Landis in the News


Stars and Stripes
Syria chemical weapons stockpile removal almost complete
April 22, 2014
by Patrick J. McDonnell

“I honestly thought Assad would begin to drag his feet on this sooner, particularly when the Russians became involved in the Ukraine,” said Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “But he didn’t…. Obviously in this case he decided it was better to work with the Americans.”

The National
US assessing responsibility for new Syria chemical attack
April 22, 2014
by Taimur Khan

“What are they going to do, attack Syria now and take control of the country? Nobody in the West wants to take responsibility for Syria,” said Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “I don’t think [the latest attack] is going to affect US policy very much.”

Voice of America
Syria to Hold June 3 Presidential Vote
April 21, 2014
by Edward Yeranian

Syria scholar Joshua Landis, who heads the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, said the announcement of the election given the current circumstance is almost ironic.
“We used to laugh at (Syrian) elections won by 99 percent,” said Landis. “Today, you just have to cry. It would be laughable, if it weren’t so tragic.”

Foreign Policy
Exclusive: U.N. Docs Expose Assad’s Starvation Campaign in Syria
While food aid begins to flow into the country, many Syrians are heading into the arms of the dictator to get it.

April 17, 2014
by John Hudson

Other analysts emphasized the grim fate that some of the Syrians may face who fled to government-controlled areas for food. “There is an element of people turning [themselves] over to the regime who will be tortured,” said Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at Oklahoma University.

RT
Springless Arabs
April 7, 2014
Host: Peter Lavelle

Almost four years on, it would appear the peoples’ revolutions in the Middle East have actually only empowered the forces of reaction, and resulted in extreme repression and violence. What is the West’s reaction to the new regimes? And is the Middle East doomed to be ruled by western backed dictators? CrossTalking with Toby Cadman, Joshua Landis and Nabila Ramdani.

Al Monitor
Syria’s moderate rebels still losing ground to extremists
April 02, 2014
Antoun Issa

Ahrar al-Sham is one of the founding members of the Islamic Front, and is mainly active in Aleppo and the north. Jaish al-Islam, another key member of the coalition, largely operates in the Damascus countryside and is headed by Zahran Alloush. According to Syria expert Joshua Landis, the “difference between his ideology and that of al-Qaeda groups is not profound.”

VICE NEWS
Learning to Fight Like an American at the Free Syrian Army Training Camp
April 3, 2013
Sara Elizabeth Williams

Landis admits that the US is playing a “rather mischievous role” by supporting the rebels with one hand and restraining them with the other. “The result is that we’re prolonging the rebellion, but we’re also making sure it can’t win.”

The Blaze
Syrian Christians Accuse Islamist Rebels of Destroying Church Crosses, Pillaging Homes During Town Seizure
March 27, 2014
Sharona Schwartz

Other atrocities have been reported by Syria watcher Joshua Landis, who directs the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and writes the Syria Comment blog. Landis retweeted photos apparently taken in Kassab and the vicinity showing the jihadi militants’ actions now that they control the town, including desecrating Christian churches, destroying bottles of alcohol and even beheading an opponent.

The Huffington Post
Syrian Rebel Commander: Why Joining Extremists Was My Last Resort
March 25, 2014
Sophia Jones

“Most of these groups are based on very local politics,” said Joshua Landis, a Syria expert and director of Oklahoma University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies. “They emerge out of a town, out of a family. They act as an independent unit and they become supreme in their quarter square kilometer in Syria.”

The Blaze
Christian Syrian Activist Speaks out After Being ‘Arrested’ by Islamist Militants for Not Wearing a Veil
March 23, 2014
by Sharona Schwartz

Joshua Landis who is director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and writer of the Syria Comment blog confirmed to TheBlaze that Shehwaro is Christian and is a longtime activist against the Assad government.

Los Angeles Times
U.S. shifts Syria strategy to ‘southern front’
March 22, 2014
Nabih Bulos & Patrick J. McDonnell

“Every rebel and activist is looking to the much-vaunted southern front for good news and restored hope,” said Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

Foreign Policy
Throwing Windmills at the Wyndham
While the Syrian opposition brawls in an Istanbul hotel, the battlefield fighting is increasingly within the rebel camp.

