KGOU

Syria

People walk on rubble of collapsed buildings at a site hit by what activists said was barrel bombs dropped by government forces in Aleppo's Dahret Awwad neighborhood January 29, 2014.
Freedom House / Flickr

On Tuesday the United Nations announced a new plan to freeze fighting in the besieged northern Syrian city of Aleppo. If it’s successful, it will be implemented in other areas throughout the war-torn country.

U.N. Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura said unlike previous attempts at broad-based ceasefires, the narrow focus of this one may actually lead to the de-escalation of violence. The only real solution to the ongoing conflict, though, will be a political one.

Joshua Landis provides an update on the attacks by self-proclaimed Islamic State militants near the Turkish border, and the Syrian government’s ability to focus on battling rebels because the United States is devoting its energy to combating ISIS.

Later, a conversation with Ron Burton. He’s a Norman resident who just finished a year-long term as the president of Rotary International.

Islamic State members claim these twin explosions on October 8 in southeastern Kobani was not caused by airstrikes but was executed by the suicide bomber Abu Talha al-Ansari.
Karl-Ludwig Poggemann / Flickr

On Friday UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura warned that hundreds of civilians will likely be massacred if Kobani falls under the control of ISIS. The UN announcement came after weeks of intense fighting between ISIS and besieged Kurdish forces in the Syrian city.

Despite international calls for intervention, Turkey has refused to allow its military or its Kurdish citizens to go fight to defend Kobani. Located on the border between Syria and Turkey, the city is home to 250,000 people.

President Obama's ISIS Plan: How Realistic Is It?

Sep 12, 2014
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with members of the National Security Council in the Situation Room of the White House, Sept. 10, 2014.
Pete Souza / The White House

Syria, Russia, and Iran have condemned the plan to lead a broad coalition against the Islamic State President Obama outlined Wednesday night, stating that without a UN resolution U.S. action in Syria would be an act of aggression and in violation of international law.

Suzette Grillot and Joshua Landis discuss the turmoil in Iraq caused by ISIS. Rebecca Cruise reports on state of Ukraine and its possible cease fire with Russia.

Later in the program, an interview with Boston College Near East Historian and political scientist Franck Salameh about the many dialects of Arabic and the future of teaching it.

Joshua Landis updates Suzette Grillot on the situation in Syria, and they talk about the rise of the Islamic State and this week’s murder of journalist James Foley.

Later, a conversation about the 100th anniversary of the Panama Canal with Noel Maurer, Raisa Banfield, and Julie Greene.

Pete Souza / The White House

The beheading of American journalist James Foley this week is the latest in a series of brutal attacks in Iraq and Syria perpetrated by the Islamic State (ISIS).

The killing comes in response to President Obama's decision to provide aerial and tactical support to Iraqi government forces and Kurdish Peshmerga as they attempt to retake areas seized by IS in recent weeks.

Rebecca Cruise provides an update on the kidnapping of hundreds of girls in Nigeria, and Joshua Landis discusses this week’s Syrian rebel departure from Homs.

Later, a conversation with longtime China scholar David Lampton. He argues the country’s leaders have to reconcile a fragmented bureaucracy with explosive economic growth and a rising middle class.

Joshua Landis and Suzette Grillot focus on the aggression in the east of Ukraine, and the well as the historical importance of Ukraine in Russian history. They also discuss how the war in Syria has affected the country’s ancient history and cultural heritage.

And later, a conversation with Israeli scholar Zaki Shalom. He says the Arab Spring has shifted focus away from the Middle East’s more long-standing discord.

Smoke emerges from the castle at Krak des Chavaliers in Syria - August 18, 2013.
Syria963 / Wikimedia Commons

Last month the Syrian Arab Army recaptured the Crusader castle Krak des Chevaliers, which was reportedly damaged during air strikes in 2013.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has expressed concern since the civil war began that the conflict could be devastating to the country’s important cultural sites.

Joshua Landis joins Suzette Grillot to discuss the continued escalation in Ukraine, and provide an update on Syria as the third anniversary of the country's civil war approaches.

Later, a conversation about Afrocentricity and identity with author, Temple University professor, and activist Molefi Kete Asante.

A crowd gathers outside London's National Gallery in Trafalgar Square March 13, 2014 for a vigil to mark the third anniversary of the start of Syria's civil war.
Andy Armstrong / Flickr Creative Commons

This weekend marks three years since the first mass protests in Damascus, Aleppo, and Daraa lit kindling of unrest in Syria that eventually ignited a full-scale civil war.

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 countries in the region and the United States now view the Syrian crisis as a counterterrorism problem.

For eight days, the Syrian regime and an opposition delegation sat face-to-face, but were not on speaking terms in Room 16 of the Palais des Nations in the sprawling complex of United Nations headquarters in Geneva.

Round one demonstrated the bitter divide with no breakthrough on the core issues of a political transition or access to humanitarian aid.

So what comes next?

Joshua Landis and Suzette Grillot discuss the 2014 State of the Union address and some of the foreign policy objectives President Obama outlined in Tuesday night’s speech.

Later, a conversation about migration and identity with Iranian-American novelist Laleh Khadivi, and Palestinian-American poet and physician Fady Joudah.

President Obama delivers his 2014 State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress Tuesday, January 28, 2014.
The White House / YouTube

President Obama’s international outlook remains heavily oriented toward decreasing the U.S. military presence in the Middle East. In his State of the Union address, the president promised to declare an end to the 12-year war in Afghanistan.

Joshua Landis, the author of Syria Comment and the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, says President Obama’s address “claimed big successes” in a September Syria chemical weapons deal and a November interim agreement with Iran halting uranium enrichment programs in exchange for lifted sanctions.

Joshua Landis provides an update on this week's Syrian peace talks in Switzerland, and Rebecca Cruise discusses the escalation of violence in Ukraine.

Later, a conversation about mother tongue-based bilingual instruction in West Africa with Alice Iddi-Gubbels, the founder and executive director of PAMBE Ghana.

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.

KGOU's "World Views" contributor Joshua Landis joined the PBS NewsHour Wednesday evening to discuss whether anything positive can come from the "Geneva II" Syrian peace talks.

KGOU's "World Views" contributor Joshua Landis is one of this country's leading Syria watchers. In this piece for Al Jazeera America, he assesses the likely outcome of the "Geneva II" Middle East peace talks.

With a major push from the U.S., a new Syrian peace conference opened Wednesday in Switzerland, the first such effort since the middle of 2012. It wasn't easy getting everyone there, and it will be harder still to achieve a breakthrough.

Here are a few key things to know about the conference:

1. What's the goal?

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