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COVID-19, Tropical Storm Put a Damper on Olympics; Biden Announces End of U.S. Combat Mission in Iraq; Severe Drought Has Led to Deadly Protests in Iran. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired July 27, 2021 - 01:00   ET



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Wherever you are around the world, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Hello. I'm John Vause.

Coming up this hour, the COVID Olympics already in the grips of a brutal heat wave and oppressive humidity, now bracing for an incoming tropical storm.

The Biden administration makes it official. Combat operations in Iraq are over. But U.S. forces will stay, reclassified on paper as trainers and advisers.

Also this, in just two years, one region in Iran went from widespread flooding to this -- severe drought -- leading to deadly protests over water shortage. What happened? We'll tell you this hour.


VAUSE: Day four of the Summer Olympics has brought a tropical storm expected to make landfall north of Tokyo in the coming hours. There's also no relief in sight to scorching summer temperatures, extreme heat warnings and oppressive humidity at the Olympic stadium.

Regardless of the weather though, plenty of gold medals are up for grabs, including women's team gymnastics where the U.S. hopes to defend its title from the 2016 Rio Games.

Host nation Japan looking for another goal medal on the softball field. Japanese women will face the U.S. in a rematch in the 2008 final.

Meantime, Olympic organizers say at least 160 COVID cases have been linked to the Tokyo game so far, and that tropical storm forcing organizers to now reschedule some events.

CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri will have more on the storm's track. We have Blake Essig standing by live in Tokyo.

But we will begin with CNN World Sports Patrick Snell right here.

And, Patrick, just moments ago, a real stunner on the tennis court.

PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Yeah, John, you said it. This is a shock loss. Breaking news in the last few minutes is Japanese superstar Naomi Osaka is out of the women's tennis at the Tokyo Games, four-time major champion as well, losing to Marketa Vondrousova, ranked 42 in the world from the Czech Republic.

Osaka dropping the first set, 6-1, and then she would lose the second 6-4, and that means elimination from the tournament, having been a break up in the second as well.

Osaka has been in the news a lot, of course. You see her having pulled out of the French Open and then Wimbledon, citing mental health issues. But she did elect to play in Tokyo, in front of what would have, well, many would have felt she would've gone on and win that.

A major, major upset indeed. Remember we have those iconic images over the weekend where she lit the Olympic cauldron as well. She was hoping to go on and win at her very first Olympics, win gold for her country.

But that is a big breaking news. We'll be following it very closely right through the stay.

Now, away from the tennis, these Olympics have seen teenagers aplenty rising to new heights. Just take the women skateboarding competition on Monday. The podium featuring 3 teens.

Well, earlier today on the pool, more teenage exploits as Lydia Jacoby becomes the first ever American Olympic swimmer from Alaska to win the gold, came in the 100-meter breaststroke final earlier. The 17-year- old shocking South African star, Tatjana Schoenmaker, who won silver and U.S. superstar Lilly King of the USA had to settle for bronze in the end.

Meantime, in the women's 100 meter backstroke, Australia's Kaylee McKeown taking gold, setting Olympic record as well in the process, the time of 57.47. The 20-year-old from Queensland, remember, also setting the world mark for the 100 meter backstroke in June with a time of 57.45.

And history in the making for the first time since 1992, America's men losing a backstroke race at the Olympics. Evgeny Rylov of the Russian Olympic Committee claiming gold. His compatriot Kliment Kolesnikov with silver in the 100 meter backstroke final earlier. American Ryan Murphy, the world record holder with bronze.

And Great Britain celebrating gold and silver. This in the men's 200 freestyle, Tom Dean and Duncan Scott finishing first and second respectively. First time, by the way, John, since 1908, the two male British swimmers have ended up on the Olympic podium together. Really significant news for Team GB.

Back to you.

VAUSE: Seems like it's been a lot longer, doesn't it?

Thank you, Patrick. We appreciate you being with us. We'll have a lot more there, of course, in World Sport.

Let's go now to meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. He has the latest on that tropical storm -- Pedram.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, John, a lot of these tropical systems. We've got two of them, of course, across the Western Pacific.

And you look at the five most disruptive airports in the world when it comes to the weather, and four of them are right across this region.


