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Wives Of ISIS Tell Their Stories From Inside Syria; Symbolic Vote In Venezuela; The Duchess Of Cornwall Speaks To CNN; President's Attorney Defends Trump Jr. Meeting; Secret Service Russian Lawyer Meeting Was Not Vetted; Iran Sentences U.S. Student To 10 Years In Prison; Trump Expected To Re-certify Iran Nuclear Deal. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired July 17, 2017 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN NEWSROOM: They were looking for love, and are now in detention. We hear from ISIS brides this hour in their own words that the terror group begins to fall in key areas it once occupied. And the results are in, in Venezuela; voters unofficially rejecting Nicolas Maduro's plan to change the constitution. Plus, he's often seen in public but rarely heard; Prince Charles' wife, Camilla, speaks with CNN just ahead of her 70th birthday. Thanks for joining us, I'm Natalie Allen in Atlanta and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

ISIS has claimed victory in Mosul, but the war against ISIS rages on in Raqqa, Syria. It's rare to hear from ISIS fighters themselves, it's either rare to hear from the women who joined them in the terror group's self-proclaimed capital. Now, our Nick Paton Walsh brings us their desperate stories. It's important to point out the women have not been charged with anything in what's essentially a lawless area. Still, they've been rounded up as ISIS sympathizers jailed and separated at a refugee camp until officials decide their fate.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): I saw the videos; girls, mothers, some are married into ISIS who knew what they were about but still came. Now, jailed in a refugee camp, stuck in limbo as ISIS collapses; trying to go home, they want your pity, and that you believe when they say, it was all -- all of it -- a huge mistake. They use women for sex?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's very disgusting.

WALSH: Three Indonesian sisters say they pay thousands of dollars to get here; lured by the false promise of free health care and schools, but ended up living off selling their jewelry and paying thousands to get smuggled out. It just wasn't just as pure caliphate as they expected.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They say they want to Jihad for the sake of Allah, but what they want is only but women and sex. It's disgusting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard that if they marry a widow they will get thousands of dollars.

WALSH: Single of women arrivals like them kept in a commune while they look for husbands.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The manner of the woman inside the dorm is very different; it's very far from Islam: harsh manner, gossiping, shout each other, backbiting, and fighting between the women and -- Oh, I was very surprised when I see that.

WALSH: Saida explains, the dorm is a bit like Tinder.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): When the woman arrived in this dormitory she makes a sort of C.V.; puts down her age, her name, how her personality is like, what she looks for in a man. And men also posts their C.V.s.

WALSH: This is like the Tinder of the caliphate?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it's dating. So, you meet and talk for 15- 20 minutes, and then if a yes or no. If they both agreed and they get married; it's very quick.

WALSH: She said, she came for charity work, but her husband was killed the second-time they tried to flee. She's at a (INAUDIBLE) in front of Paris terror attacks, as she was by the coalition falling of Raqqa, just wants to go back to France.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I love life. I love to work. I love my genes. I love my makeup. I love my parents. The only thing I want is to go back. I'm not far from the beach. I used to go to the beach every weekend in a bikini.

WALSH: In a bikini?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Yes, in a bikini.

WALSH: May, is a Syrian English teacher whose first husband was killed by a sniper in Homs, but said she was traveling to Turkey when she was relayed in Raqqa, where she met and married a Moroccan; they love. Were you looking for a man when you went to Raqqa?


WALSH: So, how come you found one just like you -- and oh, my God, who's this guy next door?


WALSH: She says, ISIS Spokesman, Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, new beloved, and announced, him, not to fight. He is now in jail. She is disapproving of less pure her love story is. Did you hear other stories that women came looking for a husband?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They look to the European men that they are here, and ISIS, they are a strong man, you know, with guns, and they can protect them. It's an idea that -- just like movies, many of them were very shock because when they married to a man, you know, three, four days, one month, and they divorced. I know a woman, she was married six times, and (INAUDIBLE) days, she goes to a court and asked the judge to divorce her husband. And when the judge asked her, why do you want a divorce? And that's not to say that she prevents him from making any, you know, sexual, you know. And she says I can't accept him, all the time I'm thinking of my dead husband. And then the judge asked, so why marry from him if you don't want him? And he says, I will send you to the prison and will punish you. And she was crying, oh, no, it's the last time, I promise.

