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Leaked Report Shows How bin Laden Hid From Authorities; Interim Egyptian Government Pressing On With Road Map Despite Muslim Brotherhood Protests; Venezuelan Asylum For Snowden Report Proves False; Lac-Megantic Residents Demand Answers

Aired July 9, 2013 - 16:00   ET


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In Egypt, scenes from one of the funerals for those killed in Monday's clashes. The latest developments in the country's violent struggle coming up.

Also ahead, a car bomb rocks Beirut fueling more fears that Syria's civil war is spilling over.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I was -- I was angry.


SHUBERT: A CNN exclusive, Dominique Strauss-Kahn on that perp walk in New York.

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

SHUBERT: First tonight, Egypt's army warns it will not tolerate any disruption of a newly announced transition plan, calling it a difficult and complex period. The interim government now has a prime minister, former finance minister Hazem el-Beblawi. Now he will help oversee a timetable for a new constitution as well as parliamentary and presidential elections.

But, the Muslim Brotherhood is refusing to accept the transition plan, saying it will stay in the streets until the democratically elected president Mohamed Morsy returns to power.

Now Morsy supporters are also outraged by yesterday's deadly clashes in Cairo. 51 people were killed outside the Republican Guard headquarters where Morsy supporters had been holding a vigil.

They say they military opened fire without provocation, an account the military denies.

Mourners held burial shrouds today to honor the dead. But the military says that two policemen and a soldier were also killed in the clashes. And here, we see a funeral for one of those policemen in Alexandria.

The army says Morsy supporters attacked security forces and tried to storm the guard headquarters.

Now, let's get an update from Cairo. Our Ben Wedeman is following all of these developments. We've seen some pictures there of Morsy supporters on the streets. What their reaction to what the military said today?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Muslim Brotherhood, as you've said already, is -- said it will not take part in any of this process. They consider to hold to the position that Mohamed Morsy is the legitimate president of Egypt, elected in free and democratic elections a year ago. And they're simply not budging down.

What's interesting in all of this is the position of Tamarod, that was that movement that gathered more than 22 million signatures to unseat Mohamed Morsy. And they were the ones able to mobilize millions of Egyptians into the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian towns. They are saying that they were not consulted by the interim president or the military when this constitutional declaration was issued. They're very unhappy with this process.

And of course they are the ones who have insisted (inaudible) revolution. Now they're finding the military is running circles around them.

So it's an interesting development that not only the Muslim Brotherhood is unhappy with these proposed transitional moves towards democracy, but the movement that brought about this change of power in the first place.

SHUBERT: Ben, I want to take a listen now to what Egypt's foreign minister said. He actually gave an exclusive interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour today. It was his first interview with foreign media since the ousting of Mohamed Morsy. And Mohammed Kamel Amr actually resigned from Morsy's government last week, but he has said he will stay on until a replacement is named.

So here's what he said about efforts to build an inclusive new society.


MOHAMMED KAMEL AMR, EGYPTIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: That's for the Muslim Brotherhood, what I'm sure of is that they'll stretch a hand to them to join. And of course it is up to them to accept that.

But there is a keenness within the leadership here to have as much consensus as possible behind any government because this is the key, actually, to achieve what the people want to achieve.


SHUBERT: I'm wondering, Ben, hearing that statement, what do you think pro-Morsy supporters will make of that? What about those who are against Morsy? Is this -- is this enough of a plan moving forward?

WEDEMAN: Well, this is really the first conciliatory message we're hearing toward the Brotherhood. By and large, they are being described in terms in the pro-government media and by others almost along the lines that we heard the Muslim Brotherhood described by the Mubarak regime. And even before that, Gamal Abdel Nasser who really came down hard on the Brotherhood.

The Brotherhood, at the moment, doesn't seem to be in the mood to stretch out a hand of friendship to the very government that has replaced it, to the very army that has deposed it with widespread popular support. They're feeling very much in a corner. They're trying to rally their faithful with these daily protests and sit-ins around the country.

We haven't really heard anything substantive from the army that they want to bring the Brotherhood somehow back into the political process. If anything their actions speak much louder than their words. And their actions are saying the Brotherhood is going to stay on the outside for the foreseeable future -- Atika.

SHUBERT: Still a very tense and dangerous time. Thank you very much. That's Ben Wedeman for us staying on top of events in Cairo.

Now for some perspective on the events in Egypt, I also talked a short time ago with Ahdaf Soueif. She's an acclaimed Egyptian writer and political commentator. She's the author of "Cairo, My City, our Revolution." And I began by asking her why she supporters the ouster of Mohamed Morsy.


