syria

Syria map
PUBLIC DOMAIN / CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY'S WORLD FACTBOOK

On Sunday the American military shot down the first Syrian warplane since civil war erupted in Syria six years ago. The action has prompted condemnation from Russia, the latest in tensions with the United States. Here to discuss what is happening in Syria and its ramifications is Dr. Jim Steiner of the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the University at Albany. WAMC's Alan Chartock hosts.

A scene from Hell on Earth.
Junger/Quested

In his journalism, books and films, Sebastian Junger is often attracted to extremes — as in projects like The Perfect Storm, Tribe, and the Oscar-nominated Restrepo. His haunting new documentary with Nick Quested is called Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS. The movie shows the human stakes of a civil war that has killed 400,000 people and displaced even more. It also explores the complicated political picture that has led to few good options in this volatile region. Hell on Earth airs Sunday on National Geographic Channel.

Herbert London: Fraying Alliances In The Middle East

Apr 12, 2017

Alliances in the byzantine Middle East have a life span roughly equivalent to how long it takes for the ink to dry. In 2013, when the Obama administration invited the Russians into Syria to monitor and control Bassar Assad’s use of poison gas, Putin used this occasion to cement an alliance with Iran, the Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah. From the standpoint of the parties involved, this alliance made eminent sense.

Map of Syria
Public Domain / Central Intelligence Agency's World Factbook.

The Syrian Civil War started in March 2011 and has become one of the most difficult problems for the international community. The conflict involves the Russian-backed Syrian government and many opposing forces, some of which the United States considers terrorist organizations. Here to discuss the complexities in the Syrian War is Dr. Jim Steiner of the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the University at Albany. Jim is the school’s program coordinator for homeland security, cyber security and emergency management. He served in the CIA from 1972 to 2005 focusing on Soviet defense and economic issues. WAMC’s Alan Chartock hosts.

Elliot Ackerman is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Green on Blue, is based out of Istanbul, where he has covered the Syrian Civil War since 2013. His writings have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, and The New York Times Magazine, among other publications, and his stories have been included in The Best American Short Stories. He is both a former White House Fellow and Marine, and served five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan where he received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for Valor, and the Purple Heart.

In his new novel, Dark at the Crossing, Haris Abadi is a man in search of a cause. An Arab American with a conflicted past, he is now in Turkey, attempting to cross into Syria and join the fight against Bashar al-Assad's regime.

But he is robbed before he can make it, and is taken in by Amir, a charismatic Syrian refugee and former revolutionary, and Amir's wife, Daphne, a sophisticated beauty haunted by grief. As it becomes clear that Daphne is also desperate to return to Syria, Haris's choices become ever more wrenching: Whose side is he really on? Is he a true radical or simply an idealist? 

This morning we will talk about Women Against War's Annual Gathering – coming up on February 8th in Loudonville, NY. Their featured speaker is author & activist Phyllis Bennis to discuss ISIS, Syria & the US in the Middle East. 

Bennis is the author of Understanding ISIS & the New Global War on Terror: A Primer.  She is Director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., a key resource for peace activists. 

She has served as an informal adviser to several top UN officials on the Middle East and UN democratization issues. In 2001 she helped found and remains active with the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. She has recently joined the national board of Jewish Voice for Peace. 

For those who believe President Obama is a lame duck simply waiting for his departure from the White House and the commencement of wealth pursuits, there is a likely surprise coming. The president has signaled that he may seek a U.N. Security Council Resolution which embodies a Palestinian state with pre-1967 lines, notwithstanding a different stance by President Elect Donald Trump.

The Islamic State is one of the most lethal and successful jihadist groups in modern history, surpassing even al-Qaeda. Thousands of its followers have marched across Syria and Iraq, subjugating millions, enslaving women, beheading captives, and daring anyone to stop them. Thousands more have spread terror beyond the Middle East under the Islamic State's black flag.

How did the Islamic State attract so many followers and conquer so much land? By being more ruthless, more apocalyptic, and more devoted to state-building than its competitors.

Based almost entirely on primary sources in Arabic-including ancient religious texts and secret al-Qaeda and Islamic State letters that few have seen - William McCants' The ISIS Apocalypse explores how religious fervor, strategic calculation, and doomsday prophecy shaped the Islamic State's past and foreshadow its dark future.

President Barack Obama Monday signed into law a bill sponsored by a New York congressman that aims to protect Syria’s cultural heritage.

Herbert London: The Russians Are Going

Mar 23, 2016

There was a Hollywood film of yesteryear with the title “The Russians Are Coming.” If one were making that film today it might be called “The Russians Are Going.” In a move that has surprised many in our State Department, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the withdrawal of the “main part” of the Russian military contingent from Syria. He noted that the principal tasks “for the armed forces were accomplished,” i.e. stabilizing the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

  From Syria to Iraq to Afghanistan, there are trouble spots in much of the Islamic world.

In today’s Congressional Corner, Connecticut Representative Elizabeth Esty tells WAMC’s Alan Chartock about what she learned on a recent trip to Afghanistan. 

 Pulitzer Prize winning Washington Post reporter Joby Warrick and author of The Triple Agent has a new book, Black Flags: The Rise of Isis. Which is a dramatic account explaining how the strain of militant Islam behind the Islamic State first arose in a remote a Jordanian prison and spread with the unwitting aid of two American Presidents. 

Sana Mustafa
Sana Mustafa

  Sana Mustafa has neither seen nor heard from her father in more than 800 days, in fact she does not even know if he is still alive. Sana is from Syria and came to Bard College for what was expected to be a short time, but she has remained at the school as her homeland is caught in a bloody civil war. Sana Mustafa speaks to WAMC News about her life, her family and Syria.

  The Paris attacks horrified the world.