You can thank the tropical activity for that. And, of course, Nepartak, the talk of the town here as the Olympic organizers are battling first with COVID, excessive heat, of course, we expect this time of year. And now, we've got a tropical system within the first week of the Olympics.

Let's talk exactly about what's going to happen here, over the next 12 to 18 hours, because that is a landfall is expected. Right now, the system sits about 300 kilometers east of Tokyo. Initial guidance suggests that the system is uncomfortably close to Tokyo, but at this point it looks like it'll move over to the north, making landfall within the next 12-18 hours.

And once it does, heavy rainfall in the name of the game across that region of central and northern Japan. But stories, what happens down across Tokyo? Well, initially, you're feeling it right now, cooler temperatures in advance the system. Cloud covers in place.

Temps only in the upper 20s. That is excellent news and certainly not something we've seen in recent days where it's been in the thirties with humidity making it feel close to 40 degrees.

This is going to be short-lived. The system moves out of here temperature returning back to above average over the next several days. But again, the rainfall will exceed 150 millimeters. We know some events have been rescheduled in advance because of Nepartak moving ashore here tonight and into tomorrow morning.

You kook at it, it is not a menacing feature. Certainly, we've seen stronger storms impact portions of Japan. We've got a lot of eyes on this area. We've got a lot of athletes counting on the weather.

The heat has been challenging. Now, the heavy rainfall in some of those northern venues, it's going to be an issue as well, John.

VAUSE: Pedram, we appreciate the update. Thank you.

Now live to Tokyo, CNN's Blake Essig.

Blake, it's hot, humid. COVID cases on the rise and that tropical storm will not last for long.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, just in the past hour or so the rain has been going horizontally. Winds have been howling, and right now, subtle breeze, beautiful, clear skies. So, the storm cannot make up its mind. But as athletes competing at this Olympic Games didn't enough to

contend with between COVID-19 countermeasures and the oppressive summer heat, we can now add tropical storm to that list. Outside of the archery field where all events today had been rescheduled because of the storm. It's expected to make landfall at some point today.

The sailing and rowing events have also been postponed. So far, we've been experiencing fairly constant wind and rain. Obviously again, beautiful sunny day right now, but the projected path of the storm will potentially change the conditions, expected to get much worse as the evening approaches.

One sport that has benefited from the storm is surfing. The men's and women medal round was originally scheduled for tomorrow that has instead been held today, as we see. Those surfers are enjoying big swells overhead, which is exactly what you would want a surfing competition.

While this tropical storm could cause problems for organizers for another day or two, once this passes, experts say blue skies will be back and athletes will once again have to contend with Tokyo's extreme summer heat.

Take a listen.


NOBUYUKI TSUCHIYA, DIRECTOR, JAPAN RIVERFRONT RESEARCH CENTRE (through translator): Depending on the circumstances, we may experience real summer heat with temperatures over 95 degrees Fahrenheit. So I think if possible, we should adjust the schedule to avoid holding the matches during these hot hours.


ESSIG: A tennis star world men's number one, Novak Djokovic, hasn't been shy about sharing his thoughts on Tokyo's hot summer weather after his first round the other day. He described the humidity as brutal, in the sense urged Olympic officials to move matches to the evening to avoid that daytime heat and humidity.

Now, according to Japan's public broadcaster, NHK, more than 50,000 people are hospitalized and hundreds die each year in Japan as a result of the heat. It's worth pointing out, John, that when the last Olympic Games were held here in Tokyo back in 1964, they're actually move back to avoid these high temperatures.

VAUSE: Blake, we appreciate you being with us. Blake Essig there live for us in Tokyo.

Amid global debates over mandated vaccines, the U.S. has taken one significant step closer to implementing its own mandate. Federal government lawyer said Monday that federal law does not prohibit government agencies and private businesses from requiring COVID vaccines. Their opinion came just hours after the Department of Veteran Affairs became the first agency to mandate vaccines for its frontline health care workers.

Meantime, cities in Georgia, California, Missouri, Massachusetts, all reinstating mask mandates largely because of the spread of the delta variant and slowing vaccination rates. Half of all Americans are fully vaccinated.

And the former director of the CDC warns it will only get worse.


DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, FORMER CDC DIRECTOR: We are heading into a rough time. If our trajectory is similar to that of the United Kingdom, we could see as many as 200,000 cases a day, four times our current rate with another four to six weeks.