AHDAF SOUEIF, EGYPTIAN WRITER AND COMMENTATOR: There was a groundswell of public opinion which had been building for a long time. And it just grew into such epic proportions in the lead-up to June 30. And the president, Dr. Morsy (ph), sort of had several chances, but he made a last speech which everybody was expecting to deflect the criticism that was happening. And he didn't do it. He was totally intransigent about giving in to any of the demands of the people, which were basically for more inclusiveness and more transparency.

And so there's no doubt that it was the will of, you know, many, many millions of people, probably the whole country apart from his direct supporters.

SHUBERT: How worried are you that this is something that could tip the country into much more violence? I mean, some people are even using the term civil war.

SOUEIF: Many people, including myself, have been -- have sort of jumped in to try and talk to the people on the Brotherhood side to try and to say that there can be no exclusion, that ultimately we all have to live in this country together.

Now, what we've learned over the last year is that the Brotherhood actually do not want to work with us. He had thought that we could all work together and we could have different programs, different visions, but we all wanted what was best for the country. It -- the problem was over the last year that it turned out that the Muslim Brotherhood's agenda was simply to empower themselves. And that therefore this discourse of inclusion was, you know, not washing, really, was not relevant to them.

But it's the only one we have. and we have to keep trying it.

So really, now, I think we just need to push forward towards a civil government that everybody can put themselves behind.

SHUBERT: What needs to happen next, do you think, for that revolution to move forward?

SOUEIF: What needs to happen is that the street needs to be calmed down. And we need to put in place a cabinet that most people will accept and that will actually be an efficient cabinet in the sense of moving the country through this transition period.

We need to fix the election law and we need to move to parliamentary elections as quickly as we can. And within this whole process, we need to be very aware that there can be no genuine moving forward without reconciliation. And for reconciliation to happen, you need to have transitional justice.

So whoever the power is, whether the power is the military or whether it's the military and with them some of the old Mubarak regime power brokers, or whether it's the Brotherhood, all these people have killed people. And all these people have held back and have basically really tried to destroy the spirit that was created when Egypt in January, February 2011. And the responsibility for that needs to be ascertained and people need to accept that wrong things happened and people need to see that justice is done.

And then we can move forward.


SHUBERT: You're watching Connect the World. Still to come tonight, the story of the Asiana Airlines cabin crew member who risked it all to help passengers to safety. Saving lives after their plane crash landed in San Francisco.

And three young women held captive for 10 years in the U.S. state of Ohio speak about their ordeal for the first time.

Also, new details emerge about Osama bin Laden's time living in a hideout in Pakistan.


SHUBERT: You're watching CNN. And this is Connect the World with me, Atika Shubert. Welcome back.

Well, Lebanese officials say at least 53 people have been wounded after a powerful car bomb exploded in a busy suburb south of Beirut. Windows of surrounding buildings were blown out and other vehicles set on fire. The blast erupted in a parking lot near the Islamic cooperation center in the Beir el Abed (ph) neighborhood.

This area is a stronghold of the Hezbollah Shia militia militant group. Tensions in Lebanon have, of course, been rising in recent months over the civil war in neighboring Syria. We will have much more on that story in around 15 minutes time.

But first, we're going to turn to the U.S. where investigators say they will interview the pilot controlling the Asiana Airlines flight 214 within a few hours. Now take a look at this video, it shows how emergency slides opened just moments after the plane crash landed at San Francisco's international airport on Saturday. And you can see passengers running away from the plane as it goes up in smoke.

Now the cause of the crash is still unknown, but early reports suggest the plane was flying much more slowly than it should have been.

Saturday's crash left two people dead, and 180 people injured, but that number could have been much higher had it not been for the actions of the flight's crew members. And they are being hailed as heroes in South Korea.

Ian Lee reports from Seoul.


IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT(voice-over): Moments after the Asiana Boeing 777 settles, emergency slides inflate. Passengers escape the burning wreckage while flight attendants scramble inside to clear the jet. Now, those flight attendants are being called heroes. Veteran flight attendant Lee Yoon-Hye recalls the impact.

YOON-HYE (translator): It was not the landing we usually do and it was even more than a hard landing. So, we bumped hard, bumped again, leaned to both sides and stopped. Then the emergency slide popped from the first door on the right and it popped inward. That's when I knew that the situation was not normal.

LEE: With chaos all around, the cabin managers' training kicked in. Lee struggled to get injured passengers to safety unaware she had a broken tailbone.

YOON-HYE (translator): My brain was clear and I planned what I had to do immediately. Actually, I was not thinking but acting. As soon as I heard emergency escape, I conducted the evacuation. When there was a fire, I was just thinking to extinguish it not thinking that it's too dangerous or what am I going to do?

LEE: Rescue workers arrived quickly to assist the evacuation. They were impressed with the crew's quick action.

