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First In-Person Gathering in Two Years Gets Underway; U.K. Struggles to Control Variants Threatening COVID Progress; Brazil's Supreme Court Gives Tournament the Go-Ahead; About 10,000 Volunteers Quit Over COVID Fears; Top Investors Demand Climate Action From World Leaders; Mine-Clearing Group Vows To Stay In Afghanistan; Trump DOJ Subpoenaed Apple For Data From Accounts Of Democrats Including Reps. Adam Schiff & Eric Swalwell. Aired 2-2:45a ET
Aired June 11, 2021 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Hello. Welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Anna Coren, live from Hong Kong.
Coming up this hour, we are hours away from the official start of the G7 summit, the first in-person meeting of world leaders since the start of the pandemic, a subject on everyone's agenda.
Plus, thousands of Tokyo Olympic volunteers quitting ahead of the games, feeling concerned Japan may not be ready to host the event. We go live to Tokyo with the latest.
And could a deadly attack on a British American charity that clears land mines in Afghanistan tell us what awaits the country as U.S. and NATO troops pull out? I'll discuss with my guest.
The G7 Summit is set to get underway in Cornwall, England in just a couple of hours. It's the first time in almost two years the leaders of the world's richest democracies have talked face-to-face. This is Joe Biden's first overseas trip since taking office. It's also his first real chance to convince America's allies in person that the Trump era is behind them. One of his first orders of business was meeting with G7 host, Boris Johnson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: Ahead of Friday's meetings, the prime minister formally welcomed President Biden and his wife to the seaside resort. The president and prime minister later sat down together to talk to a number of issues important to both countries. They also signed an updated version of the Atlantic Charter that underscores the special relationship between the two countries going back 80 years.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COREN (on camera): For more on Thursday's bilateral talks between President Biden and Prime Minister Johnson, here is CNN's Kaitlan Collins.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A British prime minister's legacy is often defined by the relationship with the U.S. president.
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It is wonderful to listen to the Biden administration and to Joe Biden. It's fantastic. It's a breath of fresh air.
COLLINS (voice-over): So the world was watching British Prime Minister Boris Johnson sat down with President Biden.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We reaffirmed the special relationship -- and it's not said lightly -- the special relationship between our people.
COLLINS (voice-over): It was Biden's first trip to the U.K. since taking office.
BIDEN: We've talked many times, but this is the first time as president of the United States.
COLLINS (voice-over): And it was also his first time meeting Johnson and his new wife.
BIDEN: I told the prime minister we have something in common. We both married way above station.
JOHNSON: I'm not going to descend from that one. I wouldn't disagree with the president on that or indeed on anything else.
COLLINS (voice-over): The two leaders have certainly disagreed in the past. Biden once referred to Johnson as Donald Trump's clone and was critical of Brexit, which Johnson not only campaigned on but negotiated.
BIDEN: You saw what happened in England with Brexit. It was about immigration. It was about losing identity. Those moments of instability that present opportunities for the most malign forces in any of our countries and around the world to be able to gain power.
COLLINS (voice-over): Biden and Johnson look ahead to the future, renewing the Atlantic Charter to emphasize their alliance.
BIDEN: Today, we built on that commitment.
COLLINS (voice-over): Biden and Johnson also agreeing to work on restoring travel between the two nations shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic.
But one of the biggest points of tension between the two leaders is the status of Northern Ireland, where Brexit-fueled (ph) tensions have broken out, and in the past, Biden has insisted on maintaining the Good Friday Agreement.
BIDEN: We do not want a guarded border.
COLLINS (voice-over): Johnson denied reports Biden pressured him to keep the agreement in place.
JOHNSON: It is a complete harmony on the need to keep going, find solutions, and make sure we uphold the Belfast Good Friday Agreement.
COLLINS (voice-over): Biden will meet with several world leaders while abroad, including a high-stake showdown with Russian President Vladimir Putin. First lady Jill Biden says he has been studying for weeks.
JILL BIDEN, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: I think he is so well prepared. I mean, he is -- you know, he has been studying for weeks, you know, working up to today. Of course, he knows most of the leaders that will be here and Joe loves foreign policy. This is his forte. Oh, my Gosh, he's overprepared.