March 20, 2014
by Susannah George

“Idriss was not a leader,” said Joshua Landis, of the University of Oklahoma. “[He] was a bureaucrat with a lot to recommend him in the very beginning. He could speak English and he sat at a desk and he said yes.” Landis said Idriss eventually became more of a clearinghouse, deriving his power and authority from his role as a distributor of foreign aid rather than his military victories, “I don’t think anyone thought he could continue to control authority down the line,” Landis said.

The Daily Star
Hezbollah’s Yabroud triumph makes Lebanon bigger target
March 18, 2014
by Kareem Shaheen

“The fall of Yabroud effectively closes the back door to Damascus and eastern Ghouta, which has been the main source of rebel activity in the Damascus suburbs over the last year,” said Joshua Landis, the founder of the website Syria Comment.

France 24 International News 24/7
Syria, 3 Years On: Has Assad Won?
March 17, 2014
François PICARD

Three years ago, outrage was sparked in the Syrian city of Daraa over the death of a teenage boy for painting anti-authoritarian graffiti. There followed a spiral of violence that would engulf the entire nation. With more than 100,000 killed and nearly half the population displaced, there is no end in sight. No key moment over the past three years has brought closure for Syria. Is there a solution? Or has Assad won? With guest Joshua Landis

Middle East Week
Syrian Conflict Enters Fourth Year
March 17, 2014

As the conflict in Syria enters its fourth year, Karl Morand interviews Joshua Landis and they discuss important issues including:

  • Recent advancements by the Assad regime
  • How the international community views the conflict
  • Fragmentation of opposition forces
  • Rebel governing of territories they control

Huffington Post
Fourth Year Of Syrian War Unlikely To Bring Relief From Bloodshed
March 15, 2014
by Max J. Rosenthal

“The rebels are in complete disarray and have proven themselves incapable of unifying their ranks in any meaningful way,” said Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

C-SPAN Washington Journal
Third Anniversary of Syrian Uprising
March 15, 2014

On the third anniversary of the uprising in Syria, Joshua Landis gives a summary of the uprising and where we are right now.

National Journal
Obama’s ‘New’ Syria Policy Isn’t Adding Up
February 28, 2014
by Michael Hirsh

“The rebel chaos and fragmentation has reached such a point that no strategist worth his salt, I think, believes the Obama administration can find glory in trying to arm up these guys,” says Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma.

Christian Science Monitor
Stranded in Morocco, Syrians join African migrants in storming Europe’s door
February 28, 2014
by Ella Bańka

“Syrians have been terrified of becoming the next ‘Palestinians’ who don’t have papers and are unwanted and unprotected by any government,” Mr. Landis explains. “This generation of Syrians is already being called a lost generation. The entire upper class has departed. The best educated and most talented Syrians have either left the country or are desperately seeking to leave.”

Los Angeles Times
Rift in Syria opposition may set back Western efforts
February 27, 2014
by Raja Abdulrahim

“The strategy is being undermined by fragmentation,” said Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

BBC World Service- Newshour
How the war in Syria has lead to greater autonomy for the country’s Kurds?
February 26, 2014
Julian Marshall

The conflict in Syria is not just between the government and its armed opponents.The rebel groups are fighting among themselves.
There is a group that is coming out stronger in this infighting among the rebels. Syrian Kurdish fighters this week have beaten al Qaeda linked groups and took over a strategic northeastern town called Tal Barak.

Eurasia Review
Christian Militia and Political Dynamics in Syria-Analysis
February 24, 2014

When it comes to news reports on Christians in Syria, the general focus is on the concerns Christian civilians have about their future, if any, in the country. Though such anxieties are not invalid, reports rarely break new ground. Here I intend to explore how Christians play a role on the ground in the civil war, both on the political and military level.