In today’s Congressional Corner, New York representative Sean Patrick Maloney tells WAMC’s Alan Chartock that the U.S. strategy against ISIS must be sharpened. 

Stephen Gottlieb: War In The Middle East

Nov 17, 2015

The terrorists’ explanation for ISIS’ involvement in the Paris attacks, is that it was in revenge for the French participation in the war in Syria. Another explanation is that the attack was a recruiting tool – they’re stalemated in Syria and they use victory and the dream of an Islamic state as a recruiting tool, so they pulled off an attack that would be heard around the world, to say to young Muslims, come help promote the dream. Actually the two explanations are not inconsistent – they can both be true in the minds of different people, and sometimes even in the minds of the same people. But the two theories point in different directions. The revenge theory suggests that it would be better to stay out. The recruitment theory points to the value of simply defeating them. Recruits need something attractive to attach themselves to and losers aren’t very attractive.

Photo of Syrian refugees at a Budapest railway station with police officer in foreground from September 2015.
Mstyslav Chernov/Wikimedia Commons

As the investigation into the Paris attacks continues, the politics are heating up stateside. Now, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin is criticizing several other governors — mostly Republican —  who are calling for a temporary halt to acceptance of Syrian refugees. 

Herbert London: The Syrian Negotiations

Nov 4, 2015

The projection of power doesn’t always solve problems. There are times when inaction is desirable. One might even make a case for U.S. withdrawal from the Middle East, albeit I do not make it and do not embrace it.

Herbert London: Russian Attacks On U.S. Backed Rebels

Oct 28, 2015

For several successive days Russian planes have targeted Syrian rebel troops backed by the Central Intelligence Agency. Even the recalcitrant Obama administration had to admit this is an intentional campaign to degrade U.S. efforts at deposing President Assad. According to official reports the Obama administration is “angry.”

Stephen Gottlieb: Good soldiers Know How To Play Chess

Oct 20, 2015

I’d like to start by stating my pride in WAMC and admiration of you, the listeners and members, who not only raised funds to keep the station on the air but also raised funds during the pledge break for the food bank, to help refugees and to retire pollution from the environment. That’s a lot to be proud of.

  The refugee crisis in Europe has confounded much of the world. 

In today’s Congressional Corner, Connecticut representative Joe Courtney tells WAMC’s Alan Chartock that his office worked with a Syrian refugee family a couple of years back.

David Nightingale: Zenobia (240 - 275?)

Sep 13, 2015

This essay is about Queen Zenobia of Syria.

The setting is Palmyra, a beautiful city on an oasis at the edge of the Syrian desert. While there is a Palmyra on the Erie Canal in NY State, not far from Rochester NY, the Palmyra that Zenobia grew up in is situated between a mountain and the Orontes river -- with a pleasant climate, palm trees, and fertile land for such crops as barley, olives, figs, pistachios.

   President Barack Obama gave an address this morning about the drone strike in Pakistan that killed hostages from U.S. and Italy.

To discuss that and other topics we welcome James Ketterer – the director of international academic initiatives at Bard College. He previously served as AMIDEAST country director in Egypt and has worked in government, academia and international development.

  In this morning's Roundtable Debrief on Syria and the crisis in the country, we're joined by President of AMIDEAST, Ambassador Theodore Kattouf. He's a former US ambassador to Syria and the United Arab Emirates. He's also served as a Middle East analyst at the US State Department.

He will be coming to the Hudson Valley to give a lecture for the World Affairs Council of the Mid-Hudson Valley. The talk will be April 8 at 7 pm at the Hancock Center at Marist College. The title of the talk is: "Charting a Path for US Policy toward Syria, ISIS and Across the Middle East."

While in the region he will also speak to students at Bard College about diplomacy and will attend an event at Vassar College.‬

2/18/15 Panel

Feb 18, 2015

   The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, SUNY at Albany journalism professor and investigative journalist, Rosemary Armao, and Associate Editor of The Times Union, Mike Spain.

Topics include: Obama on immigration, Syria announces possible truce, Warren-Clinton Meeting, Deblasio/Police, Trip to Mars, and stories from the Times Union.

1/20/15 Panel

Jan 20, 2015

 The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, Times Union Associate Editor Mike Spain & Albany Journalism Professor and Investigative Reporter, Rosemary Armao.

Topics include: State of the Union (and do we need one?), Rising economy boosts Obama’s standing, Diplomatic Efforts in Syria, Cuban Deportation, SONY Hacking, New England Patriots and Deflategate.

Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney
Courtesy of the Office of Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney

    Strikes against the Islamic State terror group are under way.

In today’s Congressional Corner, New York representative Sean Patrick Maloney tells WAMC’s Alan Chartock why he voted against the president’s plan.

U.S. Navy

President Obama finally delivered a presidential address in his strategy view of the war against ISIS. As a speech, it was admirable; as a strategy, it is questionable.

WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas

The worldwide terror threat ratchets upward with nations falling behind the U.S. to fight the so-called Islamic State. Closer to home, there are concerns about cyber-security and public corruption. The director of the FBI discussed those issues and more during a rare visit to Albany on Tuesday.

9/23/14 Panel

Sep 23, 2014

  Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, Times Union Associate Editor Mike Spain & Albany Journalism Professor and Investigative Reporter, Rosemary Armao.

Topics include:
Airstrikes
WH Intruder
Afghan Officers - Canada Border
Companies Tax Dodge
Religion in Politics Poll

9/12/14 Panel

Sep 12, 2014

    

  Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, leading expert in counter-terrorisim intelligence, Malcolm Nance, and University at Albany Journalism Professor and Investigative Reporter, Rosemary Armao.

Topics include:
ISIS al-qaeda update
Syrian Rebel Training
New Terror Link
Tepid Support

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