COLLINS (voice-over): Kaitlan Collins, CNN, traveling with the president, in Cornwall.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
COREN (on camera): Certainly good to hear that President Biden is overprepared. CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson joins us now from the summit site in Carbis Bay.
Nic, good to see you. As we heard from Boris Johnson, he described the president as a breath of fresh air. I mean, how would you describe their meeting so far, the way that they are responding to one another? Obviously, it is night and day compared to what Boris Johnson had to deal with the last four years.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It really is a night and day comparison between that and President Trump. I mean, Biden does certainly bring something else and that is the essence of his message here. That this is not about America first, this is about democracies around the world, recognizing that there is historic inflection point, and there must be strength among democracies to stand up against autocracies.
You heard in Kaitlin's report that Biden's view of what Brexit was about, about immigration, about divisive policies. So Biden comes into this, as Jill Biden said, overprepared, but foreign policy being his speciality. I think the imagery around Boris Johnson's meeting with President Biden yesterday was really positive for both of the leaders.
The images of Jill Biden and Carrie Johnson, Boris Johnson's new wife, and his young son, Wilfred, on the beach at the water's edge are incredibly powerful images, just the bond between the people involved here, never mind the nations involved. That speaks to reset.
But Biden, being the expert on foreign policy, will know what he is going to run into when he sits down with Angela Merkel here, who he has already had difficulties with in relationship over the north stream to pipeline. He will recognize the difficulties that he is going to face with Emanuel Macron who was raising questions about how NATO should be run.
You know, he knows that there are going to be rough rides ahead in all these relationships, but his core focus has been China and will remain China through this summit and building those alliances.
So I think to get to your question again, how is it going? That imagery we saw at the start, if the public presentation of strength, of unity can be presented here at the G7, that is going to be a win for Biden on the foreign policy stage because that is what he needs to project to Russia and China.
COREN: You mentioned the rough rides ahead for President Biden and many people are looking ahead to his meeting with Vladimir Putin. I guess, what is the message that Biden is going to deliver to Vladimir Putin? What does Putin, for that matter, want out of that meeting?
ROBERTSON: Yeah. I think the very simple message that Biden is going to deliver, the vernacular always is mess with us and there will be consequences.
You know, the United States considers it a national security issue when ransomware hackers, who are believed to be in Russia, can bring down gas supplies on the east coast of the United States. It is a national security issue when Russian hackers meddle in the U.S. elections, as they did in 2016 and 2020.
That is going to be his message to Vladimir Putin, that under my administration, you're not going to be able to get away with that. It is message that will be tempered with we need to work together on arms limitations. He thinks that is something of mutual interest that Putin will respond to. But it's predictability, sustainability of relationship and continuity of relationship. That is what he is really trying to achieve.
For Putin, I think, you know, the important thing here is that he is going to be at a walk away from this, shrugging off in whatever way he feels he needs to do publicly and domestically at home in Russia as, you know, he is under no one's influence, he is kowtowing to no one.
He cares not about what the United States says to him about buildup of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine or siding with Belarus president who is widely judged to have essentially rigged the elections in Belarus, and continued crushing dissent ever since.
So on all on these topics, Putin is going to be able to walk away and play his own game.
[02:09:58] ROBERTSON: The question is, having heard by Biden the consequences of meddling in U.S. affairs, will he listen and desist? Obviously, it is going to take some time after meeting before we really know.
COREN: Nic, the G7 back in the 70s represented 80 percent of the global GDP. Now, it is more like 40 percent. So, what is the G7's role and perhaps relevance today?
ROBERTSON: Yean, it still is about, you know, these are the world's richest democracies, and democracy is sort of at the heart of Biden's message, a historic inflection point in moment where, you know, democracies need to stand up for the values, for democratic values. So, one of those values will be to show that these rich nations care about the rest of the world, care about controlling the pandemic.
We've heard the United States stump up half a billion doses of vaccine to be distributed to poorer nations. That is done with the intent of getting more vaccine commitments from other nations. The U.K. is going to put forward about a hundred million vaccines.