JOANNE HAYES-WHITE, CHIEF, SAN FRANCISCO FIRE DEPARTMENT: I interacted with one of the crew managers. She was so composed, I actually thought that she was brought in from the terminal, and she actually had evacuated herself off the plane. So, she was not concerned for her safety but everyone else's. So, I was very impressed with the crew as well.

LEE: The training flight attendants receive at Asiana is quite extensive, almost 180 hours. The month-long course has a special 22- hour focus on emergency escapes, something the cabin manager is known to have excelled in.

Many believe it's this training that prevented a higher death toll.

Ian Lee, CNN, Seoul.


SHUBERT: And this just in, CNN has learned minutes ago that the president and CEO of Asiana Airlines has arrived at San Francisco international airport. We will be bringing you the latest developments on that probe as we get them.

Now meanwhile, in Canada, investigators say they have no evidence of sabotage in Saturday's train derailment at Lac-Megantic in Quebec, but the chairman of the company operating the train says it may have had its brakes inadvertently disabled. At least 13 people were killed and 37 still unaccounted for after a train carrying crude oil derailed and crashed causing a huge explosion.

Well, let's cross to CNN's Anna Coren in Lac-Megantic for the latest. Anna, what are we hearing about that investigation? What are the latest details?

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Atika, this investigation is really only just beginning. There is so much information that they need to sift through. You know, they've only just recorded -- I should say located the locomotive event recorder. And, you know, this hopefully will give an indication as to what was going on with the train before it derailed.

You have to remember, that it was parked some 13 kilometers from the town of Lac-Megantic here in Quebec, Canada. So this train somehow the breaks were disengaged. It then rolled some 13 kilometers, picking up speed, and then derailing just behind me and crashing into, you know, the heart of the town center, taking out some 40 buildings.

You know, the flames, the blaze, the residents describe it as a fire ball. So, you know, a real tragedy as to what has taken place. And the people of this town are really demanding answers.

As you mentioned, the death toll is unchanged. It still stands at 13 and 37 still missing. However, we are getting reports that people have been informed throughout the day that their loved ones have been located -- Atika.

SHUBERT: You know, you mentioned people there are demanding answers, Anna. What, exactly, are they looking for? What kind of response? And have they been happy with the response they've gotten so far?

COREN: As you can imagine, Atika, you know, this is a very difficult, slow, painstaking process. And, you know, we had that dramatic accusation from the company that owns this freight train that it was, in fact, sabotage and the brakes were tampered with. Investigators here on the ground are refusing to comment on that theory. They're saying that they're not going to rule out anything at this stage.

But people are asking, why was this able to happen? How is it that this tanker, you know, carrying 73 cars of crude oil, is able to go past these towns. This is a town of some 6,000 people. And, you know, people really feel that this was an accident waiting to happen.

So people are very much, you know, demanding answers, Atika.

SHUBERT: Yeah, very sad and horrific pictures there. Thank you very much. Anna Coren for us at Lac-Megantic in Quebec.

Well, staying in Canada, thousands of people in Toronto remain without power after record breaking storms Monday turned streets into lakes and stranded commuters on partly submerged trains. The downpour lasted several hours, but it dumped almost twice as much rain as Toronto usually gets in the full month of July.

Now, the future of U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden remains unknown. Initial reports on Tuesday suggested that he might have accepted an offer from Venezuela for asylum. That what was announced by the head of Russia's foreign affairs committee Aleksey Pushkov. But he later deleted that message on Twitter and said he had gotten the news from the media. And according to the WikiLeaks Twitter account, Snowden has not yet formally accepted asylum in Venezuela.

Here in Britain, media tycoon Rupert Murdoch has been asked to appear before the culture, media, and sport committee of the House of Commons. Now this comes days after the release of a secretly recorded audio tape. Now on that tape, Murdoch reportedly dismissed the police investigation into phone hacking and corruption at his British newspapers as incompetent.

Murdoch is reported to have made the remarks speaking to employees of his Sun tabloid newspaper earlier this year. It's not clear yet when he will testify.

Well, the general director of the Bolshoi Theater is now out of a job after 13 years. The Russian Government says the move is just part of a wide plan to reform cultural institutions, however, it comes after a string of scandals at the theater, including an acid attack that left the ballet company's artistic director almost totally blind.

And the theater's new director says he initially refused the job offer.


VLADIMIR URIN, GENERAL DIRECTOR, BOLSHOI THEATER (through translator): It is very important that this transition from one director to another is done in a civilized, normal, calm and businesslike manner.


SHUBERT: Now things at the theater haven't exactly been businesslike. Earlier this year, the dancer highlighted in this video confessed to hiring men to attack the Bolshoi Ballet's artistic director with acid.

