tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN January 3, 2020 9:00pm-10:00pm PST
>> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. hello and welcome to our viewers here in the united states and all around the world. i'm michael holmes in atlanta. >> and i'm becky anderson in abu dhabi. anxiety and uncertainty seem to be the prevailing mood right now across the middle east, indeed in much of the world following the u.s. drone strike that killed iran's top military commander. >> indeed, the death of qasem soleimani early on friday sent shockwaves around the globe. tehran vowing harsh revenge. but there's no clear idea yet exactly what that might mean. right now a funeral procession getting under way in baghdad. >> despite dramatically raising the risk of an all-out conflict,
the trump administration apparently has no qualms about taking out soleimani. u.s. officials say intelligence pointed to soleimani plotted imminent attacks against americans. here's what the president said on friday. >> we take comfort in knowing that his reign of terror is over. we took action last night to stop a war. we did not take action to start a war. >> tehran obviously doesn't see it that way. iran's ambassador to the united nations says as far as it's concerned, the u.s. drone strike was an act of war. we will hear from him a little later. meanwhile, the u.s. embassy in baghdad is urging all americans to leave iraq immediately. u.s. embassies in bahrain and kuwait and in pakistan have issued security alerts in
anticipation of iranian retaliation. and many u.s. cities have also stepped up security. in addition, the u.s. says it will send about 3,000 extra u.s. troops to the middle east. >> now we have correspondents standing by all across the globe with reaction. jomana karadsheh is in baghdad where soleimani was killed. nick paton walsh is in beirut following why the u.s. killed soleimani, and what, quote, imminent attack was being planned. >> nic robertson is in riyadh with the diplomatic fallout. boris sanchez is at the mar-a-lago resort in florida where the u.s. president just landed a few hours ago. i want to start with jomana, though, in the iraqi capital. jomana, describe the mood there if you will. >> reporter: it's a very tense mood as you can imagine, becky. people here are absolutely
terrified of what happens next. where is all of this headed? you know, there are some who are obviously happy to see the end of qasem soleimani, who they blame for a lot of the bloodshed, especially during the height of the sectarian war here in iraq. but at the same time, he does have a lot of support, especially amongst those iranian-backed shia militias that he commanded during the fight against isis especially, you know, on the front lines of that battle. and, you know, so many people are angry here, becky. they feel that this has been real violation of iraqi sovereignty. they feel that yet again this country has been turned into an arena for global powers, regional powers to settle their scores. and once again it is the iraqi people who are caught in the midst of this.
so, you know, when you have these iranian-backed shia militias right now in this high state of alert, a lot of concern about what they will be doing next. we've even heard from a shia cleric, who froze his militia a few years back, calling on them to be ready to protect iraq. so you've got the political leadership here under a lot of pressure to act, to stand up to the united states. they're in a very tough position, becky, of course because they're caught between these two allies, the united states and iran. but at the same time, they realize how serious, how dangerous the situation is. this government has been seen as incredibly weak, especially in recent months. so they are going to have to do something. and we have seen these very strong statements coming especially from the iraqi prime minister adil abdul mahdi, who
has condemned the u.s. air strike, called this an aggression, a flagrant violation of iraqi sovereignty. and now they're under a lot of pressure to reassess iraq's relationship with the united states and the presence of u.s. forces here, becky. >> as we speak, we are looking at images of protests, demonstrations from friday in neighboring iran in response to soleimani's killing. what do we know of a reported air strike saturday, local time, targeting iraq's popular mobilization forces north of baghdad, jomana? >> reporter: very little information, becky. we have not been able to verify this information, but the popular mobilization forces, that umbrella group that is made up mostly of the iranian-backed
shia militias, they put out a statement saying that one of their convoys just a few hours ago was targeted in an air strike in the town of taji, north of baghdad. they say that none of their leaders were in that convoy, that it was a medical unit, and that there were a number of casualties in that air strike. but, you know, there's no indication at this point that the u.s. carried out an air strike in that area and no confirmation of that. but, you know, definitely it's a very tense situation. everyone is on edge here, expecting further escalation, becky. >> jomana karadsheh is in baghdad. >> all right. the iranian ambassador to the united nations accuses the u.s. of violating international law when it killed qasem soleimani. he is urging the u.n. security council to act and says iran now has a duty to respond.