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Syria in Crisis: Assad’s Achilles’Heel: The Manpower Problem
February 21, 2014
by Balint Szlanko

“The war has taken a great toll on the Alawite community, but it has shown a tremendous ability to adjust and rebuild,” says Joshua Landis, a leading Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma. “Do the math. There are about 3 million Alawites in Syria. The median age is twenty-one. That is a lot of cannon fodder.”

Turkish Press
US policy likely ineffective in Syria
February 19, 2014
by Michael Hernandez

“I think Assad and the Russians went to Geneva hoping that America would do at the political level what it had done on chemical weapons – which is cut a deal with Assad over ceasefires and humanitarian aid,” said Joshua Landis. “He [Kerry] came out with both guns blazing in an anti-Assad diatribe, to show the world what a barbarian Assad is and how he killed all those people. All of which is true. But it is not the way to get dialogue going with the Assad regime.”

AlJazeera English
Syria expert, Joshua Landis, discusses Free Syrian Army
February 17, 2014

Net Nebraska’s PBS & NPR Stations
‘Syria After Geneva 2’
February 13, 2014

In the first Trendlines web special, a joint production of the PBS NewsHour and Al-Monitor, columnists Semih Idiz in Ankara, Turkey, Daoud Kuttab in Amman, Jordan, and Vitaly Naumkin in Moscow, along with the University of Oklahoma’s Joshua Landis, discuss the diplomatic effort to resolve the Syria crisis and how it’s impacting surrounding countries.

New Republic
The Syrian Regime’s Bombardment of Rebel Cities Is Even More Vicious Than You Think
February 13, 2014
by Joshua Hersh

“Even if it’s not ethnic cleansing in its purest form—because there’s no articulated plan to get rid of all Sunni Arabs from Syria, and that would be impossible anyway—it sure smells of it,” said Joshua Landis, an expert on Syria at the University of Oklahoma. Landis has argued that the Syrian war could result in a broader, regional ethnic “rearrangement.”

Arab World and Facebook’s 10 year relationship status: Complicated
February 5, 2014
By Albawaba

Qassemi added that Facebook is a positive “arena” for discussion, pointing to a fierce debate on Syria between academics Joshua Landis and Robin Yassin-Kassab, which has attracted hundreds of comments.
“It’s a common ground… It allows you the freedom of expressing yourself at length,” he said.

Al-Qaeda disavows Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

February 3, 2014
By AlJazeera America

“ISIL has become completely isolated in Syria,” Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and a Syria expert, told Al Jazeera. “All the other militias will be attacking ISIS.”

What Comes Next In Syria? February 1, 2014

VPR Vermont’s NPR
by Deborah Amos

Joshua Landis, who writes an influential blog on Syria, says the regime pulled back on the deal after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in his opening remarks, explicitly called for the Syrian president to step down.

“His insistence that Assad had to go stunned the delegation,” said Landis.

Why Syrian peace talks ended with no deal February 1, 2014
By Elizabeth Hagedorn, NaplesNews.com

Oklahoma University’s Joshua Landis told PBS the Syrian government likely expected the U.S. and its allies to try to compromise over the issue of a political transition.

Bouthaina Shaaban: The dark side of Syria’s public face January 31, 2014
Toronto Star by Olivia Ward

“She seemed like a fresh ray of light,” said Syria expert Joshua Landis of the University of Oklahoma, who has met her. “She was well-mannered, pretty and a liberated woman. Here was the face of the secular regime Assad wanted to show to the West.”

Who’s to blame for failed Syrian peace talks, and what’s next? January 31, 2014
PBS Newshour with Jeffrey Brown

Will talks yield any progress for ending the Syrian war? January 22, 2014
PBS Newshour with Gwen Ifill

What Do We Do About Syria? – The Brian Lehrer Show – WNYC - Dec. 13, 2013

Internal splintering of Syrian rebel groups leads U.S., U.K. to suspend aid – PBS NEWSHOUR -
Dec. 12, 2013

CCTV News
Reaction to President Obama Syria’s Address
September 11, 2013

After President Obama’s speech on Syria, anchor Elaine Reyes holds a panel with retired United States Naval Commander and senior advisor to the Atlantic Council, Harlan Ullman and director of the Center of Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, Joshua Landis to discuss the address and what can be expected regarding American foreign policy in Syria moving forward.

