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Bashar al-Assad

Rebecca Cruise and Joshua Landis join Suzette Grillot to discuss subtle reminders of Nelson Mandela's controversial legacy during a week of celebration of the late president's life, and Pope Francis's selection as Time  magazine's 2013 "Person of the Year.'

Later, a conversation with Oklahoma native and former Army interrogator Eric Maddox. Ten years ago Friday, months of his intelligence work paid off when U.S. soldiers captured deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Time.com

In only his first year, Pope Francis was selected by Time magazine's editors as the person who had the greatest impact on the world, for good or bad, during 2013.

Time Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs said Pope Francis had changed the tone, the perception and focus of one of the world's largest institutions in an extraordinary way.

Rebecca Cruise, the Assistant Dean of the University of Oklahoma’s College of International Studies, tells KGOU’s World Views host Suzette Grillot the enthusiasm created by Pope Francis is palpable.

Glen Carey

Kelly McEvers spent three years based in Baghdad and Beirut covering the Middle East for NPR. She started her assignment with instructions not to miss a day in Iraq as the 2011 U.S. troop withdrawal deadline approached.

“Then in late 2010, a guy set himself on fire in Tunisia, and everything changed,” McEvers told KGOU’s World Views host Suzette Grillot. “I was swept up with millions of other people in this thing called the Arab Spring.”

Earlier this week President Obama asked congressional leaders to postpone a vote on legislation that would authorize the use of force against Syria. Joshua Landis provides an update on what's next in the volatile region.

Later, journalist Erielle Reshef joins Suzette Grillot for a conversation about covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Before returning to her home state last year to anchor and report for KOCO-TV, the Oklahoma City native spent several years working for the Israeli Broadcasting Authority.

Pete Souza / The White House

Earlier this week President Obama asked congressional leaders to postpone a vote on legislation that would authorize the use of force against Syria.

“We will work together in consultation with Russia and China to put forward a resolution at the U.N. Security Council requiring Assad to give up his chemical weapons and to ultimately destroy them under international control,” the president said in a televised address to the nation Tuesday night.

Joshua Landis, the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and the author of the influential and widely-read blog Syria Comment, says the new diplomatic development is a victory for Moscow.

As President Obama and Congress decide how to respond to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, Joshua Landis outlines some of the implications for both the United States and the Middle East.

Later, a conversation with Chad and Tara Jordan of Cornerstone International. The siblings and Oklahoma native founded the consulting firms to teach businesses and non-profits how to provide humanitarian aid more efficiently.

Pete Souza / The White House

President Barack Obama says he hasn't made a final decision about a military strike against Syria. But he says he's considering a limited and narrow action in response to a chemical weapons attack that he says Syria'sgovernment carried out last week.

“We don't know how hard they're going to hit [President Bashar] Assad, but clearly they're going to hit Assad,” says Joshua Landis, a leading Syria watcher and the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “What Obama articulated very clearly is that we can hit him hard enough to dissuade him from using chemical weapons again. So it's worth it to try to extend that and punish Assad and make him think twice about using again.”

Obama says that attack was a challenge to the world and threatens U.S. national security.

 

Suzette Grillot hosts the program from London, and Joshua Landis joins her by phone from Vermont to provide an update on the civil war in Syria, and how recent events in Iraq contribute to the growing violence in the region, particularly in Syria.

Later, a conversation with journalist and author Kelsey Timmerman. His book Where Am I Wearing: A Global Tour to the Countires, Factories, and People That Make Our Clothes tells the stories of the workers and conditions in the developing world's garment industries.

Scott Bobb / VOA News

Last month, at least 500 prisoners reportedly escaped from the Baghdad Central Prison in Abu Ghraib during an attack al-Qaida’s Iraq arm claimed responsibility for.

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 the audacious prison break re-energized al-Qaida in Iraq.

Joshua Landis offers an update about the situation in Syria, and how chemical weapons affect the public’s view of the civil war. The panel also talks about the Edward Snowden case and the complexities of asylum and extradition.

Stigler, Oklahoma native Pamela Olson moved to Palestine  after she graduated in 2002. She settled in Ramallah, where she worked as the head writer and editor for the Palestine MonitorShe just wrote a book about her experiences called Fast Times in Palestine.

Bernd Schwabe / Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this month President Obama told Charlie Rose the use of chemical weapons would change his calculus in the region, but not his goals for Syria.

Joshua Landis, the author of the blog Syria Comment and the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, says the United States supplying lethal aid to Syrian rebels is a big change that makes a big difference.

“Once you get all the CIA and everybody else in there - our trainers and Special Forces - then they want to win,” Landis says. “They're not going to do it to play patty-cake."

On Tuesday President Obama reiterated that the U.S. has evidence chemical weapons have been used in Syria, and regular contributor and Syria expert Joshua Landis discusses "game changers" and crossing "red lines."

Universidad de Chile industrial engineering professor and Educación 2020 founder Mario Waissbluth joins the program for a conversation about socio-economic segregation in the South American country's schools.

FreedomHouse / Flickr

U.S. and other diplomatic officials say discussions within the Obama administration in favor of providing arms to the Syrian rebels are gaining ground amid new indications that President Bashar Assad's regime may have launched additional chemical weapons attacks.

Joshua Landis, the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, says eliminating Syria's air defenses would be the first step before inspectors could determine if the regime did indeed use chemical weapons.

"Once you've destroyed the Syrian military, you're in Iraq in a sense," Landis says. "We were criticized in Iraq because we only had 100,000 troops to protect an entire country."

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

I'm Melissa Block. And we begin this hour with the war in Syria and the possibility of U.S. involvement. Today, in Damascus, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used the opportunity of May Day to make a rare public appearance. He visited a power plant and said, we hope that by this time next year, we will have overcome the crisis in our country.

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