And although we won't see the horrific death tolls that we saw last spring, because 80 percent of people over these are 65 are vaccinated, you will see a steady increase in deaths. And these are preventable deaths.


VAUSE: Signs of vaccination slowdown across Europe. As of Thursday, about 55 percent of adults in the E.U. have been fully vaccinated.

With a recent surge in infection because of the highly contagious variant, some governments are now moving away from the carrots approach to vaccinations to sticks. France has passed a law requiring proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, bars and long distance travel. The U.K. is also considering a health pass for those large public events. Greece, Italy and France are mandating vaccines for health care workers.

Moves which have triggered angry protests, demonstrators have been demanding freedom from vaccination rules. In the coming hours, roughly 8 million Australians will no longer be under strict COVID lockdown. The state of Victoria and South Australia are lifting their stay-at- home orders after successfully curving the current spike in COVID cases.

This means places like schools, restaurants and gyms will be allowed to reopen, but masks will remain mandatory in places with indoors and outdoors. The lockdown in New South Wales will continue after new daily cases searched to a 16-month peak.

Hotline between the leaders of North and South Korea has been re- connected. And according to South Korean officials, the first call has been made. North Korea severed communications after walking away from nuclear communications last year. But the two leaders have been writing one another since April and it was in one of those exchanges that they agreed to restore the hotline.

Well, just one day after being ousted by the president, Tunisia's former prime minister is now reacting to the move on social media. We'll tell you what he's saying, surprisingly, what he is saying.

Coming up, the U.S. takes a step towards winding down another long military engagement, this time in Iraq. But the end of combat operations does not mean all U.S. troops are leaving.


VAUSE: Tunisia's ousted prime minister has made a surprising public statement, saying he accepts his dismissal for the greater good of the country, which is struggling with the COVID crisis, and economic turmoil. A day earlier, he was sacked by the president, who also suspended parliament. The speaker of parliament denounced the move as a coup. The president rejected that, saying that he was implementing the text of the Constitution.

In Lebanon, what's old is new again. Former Prime Minister Najib Mikati has been picked to be Lebanon's next prime minister for a third time. He hopes to do what the two previous nominees could not, form a new government after months of deadlock, pull the country out of a spiraling economic crisis.

But, as CNN's Ben Wedeman explains, it's easier said that done.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It has been almost a year since Lebanon had a proper government.


The last one resigned, six days after the Beirut port blast, last August. Now, Lebanon, squabbling politicians are trying to get their act together, and form a new government. They have chosen Najib Mikati, twice prime minister before, to form a new government.

But Mikati comes to the task with some baggage. He is Lebanon's richest man, hailing from Lebanon's poorest city, Tripoli, and has been accused of corruption -- accusations that he, flatly, denies.

Now, after accepting the assignment, Mikati declared that, I do not have a magic wand, and I cannot perform miracles. We are in a very difficult situation.

Yet, Lebanon is in desperate need of a miracle. The economy is in a free fall, more than 50 percent of the population, now lives below the poverty line. There are acute shortages of food, fuel, electricity, and medicine. And the state is, effectively, bankrupt.

The European Union and the United States have made it clear that they will not come to the aid of a Lebanese government, unless it is one that can take concrete steps to combat corruption. And that is going to take far more than just a magic wand.

I'm Ben Wedeman, CNN, reporting from Beirut.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: The U.S. combat mission in Iraq will officially end by years' end. During a meeting at the White House, President Joe Biden stressed the U.S. is not turning its back on the country's strategic partnership.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is just to be available, to continue to train, to assist, to help, and to deal with ISIS as it arrives. But, we are not going to be, by the end of the year, in a combat mission.


VAUSE: U.S., president meeting there with the Iraqi prime minister. He also declared his support and U.S. support for Iraq's democracy. The move to end the combat mission is one that Iraq had wanted.

CNN's Arwa Damon has with details now on the decision.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: U.S. forces will be remaining in Iraq, perhaps a change in semantics, no longer being called combat troops, but rather as an advise and assist unit.

And this is what the Iraqi prime minister says his country needs. But it's not just ongoing training of the Iraqi security forces, what is also one especially critical to Iraq, in Americas intelligence sharing, and other capabilities.

