedience, Becky. I mean, we have to -- the judges today are on strike, they are now -- they are on strike. They have a sit-in. The whole country is in a standstill. My worry, Becky, that we -- the whole situation will turn violent if Morsi does not rescind these decisions, does not engage into a dialogue with the rest of the country. And what is worrying me is that the country is divided, you know, in -- across the land. And that is not very helpful. You have the so-called liberals, educated, whatever you call them, the seculars, the -- and on the other side, you have the so-called political Islam. Well, that is not the greatest ingredient for a future of a country that has just gone through a revolution and that has a lot of --


ANDERSON: Mohamed, you talk about political Islam versus sort of secular, young liberals. What do you think Mohammed Morsi represents as political Islam? Are you frightened of it?

ELBARADEI: Whether I'm fond of it?

ANDERSON: Frightened of it?

ELBARADEI: Frightened? Well, again, it's very vague, it's very confused. We have seen part of that during the discussion of the constitutional (ph) assembly, which has almost exploded right now, Becky, because of this so-called political Islam. I mean, people would like to see a modern, moderate country, where yes, people have their own faith, their own religion, but they would like -- they do not want the state to interfere with their own morality or -- and guarantees basic freedom, freedom of women, of children.

I mean, these are basic values, Becky, we are not -- we cannot compromise on. And that's, I think, we saw that during the discussion of the constitutional (ph) assembly, when there is some guys there sitting in the constitutional (ph) Assembly, writing the constitution, saying that music is again Sharia, that democracy is -- have come from the heart of darkness. I mean, it just gives you, you know, a flavor of kind of discussion we are having here. It's between going forward or going backward, basically. And yes, we are very concerned and we have a lot of apprehension, sure.

ANDERSON: Are you concerned also in the same frame that your call to action simply further destabilizes the country that you suggest is already in a really bad way?

ELBARADEI: What we want is clearly a dialogue. I mean, Mr. Morsi took these decisions without consulting anybody. He met, I met with him a week ago. He met with all other political leaders, Becky, a week ago, never gave us a hint of what he has in mind. You need to have transparency. You need to have a dialogue. And we do not want to go into a sit-in and civil disobedience, but we need to have a dialogue and find a formula where everybody can live by, but a formula that guarantees our basic rights and freedoms. I don't think that's too much to ask.


ANDERSON: U.S. echoing ElBaradei's words just a couple of hours ago, calling for a democratic dialogue, releasing a statement which read in part, "One of the aspirations of the revolution was to ensure that power would not be overly concentrated in the hands of any one person or institution."

All right. Let's get you an update now from Cairo. Reza Sayah joining us live. Reza, you heard my interview there with Mr. ElBaradei, who was calling for civil disobedience, which we have seen on the streets, not just of Cairo, but other towns and cities across the country today. How would you describe the situation now this hour?

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, these demonstrators started trickling into Tahrir Square about 1:00 p.m. local time. It is now a little after 11:00 p.m. local time. That means these protesters have been going for about 10 hours. If anyone thought Egyptians were tired, worn out from demonstrating over the past couple of years, all you have to do is look at Tahrir Square in Cairo today, and the answer is clearly that they are not tired. They are energized, they are determined, and they are angry. At times, demonstrations have turned ugly. Several clashes between protesters and security forces in the main arteries leading to Tahrir Square, one of the most recent ones happening about an hour and a half ago, right behind us at our live location. Protesters ambushed the police vehicle transporting riot police. The riot police escaped, the protesters torched the vehicle, in came more security forces, fired tear gas that dispersed the protesters against similar clashes throughout the night, and at this hour, these protesters, Becky, are setting up tents. Very similar pictures to what we saw in 2011, as we hear what sound like gunshots, shots of tear gas behind us, an indication that this intensifying sit-in, these protests are continuing at this hour, Becky.

ANDERSON: All right, I am going to have to -- because you are standing with your back to those -- your back to that. I think those are actually fireworks behind you, but we do get your point.

SAYAH: They could be, yes.

