Syria

Karim Kadim / AP via NPR

A powerful group of radical Islamists has been overwhelming Iraqi cities and towns. The stunning onslaught has the capital Baghdad now girding for battle and the U.S. grappling with how best to deal with the threat. We’ll look at the situation there and at American options.

GUESTS:

What Happened To The "Arab Spring," And What's Next

May 13, 2014
Hossam el-Hamalawy / Flickr/CC

Three years after what was dubbed the “Arab Spring”, Egypt is preparing for its first election since a military coup last summer. The candidate presumed to win is Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who led the coup against Islamist President Morsi last July.  Since then, he’s been the de facto leader of Egypt, and has engineered mass crackdowns on dissent. It’s not the type of reform many imagined, when the fabled Tahrir Square uprisings began – and now, Egyptians are wondering if their revolution has left them any better off than before.

poniblog / Flickr Creative Commons

U.S. ties with Russia have always been complicated, but recently they have heated up even more. Disputes over how to approach the war in Syria, Russia’s protection of NSA leaker Edward Snowden, as well as the recent tug of war over Ukraine have all contributed to this tension. We’re examining this fraught relationship and how it’s changed. 

GUESTS:

via KinanAzmeh.com

Clarinetist and composer Kinan Azmeh was born in Damascus, but now lives in New York, where he wakes up to bad news each day. One of his compositions, “A Sad Morning, Every Morning,” is dedicated to the victims of the Syrian conflict, now in its third year.

Kinan will be performing at the Hopkins Center at Dartmouth tonight along with Sally Pinkas, and the Apple Hill String Quartet in a program called “Playing for Peace.”

Also featured tonight will be works by Joseph Haydn and Mieczyslaw Weinberg and the world premiere of two compositions by the composer Kareem Roustom-- also born in Damascus. Roustom has not been back to Syria since 2008; Azmeh since July 2012 , but the people who are suffering in their war-torn homeland are never far from their hearts or their music. We spoke to Kinan Azmeh and Kareem Routsom from Dartmouth’s studio about homeland.

IAEA Action Team

Only a few days after international weapons inspectors arrived in Syria, they’ve begun destroying Syria’sstockpile of chemical weapons along with the equipment used to make it. The team is reportedly using blow torches and heavy trucks to crush weaponry, working as an active war rages on around them.

For a better sense of what weapons inspectors do, we spoke to Tim Trevan. He worked as a U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq in the early 90’s and is currently Executive Director of the International Council for the Life Sciences.

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The Constitution gives Congress the right to declare war and the President to wage it. Yet many presidents have taken military action, without involving lawmakers. President Obama’s recent decision to seek Congressional support for intervention in Syria has renewed debate over when and how we engage our military.  

Guests:

  • Buzz Scherr – Professor at UNH School of Law in Concord
  • Linda L. Fowler - Professor of Government and the Frank J. Reagan Chair in Policy Studies at Dartmouth College     
P. LeBlanc via Twitter

Phil Sands is Syria correspondent for The National, an English language daily newspaper based in Abu Dhabi.  He was living in Damascus when the uprising began in March of 2011, and has continued reporting on the escalation of the rebellion and civil war in the two years since. Earlier this year, Phil returned to the US with a pair of unlikely refugees – two dogs, saved from the war-torn streets of the Syrian capital. He sat down with Virginia Prescott this past February to talk about the puppies, which he called Mr. Brown and Mr. White.

New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte says she's skeptical of the credibility of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar Assad and the ability of the United Nations to execute a plan for Syria to relinquish its chemical weapons.

But Ayotte, commenting after President Barack Obama addressed the nation Tuesday night, said if the effort is successful, the world would be safer.

FreedomHouse via Flickr Creative Commons

President Obama says the United States has a moral responsibility to punish the Syrian government for its reported use of chemical weapons against civilians. And he’s asked Congress to approve military action.  We’ll look at the arguments for and against, and gauge reaction in the Granite State.

GUESTS:

Sen. Shaheen, Rep. Kuster Weigh In On Syria

Sep 2, 2013

New Hampshire’s congressional delegation is weighing in on possible military intervention in Syria.  This after President Barack Obama announced he would seek congressional approval for a military strike to punish the Assad regime for allegedly using chemical weapons. 

At an AFL-CIO Labor Day breakfast at St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral  in Manchester, Senator Jeanne Shaheen stopped short of saying she supports military action against the Assad regime.   But she did note that she has been raising the issue of chemical weapons use in the conflict since February of 2012.

Photograph by Monique Jaques for Bloomberg Businessweek

Syria’s civil war is now in its third year. More than 70,000 people have been killed; more than 1.4 million people have fled their homes; lives and families have been shattered; landmarks decimated and the economy is crumbling. Among those seeking refuge in neighboring Jordan are innovators and diaspora entrepreneurs who may well be seeding the ideas and infrastructure of Syria’s future. Patrick Clark is a reporter for Bloomberg Business Week covering small business and entrepreneurship and wrote about a tech boot camp for Syrians working in Jordan with Sarah Topol.

This week, U.S. concerns over the civil war in Syria escalated with talk of chemical weapons and the real fear that the conflict could spill over in the broader Middle East including Israel.  Now there’s debate in Washington about how this country should respond what the so-called “red-line is” and whether the Americans public is willing to cross it. 

Guests

Nicole Tung, courtesy FreeJamesFoley.org.

It’s been 100 days since journalist and New Hampshire native James Foley was kidnapped in Syria, with no information about his condition, location, or even his kidnappers' identities.

Foley’s family is again appealing for help in finding him , using a website called FreeJamesFoley.org. His mother, Diane Foley, joins All Things Considered host Brady Carlson with more on those efforts.

