KGOU

Bashar al-Assad

President Obama meets with King Salman during a 2015 trip to Saudi Arabia.
Pete Souza / The White House

On Friday, France’s foreign minister described talks over Syria’s future as entering a “danger zone.” Opposition leaders have stepped away from the negotiating table in Geneva, accusing the regime led by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad of violating the cease-fire the U.S. and Russia painfully put together.

Representative of Assad’s regime might not even be at the negotiating table without Russia’s intervention. Airstrikes helped Syrian forces take back territory, put the rebels on their heel, and attack ISIS positions in the ancient city of Palmyra.

Syrian protesters hold signs with the faces of president Bashar al-Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Damascus - March 4, 2012
Freedom House / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad made a surprise visit to Moscow this week to meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin. It marks the first time he’s left the county since the civil war began in 2011.

Joshua Landis explains rebel advances in Syria and new Saudi aggressiveness in its wars with Iran.

Then Suzette Grillot talks with University of Oklahoma German professor Bob Lemon and Oregon State University Cold War-era cultural scholar Sebastian Heiduschke about cinema and literature in East Germany.

Saudi King Abdullah talks with newly appointed Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdel-Aziz in Taif June 19, 2012. Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has appointed his defence minister, Prince Salman, as heir apparent, opting for stability and a continuation of cau
Saudi Press Agency / Reuters

Syria observers are questioning whether President Bashar al-Assad's time could be running short after rebels captured two large, northern cities inside of a month. Despite attempts to mount a counteroffensive, Syrian troops have been unable to regain any ground lost in the cities of Idlib and Jisr al-Shughour just south of the Turkish border.

Syria Comment blogger Joshua Landis provides analysis of President Bashar Assad’s interview this week with the BBC, and Rebecca Cruise discusses German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit with President Obama, and what they’re trying to accomplish regarding Ukraine. 

Then Rebecca talks with Kathryn Bolkovac, who sued her employers for unfair dismissal after she lost her job for trying to expose sex trafficking in Bosnia. Her story was dramatized in the 2010 film The Whistleblower.

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad granted an unusual interview to the BBC on Tuesday, discussing the nearly four-year-old civil war in his country, and his relationship with the United States.

Joshua Landis and Suzette Grillot discuss riots in Egypt after a court in Cairo dropped its case against deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak, and about how a focus on counterterrorism has overtaken all hopes for democracy in the Middle East.

Then a conversation with literary critic Warren Motte about his work collecting tens of thousands of moments where characters gaze into mirrors.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry presides over a meeting of more than 60 anti-ISIL coalition parties held on December 3, 2014, at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
U.S. Department of State

Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Cairo throughout the week after a court ruled Saturday evening to dismiss charges against ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak over the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising in Egypt.

Joshua Landis joins Suzette Grillot to discuss the continued escalation in Ukraine, and provide an update on Syria as the third anniversary of the country's civil war approaches.

Later, a conversation about Afrocentricity and identity with author, Temple University professor, and activist Molefi Kete Asante.

A crowd gathers outside London's National Gallery in Trafalgar Square March 13, 2014 for a vigil to mark the third anniversary of the start of Syria's civil war.
Andy Armstrong / Flickr Creative Commons

This weekend marks three years since the first mass protests in Damascus, Aleppo, and Daraa lit kindling of unrest in Syria that eventually ignited a full-scale civil war.

Joshua Landis, the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, and the author of the widely-read blog Syria Comment, says countries in the region and the United States now view the Syrian crisis as a counterterrorism problem.

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