ANDERSON: The situation very, very tense in Egypt. Particularly in Cairo tonight. Reza, thank you for that. Reza Sayah is in Cairo for you. Later on in the show, we'll be speaking to Egyptian actor and activist Amr Wakid (ph), and his reaction to President Morsi's decree, and what this means for the Egyptian revolution that he was front and center of some 18 months ago. That's coming up in just over 15 minutes time. Do stay with us for that, a very big story for you here.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD, live from London. Also ahead, budget wars in Europe. Two days of EU talks end without a deal. And Congolese rebels take over another key city, as a humanitarian crisis develops. More on the latest violent clashes just ahead. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson, out of London for you this evening. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: Welcome to CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. Seventeen minutes past 9:00 in London this evening. Now, a fragile truce between Israel and Hamas continues to hold along the border of Gaza. This despite reports that Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian man there on Friday. The fatality is the first since the cease-fire went into effect two days ago. Now, the Palestinian Authority's foreign minister spoke earlier, condemning the incident.


RIAD MALKI, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY FOREIGN MINISTER: The fact that, you know, a Palestinian was killed and nine were injured, they were not really killed by friendly fire from the Palestinian side. They were killed by Israeli fire coming from across the border. So this is really a clear violation of the agreement that earlier was signed, and I hope that, you know, Egypt has really to be very clear, very strong when a violation like this when it happens, are not to be repeated again.


ANDERSON: Riad Malki there.

Let's look at the other stories that are connecting our world tonight. The battle over the European Union budget ended without an agreement. Leaders have walked away from the two-day summit in Brussels, reaching -- without reaching a deal on the size or structure of the plan. Now, the meeting was supposed to finalize spending for 2014 to 2020, but with tough times at home, countries are divided on how much the block can afford to spend.


DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We're not going to be tough on budgets at home just to come here and sign up to big increases in European spending. From a budget of nearly a trillion euros, it is simply not acceptable to carry on tinkering around the edges, shuffling chunks of money from one part of the budget to another. We need to cut unaffordable spending.


ANDERSON: Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has appeared on television for the first time in two weeks. Syrian state TV had footage of President Assad meeting the chairman of the Iranian parliament in Damascus today. Meanwhile, across the country, 43 people were reported killed earlier, according to opposition sources. We'll have a little more on Syria shortly here on this show.

Meanwhile, a rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo is still far from reaching the capital. It is, though pushing forward after successfully capturing several towns this week. The insurgents have taken control of the strategically important town of Sake, days after capturing the key city of Goma. CNN's David McKenzie reports on the most recent developments.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rebels in the eastern Congo are pushing onto new frontlines on Friday, both to the north and to the south, leading to fears of a wider war in this vast country in the center of Africa. The M23 rebel group took the key town of Sake on Friday from government forces and aligned militia. Thousands of civilians were seen fleeing, sometimes carrying all their possessions on their backs. Oxfam, the UK charity says that more than 100,000 people need humanitarian assistance in this crisis.

Now, there is a move to try and solve the growing conflict at the negotiating table. The political boss of M23 has been summoned to Uganda to try and find a way to find peace, but international observers believe that because the U.N. peacekeeping force watched as M23 took the key city of Goma earlier this week, that they might be emboldened to push on, and they say they want to, quote, "liberate the entire of the country," and move all the way to Kinshasa, 1,000 miles away.

David McKenzie, CNN, Nairobi, Kenya.


ANDERSON: Well, a jailed member of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot has been moved into solitary confinement at her own request. State media reporting Maria Alekhina asked for the move because of tensions with fellow inmates. Now, you'll remember she's serving a two-year prison sentence for performing an anti-Putin song in one of Moscow's main cathedrals. She and two other band members were found guilty of hooliganism and religious hatred following a highly publicized trial back in August.

We are going to take a very short break on this show, but when we come back, the host of the 2014 World Cup decides a change is in order for their (inaudible) size. That coming up after this.


ANDERSON: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD live from London, I'm Becky Anderson for you here on CNN.

Now, Formula One couldn't ask for anything more. The 2012 championship coming down to the final race of the season this weekend in Brazil. Let's bring in my colleague, Amanda Davies, she's going to set the scene for us. It couldn't be better -- remember, Formula One a couple of years ago was sort of on its knees. I mean, you couldn't make this up.