Now to the U.S. where three young women who were held captive for a decade have spoken about about their ordeal for the first time. CNN's Pamela Brown reports.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In a four-minute YouTube video, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight are speaking publicly for the first time to say, simply, thanks.

AMANDA BERRY: I want to thank everyone who has helped me and my family through this entire ordeal. Everyone who has been there to support us has been a blessing to have such an outpouring of love and kindness.

GINA DEJESUS: I would say thank you for the support.

MICHELLE KNIGHT: Thank you, everyone, for your love, support and donations which helped me build a brand new life.

BROWN: More than a million dollars has been donated to the Courage Fund to help the women heal after a decade of alleged abuse and captivity by Ariel Castro. Castro was charged with beating, raping and starving them, even forcing the miscarriage of a baby he fathered. Yet, in the video made last week, the women seemed upbeat, not bitter.

BERRY: I'm getting stronger each day and having my privacy has helped immensely. I ask that everyone continue to respect our privacy and give us time to have a normal life.

KNIGHT: Be positive. Learn that it's important to give than to receive. Thank you for all your prayers.

BROWN: Michelle Knight, held the longest, appeared to suffer the worst abuse. Here, she had said the pain of the ordeal and what she learned from it.

KNIGHT: I will not let the situation define who I am. I will define the situation. I don't want to be consumed by hatred. With that being said, we need to take a leap of faith and know that god is in control.

BROWN: They were once known only as silent victims. Now, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight want the world to know they have a voice and have reclaimed their lives.


SHUBERT: That was Pamela Brown reporting there.

Well, live from London, this is Connect the World. Coming up, he was once the world's most wanted man, but new details show a different side to Osama bin Laden. That is coming up next.


SHUBERT: 19 civilians, including five children and 12 women were killed in a roadside bombing in the western Afghan province of Harat (ph) not far from the Iranian border. Now police say the bomb struck a three wheel mini truck that was carrying more than two dozen people. Several others were wounded.

A White House official tells CNN U.S. President Barack Obama is seriously contemplating withdrawing all remaining American troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. The U.S. had been considering leaving a several thousand strong force to act as trainers and to hunt down leaders of the Taliban. But Afghan President Hamid Karzai cut off negotiations about the size of the troops last month. He says he objects to the U.S. beginning direct peace talks with the Taliban.

Well, new details are being reported about Osama bin Laden's life in Pakistan before he was killed. Those details come from a report, reportedly from the Pakistani government that was leaked to the media.

Now CNN is still working to confirm the authenticity of the report, but that fallout is being felt in Pakistan and beyond. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has more.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Behind these walls in Abbotabad, bin Laden's world remained secret for years, but a purported Pakistani government report leaked to the media scorns authorities at every level for not stopping the U.S. raid, as depicted here in the film Zero Dark Thirty. And claims CIA agents were on the ground during the attack and even chopped down nearby trees.

But it also reveals how the world's most wanted man lived before America caught up with him.

Worried he'd been seen by satellites, or from nearby trees when in the garden shown by this amateur video, bin Laden adoptive for a very American disguise. He wore a cowboy hat.

And before the U.S. SEALs trashed this kitchen, it stored his pick me up of choice, says the report, an apple and chocolate.

In these vegetable patches, he made his grandchildren compete to make the best vegetables. On the rare moments he ventured out, the reports says, bin Laden's car was once stopped for speeding, but he wasn't recognized by the police and let go.

He's even said to have once shaved his beard.

Revealing the hatred for American spies in Pakistan, the report says arrogant CIA officers felt they could own Pakistan's elite and quotes a U.S. spy saying, "you're so cheap, we can buy you with a visa, with a visit to the U.S., even with a dinner."

Neither U.S. or Pakistani officials would comment. Pakistan has since flattened the house. But this report it reveals it hasn't managed to suppress the huge apparent shock and embarrassment the end of history's biggest manhunt caused.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN.


SHUBERT: The latest world news headlines just ahead. Plus, the aftermath of the blast in Beirut. We'll discuss how the conflict in Syria is affecting Lebanon and other countries in the region.

Then, we have an exclusive interview with Dominique Strauss-Kahn on his fall from grace and Europe's ongoing economic problems.

Plus, the business is booming: royal baby gifts are expected to fetch millions for their makers, but as we'll show you later in the program, not all are of royal quality.


SHUBERT: This is CONNECT THE WORLD. The top stories this hour. Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Egypt are rejecting a newly-announced transition plan that paves the way for new elections. They say they will stay in the streets until deposed president Mohamed Morsy is reinstated.

The interim government has announced a prime minister. Former finance minister Hazem el-Beblawi. Egypt's army warns it won't accept any disruptions to the transition plan.