And it would seem, at this stage, nearly a decade later, both the U.S., and Iraq want to be with the end of 2011, under the Obama administration, when, what many would say, a premature withdrawal of U.S. forces took place, which ended up being one of the many key factors that allowed for the reemergence of the ISI, Islamic State of Iraq, ISIS' predecessors, which then very quickly grew and morphed into the most formidable terrorist organization that we have seen to date.

But, this ongoing U.S. troop presence, despite what is being publicly said, is not just training, and assisting Iraqi forces. It's not just about an ongoing battle against ISIS, which does to carry out devastating attacks in Iraq, albeit not to the same degree that is used to in the past.

This is also about creating a counter balance to Iran's growing influence, a counter balance to the strength and power of the Iranian- backed Shia militias that many will argue are even more powerful than the Iraqi security forces themselves.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Istanbul.


VAUSE: Douglas Ollivant served under both George W. Bush, and Obama administrations as the National Security Council's director for Iraq. He's with us now from Culpeper, Virginia.

Douglas, thank you for taking the time to be with us.


VAUSE: OK. So, I want you to listen to the White House press secretary dodging a question about the number of U.S. troops inside of Iraq by year's end. Here she is.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The first step is the change in mission, the end in combat role in Iraq, and moving to a more train, advice, and assist role. That is what the Iraqi leadership has conveyed that they want to see on the ground.


VAUSE: Is this all like the old shell game? Because most U.S. troops, currently in Iraq, will stay in Iraq, but they'll be reclassified. They'll become advisers and trainers.

The reality on the ground though, really, seems really unchanged. Is that accurate?

OLLIVANT: In a lot of ways, the reality on the ground will be unchanged, which, of course, makes you ask why we didn't just make this announcement six or nine months ago, and avoid all of the drama of the last, you know, six or nine months. But, no, I don't think that there will be a lot of change on the ground.

We may see some labels change, it wouldn't be surprised me if we see the name of the operation change, maybe they will downgrade the headquarters and Iraq, it's currently commanded by a three-star general, maybe that gets demoted to a two, or a one star general, which is more appropriate for a training mission.

But, if you are a captain, or a lieutenant, or a major doing your job on the ground in Iraq, it will probably look really, really similar.

VAUSE: We heard President Biden hearing about an ongoing fight of ISIS remains a priority. We have some more details from a senior administration official, who told CNN, nobody is going to declare mission accomplished. The goal is the enduring defeat of ISIS. We recognize, you have to keep pressure on these networks, as they seek to reconstitute, but the role for U.S. forces, and coalition forces, could very much recede into the background, when we are training, advising sharing intelligence, and helping with the logistics.

At the same time, I want you to listen to a view from the general with Kurdish Peshmerga forces. He's calling for an increase in the number of U.S. forces, because of ISIS. Here is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEN. SIRWAN BARZANI, KURDISH PESHMERGA ARMED FORCES: ISIS starting to reorganize themselves again, and they are very active. They have almost every day terror attack against the civilian, or a civilian targets, troops in ground will be fighting against this terrorism group, but it was not easy, and would not be so possible to defeat ISIS without the support of the coalitions.


VAUSE: So, right now, is the current troop level sufficient to counter the threat from ISIS? Is there a point where you can see U.S. troops going back in, and seeing a few numbers? Maybe not just to deal with ISIS, is this a counter point for Iran as well or Iran-backed militias?

OLLIVANT: Well, let's stick with ISIS for a minute. The ISIS problem now, and it still exists. Let's not kid ourselves, there is still an ISIS presence in Iraq, but it's in intelligence, and a police problem, not really a military one.

If we think back to the ISIS war we saw five years ago, with the seizure of Mosul and the recapture of other Iraqi cities, we knew exactly where ISIS was. They're in the cities. But getting them out of there was really hard. That was a military problem. It took coordinated military effort.

Now, it's really an intelligence police problem. Finding ISIS is really hard. We really have not earthly idea exactly where we are. We know general areas they work, but finding exactly where they are is hard.

Once you do, it's a police problem. You send someone to arrest them. They are in relatively small groups.

So, no, you don't need U.S. troops doing this, because you don't really need any troops to do it. It's a police problem, occasionally, a special cases problem if you got a particularly nasty group. But you don't need the large bodies of troops that you needed during the big fights in the Iraqi cities five, six, seven years ago.