AMANDA DAVIES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, people (inaudible) being boring, and people were saying, what are you going to come up with to make it more exciting? People suggesting he should get rain clouds to bring in to (inaudible) through races, but this is brilliant. Nineteen races down, one to go, and it is going right down to the wire. Sebastian Vettel against Fernando Alonso, both of them looking to claim their third world championship title. You have to say it's Vettel in the driving seat. He's the one, he's 13 points ahead, and so if he finishes 1, 2, 3 or 4, the title is his.

ANDERSON: It seems slightly wrong, because he's something like six or seven years younger than Alonso. He's got so much talent to do one of these triples.


DAVIES: He has, and he also has the better car, so that's what, you know, people feel a little bit sorry for Alonso, but he, you know, to Alonso's credit, he has kept in there despite having a shocking car at the start of this season.

ANDERSON: If push come to shove, would you say that Alonso is the better driver, do you think?

DAVIES: Well, we're running that debate -- we have been running it all this week on WORLD SPORT, people having their say on the web site, who is the greatest Formula One driver of all time? I don't think Alonso is there yet, but many people say technically, in terms of the driver behind the wheel of the car, yes, it has to be Alonso.

ANDERSON: What a great weekend to look forward to. More sporting headlines out of Brazil as well today. This time football. The national team coach -- this is almost sacrilegious of course in Brazil -- is being sacked.

DAVIES: Yes, well, as if Brazil didn't have enough to do in terms of getting themselves ready for this World Cup in 2014 in terms of building the stadium, getting the infrastructure right, they now have to find themselves a new manager. They sacked Mano Menezes with, yes, 18 months to go, and it is actually becoming the norm now, because there's such pressure on the country hosting the World Cup. South Africa did the same ahead of 2010. They sacked their coach. And as you said, it's, you know, it's a religion, football in Brazil, and there is such pressure on them to do well. And when you're given the World Cup as the host nation, you've got no competitive games to play, so it's really tough anyway.

ANDERSON: Do we know who's in the running for that, out of interest?

DAVIES: Well, this is -- it's kind of come out of the blue. He, you know, they didn't do so well last year in the Copa America, disappointment, just Olympic silver. So it's come out of the blue, but the 2012 World Cup winning coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari, is one of the names who is being mentioned. So it will be very interesting, but yes, this is still very much early days.

ANDERSON: All right, well, speaking of coaches, of course, how will Chelsea's, what is it, ninth manager in nine years do his debut weekend, you think?


DAVIES: Well, despite his big paycheck, you have got to feel a little bit sorry for him.



DAVIES: He did choose to be a joke, but he's got no chance at all to get his feet onto the desk. The first match Sunday, against none other than the defending champions, Manchester City. And you know, Benitez, he's got to placate his players, because actually a lot of the players are really disappointed that Di Matteo is gone in the first place. He's going into this game without John Terry, without Frank Lampard, they are both injured. And they are looking for their first league win in five games. So it's a tough one.

ANDERSON: I know they can get him out of his contract in six months. Do you give him that long? Well, we'll have to see.

DAVIES: I think that's Abramovich, seriously, yes, I mean, when you look the other way, Sir Alex Ferguson had just had a bronze statue unveiled at (inaudible), commemorating his quarter century--


DAVIES: -- the proper two ends of the spectrum.

ANDERSON: I'm just glad that we (inaudible) Abramovich as a manager here.



DAVIES: Let's not go there.


ANDERSON: Amanda Davies (inaudible) from WORLD SPORT. In about an hour from now, more on all those stories and more, of course, from the world of sports. Those coming up. And mass protests in Egypt just going through the night as the president assumes a sweeping range of new powers. We'll go live to Cairo for you for the very latest as you look at live pictures out of Tahrir Square this evening.

Well, it may have dropped out of the headlines, but the devastation in Syria continues. We'll explain why this week should not be ignored. And it was originally rejected for being too old-fashioned, but how much would you pay now for the Beatles' first demo tape from way back in 1962? Coming up.


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: A very warm welcome back to our viewers across Europe and around the world. I'm Becky Anderson, these are the latest world news headlines from CNN.

