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CONNECT THE WORLD

Argentine Politician Challenge Pope Francis For Role In "Dirty War"; Li Keqiang Becomes China's New Premier

Aired March 15, 2013 - 17:00   ET

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


ZAIN VERJEE, HOST: Tonight on Connect the world, scared for life: raising their hands, these kids all say that they've lost loved ones to Syria's brutal civil war. Two years after the conflict began what does their future look like?

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

VERJEE: Also coming up on the show, fighting pirates on the high seas. We go aboard one of NATO's patrol ships.

And the cool new Samsung feature which first cropped up in a movie over 10 years ago. Guess which one?

Two years and counting and there's no end in sight to Syria's brutal civil war. In city's around the world people held candlelight vigils to honor all of the lives lost since March 15, 2011, that's the date when the uprising began. The United Nations estimates more than 70,000 people have died and more than a million Syrians have been forced to flee their homeland.

In fact, the United Nations refugee chief visited a center in Lebanon just today to meet with the one millionth registered Syrian refugee. She is a 19 year old mother of two. Tonight, we'll take you beyond those numbers and show you the human face of suffering inside Syria today.

Nick Paton Walsh is in Beirut with a look at how the war is affecting some of the most innocent of victims. And here in London, we have Fawaz Gerges, a Mideast expert and contributor to our show.

Nick, let me start with you and the shocking report that you've done from a secret school. Tell us about it?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Two years ago, it was a child drawing, in fact graffiti on a wall against Assad, that began this revolt because those children were so repressed. But now it's not only swallowed a generation of Syrian children, but it's in danger of afflicting this entire region as a whole. And we caught up with some children as you say at a secret school in Aleppo and got an idea of the kind of trauma they've experienced.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PATON WALSH: You can tell two years of war will scare for generations when children here in rebel held and regime bombarded Aleppo even have to go to school in secret. This revolt began when children had their nails torn out by police for drawing graffiti. Now it spawns these drawings. The planes, loaves, tanks of a bakery shelled from a girl who lost her uncle and brother to shelling she still hears in her dreams.

DONATELLA ROVERA, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: The Syrian government are using inaccurate and indiscriminate weapons designed for the battlefield against civilian residential neighborhoods every day.

It is incredibly frustrating for a (inaudible) to see how little resonant of this is having at the international level. The international community is profoundly divided (inaudible) spectacularly.

PATON WALSH: Pause and see what two years of killing has already done. We ask them to raise their hand if they've lost someone to the war.

"My uncle," she says. "My cousin," she ads.

LUCIANO CALESTINI, UNICEF Right now at risk of losing a generation of Syrian children. They have seen extreme violence, often happening to a family member. And they find themselves now often in the foreign lands living in open fields, living in unfinished buildings. It's the magnitude of crisis in countries like Lebanon that is very difficult to manage.

PATON WALSH: Even now this girl wanted anonymity, fearing a massacre if the regime returns, even as she depicts it as close to collapse.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): In this drawing, I imagine the Syrian regime right now. This is Bashar al-Assad's shadow. His regime is only an image. The regime has actually collapsed and is afraid of its own shadow and everything around it.

JOSHUA LANDIS, SYRIA ANALYST: The regime and the Alawites are terrified of what will happen to them if they don't prevail in this struggle. For them, it's really an existential moment and that's why they're destroying the country with such vengeance. Damascus, in a year's time it could look much like Aleppo: destroyed. Assad is unlike to lay down his arms.

PATON WALSH: Sometimes class ends before the bell when the power cuts out. So young, they've already learned to take sides, to cheer on fighters to victory. Syria's two years of darkness swallowing their childhood whole.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PATON WALSH: Now those four neighboring countries not only dealing with a refugee crisis of epic proportions, but also finding their military occasionally dragged in to the war as well. And few people really doubt that Bashar al-Assad will eventually fall. The question is how much damage is done to Syria and the region around it ahead of that event. Today, we're hearing EU members, the UK and France thinking that the best thing to do now is perhaps consider arming the rebels, because they're concerned moderates in their ranks are losing out to extremists who are getting weapons from other sources.

But for many rebels, that will be help that comes too little, too late. So much resentment already towards the west inside Syria because they feel they've been left out on a limb for the last two years -- Zain.

VERJEE: And what would the impact of arming rebels actually mean for ordinary Syrians on the ground look like some of those kids in your report?

PATON WALSH: Well, for the ordinary Syrians, they just want the fighting to stop. And there are two ways you think you can deal with that. There's the international community who believes perhaps a political transition can speed that through, but then I think perhaps more realistically, those on the ground who just think a swifter rebel victory is the answer to that.

If the EU members France and the UK decide to supply arms, they'd have to be of the heavy type of weaponry to take out air power and to damage the regime's superiority on the battlefield because of their armored vehicles.

We're still a long way away from that, but that could potentially tip the balance. And it will certainly send a message to the Assad regime that the international community, the west is getting more militarily involved now -- Zain.

VERJEE: Nick Paton Walsh reporting from Beirut.