have a listen. >> the u.s. has already started a war against iran, not only economic war but something beyond that by assassinating one of our top generals, who is being mourned by the people in iran and in the region. so we cannot just close our eyes to what happened last night. definitely there will be revenge. there will be harsh revenge. iran will act based on its own choosing, and the time, the place will be decided later on. >> let's go now to someone who knows the region in and out. cnn international diplomatic editor nic robertson. nic, most in the neighborhood there urging caution. what are the longtime iran foe, saudi arabia, saying? >> reporter: well, they're saying -- they're sticking pretty closely here to the
united states while urging caution. they're saying, look, we're watching the situation closely in iraq. we've been following it for some time. we've seen the escalating tensions and terrorism. they're not saying that that's directly coming from iran, but it's what they're implying. they say they've been seeing that going on for some time, and they've been warning essentially about -- and, again, they don't say it explicitly because i think they're being cautious with their language. but they've been watching essentially the actions of iran and warning about the actions and intentions of iran, including soleimani in the region. so what they are saying is while we've been watching this and we continue to watch it, we're concerned, and we've been raising our concerns about this growing regional threat from iran. we are urging caution. that's the saudi position. they're urging caution because they say they don't want essentially to see an escalation that will bring further suffering. we're hearing that from bahrain.
bahrain also saying that the international community should do its part in helping stabilize the situation from the united arab emirate also hearing again, urging caution, restraint, that a political solution is the way forward. so, you know, the words here are all of caution. but saudi arabia itself and the capital here, riyadh, has been targeted by missiles, by iranian proxies, the houthis in yemen. large cruise missiles flown hundreds of kilometers, hundreds of miles toward the capital here in riyadh. and as well the saudis have seen in the past few months their oil installations here targeted in a sophisticated attack by the iranians. so there is obviously a concern that they could be -- these countries here close to iran, it's foes in the region and being allies with the u.s. as well, could be in the line of fire potentially.
>> the u.s. secretary of state mike pompeo said the europeans have not been as helpful or happy or supportive as they might have been. tell us about the european reaction. not exactly supportive. >> reporter: no, and i think there's -- obviously there's history, and that has to do with the iran nuclear deal, a multinational deal. the united states pulled out unilaterally. britain, germany, france, the other sort of three european signatories to it all have tried to play a different role in that nuclear deal, tried to keep iran compliant with that deal, tried to find ways essentially to give iran what it wanted, some relief from increasing u.s. sanctions. so there's been a difference in position between the europeans and the united states, and right now the europeans are urging restraint. they are worried. the germans sort of see this as a potential tipping point. they certainly see the escalations that iran has been perpetrating in the region, mining ships in the strait of
hormuz, attacking saudi oil refineries. there's certainly an understanding of what iran has been responsible for in the region, but a sense that the way the united states is approaching the situation right now, killing soleimani, is an escalation that can potentially get out of hand, and that's what's causing unease in europe at the moment. so, again, this is going to continue. i think we can expect it to be the message from european capitals urging restraint on all sides and trying to find a political way forward. interesting that emmanuel macron, the french president, spoke with president putin in russia to confer and find their common ground on this. russia potentially can play a role in the region here. it's both friendly with iran and also friendly with the saudis here. >> nic robertson there on the spot for us in riyadh. thanks, nic. becky. >> back in washington, top
democrats are blasting the trump administration for keeping them in the dark about the attack. typically leaders on both sides of the aisle are briefed over these kinds of military actions ahead of time. but here democrats are still waiting. >> the pentagon says the secretary of defense, mark esper, is, quote, committed to providing congress a detailed all member briefing next week, unquote. it's unclear if republican leaders got a heads-up on what was going to happen in baghdad, but at least some republicans were in the loop. >> i was briefed about the potential operation when i was down in florida. i appreciate being brought into the orbit. i really appreciate president trump letting the world know you cannot kill an american without impunity. we will stand up for our people, and that is an absolutely essential message. >> but democrats who were not brought in as they normally would be in something like this