Anti-government protests are going late into the night in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Live pictures for you from there. As we speak, demonstrators are furious that President Mohamed Morsi granted himself sweeping new powers.

Earlier, protesters torched the offices of the Muslim Brotherhood in Alexandria and other cities. President Morsi denies accusations that he's become a dictator. He told reporters in Cairo that he issued the decree to achieve political stability, saying Egypt is on the path to freedom and democracy.

A fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hamas seems to be holding despite reports that Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian man at the Gaza border. The Israeli military says its troops are trying to stop Palestinians from reaching the crossing. Hamas says the Palestinians were farmers trying to reach their land.

The M23 rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo took control of the strategically important town of Sake on Friday. It follows the group's besiege and capture of the city of Goma on Tuesday. Both United Nations and Great Britain have condemned the M23 military campaign.

Joining us now is the Egyptian star Amr Waked. You may recognize him from his blockbuster roles in "Syriana" or "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen," to name just a few.

Amr is not just an actor, though. He's an activist and recently made his own film about the Egyptian revolution called "Winter of Discontent." The film humanizes the immense changes and confusion before and after the uprising as a people used to tyranny slowly began to understand their new freedom.

Well, Amr joins us now from Cairo. We spoke about a month ago, when you were already protesting against this current president, Mohamed Morsi. Let's just remind our viewers, if you don't mind, what you had to say at that point.


AMR WAKED, ACTOR AND ACTIVIST: Because you have won an election that you have the right to dictate a constitution onto the people. So, I think -- Mohamed Morsi has a lot of things to prove to the people, and I think he's running out of time.


ANDERSON: Amr, you were front and center of the Egyptian revolution - - what is it now? -- some 20-odd months or 23-odd months ago. You said when we spoke a couple of weeks ago you were losing patience then. So, what is your feeling now? Is this the end game, do you think? Or do you hope?

WAKED (via telephone): No, this is where we say it's unacceptable, basically. This is where the people of Egypt should correct their leadership.

I think he went overboard. I think he has absolutely no power to do what he did yesterday and to decide that he's -- particularly the decision where he's immune from any judicial questioning, or also his constitutional committee as well as parliament, whether it is the house -- or the house of --

Basically, he's given himself the right to be above the law and to put anyone else above the law, and I don't think this is what the revolution was made for. You do not take out a tyrant to put a tyrant to the power ten.

ANDERSON: Sure, all right. Listen, I spoke to ElBaradei, Mohamed ElBaradei, in opposition, of course, to Mohamed Morsi, although he didn't stand in the presidential campaign. I put it to him that many people will argue tonight that what the Egyptian president is doing is simply trying to circumvent what are these lingering elements of the old guard until a constitution is in place.

He has said these are just temporary measures at this point. Are you arguing that this man is completely undemocratic and that he should stand down? What do you want to see at this point?

WAKED: I'm actually saying that he has to withdraw his decisions. Until today, I think he may have hope to stay if he does that. But I am not sure what the street will -- how the street will react if he insists and persists on ignoring all other political forces' demands that are extremely legitimate.

All they want to say is -- all they're demanding of him is to be fair and not to run the country as if it's his farm, you know?

ANDERSON: Has this revolution been a disaster?

WAKED: No! Not at all! I think it's very normal that you get that kind of ups and downs after a revolution, especially if the people have been deprived for very long. So, you can't really expect that their choices will be perfect from the beginning.

But what's really interesting today, or what I think is a very -- a good indicator of the success of the revolution is that people today are taking to the street whenever the president, which is the highest executive power in politics, whenever he does something wrong, the people take to the street and have no problem voicing their rejection.

And this can escalate to strikes and to a lot of other forms of objecting --

ANDERSON: These pictures that we're looking at here on CNN tonight, of course, remind us of the revolution back in January of 2011. Do you expect to see the sort of people on the street in Tahrir Square that you saw back then? Certainly tonight, the crowds are very much thinned, it's got to be said, when you look at the live pictures.