So much has changed in two years. In march 2011, the Arab Spring was in full force, giving people across the Mideast a new hope for real political change that never seemed possible. Syrians first took to the streets in Daraa to protest the arrest and the torture of boys who had scribbled anti-government graffiti on school walls. Soon there were people in other cities joining in solidarity.

The protests were initially peaceful, but after the regime unleashed a deadly crackdown, some Syrians fought back. Armed rebels were eventually helped by fighters who came form overseas. And the revolution became the bloody insurgency we're seeing today.

Fawaz Gerges is a professor of Middle Eastern politics and international relations at the London School of Economics.

Great to see you Fawaz.

FAWAZ GERGES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Same here, Zain. Thank you.

VERJEE: Is there any end in sight in Syria?

GERGES: Really, there is no end in sight at this particular moment, nor light at the end of the tunnel. As you suggested, it all started as part of the political struggle in the Arab world like Tunisia, like Egypt, like Yemen and like Bahrain. It has mutated now into all out war, almost civil war. It's carnage. It's a bloodbath. And almost 100 (ph) people have been killed, 1 million refugees, 2.5 displaced people.

The big point, Zain, about Syria is that the conventional wisdom in the west has proved to be wrong. Assad's days were not numbered, are not numbered. He will be with us for awhile.

VERJEE: But how much longer can he hang on? And what are the rebels doing that isn't working?

GERGES: You know, Zain, we cannot predict. It's a very risky business as you know. We're not really well equipped to predict. But I would not be surprised if Assad does not really complete his presidential term in 2014. The rebels are deeply divided. There is a diplomatic stalemate and military deadlock as well.

VERJEE: Fawaz Gerges, we'll continue talking to you later on in the show.

And a little bit more about France's call to arm the Syrian rebels and whether anything at all can break the diplomatic deadlock.

This is connect the World live from London. Still to come tonight, the U.S. military makes a move over what it calls a mounting threat from North Korea.

Plus, we're going to introduce you to the second most powerful man in China and tell you why Beijing thinks he is a whiz with money.

And in sports, the great eight have learned their fate in the Champion's League. Find out who is going head to head. Connect the World continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VERJEE: You're watching CNN. And this is Connect the World with me, Zain Verjee. Welcome back.

We're continuing to follow a developing story out of the U.S. Twin engine planes crashed into a warehouse in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Emergency crews are on the scene. There's no word how many people have been affect, but these are the pictures that we have. And we're going to bring you more information when we get it.

The U.S. is beefing up its defenses against North Korea. It's taking extra steps to guard against the possibility of a nuclear missile attack by Pyongyang. Just a few hours ago, the U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced plans to install 14 new anti-missile interceptors. Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence joins me now live from Washington.

Hi there, Chris. Good to see you. Does the U.S. believe that North Korean missiles can physically reach them?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bottom line, Zain, right now no, they don't. North Korea has a missile that technically in theory could travel about 5,000 miles and hit parts of the United States, including Alaska, but it's just that, in theory. They've never actually successfully tested a long range ICBM.

But, the fact that they have sort of a mobile transport and launcher, meaning that they could move a missile around, the fact that they showed some improvement in their last missile launch putting a satellite out into space and these increased threats -- you know, launching a preemptive nuclear strike on the United States -- all of this taken together has sort of ramped up the concern in the United States and led to this decision to increase by 50 percent the number of ground based interceptors on the United States west coast.

Here's Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel explaining his rationale for this $1 billion investment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHUCK HAGEL, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: The United States has missile defense systems in place to protect it from limited ICBM attacks. But North Korea in particular has recently made advances in its capabilities and is engaged in a series of irresponsible and reckless provocations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAWRENCE: So right now if all goes according to plan they would have these 14 new silos online by the year 2017, Zain.

VERJEE: And why are some officials in the U.S. criticizing the move by the Pentagon to do this?

LAWRENCE: Two reasons. On one side you've got people saying that the United States has spent tens of billions of dollars on a missile defense system that doesn't work, that, you know, it's only designed to counter a simple threat. In other words, if North Korea would have put up a balloons or wires or decoys, the system wouldn't properly pick those up and work. They say this is sort of throwing good money after bad. And in fact the Pentagon is testing a new system and won't actually buy these news 14 missiles until they're sure that this new system will actually work.

On the other hand, you've got criticism from some Republicans who say just a couple of years ago President Obama, you know, basically moth balled a missile field in Alaska saying that North Korea wasn't enough of a threat to keep that -- keep those silos open. Now they're going to go back and pay the money to actually reactivate this missile field. And they say, you know, that's just showing the priorities weren't in the right place.

VERJEE: Chris Lawrence at the Pentagon.

There's tough talk for Washington from a UN human rights official. Now he's criticizing the use of drones in Pakistan. The New America Foundation tracks the number of strikes. Now just take a look at this map, OK, because you can see them pinpointed on it. It says that in the past decade there have been more than 350 unmanned drone strikes in Pakistani territory, including nine so far this year.