CNN International
Maher al-Assad: Syrian leader’s brother is most ruthless in family, analysts say
September 10, 2013
by Brian Rokus and Brian Todd

“Maher is the kneecapper. He is in charge of keeping the regime in power,” said Joshua Landis of the University of Oklahoma. “Maher has been at the forefront of the most brutal fighting.” Landis said,”We know precious little about him.”

AlJazeera America
Amid talk of chemical weapons deal, a timeline of Assad’s broken promises
September 10, 2013
by Azmat Khan

But Joshua Landis, scholar and author of the Syria blog SyriaComment, warns that the move “legitimizes” Assad in the world community. “This opens the door to Assad having a lot more negotiating power, both with the Russians and Americans,” Landis said. “This puts Assad in the same negotiating room as Obama, and it gives him a lot of bargaining chips moving forward.” Landis added that it’s also a win for Russia. “I’m sure the people in Moscow are doing shots of vodka right now. They warded off unilateral U.S. action and put Moscow at center of things. And I’m sure there is lots of arm pumping going on in Damascus. Assad has averted a direct American blow.”

France 24, The Debate
Syria: Breakthrough or Smokescreen?
September 09, 2013
by FRANÇOIS PICARD

Did John Kerry blunder when he suggested that Syria would never accept an offer to puts its chemical weapons stockpile under international supervision? When Damascus gladly accepts Moscow’s offer, François Picard’s panel is left wondering if Barack Obama’s hard sell to Congress on intervention just got harder.

The Washington Post
Three big ways the U.S. could help Syrians without using the military
September 05, 2013
by Lydia Depillis

Universities could also play a role here. The Institute for International Education set up a program to offer scholarships to Syrian students, but found that participating universities were overwhelmed by applications. Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma, was one of them — he couldn’t sift through the deluge of young people whose college careers had been interrupted and were desperately seeking a way to continue.
“It was heartbreaking, but I didn’t know what to do with the flood of messages,” Landis wrote in an e-mail. “One educated kid could help raise his family out of misery and a refugee camp. He could help siblings navigate the difficulties of education. It is a cost effective way to help a lot. Much better than bombs.”

Assad’s Brother Seen Linked to Syria Chemical Attack
- Aug. 27, 2013
Bloomberg, Terry Atlas & Sangwon Yoon

… The use of chemical weapons may have been a brash action by Maher al-Assad rather than a strategic decision by the president, according to the UN official, who asked not to be named.

… Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, doubts that such an important action — openly defying U.S. President Barack Obama’s “red line” against the use of chemical weapons — would be done without Bashar al-Assad’s approval. “It’s inconceivable to me,” Landis said in a phone interview. “There has been nothing to indicate that Bashar is just a figurehead.”

… For now, Maher’s role is largely a matter of conjecture. … “I don’t doubt that he is ruthless, but I also don’t doubt that Bashar is ruthless,” said Landis. “Is he more ruthless than Bashar? I think that is a useless line of inquiry because they are both killing people with abandon.”

… “Maher is the knee-capper in this operation,” said Landis. “He is in charge of doing the heavy lifting of punishing people and preserving the regime through military means.”

CNN: Bashar al-Assad Out of Options
- video interview – 27 Aug. 2013

Joshua Landis discusses why he believes the Syrian regime, and not the rebels, were behind the recent chemical weapons attacks.

Diplomacy is better than military action in Syria -
7 May 2013
Washington Post, by Katrina vanden Heuvel

The lessons of those previous wars are particularly relevant here. Syria has, as Syria specialist Joshua Landis has argued, many parallels to Iraq. It is a nation rife with religious, sectarian and class divisions. A minority — Shiite in Syria — in alliance with urban Sunnis, Christians and other minorities, has used a dictatorship to rule over the Sunni majority. The uprising has quickly turned sectarian — in part because of the outside influences of Turkey and the Gulf monarchies who seek to weaken the Iranian-Shiite alliance.