WALSH: Her husband was once arrested for smoking by the religious police. And because they want to talk to women, she had to literally enter a man's world to get him out of jail.

[01:05:30] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you know what, I've -- it was like a crazy idea. I just put them -- my husband called us, he shouldn't but you know what that feels? I have covered my eyes and put that black glasses and looked -- I lead a gun from my neighbor. I take it from the man; I took my boy and this girl to the (INAUDIBLE) park.

WALSH: Will you do me your man voice now?


WALSH: That's not how men sound --

WALSH (voice-over): These stories decide their fate here, whether they stay in limbo or go home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And they don't believe me. Look, you know, eyes speak a language more than the mouth.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And don't you see that there's a truth in my eyes?

WALSH: Yes. Your husband, what if you never see him again?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want someone to -- because I can't forgive myself. It's suicide and I can't commit them. I just don't.

WALSH: Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Northern Syria.


ALLEN: A quick correction: earlier I said, ISIS had claimed victory in Mosul; I did, of course, mean to say that Iraq has claimed victory. Joining me now is Cedric Leighton, CNN Military Analyst and a retired Air Force Colonel. Col. Leighton, thanks for being with us.

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST (via Skype): It's good to be with you, Natalie.

ALLEN: If I first could just get your reaction to this powerful story by Nick Paton Walsh on these ISIS brides that went to Raqqa being promised one thing, and obviously getting something quite different. This is typical ISIS, you know, and what it does, and its lies, and its manipulation isn't it?

LEIGHTON: Absolutely. Well, it really brings home the idea of how ISIS not only manipulated the minds of these young ladies, but it also shows how depraved that whole culture, that whole society, really was under ISIS rule. And what you're seeing is a complete change in normal Islamic marriage customs and normal ways of doing things. In essence, what ISIS was doing was running kind of a speed dating services that, you know, try to take elements of and some other things. And they, of course, really ended up psychologically brutalizing the girls and a young woman that was there.

ALLEN: And usually in these situations, you'll always find someone that is so desperate; they will fall into that trap. These women are in this trap now, but we're making gains on ISIS in Raqqa. So, do they have a chance because of pushing ISIS into a corner, how much is ISIS threatened at this point?

LEIGHTON: ISIS is threatened quite a bit, Natalie. And one of the key things for these women and all of the civilians that are caught under ISIS rule -- really, what they're facing is a completely different situation than they had just a few weeks ago. Because of the military's efforts, both the coalition forces that raid against ISIS, which include the Syrian Democratic forces, as well as U.S., and other coalition partners. They were able to actually, in essence, put ISIS on the ropes.

What's coming next here in Raqqa -- in the Raqqa region is basically getting ISIS out of that city; moving in so that block by block they can actually take over what once was ISIS' de facto capital. And when that happens, that whole culture, all of the things that we've heard about with Nick Paton Walsh's has reported on, that becomes something that is hopefully going to be consigned to the past and will never again be part of the landscape of that part of the Middle East.

ALLEN: So, what does this mean for ISIS, military, in this region? If they lose Raqqa, they just lost Mosul; it took a very, very long time. What does this mean to them militarily?

LEIGHTON: Militarily, it's a really big defeat. Generally, what ISIS is trying to do is they've tried to minimize their presence in certain urban areas. But then, with maximum effect go in and capture those urban areas, kind of do it in the lightning strike. What has happened is not quite the reverse of that, because it took a lot longer than ISIS' actual move against Mosul or against Raqqa. But what we're seeing is a reversal of that effort and it really shows that ISIS is going to be forced to move from bad area to bad area. These are the best-ungoverned spaces; not only that are characteristic of Eastern, Northeastern Syria, and also Western Iraq, but it also shows that they may move into other uninhabited areas.

They're going to have a very difficult time of it because any type of supply effort that they have are going to be constrained. Those supply efforts are going to be cut off; it's not going to be the lifeline that will help them that they had -- to Turkey, for example. That will probably disappear for them. And when that disappears, they will move to sustain themselves, to move forward, do the kinds of things that any fighting force would want to do are going to be very, very limited.