WAKED: Yes, now it's almost midnight, it's approaching midnight, so I think whoever is there tonight might be the ones that will try to sleep over in the square. I think I heard that the political forces have gathered -- political forces objecting, which are the majority of the civil forces in Egypt -- are planning to make a sit-in strike -- a sit-in for seven days.


WAKED: So, I don't think people will accept these decisions, and I think if President Morsi tries to ignore that, he will be repeating --

ANDERSON: OK, Amr, let me just move you on, because I need just a brief last question to you. We have to reflect -- I certainly have to -- report to our viewers that there were many, many, many people on the streets of the Egyptian cities, towns and cities today, who were in support of the president Mohamed Morsi.

Many young liberal, secular students, men and women of Egypt who were in the original revolution didn't use their democratic vote. They didn't vote for either candidate in this presidential election. I think I'm right in saying that you didn't vote, either.

For those who didn't vote who are now, frankly, horrified by what they see, shouldn't they sort of regret the fact that they didn't use that democratic right?

WAKED: I doubt it, because they're not really that major in terms of numbers. They're like half a million in the middle of 20 million, or maybe a million in 20 million. I don't think they could have kept anything, and especially for Shafik. He's not really the exemplary model for our revolution, as well.

But you said there are many people in front of -- supporting Morsi. Actually, the support for Morsi appeared before Morsi's decision. Meaning that this has been plotted and planned to happen like this, and to put the cameras and see more people.

And for the opposition, they're only reacting from a speech that he made last night quite late in the evening.


ANDERSON: All right. Last question to you --

WAKED: So, I think this is just the beginning.

ANDERSON: This is Friday, today. Only back on Wednesday this week, this was a man who was being feted for mediating a truce between the Israelis and Gaza. Did you respect him and did you see him as a credible statesman at that point?

WAKED: I don't think whatever he's done in Gaza is much different from what Mubarak would have done. It's been done before that the Egyptian government withdrew the ambassador from Israel. Twice, actually, once in 1982, and I believe another time in the year 2000.

And what I think might be a consequence of what's happening is basically people will start telling him that you made this for that. Basically, you made the truce in Gaza and Israel, then you have been given a green card from super powers that you can turn into a tyrant, because you're a good listener.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. Amr Waked, it's always a pleasure to speak to you. We thank you very much, indeed, for giving us your time late at night out of Cairo, Egypt, this evening. Keep in touch.

WAKED: Thank you very much.

ANDERSON: Coming up on CONNECT THE WORLD, it may not have hit the headlines this week, but big changes are still taking place. We're going to show you why this is not the time to ignore what is happening in Syria.


ANDERSON: Syria fell out of the spotlight this week as other crises in the Middle East dominated the headlines, but the bloodshed continues regardless. Opposition sources say at least 43 people were killed across the country today alone.

Bashar al-Assad shows no signs of backing down. Today, he appeared on Syrian state television for the first time in two weeks. The president was in Damascus to meet the head of the Iranian parliament.

Meanwhile, Syrian rebels are still claiming small victories. They say they captured a military base on Thursday, but refugees are still flooding into Turkey and the death toll is still rising. Nick Paton Walsh tells us why this week has been as important as any other so far.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Becky, at least 600 people killed in the last week as the conflict rages unabated inside Syria. Rebels reporting some significant advances in the north and east of the country, but also now the worrying prospect as when NATO stationed its missiles on that border between Turkey and Syria that they may perhaps be drawn into the conflict.

WALSH (voice-over): This is the slimmest glimmer of hope for rebels: a key base west of Aleppo, not only overrun, but also looted for badly- needed weapons. Regime aircraft, now vulnerable to these, regime tanks now driven by rebels.

Similar scenes in the east near Deir ez-Zor, rebels claiming they've purged the regime from a whole swathe of land near the Iraqi border. Both victories mean the regime is less able to project brute force in the north and east. Perhaps they're also having to concentrate forces here, on Damascus's suburbs.

This is Deraa. Rebels have kept regime troops out, so it's instead been pounded for nearly a fortnight by three separate army units, 35 dead on Thursday alone. But that didn't stop this unusual outburst in the capitals very central old market. Women in wedding dresses demanding an end to military operations, discretely filmed. They were soon led away by uniformed men.