Syria: Canadian MPs set to debate on escalating conflict6 May 2013
The Star by Hamida Ghafour

Assad would have no chance in a war against Israel, said Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

“I think Israel would spend about 12 hours whacking Assad over the head and that would stop him,” he said. “He can’t even kill the badly armed rebels in his own country.”

Over 1,000 Militias Make Syria “Like L.A. Riots Gone Berserk”3 May 2013
KGOU by Joshua Landis, Suzette Grillot, an Rebecca Cruise

Joshua Landis, the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, says eliminating Syria’s air defenses would be the first step before inspectors could determine if the regime did indeed use chemical weapons.

 المواقف الدولية من ارتفاع وتيرة المجازر بسوريا


Analysts Divided on U.S. Arming Syrian Rebels - 1 May 2013
All Things Considered on NPR, with Melissa Block

Shadi Hamid on Joshua Landis on Intervention in Syria30 April 2013
NPR’s On Point

Oil Part of Syria’s Problem, Expert Says26 April 2013
UPI.com

“Oil is the only thing that Syria has going for it,” Landis, a Syrian expert and professor at the University of Oklahoma, told Bloomberg News. “Farming has collapsed and that is why we are seeing this outflow of refugees. They are starving. They don’t have the basics to sustain them.”

Assad still has backers among Syrian refugees - 25 April 2013
Washington Post, by Justin Salhani

Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, said some Christians, for example, initially wanted to see reforms or a change of leadership but now “are staunch reborn supporters [of Assad] and hoping for the regime to reassert its authority.”

Syrians Open Backyard Refineries as Civil War Reaches Oil25 April 2013
Bloomberg News, by Caroline Alexander and Flavia-Krause Jackson

“Oil is the only thing that Syria has going for it,” says Joshua Landis, who runs the Middle East program at the University of Oklahoma. “Farming has collapsed, and that is why we are seeing this outflow of refugees, they are starving, they don’t have the basics to sustain them.”

Керри и Лавров: в поисках компромисса

Джошуа Лэндис, директор Центра ближневосточных исследований в Университете Оклахомы (Joshua Landis, Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma), считает маловероятным, что Вашингтон и Москва смогут сблизить позиции по Сирии.

How Chemical Weapons Could Change Strategy for Syria - 23 April 2013
Interview on NPR’s Talk of the Nation with Jennifer Ludden

Europeans Step Toward Easing Syrian Oil Exports17 April 2013
The New York Times, by James Kanter and Rick Gladstone

“Jump-starting the economy is key to keeping Syrians inside Syria and out of refugee camps,” Mr. Landis said. “The West says it is targeting the regime, but one can easily see that the regime is feeding its troops and the people are starving.”

A Sunni-Shiite Showdown in Syria?15 April 2013
MintPress News, by Dale Gavlak

“Syria means a lot to Islamists [salafists],” Landis said. “Iraq for them has not been successful. The U.S. is still hunting and killing militants in Afghanistan and Yemen, but Syria presents a completely different possibility where the potential gains for them are real.”

‘Arab Spring’ workshop at UNO lures expert12 April 2013
Omaha.com, by Leslie Reed

The Arab Spring refers to the wave of democratic uprisings that spread across the Arab world beginning in late 2010. Joshua Landis, who will deliver the workshop’s keynote address at 7 p.m. Sunday, is an associate professor and director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

World Views:April 5, 2013
KGOU by Suzette Grillot, Joshua Landis, Rebecca Cruise, and Brian Hardzinski

The Raqqa Story: Rebel Structure, Planning, and Possible War Crimes – Analysis - April 5, 2013
Eurasia Review, by Matthew Barber for Syria Comment

Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood: influential, organized, but mistrusted - April 4, 2013
Daily Star

“They believe that they are the natural leaders of Syria, they believe … their time has finally come and that they represent the nation better than anybody else,” said Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma.

Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood influential but mistrusted - April 3, 2013
GlobalPost

“They believe that they are the natural leaders of Syria, they believe that… their time has finally come and that they represent the nation better than anybody else,” said Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma.

