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President Morsi Refuses To Back Down From Decree; Rory McIlroy Breaks Earnings Record, or Did He?

Aired November 26, 2012 - 16:00   ET



Tonight on Connect the World...


DR. ESSAM EL-ERIAN, SENIOR ADVISER TO EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT: We need national unity. And to build our country, we invite all to participate.


ANDERSON: A top adviser to Egypt's president denies the pressure is mounting on Mohammed Morsi who calls for protesters and politicians to come together.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.

ANDERSON: Tonight, as protests continue against the president's new powers, we're going to take a look at whether Egypt's economic troubles are being overlooked.

Also this hour, gaining ground or going nowhere, we're going to investigate whether Syria's rebels are on a roll.

And as golf's Rory McIlroy celebrates a prosperous season, we're going to find out whether he's managed to put his richest rival to shame.

First up tonight, a developing story here on CNN. Egypt's president standing by a controversial decree that's deeply divided the nation.

Mohammed Morsi held marathon talks with senior judges. Today those talks have just broken up. Let's get right to Reza Sayah in Cairo for the details.

These judges hoping that he would at least step back from some of what he declared November 22. What's he saying tonight?

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well - and that didn't happen. According to the president's office and the Muslim Brotherhood, they are standing by their decrees and moving forward. Within the past hour, the supreme judicial council representing the top judges in Egypt meeting with Mr. Morsi.

Of course, many viewed the decrees declared by Mr. Morsi last week as disabling the judiciary by banning any decisions made by Mr. Morsi. And the question was in this meeting would there be any concessions, would he reverse any of these decrees and the answer is no. In a statement released by the president's office, Mr. Morsi essentially saying that he does not want a conflict with the judiciary and reiterating that any new powers that he has amassed is only temporary and is only designed to push forward the democratic process and to save the revolution and its principles from what they believe are remnants from the old Mubarak regime who are trying to undermine the democratic process, Becky.

So that's their position. No concessions, at least for now. No reversing on any of the decrees.

ANDERSON: He may not want a conflict with either the judiciary or the opposition, but he's going to have one, isn't he? And he's had one now for the past four days.

Reza, let's remind our viewers exactly what President Morsi ordered last week. Among some of the things, his decree prohibits any judicial oversight of presidential powers until a new constitution is written, a new parliament elected. Today, a presidential spokesman stressed that these measures are as Reza said temporary.

Well, the decree also prohibits judges from dissolving an Islamist dominated assembly, that is itself writing the new constitution. This is important, because judges were considering lawsuits against that.

Many secular and Christian politicians have walked out of the assembly complaining that they are not adequately represented.

So Reza, those were the decrees November 22. Tonight we hear Mohammed Morsi not prepared to step back, which is very much a breaking news story here on CNN, because as you an I know for the past four days there has been an enormous swell of opposition against him. We must also remember that his own supporters have effectively been out in the streets supporting what he's said.

What do you think happens next? Do we continue to see this sort of swell, this civil disobedience that Mohamed ElBaradei talked about on Friday?

SAYAH: I think we'll have to see in the coming days how much staying power these opposing factions have, these demonstrators that are standing behind us.

But here's what we should point out and that's the message the Muslim Brotherhood and the president's office seems to be pushing today. They are rejecting any claim that Mr. Morsi has sweeping dictatorial style powers. The message today is the only - the only types of decisions he wants immunity over is decisions that have to do with the protection of the constitutional assembly, this panel made up of 100 members that were charged with drafting the all-important constitution. There's been a lot of conflict and friction between members of this assembly, some have sued to dissolve it. But Mr. Morsi says he wants to push through.

Earlier today we had an exclusive interview with one of his senior advisers about the controversy surrounding this constitutional assembly. Here's that interview.


EL-ERIAN: Yes. You have 78 (inaudible) and those 22 participating in every article. Their opinions was respected. They are in, not out.

SAYAH: But they're protesting. They have quit. Why not slow down and address their concerns?

EL-ERIAN: Because we are in this turmoil since about two years. And we must transfer to another era of a democratic country, to have a constitution, to have elections. In a democracy you are applying to majority rule. You cannot satisfy everybody.

SAYAH: But it's not just one faction that's opposing you, you have all these opposing factions that are usually divided banding together opposing you.