[01:10:43] ALLEN: Well, hopefully, this is a significant turning point in this effort. We thank you for your input. Cedric Leighton, CNN Military Analyst, thanks.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Natalie.

ALLEN: A milestone for U.S. President Donald Trump this week: he marks six months in office. But he is doing so with historically low approval rating; the lowest, in fact, of any recent president at this point in office, according to a new poll. A Washington Post, ABC News polls, shows just 36 percent of Americans approve of the job he's doing, 58 percent disapprove. These numbers come amid the fallout over the meeting between the President's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and a Russian lawyer in June of last year. President Trump's attorney spoke with ABC about it.


JAY SEKULOW, ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Why wonder why the secret service of this was nefarious? Why the secret service allows these people in? The President had secret service protection at that point. That raised a question with me. Donald Trump Jr. himself said things should've been done differently. Having said that again, none of that is a violation of the law, that's more processed.


ALLEN: The secret service, however, tells CNN, the agency would not have screened the people at that meeting because it was not protecting Mr. Trump's son at the time. A majority of American's poll say that meeting was inappropriate. Here's more from CNN's Boris Sanchez.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: We're hearing reaction now from the American people for the first time since this story broke about a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a pair Russians: one, a lobbyist, the other an attorney, promising negative information about Hillary Clinton from the Russian government. A new poll from the ABC/Washington Post reveals that 63 percent of people disapprove of that meeting, saying that it is inappropriate for Donald Trump Jr. to have had that meeting in Trump Tower last June.

And this story is likely not one that is going to go away soon. You just mentioned the President's historically low approval rating as we learn more details about this Russia investigation; it is likely to continue to hamper the administration, and we haven't heard the end of this Russia story yet. Just today, two Senators on both sides of the aisle were on "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper, saying that they want Donald Trump Jr. before the Senate Intelligence Committee to testify under oath about what happened in that meeting, and why he took it in the first place? Listen.

SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: I would like to hear from all of these individuals whether we'll be able to get the Russian nationals to come over and testify, is an open question. That those people that arched me has jurisdiction over the American's; I sure as heck want to talk to all of them.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: We need to get to the bottom of this. But the only way that we're going to do is to talk not just to Donald Trump Jr., who has offered to cooperate for which I give him credit, but to everyone who was at that meeting and to what's involved in setting up that meeting. That may be difficult in the case of the Russian nationals, but we certainly ought to try. We should also ask for all documents; not just the e-mails that have been released but all the documents that are related to any kind context about President Trump campaign had with the Russian government or its adversaries.

SANCHEZ: As for when we might hear testimony from Donald Trump Jr., and Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner, and perhaps even some of the others in that meeting, it's not exactly clear. Both Senators say that there are still many documents to gather beforehand that they can host these three individuals in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee. For his part, the President is spending the rest of the weekend here in New Jersey before heading back to Washington D.C. tonight, still, with this cloud of the Russia investigation hanging over the White House.


ALLEN: Joining me now is Salena Zito; she's a CNN Contributor, and a Washington Examiner Reporter, and a Columnist for the New York Post. Selena, thanks for being with us. We appreciate it.

SALENA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks for having me.

[01:14:41] ALLEN: Let's look at the President's tweets this Sunday; what he's had to say since coming back from France. Tweet number one: "Hillary Clinton can illegally get the questions to the debate; delete 33,000 e-mails, but my son Don is being scorned by the fake news media." OK. So, let's look at the next tweet. "With all these phony unnamed sources and highly slanted, even fraudulent reporting. Fake news is distorting democracy in our country." And one more from him: "The ABC/Washington Post Poll, even though almost 40 percent is not bad at this time, was just about the most inaccurate poll around election time. Now let's start with Hilary Clinton and it just seems that when things are bad for this President he'd look for someone or something else to blame, the media his former candidate etc, etc.