You know, there expected to be an announcement at the G7 of a billion vaccines offer to poor nations, but critics and the former British prime minister, Gordon Brown, have said this very clearly, to achieve the goal of getting the whole world vaccinated by the end of 2022, which is what Boris Johnson said that the G7 should do, you're going to need 11 billion doses of vaccine, and rather than offering doses, that should be a substantial way of developing the funding and therefore the manufacturing of vaccines to reach that target.
So, you know, what the G7 does, even though the nations are poorer than they once were, is try to set a narrative of the richer nations, standing up for democracy. Democracy values are helping out the weaker and the poor around the world and part of this will be standing up and having a country message to Russia and China, which are richer than they were in the past.
The shortfall, hence, in the GDP standing at the G7, China and Russia ability to project their version of how the world should be run through their vaccine offerings to poorer nations.
So, you know, less money perhaps in the pockets of these nations, but their message and what they need to achieve certainly in the mind of President Biden is as huge as it ever was.
COREN: Nic Robertson, always great for you to put this on to context for us from the summit site in Carbis Bay. Great to see you. Thank you so much.
Well, the eyes of the world on Cornwall. I'm now joined by Derek Thomas, member of the British Parliament and Conservative Party, who represents the town of St. Ives. Derek, great to have you with us. This summit is obviously taking place in your district that you represent. Some of the residents say that that is the last thing that Cornwall needs right now. How are you dealing with this opposition?
DEREK THOMAS, MEMBER, BRITISH PARLIAMENT AND CONSERVATIVE PARTY: Thank you. Good morning, Anna. Let's see. Cornwall is a very generous part of the world and very generous part of the United Kingdom. I think we are privileged. We feel privileged to be able to host something that brings together the leaders. Let's face it, they represent more than half of the world's population at a time where we've got challenges that probably this generation never faced before.
So I think when you really look at how Cornwall people are feeling, they feel -- my constituency, my district, actually, they're really delighted to play a small part in something that is so critical to the future of the planet.
COREN: As you say, the summit is happening in the middle of a global pandemic. The world is also facing a climate emergency and problems with equality. Does Joe Biden's presidency in the United States mean that G7 countries are better prepared now to face with the challenges of our time?
THOMAS: It has been brilliant to have President Joe Biden here in the U.K, here in Cornwall a day earlier. So we've really been able to see how the tone of this summit is one thing to go. I think both the prime minister, Boris Johnson, and President Joe Biden, have really set that tone. They really demonstrated that this is about lifting our eyes up to see what the real changes are, but actually, how we can deliver that.
So for me and for the people of Cornwall, what we are thankful is a really fair and equitable economic recovery the world over. Vaccines are available the world over. A really decisive and clear way of addressing the need to mitigate climate change the world over. I believe we can deliver that, and we can see something quite remarkable here in Carbis Bay and what is the most beautiful part of the United Kingdom.
COREN: I wanted to ask you, how has your constituency received the vaccine? Have they gotten on board and realized the importance of getting vaccinated?
THOMAS: It's remarkable. Actually, many months ago, in the middle of February, it was my constituency that had -- that was one of the leading areas in England. We vaccinated more than half our population. In fact, two of the areas, we call them (INAUDIBLE), two of those areas, if you like to mention dispatches for how -- what a fantastic job they got, how they deliver that vaccine.
Here in Cornwall, but also across the U.K., the take of a vaccine has been really remarkable, in the 80s and 90s percent.
COREN: That is good news. Derek, the World Back estimates that the pandemic has pushed at least 150 million people back into poverty. The United Kingdom is cutting its foreign aid, obviously to some of those desperately-needed countries. What are your thoughts on that?
THOMAS: It's really a critical issue. First, Boris Johnson's commitment to the hundred million vaccines is really welcome. That's fantastic. But this week, I was part of a number of MPs in parliament who really urging our chancellor and the prime minister to reverse this decision to go back to the 0.7 percent.
We are, after the United States, we are the second biggest giver of foreign aid. We have been meeting the points of our target, which is not true of all the other G7 members. So, actually, we have been very generous in the past.