Divisions Remain in Syrian Rebel CoalitionMarch 27, 2013
NPR Interview with Robert Siegel

Obama’s Syria policy in shambles as Assad opposition squabbles - March 26, 2013
The Kansas City  Star, by Hannah Allam

“This is it. The U.S. can’t reboot it a third time. If they can’t make this work, they’ve got nothing,” said Joshua Landis, the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and the author of the blog Syria Comment.

Syria Deeply Asks: why did Moaz al-Khatib Resign? What are the Implications?
Syria Deeply, by Karen Leigh

Syria Uprising and Chemical Weapons: Dr. Joshua Landis on What the Future Holds - March 2013
Policymic by Nolan Kraszkiewicz

The Assad regime’s recent chemical attack on rebel positions is evidence of this notion for two reasons. As Dr. Landis stated in our interview, “there is no agreed upon definition of how to define chemical weapons or what a real ‘use’ is or how many need to be killed before the U.S. intervenes.” This ambiguity reflects the on- the-ground reality of the attack site.

Pro-Assad Cleric Killed in Blast in DamascusMarch 21, 2013
The New York Times by Hania Mourtada and Rick Gladstone

Mr. Landis said the sheik had been reviled by some Syrian revolutionaries when he came out early in the conflict to denounce the uprising. He was known for having a prodigious memory, was the author of at least 40 books and was ranked 23rd on a list of the most influential 500 Muslims in the world.

Muslim Brotherhood Holds Sway over Syrian Opposition - March 21, 2013
Al-Monitor by Hassan Hassan

“To this end, Hitto’s first words were that he would not negotiate with the Assad regime,” Landis wrote on his website, Syria Comment. This argument is further bolstered by the fact that neither Saudi Arabia, Jordan nor other key (Western) players were informed of Hitto’s appointment, according to a senior diplomat familiar with the process.

Discussion about SyriaMarch 20, 2013
Interview on Charlie Rose

US finds Sunni-Shia rift difficult to navigateMarch 18, 2013
Global Post, by Caryle Murphy

“Sunnis and Shiites are fighting over control of the Middle East and… Syria is in the middle of that struggle,” said Syria expert Joshua Landis, director of the University of Oklahoma’s Center for Middle East Studies, during a recent public debate in Washington.

Analyst Joshua Landis: Obama under pressure to increase US involvement in Syria - March 18, 2013
Interview on AlJazeera English 

The Free Syrian Army Doesn’t Exist – Analysis - March 17, 2013
The Albany Tribunes, by Aron Lund

Syria and the Minoritarian Regimes of the Levant StatesMarch 15, 2013
Radio National by Joshua Landis

The Syrian regime—the Baathist Alawite-dominated regime of Assad—is the last minoritarian regime in the Levant.

All of the regimes and the governments in the Levant were minoritarian at one point, and in every one of those countries there’s been a long and bloody fall for the minorities. Why? Because they see it as a zero-sum game—that if they lose, they’re going to go down to the bottom of society and they’re going to stay there…

What’s Next For SyriaMarch 5, 2013
NPR’s On Point with Jane Clayson

Assad Forces Defeated in Syria’s Raqqa, Ambushed in IraqMarch 4, 2013
Voice of America by Michael Lipin

Landis, who authors the blog Syria Comment, said Raqqa also is near a major oil producing region and is a farming hub because of its proximity to Assad Lake and the Euphrates River.

Massacre of Syrian Soldiers in Iraq Raises Risk of Widening Conflict - March 4, 2013
New York Times, by Duraid Adnan and Rick Gladstone

“A number of us have been saying that Iraq is the one most affected by the meltdown in Syria,” said Joshua M. Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma…

Oil, Much as Weapons, is Dangerous in the Wrong Hands26 February 2013
Oil Price by Claude Salhani

“That was before the currency had fallen by half, the economy collapsed, strict economic sanctions were placed on Syria, and fighting engulfed the country. In all probability, a conservative percent of Syrians living in the direst poverty has surpassed 50 percent,” reports Syria Comment.