[01:15:35] ZITO: I always encourage people if they have not to read his book (INAUDIBLE) and here is why. If you want to understand this man if you wonder how much you'll understand how he response to being back against some, in a corner or how he may feel or how he negotiates or even how he uses hyperbole to make something happen. It's all in there and the thing about Donald Trump even though these tweets are not Presidential, even though these tweets are not something we sort of whatever seen before in another President, this is who - of the American elect and put into office and so they knew what they were getting into, right? They knew where they were bargaining for but, you know, it we still sort of have not gotten over the shock a sort of how he deals with pressure, on how he deals with backing against the wall and on how he deals when things are not going exactly the way he wants them to go. He uses, he makes other people the bad guy, he defuses sort of the - whatever the anxious or column list against him back against the other person and, you know, he always likes to sort of say look you've gotten wrong but the post polls are fake, present views is fake.

ALLEN: Right, so he what? Always on the defense set, he's looking in for a way to make himself look good but let's just get past that dead. Let's talk about the fact that he could have talking about health care reform or tax reform or other things he has on his plates. So how does the President that works like that get the job done regardless of how he operates which apparently until now has just not been effective.

ZITO: Yes, it hasn't been effective and, you know, he's really has an opportunity now, I mean people watch his tweets people write something's like, you know, they would watch a series of sop opera, right? They just want to see him that.

It's the best series on Netflix in a very (INAUDIBLE)

ZITO: Exactly so why not use it to your opportunity? Why not be, you know, why now say this is what we're doing, this is what we're working on, these are the things we want to accomplish and it uses as a President uses the bullet fulfit it's the very sort of, you know, entrancing ability to be able to use it, you know, freestyle, right? But he does it, he uses it against him and these are those who he precedes as his enemy. And I suspect he's 71 years old, right? I don't think he's going to change.

ALLEN: We appreciate you, thanks so much for coming on.

ZITO: Thanks for having me.

ALLEN: The opposition in Venezuela is claiming victory after a symbolic referendum against President Nicolas Maduro. What the vote could mean for the country political crisis, that's just ahead. Also President Trump once called it disaster now he's getting ready to make a big decision about the Iran nuclear deal.


[01:21:17] PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: It's Weather Watch time, I'm Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri and look at the soggy set up line up across really the sundered here of the entire continental United States stretches on the parts of Northern Mexico as well with the monsoon of moisture in full swing across this region. In fact some of these areas are on sudern in Central Arizona not only have been drops striking them also fire striking in recent weeks but also have not seen rain fall about four to give months so all of this beneficial rain coming in across these region, who's significant rainfall I should say so. This is all coming in thanks to the monsoon and of course of the Phoenix Metro get much cooler temperature Tucson must be same after some significant flooding in recent days. The extreme to elevated fire risk at least critical in parts of Northern Nevada in place there are multiple fires across this region that have consumed as much as say kicking areas of Manhattan multiplying it by 10 that how much land is been consumed.

So certainly, good news as far as getting rain moisture increasing across that region. Los Angeles around 26 degrees it warms up from the upper 20's in New York city to the middle 30's and Washington and Charlotte generally pushed up closer to the middle 30's and upper 30's as well. And here the Windward islands we're watching a potential here for a tropical disturbance to form there's about a 40 percent chance inside the next few days and how about one, two, three, and four disturbances in the works and one in Fernandez sitting our there across parts of the Eastern Pacific over the next several days, any weather photos? We love to see them, use it hash tag CNN Weather.

ALLEN: And welcome to CNN NEWSROOM. The opposition in Venezuela is claiming victory in a symbolic and unofficial referendum on President Nicolas Maduro, opposition leader says so far about 98 percent of those voted rejected the President's plan to rewrite the constitution. Earlier I spoke with Journalist Stefano Pozzebon from Caracas.


STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: About 7.2 million Venezuelans have voted today 6.5 of them roughly inside Venezuela and about 700,000 Venezuelan abroad that's a very huge turnout for the opposition who is claiming victory in these non-bidding referendums against the proposal a constitution of President Nicolas Maduro. What is important is that the day so far has been, has going out a quite peacefully and quite quietly all the seats have been able to record the votes in another quite way and only in a small incident one person was killed by clashes between the two different party, main party the government and the main opposition but again after more than three months of social unrest and more than 90 people were being killed so far in Venezuela, people are still taking the street and today we have learned that about 7.2 million of them we're able to vote, we're able to express their will against his proposal for a new constitution by Nicolas Maduro. And that's why at outcome.


