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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

  • Geneva Talks "Already Dead" as Syria Faces Unprecedented Humanitarian Crisis, Imploding Opposition


    The United Nations is warning Syria has become the most dangerous crisis for global peace and security since World War II. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that the situation in Syria has "deteriorated beyond all imagination," while António Guterres, head of the U.N. refugee agency, has described it as "the most dangerous crisis for global peace and security since the Second World War." Ban has demanded that both sides stop fighting before attending a proposed conference to find a political solution to the conflict in January. We go to the Syrian-Turkish border to speak with Aitor Zabalgogeazkoa of Doctors Without Borders and with Independent correspondent Patrick Cockburn, whose latest report is "Starving in Syria: The Biggest Emergency in the U.N.’s History." Cockburn has reported extensively from Syria and recently returned from Iraq.

  • Patrick Cockburn: U.S. Turns Blind Eye as Saudis Fund Jihadists in Syrian Conflict


    To discuss the role of foreign powers fueling the ongoing conflict in Syria, we are joined by Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The Independent. "It is clearly a proxy war. This might have started off as a popular uprising in Syria, but by now it has four or five different conflicts wrapped into one," Cockburn explains. "You have an opposition, but an opposition that is fragmented and really proxies for foreign powers, notably Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey plays a role." He recently wrote the article, "Mass Murder in the Middle East Is Funded by Our Friends the Saudis: Everyone Knows Where al-Qaida Gets Its Money, But While the Violence is Sectarian, the West Does Nothing." Reporters Without Borders has just revealed at least 10 journalists and 35 citizen-journalists have been killed in Syria in 2013. In addition, another 49 journalists were abducted in Syria — more than the rest of the world combined. Reporters Without Borders blamed the spike in killings and kidnappings on jihadi groups.

  • Debate: Is Academic Group’s Boycott of Israel a Victory or Setback for Justice in Middle East?


    The American Studies Association, a group representing thousands of U.S. scholars, voted to boycott Israeli universities on Sunday. Members backed the boycott by a ratio of more than 2-to-1, citing "the documented impact of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian scholars and students" and "the extent to which Israeli institutions of higher education are a party to state policies that violate human rights." The association’s vote to boycott follows a similar measure approved Monday by the leadership council of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association. In April, the Association for Asian American Studies also supported an academic boycott of Israel. Backlash against ASA’s boycott came quickly. William Jacobson, a clinical professor at Cornell Law School, says he now plans to challenge the group’s tax-exempt status. Others were more critical of the boycott approach itself. The largest professors’ group in the United States, the American Association of University Professors, said it opposed the boycott in part because it is largely symbolic. The resolution has no binding power, and no U.S. colleges or universities have signed on. We host a debate on the resolution with two guests: Cornell University Professor Eric Cheyfitz, who endorses a boycott of Israeli academic institutions; and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Professor Cary Nelson, who opposes the boycott.