CNN got exclusive access as the UN special investigator with victims - - met with victims of drone strikes in Pakistan. Ben Emmerson says innocent civilians are dying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN EMMERSON, UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON HUMAN RIGHTS: Bearing in mind the extent to which this targeting policy must depend on human intelligence, there's obviously a myriad of ways in which it could easily occur that an individual could be misidentified. The question is, and this is one of the real thorny difficulties, how do we tell whether or not individuals or groups who have been targeted or who have lost their lives were indeed legitimate targets?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERJEE: A whale of a problem for JP Morgan Chase. The U.S. Senate has slammed the bank for losing more than $6 billion through bad trades. And it's not buying JP Morgan's explanation. Now the bank's executives have been hauled in front of U.S. lawmakers in the government's first major inquiry into last summer's bad bets.

This can all be traced back to one employee, the London Whale, real name Bruno Iksil. His team ran up losses of around $6 billion, which prompted this whole investigation. Senator Carl Levin, who is leading this investigation, says that the bank's laissez faire attitude was to blame.

(BEGN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CARL LEVIN, (D) MICHIGAN: Our findings open a window into the hidden world of high stakes derivatives trading by big banks. It exposes a derivatives trading culture at JP Morgan. It piled on risk, that hid losses, that disregarded risk limits, the manipulated risk models, that dodged oversight and that misinformed the public.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERJEE: Tonight, the Vatican is rejecting accusation that Pope Francis failed to speak out against human rights abuses during Argentina's so-called "Dirty War." The claims have resurfaced as the Vatican prepares for Tuesday's papal inauguration mass. Shasta Darlington takes a look at the whole controversy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNAITONAL CORRESPONDENT: Zain, for the most part the election of Pope Francis has been en enormous source of pride for Argentina and for people here in Buenos Aires. But it has also opened the door to a period in Argentina's history that is still unresolved in many ways.

A dark, and in many ways unresolved period in Argentina's history. 30,000 people were disappeared during the military dictatorship that lasted seven years ending in 1983. Thousands more kidnapped and tortured.

The role of Argentina's Catholic church is murky, with some in the hierarchy supporting the junta. That shadow now hangs over Pope Francis.

At that time, Jorge Bergoglio was the young head of Argentina's Jesuit order. Gaston Chillier tracks human rights cases in the country.

GASTON CHILLIER, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR LEGAL AND SOCIAL STUDIES (through translator): The designation of Cardinal Bergoglio generates doubts, basically because of situations related to the military dictatorship that were never clarified, serious human rights violations, particularly the disappearance of two Jesuit priests.

DARLINGTON: He's talking about the kidnapping of two Jesuit priests in 1976. One of them later accused Bergoglio of not doing enough to protect them.

In his official biography, Bergoglio says he pleaded with the priest to leave their slum work to avoid trouble. He says he later worked behind the scenes to secure their release. One of the priests says he reconciled with Bergoglio years later.

Few people blame Bergoglio for seemingly not standing up to the junta, but critics say he should have attempted to make amends for the church's role once it was over.

TATY ALMEIDA, MOTHERS OF PLAZA DE MAYO (through translator): It makes you think that complete complicity of the church's hierarchy continues even to this day, because from the pope down they've never mentioned it: not this pope, or the last pope, or the one before that, they've never apologized.

DARLINGTON: The Vatican spokesman said none of the accusations had been proven and shouldn't be dredged up now.

REV. FEDERICO LOMBARDI, VATICAN SPOKESMAN (through translator): We affirm that these accusations are not reasonable and not based on facts and should not cast any shadow on the figure of the new pope.

DARLINGTON: The so-called "Dirty War" is still very present today with many junta era leaders on trial, some have already been sentenced.

Still, many Argentine's agree that this is a moment to pause and celebrate the election of the first Latin American pope ever, a man who beyond dispute has been a champion of the poor and will bring a common's man touch to the papacy.

Zain, I should also note that there are still those people here in Argentina who hope that with his new position as Pope Francis, there could still be an apology for the church's role during the military dictatorship here in Argentina.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: The world will be watching next week when the two biggest economies sit down together in Beijing. Now it's going to be more than just a chat between the U.S. and China. And the people who will be doing the talking are both new to their jobs. A senior U.S. official says Jack Lew will push economic reforms in his role as the U.S. Treasury Secretary. He's going to be face to face with China's new premier Li Keqiang. He's been praised for helping China navigate the whole global financial crisis.

Hala Gorani takes a closer look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is now the second most powerful man in China's government. Nearly 3,00 delegates in the country's legislature elected Li Keqiang as the new premier on Friday. Li joins President Xi Jinping elected only the day before in this once in a decade transition of power. The 57 year old Li succeeds the outgoing Wen Jiabao. He previously had been Wen's top lieutenant.