say this should have been handled in a way that was bipartisan. >> this is the equivalent of the iranians assassinating the u.s. secretary of defense. if the iranians were to assassinate the u.s. secretary of defense, we would consider that as an act of war, and we would respond disproportionately. >> i don't believe there was an imminent attack based on what i've been briefed on to date. my staff was briefed by a number of people representing a variety of the agencies in the united states government, and they came away with no feeling that there was evidence of an imminent attack. >> now, of course this killing is a gamble for the white house. cnn's boris sanchez is near the mar-a-lago resort where the president is right now and has spent the holidays. boris, good to see you. talk about the process that
donald trump took to make this decision, how it all went down. >> reporter: well, michael and becky, president trump today speaking to reporters made clear that this is something he felt that had to happen, that it was effectively inevitable. the president saying that he did this to prevent war and not to start one. the president citing a specific nefarious plot that the united states learned that the iranians were planning to carry out on u.s. interests, but there are still questions about when exactly the white house learned such a plan was being hatched. the president not being very specific in the details about that intelligence. however, we're being told that this whole strike started really being planned about tuesday afternoon. the president holding a meeting at mar-a-lago of his top advisers, some friendly lawmakers, as well as military brass. and we're told there was a robust, candid debate about what a strike against iran would look like and what retaliation from the iranians would look like. sources close to the president
indicating that the president was confronted with some harsh realities about what a war with iran would entail and, further, that he was questioned about his broader policy in the middle east. we're told the president was adamant that he was forceful in his defense, even that he was defensive in making clear that the iranians needed to be sent a message, and that's why they moved forward on this. we're told that the president monitored the situation with iran for the next 48 hours, and that as it was being carried out, members of his club here at mar-a-lago mentioned that there was nothing really out of the ordinary. there was no indication that anything was afoot except at about 6:00 when we first started seeing those reports of rockets blasting the airport in baghdad on thursday evening, the president was seen leaving a secure room. we're told that he dined on meat loaf and ice cream and was celebrating the end of his holiday here at mar-a-lago with family and friends. again, nothing apparently out of the ordinary until we saw those reports and the president confirmed them with that tweet
of the american flag. >> extraordinary. boris, good to see you. boris sanchez there in florida. we're going to take a break. when we come back, though the strike that took out soleimani was justified or was it not? well, that largely depends on who you ask. i'll put that question to the u.n.'s extra judicial killings vector up next. stay with us. was contagious. i was covered from head to toe. i was afraid to show my skin. it was kind of a shock after... i started cosentyx. i wasn't covered anymore. four years clear. five years now. i just look and feel better. see me. cosentyx works fast to give you clear skin that can last. real people with psoriasis look and feel better with cosentyx. don't use if you're allergic to cosentyx. before starting get checked for tuberculosis. an increased risk of infections and lowered ability to fight them may occur. tell your doctor about an infection or symptoms,
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>> translator: the islamic republic of iran holds this right to respond anytime and in any manner at will. we will not be involved in the u.s.'s smear campaigns and their blackmailing. we will give a proper response in any manner and time as stated by the supreme leader. >> iran's former minister said the country has vowed to strike that killed qasem soleimani. another iranian official calls it an act of war. >> but the u.s. president donald trump insists that war is not
the goal, and he says that soleimani was planning a, quote, very major attack, unquote. meanwhile, an iranian-backed militia in iraq says its convoy was targeted by an air strike early on saturday. >> well, a general has been called a puppet master who slowly reshaped the middle east over the last decade. his death sure to have ripple effects across this region of the middle east. cnn's international security editor nick paton walsh is in beirut for you. nick, he had been described as the single most powerful operative in the middle east. who was qasem soleimani? >> reporter: i think that description kind of comes from the consistent nature of qasem soleimani's presence here over the decades. not only fought in the iran and iraq war, but then found itself it seems supplying technology from iran that assisted the insurgents in iraq against the
u.s. military presence there, even possibly in afghanistan too. that is where you get that sort of career sense of enmity from many u.s. officials who speak about qasem soleimani. the head of the quds force, the foreign part if you like of the islamic revolutionary guard corps of iran. the people who essentially were tasked with going abroad to fulfill iran's policy objectives in the region. very successful frankly, bringing iran to -- at the height of its powers for quite some time in about sort of 2015 or '16 or so. then also, too, being part of the iranian bid to assist iraq and parts of the syrian regime too in pushing back isis in that fight as well. so a man of incredible influence, operating in the shadows but also possibly gaining celebrity from that bid to be secretive. he intermittently popped up on social media. fans posting pictures of him on the front line over time, becky.