Lebanese officials say 53 people are wounded after a powerful car bomb ripped through a Beirut suburb. The area is a stronghold of the Hezbollah Shia militant group. Lebanon is divided over the war in neighboring Syria, and Hezbollah has been fighting on the side of the Damascus regime.

And in Canada, confusion remains over the cause of a train derailment in Quebec that left at least 13 people dead. The company that owns the train says its brakes may have been disabled, but Canada's transport regulator says the train was inspected before the crash with no defects found.

Also, White House official tells CNN US president Barack Obama is seriously contemplating withdrawing all remaining American troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. That is after negotiations over the size of the future US presence recently broke down with Afghan president Hamid Karzai.

Now, let's get more, now, of that powerful blast that ripped through the Lebanese capital this morning. The explosion was strong enough to damage surrounding buildings several stories up, and it set multiple vehicles on fire.

Mohammed Jamjoom joins us now from Beirut. Mohammed, what can you tell us about what may have been the intended target in this attack?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it seems, Atika, the intended target was the Hezbollah stronghold neighborhood of Bir al-Abed. Now, we were there today shortly after the blast that ripped through that neighborhood, which is a Hezbollah stronghold, as we've mentioned.

The violence today in southern Beirut an extremely worrying development in a country that's already very much on edge, and I can tell you that many of the people that we spoke with on the scene today after the blast, they said that not only had they anticipated that violence like this would hit home, but that they expected attacks like this may continue.


JAMJOOM (voice-over): The dark clouds, once only on the horizon, rolled closer toward Lebanon. Syria's civil war, apparently spilling over in the form of a massive car bomb. It rocked the Bir al-Abed in southern Beirut, a Hezbollah stronghold, leaving extensive damage, injuring dozens, and reigniting fears that Lebanon could be spinning out of control again.

"I was worried," says this man. "I thought something like this might happen, but where and how, I had no idea."

JAMJOOM (on camera): The overwhelming concern amongst this very angry and worried crowd is that this attack today is a direct result of Hezbollah's intervention in the Syrian civil war.

JAMJOOM (voice-over): With Hezbollah's support, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's forces have regained momentum. Recently, they retook the rebel stronghold of Qusayr, a strategic city along a major supply route close to the Lebanese border.

Government fighters have also launched a major offensive in Homs, the heart of the Syrian uprising. It's helped turn the tide for Hezbollah's patrons, but it's angered many in this tiny country, Lebanon Sunni Islamists in particular. More and more demonstrations are being held across the country, and calls are growing louder for Hezbollah to be stopped.

The rebel Free Syrian Army even threatened to fight Hezbollah on their home turf if Hezbollah didn't stop fighting on theirs. Sectarian lines in fragile Lebanon mirror those of Syria, and here, it's clear they are deepening.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We feel not safe, and we want to live in peace here.

JAMJOOM: This man's family lives just minutes away from the bomb site. He says he could have lost them all today. He wants this to stop, but he tells me Hezbollah's actions in Syria are necessary, that they serve to protect them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they didn't fight there, so they will come, who put the explosive -- the car here, they will come and fight us here.

JAMJOOM: Now, officials launch and investigation and try to calm frayed nerves as an increasingly polarized population wonders how it will cope with the spillover of violence.


JAMJOOM: Atika, today you have this attack in a Hezbollah stronghold, a predominately Shiite neighborhood in Beirut. In the past couple of weeks, we've seen clashes going on in Sunni strongholds. The port city of Sidon being an example, where Islamist extremists were attacking the army, and there was some of the worst violence that Lebanon has encountered in years.

That arose from a feeling amongst some of the Sunni community here that Hezbollah was getting preferential treatment from the army, that they should be stopped in their endeavor in Syria. Clearly sectarian lines in this country are deepening.

It is a real cause for concern in a fragile country neighboring Syria, a country that is getting sucked more and more into the vortex of the unceasing violence from the Syrian civil war. Atika?

SHUBERT: Thank you very much. That's Mohammed Jamjoom for us in Beirut.

Well, let's get some regional context, now. The conflict in Syria has long sparked fears of a regional war, and it now seems to be stirring up old tensions within Lebanon. Now, of course, Lebanon fought a multifaceted civil war for 15 years between 1975 and 1990. And as you heard, sectarian divisions still run deep, especially between Sunni and Shia communities.

The Sunni community tends to support the Syrian rebels, while the Shia militant group Hezbollah has long been a staunch ally of the al-Assad regime, and those divisions are mirrored in neighboring countries.

Take a look at this. Here you can see the countries in yellow who support the opposition Syrian National Council. Most notably, of course, you've got Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan.

The countries in orange, Iraq and Iran in particular, support the al- Assad regime. Now, Iran is a majority Shia nation and also backs Hezbollah, and in recent months, thousands of Hezbollah fighters have -- funded by Iran have crossed into Syria and helped government loyalists win back major rebel strongholds such as, right here as you can see on that border there, the city of Qusayr.