While Xi is China's top leader, Li now takes charge of the world's second largest economy. And he has his work cut out for him with slowing economic growth and a widening gap between China's rich and poor. These residents in Beijing say they're hopeful about the change in leadership.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I hope the new president and premier will govern our country well. Ordinary people need a wealthier life so they can afford to buy an apartment and improve the standard of living.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I think China is facing a tough situation domestically and internationally. We still have many problems with our property, medical, pension, and economic transition. As for overseas, we have the island dispute, North Korea, and pressure from the U.S. that all need to be resolved soon.

GORANI: And we may learn more about Li's plans as premier when he holds his first news conference on Sunday.

Hala Gorani, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: We're going to take a short break right now, but when we come back, Rafael Nadal's comeback from injury has been going as well as he could hope for, but a familiar face stood in his way Wednesday night. We'll tell you what happened.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VERJEE: The draws for the Champion's League quarterfinals is out. And there are some really intriguing matchups. Mark McKay joins us now to take a closer look.

Mark, you know I follow this very, very closely so I'm really waiting to see what you have to say.

MARK MCKAY, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I will help you along here on a Friday night, Zain. I'm always here to help you, my dear.

Yeah, there are the eight teams actually that are still in contention for that silver trophy, that wonderful silver Champion's League trophy which will be awarded in May at Wembley Stadium in London.

Yes, there were in fact some intriguing matchups that came out of Friday's draw out of Switzerland, one involving Paris Saint Germain. They have owners out of the Middle East that have spent a whole lot of euros to get this team back on track. Now they find them into the last -- into the last eight now. And it's going to be Paris Saint Germain and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, this footballer against one of his former teams, Barcelona. Ibrahimovic has been a goal scoring spree for the Parisian side. He'll be up against his former club, but he will not play in the opening leg against Lio Messi as Zlatan has been suspended for the opening leg of this intriguing quarterfinal tie.

Yeah, Zlatan is good, but Lio Messi, he is the one who has been making history all across Europe. Two goals in the match that sent Manchester United out of the Champion's League and boosted his team, Barcelona, into the quarters in dramatic come from behind fashion.

Another quarterfinal tie that we saw him out of the draw on Friday saw Italian Serie A side Juventus up against the first placed team in the German Bundesliga Bayern Munich. Juve with a solid -- rock solid defense, a dangerous midfielder in Andrea Pirlo, so it's the first placed team in Italy against the first placed team in the German first division.

And Galatasaray of Turkey, you see they have made the Champion's League quarterfinal field. I don't think it is the draw they wanted, though. Galatasaray's reward for squeezing in after just surviving the group stage are meeting with Christiano Renaldo and Real Madrid.

Another surprise entry Spain against the German side Borussia Dortmund, so Spain, Zain, putting three -- three teams into the last eight of the European Champion's League.

VERJEE: Zain and Spain, is that what you were trying to say? Falls mainly on the plain.

Hey, tennis, Federer and Nadal, who won?

MCKAY: Well, let's get right to it. Rafael Nadal and -- it was pretty much the way this match went, Zain. This was on the hard courts of Indian Wells. These two -- think about this, they met in 2004 for the very first time, and since then they have split 28 Grand Slam titles between them.

There's been a lot of questions about that young man, Mallorca's Rafael Nadal, and how his knees have held up. We've seen him win tournament titles on clay. Well, on this night, 6-4, 6-2, a quarterfinal matchup against his old foe Roger Federer.

We think that Nadal is back to good health. He is certainly showing it. He comes out of Indian Wells with this tennis title, Zain, we have got to watch out for some really good things from Rafa Nadal. It was his easiest, 4 and 2 for Nadal against Federer in the quarterfinals. I think he's going to make the most of his moves this year on the grand slam stage of one of his favorite places, of course, the French Open in Paris.

But if he can perform with the news that we've worried so much about, the way he did on Wednesday night against Roger Federer, this will be Rafa Nadal's year.

Much more on world sport including a look at the start of the new Formula 1 season. Patrick Snell offers up the Friday night addition for you, Zain. Have a good weekend.

VERJEE: All right. Thanks. You, too.

Live from London, you're watching Connect the World. Coming up, what's it going to take to finally bring peace to Syria? Some countries believe that the violence may have to get worse before it gets better.

Plus, we'll take you aboard a NATO ship helping patrol one of the world's most dangerous seas.

And you can look, but you can't touch. No, I'm talking about technology. Well, we'll tell you what this means, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VERJEE: Hi, I'm Zain Verjee. These are the latest world headlines from CNN. The United States announced extra steps to guard against a potential nuclear missile attack. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced plans to install 14 new anti-missile interceptors. Hagel says that the plans were in the interest of national and international security.

We're continuing to follow a developing story out of the United States. A twin engine plane has crashed into a warehouse area in Fort Lauderdale in Florida. The plane had just taken off from the airport there, the executive airport.

Emergency crews are on the scene, and there's no word yet on who was onboard or their condition either, but a city spokeswoman says there appears to be no injuries on the ground. Witnesses are saying that the plane just fell out of the sky, and at least three or four cars on the ground exploded.