EL-ERIAN: But they are divided - France is divided...

SAYAH: But let's talk about Egypt - that doesn't make their process ideal democracy.

EL-ERIAN: Look, sir, division is now a universal mode (ph). And this time we need national unity and to build our country we invite all to participate.


SAYAH: That was Dr. Essam El-Erian, one of the top advisers to Mr. Morsi defending Mr. Morsi's decrees last week. Mr. Morsi himself coming out of the meeting with the judges also defending his decrees. And another bit of breaking news to pass along, Becky, a couple of hours ago the Muslim Brotherhood calling off their one million man protest scheduled for Tuesday. They say they did it to avoid possible violence and clashes with the opposing faction's one million man demonstration scheduled for tomorrow, Becky.

ANDERSON: All right. Emotive stuff. Reza, thank you for that. Reza Sayah is your correspondent in Cairo.

Egypt's fragile economy has taken a huge hit from this political crisis. The main stock index plunged almost 10 percent Sunday. It was open, of course, that day. Though it did rebound somewhat today.

Earlier I talked about the impact on Egypt's economy of all of this with John Defterios, CNN's emerging markets editor and host of Global Exchange. This is what he said.


JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Well, the challenge right now here is whether President Morsi is willing to give up ground here to the Supreme Judicial Council. And this is what's keeping the markets on edge, Becky.

Let's take a look at what's transpired over the last week, the ups and downs for investors. Let's recall, last Tuesday he was working on ceasefire with the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. At the end of business Tuesday he got the clearance with the IMF loan of $4.8 billion, that sparked a rally of better than 1 percent on Wednesday. Then Thursday night he tried to push through this decree. And then they had the open of trading on Sunday and that severe drop of 9.5 percent. The investors don't like the uncertainty that the president put forward.

And we had a rally today with hope of 2.6 percent thinking that he'll reach out to the judges here and try to find a compromise and see if he can get the people off the street tomorrow so they don't have protests on both sides.

ANDERSON: We've seen the reaction of investors to this uncertainty and that is understandable. We've seen a bit of a flip in the market, as you suggest today. What about the IMF. Is this their $5 billion loan in any way at stake here given what is going on?

DEFTERIOS: I think it's fair to say that the IMF could not have predicted that President Morsi would make a power play after they left the country. They've been negotiating that agreement since he came into office. And in fact it was delayed for some months.

It started off as a $3.2 billion agreement. That wasn't enough. They've offered $4.8 billion. But it comes with conditions, Becky. First and foremost, he has to bring down this budget deficit, which is 11 percent of GDP, only dropping slightly in 2013. He has some very tough decisions to make. He has to cut fuel subsidies and food subsidies.

And the real question after making this power play on the streets here, trying to challenge the judges, does he have the mandate going forward? It's not just the IMF loan we have to consider here, the European Union, which was criticized for not doing enough before, has put $6.4 billion on the table. And they're struggling to recover. They have growth of less than 2.5 percent this year. And that is half of what it was before the Arab Spring with growth of over 5 percent.


ANDERSON: There's a lot of money at stake, isn't there?

A former Egyptian finance minister recently warned that the country could face a severe financial crisis if urgent steps aren't taken. And that was before this latest political turmoil.

Samir Radwan joins us live from Cairo tonight.

And so you were a Mubarak appointment who lasted through the revolution only to resign in July 2011 in protest at the way that the country was being run. It's important that we establish that you wanted to stay on because you believed you had a vision for Egypt's economy. You felt, though, that you couldn't continue.

Let's just take a look at what's happened over the past week or so and get your reaction to events.


ANDERSON: How do you respond - how to you respond to Morsi's - go on.

RADWAN: No, please go ahead with your question.

ANDERSON: How do you respond to these Morsi decrees and the fact tonight in the past hour he said that he is not prepared to back down, which is what the opposition has been asking for.

RADWAN: You see, we have been trying very hard to get the country out of the abyss. There was - the negotiation with the IMF, which was started 10 months ago and they were rejected by the military council. And we were very happy to see that there is an agreement in principle with the IMF and we were hoping things will start moving, because the economic situation is very dire as everybody knows.

So these declarations, the constitutional declaration came as a sudden surprise to everybody, including the advisers, some advisers of the president. And they have split the country right in the middle - those who support, of course, the Muslim brothers and those who oppose. And the impact on the economy is extremely serious, because...