Now, emboldened by recent battlefield gains, a seemingly more secure Mr. al-Assad reshuffled his cabinet this Tuesday. He dropped all 16 members at the top of his ruling Baath party to make way for new blood.

Well, let's get more on this from Michael Weiss. He is in New York, and he is a columnist for "NOWLebanon." Michael, what is the significance, do you think, of this cabinet reshuffle we've seen? Is al-Assad surrounding himself with stronger allies?

MICHAEL WEISS, COLUMNIST, "NOWLEBANON": Yes. I think, look, it's important to understand that there are really only a handful of figures in the Assad regime who control Syria. Or I should say, control the security sector and, indeed, the repression against the uprising.

So, shuffling cabinet members, appointing new Baathists to new positions, these things are more, I think, designed for cosmetic effect to rally the base. These officials very seldom have any influential say in what's going on inside the country.

The most important man, I would argue, second to Bashar al-Assad himself is Ali Mamlouk. He is effectively in control of Syria's security services. He is one of the key point persons on overseeing the crackdown on the armed uprising.

So -- but there is no question that Assad feels very emboldened. He feels like he has the wind behind his sails in terms of military strategy and victories on the ground, although I would argue a lot of this newfound feeling or newfound confidence is overstated.

There really is no way that the Syrian regime can effectively destroy this uprising or this armed rebellion. There were reports after Qusayr -- actually, even before Qusayr had fallen to the regime -- that Hezbollah and not just the Syrian army, but the sectarian Alawite Shia militias that are being built for Assad by Iran, had already infiltrated key pockets of Aleppo.

Now, Aleppo is probably the opposition's most strategically vital province that they more or less control. It looks like the regime actually diverted too many resources into Aleppo, which is why there is still fighting going on in Homs and is why this so-called mother of all battles to retake Aleppo, which was rumored to have started or would have begun to start two weeks ago hasn't yet happened.

So, what you see, in effect, is a very prolonged stalemate where neither side can effectively win the battle for Syria.

SHUBERT: As you say, a prolonged stalemate. So, is there any possibility at the moment of a political solution? Russia and the US were supposed to be pushing those talks forward, but that doesn't seem to be going anywhere.

WEISS: No. Look, the Russian position -- Russia today announced that -- or they've actually submitted evidence suggesting that it was rebels and not the regime that had used sarin gas in Aleppo, using something called a Bashar 3 missile.

Now, I had -- it took me a while to actually figure out what the hell a Bashar 3 missile is, but let me tell you that this missile is not capable of using or outfitting itself with chemical warheads.

So, Russia is still playing the game that these are terrorists and the West ought to be defending Damascus at all costs because -- and this tracks very well with Bashar al-Assad's propaganda line himself -- this is part of the global war on terrorism.

There is no distinction between secular groups in the Syrian opposition, between the Syrian activists and the non-violent, the peaceful protesters who continue, day in and day out, to turn out and protest the regime and, say, al Qaeda or Salafi jihadi groups.

So, Russia's line is let's give the regime enough time to effectively crush the rebellion. But I think, again, this is a fool's errand, because I don't think the regime can do that.

SHUBERT: A stalemate that has now a very high cost in lives. Well, thank you very much, Michael Weiss, columnist for "NOWLebanon."

Live from London, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, we take you on one woman's journey from factory worker to head of the biggest commercial property developer in China.


SHUBERT: From factory worker to real estate mogul, in this week's edition of Leading Women, meet a business hotshot who never saw her success coming.


PAULINE CHIOU, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Zhang Xin is at the peak of her career. At the age of 48, she leads SOHO China, the biggest commercial property developer in China.

"Forbes" estimates her net worth is north of $3 billion. But she never had grand ambitions when she was a child working in a Beijing factory. She just knew she had to leave China.

ZHANG XIN, CEO, SOHO CHINA: When I look back in life, this is all like, it's all very random. Who would have thought China would become where it is today? And who would've thought that Beijing, the city I grew up with millions of bicycles would become like this?

And likewise, when I was in the factory, I had no idea what life was waiting for me. I knew just one thing is, I want to get out.

CHIOU: So at the age of 14, Zhang went to Hong Kong where she worked in factories until she saved enough money to go to England. Zhang studied economics in the UK, then got a job on Wall Street.

CHIOU (on camera): And during that time, as you were growing up and getting educated as a young girl and then a young adult, did you have a sense that you were going to make it big somehow?

ZHANG: No, no. No. I mean, it's -- we don't plan. We human beings don't have a -- or I don't have the capacity to plan that far ahead. Most people would have stayed a comfortable job as an investment banker. But I was very much looking for another outlet to come back to China.