Syrian Rebels Now Better Armed With Help of Saudi Arabia
Interview on The World with Marco Werman

Landis: Iran is clearly backing the Syrians. They have a lot to lose if Syria goes down because America, you know, wants to over-turn the Iranian regime as well and has real sanctions on it. And so, I think Iran looks at this as a domino theory, that if Syria goes down, Iran will become the focus of international tension next. And it’s much better to be fighting a proxy war in Syria than it is to be fending off any kind of direct action to do with Iran.

Rebel truce with Kurds is shaky, say experts22 February 2013
The National by Justin Vela

“I think the Syrian opposition coalition and the Turks realised that they needed to defuse this tinderbox,” said Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at Oklahoma State University.

Syria: Shifting the strategic balance17 February 2013
Debate on Aljazeera

The Alawis10 February 2013

Syria exploited6 February 2013
Debate on RT

Video: Syria’s shifting strategic balance – Inside Syria – Aljazeera
with Elias Hanna, Joshua Landis and Khalid Salih, Opposition spokesman in Istanbul

Unrest in the Arab World – February 1, 2013
CQ Researcher, by Kenneth Jost

The uprisings have hurt tourism in Egypt and elsewhere and slowed foreign investment, according to Joshua Landis…”We’re caught in this race of whether the new governments can see their countries through these very dangers and difficult times,” says Landis

The Syria I Knew: On the Fall of the House of Assad - January 29, 2013
Los Angeles Review of Books

The legacy such a reaction will leave to Syria remains to be seen. As Joshua Landis, another longtime American observer and academic of Syria, recently wrote: “In the end, the numbers will be decisive. The regime does not have an infinite supply of supporters who can fight. The rebels probably do. But what will Syria look like when it is over? The thought is staggering.”

Assad still confident that he can control Syria  – January 12, 2013
Washington Post, by Liz Sly

Assad may also have little choice but to continue trying to crush the revolt. The 2 million or so members of the Alawite community on which he has come to depend for his survival fear annihilation should the overwhelmingly Sunni rebel force win, said Joshua Landis, a history professor at the University of Oklahoma who is married to an Alawite and remains in regular touch with the community.

“Assad isn’t in a negotiating mood because he knows that any tinkering with his regime means collapse, and the Alawites fear revenge,” he said. “This is an existential moment for them, and they have their backs to the wall.”

Vicious circle of violence no nations seems able to endJanuary 15,2013
The National, by Faisal al Yafai

Mr Landis has argued, persuasively in my view, that on the evidence today, Mr Al Assad could hold on to power until 2014. He frames this as a simple question: “Who will defeat him?

Assad speech resoundingly dismissed by opposition and allies January 7, 2013
The Christian Science Monitor, by Arthur Bright

Joshua Landis, an expert on Syria at the University of Oklahoma, told The New York Times that Assad’s stance “means we’re in for a long fight…. This is a dark, dark tunnel. There is no good ending to this. Assad believes he is winning.”

Syria: why Assad may yet claim victoryJanuary 7, 2013
Guardia, by Simon Tisdall

And its leaders believe they are fighting the rebels to a stalemate,” said Tony Karon in Time. Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma, told Karon that, whatever the US state department might say, the fact is that Assad is not budging.

Landis said:

“Absent some dramatic increase in external intervention, Assad could still be there in 2014. There’s nothing obvious in the current dynamic that’s going to force him out. He has barricaded the major cities with layers of security, allowing the impoverished periphery of some to fall into rebel hands, but then using his air power and artillery to devastate those neighbourhoods. Almost two years into the uprising and despite the rebels’ recent momentum, they have not yet taken full control of a single major city or town.

Despite the confident predictions coming from the rebels and their backers, nobody in the opposition today can explain how they’re going to win. The regime has the unity, it has all the heavy weapons. Many of the rebels continue to operate on the assumption that the US will intervene to tip the balance for them.”

But despite all the huffing and puffing in Washington (and London), decisive intervention is extremely unlikely. It is time the likes of Obama and William Hague admitted this reality and started dealing with what is, rather than what might have been.

