1. Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Dexter Filkins explains on today’s Fresh Air how the Iranian Quds Force has been propping up the Assad regime in Syria:

If you stand back a little bit, if you remember say, December/January of this year, Assad was on the ropes, he was teetering, it looked like he was going to collapse. His government was steadily losing ground to the rebels and I think what happened — it’s pretty clear by the evidence that the Iranian regime, which values their friendship with Assad very greatly, for many reasons, woke up and hit the alarm bell.
You can sort of watch the number of [Iranian] supply flights that were going in with troops, with ammunition, with money, with everything, just started increasing greatly. So instead of a couple days a week it became every day, all the time, and that has been the decisive factor in solidifying and probably preventing the collapse of the Assad regime. So the Iranians and the Quds Force are doing a whole array of things. They’re down on the ground, so they have military advisers that are getting killed in the fight.


image via NYT View in High-Res

    Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Dexter Filkins explains on today’s Fresh Air how the Iranian Quds Force has been propping up the Assad regime in Syria:

    If you stand back a little bit, if you remember say, December/January of this year, Assad was on the ropes, he was teetering, it looked like he was going to collapse. His government was steadily losing ground to the rebels and I think what happened — it’s pretty clear by the evidence that the Iranian regime, which values their friendship with Assad very greatly, for many reasons, woke up and hit the alarm bell.

    You can sort of watch the number of [Iranian] supply flights that were going in with troops, with ammunition, with money, with everything, just started increasing greatly. So instead of a couple days a week it became every day, all the time, and that has been the decisive factor in solidifying and probably preventing the collapse of the Assad regime. So the Iranians and the Quds Force are doing a whole array of things. They’re down on the ground, so they have military advisers that are getting killed in the fight.

    image via NYT

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  1. This is the Middle East, you think you know something and it just spins off into infinity, or it just dissolves into the shadows. So what you think you knew is suddenly something else a few seconds later.

    — 

    Dexter Filkins, reporter for The New Yorker is on the show today

    Filkins is an expert of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and he explains to Terry Gross that even he gets confused by the “always-turning” stories behind the wars and political operations.

    Today he talks about Iran's involvement in Syria, especially the Quds Force led by Qassem Suleimani.

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    Dexter Filkins

    The New Yorker

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  1. Tomorrow:  Dexter Filkins, reporter for The New Yorker talks about Iran’s involvement in Syria and Iran’s possible motives and objectives. He speaks about Iran’s Quds Force and what they’re doing on the ground in Syria.
His 2008 book “The Forever War" was a National Bestseller. It explores the wars following 9/11 and the human cost of America’s conflict with Islamic fundamentalism.



photo of Syria via the Washington Post View in High-Res

    Tomorrow:  Dexter Filkins, reporter for The New Yorker talks about Iran’s involvement in Syria and Iran’s possible motives and objectives. He speaks about Iran’s Quds Force and what they’re doing on the ground in Syria.


    His 2008 book “The Forever War" was a National Bestseller. It explores the wars following 9/11 and the human cost of America’s conflict with Islamic fundamentalism.

    photo of Syria via the Washington Post

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    interview

    Dexter Filkins

    the new yorker

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  1. Robert Malley of the International Crisis Grouptalks to Terry Gross about how the war in Syria is changing the understanding of borders in the region:

We really need to change our mental grid, our political compass. This is not a war that is being fought by nation-states. Borders are being erased. Borders are becoming liquid in a way and … Hezbollah’s fighting in Syria. We could also say that some Sunnis in Lebanon are fighting in Syria as well. Some Sunni rebels are firing back into Lebanon against Hezbollah targets. Iraqi Shiites are fighting on behalf of the regime, just as Iraqi Sunnis are trying to help their coreligionists in Syria. So I think you have to think of Lebanon, Syria and Iraq as one giant integrated area of conflict in which national boundaries count much less than sectarian concessional boundaries.
View in High-Res

    Robert Malley of the International Crisis Grouptalks to Terry Gross about how the war in Syria is changing the understanding of borders in the region:

    We really need to change our mental grid, our political compass. This is not a war that is being fought by nation-states. Borders are being erased. Borders are becoming liquid in a way and … Hezbollah’s fighting in Syria. We could also say that some Sunnis in Lebanon are fighting in Syria as well. Some Sunni rebels are firing back into Lebanon against Hezbollah targets. Iraqi Shiites are fighting on behalf of the regime, just as Iraqi Sunnis are trying to help their coreligionists in Syria. So I think you have to think of Lebanon, Syria and Iraq as one giant integrated area of conflict in which national boundaries count much less than sectarian concessional boundaries.

