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Entries in The Briefing (15)


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 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.


Syria Audio Analysis: An Opposition in Crisis? --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24

Moaz al-KhatibFollowing up our EA analysis, I spoke with Monocle 24's The Briefing yesterday about the tensions within the opposition, marked by the resignation of the head of the Syrian National Coalition, Moaz al-Khatib, and what happens next.

Listen to discussion, from 5:50 mark, on The Briefing's homepage, or in a pop-out window.

The take-away lines: "These events are a huge threat to the opposition and --- with the Arab League's meeting today, which could have recognised the Coalition as the representative of the Syrian people --- the timing is awful.The process has been stalled, and it may be undone, with no vision of what is to follow."

And this: "Meanwhile the key factor --- let's be honest here --- the key factor is what is happening on the ground in Syria. If the insurgents continues to make advances, the politics will have to follow that."


Syria Audio Analysis: The Damascus Mosque Bombing and What's Next --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24

I spoke with Monocle 24's The Briefing yesterday about the suicide bombing inside a Damascus mosque, which killed 49 people --- including the leading pro-regime Sunni cleric Mohammed Said Ramadan al-Bouti.

Listen to interview, from 6:48 mark, on The Briefing's homepage or in separate pop-out window.

We assess the attack: Was al-Bouti the target? Who is responsible? Is this a "sectarian" assault, as at the start of the Iraq civil war in 2006?

And then there are the ramifications and next steps --- can the Assad regime use the bombing to rally support against a menacing, immoral opposition? Can the opposition ensure that this incident does not halt the momentum of growing international support for it?


Syria Audio Analysis: Is Assad's Military Crumbling? --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24

With Syria's Grand Mufti calling for universal conscription of young men amid insurgent gains, I spoke with Monocle 24's The Briefing on Wednesday about the state of the Syrian military and the current situation in the cities and countryside.

The discussion starts around the 8-minute mark in this pop-out window.

The take-away point? While President Assad's military may be under pressure and his position may be eroding, this is far from a final stage in the Syrian conflict.


Syria Audio Feature: The Questions Beyond the Friends of Syria Meeting --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24

Opposition head Moaz al-KhatibJust after the conclusion of the Friends of Syria meeting yesterday, I worked with Monocle 24's The Briefing to assess the significance and look at the important questions that follow.

Listen to discussion from 6:11 on The Briefing homepage or in a pop-out window.

In particular, we discussed the public promise by the US of $60 million in "non-lethal" aid to get to the not-so-public story of the arming of the insurgency.

The Syrian National Coalition wants a protected zone in the northwest to establish a de facto Government, but how far will Washington and its allies go in support of that, as well as the weapons supply to the insurgents in the south?


Iran Audio Analysis: The Downfall of Ahmadinejad, The Resumption of Nuclear Talks --- Scott Lucas with the BBC and Monocle 24

I spoke with Monocle 24's The Briefing and BBC Radio 4's The World Tonight yesterday about the rush of developments from Iran --- the humiliation of President Ahmadinejad in Parliament, the arrest of his senior advisor Saeed Mortazavi, and the agreement to resume nuclear talks with the 5+1 Powers.

The BBC Radio 4 coverage begins at the 35:33 mark. My interview starts at 37:33.

The Monocle 24 interview ---- listen on The Briefing homepage or in a pop-out window --- begins at the 13:39 mark.

Take-away lines: "Ahmadinejad has effectively been removed as a political force. He is finished." ---- "This attack on Ahmadinejad was not just carried out by [Speaker of Parliament Ali] Larijani. It has the blessing of the Supreme Leader."

"We are not talking about a deal in the nuclear talks. What is significant is that, as long as the talks are alive, this keeps the military option off the table." --- "Sanctions can bring Iran to the table, but they cannot force an agreement."

"We now have to look to a different Iran, without Ahmadinejad on the scene."


Iran Audio Feature: How Serious is the Oil Crisis? --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24

Following the Iranian Minister of Oil's admission that oil exports fell 40% between March and December, I spoke with Monocle 24's The Briefing about the economic situation and the political consequences: could this crisis lead to the fall of the regime?

The discussion starts at the 11:16 mark.


Bahrain Audio Feature: Why the Detention of Photojournalist Ahmed Humaidan Matters --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24

See also Bahrain Photo Special: The Life, Work, and Detention of Photojournalist Ahmed Humaidan

I spoke with Monocle 24's The Briefing on Thursday about last week's abduction of award-winning photojournalist Ahmed Humaidan by 15 plainclothes agents and his detention, now in Dry Dock Prison.

But why does the imprisonment of yet another journalist, following the jailings and deaths of others? I spoke about that in the context of continuing protests, repression, and the regime's claims of "reform".

The discussion begins at the 13:05 mark.