Carlos Casas/Aga Khan Music Initiative

New Sounds From Arab Lands is five musicians from Syria, Tunisia and Lebanon respectively. They were brought together in collaboration with the Aga Khan music initiative, and are artists in a residency at Dartmouth College curated by ethnomusicologist and music professor Ted Levin. The group performs this evening at the Spaulding auditorium. We caught up with the group from a studio at Dartmouth College.

Emma LeBlanc

 

As the Syrian revolution grinds on, middle-class Damascus clings to the rituals of everyday life. Photographer Emma LeBlanc and Phil Sands capture the other story of the revolution. It is the story of a tension that has come to define this new Syria in transition, though the quiet, frightened, quotidian voices of the majority are those less often heard amidst the shouts for freedom and those for president Bashar. 

The freelance journalist James Foley of Rochester, New Hampshire was taken captive in northern Syria on Thanksgiving Day. Now, after weeks of silence, his family is speaking out.


The family of an international journalist from Rochester, New Hampshire says gunmen in Syria kidnapped him on Thanksgiving Day.

tiny cc via Flickr

Word of Mouth's weekend program includes some of our favorite stories from from the daily program.

Part 1: Syria/Chemical Dangers

FreedomHouse via Flickr Creative Commons

The conflict in Syria is reaching the one year mark, and a newly reformed Syrian coalition has just been officially recognized by Britain as the unifying voice of the opposition. Vice Magazine, a publication known for its willingness to cover sensitive subjects, recently devoted an entire issue to exploring Syria’s complex resistance.

We’ll sit down with a panel of local experts on Syria and the surrounding region.  As rebels and government forces to battle it out, defections are occurring almost daily, and civilians are fleeing to other countries, creating a refugee problem.   We’ll explore the background of this conflict…and the debate over what the U.S. response should be. 

Guests

A rash of kidnappings in Lebanon over the weekend, coupled with deadly cross-border attacks by the Syrian army, are all worrying signs that Syria's troubles are continuing to spill over into its smaller and weaker neighbor.

In the most recent incidents, a Sunni sheik known to support the Syrian uprising was abducted. In retaliation, several Alawites aligned with the Syrian government were taken. Days before that, the Syrian army shot several people on Lebanese territory.

After more than a year of fighting in Syria, the peace plan brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan appeared to be the most serious effort yet to end the bloodletting.

But on a day when Syrian army tanks were supposed to pull back from Syrian cities, opposition groups said there were fresh attacks Tuesday in the central city of Homs and several other cities.

Since the uprising began in Syria last year, there have been a lot of stories about soldiers who have defected from the army to join the rebels. This rebel group is loosely known as the Free Syrian Army, and it's starting to look more and more like an insurgency.

Not all soldiers who leave the army, however, decide to join these rebels. Those who simply escape the army altogether offer a rare glimpse into a military they say is committing unspeakable atrocities and a rebel force that's fighting back with its own brutality.

We can't tell you where Hussam and Rania live, but we can tell you they used to live in Syria's capital, Damascus.

Hussam was a creative director at a small marketing company he founded with a friend. Rania was the morning host for a radio station owned by the cousin of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Then came the protests all around Syria. Then came the phone call.

"The radio station called me, at home, and they said, 'Rania we have to say the truth,' " Rania says.

The rising civilian death toll in Syria is accompanied by mounting calls to arm the Syrian opposition. And Turkey, a NATO country that shares a long, rugged border with Syria, is often mentioned as a likely transit point.

Turkey has become increasingly critical of the Syrian regime, but Ankara is thus far reluctant to send significant arms across the border or use its large military to create a humanitarian corridor inside Syria.

Last February, a group of young people were arrested for spray-painting graffiti on the walls of their school in the southern Syrian city of Daraa. They were beaten and interrogated. A year ago this Sunday, people went out to protest those arrests. And so began the Syrian uprising — an uprising that in some parts of Syria has turned into an armed insurgency and seen government troops respond with untold brutality. In all, thousands of people have died, with no clear end in sight.

If you're trying to escape the turmoil in Syria for the calm in Jordan, you have two choices.

You can go the legal way. Just get in a car and try to drive across the border. But that's not very easy these days. The Syrian government isn't letting many people out.

Or you can try the illegal way. Wait until nightfall, climb through a barbed-wire fence. It sounds dodgy, but if you make it over, you'll actually be welcomed by the Jordanian army. Troops will take your name, give you a drink of water, let you rest.

The Syrian regime's heavy crackdown on dissent has led to a sharp plunge in relations with neighboring Turkey. But the regime does have its Turkish supporters — mainly members of the Alawite minority, the same Islamic sect Syria's ruling Assad family comes from. And that has resulted in complicated loyalties among some Turks, especially those along the border in southeastern Turkey's Hatay province.

In a nondescript apartment room in Turkey, just across the border from Syria, clouds of cigarette smoke drift toward the ceiling as Syrian opposition activists ponder how to keep people and supplies moving across the border.

Abu Jafaar is the alias of a Syrian smuggler who has been dodging Syrian army patrols for the past several months.

At a cafe in Turkey, near the border with Syria, Dr. Monzer Yazji steps out of his car in the parking lot and encounters a man with a bandaged left hand.

Yazji, a Syrian who now works in the U.S., examines Abu Hamad, a fellow Syrian who has fled the fighting in his homeland.

The doctor, a tall man with glasses and a trim graying beard, is becoming well-known among Syrian activists. Yazji has been periodically leaving his thriving practice in the Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas to coordinate emergency medical aid for Syria.

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