Bashar al-Assad

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, flanked by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, gavels open the Geneva II conference in Montreux, Switzerland, on January 22, 2014.
U.S. Department of State / Flickr Creative Commons

A United Nations mediator announced Friday a Syrian government delegation and the Western-backed opposition will meet Saturday “in the same room.”

Joshua Landis, the author of the widely-read blog Syria Comment and the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, says this week’s peace conference in Switzerland shows both sides understand there has to be a political solution.

Joshua Landis provides an update on the ongoing removal of chemical weapons in Syria, and Rebecca Cruise examines the recent executions of high-level government officials in North Korea, and what they could mean. 

Later, a conversation with a trio of scientists and engineers about how three very different developing countries share many of the same sanitation and hygiene concerns.

Bernd Schwabe / Wikimedia Commons

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has drawn up a timeline for the destruction of Syria's poison gas and nerve agent program by mid-2014.

The most toxic chemicals are to be destroyed on a U.S. ship. Denmark and Norway are providing ships to transport the chemicals out of Syria and more than three dozen private companies have offered to destroy less toxic chemicals.

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.

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.