VAUSE: The U.S. president has taken a different approach when it comes to withdrawal of U.S. forces for Afghanistan. It's coming to a close, and the report from the U.N. has found civilian casualties in Afghanistan, in the first half of 2021, reached record levels, including a particularly sharp increase in killings and juries since May, when international military forces began their withdrawal, and the fighting intensified following the Taliban offensive.

In response, U.S. airstrikes and support of Afghan forces have ramped up in recent days. But nearly, those -- that air support for Afghan forces, that comes to an end, at least according to the Pentagon, once U.S. forces are out.

So, this seems to be a limited strategy here. Then what? Once the U.S. troops are out, what comes next? OLLIVANT: Well, this is obviously very sad and very tragic for the

civilians that are caught in the middle here. But it's not totally unexpected. We're in a middle of a transition. We're having a transition from an effort in which the United States plays a major role, an effort in which the United States is now going to almost play neural.

And Afghan forces are going to have to pick this all of themselves. They're not used to that. Things are fluid, I'm sure on the battle field, as they learned these new positions, learn to act in new ways, and there's doubtless some chaos, and there's doubtless a lot of bad things happening.

We hope, the plan, is that this will stabilize, at some point. That may be the Afghan government doesn't control quite as much territory, but they will control some territory and that will be stable and they can start to work from there. We'll see how that works.

VAUSE: Yeah. That will be unknown right now I guess. And we will know I guess in the next couple of months, when this is all said and done.

Douglas Ollivant, thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

OLLIVANT: My pleasure.

VAUSE: Multiple officials tell CNN the Biden administration is seeking about a billion dollars to fund the Afghan special immigrant visa effort to relocate thousands of Afghan U.S. and their families who work for U.S. and NATO forces during nearly two decades of conflict.


But Democrats and Republican lawmakers have been pushing the White House for a concrete plan. Many who work for the U.S., now facing imminent danger if the Taliban military offensive sweeps across the country.

Well, anger is growing in the streets of Iran, now as demonstrations of shortages turn increasingly violent. Details on that in a moment.


VAUSE: Anger over water shortages and around spilling into the streets and turning increasingly violent. At least three protesters have been killed by security forces during demonstrations began a week ago in the southwest.

Iran is facing its worst drought in more than half a century with shortages affecting households, as well as farming and industry, even causing power blackout.

CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri has more on what is behind Iran's devastating drought -- Pedram.

JAVAHERI: Yes, good day, John.

You know, when you think about what's happening across Iran, the drought situation is actually largely anthropogenic, meaning it is human induced. Poor land management, poor water management in recent decades has kind of led to get to this point. And, we know, of course, there's some Mother Nature element to it as well.

You know, climate change, warmer temperatures leading to more evaporation there of the ground and water supply. It'll play a role in the water shortage across Iran. And here, how things are played out in just the past 6 to 7 months, temperatures rising 2 to 3 degrees, above normal there across southern and western Iran where precipitation has dropped of almost 85 percent across these very hard hit regions.

So, again, there's meteorological drought element combined with that poor water management that's been in place for many decades has kind of led to what is now playing out here with ground water depletion.

Take a look at this -- a study from 2002 to 2015 to analyze the land area, and the groundwater depletion across Iran and about three fourths of the land area are about 77 percent of the land area reported groundwater depletion. So, nearly, the entirety of the country dealing with what is happening, and you've got to keep in mind when it comes to groundwater usage, about 36 percent of the world utilizes that for drinking water, 42 percent of the world utilizes that for agriculture, a third of the world's population deals with water depletion and groundwater supply shortages.

In the Middle East, it's even more important, because it is hot, it is dry and 85 percent of the Middle East which uses groundwater supply for irrigation as well.

And notice what happens here, John.


We head into the dry season where rainfall becomes very, very rare across this portion of Iran, in particular in western Iran. Notice rainfall amounts again getting close to zero for the next several months, John.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Kaveh Madani is an environmental scientist and activist, a visiting fellow at Yale. And in 2017, he was appointed deputy head of Iran's Department of Environment stepping down about seven months later after being arrested by the Revolutionary Guard.

It's quite the resume. He's with us this hour from Toronto. Thank you for being with us.