Little sign Bashar al-Assad is cracking. Friday, he met with key Iranian power broker Ali Larijani, perhaps bolstered by Moscow swiftly moving to criticize Turkey's demand for patriot missiles, like these, along the volatile border, a move that could drag NATO into the war, Russia warned.

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): As I already said, the main concern is that the more weapons there are, the greater the risk that they will be used. And also, any provocation could trigger it.

WALSH: Winter will be unkind to the regime and its opponents. More refugees, these in Turkey, will struggle in freezing temperatures. But worse weather will also make it harder for the regime's main advantage, air power, to fly. The hardest months for Syrians may still be ahead.

WALSH (on camera): Becky, I should go back to what we mentioned in that report, that intense shelling of the Damascus suburbs, namely Daraa.

Now, activists say the rebels are holding well their ground there, and the regime is having to resort to this intense kind of bombardment. And this area, Daraa, is just three kilometers away from the heart of the capital, what really should be President Bashar al-Assad's most secure location. Becky?


ANDERSON: Nick Paton Walsh there for you on a story which, as we say -- thank you Nick -- has to a certain extent fallen off the agenda as the Israeli-Gaza story dominated the headlines. Many international powers have placed their faith in a newly-formed opposition coalition.

Joining me now to discuss why is Abdel Bari Atwan. He's with the London-based newspaper, Al-Quds Al-Arabi, an independent pan-Arab daily newspaper, also the author of "The Secret History of al-Qaeda" and a new book, after bin Laden, of course, "Al-Qaeda: The Next Generation." All right. We've just had Nick's assessment of the situation. What's yours?

ABDEL BARI ATWAN, AUTHOR, "THE SECRET HISTORY OF AL QAEDA": Well, actually, I believe it is going to heat up in the coming few weeks. The coalition -- I mean, the Syrian opposition actually responded to the American -- to the Qatari and the Saudi request --


ANDERSON: Well, they had to, didn't they?

ATWAN: -- independent. Yes.

ANDERSON: They had to.

ATWAN: They had to. Now, they are capturing more military bases, advancing, but they lack the sophisticated weapons. So, I presume that they will be armed in the coming few weeks by stinger missiles, anti-tank missiles.

The other very important development is the request of Turkey to actually deploy patriot missiles batteries there on the border. So, this could be in preparation for a no-fly zone. So, it could be, actually, a crucial move for the Turks and from, actually, NATO.

ANDERSON: Which Nick pointed out, the Russians are pretty concerned about that request. And let me just put to you and our viewers a conversation that I had with Kofi Annan, who was the former Syrian envoy, of course, for the UN, just a couple of weeks ago.

We were talking about the influence of Russia and China and how the Security Council is so divided. Just have a listen to what he said to me. I was surprised by this.


KOFI ANNAN, FORMER SPECIAL ENVOY TO SYRIA: I think we should listen to the Russians and the Chinese a bit more. I think there has been a tendency and the simplistic approach to say that they used their veto, and therefore they are protecting Assad and are not interested in a solution.

I have sat in Moscow with President Putin and his team, and in a tete- a-tete with President Putin himself. My take is that they are not married to Assad, as they have said, and they realize President Assad will have to move on.


ANDERSON: As the international community ratchets up its efforts with a newly-coalesced opposition, it will be surely important to listen to Kofi Annan's words there. You've still got a divided international community. It would be a lot easier if the external pressure worked as one, surely, wouldn't it?

ATWAN: I believe these wise words from a very wise man, experienced man, and everybody should listen to him. Because Russia and China are not only committed to protect Assad in the United Nations Security Council, they are committed to protect him underground.

Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, he said clearly, we are going to stick by Assad, and he was furious because of the deployment of patriot missiles. So, the same thing the Chinese. The same thing the Iranians.

So, we could be heading toward a regional war if we are not trying to find a solution -- political solution to this crisis. And the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians, they could together play a very crucial role in reaching this settlement or political solution.

ANDERSON: Are you optimistic or pessimistic, briefly?

ATWAN: I am really very, very pessimistic because that civil war is actually enlarging, 40,000 people are killed. I don't know how long shall we stay silent. How many people should be killed, 100,000, 200,000? God knows.

