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Entries in Midori House (6)


Syria Audio Analysis: The "No Secular Fighters" Myth --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24

The media's sensationalised mangling of the Syrian conflict went from bad to worse last weekend with a New York Times article that asserted --- on the basis of little evidence and a distorted quote --- that there are "no secular fighters" left in Syria.

Listen from the 18-minute mark on the Midori House homepage or in a separate pop-out window.

This morning I dealt with questions from Monocle 24's Midori House about the article to deal with wider points: 1. The insurgency is a collection of many factions, some of which have "secular" outlooks and members. Asking "are there any secular rebels left?" --- from the New York Times' "reader-baiting" approach --- is just as ludicrous as asking "are there any Islamists" in the insurgency.

2. This article and others have been fed by the escalating myths that the Islamist faction Jabhat al-Nusra is "Al-Qa'eda linked" and is dominating the insurgency. To repeat: JAN is only one of many factions in the opposition and it is not tied to Al Qa'eda.

3. Nor does the myth of "radical Islamists" do us any good in appreciating the countries beyond Syria amid the "Arab Spring". The post-uprising Governments in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya do not fit that simplistic label.


Syria Audio Feature: Why Europe's "Embargo" on Arms to Insurgents is Not an Embargo --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24

I spoke with Monocle 24's Midori House last night about the European Union's three-month extension of its arms embargo on all Syrian groups, with some flexibility brought in for "non-lethal aid".

Listen to interview from the 5:40 mark

The story beyond the story: publicly the EU may be maintaining the line that it is not providing military support to the opposition, but some European States are aware of --- and may be involved in --- the efforts by other countries such as the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to get high-quality weapons to the insurgency.


Syria Audio Analysis: Swapping 2130 Civilian Prisoners for 48 Iranian "Pilgrims" --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24

Some of the released Iranians at a Damascus hotel today

I spoke this evening with Monocle 24's Midori House about the surprising news of the release of 2130 civilians in Syrian jails in exchange for the freeing of 48 Iranian men held by insurgents.

While information is still sketchy on the motives for the deal, we discussed the possible calculations of the insurgents and the regime --- look, in particular, to President Assad trying to hold on to Iranian backing --- and to the possible consequences: will today's development bring any significant change in the political and military situation? (Probably not.)

The item begins at the 4:58 mark. My contribution starts at 7:26.


Will Israel Attack Iran? --- Daniella Peled and Scott Lucas on Monocle 24

Daniella Peled, editor at the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, and I spoke with Monocle 24's Midori House last night about the possibility of Israeli military action against Iran, in light of the latest International Atomic Energy Agency report on Tehran's nuclear programme.

To listen to the discussion, go to Midori House's homepage, open the programme for 31/8, and start at the 6:35 mark.


Syria Audio Special: The Importance of the Damascus Bomb --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24

Smoke rising from Damascus this morning

I spoke with Monocle 24's Midori House this evening about the Damascus bombing and other events across Syria --- the conversation ranged from the impact upon President Assad to the impact upon the Syrian people. Take-away line, echoing EA's James Miller, "Beyond the bomb, the significance is in the damage to confidence in the regime."

To get to the discussion, click on the Midori House site and press Play for 18 July. The item begins at 6:43, with my contribution starting from 9:42.


Russia Audio Feature: Moscow's Manoeuvres Around the World --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24

Vladimir Putin & China's Hu JintaoAs Vladimir Putin joins other leaders in Beijing for a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organzation, I joined Monocle 24's Midori House last night to discuss Russia's current approach to the world --- including the Syrian crisis. the Iranian nuclear issue, the changing situation in Afghanistan, and relations with China and the US.

The 10-minute chat begins at the 5:36 mark.