ANDERSON: Yeah, let's talk about that, let's talk about that - let me (inaudible) one second. I want to get our viewers, just a sense of where Egypt is at present. It's suffering from a severe downturn. It's gross domestic product was $519 billion last year, but the government's budget deficit is something like 11 percent of GDP. Unemployment at something like 12 percent. Inflation has stayed high, too, at about 10 percent. And according to the World Bank, Egypt's central bank reserves are now only 40 percent of what they were in January 2011, that's largely due to reduced tourism revenues and capital out flows. Also about 25 percent of all Egyptians were living in poverty as of last year. That figure is up 4 percent from 2009. The poverty level, according to World Bank, is $2 a day or less.

These numbers are pretty grim. I've got to say, you know, when you sit in Europe these days they actually sound - they sound quite familiar. But they are grim. We know that.

What's your response to the latest flight by investors from the Egyptian economy? And tell me what was your great plan for Egypt? And do you think that it will come good at any stage any time soon?

RADWAN: Certainly. The plan was very simple. The vision was very simple. There are people under the previous regime who have been deprived. And the idea was to provide for those people. That's why I introduced minimum wage legislation, improvement of the pensions. Minimum wage effected 6.5 million people, pensions 8 million people.

But at the same time, the idea was to provide a stimulus in the same way that has happened in Europe and the United States after the crisis in 2008 to get the economy going. And then agree with the IMF on a program to get the country out of its problems, to reduce the budget deficit, to reduce the public debt and so on and so forth. And we have agreed on this...

ANDERSON: And I understand that.

We've only got a couple of minutes before we've got to take a break. Quite briefly, how would you describe the economic picture today? And tell me, what happens next? Our viewers are watching and listening to you this evening.

RADWAN: Yes. The economic situation is very dire, it's very serious. The majority of the people are really suffering. And they were looking forward to some stability. The investors are looking for some stability. The donors are looking for some stability. And I'm afraid that this constitutional declaration has blown it up. And my idea is let us get - let us go back to reason and forget about this constitutional declaration which could be done. It is all in the law. It could be done in the law.

ANDERSON: One answer, one answer, yes or no to this. Is Morsi a disaster for Egypt, yes or no?

RADWAN: I would say at this moment I'm standing in front of you with the Tahrir Square behind me. I think it is extremely dangerous position for Egypt and I'm glad the Muslim brothers decided wisely to cancel their demonstration because the whole population of Egypt is against it.

ANDERSON: All right. Sir, it's been an absolute pleasure having you on. Speak to us again. I know this isn't the last time that we'll talk about Egypt here on Connect the World. Thank you.

Still to come tonight, more than a dozen disabled people are dead after a fire and explosion in a factory in a Black Forest region of Germany. More on that after this.

And they are stateless and starving. We bring you an exclusive report of Myanmar's Rahinga minority. All that and much more when Connect the World continues.


ANDERSON: You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson for you out of London this evening. Welcome back.

There were raised eyebrows in the city of London earlier. The Bank of England getting a new governor and he - let me tell you, he's not British. The current chief Mervyn King will leave the role next June. His replacement will be a Canadian, Mr. Mark Carney much to the surprise of the city's financial sector. Chancellor George Osborne explains the appointment earlier.


GEORGE OSBORNE, CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER: He is currently governor of the central bank of Canada and chair of the world's financial stability board. He is quite simply the best, most experienced and most qualified person in the world to be the next governor of the Bank of England.


ANDERSON: George Osborne speaking there.

A look at some of the other stories that are connecting our world tonight.

And 14 people have been killed in a fire at a factory in Germany. Now the fire may have been caused by an explosion that ripped through the workshop in the Black Forest region. Several people badly burned. The factory is run by a charity that employs both mentally and physically disabled people to make products including Christmas toys and electrical items.

Well, thousands of people have been protesting over a factory fire that killed more than 100 people in Bangladesh. Protesters threw stones and broke factory windows in the capital Dhakar. The fire broke out on Saturday at the multistory building of Tasrine (ph) fashion in the Azula (ph) area of Dhakar. Witnesses reported seeing people jumping from the higher floors to escape the flames.