  2. Fresh Air

    Interviews

    Robert Malley

    Syria

    International Crisis Group

  1. This has become not just a war within Syria. It has become a regional, sectarian civil war. Perhaps the best way to put it is to say that what was a war in Syria with regional spillover has now become a regional war with a Syrian focus.

    — Robert Malley of the International Crisis Group talks with Terry Gross about the expansion of the war in Syria.

  2. Fresh Air

    Interviews

    Robert Malley

    Syria

    International Crisis Group

  1. Here’s a link to today’s interview with New York Times journalist C.J. Chivers about the situation in Syria. Chivers has spent much of the past year with rebels in the country and you can read his reports for the Times here.
Damascus from above by rajarajaraja via Flickr

    Here’s a link to today’s interview with New York Times journalist C.J. Chivers about the situation in Syria. Chivers has spent much of the past year with rebels in the country and you can read his reports for the Times here.

    Damascus from above by rajarajaraja via Flickr

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    Fresh Air

    Interviews

    CJ Chivers

    Syria

    New York Times

  1. Tomorrow on the show, Terry is talking to journalist C.J. Chivers about reporting he has been doing on Syria for The New York Times. Chivers is also the author of The Gun, that traces how the AK-47 spread around the world. Terry spoke with Chivers in 2010, when that book came out:

On why child soldiers favor AK-47s:
"It’s out there. And the weapon that’s out there is the weapon that tends to get used. But the other reason is the design. It’s very, very simple. It’s almost intuitive. You can take it apart very quickly and put it back together just as quickly. It’s simple to clean. It’s simple to maintain. Most of the Kalashnikovs out there are very well made for the actual conditions of war. It has an excellent protective finish. It’s chromed on the inside of its barrel and its chamber. All of these things mean that if you’re not particularly attentive in caring for it, it’s still going to last and it’s still going to work."
View in High-Res

    Tomorrow on the show, Terry is talking to journalist C.J. Chivers about reporting he has been doing on Syria for The New York Times. Chivers is also the author of The Gunthat traces how the AK-47 spread around the world. Terry spoke with Chivers in 2010, when that book came out:

    On why child soldiers favor AK-47s:

    "It’s out there. And the weapon that’s out there is the weapon that tends to get used. But the other reason is the design. It’s very, very simple. It’s almost intuitive. You can take it apart very quickly and put it back together just as quickly. It’s simple to clean. It’s simple to maintain. Most of the Kalashnikovs out there are very well made for the actual conditions of war. It has an excellent protective finish. It’s chromed on the inside of its barrel and its chamber. All of these things mean that if you’re not particularly attentive in caring for it, it’s still going to last and it’s still going to work."

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    Fresh Air

    Interviews

    C.J. Chivers

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    The Gun

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    Coming Up

  1. In some ways, the region is topsy-turvy and it preceded what happened in Syria. Syria is bringing it really to light [that] all the alliances — or so many of the alliances that we were familiar with — are things of the past, and this is something that I think the United States is going to have to cope with and deal with. … In Syria, you have obviously countries that are theocratic countries … like Saudi Arabia … that are certainly far from being democratic … that are on the side of those who are rising up against President Assad, but they’re also supporting the Salafists in Syria, who are not rising up for the sake of democracy, but for a very different purpose. … Then you have a country like Iran which is backing not just a secular regime or semi-secular regime in Syria, but one that has repressed its own Islamists, but backing it because of an age-old alliance between those two countries, and you have an organization like Hezbollah…which is backing the regime in Syria even though its former ally in this axis of resistance against Israel, Hamas, is opposing the regime.

    So, I think, the fault lines have become slightly clearer but they’re fault lines that are not democrats versus non-democrats. Although many Syrians are rising up because they want to change the nature of the regime, the fault line is very much Sunni against Shiite; it’s Persian-Iranian against Arabs. That’s why a number of these alliances seem to us at least as Americans quite unnatural. … The region has become really a smorgasbord in terms of its alliances, and … something this unnatural just can’t end well because these alliances are not clear cut, they don’t make sense in terms of the political logic, they are temporary alliances, they are alliances of convenience.