ALLEN: Stefano Pozzebon for us there in Venezuela. An American student could spend the next 10 years in an Iranian prison, he was found guilty of spying but U.S. officials accused Iran of making up charges just to detain Americans. This all coming just before a crucial decision on Iran from the Trump administration, here's CNN Elise Labott.


ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Iran has convicted an American graduate student on espionage charges and sends him to 10 years in prison. A spokesman for Iran's judiciary said he was arrested and put on trial for gathering information. Now Princeton University confirms that man Xiyue Wang an American, Chinese-American in the University's Department of History, he's a fourth year doctoral candidate studying erosion history and he was arrested in Iran lsat summer doing scholarly research in connection with his PHD dissertation. Now the details of the charges and his trial have not been disclosed

of course this is very common in Iran, were four nationals are arrested they often undergo close door trials and are convicted with prison sentences without due process. Now news of the arrest comes as President Trump is expected recertify that Iran is complying with guideline set by that nuclear deal reached two years with President Obama. A deal President Trump on the campaign once promised to tear up, now the Trump administration last certifying Iran was living up to it's commitment under the agreement in April, but the time the President said Iran was quote" Not living up to the spirit of the agreement" and official said the President taking it's queue for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, it was argued that while the deal is imperfect staying in the deal is the best way to verify Iranian from compliance in Iran nuclear activity.

Now Iran will continue to get sanctions released spelled out in the deal, but the deal is under reviews for a process being led by the National Security Council and the State Department that review should be completed by the end of the summer. Official said the administration appears to be moving towards a policy of staying in the deal but strengthening implementation and monitoring Iran's nuclear activity while cracking down on Iran's other activity in the region such as its supports for terrorism, it's interference in Yemen and elsewhere and it's human rights violations. Elise Labott, CNN Washington.


ALLEN: There's much more news ahead, also the Duchess of Cornwall speaks exclusively with CNN, find out how Camilla is helping victims of domestic violence. We'll be right back.


[01:30:34] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Thanks for being with us. I'm Natalie Allen.

Here are our top stories.


ALLEN: It's a special day for the royal family. Prince Charles's wife, Camilla, is celebrating her 70th birthday. This portrait of the royal couple was released in honor of the happy occasion.

Camilla's voice is rarely heard on camera. But in a CNN exclusive, the duchess spoke with our Max Foster during a busy day of public engagements.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you do, you do your back step, and you step forward with your left foot.

MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A few dancing tips for the guests at a tea party in Bristol in aid of those who support the elderly. Then a special guest arrives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of the people from --

FOSTER: The duchess would have been retired herself if she didn't have a job for life.




FOSTER (on camera): It's important for members of the royal family, like the duchess, to be meeting the public, be relevant to their lives, but also to be seen to be relevant to their lives, which is why we, the media, are here.

(voice-over): Camilla is the friendliest member of the royal family, if you speak to the members of the press pack that follow her. I've never seen her take it this far, though.

She hit the dance floor with one of the photographers, Arthur Edwards, of "The Sun."


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was so delighted to meet her. And I thought, what a gentle delightful woman she is, actually.

CAMILLA, DUCHESS OF CORNWALL: Thank you very much for all you do. And thank you very much to my dance partners.


I wasn't expecting it. I would have put on my dancing shoes, had I known.

FOSTER: Then we're off to a very different engagement.


FOSTER: A shelter for victims of domestic violence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just over two years now since my two sons were taken by the father with the fire and barricaded them in. All I could do was hold them as they died. And it is every parents' worst nightmare not to be there when they need you the most.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In 2002, he attacked me with a blow torch and three-day torture of knives and broken glass.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need more refugees rather than less -


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- it is the office. It's not going to go away. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And this is one our directors.

FOSTER: The shelter is run by a charity, and funds are low. The duchess speaks to staff to find out how they are coping.

I manage to grab a word with her as she made her way around.

(on camera): You've heard some incredibly powerful stories today. What are you able to bring to these sorts of conversations?

CAMILLA, DUCHESS OF CORNWALL: I'm not sure what I would bring. It is what all of these very brave ladies tell me. It is seeing is believing. Hearing is believing. I think, like many other people in this country, I didn't know much about domestic abuse. In fact, I knew nothing at all. I think -- I went to visit another charity, saving lives, where again I sat around listening to some very brave ladies tell their stories. And I think everybody there was moved to tears. And I thought as I came out, I thought, you know, I just wish there was something I could do to help.