Political parties in Spain's region of Catalonia will have to do some coalition building after a regional election there. This weekend's vote saw the regional president's coalition lose a fifth of its deputies. Meanwhile, the Catalan Republic left doubled its numbers.

Al Goodman joins me now from Madrid with more on the results and what this all means for independence hopes.

And that's really the question. What does the result mean for the future of the Catalan independence movement, and indeed, Al, for the wider Spain?

AL GOODMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Becky, well it means that the Catalan independence drive has definitely slowed down because of the results. The incumbent president who called these early elections hoping to be reinforced. His convergence in union coalition actually lost seats. They're further away from the majority makes it harder for him to lead this independence drive in the midst of this economic crisis.

So while he's been trying to look ahead and talk about finding some partners to form a government and keep this independence thing alive he's been piled on by the central government and people allied with the prime minister who is against this independence thing.

Here's what one of the leaders of the conservative party nationwide had to say about this whole election thing. Let's listen.


MARIA DOLORES DE COSPEDAL, SPANISH POPULAR PARTY GENERAL SECRETARY (through translator): It's also very important that the Catalan government makes up for lost time, time that the (inaudible) and Mr. Moss lost in not working to get out of the crisis and respond to the expectations of the citizens.


GOODMAN: Now this is not the end of the independence drive, but it is set back. And that's a breather for the prime minister. You know that Spain is under pressure to call a sovereign bailout, which the prime minister says isn't needed yet. Europe was closely watching these elections, Becky, because Europe has basically said to Catalonia if you somehow go independent it doesn't mean you're going to get right back into the EU and to the euro. You have to get in line with the other countries - Becky.

ANDERSON: Fascinating stuff.

Thank you, Al. Al Goodman is out of Madrid.

After what has been a really big weekend for the Catalans and the Spanish as a whole.

We're going to take a very short break at this stage on the show. When we come back, though, Rory McIlroy sets a record for earnings on the golf tour, or did he? Let me crunch the numbers for you up next.


ANDERSON: You're watching Connect the World live from London. I'm Becky Anderson. 26 minutes past the hour.

English football, I'm afraid facing another bout with racism, something that is becoming more and more frequent in the past year or so and something that we've talked about way too often on this show. The latest issue not one of race, but of religion. Don Riddell joining me now to fill us in.

And this is about anti-Semitic chants by some West Ham fans in the EPL against Tottenham fans. I think you're just going to have to just explain why and where this happened?

DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Becky, I'll start off by saying that I think British football I think we all know has made huge strides since the days of the 70s and 80s, the really dark days, when there was so much you know racist abuse being chanted, so much kind of prejudicial kind of feeling. And a lot of progress has been made. But in the last 12 months it does seem like there's been more and more instances coming up.

And this latest one involves several, or a handful or I'm not sure how many, but some West Ham supporters who allegedly making anti-Semitic chants and performing the Nazi salute.

Now this was involved - or happened during a game against Tottenham Hotspur, a London side who traditionally have had strong contacts, or kind of connections with London's Jewish community. So obviously a very inappropriate game to make those remarks - very inappropriate to be making and behaving that way anyway.

But it has certainly blown up in the last 24 hours. The London police have made two arrests. They've cautioned two supporters. Those supporters we understand have accepted those cautions. West Ham has banned one of those fans for life already. The football association is investigating. And one of West Ham's players who actually is an Israeli player, Yossi Benayoun, has been tweeting today and saying that he was embarrassed to hear that those chants were going on.

So yet another example of the kind of behavior in football that we really don't want to see.

ANDERSON: Yeah, and we echo his words. It's just unforgivable isn't it?

Let's talk about something which is a lot more fun, perhaps. Rory McIlroy who I - I was in Dubai last week. I actually met him. What a nice bloke he is.

On Sunday - I met him Wednesday. Thursday he starts another tournament. Sunday he sets a new record for highest earnings on tour for a calendar year, but apparently your producers tell me there's a catch to this, right?

RIDDELL: I agree with you, by the way. He's a great guy. I've met him before --


RIDDELL: -- he's an absolutely great guy and a top golfer. Undoubtedly the dominant player in golf right now. He birdied the last five holes to win the Dubai World Championship. He's looking more and more like Tiger Woods these days, playing in red on a Sunday, he's got a big, fat new Nike contract next year.