    — Robert Malley, International Crisis Group’s program director for the Middle East and North Africa, on why the alliances among Middle Eastern countries are difficult for Americans to untangle

  2. Robert Malley

    International Crisis Group

    Fresh Air

    Syria

  1. They [Salafists] are very, very restrictive in the way they interpret Islam, they have a very specific ideology … you see them as probably 30-40 percent of all the fighting that happens in Syria. …Why? Because most of the support is coming again from the Gulf countries, from Saudi, from Qatar, who really espouse these ideologies. And again, they [Syrian rebels] really have to take money from these countries because no one else is giving them money. I’ve met Syrian rebels who grow beards, who espouse this very conservative radical rhetoric when they speak. In reality, they drink, they take drugs, they have nothing to do with Islam, but they have to adopt this ideology to get money and support.

    — Ghaith Abdul-Ahad on Syrian rebels posing as Salafists, followers of an ultra-conservative sect of Islam. He reported for the PBS Frontline documentary, The Battle for Syria.

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    FrontlinePBS

  1. Tomorrow: We talk to Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, a correspondent for The Guardian, about the reporting he did for the Frontline documentary, The Battle for Syria.


    Photography by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad for the Guardian

  2. Syria

    Ghaith Abdul-Ahad

    Fresh Air

  1. Heartbroken over the news that New York Times reporter Anthony Shadid died in Syria yesterday. Shadid was on Fresh Air six times, most recently this past December, where he talked about covering the Arab Spring. We’ll be devoting a portion of the show today to remember him.
Update 10:50 AM: The entire first half of the show will rebroadcast portions of Shadid’s December 2011 conversation on Fresh Air. Shadid, a frequent FA guest, suffered a fatal asthma attack yesterday in Syria, where he was reporting on the political uprising. The two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner was just 43-years-old, and leaves behind a wife and two small children. View in High-Res

    Heartbroken over the news that New York Times reporter Anthony Shadid died in Syria yesterday. Shadid was on Fresh Air six times, most recently this past December, where he talked about covering the Arab Spring. We’ll be devoting a portion of the show today to remember him.

    Update 10:50 AM: The entire first half of the show will rebroadcast portions of Shadid’s December 2011 conversation on Fresh Air. Shadid, a frequent FA guest, suffered a fatal asthma attack yesterday in Syria, where he was reporting on the political uprising. The two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner was just 43-years-old, and leaves behind a wife and two small children.

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    new york times

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    arab spring

  1. On Wednesday’s Fresh Air, Anthony Shadid talks extensively about his reporting in the Middle East, including Syria, where many journalists have been denied entry visas. Shadid and photographer Moises Saman crossed the border on motorcycles along what he calls “a lawless strip of terrain” in order to get across the border and cover the protests.

Photo: Moises Saman for The New York Times. The rest of Saman’s images can be found here. View in High-Res

    On Wednesday’s Fresh Air, Anthony Shadid talks extensively about his reporting in the Middle East, including Syria, where many journalists have been denied entry visas. Shadid and photographer Moises Saman crossed the border on motorcycles along what he calls “a lawless strip of terrain” in order to get across the border and cover the protests.

    Photo: Moises Saman for The New York Times. The rest of Saman’s images can be found here.

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    moises saman

    photography

    syria

  1. In March, veteran foreign correspondent Anthony Shadid and three other journalists were held and beaten by security forces in Libya. On today’s Fresh Air, Shadid talks about his experiences in Libya and why he decided to continue reporting from conflict zones. In the past year, he’s covered the Arab uprisings in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Bahrain and Tunisia. Before that, he covered the Iraq War for nearly a decade

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  1. To reclaim their “honor,” families in Syria have been known to kill raped female members. Even if families allow such women to live, they are not eligible to marry.

    “We sat and discussed that we want to change this. We don’t want to change just the regime in Syria, but also this kind of stuff. So we will marry them in front of everyone,” said Ibrahim Kayyis, a 32-year-old baker from Jisr al-Shugour.

     

  2. syria

    washington post

  1. Tomorrow’s Fresh Air: Democracy movements are sweeping across the Middle East. But the dramatic changes in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Syria have not yet come to the West Bank. If and when that does occur, it could be a game-changer for Israel and the United States according to Robert Malley. He’s the program director for the Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group. View in High-Res

    Tomorrow’s Fresh Air: Democracy movements are sweeping across the Middle East. But the dramatic changes in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Syria have not yet come to the West Bank. If and when that does occur, it could be a game-changer for Israel and the United States according to Robert Malley. He’s the program director for the Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group.

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