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Iraq

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.

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez and Amb. L. Paul Bremer speak to the media during a press conference at the Iraqi Forum in Baghdad, covering the capture of Saddam Hussein - December 13, 2003.
Staff Sgt. Steven Pearsall, USAF / U.S. Navy / Wikimedia Commons

Ten years ago Friday, hundreds of interrogations and months of intelligence work paid off for Eric Maddox when his fellow U.S. Army soldiers pulled deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein from the now-infamous underground “spider hole” near his hometown of Tikrit.

More than a decade after the start of the conflict, and nearly two years after the final withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, Maddox says once Hussein was apprehended, the U.S. had no idea how to rebuild the country.

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.

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."

This time last week Americans were just starting to learn about the troubled Russian region of Chechnya after authorities released the identities of the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings.

Rebecca Cruise discusses women in combat and the U.S. drone program with NPR's Rachel Martin. Before taking over the host's chair of Weekend Edition Sunday, she reported from both Iraq and Afghanistan, and served as the network's national security correspondent.

Technical Sergeant William Greer / United States Air Force

In January, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced the end of the U.S. military’s 19-year-old ban on women officially serving in combat roles.

“Every time I visited the warzone, every time I've met with troops, reviewed military operations, and talked to wounded warriors, I've been impressed with the fact that everyone - men and women alike - everyone is committed to doing the job,” Panetta said. “They're fighting and they're dying together. And the time has come for our policies to recognize that reality.”

Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin covered national security issues for NPR from 2010-2012. She told KGOU’s World Views the change in policy recognizes the reality on the ground, but also will afford women the opportunity to compete for top-level spots in very elite military units.

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