July 4, 2016
BERLIN - Lilas Al Loulou was an English literature major in Damascus and a political activist during the Arab Spring uprising. Firas Ibrahim owned a photo studio in Damascus that made wedding videos. Ahmed Samer ran a small business in Aleppo with his wife that sold air conditioners and fridges. All three fled Syria's civil war and made the risky sea journey to Greece and onward to Germany in 2015. They don't fit the fearsome stereotypes that drove the Brexit vote and have propelled populist parties across Europe.
April 19, 2016
12 MONKEYS 9 p.m. Monday, Syfy Season 2 premiere of the time-travel drama inspired by the 1995 movie. CONTAINMENT 9 p.m. Tuesday, CW57 Families and friends are separated as Atlanta is placed under quarantine in an attempt to contain a deadly virus in a new limited series adapted from a Belgian drama. OUTSIDERS 9 p.m Tuesday, WGN America Season 1 finale of the drama that stars Philly's David Morse as the would-be leader of an outlaw clan fighting to stay on the mountain it's occupied for generations.
March 5, 2016 |
As the 2016 campaign grows ever more grotesque, consider this: The next U.S. president will still be confronting an ISIS caliphate in Syria and Iraq when he or she takes office. Hint: "Bomb the s- out of them" (the mantra for you-know-who, as well as his Texas opponent) won't suffice to destroy the jihadis. Even if a serious candidate wins, the new president will still face an unholy ISIS mess. Here are three key things about the struggle for Syria that any presidential wanna-be should keep in mind: One. Contrary to popular wisdom, the future of Syria and the fractured Mideast will be shaped on the battlefield, not at the negotiating table.
March 1, 2016 |
State of the world, Year Eight of Barack Obama: China. In the South China Sea, on a speck of land of disputed sovereignty far from its borders, China has just installed antiaircraft batteries and stationed fighter jets. This after China landed planes on an artificial island it created on another disputed island chain (the Spratlys, claimed by the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam). These facilities now function as forward bases for Beijing to challenge seven decades of American naval dominance of the Pacific Rim. "China is clearly militarizing the South China Sea," the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command told Congress on Tuesday.
February 12, 2016 |
Vladimir Putin seems to be the only leader who knows what he's doing in Syria. While the Obama team was desperately pursuing a diplomatic solution to the conflict, Putin was busy with more practical matters: cementing his proxy Bashar al-Assad in power by military force. Backed by indiscriminate Russian airpower, Syrian troops and foreign fighters trained by Iran have nearly encircled Syria's second-largest city, Aleppo, a key rebel base. At Thursday's talks in Munich, the United States, Russia and other powers agreed on a vague "cessation of hostilities" - not a formal ceasefire - that supposedly will take place in a week.
December 5, 2014 |
When Staffan de Mistura took over as special United Nations representative on the Syria crisis - with the task of ending the violence - he faced a mission impossible. Three years of brutal civil war have smashed the country to bits, with major cities reduced to rubble. About 200,000 Syrians have died, eight million (out of a population of 22 million) are internally displaced, and three million are refugees in neighboring countries. The chaos has spawned ISIS. De Mistura's two predecessors, both distinguished diplomats, gave up after failing to jump-start a broad peace process in Geneva.
January 24, 2014 |
On a trip last month to the Turkish-Syrian border, I met an impressive young Syrian opposition journalist named Adnan Hadad, who had just fled Aleppo because he was being targeted by both the regime and al-Qaeda militants. When talks finally began in Switzerland Wednesday between the Syrian regime and opposition, a testy exchange between Hadad and Syrian Information Minister Omran Zoubi caught my eye. At a press conference, Hadad asked Zoubi to comment on the deadly barrel bombs being dropped by government planes on civilian neighborhoods in Aleppo.
December 23, 2013 |
GAZIANTEP, Turkey - The three young Syrian women had managed to escape from the rebel-held section of Aleppo for a few days' rest across the border in Turkey. Asma, 26, a university graduate in English literature, has been volunteering for the past two years as a nurse in a field hospital, treating civilian victims of the war, which has divided Aleppo into conflict zones held by the rebels and the regime. Salam, 30, and Islam, 28, sisters who were teachers before the war, are volunteers in an orphanage that shelters 650 children who lost parents in the fighting.
November 22, 2013 |
Two Syrian rebel commanders whom I interviewed a year ago have been in the news this month, and their stories are important. Abdul Kader Saleh, one of the most charismatic Syrian rebel leaders, was killed by a regime air strike in northern Syria last weekend. Saleh commanded the al-Tawheed Brigade, the most important rebel force in the crucial Aleppo region, with 10,000 fighters. His death came amid a wave of rebel setbacks, as regime forces advance on Aleppo. Then there is Col. Abdul Jabbar Akaidi, another key Aleppo commander, and a defector from the Syrian army, through whom U.S. officials had distributed much of the limited, nonlethal aid they provided to Syrian rebels in the north.
August 5, 2013 |
As brutal images of children killed in Syria's civil war flashed on a screen inside a gym at the Foundation for Islamic Education in Villanova on Saturday, a woman in a brilliant blue head scarf sat in the audience of 100 men and women and quietly sobbed. Born in Damascus 39 years ago, she lives in Valley Forge now, but still has family in the war-torn country. For reasons of their security, she asked to be identified only by her first name, Rabab. "I am a mother," Rabab said, explaining her tears.