CHIOU (voice-over): Zhang had a sense China was on the verge of big changes in the early 90s. She came back to Beijing and met her husband, Pan Shiyi, who was just starting out in the real estate business.

They formed the company that would propel them to the top. It is her husband who is her best sounding board.

ZHANG: The two of us are each other's mentors. Not so much a mentor, but each other's advisors. There will be moments that I'm tired. I don't want to. And then he will pick me up. There will be moments that he's tired, that he doesn't have the energy, but then I will pick him up.

CHIOU: Zhang is among a handful of self-made women billionaires in China, but like any working mother, she tries to find the right work-family balance. Her focus at home is quality time with her two sons.

ZHANG: We try so hard to give them a normal life, and I know no matter how hard we try, it's still not normal. I'm very religious on having breakfast with them every morning, having dinner with them every evening, and those are the things that gives me a real sense of reality, what is the world outside business.


SHUBERT: Now, for more on Zhang Xin, log onto Next week, we have a new Leading Woman for you, Ilene Gordon is one of just 21 women at the helm of a Fortune 500 company. She heads up Ingredion, a global ingredient manufacturer that works with food companies like Nestle, Kraft, and Unilever.

Coming up after this short break on CONNECT THE WORLD, a CNN exclusive. From failing banks in Europe to his own bailout from a US prison, Dominique Strauss-Kahn talks to CNN.


SHUBERT: In his first English-language interview since he left the International Monetary Fund in disgrace, Dominique Strauss-Kahn has spoke to CNN. Just hours ago, he told my colleague Richard Quest that he is still angry at the treatment he received from the US justice system after his arrest in 2011 on rape charges that were later dropped.


DOMINIQUE STRAUSS-KAHN, FORMER MANAGING DIRECTOR, IMF: I think it's a terrible thing, frankly, but only because it's difficult to live. Many things are difficult to live with. You have to do.

The problem is, that it's a moment where, in all European, American society, you're supposed to be innocent. You're supposed to be innocent until you're convicted. And the perp walk takes place at the moment where you're supposed to be innocent.

And so what happens, you're just shown to everybody as if you were a criminal at the moment where nobody knows if it's true or not. Maybe you're a criminal, maybe you're not, and it will be proved later on. And so, it's just unfair to put people in that way in front of the rest of the world when you just don't know what they have done.


STRAUSS-KAHN: Well, I was angry. Because at this moment, I didn't understand what was going on, I didn't understand why I was there. I was just understanding that something was going on that I didn't control.

If you want me to tell you that there is a crisis of leadership, I will tell you, there is. You know, some erratic saying, which is that an army of lions led by sheep will always be defeated by an army of sheep led by a lion. And that's exactly what we are: sheep.

QUEST: We were lions being led by sheep?

STRAUSS-KAHN: I'm afraid that --

QUEST: The Commission's not up to it.

STRAUSS-KAHN: Some -- you can't be that general. Some leaders in Europe are perfectly up-to-date and know what they'll have to do. But mostly, the European system is built in a way that no decision is made, no hard decision can be made.

The banking system in Europe is sick, very sick, much more than people say. It has to be really cleaned up before growth will come back. And because most of the leaders are unable to make decisions, including the question of how much people, the traders and so on will make, how much money they will make.

But that's only a small part of the problem. If you don't solve the problem of the banks in Europe, you won't have growth anymore.


SHUBERT: Well, that is Dominique Strauss-Kahn and a very wide-ranging CNN exclusive with our Richard Quest.

And you can see that interview in full, including more on his arrest in New York and why he paid off the maid who accused him of sexual assault as well as his decision on whether to run for French president. That's tomorrow on "Quest Means Business" at 7:00 in London, 8:00 in Berlin, and 10:00 in Abu Dhabi.

Now, Strauss-Kahn is not the only high-profile figure trying to recover from scandal. In the United States, both Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner are bidding for another chance in New York politics.

Now, you may remember Weiner, a former New York congressman who resigned in 2011 after the so-called sexting scandal, tweeting a graphic photo of himself to a Twitter follower. He is currently in the race for New York mayor.

Spitzer was the former governor of New York. Now, he resigned in 2008, 48 hours after being caught on federal wiretap arranging to pay for a high-priced prostitute. He is currently running for New York City controller.

And here in the UK, remember Jeffrey Archer? Well, he went through two political scandals, two comebacks and an arrest, and yet he remains a best-selling author.

So, behind the scenes, what goes into making a political comeback, and how long do you have to spend in political rehab before you're fit for the public eye? Well, to answer those questions, I'm joined now by PR consultant and author of "Rethinking Reputations," Fraser Seitel.