>> just how significant was his influence where you are in lebanon? >> reporter: well, as i say, he was the man tasked with foreign policy, and so was often the intermediary who would explain to lebanese hezbollah if there were specific things that iran would like them to do. he would often be the man who was tasked with that message. in fact, there have been u.s. officials saying in the recent days before his death, qasem soleimani met top officials from hezbollah themselves. now, obviously hezbollah's presence here in lebanon is extraordinarily influential. they're probably the preeminent military force here and have an extraordinary control of lebanese politics too. so if you buy the theory that much of what hezbollah does is through iranian direction, then that would of course mean that qasem soleimani was charged with providing great influence here inside of lebanon too. i think really his departure
brings a key question. the u.s. clearly had a calculus where they believed that it was more useful for them for qasem soleimani to no longer be in operation in the region, both perhaps sending the signal to iran the u.s. was prepared to act, but possible also as they say preventing various plots that the u.s. claims soleimani was master minding at the time. what we don't know is if retaliation does come forward, whether those plots can still be executed without qasem soleimani being available to press the go button, so to speak, or whether further plots or those same plots will in fact be brought into fruition as acts of retaliation themselves, becky. >> nick, what do we know of these imminent attacks that we are told he was allege tdly plotting? and what of his successor named within hours of his death?
>> reporter: the successor obviously is his deputy, and that is essentially a plan you can imagine sort of oven-ready you might suggest. what do we know of the possible retaliation attacks -- sorry, the attacks that were stopped by this supposed assassination according to u.s. officials? well, very little frankly. a senior state department official said that they were concerned about possible attacks against u.s. military and diplomatic personnel in lebanon, syria, and iraq. now, we know of course there are u.s. military personnel in syria who are exposed, special forces. diplomatic and military personnel in iraq, that's well known. but here in lebanon, really little but a substantial diplomatic presence most of the time here in beirut at the u.s. embassy. so that gives you some kind of clue that maybe something here in lebanon may have been the crosshairs. there many potential targets as well inside of iraq. without transparency about what they thought was going to
happen, it's very hard to convince people of the case they had that they needed to act to prevent further things which donald trump seems to describe as acts of war on their own. so the u.s. case for why they had to take this preemptive action like they've seen in the middle east in the past 20 years will rest upon the quality of their intelligence and also, it appears at this point, their lack of desire to come forward and explain to everybody how they knew what they claimed they knew. becky? >> nick paton walsh is in beirut in lebanon for you. nick, appreciate it. thanks. we are joined now by the u.n. special rap ature on extrajudicial executions. good to have you with. simply was this in your view a legal act under international law? what are the rules? >> well, there are three rules that should apply to this kind of targeted killing. the first one is governed by the u.n. charter regarding the use
of force between state. and that's what your journalist was just explaining. did the u.s. act in self-defense? to demonstrate self-defense, the u.s. would have to prove that soleimani was engaged in imminent, meaning really very quickly implemented attack against american interest. so far we have not received sufficient information to determine whether, indeed, there was an imminent threat and whether therefore the response of the use was proportionate to the nature of that threat. but there are also other bodies of laws that need to be ascertained. one of them is international human rights law, and this is the one i have focused on most so far. and under human rights law, the