FOSTER: And you were able to coordinate groups, bring publicity?

[01:34:58] CAMILLA, DUCHESS OF CORNWALL: Well, that's -- that's what I've tried do is to bring everybody together to coordinate and to get them talking so they come up with the ideas. I think we could talk, it wasn't a subject and we can talk about it now. I can talk about it and bang the drum a bit. So can other people. So that's what I'm trying to do to help. But, again, it seems wonderful people that do the hard work. And my goodness, me, these are an incredible lot of ladies. You heard the ladies who were talking to me, telling their stories. Well, you have to be very brave to stand up and tell -- and talk about all those terrible things that have happened to you. I can only hope that, some day, we can make it better.

FOSTER: Thank you for speaking to me.



FOSTER (voice-over): This, we think, is the longest she has ever spoken on camera. It is an issue she cares deeply about.

(on camera): We've been allowed into the convey and we are headed to the duchess's third engagement in a matter of hours.


FOSTER (voice-over): She's visiting a row of independent shops.

A bite of chocolate, perhaps not that easy to enjoy in front of a bank of cameras.


FOSTER: And a brush with public. The visit was unannounced for security reasons and came as quite a


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the post office ladies were like, oh, she is coming. And she was in the charity shop. I was like, wow. Because she is amazing. She is one-of-a-kind. She's really, really good.


FOSTER: There's no doubt the British public has warmed to Camilla in the 12 years since she's been married to Prince Charles. Each engagement bringing her a little closer to the public and connecting her with them.

This day is not done just yet though. She is off to London for another engagement.


FOSTER: Max Foster, CNN, Bristol, England.


ALLEN: Again, the Duchess of Cornwall turning 70 this week.

Coming up here, heavy rain is causing some flooding in Vietnam. And more rain in on the way for Southeast Asia. Pedram will be along with the forecast.


[01:40:23] ALLEN: "Al Jazeera" is at the center of the ongoing diplomatic crisis between Qatar and its gulf neighbors. The Saudi-led coalition is demanding Qatar the network down.

Here's CNN's Jomana Karadsheh.



JOMANA KARADSHEH (voice-over): From airing the first interview with Osama bin Laden after 9/11 --


KARADSHEH: -- to introducing heated political debate shows to the Arab world --


KARADSHEH: -- "Al Jazeera, Arabic" has become a polarizing force.


KARADSHEH: At its new multimillion dollar headquarters in Doha, it might seem like business as usual. But the Qatar-funded news network is at the heart of the diplomatic crisis in the gulf with the Saudi- led bloc demanding its closure.

Yasser Abu Hilalah has been with the network for 20 years. For the past three, he has run the Arabic news channel.


KARADSHEH: He believes "Al Jazeera" changed the media landscape of a region once dominated by state-run TV channels.

Critics accuse "Al Jazeera, Arabic" of being a platform for hate speech and sectarian excitement.

HILALAH (through translation: One of "Al Jazeera's" qualities is that it expressed the alternative opinion. Before "Al Jazeera," it was only the opinion of governments. They do not want the other opinion, whatever that opposition is.


KARADSHEH: It was the network's coverage of the 2011 Arab Spring that made it a thorn in the side of Arab regimes. "Al Jazeera" was seen by critics as more sympathetic to the views of the Muslim Brotherhood in places like Egypt, a political party now banned in several Arab states.

DR. LINA KHATIB, DIRECTOR, MIDDLE EAST & NORTH AFRICA PROGRAM, CHATHAM HOUSE: This is certainly a platform for Qatar's political allies. The Muslim Brotherhood is one such ally. And the Muslim Brotherhood is seen by UAE, in particular, as the country's big political enemy.

Hilalah rejects the criticism. He says they treat the Muslim Brotherhood like any other political entity in the Arab world.

HILALAH (through translation): It was believed that "Al Jazeera," because of its coverage of the Arab Spring in Tunisia, Libya, by documenting what was happening and broadcasting it, that it encouraged people to revolt. Did "Al Jazeera" create the Arab Spring or did it document it? This is a question for history.