And this victory gave him almost $12 million in earnings for the season which, as you say, is a record, or at least it appears to be a record on the face of it. We're going to pull these numbers up for you, because it was Tiger's season in 2007 when he earned over $11 million, as you can see, but not quite as much as Rory.

But the catch here is that that year, Tiger won the FedEx Cup, which gives you $10 million, but he wasn't allowed to count that towards his total. This year, when Rory won the Dubai World Championship, he got a million-dollar bonus on the season for that achievement, which gave him the higher figure.

So, it's a bit like comparing apples with oranges, not to mention the fact that prize money's changed in the last five years, and so you can't really compare the two anyway. And both have so many millions to go around, I don't think either of them --


RIDDELL: -- are thumbing their noses at each other today, do you?

ANDERSON: I was going to say -- you use the analogy apples and oranges, I just say, split your hairs over some bonus of a million. I'd love to do that with you.



ANDERSON: At some stage. Listen, I know you sat down with a tennis legend. You're going to talk about that in "World Sport" coming up in an hour from now. Don, thank you very much, indeed.


ANDERSON: Coming up later, it's world news headlines from CNN. Also ahead, Syrian rebels captured a key helicopter base over the weekend. We're going to talk to our senior international correspondent about whether these kinds of advances could change the momentum of the conflict. And your headlines, coming up.


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

Egypt's president is standing by a decree that's triggered nationwide protests. Mohamed Morsi held marathon talks with senior judges today. In the past hour or so, a spokesman has said that there'll be no changes to the November 22nd decree, which temporarily puts Mr. Morsi above judicial oversight.

However, a senior Muslim Brotherhood advisor tells our Christiane Amanpour not all presidential decisions are immune from judicial oversight. He was here in Europe. We'll see that interview in about 30 minutes' time.

Police in Germany say an explosion in a storage room may have caused the fire that killed 14 people and injured several others. The fire happened at the charity Workshop for the Disabled. Among those killed were workers and a counselor.

Bank of England is to be governed by the current chief of the Bank of Canada, Mark Carney. It's the first time a foreigner has been brought in as governor. The current Bank of England head, Mervyn King, will step down in June next year.

Activists say a cluster bomb from a Syrian warplane killed at least 10 kids on a playground in Damascus in a suburb on Sunday. CNN can't independently verify it or the authenticity of these pictures. Cluster bombs can release smaller explosives aimed at maximum -- causing maximum devastation.

Activists in Syria say the kids simply went out to play after a break in the fighting. A small chance to briefly live a normal life cost them their young lives, as Nick Paton Walsh reports from neighboring Lebanon. This attack may have been a retaliation for a recent rebel success.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Becky, activists say that when rebels score a major military success against the regime, as happened in a nearby air base in this instance, the Syrian army likes to visit its anger upon the nearby local population.

Now, we can't verify that that was the case here in Deir al-Asafir, or we can't verify that, in fact, these disturbing images you're about to see are the aftermath of a cluster bomb strike. What we do know, though, indisputably, is that at least 10 children were killed.

WALSH (voice-over): These disturbing images show what happens after a children's playground is hit, according to activists, by a cluster bomb. Refugees with nowhere else to hide apparently hit by a single deadly device dropped by a jet. Some cluster bombs release smaller explosives to cause maximum devastation against softer targets.

"What do these children have to do with anything, Bashar?" yells one man. At least ten children killed, according to activists, who said they found the remains of the bomb around the tiny village of Deir al-Asafir. CNN can't verify these pictures or claims cluster bombs were used, although Human Rights Watch say activists' images from the scene show cluster munitions.

But activists say civilians have been hit before when the regime has responded to key rebel successes, like the capture Sunday of this important air base at Marj al-Sultan not far away.

ALEXIA JADE, OPPOSITION SPOKESWOMAN (via telephone): There is actually no logic at all, attacking such a small village crammed with women and children like that than saying, "This is what you got form us? Well, look what we're going to do."

WALSH: The injuries to these children horrific no matter what the device used. The toll on the youngest and easiest to kill constant and unspeakable.

WALSH (on camera): Now, Becky, Human Rights Watch say they've documented a number of cases in the past months in which they say cluster munitions were used inside Syria. For their part, the Syrian regime says they don't possess such munitions and, therefore, can't put them to use inside their own country.