Candlelight vigils on the second anniversary of Syria's uprising. This group in Berlin observed a minute of silence for the youngest victims of war. Meantime, a senior rebel spokesman tells CNN 300 rebel fighters received US weapons training in Jordan and have moved back to Syria.

The Vatican denies accusations that the new pope somehow colluded with Argentina's military dictatorship during the country's so-called Dirty War in the 1970s. Pope Francis met with the world's cardinals on Friday, his second full day as leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

Chinese president Xi Jinping congratulates his new number two. Li Keqiang was confirmed as premier by the National People's Congress earlier Friday. He succeeds Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

On the second anniversary of the Syrian uprising, Britain and France are making another plea for arming the rebels. Now, they're trying to convince the European Union to ease its weapons embargo, but it didn't make any apparent progress at a meeting in Brussels. The EU postponed any other discussion on the issue until next week.

Some European leaders fear that a flood of weapons into Syria is only going to escalate things. They're also really worried that the weapons could fall into the wrong hands. But today, the French president, Francois Hollande, said that's not going to happen. He has received guarantees from rebel leaders.

Fawaz Gerges has more perspective on this. He's a professor of Middle Eastern politics and international relations at the London School of Economics. Is -- that naive just to take the guarantees from rebels? Or is arming the rebels the right way to go?

FAWAZ GERGES, PROFESSOR OF MIDDLE EASTERN POLITICS, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: Zain, both the Americans and the Brits and the French now say they have necessary guarantees that if arms are delivered to the rebels, arms will not fall into the wrong hands, in particular, the al-Nusra Front, the jihadists.

The question is not whether just the arms would fall into the wrong hands, the question is also would delivering arms to the rebels really make a strategic difference in the stalemate, diplomatic and political stalemate.

The European Union is deeply divided. Britain and France would like to arm the opposition. Germany, Austria, and Sweden saying well look, more arms, more escalation, more civilians killed.

VERJEE: Even if the rebels got the arms, are they coordinated enough, experienced enough, organized enough to still win, or does Assad -- is too powerful and too strategic?

GERGES: Zain, you asked me earlier about why Assad has survived as long as he has. The reason why he has survived, not only because the military and the security apparatus remains intact, not because he also receives support from Iran and Russia, because the opposition is deeply divided, both the political opposition and the armed opposition inside Syria.

VERJEE: Why? Why can't they just put their differences aside and then do what they need to, get rid of Assad, and then fight later?

GERGES: Well, it's easier said than done.

(LAUGHTER)

GERGES: Remember, for 40 years, Syria is an authoritarian state. There is no civil society, there is no political process. You have almost 200 armed factions in Syria. If there's a word to describe the armed factions, it's chaotic. There is no centralized command and control. And you have also the religious nationalists armed opposition, and you have the jihadists.

VERJEE: So, if you have 200 groups like that, who's going to get the weapons and then how are they going to give all these guarantees to France and the Western countries who are trusting them?

GERGES: Well, here is the point. What France and Britain are saying, not only they want to provide arms to tip the balance of power in favor of the moderate opposition, the nationalist opposition, this -- the Free Syrian Army, they also want to tip the balance of power within the armed opposition in favor of the Free Syrian Army against the jihadists and the extremists.

So, in a way, arming the opposition, in particular the Free Syrian Army, helps also the opposition vis-a-vis the more radical elements. Not to mention the fact, Zain, that Britain and France argue that the only way to have influence in the post-Assad regime is to build bridges to the armed opposition at home inside Syria.

VERJEE: Is the Arab Spring really becoming an Arab Winter in Syria?

GERGES: Well, Zain, Syria is dramatically different than other Arab countries. I know it's a cliche, we keep saying it. Syria is not Tunisia, is not Egypt.

And the reason why Syria is different, because the security military apparatus in Syria basically is fighting tooth and nail to protect the political establishment. In Tunisia and in Egypt, the army sided with the people, or the army did not really fire on the people.

And also in Syria, Syria is deeply divided. Regardless, I know it's very difficult to say it, two years on, Assad retains a critical segment of public support at home. Whether it's 20 percent or 30 percent, this critical segment is his power base, not to mention that Russia and Iran are his two major supporters.

Syria, unlike Tunisia and Egypt, has turned into a war by proxy. You have regional rivalries playing themselves on the Syrian scene. Iran on the one hand, Saudi Arabia and Qatar and Turkey on the other hand, not to mention the Cold War rivalry between Russia and the United States, and that's why it's conflict.

So, it's really in a word, Syria is multiple conflicts collapsed in one, and that's why it has taken so long, and that's why it will most likely be a war of attrition, will take a long time, unfortunately for the Syrian people.

VERJEE: Great perspective from you, as always, Fawaz. Thank you so much.

GERGES: Thanks.

VERJEE: Stay with us. Still to come after the break on CNN, Nima Elbagir joins NATO forces in action helping fight pirates at sea.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VERJEE: "There are no jobs and no money in Somalia," he tells us. "That leaves no options," says Gedi. "You either join the al-Shabaab militia or government forces or, if you have relatives, you become a pirate."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERJEE: That's me back in December 2011 speaking to a many who used to be a pirate in Somalia. I don't know why my hair looked so awful there. But what we were talking about is piracy being big business at sea.