Thank you very much for joining us, Fraser. I want to ask, first of all, what would you tell a client when you see a disaster -- a PR disaster in the making? What's the very first thing you need to do to get a grip on the situation?

FRASER SEITEL, AUTHOR, "RETHINKING REPUTATION": Well, the first thing I tell them, Atika, as you just said, the world, the developing world, at least, has become a much more forgiving place, and people around the world involved in scandal are getting second chances.

And the line between famous and infamous seems to be blurring, particularly for celebrities. And today, for better or worse -- probably for worse or worse -- celebrity often means more than morality. So, in the case of a Strauss-Kahn or a Spitzer or Weiner or an Archer, you can always make a comeback if you do it right.

SHUBERT: So, celebrity trumps morality, but when there is such a sort of loss of trust in a public figure, how do you -- regain that public trust?

SEITEL: What I tell clients is you've got to do several things. Number one, you've got to renounce your transgressions. You've got to in some way acknowledge, admit, and apologize for what you've done.

In Strauss-Kahn's case, we'll see the interview, but he's -- he was alleged to have committed awful crimes of sexual abuse and procuring young women for prostitution and so on. He's got to make some acknowledgment, some apology. That's number one.

Number two, you've got to back it up with some action. You've got to contribute to charity, you've got to devote your time to something, you've got to contribute to society. In his case, Strauss-Kahn, he's an eminent international financier, may be able to help on that front. You've got to contribute.

Number three, you can't hide from the media. So, this interview that he's had with CNN is the first step on his redemption tour. A Spitzer and Weiner have thick skin and they understand they can't hide, so they've got to embrace the media.

And number four, most important, you've got to keep your nose clean if you want to come back onto the national or international arena.

SHUBERT: Definitely number four most important there. But I also want to ask you, does the fact that we are seeing these sort of comebacks simply show that the public is willing to accept a politician or a public figure who's more human?

SEITEL: I think that's right. I think that's right, and they want to accept somebody who seems, at least, to be sincere. The number one thing that somebody like Strauss-Kahn in particular has got to watch out about is that he is perceived as being arrogant, very arrogant. And while the public will put up with virtually anything if somebody seems human, they won't abide by arrogance.

He can take a lesson in that regard from a former president of the United States who was involved in a sexual scandal in the White House, Bill Clinton, who has become the patriarch of the Democrat party here in the US and a beloved figure around the world because he's devoted the rest of his life, at least, to solving the world's problems. You've got to lose the arrogance.

SHUBERT: I think that's a very good point there. Keep it humble. Thank you very much, Fraser Seitel for us in New York.

Well, should political figures be given second chances and can you ever wipe the slate clean? Join the conversation on political comebacks. Head to to have your say, and you can tweet me @CNNconnect. Your thoughts, please, @CNNconnect.

Well, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have given a royal seal of approval to a wave of memorabilia to mark the birth of their first child no matter what the quality. Isa Soares takes a look at the selection of trinkets already on sale as business hope for a bump in sales.


ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Putting the finishing touches on a British tradition, designer Milly Green is already upping production of her royal baby items. 8,000 mugs, plates, and cups are currently being produced here. Once the baby's born, that could top 16,000 a day. This royal event is her royal opportunity.

MILLY GREEN, FOUNDER, MILLYGREEN.COM: Already the response to the royal baby has been unbelievable before it's even been born, and I think that is just a demonstration of how the British public, but globally people see William and Kate as ambassadors of the UK.

SOARES: It took less than 45 minutes to create the design. And unlike those celebrating the birth of Prince William, these are slightly more modern.

GREEN: I wanted it to be a design that was lighthearted, down to earth, that had a little bit of humor, of the British humor, so we've got the dog, Lupo, we've got a little pram, HRH --

SOARES (on camera): That's their dog.

GREEN: That's their dog. The queen's Corgi with her little crown on.

SOARES (voice-over): Alongside these traditional mugs, plates, and egg cups are a range of less conventional items.

SOARES (on camera): At the royal collection shop, you can buy yourself this guardsman sleep suit, but they're plenty of other options around if you fancy it. How about these rather humorous bibs? These very posh royal biscuits? And if you fancy it, there's also a potty for your prince and princess with royal-themed music.


SOARES (voice-over): Online, there's an even wider selection. From lush to tacky, they're all expected to generate $380 million for the economy, from cushions to baby grows, iPhone covers to royal baby books. And you'll even find booties on sale at Prince Charles's Highgrove estate.

And if all this is enough to make you slightly nauseous, well, you can always buy a royal baby sick bag.

Isa Soares, CNN, London.



SHUBERT: Well, I don't know about that sick bag, but I do like that little potty there for -- the royal baby. I'm Atika Shubert, and that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thanks for watching.