VAUSE: So Kaveh, how does the region go from essentially being under water, just two years ago -- there it is -- because of severe flooding to now being the scene of deadly protests over water scarcity. People are being shot dead by security forces. That's a pretty big turnaround in a very short amount of time. How did that happen?

MADANI: Well, floods and droughts come together in that point of the world. They existed in that region of the world before a country named Iran comes to existence.

What the Iranians haven't learned, the Iranian managers is how to live with floods and droughts, and how to get prepared for the extreme events. How to store water coming from the flood events for the dry years. And unfortunately, this is the outcome that we are seeing.

VAUSE: Well, how much impact has climate change had in making what, you know, is essentially a bad situation into a much worse situation?

MADANI: So we know that climate change is going to increase the frequency and intensity of extreme events. Floods, droughts, heat waves, wildfires and so on. And that part of the world is no exception. We are seeing signs in the U.S. and Canada -- you know, western U.S., western Canada, Germany, Belgium, Iran, China.

But we've got to really be careful about climatizing thing. As a person who has been on both sides as a scientist at university doing climate research and as a negotiator over the implementation of the Paris agreement, I will tell you one thing. We at universities have the tendency to climatize every event to get the attention of the decision-makers so they take action on climate change.

On the other side many decision-makers, especially in the global south welcome this opportunity, because then there is no, you know, they have no responsibility for what is happening.

It's an (INAUDIBLE) force, it's something that has been created by the industrial economies. And they tell you that they could not have done anything better.

VAUSE: Well, in recent days, Iran's supreme leader spoke out about the water shortage as well as the protests. Here he is.


AYATOLLAH ALI KHAMENEI, IRAN'S SUPREME LEADER (through translator): The people have expressed their discontent, but we can't criticize them for that. The water problem is not a minor one. Particularly in Khuzestan's hot climate.


VAUSE: This crisis, it's borne of poor water management. Doesn't that ultimately come back to the guy in charge of the government? He's the one who just spoke then, the supreme leader?

MADANI: Well, Iran has a very strange government system. Everyone has the responsibility and no one is responsible at the end. So you keep blaming each other in that system. Yes, we need governments to get systems prepared for the extreme events. Climatic or whether it's a pandemic and economic crisis and so on. The good thing is that the government is eventually recognizing the right to live and the right to breathe, the right to drink as a human right.

And that is indeed something that the Iranian intelligence has been very paranoid about and right now a concern, which have the power to unite regardless of your ethnicity, where you come from, whether you believe in the system or not. Your religion and so on.

Environment is a big -- is a concern. It is something that can unite people and it can create national security problems. And that is why they have been paranoid about it in recent years.

VAUSE: Yes. It is interesting. We just saw a map of where the drought areas are and that coincides with where the protests have been.

"But essentially Iran is water bankrupt which is to say, water withdrawals significantly exceed the ability of aquifer rivers and lakes to recharge and replenish. In essence the country's becoming water insolvent because the liabilities (water withdrawal) exceed the reasonable market value of assets held, that is, aquifers recharge rates and replacement of surface water bodies."

I mean essentially they're out of water. So how does a country like Iran get itself out of water insolvency. And how many other countries are facing a similar crises like this?


MADANI: Well, I think many other countries are facing similar situations. We have seen, you know, similar situations in other parts of the Middle East.

You know, we have already seen what would happen in Syria and how a drought could function as a trigger for a national security crisis.

So Iran is not alone in this game. You know, sooner or later others will join, essentially checking accounts are empty, that surface water; saving accounts, groundwater has also -- has been also exhausted.

And there are now lots of creditors and lots of, you know, water rights holders whose rights cannot be satisfied. And they are having trouble.

There is no quick fix for this, because the problem got created over decades. And you know, a problem like this cannot be solved overnight.

You have to understand this problem and look at it from political economy standpoint. Iran essentially is using its water to create jobs for the farmers. And unless it diversifies its economy, industrialized its economy, invests in service sector, it cannot get out of this trouble. Now, in order to do that Iran has to make really big decisions, especially in relation, you know, regarding its relation to the west. And how it wants to deal with sanctions and so on. And if it wants to get its economy out of this trouble.

VAUSE: Nothing is ever easy. Nothing worthwhile, that is.

Kaveh Madani, thank you for being with us. Appreciate it.

