Guest host Brian Hardzinski talks with Joshua Landis about an important victory for Kurds in the Syrian town of Tel Abyad, and why Kurds have done so well when Arabs have not against Islamic State militants.

Then Suzette Grillot talks with David Deisley and Rob Perreault about resource extraction in Latin American countries.

Rebecca Cruise and Suzette Grillot discuss China’s expansion and development throughout South East Asia and beyond, and whether or not they’re becoming more audacious in their global development.

Then Suzette talks with Barak Barfi, a research fellow at the New America Foundation who spent his career studying Arab and Islamic affairs. We’ll discuss political development in Libya since the Arab Spring revolution.

A portrait of President Bashar al-Assad among the trash in the Syrian city of al-Qsair in 2012.
Freedom House / Flickr

With the civil war in Syria now in its fifth year and little progress in reaching a diplomatic solution, stability in the country doesn’t seem likely any time soon. Conflicting interests among regional powers further complicate the situation, says New America Foundation research fellow Barak Barfi.

Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives
James Emery / Flickr

This week, Suzette Grillot and Joshua Landis discuss news from the Middle East and what it means for U.S. interests in the region. Landis is the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

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.

In March 2011, photojournalist Lynsey Addario was kidnapped in Libya while covering the fighting between dictator Moammar Gadhafi's troops and rebel forces. She was with Anthony Shadid, Tyler Hicks and Stephen Farrell in the town of Ajdabiya, all on assignment for The New York Times.

Looking back, Addario says she had a premonition that something bad would happen.

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.