KGOU

Syria

In Brussels today, NATO defense ministers urged Russia to stop backing Syrian President Bashar Assad. At the same time, Syria’s top general praised the Russians for their airstrikes, saying they have cleared the way for the new ground offensive that Syrian troops have mounted to eliminate terrorists – a term the Syrian government uses to refer to all armed opposition to Assad.

Rebecca Cruise and Suzette Grillot discuss Russia's air strikes on Syria, and what the country's motivation could be for trying to take on a greater role on the world stage.

Then, Suzette talks with filmmakers Paco de Onís and Pamela Yates. They use their documentaries to raise awareness and create social change.

President Obama talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during the 70th United Nations General Assembly Sept. 28, 2015.
Pete Souza / The White House

This week Russia launched its first air strikes in Syria after the country’s parliament approved the use of military force to combat Islamic State militants. The move comes just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Obama met at the UN General Assembly.

Suzette Grillot talks with Thomas Fingar, the former head of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. In the months leading up to the 2003 invasion, he cast doubts on whether or not Iraq had nuclear weapons.

But first, Rebecca Cruise and Joshua Landis discuss President Obama’s meetings with Chinese president Xi Jinping about cybersecurity, and Russian president Vladimir Putin over renewed tension in Syria.

President Barack Obama meets with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at his dacha outside Moscow, Russia, July 7, 2009.
Pete Souza / The White House

Next week President Obama plans to meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin at the United Nations to discuss efforts and support in Syria. Russia has been backing the Syrian administration of Bashar al-Assad since the civil war began more than four years ago – sending planes, tanks and troops to bolster Bashar al-Assad’s government and tenuous hold on power in the troubled country. But the rise of Islamic State militants has created even more questions about who to stand behind in the Middle East.

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 (CC BY 2.0)

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.

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 compares what he calls the “Great Sorting Out” in the Middle East to historical conflicts in Eastern Europe that also stretched across ethnic and religious lines.

Then Joshua and Rebecca Cruise talk with Matthew Barber. He was one of the first bloggers to write about the capture of thousands of Yazidi  women and girls as the minority community of northern Iraq was wiped out this summer.

An Iraqi Yazidi girl with her family at the Newroz refugee camp in Syria, on August 15th.
Rachel Unkovic / DFID - UK Department for International Development

In the Iraqi province of Kurdistan, women of the Yazidi ethnic minority are disappearing. At the most recent count, between 6,000 and 7,000 women and girls have been kidnapped, and many of those have been enslaved.

When Matthew Barber visited northern Iraq earlier this year, his goals were to conduct research and learn Kurdish. When he arrived he was faced with an enslavement crisis unfolding all around him and he knew that being an American academic gave him resources he could use to help.

A refugee camp in Syria's northern city Aleppo, December 2013
IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation / Flickr

In recent years, millions have been killed or forced to flee their homes due to instability and violence across Iraq and Syria. Among these victims are many ethnic and religious minorities, including Christians and Yazidis.

Rebecca Cruise talks with Joshua Landis about air strikes against the Islamic State, and how Syria’s neighbors are affected by millions of refugees.

Later, Suzette Grillot's recent interview with the 2014 Neustadt Prize for International Literature winner Mia Couto. Shortly after the country’s independence from Portugal, the Mozambique Liberation Front asked him to suspend his medical studies and work as a journalist.

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