KARADSHEH: Hilalah says the demand it shut down "Al Jazeera" is, quote, "out of the question." The call to shutter the network does not distinguish between its various services, including "Al Jazeera, English," which analysts say is a different channel, more focused on global affairs.

(on camera): No one knows how this crisis will end, but many feel that demands to silence a media organization sets a dangerous precedent in a region where freedom of the press is still heavily restricted.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Doha.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ALLEN: Pedram's here to talk about some serious weather. A lot of storms kicking up --


ALLEN: -- in many places.

JAVAHERI: Multiple places, absolutely. You go from the eastern Pacific to the Western Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean. And when you look at your calendar, this when you expect to see the oceans heat up. So this all happening here.

We'll start off across the Atlantic Ocean. Right now, you notice there is a 40 percent chance this will become Tropical Storm Don. We think this will increase over the next several days. The Windward Islands, that's the initial area concerned, of course, from Barbados towards Trinidad and Tobago and work its way into areas of Martinique. That's an area of concern. Climatologically, these storms want to make more of a northern turn towards the Gulf of Mexico or even areas towards the eastern United States on into the northern Caribbean. The models have it otherwise. The models just want to continue to take it to the West, which will threaten northern areas of Venezuela. Notice there are some disparities here pushing it towards Jamaica. But, generally speaking, we think this storm system will want to impact somewhere around portions of Central America going into early next week. So this is what we're watching very carefully there.

You see what's happening around the eastern Pacific. We have four areas of disturbed weather, one of which is a major hurricane, Fernando. This is a fish storm. It's not going to impact anyone. It's this particular one south of Acapulco with a high probability there at 80 percent that could be more of a rainmaker across this region.

We've also watched what's been happening around the western Pacific. Four tropical storms so far this season. Impacting really a variety of regions. But the most recent being Thomas. Made landfall Sunday around 3:00 local time. Look at this. The averages versus 2017 were actually below average for this time of year for tropical storm count. We've had no official typhoons yet. We've had, of course, four tropical storms. And that super storms as well. So we're thinking, as we go into early August, you begin to see the peak season take place. That's when we have the most active weather to kick up across this region.

With that storm system, still a lot of wet weather expected. It will work its way over northern portions of, say, Thailand, eventually into parts of Bangladesh and that area. Does not need any additional rainfall so we'll watch that here. We've seen a tremendous amount of rain come down in recent days.

I'll leave you with this, about the northern lights. If you're watching this around in northern Europe right now before the sun comes up, get outsiders, especially if you can get outside of the city centers, and look to the north as far south of London on into Berlin, you will have an opportunity here to see the northern lights. Of course, even Oslo and St. Petersburg as well. Very cool perspective right now.

Natalie, I know that is something on your bucket list. I don't know if - you've got the Borealis dress on.

[01:45:51] ALLEN: That would be -- you're killing me there.



JAVAHERI: You're not taking a vacation out towards the northern part of the world.

ALLEN: I'll watch it on YouTube.

JAVAHERI: Yes, exactly.

ALLEN: Thanks, Pedram.


ALLEN: The cult classic TV series "Doctor Who" makes history. Find out who has been cast as the newest time traveler. And why some fans aren't so pleased with the choice.



[01:50:03] ALLEN: Hollywood has lost an acting legend. Martin Landau died Saturday afternoon at a hospital in Los Angeles. Landau was known for playing the master of disguise, Rollin Hand, in the 1960s TV show "Mission Impossible." Years later, he won an Academy Award for his role in Tim Burton's "Ed Wood" playing Bela Lugosi. Still acted after a career of more than 60 years. Landau's publicist says he was not sparing of his talent, even in his private life. Landau is survived by his former wife and two daughters. He had just celebrated his 89th birthday.

Move over time lords. A time lady is finally here. The next Doctor Who is a woman. Actress Jodie Whitaker is making history by becoming the first female to take on the role of the time-traveling Doctor Who in the hit British TV series. The BBC made the highly anticipated announcement following the Wimbledon men's tennis finals Sunday.

Film and entertainment journalist, Sandro Monetti, joins me now to break this huge announcement down.