But what many activists and many Syrians of course will be asking themselves when they see yet another apparent outrage against such young people is what does the outside world have to see to spur them into action. Becky?


ANDERSON: It's horrifying stuff, isn't it? Nick, thank you for that.

It's fair to say that we've seen what could be described as a stalemate in Syria for months now, but the rebels, it seems, are at least making some tactical gains. Our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson with me -- with me in the studio here.

Here's a map. Given that you know this -- you've probably forgotten more about Syria than I will ever know. Just talk me through what's going on here. Talk us through these recent advances, Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they've been -- for a long time now, the rebels have been saying we must take out the air bases because the air bases are being used to bomb us from helicopters and from aircraft, as well.


ROBERTSON: And what we've seen just over the weekend is another air base. But what's surprising here, Marj al-Sultan, it's very, very close to Damascus, 10 miles, 15 kilometers away.

What we're seeing here are rebels firing RPGs at helicopters on the ground. Later on the in day, we see those helicopters burned out on the ground, other helicopters lying around. So, what the rebels have done here is they don't seem to be holding this ground, pulling back afterwards. But getting an opportunity to take weapons, and that is -- that is something that is different. I'm sure it's a sort of a tactical change here.

ANDERSON: Nick reporting on these cluster bombs. It's that sort of story that does your head in. What's the wider picture here?

ROBERTSON: Well, the wider pictures is something happening that's bigger than we've seen up until now. Let's just sort of isolate a couple of places on the map here. Another Air base taken around Dayr az-Zawr, here. Another one around Daraa in the south. One we talked about here around Damascus here.

An effort to take an airbase here, an effort to take military bases in this area, an effort and a success in taking border crossings here.

ANDERSON: Amazing.

ROBERTSON: What we are seeing here is the rebels taking weapons. Strategically, it doesn't make a lot of sense necessarily to have an air base here. They don't have planes to fly an attack on Damascus. But what they are getting is weapons.

You look at it as a potential for an exponential increase here. They take the base, they take the weapons, they can fight the next fight. They've been short of weapons up until now.

What they haven't been able to do, one key thing, here, is really isolate and cut off places like Aleppo and Idlib, which they're trying to do. Cut off the supply routes to Damascus down here. This is what they're trying to do. They haven't achieved that so far.

ANDERSON: Nic, if you -- if we take a wider picture here, I just want to look at -- you've given a sort of contextual picture as to where the rebels are and what they may or may not have gained in the last couple of weeks.

The ethnic picture in Syria is one that we don't, perhaps, talk about enough, and I think it's important tonight for you to just explain to us where people lie and why.

ROBERTSON: And there are some interesting things happening there, and let's bring up this other map, here. We're look at it here. Perhaps best to focus on the Kurdish elements at the moment. The Kurds here, this symbolism here and along the border here, and there have been real tensions, particularly up in this area, the border town, Ras al-Ayn up here.


ANDERSON: Let's get you -- let's get you a pen, here.



ROBERTSON: Up along the border area here, you've had Ras al-Ayn a conflict between the Kurds and the Free Syrian Army, the rebels. And why is this potentially a problem? It indicates a potential land grab, 3 million Kurds in Syria are concerned about their future and their stake in the country.

But it's more complicated than that, because the Kurds here were saying that the Free Syrian Army were having support from the Turkish troops telling them where to shoot at the Kurdish bases here.

And why would the Kurds worry about that? Because there's a huge Kurdish community in Turkey, a huge Kurdish community here in Iraq. Potentially in the future, you're going to see them want to get the autonomy they've been calling for.

ANDERSON: I've heard experts talking about this being the third leg of this Syria crisis. The Syrians, the Syrian rebels, and then the Kurdish communities. Is that going too far?

ROBERTSON: Of course, what Assad would love to do is divide and conquer, divide the Kurds from the Free Syrian Army, but what they've done in Ras al-Ayn is actually patch things up and get along, which is good for the -- opposition right now.

But it's clearly going to be an issue in the future. The Kurds have always felt hard done by by whoever's in charge in Damascus, and they are going to want to have in this new dispensation that seems to be coming, they're going to want to have a bigger voice. And part of the way to get that bigger voice is to have a stronger stake in territory on the ground, so that's --

ANDERSON: More complicated than ever?