targeting of general soleimani is unlikely -- i say unlikely to be lawful. the only way schuch a killing c be lawful is if soleimani himself was presenting a direct and imminent threat to someone's life. and that, i think, is very unlikely to be proven. and if i may, the third issue which has not been discussed directly, but i think is central, is whether or not there was an international armed conflict at the time of the american strike. >> right. >> the statement from president trump when he said, we ended war not started one, seemed to suggest that there was already an international conflict by the time they targeted mr mr. soleimani. >> of course the u.s. is saying this man, in their view, was a
terrorist, that there was an imminent threat. that must count for something surely. >> absolutely, partly if you are working in the context of an international conflict. when it comes to international human rights law, however, the fact that this man who, by all accounts, was guilty of many war crimes doesn't necessarily make him a legitimate target under human rights law. this is why the determination of the nature of the legal situation at the moment is so important, and there is great uncertainty. there is nobody at the moment, neither the iclc nor anyone else to the best of my knowledge that have come forward and described
the situation as an international armed conflict between iran and the u.s. >> right. >> we should also point out that the u.s. strike was done on the iraqi territory without the iraq concerned. and under some doctrine under international humanitarian law, that is enough to trigger an international armed conflict. so there are many, many difficult, complex legal and empirical issues at this point. >> you answered one of my questions i was going to ask you, and that is the significance of it happening on the soil of a third nation, and you've covered that. you are the u.n. special rapporteur. what is the role of the united nations in this situation should there be one? >> absolutely. of course some real politics may be driving the agenda at the moment. there is absolutely no doubt.
but there is a very crucial role in my opinion to be played by the united nation and by international expert and by international law more generally. we cannot afford for the analysis of the event to be dominated by solely the two parties of conflict or some of their supporters within or outside those countries. it is essential that international law and international legal approach, international relations, u.n. charter-bound proposals also are put forward. in my opinion, the u.n. secretary-general should be fairly bold, in fact very bold in view of the situation, and he has a number of options. i'm not suggesting that they will deliver anything tangible immediately, but it is, again, i
think i want to stress it is important that the space be also -- include activities from multinational, intergovernmental organizations. >> right. >> and there is also in my view an important role that must be played by iraq. iraq at the moment is one of the victim of what's happening, but the country because of national sovereignty and the people of iraq. iraq has the option at the moment, in my view, to turn towards multinational, international u.n.-driven processes. it could call for an inquiry into what happened yesterday but also into the context. that is the other events that have preceded the strike. and in my view, that will be a very helpful development on the part of iraq, which could
de-escalate somewhat the tension. >> thank you so much. appreciate your expertise on this. thank you. becky. >> thank you. important stuff. still to come this hour. >> the real question that i think everyone has to ask is whether or not we have increased the chances of war. >> why a former cia boss thinks general soleimani's killing brings iran and the u.s. closer to an all-out war than it has been in decades. what he had to say is up next. s. it's not just a cold if you have high blood pressure. most cold medicines may raise blood pressure. coricidin hbp is the... ...#1 brand that gives... powerful cold relief without raising your blood pressure.
