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Entries in Monocle 24 (58)


Syria Audio Analysis: The Real Importance of the "Russian Missiles to Syria" Story

On Monocle 24's The Daily on Thursday night, I discussed the latest rumours and claims over the Russian shipment of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Syria to get to the real significance of the story.

Listen from the 7:41 mark on The Daily's homepage or in a pop-out window

The take-away line? "The S-300 story is more important as a political game --- with the "West" trying to put Russia in a corner and Moscow standing firm --- than as a military development."


Syria Audio Analysis: Will Europe Give Arms to the Insurgency?

As European Union foreign ministers met today to discuss the lifting of the arms embargo on the Syrian insurgency, I spoke with Monocle 24's The Briefing about the immediate situation and longer-term prospects.

Listen to discussion from the 6-minute mark on The Briefing's homepage or in a pop-out window

1. What is the current position among Western countries --- the US, Britain, France, and other European countries --- regarding arming of the insurgents?

2. What effect does fear of "extremism" have on the arming of the opposition?

3. What is the objective of increased armaments --- pressuring President Assad or overthrowing him?

4. What impact would the EU's lifting of the embargo have?


Turkey Audio Feature: Kurdish Fighters Withdraw From Turkey To Iraq

A PKK fighter works on her laptop after arriving in the northern Iraqi city of Dohuk on 14 May 2013, after leaving Turkey as part of a peace drive with Ankara. (Photo: AFP -Safin Hamed)

EA's Scott Lucas spoke with Monocle 24's The Daily on Thursday night, discussing the implications for Turkey after the first group of militants from the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) withdrew from southeast Turkey and entered Iraq, at the behest of their leader, Abdullah Ocalan --- who is serving a life sentence in Turkey --- and as part of a peace plan aimed to end three decades of conflict.

Click to read more ...


Syria Audio Analysis: Why The Insurgency is More than "Jihadists" and "Cannibals"

Speaking with Monocle 24's The Briefing this afternoon, I faced the question if the West was distancing itself from the insurgency because they are "jihadists" and "cannibals".

Listen from 5:53 mark on The Briefing's homepage or in a separate pop-out window

I replied that the issues are far more complex than backing of Al Qa'eda-affiliated extremists and flesh-eating fighters.

1. The US and Britain are trying to get a political conference for a transitional government in which President Assad has no role --- and are pressuring Russia for this.

2. If this is not possible, Washington and London are considering, but are still undecided, about support of a no-fly zone and arming of the insurgents "in an attempt to remove the Assad regime or to contain it in a few areas".


Syria Audio Analysis: Have US & Britain Changed Their Lines?

EA's Scott Lucas spoke with Monocle 24's The Briefing this afternoon about the latest US and British rhetoric on Syria.

Listen from 17:26 on The Briefing homepage or in a separate pop-out window

In a week when British Prime Minister David Cameron met Russian leader Vladimir Putin and then US President Barack Obama, have Washington and London moved from support of the insurgency to a political accommodation with the regime?

And what of others involved in the conflict --- for example, why is Iran talking so tough this week?


Syria Audio Analysis: The Significance of the Israeli Airstrikes --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24

I spoke this morning, along with correspondent Daniella Peled, on Monocle 24's The Globalist about the details and consequences of Israel's airstrikes inside Syria this weekend.

Listen from 7:09 mark --- with my contribution from 10:20 --- on The Globalist's homepage or in separate pop-out window

Take-away points:

1. A lot of the supposed information on the airstrikes --- such as Israel targeting weapons like Iranian-made Fateh 110 missiles or Israel acting without notifying the US --- is misleading or incorrect;

1. "Everyone --- the regime, the insurgency, regime supporters like Iran, opposition supporters like the US, Turkey, and Arab States --- has to re-calculate strategy in light of these attacks";

3. "But fundamentally, this does not change the calculus: is Assad going to help firm or step down? Are the opposition and insurgency going to be able to unify to help build internationa support?"

4. "The Israelis are trying to degrade Assad's military capabilities, which just happens to help the insurgents if they decide to make a push on Damascus."

I also talk about Sunday's curious report that a United Nations investigator has claimed "suspicions" of insurgent use of the nerve agent sarin.


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: Is a Lasting Assad Regime Better than the Current Situation? --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24

I spoke with Monocle 24's The Briefing yesterday about the political and military situation in Syria, framed by the question, "An end game seems as distant as ever --- should questions be asked in the West now about what seems to be a misguided confidence that Assad would eventually go? Will be continued instability be a lot worse than a continuation of the Assad regime?"

Listen from the 6:39 mark on The Briefing's homepage or in a separate pop-out window

My response begins with a reply to the challenge that a lasting Assad regime is the best option:

That would be just as mistaken as people who said he would fall within a few weeks.

To simply say that it would be better for the Assad regime to continue would be almost blind to the reasons why the protests started in March 2011. It would be blind to the fact that, for the largest part, it is the regime which is responsible for the tens of thousands of deaths since then.


Iraq Audio Analysis: The Political Story Behind This Week's Deaths --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24

I spoke with Monocle 24's The Daily last night about Tuesday's fighting --- following a raid by security forces on a protest camp --- which killed at least 27 people in Hawija, near Kirkuk in northern Iraq.

Listen from the 7:42 mark on The Daily homepage or in a pop-out window

The discussion began with the provocative questions, "How deep does the sectarian schism run? Is this a return to civil war?"

To deal with this, I focused on the context for the event to look at what is likely to follow: the months of escalating, mainly-Sunni demonstrations against the al-Maliki Government; the sparks for the protests last December; and the issues that persist.

My take-away line from Monocle 24's final question, "What can we do about tbis?"....

"Nothing. The change will have to come from Iraqis themselves."


Bahrain Audio Feature: Protests, the Grand Prix, and a Gloomy Future --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24

I spoke with Monocle 24's The Globalist this morning about this weekend's Formula 1 Grand Prix, protests by some opposition groups, and the political future.

Listen to discussion from 7:40 mark on The Globalist homepage or in a pop-out window

The take-away lines: 1) the regime, unless there is significant pressure, will not carry out reforms; 2) the opposition --- some of which are inside the National Dialogue, some of whom are outside --- are too fragmented to exert this pressure; and 3) the international community, notably the US, will also not be exerting any influence to push the regime beyond the appearance of the Dialogue.

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