ROBERTSON: More complicated than ever, but look. The bottom line here, we just looked at a picture. The rebels are getting more weapons, you talked about stalemate. Not so much stalemate. Looking to make bigger gains across the whole country.

Haven't quite secured that, but the momentum is shifting now, and that's something that Damascus is going to feel. Look at all these different air bases. They seem to be running out of troops to defend them.

ANDERSON: Nic Robertson, always on the case for you. Nic, always a pleasure.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD live from London on CNN. Still to come: Myanmar has been making some democratic reforms of late, but over a million people have been completely left out. We're going to get you an exclusive report on that after this.



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Rohingya hold themselves -- hold within themselves the same dignity as you do and I do. National reconciliation will take time, but for the sake of our common humanity and for the sake of this country's future, it's necessary to stop incitement and to stop violence.


ANDERSON: Well, during his historic visit to Myanmar last week, US president Barack Obama made a plea for peace on behalf of the country's Rohingya minority, a persecuted Muslim group in the majority Buddhist country.

CNN's Dan Rivers was there three years ago and went back to see firsthand the situation that the Rohingya people now face. In a moment, we're going to bring you his exclusive report.

First, let me just remind you of just who we're talking about here. They are ethnic Muslims based in the northwest of the country.

Amnesty International says they've been exploited by the government. Well, their land is often taken from them. They are taxed heavily and sometimes used for forced labor. They are not granted citizenship in the country nor recognized as an ethnic group and, as a result, hundreds of thousands have fled to neighboring Bangladesh and other countries.

Well, Dan Rivers went to the city of Sittwe near the border with Bangladesh and sent us this exclusive and, let me tell you, disturbing report.


DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Becky, much of the international attention on Myanmar has been on the political reforms, especially after President Obama's recent visit. But in the far west of the country, there is a humanitarian crisis unfolding that is claiming lives every day.

RIVERS (voice-over): Meet Saulama Hafu. She's so malnourished her skeleton is straining at the skin. She can't even summon the energy to swat the flies. And look at her arms. She looks like a two-year-old, but she's five.

This is manmade catastrophe in Myanmar, formerly Burma. Amid the lauded reforms towards democracy, there is a humanitarian scandal in this country's far west Rahkine state. Saulama's family live in a refugee camp where the only food is rice. She's worried her firstborn will starve to death, but she's nowhere else to go. They are part of a Muslim minority called Rohingyas, and they fled here because of this.


RIVERS: Ethnic cleansing. Rohingya villages torched, the terrified residents blaming Buddhist extremists.

MOHAMMED SYED, ROHINGYA: It was organized, strategically organized. Strategically, they did it. They had a prior -- they had committed a program. They want to make genocide to Rohingya.

RIVERS (on camera): Genocide?

SYED: Genocide. Genocide to Rohingya. That is why they did it.

RIVERS (voice-over): Those who haven't fled to the camps feel like they're living under siege. In Sittwe, the Rohingya community is living in terror behind fences.

RIVERS (on camera): This is the last Muslim quarter in Sittwe, and effectively it is a modern-day ghetto. The people here are trapped. They can't get out. And limited food supplies and medicine are coming in.

And what happened right here is what everyone is worried about. Last June, an angry Buddhist mob turned up and torched 20 houses, and people here are worried the mob is going to come back.

RIVERS (voice-over): The Rohingya are stateless, not recognized as citizens by Myanmar, yet there are about a million of them. They say their families have been here for generations.

Already, the number of dead is thought to be in the hundreds, and the United Nations says more than 100,000 have been driven from their homes. Buddhist nationalists are unrepentant. I meet a local politician who shows me photos of his followers injured in the clashes. He views all Muslims as foreigners who must be kicked out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have no rights to be citizens. They come from Bangladesh and they live here. They want to have this land. We never organized to fight or to use force. We are a proper legal party. We love peace.

RIVERS: But a few miles away, a series of vast refugee camps. Rohingyas are arriving here very day, driven out of their homes, they say, by arson, murder, and rape.

Conditions are appalling. In this cow shed, a thin layer of straw is all that separates these kids from the animal and human excrement below. And they are fast becoming ill.