hey. ♪hey. you must be steven's phone. now you can take control of your home wifi and get a notification the instant someone new joins your network... only with xfinity xfi. download the xfi app today. welcome back. there is a sense of uncertainty across the middle east and much of the world in the wake of the u.s. strike that killed iran's top military commander. a funeral pro session expected in baghdad, iraq, where qasem soleimani was killed. he is viewed as a national hero in iran. the u.s. did not see it that way. >> president donald trump says he ordered the strike on baghdad
international airport because soleimani was plotting a major attack. mr. trump claims he wanted to prevent a war, not start one. but the strike has dramatically escalated tensions. iran now vowing harsh revenge. >> now, in response, the united states sending thousands of additional troops to the middle east. cnn's alex marquardt with more on the u.s. reaction. >> reporter: the car carrying iran's most powerful military commander destroyed beyond recognition by the missile strike from the american military drone flying overhead. confirmation coming quickly that the ruthless and cunning quds force commander, qasem soleimani, was targeted and killed. top u.s. officials tell cnn that attacks against u.s. targets planned by soleimani were imminent, though the trump administration has yet to provide any evidence. the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff saying today there was compelling intelligence that soleimani was planning a significant campaign of violence in the coming days, weeks, and
months. general mark milley adding, damn right there is risk to u.s. safety in the region, and we would be culpably negligent if we didn't take action. >> he was actively plotting in the region to take action, a big action as he described it, that would have put dozens if not hundreds of american lives at risk. we know it was imminent. this was an intelligence-based assessment that drove our decision-making process. >> reporter: ahead of a possible iranian response, the pentagon sending around 3,000 more troops to the region, adding to the beefed-up presence that followed violent protests at the u.s. embassy in baghdad. hundreds of u.s. servicemembers have been killed by soleimani's actions according to u.s. officials. thousands more maimed, mainly by improvised explosive devices that iran sent to insurgents in iraq. u.s. officials tell cnn that soleimani was planning more attacks against u.s. targets in multiple countries across the region. intelligence reports, they say, highlighted threats that were
more significant than usual. >> we watched the intelligence flow in that talked about soleimani's travels in the region and the work that he was doing to put americans further at risk. >> reporter: 62-year-old soleimani joined the islamic revolutionary guard corps after the iranian revolution in 1979. for over 20 years he had been at the head of its shadowy quds force, orchestrating military action and terrorist attacks in the middle east and around the world. he supported and directed efforts of proxy forces like hezbollah and hamas against israel and militias in iraq against isis, which also committed war crimes against sunni muslim civilians. the trump administration says that soleimani approved those attacks this week on the u.s. embassy in baghdad. but the killing of soleimani has left the u.s. presence in iraq in doubt with powerful forces demanding the eviction of the americans. the iraqi prime minister calling the attack a flagrant violation of the u.s./iraq security agreement. the big question has been why now when there have been
opportunities in the past to kill soleimani. the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, mark milley, said that it was the size, scale, and scope of these imminent attacks. now, in the meantime, the threat level against military forces in the middle east has been raised, meaning that they believe an attack against them is likely. alex marquardt, cnn, washington. earlier on ac 360, anderson cooper sat down with leon panetta, white house chief of staff during the clinton administration, and also former u.s. secretary of defense and former head of the cia. >> now, he had been privy to some of the most sensitive information regarding threat assessments as anyone in washington, and he says the chances for war are more serious now than they have been in decades. here's what he told cnn about qasem soleimani. >> there's no question he's a bad actor, and he was involved in those kinds of attacks.
i guess, you know, the question you have to ask yourself -- and that's why i said, look, we shouldn't mourn the fact that he died. but the real question that i think everyone has to ask is whether or not we have increased the chances of war with iran as a result of what happened. and i don't think there's any question that the chances for war are more serious now than they have been in the last 40 years that we could ultimately escalate what's happening now into a full-scale war with iran. that is the fundamental issue that all of us ought to worry about. >> that's leon panetta speaking to our colleague anderson cooper earlier. still to come, iran's ambassador to the u.n. vows harsh revenge for qasem soleimani's death. what that could mean is up next. it was a life changing moment for me.