But the cut that represents about four billion pound plus a reduction in money because of the way it is measured in relation to GDP is going to be devastating for the world's poorest people. There's still work to be done to get the prime minister to change his mind.
I think that might well take place. I think there's a recognition as our economy recovers. We can do it. So we are asking -- a number of MPs both on government benches and across the floor are asking that the government reinstate the 0.7 percent of our GDP for international aid from April of next year.
We believe we can do it. It is the right thing to do. Actually, the British public is always the first to step forward when there's a tragedy, when there is a disaster. The British public put their hands in their pocket. So I believe they're behind it. I believe they want to be part of supporting the world's poor in this truly horrendous time for many, many people around the world.
COREN: You keep loving the prime minister and the government. Derek Thomas, great to speak to you. Thanks so much for joining us.
THOMAS: Thank you, Anna.
COREN: We'll have more from the G7 in a short moment, including the strongest call yet from investors demanding governments do more to fight climate change.
Straight ahead, the rising threats of variant seen in the U.K. How they could stop Britain from reopening its borders and wipe out some of the nation's pandemic progress.
Plus, the Tokyo Olympic Games had already lost international spectators. Now, they've losing local volunteers. We'll tell you about that after the break.
COREN (on camera): Welcome back. The race between the vaccines and variants is in the U.K. as the delta variant first identified in India becomes the nation's dominant strain. Emerging hot spots have sparked fears that variants could jeopardize Britain's progress in the fight against the pandemic.
CNN's Phil Black reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE) PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In this corner of Northwest England, coronavirus anxiety is peeking again. Here, British army soldiers walk the streets handing out information and test kits. Mobile vaccination teams work to get doses to all willing adults. Masks are still everywhere, even outside, a rare sight in the U.K.
You're worried about what's happening around here?
UNKNOWN: Yeah, definitely. If you're not, there's something wrong with you.
BLACK (voice-over): The big signs explain why. The town of Bolton is the U.K.'s leading hot spot for a highly contagious coronavirus variant.
UNKNOWN: I know a lot of people who have had it in the last three weeks (INAUDIBLE) last four weeks compared to last 12 months. A lot of people have caught it.
BLACK (voice-over): First discovered during India's recent devastating wave, also known as the delta variant, it has quickly become the dominant strain in the U.K. The British government says the data so far suggests it is about 40 percent more transmissible than the U.K.'s previous dominant variant.
Early analysis conducted by Public Health England shows it is twice as likely to result in hospitalization. It is also driven an increase in school outbreaks since children have not been vaccinated. Eight-year- old (INAUDIBLE) lives in nearby Blackburn, a community where cases of the variant are growing rapidly.
UNKNOWN: I don't know how I caught it (ph).
BLACK (on camera): Why was he tested?
UNKNOWN: No temperature, no headache, nothing of them --
BLACK (voice-over): It was just a routine test?
UNKNOWN: Yeah, routine test.
BLACK (voice-over): Adam Finn is a professor of paediatrics who advises the British government on vaccine policy.
ADAM FINN, MEMBER, U.K.'S JOINT COMMITTEE ON VACCINATION AND IMMUNIZATION: Because children tend to get this infection less than tend to transmit the last time than adults do. So, certainly seeing cases among children is another canary in the mind, if you like. It's another sign if it goes on going up that we are dealing with a highly infectious variant.
BLACK (voice-over): The U.K.' vaccine program has made huge progress with more than 50 percent of all adults now fully vaccinated and around another quarter of the adult population covered by first dose. But some scientists fear this new variant could tear through the remaining unprotected population in a wave of cases that would once again place huge pressure on the health system.
The government had hoped to lift all remaining social restrictions and reopen society on June 21st. Whether to proceed with that plan is looming as one of the most difficult decisions of Britain's pandemic experience.
FINN: Opening up and having the big wave and having to shut down again would be worse for everyone.
BLACK (voice-over): The government is blamed by critics for moving too slowly to stop travel from India, allowing the variant to take hold here. Government says that assessment is unfair. But what it does next will be fiercely scrutinized in a country that has sacrificed much and is desperate to move on.