But thanks to international efforts, the number of attacks is down. So far this year, there have been 47 pirate attacks worldwide. Now, just compare that to 297 ships attacked last year and 439 total attacks in 2011.

But the threat of piracy is still really real. The International Maritime Bureau currently lists five ships as being held by Somali pirates and 65 crewmembers being held hostage. Analysts say that the waters off the eastern and western African coasts remain the worst-hit areas.

Naval forces are working together to help locals fight these pirate attacks. CNN's Nima Elbagir is riding along aboard a NATO ship called the San Marco. See what she found.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Since 2009, NATO's been deploying some pretty considerable resources in this area. On sea, obviously, but also in the air. Helicopters like this one behind me are being used for surveillance, but they're also used for forcible boarding of pirate ships. And this is what it looks like when they're coming at you.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): But all this vigilance, of course, comes at a cost, which is why NATO is trying to work through regional navies and regional partners, the people who have the most at stake in the security of this ocean and this area.

ELBAGIR (on camera): In this joint training exercise, the Tanzanian Navy is being walked through exactly the same steps that NATO troops would be following.

We thought today you were doing some joint exercises with the Tanzanian navy.

ANTONIO NATALE, ADMIRAL, NATO COMMANDER, OPERATION OCEAN SHIELD: Of course, of course. This is driven by two main activities. One is to involve all the partners in these activities, that means all the countries work to face the operational area of the activity. So, it means Tanzania, Kenya, all the countries that are around the piracy area of the operation. And the second is, of course, Somalia.

ELBAGIR: Given, though, how much money is being spent on this area, on this operation, do you think it's sustainable?

NATALE: We could say that from the information organization, they give us some numbers that speaks by themselves. Two years ago, the international community paid more than $12 billion to face this problem.

After one year, so last year, we reduced this amount of money from $12 billion to $7 billion. And only a small part of this is related to the military part. So, I think continuing this track, of course, will save a lot of money for the international community.

ELBAGIR: Even just a year ago, these balmy waters were prime pirate hunting ground. It seems they have finally been reclaimed.

Nima Elbagir, CNN, on the San Marco.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: As Nima was just saying, while piracy may be dropping along the main shipping route, it's really picking up elsewhere. Take a look at this, OK? Because you can see the main route, shown here in blue, from Europe through the Suez Canal, and then it goes down toward the East African coast.

But it's increasing on the other side of Africa. You see, that's the route you see in purple on the left hand side of your screen. That route goes through the Gulf of Guinea. The purple route used to be the safer one, although it's a bit more expensive and it can add weeks to a journey.

Joining me now is one man who's come up with a solution for businesses that want to secure their goods as they travel this vital trading lane. Anthony Sharp is from a private company called Typhon. Great to have you with us.

ANTHONY SHARP, CEO, TYPHON: Thank you for having me.

VERJEE: So, what are some of the kind of things that your company does to protect vessels?

SHARP: We provide an integrated protection model that begins onshore, in terms of detecting where pirates are and criminals are likely to be and how long they're likely to be there.

VERJEE: How do you detect?

SHARP: We take a fused radar picture from our clients and we essentially map the knowns -- well, we know the known vessels in theater -- and we take away those, and you're left with, then, the unknowns. And of course, then we go -- we advise our clients to go around them.

Or if we have to go through them with our convoy, then of course we stand up in residence and we launch our patrol boats to intercept any likely criminal activity.

VERJEE: How do you know that they're not fisherman? Because sometimes there's a confusion, pirates, fisherman -- and how do you -- how can you tell that the vessels they're using aren't mother ships that they've used that are difficult to identify even as pirates?

SHARP: Well, that question belies what's going on in the market at the moment, and that is armed guards on vessels. When you haven't got patrol craft to go and look at the fishermen or the suspect target, you have a very binary approach, and that is to either use or not use lethal force.

However, the difference between our company and the current protection models is that we'll be able to have a vessel at sea that's transocean, and we launch our own patrol boats from that vessel to go and intercept pirate activities and investigate fishermen or see what they're doing or see whether they're likely criminals.

VERJEE: Sometimes when there's been a call for help, it's taken NATO vessels or you, now, for -- a day or longer to get to the SOS call location. Is that a problem for you? What is your timely response?

SHARP: The difference between Typhon and the navy is that we're close protection, so our clients are close to us so they're part of a convoy. We'll have --

VERJEE: So, you're traveling in convoy with them.

SHARP: Correct.

VERJEE: So -- and identifying what the situation is around them. And your response is way quicker.

SHARP: Exactly.

VERJEE: Got it.

SHARP: They're with us, essentially. Our clients are with us. We're not waiting to respond to clients that could be 50 miles away. The problem that the navies have had is the size of theater is essentially the size of --

VERJEE: Massive.