MADANI: Thank you.

VAUSE: We're turning now to that breaking news from the Olympics.

Naomi Osaka crashing out of the women's tennis. Japanese tennis star and four-time major champion losing to Marketa Vondrousova ranked 42 in the world from the Czech Republic.

Osaka dropping the first set 6-1; losing 6-4 in the second. Osaka made headlines after pulling out of the French Open and then Wimbledon earlier this year citing mental health issues.

She said she preferred to focus on the Tokyo games in front of her home crowd.

Still to come, another historic moment. Surfing making its official Olympic debut. And CNN is there speaking to Team U.S.A.

More on that when we come back.


VAUSE: There it is, a live look at Tokyo right now. Time 2:39 on a Tuesday. A little cloudy but the water appears to be calm.

And a short time ago in Tokyo, surfing made an Olympic debut. A little earlier than it was scheduled to beat the arrival of a tropical storm.

But long before this day, the journey began towards Olympic status for surfing.

And CNN's Will Ripley spoke to members of Team U.S.A. about making history.



WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): About 90 minutes outside of Tokyo the sleepy surf town of Ichinomiya. The vibe, Japanese with a touch of California and a sprinkle of Hawaii.

Carissa Moore studied Japanese in her hometown of Honolulu.

CARISSA MOORE, TEAM USA SURFER: I really wanted to show my appreciation. I was like practicing all morning and I wrote a little and I wrote a little speech down. I think the Japanese people are definitely ambassadors of the Aloha spirit.

RIPLEY: That Aloha spirit, the coordination of mind and heart -- Moore's mantra in life and sport. She has her own charitable foundation for the next generation of young female surfers. She's a four-time World Surf League champion.

MOORE: It's easy to get too far ahead of yourself when you think about how big it is.

RIPLEY: Moore is one of two female surfers making Olympic history for Team U.S.A.

CAROLINE MARKS, TEAM USA SURFER: I don't know. She's really fun. You know, they have a lot of experience and it's fun to like kind of soak that all in.

RIPLEY: Caroline Marks from Florida is not even 20. She was surfing at 10.

(on camera): To be an Olympian at your age, how do you top this?

MARKS: I mean, I don't know. I just like enjoy. I love surfing so much and I enjoy it so much. Yes, I have tons of goals and things I want to do, but right now I'm just trying to like live in the moment and enjoy this.

RIPLEY: While popular here in Japan, Chiba Prefecture is not exactly known as a global surfing destination. But this Summer Games cements its place in Olympics history.

(voice over): International recognition for the sport, a long time coming says the CEO of Surfing U.S.A.

GREG CRUSE, CEO, U.S.A. SURFING: When I was in high school, surfing was a counter culture sport. I would, you know, go to take a girl out and she would tell her dad that I was a surfer, and it was like oh, my God.

RIPLEY: Today the biggest surfing stars can make millions. And the biggest name on Team U.S.A., John-John Florence, world famous for his powerful barrel riding, and aerial tricks tailor-made for the towering waves of his home state.

JOHN-JOHN FLORENCE, TEAM USA SURFER: I grew up in Hawaii, we have a lot of power in the waves.

RIPLEY: Japan's waves, relatively tame by comparison.

(on camera): So in some ways it's harder when it's like this.

FLORENCE: Yes. For me I find it a lot harder in the smaller waves.

RIPLEY (voice over): Florence and the team have been training intensively in this world class wave pool. There were whispers of moving the Olympic competition to PerfectSwell Shizunami but a typhoon in the region is serving up some even some sweeter swell on the coast.

An Olympic dream becoming reality on the black sands of Japan.

Will Ripley, CNN -- in Chiba, Japan.


VAUSE: And we have an Olympic first for the Philippines. Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz has won the country's first ever gold medal and set an Olympic record in the women's 55 kilogram event. Five years ago she won the silver in Rio, and until now, the Philippines had a total of 10 Olympic medals total, all silver and bronze. You can read more about this historic moment and the celebrations in the Philippines at

Please stay with CNN for the very latest from Tokyo.

Thank you though for watching this hour of CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm John Vause. I will be back at the top of the hour for more of CNN NEWSROOM.

In the meantime "AFRICAN VOICES: CHANGE MAKERS" is up next.

Thanks for watching.