Phil Black, CNN, Bolton, Northwest England.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
COREN (on camera): As Britain worries about the new variant, Brazil is concerned a football tournament could make its COVID crises even worse. On Thursday, the nation's Supreme Court ruled the COPA America championship can start as scheduled this Sunday.
The court dismissed three legal objections to holding the event, including a requirement for the government to come up with a contingency plan to prevent an additional COVID surge during the tournament. The decision to host the COPA faced a strong push back because the coronavirus is still raging in Brazil. The nation saw more than 88,000 new cases on Thursday. We'll have more on the COPA in world sport later this hour.
We're just 42 days away from the start of the Tokyo Olympics. The coronavirus advisor for Japanese Olympic Committee says it will be impossible to shut the virus out of the country and that the focus is on mitigating the spread.
Many in Japan are very unhappy that the games are still going on at all. Officials in the city of Sapporo say they are unprepared to host the marathon event in August and thousands of volunteers have quit.
Selina Wang joins us now from Tokyo, Selina, 42 days out, all these years, not very encouraging, is it?
SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Anna, that is right. You have thousands of Tokyo Olympic volunteers quitting and for the ones who are staying on, they now have this added responsibility of keeping themselves safe from COVID-19.
WANG (on camera): I spoke to many volunteers who have either quit or are thinking about quitting. And for them, their vision of the entire Olympics has really changed. They were once so excited to be a part of this global celebration, but that excitement has turned into anxiety and disillusionment as they have seen problem after problem, from cost overruns to hosting the Tokyo Olympics to sexist comments from the former Tokyo chief, and now to the country barrelling ahead with these games despite public opposition and surging COVID-19 cases in Japan.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
JUN HATAKEYAMA, FORMER TOKYOU 2020 VOLUNTEER: I think it is belittling human lives.
WANG: Jun Hatakeyama is one of some 10,000 Tokyo Olympic volunteers out of 80,000 that has quit amid pandemic fears.
HATAKEYAMA: I just quit because for my health condition and to show my opinion that I am against the Olympic Games.
WANG: When college student Hatakeyama signed up to be a volunteer, he was excited to witness the world's best athletes come together at this Olympic village. Instead, he has witnessed mounting problems.
HATAKEYAMA: The Olympic Game is belittling human lives. Our lives are not normal, so it's an emergency now. So I think why we can hold an Olympic game in 2020 now?
WANG: An army of enthusiast volunteers has been a key to the success of recent games, helping to operate venues, assisting spectators and athletes. Tokyo organizers say fewer volunteers this year won't impact operations, given no foreign spectators and downsizing of events.
But volunteer Nima Esnaashar, a language teacher who lives here in (INAUDIBLE), says protection hasn't been nearly enough.
What COVID protection have you been given as a volunteer?
NIMA ESNAASHAR, TOKYO 2020 VOLUNTEER: We are going to get two masks and a bottle of hand sanitizer.
WANG: So that's it?
ESNAASHAR: That's it.
WANG: Volunteers are asked to take public transportation between their homes and Olympic venues. And for those who live outside of Tokyo, they have to find their own lodging. Esnaashar has not quit yet but says he is thinking about it.
ESNAASHAR: I could be bringing back COVID to my family.
WANG: Organizers say the Olympics can be held in a safe bubble with the majority of the Olympic village vaccinated, but many public health experts say that's impossible, especially if there are tens of thousands of largely unvaccinated and untested volunteers at Olympic venues across Tokyo and Japan, and less than four percent of Japan's population fully vaccinated.
BARBARA HOLTHUS, TOKYO 2020 VOLUNTEER: We are not being given neither testing nor a vaccine, so we have to go in and out of the bubble at all times. There is a significant pretension of this becoming a super spreader event.
WANG: Normally a symbol of national pride and excitement in the host country, many volunteers this year instead are scared, left on their own to protect themselves from COVID-19.
HATAKEYAMA: I think the meaning of Olympic Games was completely forgotten.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
WANG (on camera): Japan's Olympic minister now saying that officials are considering the idea of vaccinating volunteers, but, Anna, the clock is ticking here, we are just six weeks away. But not all of the volunteers I spoke to said they are worried about their health.