SHARP: -- the entire North America, and if you've only got six patrol cars in North America, you can imagine your response times are pretty slow.

VERJEE: What about the issue of chain of command when it comes to using lethal force? Have you killed pirates? What have been the legal implications of that?

SHARP: It's very simple for us. Obviously, we have a convoy director, and that will be an ex Royal Navy trained individual, and he will have the final response to whether to use lethal force.

However, what we use is a graduated response that begins at simply talking. We work up from talking, if they end up starting to shoot at us or shoot at our clients, then of course, we'll fire warning shots to make sure they desist.

VERJEE: Have you killed any pirates?

SHARP: No, no. We're not operational yet. We will become operational in the next few months.

VERJEE: All right. And what do you see as the biggest difference between the Somali pirates and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea? And how do you deal with those different tactics, because on the Gulf of Guinea, they're more violent, they tend to be criminal gangs. On the east coast, they're a little more structured and they have hostages for ransom.

SHARP: They're actually very -- there are lots of similarities between those two elements of criminals. The criminals in the Gulf of Guinea have learned a lot from the Somali criminals. They've now got their own mother ships.

They steal oil in large quantities through bunker vessels. They're also now kidnapping crews from those vessels and holding those for ransom and hiding them in the Niger delta.

So, actually, there are similarities between the Gulf of Guinea and the Gulf of Aden and the Somali theater.

VERJEE: What is the biggest challenge that you think that Typhon and other private security companies will face on the high seas?

SHARP: For us, we -- we're a small company. We want to engage with large entities, like government, and that's a challenge. That's a challenge for us, ongoing. For us, we're new, we're a new protection model, and we're just starting out. So for us, it's getting the -- our voice out there, getting our protection model known and telling ship owners that we're open for business now.

VERJEE: Thank you so much, Anthony Sharp from the private company Typhon. Let us know how it goes.

SHARP: Thank you very much.

VERJEE: All right. Don't confuse the pirates with the fishermen.

(LAUGHTER)

SHARP: We certainly won't.

VERJEE: All right. It's hard. It happens sometimes.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. When we come back, what archaeologists have unearthed under a planned train line in central London. That story is next here on CONNECT THE WORLD.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VERJEE: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD live from London. Welcome back, I'm Zain Verjee.

Samsung's new SmartPhone, the Galaxy S4, is so smart, it's making all the other phones look really dumb. So, forget touchscreen technology, because with the Galaxy, it's all about this, right? It's this -- the air gesture, made famous by no one other than Tom Cruise in the blockbuster movie "Minority Report."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM CRUISE AS CHIEF JOHN ANDERTON, "MINORITY REPORT": Neighbors knew where they went. Check all relations.

NEAL MCDONOUGH AS FLETCHER, "MINTORITY REPORT": Check your neighbors and relations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERJEE: You remember that, right? The motion sensors that pick up what you want to do and then they do it for you without any physical contact. Samsung's touchless technology isn't the first time that science fiction has become reality.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, "TOTAL RECALL" (robotic voice): Where can I take you tonight?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERJEE: Remember the robot-operated Johnny cabs in the Arnold Schwarzenegger film "Total Recall"? Well, now, London's Heathrow Airport's installing driverless taxis to take you from the terminal to the car parks.

And do you fancy having all your data right before your eyes like Robert Downey, Jr. in "The Avengers"? Well, you only have to wait until the launch of Google Glass, that's high-tech eyewear that's going to give us updates and directions without even needing to lift a finger. That sounds like something I will definitely use, having the worst sense of direction on the planet.

And what about the self-lacing trainers that Marty McFly wore in "Back to the Future"? Well, there's good and bad news here. Nike did actually release a replica of the shoes, but they only made a limited number for auction, and no, sorry, they did not self-lace.

For more on all of this, I'm joined by John Underkoffler, an interface designer, as well as the man behind the technology we saw in "Minority Report." Hi there, great to have you with us. Did you know that your fantasy would one day become our technical reality?

JOHN UNDERKOFFLER, CHIEF SCIENTIST, OBLONG: You know, I'm not surprised at all that it has become reality, but what I think is a little bit surprising is how fast we got there, and we're almost all the way there.

VERJEE: What do you think we're going to see in technology in the next 5, 10, 15, 20 years, if we're moving this fast?

UNDERKOFFLER: Well, as designers and technologists, I think the most interesting and important thing we can do is to ask not what the next incremental step might be, what the next add-on to the gadget might be, but what the biggest next step that we could take would be. And only in planning that way can we really achieve a big jump, which I think it's time for.

VERJEE: What do you think the coolest next step would be?

UNDERKOFFLER: I think the thing that's missing, the thing that people aren't thinking about, is that despite the incredible power in the new devices that are available to all of us as human beings on planet Earth, they don't let us work together. They don't really let us play together.

Each of those devices is essentially a superpowered microscope or telescope. But imagine trying to have a conversation with a microscope or telescope attached to everybody's face.