ANDERSON: On a Friday evening. Not the greatest --

ATWAN: I'm sorry. I can't speak --

ANDERSON: -- end to a conversation, but it's a very honest one from you, and understandably that's what you bring to us every time you come. A regular guest on the show. We appreciate your thoughts. Thank you very much, indeed.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD live from London. Coming up after this short break, it's Black Friday madness in the United States. We find out what drives shoppers crazy on Thanksgiving weekend. That after this.


ANDERSON: It is Thanksgiving weekend in the United States, and around this time of year, thoughts turn to the next big holiday which, of course, is Christmas for many people around the world, and the White House is no exception. The Obamas have received their Christmas tree, a 19-foot Fraser fir tree that will be placed in the Blue Room.

Well, traditionally the day after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday, when shoppers take to the stores in droves to try to find a bargain.

There are several theories about why it's called Black Friday. One is that it's the day when so many people go shopping, that store finances go from being in the red to being in the black. Another theory is that there is so much traffic that black marks are left on the road. Come up with yours @BeckyCNN.

Others say the term comes from a day of shopping chaos that sees thousands of people queuing up for hours, as George Howell found out.


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Becky, we're inside this Best Buy here in Suburban Atlanta, Georgia, and look around. You see a lot of people who decided to come out and look for those special buys. You see televisions that have been marked off hundreds of dollars here at this store. You see laptop computers, that was definitely a hot item. Many of those deals already gone.

At this store in particular, Becky, we saw some 600 people -- 600 people -- lined around the store at midnight here in Atlanta, all waiting to get inside this Best Buy, but this store did a controlled entry, so they allowed 50 people in at a time, and that really seemed to work, when you compare this to what we saw in other cities here in the United States.

For instance, in Indianapolis, we know about fights that broke out at a Kmart store -- rather, two Kmart stores there -- and we also know in Sacramento, there was a case where one customer, apparently, threatened to stab other customers if he was pushed when trying to get into the store. So, these situations were avoided here.

And this day, Black Friday, is especially important for Best Buy. When you think about the situation of this company, they saw very disappointing third quarter earnings, so they're doing everything they can to make sure that they get the best bang for their buck on this Black Friday, promoting their deals, making sure customers know about them.

When you keep in mind that there are fewer customers shopping this year, Becky, as opposed to last year, I believe 147 million people shopping this year compared to 152 million people shopping last year, that according to the National Retail Federation, this store is doing everything to make sure customers know about it.

And another survey shows that these customers are willing to spend money -- willing to spend money on big-ticket items. Best Buy is counting on that this Black Friday, Becky.


ANDERSON: Good stuff. All right, thank you George.

In tonight's Parting Shots, a great big slice of music history, which also happens to be a monumental lesson in rejection and persistence, going on the auction block. Not to mention it's the first time it's ever been heard in public. Confused? CNN's Phil Han will sort you out.



PHIL HAN, CNN DIGITAL PRODUCER (voice-over): They were four unknown guys in 1962 -- John, Paul, George, and Pete -- trying to break into the music business by making this audition tape. They handed Decca Records their demo, which included this song, "Three Cool Cats."


HAN: But the group was rejected by the record company and told they had no future in show business, that groups like theirs were on the way out.

Boy, were they wrong.

TED OWEN, AUCTIONEER, THE FAME BUREAU: The quality is absolutely -- it's like you're sitting in a cinema when you've got headphones on. It's absolutely brilliant. And that's the most amazing part about this tape is the quality.

HAN: The Beatles recorded a total of ten songs on the demo, listing all of them on this hand-written tape cover. Songs including "Money," "Crying, Waiting, Hoping," and this one, "Searching."


HAN: This is the first time the audition tape is being heard in public, and it could be yours.

OWEN: Anyone who spends over 20,000 on it, it's going to be -- they're going to be telling everybody on the planet that they own it. So, it's a trophy.

HAN (on camera): But if you can't afford the price tag and you are a Beatles fan, at least now you know how it all began.

Phil Han, CNN, London.


ANDERSON: I'm Becky Anderson in London. That was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you for watching. Headlines after this.