Some said they're confident in the COVID-19 protocols in place. One student told me that he is still excited to finally look forward to a celebration amid the pandemic and he hopes that Japan will learn from all of the problems and challenges it has faced leading up to these games.
COHEN: We hope it doesn't turn into a super spreader event. Selina Wang, many thanks.
The International Olympic Committee is looking to the future, too, announcing that they are endorsing Brisbane, Australia's bid to host the 2032 games. The IOC president says the city's infrastructure and public support makes for an irresistible host. The bid was unopposed.
The last time Australia hosted the games was in Sydney back in 2000. But Brisbane is not a done deal just yet. It still needs to be approved by full session of the IOC and the formal vote will happen in just two days before the Tokyo Olympics begin.
A charity known for its work with Princess Diana becomes the target of ISIS in Afghanistan.
Still ahead, a blunt reaction from Prince Harry after an attack on a group that became well known after this famous video.
Plus, some of the world's most powerful investors calling on leaders at the G7 and beyond to take bigger steps to deal with the climate emergency.
ANNA COREN, CNN HOST: In just a few hours, the leaders of the world's seven most developed economies will try to fix some of its problems. The big one, the coronavirus pandemic will inevitably take up a lot of oxygen at the G7 summit in Cornwall, England.
The British and American leaders met on the sidelines, Thursday. JOE Biden pledged 500 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for global distribution, and Boris Johnson is expected to announce the UK will donate 100 million vaccine doses over the next year.
Well, some of the world's biggest investors pressuring G7 leaders to tackle the climate emergency. In an open letter, investors managing more than $41 trillion in assets. Say they want more ambitious targets for emissions and more consistent climate policies. Claire Sebastian has more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This isn't the first time that we've seen big investors challenging governments to do more on climate change. But now as the leaders gather in the UK for the G7 summit, there does seem to be more momentum on their side.
Developed economies as they rebuild after the COVID-19 pandemic have the opportunity to do that in a greener fashion. We also have U.S. backing the Paris Climate Accord under President Biden who has made it clear that climate change is a top priority. And we have seen some countries stepping up their carbon emissions targets albeit on paper, but 457 of the world's top investors from global pension funds to big investment firms like State Street and PIMCO say that's not enough.
Their letter reads, "Our ability to properly allocate the trillions of dollars needed to support the net zero transition is limited by the ambition gap between current government commitments and the emissions reduction needed to limit global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius." Now these investors don't just want governments to step up their carbon emissions targets.
They want to see them stop subsidies - stopping subsidizing the fossil fuel industry. They want them to phase out coal, and they want them to design that COVID-19 recovery efforts to better support the transition to a net zero emissions economy by 2050. They say that governments that don't do that will be at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to attracting private investment.
And there's also a call from the business community for more transparency around climate risk. In a separate letter on Thursday, 180 investors along with companies like Uber and Salesforce are calling on the U.S. regulator the SEC to mandate that companies disclosed climate risk in their financial filings.
They say that that level of transparency will help investors make decisions about where to put their money and could help avoid the climate crisis turning into a financial crisis. Clare Sebastian, CNN, New York.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: A charity that clears land mines comes under a brutal attack in Afghanistan. And one expert believes more such violence could be in store when U.S. troops pull out. You'll hear why.
COREN: Welcome back. A charity that clears landmines says it still has work to do in Afghanistan, despite an attack that left 10 members dead and 16 others wounded. A local ISIS affiliate claimed responsibility for Tuesday's attack on the HALO Trust. Princess Diana was a big supporter of the International charity, famously walking through a minefield it cleared in Angola back in 1997.
Her son, Prince Harry blasted Tuesday's attack, calling it "nothing less than an act of barbarism." The assault came amid preparations for a final U.S. troop withdrawal over the next few months.
Carter Malkasian was a senior advisor to former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Joseph Dunford. And he joins me now from Arlington, Virginia. He's also the author of the book 'The American war in Afghanistan, a history.' Carter, we are seeing attacks weekly on Afghan civilians, and that is with U.S. forces still in country. I mean, what is the future for Afghanistan, once all troops withdraw?