more now on our breaking news this hour in the aftermath of the u.s. strike that killed iranian commander qasem soleimani. u.s. president donald trump says the strike was meant to stop a war, not start one. >> that is not how tehran sees it of course. the ambassador to the united nations calls it an act of war and the country is vowing to
respond. >> let's bring in roger shanahan, who is a research fellow in the west asia program at the lowy incident. sir, thank you for joining us. president trump says he's not seeking regime change or war. a senior official at the state department told cnn that the u.s. is ready to talk with iran. the question is at this point and given what's happened in the past 36 hours, what's the likelihood that tehran is willing to talk to washington? >> i think that for the foreseeable future and perhaps longer than that, any chance of talks between the trump administration and the iranian government are gone. the iranians obviously have signaled that there will be some sort of retaliation against the united states because of these actions, and i realize there's presidential elections within 12 months, so i think for the rest of this current administration's term, i don't think there's
really any chances of talks. >> have a listen to what the iranian ambassador to the united nations told my colleague, erin burnett, earlier. >> we should not just close our eyes to what happened last night. definitely there will be revenge. there will be a harsh revenge. iran will act based on its own choosing and the time, the place will be decided by iran. >> it certainly doesn't sound like an administration ready to talk. when and how would you expect iran to retaliate? >> well, obviously it's going to take quite some time for the iranians to practically, once they've chosen targets, to do all the kinds of planning and operational preparations to undertake those kind of actions. but it's also a range of
religious reasons that you might delay it as well. so it's normally a 40-day mourning period after the death of qasem soleimani, so you would not expect much action before that. the risk of something happening would increase after that. as the iranian ambassador said there, the iranians will choose the time and the place at which they'll choose to retaliate, and it's now up to the united states to make sure that their intelligence assets are capable enough to try and thwart any future iranian attempts. >> the author of "iran reframed" wrote in "the new york times" op-ed- and i quote -- general soleimani's influence will survive him. in fact, it may have suddenly grown significantly. do you agree, and how will his death impact iranian influence in this region of the middle
east? >> well, listen, i think the regime is already portraying him as the latest in a long line of martyrs in shia historiography. so he'll have a degree of importance to the regime. practically, he's already been replaced by his deputy, so the actual mechanics of quds force operations would be well known to the deputy. so you imagine there's not going to be much of a change in the practicalities. but what qasem soleimani represents is he has status. he's had personal contacts built up over such a long period, and his deputy, as knowledgeable as he is, is not going to have that status or depth. so it's going to impact them for quite some time, you would think. but certainly they'll remain a capable organization. >> rodger, you are joining us from sydney in australia. australia strongly allied with the u.s. in the middle east with
troops in iraq. what do you make of american allies' reaction to the killing of qasem soleimani? >> well, it's difficult at the moment to determine exactly what, if any forewarning, close allies were given. as you pointed out, australia has got military forces in iraq, in support of the u.s.-led coalition, as do a number of other countries, as well. australia's also signed up to join the u.s. naval presence in the persian gulf, that president trump spoke about much earlier last year. so, australia certainly has players in this game and should be interested. but we've seen from the reactions so far, that the germans have probably been supportive of the u.s. strike within bounds.
the u.k. was also relatively supportive. the french have been much more sitting on the fence, in terms of diplomatic language. that's probably because the french see a role for themselves in trying to bring these two countries together, if that's possible, some time in the future. each of the coalition and allied countries of the united states is really going to approach this from slightly different angles, i think. >> rodger, i appreciate it. thank you. >> my pleasure. we'll take a short break. when we come back, australia changing course on how it is responding to the worst wildfires in decades. we'll be live in one of the worst-hit areas as flames inch closer to wiping out more towns. with advil liqui-gels,
extraordinary images from australia. three fires in australia in the state of victoria, have now combined to form one single blaze that is, get this, bigger than the new york borough of manhattan. the country is bracing for what could be the most catastrophic day yet this brush fire season. the prime minister announcing that he's mobilizing the navy's largest ship to help evacuate people along the southeast coastline. and also, deploying up to 3,000 reservists as authorities try to rescue stranded residents by boats.
cnn correspondent anna coren is live for us in australia. this merging of three fires into one massive inferno, fires are getting closer to suburban sydney. how bad are things? >> reporter: well, michael, there are fires up and down the east coast of australia. but obviously, the focus is on the southeast. new south wales and victoria. we're here just south of bateman's bay. you can see the smoke coming from the fire burning for weeks. it's been raging 70,000 hectors. and the plumes of smoke the last couple hours, getting closer and closer. the catastrophic conditions that we were expecting and authorities had told us to expect today, haven't real ly
materialized. it is definitely hot. but the winds that we thought would roar through haven't. there's a southerly that's predicted to come here in the south coast that will cool temperatures and perhaps push certain fires back on themselves. it could be problematic for other towns and homes that are in the bush. michael, i want to show you, give you an idea. this house has been evacuated. people, obviously, getting out. this is house people live in the coastal areas, in the bush. authorities telling everybody that they must get out. and most people have evacuated, michael. they have heeded the warnings. >> anna, we'll check in with you next hour. thanks for watching cnn special coverage, and the fallout of the killing of iran's top general.