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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Is Bashar al-Assad Winning Syria's War?

April 15th, 2014
11:37 AM ET

On Sunday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told a group of Damascus students that victory in his country's civil war was within sight. As al-Assad eyes a third presidential term, Amara Walker talks to former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Theodore Kattouf about the country's prospects after three bloody years and 150,000 deaths.

Filed under:  Analysis • General • Middle East • Syria

Baroness Nicholson: Iraq has massive potential

February 4th, 2014
01:57 PM ET

Britain's trade envoy to Iraq, Baroness Emma Nicholson, says that while Iraq is still facing huge challenges, it has "massive potential" for growth.

"Iraq is indeed growing dramatically in terms of private investment and in terms of output in oil and gas and construction of infrastructure… Iraq is most definitely growing at the rate of 10% a year, and has the highest potential growth rate in the region."

Along with its potential, the country faces some obvious challenges, the most critical being the level of on-going violence. Nicholson accepts this. "One of the great difficulties of course is the Sunni-Shia violence coming out of Syria, which has been spilling over into Iraq for much more than a year... I think there's nearly half a million Syrian refugees, and much of the violence is stemming from that. But nonetheless Iraq is growing."

One of the consequences of over a decade of instability has been an undereducated workforce. "There is of course a big deficit in education and training, and that's why universities and tertiary education and the learning of English as a business language is absolutely critical. The future is very good indeed, but my goodness me, it's a tough struggle to get there, but that's no reason not to be in there to help."

Filed under:  Becky's Interviews • Business • Middle East • Syria

Schools offer counseling to Syrian kids

January 29th, 2014
04:13 PM ET

Run in a home on the Turkish-Syrian border, the Banyam Martyrs School offers education, and counseling, to more than 300 Syrian refugee children. All of these students have lost one or both parents in the ongoing war.

Reem Banoush, the school manager, fled Syria with her family after the war broke out. She explained to CNN why she set up the school. "My children have had a private education, but now they have regressed by two years. After I'd worked with them they had become better, so I decided to make this school; first for the same of my children, and secondly for the sake of the children of martyrs."

Many of the students carry traumatic memories from the war. One 12 year old boy talks about his father's death. "I heard someone screaming and people ran to help him and I went to help him too. And then the second rocket hit."

Over 2 million refugees have fled Syria so far. Of these, 1.1 million Syrian refugees are under 18, and UNICEF estimates that more than half a million of them are not in school.

Banoush's experience further highlights how important an education is to those who can get it. "We found the children were very receptive to our education and they loved the school and even sometimes during school breaks the children would say 'we do not want a break, we want to come'."

Filed under:  Education • Girls Education • Middle East • Syria • Video

Gordon Brown: Syrian kids are forgotten victims

January 29th, 2014
04:11 PM ET

An ambitious 'timeshare' plan, launched by the UN, aims to enroll 400,000 Syrian refugees in school before the spring. With the support of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and education campaigner Malala Yousafzai, the concept would see exiled Syrian children being taught in existing Lebanese schools for only $400 per person per year.

Becky spoke to Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education and former British Prime Minister, to find out more.

He said "100 years ago we established the principle that in a conflict the Red Cross would provide healthcare. Then Médecins Sans Frontières did even more in the 1970s and '80s when they introduced their service that kept health services going even in the worst and most intolerable conditions. Now we've got to establish the principle that even if you're in a difficult area, and there is no more difficult area than the Syrian peninsula at the moment, once you're in the area you can still provide some of these services, and we want to see education provided for as many children as possible, and then a root to jobs, and then a return to normality as quickly as possible."

While private individuals can contribute to funding the plan, Brown emphasized that it's important to get governments involved too. "Any pressure that ordinary citizens can put on this will make a difference."

Becky then asked what advice he had for the participants at the Geneva 2 peace talks. "To work harder to achieve a settlement. But at the same time to recognize that even if we achieved a settlement, which will be very difficult in the next few months, the humanitarian needs go on. These are the innocent victims, but often forgotten victims of a crisis. We know that more than half the refugees are children. We know that they have been pushed out of their homes already, but we know also that they're lacking the food and the shelter, as well as the education, and we really have to take humanitarian aid more seriously."

Filed under:  Activism • Becky's Interviews • Middle East • Syria

NATO: No military solution in Syria

January 28th, 2014
02:30 PM ET

As peace talks in Geneva seemed to reach a stalemate on Syria, Becky spoke with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.  She asked him whether he thought military action was still a possibility.

"I think you have to distinguish clearly between the use of chemical weapons and the long term solution to the conflict in Syria," Rasmussen said.  "As regards the use of chemical weapons last year, I was of the very clear opinion and I am still that that needed a clear response from the international community.  Eventually the threat of military action led to a political and diplomatic solution and now the chemical weapons in Syria will be eliminated."

Rasmussen also said he was hopeful that the Geneva II talks would yield constructive results.  He emphasized that while the threat of military action worked to deter the further use of chemical weapons, a political solution is the only way to resolve the conflict in the long term.

Filed under:  Becky's Interviews • Europe • London • Syria • Video
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