Aid workers are thin on the ground. These foreign doctors can't show their faces, because they couldn't get permission to work here and are worried they'll be thrown out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've had one five-year-old day. Just brought into the clinic as she died, which was incredibly sad. We can do what we can, and we know that we are helping and saving some lives, but there are just so many more that need to be helped.

RIVERS: Saulama Hafu is just one of tens of thousands of children here. She got to see a doctor, but how many others here will die?

RIVERS (on camera): The United Nations has recently launched an appeal for $41 million to try and tackle this crisis, but the problem is, many of the aid agencies are finding they can't get their staff accredited, meaning people are suffering unnecessarily. Becky?


ANDERSON: On the eve of President Obama's visit, Myanmar's president wrote to the UN Secretary-General promising to address the resettlement of displaced populations and the granting of citizenship. He didn't suggest a timeline for any changes of policy, so watch this space.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here live on CNN. When we come back, working up a sweat to save the planet. We're going to take a look at an outdoor gym turning your workout into megawatts. We're Going Green on CONNECT THE WORLD after this.


ANDERSON: All this week as part of CNN's Going Green series, we're going to take a look at our green future and ways that some of us around the world are trying to save our planet. We all know that exercising is good for us. We might not do it, but we know it's good for us. But can it also be good for the environment?

Well, Ayesha Durgahee is now up for visiting an outdoor gym which is turning people power into electricity.


AYESHA DURGAHEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Working out and keeping fit is no walk in the park. The energy that's exerted, though, doesn't have to be all sweat and tears.

This gym, created by the Great Outdoor Gym Company here in Hull, north England, converts your puffs into power. Every pedal and every stride is turned into electricity.

TERRY GERAGHTY, HULL CITY COUNCIL: The aim of the council is to get more and more people out here. Instead of sitting in their lounges watching television, we want to get people off their lounges and get active.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fantastic. That's free of charge. And you just come on it anytime you want to come on it. It's just great.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: It's really good, because you get fit.

DURGAHEE: The Great Outdoor Gym Company says it's already installed more than 350 gyms around the UK, paid for by local council, free for residents. This one, however, is the first to make its own electricity.

DURGAHEE (on camera): How much electricity is being generated now, or has been generated so far?

GEORGIE DELANEY, THE GREAT OUTDOOR GYM COMPANY: So far, Hull has generated total outage, the gym's generated 40,000 watt-hours. The goal is that a gym like this should serve a community of about 5,000 people.

DURGAHEE (voice-over): An outdoor gym that powers its own lighting is the reality. Feeding surface electricity into the national grid and reducing bills is the dream.

DURGAHEE (on camera): And do you think that there's scope to take this concept global, that this is the first of its kind that can be a leader in this sort of technology?

DELANEY: In the Western world, we consume too much energy, both in terms of food and electricity, and what we're trying to do at the Great Outdoor Gym company with the green energy gyms is give councils and communities a tool with a facility like this where people can actually offset their consumption of both food and electricity.

DURGAHEE (voice-over): It's a concept that's attracted interest from other local councils around the world, including developing countries. This prototype cost about $100,000 to install.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One more, that's one.

DURGAHEE: There are plans, though, to introduce a range of gyms, starting from about $32,000, that's capable of charging mobile phones, up to $127,000 to feed into national grids. For research scientist Ling Ge at London's Imperial College, the price needs to be right for the Great Outdoor Gym Company to fulfill its green ambitions.

LING GE, RESEARCH SCIENTIST, IMPERIAL COLLEGE: The conversion from the gym to the national grid, it may be quite costly, so in developing countries, that cost issue. If the African countries could afford such kind of luxury fun gym, or is it better to use cheaper alternatives?

DURGAHEE: People power to help the environment and our health, where every watt counts could be worth working up a sweat for future generations to come.

Ayesha Durgahee, CNN, London.


ANDERSON: Tonight's Partings Shots. The Rolling Stones have kicked off their 50th anniversary tour Sunday at London's O2 Arena.




ANDERSON: The cheaper seats cost 90 quid and some were resold online for thousands more. Guest performers included Mary J. Blige and Jeff Beck. The Stones played some of their classics like "Get Off of My Cloud," as you hear, and "Paint it Black." Fans didn't get to hear the song "Satisfaction," but it seems they got plenty from the show.

I'm Becky Anderson. That was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thanks for watching. Good night.