CARTER MALKASIAN, FMR SENIOR ADVISER TO U.S. JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: Well, the future for Afghanistan is probably going to be tough once our troops withdraw. Attacks like this probably will continue to happen. And I don't want to go making it sound like it's going to become a complete catastrophe or disaster. But we also have just to look at the hard facts and as they are.
With us gone, the Islamic State will have greater ability to conduct operations. We in the past have conducted very intensive attacks against the Islamic State, especially in Nangarhar province, using our drones, using our special operations forces, that kind of pressure is going to be taken off them.
And with that pressure taken off them. And with more fighting between the Taliban and the government and the government trying to do what it can to hold things together, but probably not having the kind of strike it used to have, we can expect there to be more attacks by the Islamic State. The real big question in this is what are the Taliban going to do?
The Taliban and the Islamic State have not had a friendly relationship in the past. They fought battles against each other and just this past year in Kunar Province, there were very large clashes between the two in which the Taliban won. We don't know as once the United States leaves, are the Taliban really going to take it to the Islamic State which would mean the Islamic State would not be able to conduct these kind of attacks.
Or are they going to kind of turn a blind eye, not getting into a fight with them so they can focus their effort on the government?
COREN: We have seen a dramatic uptick in violence. We know that the Taliban is claiming more and more territory every single day. Afghan forces are being killed at an alarming rate. U.S. intelligence agencies are predicting a civil war. I mean, how long will the Afghan government last in your opinion, a government that the U.S. has supported now for the past 20 years, considering the peace talks with the Taliban are non-existent?
MALKASIAN: Hard to predict how long it will - long will happen, how long that - how long they can last. So there's different possibilities. One possibility is the government might fall within a year or two. And this is the kind of situation with the Taliban win a lot of successes in the battlefield, demoralize the Afghan security forces and various divisions happen within the government and the Taliban are able to knock them out of Kabul. That's one possibility.
But there is a different possibility in which the Taliban don't quite get that level of momentum, in which the Afghans instead of breaking up or fighting amongst themselves, instead unite against the common threat on - in which some of the old Northern Alliance militias that used to work with us rise up and fight the Taliban to a greater extent and in which maybe some regional players, maybe Iran, maybe Russia, maybe China, maybe India, decided they want to help the government more and don't want the Taliban gaining ground.
So there is a possibility that things don't go utterly bad. And that's why it's a little bit hard to predict the lifespan of the Afghan government.
COREN: Carter, you've worked in Afghanistan advising General Dunford and others, I've reported from there, and have Afghan friends terrified about what will happen to the country in perhaps a matter of months. I know, we don't have a crystal ball but what do you say to these people? I mean, where is the hope?
MALKASIAN: That's one of the hardest things to talk to Afghans about today. And usually, what I like to tell them is the best thing for them to do is to keep trying and keep trying to hold things together, to give up on everything that they still have accomplished and I know the accomplishments from our perspective, get off and look not as much as they should be, but to give up on women's rights, to give up on education for their children, to give up on freedom of the press, to give up on some of the elements of them being able to run their own lives.
If they give up on those things, the Taliban are for sure, going to go into direction that's more oppressive. If they tell the Taliban and show the Taliban that they value those things then that's how they could be forced into some degree of concessions. And life in Afghanistan is not constant. Just because the Taliban come back doesn't mean they're going to stay back forever.
It's probably pretty unlikely that any Taliban regime would last 20 years, probably much more likely to be something far under 10. Now, that's got to be a difficult thing for any Afghan to swallow but just because the Taliban might come back for a better, the government might fall doesn't mean that's going to be the situation forever. COREN: I think the Afghan people have achieved too much to give up as
you say. Carter Malkasian, great to get your perspective. Thanks so much for joining us.
MALKASIAN: Thank you. Thank you.
COREN: And thank you for your company. I'm Anna Coren in Hong Kong. More special coverage of the G7 summit at the top of the hour. World sport is coming up next.