SANDRO MONETTI, FILM & ENTERTAINMENT JOURNALIST: Oh, is this how you're reacting? Say it ain't so.


It was such a shock. It's not so much Doctor Who as Doctor Whoa. It was rumored but I never thought they would actually do it. It's taken a f3ew hours to sink in. I think it's fantastic. I think it's a landmark moment for pop

culture, for society, and for feminism.

ALLEN: The time had come perhaps.

MONETTI: Fifty-four years.


ALLEN: Whoo. We're doing well.


Yes, we're doing well. We're doing well.


MONETTI: It's about time. What's taken so long?

ALLEN: "Doctor Who" premiered back in the '60s. And since then, only men have played the title role. So this is a big deal that they have cast a woman.

MONETTI: It really is. From William Hartwell, back in 1963, to Peter Capaldi in 2017. It's always been a male at the control of this. So imagine the shock of Whoians like me around the world when a woman, no less, gets the part. But this is the way entertainment is going. We have seen the first female Hamlet on stage recently. Just this summer, we've seen "Wonder Woman," incidentally, the first female superhero film since 2005, become a huge hit. Women have an icon to identity with on the big screen. And now with Jodie Whitaker cast as Doctor Who, they have an icon on the small screen as well. Yea for girl power.

ALLEN: All right. Watch out Superman. We're after you next.


The announcement has been cheered by both fans and former stars of the show. I want to point that out. Actor Colin Baker, who played the sixth reincarnation of the doctor, tweeted, "Well, I never. The BBC really did do the right thing and let the doctor be in touch with her feminine side. As a father of daughters, results." Even Scotland's first minister, Nichola Sturgeon, approves. She tweeted, "Welcome Madam. #DoctorWho."

So how has the twelfth Doctor actor, Peter Capaldi, responded to the fact a woman will be replacing him as Doctor Who? What do you think?

MONETTI: Well, Peter Capaldi has been sort of very positive about the news. He's praised the acting of Jodie Whitaker.

She's known as a dramatic actress, best known for Broadchurch." She plays the mother of a murdered child in that hit series, produced by Chris Chibnall, who is taking over as executive producer of "Doctor Who." So he knows her very well, having worked three seasons on that show.

The doctor is a character known for their quirky side. Maybe Chris will see some new colors in Jodie. She can certainly do the dramatic stuff. I look forward to seeing how she reacts to traveling in time and space. But Peter Capaldi has been very positive, handing over the keys to this artist.

Now others on the Internet have been less kind and think a woman drive will crash the spaceship. How dare they.

ALLEN: Yes. She has to find her inner quirky.

She has said - Jodie Whitaker has told fans to not be afraid of her gender. But there's been backlash, as you mentioned. They are unhappy with it. One fan said, "A woman as the doctor? Ridiculous. Never watching again. Political stupid correctness strikes again."

Here's another, "Well, that's me and "Doctor Who" finished. I'm gutted. I'm sorry, but Doctor Who is not a lady. What's next? Jamie Bond?"

So obviously, some having a tough time. Do you think we'll be able to win them over? What does she have ahead of her?

MONETTI: Well, it is a lot to take in because Doctor Who is one of those iconic parts, like James Bond, Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes. Imagine is one of those suddenly had a sex change. So I can kind of understand the immediate reaction. But, luckily, Jodie Whitaker is a great actress. And I'm sure she'll be great. Chris Chibnall knows what he's doing. He's written for "Doctor Who" before. And he's always had a knack for casting in his other shows. So I have every faith. Other maybe not so much.

[01:55:22] ALLEN: OK. So we'll wait and see.

Sandro Monetti, we appreciate your joining us. I'm going to start watching now.

Thank you.

MONETTI: Thank you so much.

ALLEN: Speaking of hit TV shows, it is only July, but winter is coming.



UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: It's going to be real.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: It's always been real.


ALLEN: The king of the north, the mother of dragons, the White Walkers, they all return with the start of "Game of Throne's" seventh season just a few hours ago. Story lines that have spanned more than six years are expected to finally converge. "Game of Thrones" is one of the most-watched programs in the world. And the reaction on Twitter so far, people want more.

That's this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen. Thanks for watching.

More ahead with my colleagues, Rosemary Church and George Howell.