FROM Liz Sly
Ceasefire announced for Aleppo A glimmer of hope for thousands of lives in Aleppo. Damage in Christian quarter of Aelppo in Syria Photo: © Aid to the Church in Need Syrian forces were poised for a final sweep of eastern Aleppo, provoking urgent appeals from the UN, world leaders and aid agencies. Now Syrian rebels say an agreement's been reached with Russia for a ceasefire to allow evacuations. Liz Sly, Beirut Bureau Chief for the Washington Post , has more on the evacuation deal reached for last rebel zones in Syria’s ravaged Aleppo.
The Mosul offensive begins In Iraq, a long-awaited offensive has begun—to take back the northern city of Mosul from the4 Islamic State. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has called on residents to cooperate with advancing forces… but a million civilians trapped in the city may be in for a long siege.
Syria's fragile ceasefire In Geneva today, Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the latest agreement with Russia for a ceasefire in Syria. "There are consequences to bad behavior here. In addition, if the Assad regime later on decides to break this, then that's our last shot. There will be, you know, other alternatives available to other countries and ourselves and those will have to be determined in the future." Liz Sly is monitoring the action from Beirut, Lebanon for the Washington Post .
Iraqi Forces with US Help Attempt to Retake Fallujah from ISIS Some 50,000 civilians are said to be trapped in the Iraqi city of Fallujah after this week's launch of a major assault to re-take the city from ISIS. Shiite militia are fighting alongside Iraqi soldiers, and the US is conducting bombing raids — while keeping its distance from what's happening on the ground. Liz Sly, Middle East correspondent for the Washington Post , has an update.
Syrian Cease Fire Agreed to, but Skepticism Remains When is a peace agreement not a peace agreement? That’s the question today after the US, Russia and other parties called for a “temporary cessation” of hostilities in Syria’s ongoing civil war. Liz Sly is Beirut Bureau Chief for the Washington Post . She joins us from Southern Turkey, near the Syrian border.
Is Saudi Arabia Serious about Declaring War against Terror? Saudi Arabia says it's formed a coalition of 34 Muslim nations against ISIS, other terrorist groups and their "violent ideology." The US was surprised, but calls the announcement "welcome." Pakistan, one of 34 nations named as a partner, says it wasn't even consulted. Iran, Syria and Iraq weren't included at all, raising questions about the divide between Sunnis and Shiites. Is Saudi Arabia just responding to Western critics, diverting attention from warfare in Yemen or making a real bid for leadership in collective security?
How One Photo Has Become a Symbol of the Migrant and Refugee Crisis The photo of a young boy, drowned and washed ashore on a Turkish beach, has captured the world's attention. It's one of many such pictures — but this photo has become a striking emblem of the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe and the Middle East. And the photograph has revived an old debate about the use of graphic images in the media.
Turkey Launches Airstrikes against ISIS Targets in Syria Early this morning Turkish fighter jets struck several command centers for the Islamic State in nearby Syria. It's Turkey's first direct engagement in the fight against ISIS, after years of resistance despite criticism from its NATO allies. In another diplomatic change, Turkey has also given permission for US warplanes to use two Turkish bases to target ISIS in Syria, as we hear from Liz Sly, Beirut bureau chief for the Washington Post .
Curfew Lifts and Baghdad Is Partying Again Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has lifted the nighttime curfew in the city of Baghdad, imposed by the US military 12 years ago. "Baghdad feels different." Bars, nightclubs and beauty salons have reopened, and the streets are full of people. That's according to Liz Sly, Beirut Bureau Chief for the Washington Post , who's back in Iraq to cover what she calls a "surprising revival" of the normal life so violently disrupted more than a decade ago.
The Islamic State Is Making Advances Despite Air Strikes Airstrikes by the US and other countries have not yet slowed advances by the so-called Islamic State–ISIS or ISIL. One place threatened by the brutal extremists is Kobane, a Kurdish town in Syria near the border with Turkey. We’ll hear reports and analysis of how the warfare is going.
The Islamic State Has Oil and Momentum… How Far Will It Go? The Islamic State controls so much of Iraq and Syria it’s able to finance its self-styled “caliphate” by selling oil. It’s a real threat to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad—complicating US efforts to help so-called “moderates.” What is the Islamic State? Does it pose a threat beyond Syria and its civil war? After 3 years, 170,000 casualties and 9 million refugees, Syria’s civil war has become bloodier than ever. Last week, 700 died in one battle between the government of Bashar al-Assad and the Islamic State. The object was control of a natural gas field near Homs.
A Confident Assad Sworn in for Another 7 Years as Syria’s President President Obama once said Syria’s President Bashar al Assad would “have to go,” but today he was sworn in again in Damascus for a third 7-year term. Despite three years of civil war with a death toll of 170,000, his inaugural speech on state television sounded more confident than ever. Liz Sly is Bureau Chief in Beirut, Lebanon for the Washington Post.
Insurgent Fighters Claim One of Iraq's Largest Cities Since the US withdrew from Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has made mostly unchecked advances. Even al Qaeda has criticized it for "extreme methods." Today, it reportedly has seized control of part of Mosul, one of Iraq's major cities. Liz Sly is the Washington Post 's bureau chief in Beirut, where she's coordinating coverage.
Al Qaeda Dumps Its Syria Affiliate Since 911, al Qaeda has been synonymous with brutal terrorism in the interests of establishing an Islamic caliphate throughout the Muslim world. Today, its current leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has dissociated al Qaeda from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which he calls too extreme. Liz Sly is Beirut Bureau Chief for the Washington Post .
Twelve Years after 9-11, How Big a Threat Is al Qaeda? Should we be afraid of al Qaeda? Officials in Yemen say they thwarted a plan by al Qaeda to seize a major port and kidnap or kill workers there. It's not clear how real that threat was. But the news came days after the US and Britain closed embassies across the Middle East and North Africa, fearing a terrorist attack. Meanwhile, hundreds of prisoners, including al Qaeda operatives, have escaped from prisons in Iraq, Libya and Pakistan. How have power vacuums in places like Iraq, Syria and Yemen created openings for al Qaeda to grow? Two years after the killing of Osama Bin Laden, how powerful is al Qaeda?
Is Syria's Civil War Going Global? Syria tops the agenda as Presidents Obama and Putin meet at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland. After months of non-involvement, the US has promised some rebels small arms and ammunition , to be coordinated by General Salim Idriss, who heads the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army. But the rebels say they still don't know what to expect. Here at home, advocates of intervention accuse Obama of being led by events, while supporters say the situation is too uncertain to formulate policy goals. If Bashar al Assad stays in power, what are the consequences for Syria and the rest of the Middle East? Is it too late to force him to negotiate in good faith?
Human Rights in the era of Donald Trump President Trump’s UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, said today the US might pull out of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. Serious violators of human rights are members of the Council itself–and a US resignation could make things worse. Later on today’s show, now that he’s into his second term, comedian turned US Senator Al Franken is telling jokes again.
Will the Senate write a healthcare bill in secret? While Democrats and Republicans argue White House relations with Russia, another question is being decided behind closed doors: who gets help buying health insurance and who doesn't? We hear how the pros and cons are being shrouded in secrecy.
What is Trump's plan for Middle East peace? On his first foreign tour, President Trump has promised "peace" between Israel and the Palestinians. Are there any details for re-starting talks that have been stalled for the past three years?
The longest US war: Will Trump send more troops to Afghanistan? The Trump White House is divided over the Pentagon's request for more troops in Afghanistan—where the US has been fighting for the past 16 years. Is there a formula -- either for "victory" or a political settlement? Is there an end in sight for America's longest war?