(LAUGHTER)

UNDERKOFFLER: You can see one little thing really at a high resolution and incredible detail, but what's missing is the kind of panoramic experience of experiencing the entire world. Seeing the surround, and seeing the other people that you're interacting with.

VERJEE: Do you think that there's such a thing as us being too connected and too gadgety and too ADD? I've become a little bit like that since I'm surrounded by all this fantastic technology. My attention span is much lower.

UNDERKOFFLER: I think there are wrong ways to go about it. I think there are dangerous ways. I think we could take a half step back and say how could we construe technology?

How could we build it to work a little bit more like the real world, so that just as you and I might share a big piece of paper or stand at a white board together, we can actually work or play or communicate together harmoniously? And that's the kind of stuff we're building at Oblong Industries.

VERJEE: Well, tell us a little bit more about that kind of stuff that you're into. You're doing g-speak. What exactly is that? And is this panoramic experience that you think is lacking?

UNDERKOFFLER: It is, it absolutely is. So, g-speak began as a real world implementation of the kinds of computer interfaces that we at Oblong designed for the film "Minority Report," except that they're real, they work in the real world, which is hugely gratifying.

But they add one component that we didn't see in the film. So imagine if instead of just one pre-crime cop, one Tom Cruise standing in front of a giant screen, it made sense for lots of people to work with all of those pixels at the same time.

Suddenly, that's a really, really new kind of computer experience, and it's the kind of collaborative panorama that we're talking about. It allows people to work and to play and to communicate together in a way that's very much more like the real world, how they do that in the real world, and less like the media-aided and the computer world.

VERJEE: What should people invest in when it comes to the next big technology thing? So, where do I put my money? At g-speak?

(LAUGHTER)

VERJEE: I like the name. I like that name, by the way.

UNDERKOFFLER: I think you should put your money --

(LAUGHTER)

UNDERKOFFLER: Well, thank you.

VERJEE: I know what you're trying to say.

UNDERKOFFLER: Thank you, that's -- yes, put your money in g-speak, that's always a good idea.

VERJEE: Yes.

UNDERKOFFLER: I think the trick is to find the stuff that is not -- not fixated just on the next incremental piece, but the technologies that look to be incredibly disruptive, and that try to pull a little piece of the real world, a little piece of humanity, a little piece of beauty, frankly, into the mix. I think that incorporating design and technology together is now an imperative, not just a nice to have.

VERJEE: John, thank you so much, really appreciate that. John Underkoffler, an interface designer, and the man behind the technology we saw in "Minority Report." Thank you.

I have my own technology, too, here, by the way. See, if you look at my boots here, I've got a little gadget there, and then I have a little gadget going on here, too. They may actually look like microphone packs and earpiece packs, but actually, once I'm done with the show, they jet me out of the studio and to a fantastic restaurant.

In tonight's Parting Shots, the next time you walk through central London, pause to think about what could be lurking beneath your feet. Isa Soares reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is your typical London square, pretty unassuming. Behind me, we have a hospital. On the other side of the square, we've got a primary school, a couple of residential houses there, and also a few shops.

But if you look over my right shoulder, you'll see a construction site. Now, this is no ordinary construction site. Here, they've unearthed some very interesting and peculiar findings.

SOARES (voice-over): Two and a half meters below ground level, 14 well-preserved skeletons were uncovered here. Bodies of evidence believed to be victims of the Black Death.

SOARES (on camera): The skeletons have been moved for testing, but the grounds are still marked by the carefully laid-out graves. Jay was one of the archaeologists who found this. Jay, how do you know that these skeletons are caused by the Black Death?

JAY CARVEY, PROJECT ARCHAEOLOGIST, CROSSRAIL: Well, we're standing in Charterhouse Square, and we have historical documents from the 16th century which discuss the laying out of this burial ground. So, we're fairly certain within this area there is a burial ground from the mid-14th century, and that it was a Black Death emergency burial ground.

SOARES (voice-over): In the 1300s, the Black Death killed between 20 and 30 million people in Europe. No human-to-human transmission, however, has been recorded in the past 60 years.

SOARES (on camera): How scary is it for the people here? Do they think, is it contagious?

CARVEY: No, they don't. We've got a professional archaeological team working here, and many of them have experience of other cemeteries as well. The particular Black Death plague doesn't survive in the soil. It's something that was spread between living beings only, so there's no risk.

SOARES: This is a kind of a square. If I could just get the camera to show, this is quite a large square. How much deeper do you think -- how much further are you going to go to check out -- to find other bodies? Do you think there'll be other skeletons here?

CARVEY: Yes. We won't be doing any more specific research --

SOARES: You won't?

CARVEY: -- in association with the Crossrail project. No, because our remit is to deal with any archaeology that is going to be affected by the construction.

SOARES: What's your gut feeling, that there are more? There are more bodies here?

CARVEY: Yes, I should think so. I'd be very surprised if there weren't.

SOARES (voice-over): How many more skeletons will be found? Now, that remains to be seen.

Isa Soares, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: I'm Zain Verjee, thanks for watching.

END