New York Times QUOTATION OF THE DAY

“This is a dark, dark tunnel. There is no good ending to this. Assad believes he is winning.”
JOSHUA LANDIS, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, on a speech in which President Bashar al-Assad of Syria defended a crackdown and sought to rally supporters.

The Great Debaters @joshua_landis @aarondmiller2 Robert Kagan and Leon Wieseltier with moderator @eliselabottcnn discuss #Syria on Jan 30th.

Syria Comment named “one of our best blogs of 2012″ by Open Democracy - January 4, 2013

.@joshua_landis one of our best blogs of 2012 opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening…
— Arab Awakening (@openAwakening) January 4, 2013

Syria’s Rising Death Toll: The Darkness Before the Dawn or Sign of a Grinding Stalemate? - Jan 2, 2013
By Tony Karon | Time

“Absent some dramatic increase in external intervention, Assad could still be there in 2014,” says Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma. “There’s nothing obvious in the current dynamic that’s going to force him out. He has barricaded the major cities with layers of security, allowing the impoverished periphery of some to fall into rebel hands, but then using his air power and artillery to devastate those neighborhoods. Almost two years into the uprising and despite the rebels’ recent momentum, they have not yet taken full control of a single major city or town. That’s a bad sign for the rebels.”

The sectarian character of the civil war has been underscored by Alawites — even many with grievances against the Assads — rallying behind a regime dominated by their minority sect for fear of their fate should the predominantly Sunni rebellion triumph. While opposition analysts predict that the regime will soon run out of money, rebel-controlled areas are even more starved of resources. And the regime, which still maintains an overwhelming advantage in weaponry, appears to be directing attacks in line with a strategy to exacerbate shortages of food and fuel in those areas, assuming that shortages and the competition for scarce resources will alienate the civilian population from the rebel fighters that control their areas — a dynamic that appears to be taking hold according to some reports from Aleppo and elsewhere

“Despite the confident predictions coming from the rebels and their backers,” says Landis, “nobody in the opposition today can explain how they’re going to win. The regime has the unity, it has all the heavy weapons. Many of the rebels continue to operate on the assumption that the U.S. will intervene to tip the balance for them.”

But despite growing agitation by some in Washington for a more muscular U.S. role in helping topple Assad, there’s no sign that the Obama Administration, or any of the other Western powers, or key neighbors such as Turkey, are inclined as yet to assume the substantial risks involved in intervening to break Syria’s stalemate. And the rising death toll won’t likely change those calculations.

Assad to hang on till 2014 - Jan 2, 2013
By Matthew Weaver – Guardian

Bashar al-Assad is likely to stay in power until 2014, according to Syrian watcher Joshua Landis, director of Centre for Middle East Studies at the Univesity of Oklahoma.

Many pundits predict that the Assad regime is nearing collapse and it is difficult to find any who think Assad will survive the year as president. But Landis, author of the widely-read blog Syria Comment, bucks the trend.

Asked to clarify remarks he made on Twitter earlier today about Assad’s prospects, Landis replied “Who is going to defeat him?”

He told the Guardian that rebels remain divided, under-funded and poorly equipped. He said:

Ethnic and sectarian divisions make victory difficult. Poverty hurts the regime, but also it hurts rebels, who are scavenging and beginning to cannibalize each other.

The Syrian army, by contrast remains cohesive, fully armed and with a clear command and control structure, Landis pointed out. It has also changed tactics to focus on protecting Damascus and the survival of the regime, Landis claimed.

 

It has learned it cannot control everything and has fallen back. The south and Damascus is much more difficult terrain for rebels than north and Aleppo.

Aleppo has been harder to defend because of its proximity to Turkey which offers rebels protection and short lines of retreat. “In the south [neighbouring countries:] Lebanon, Israel, Iraq and Jordan are all hostile to rebels and do not allow them refuge, comfort and resupply,” Landis said.

Landis also pointed out that international community remains divided over how to tackle the crisis. The US is concerned about supporting al-Qaida-linked groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra which is leading the fight against the Syrian government in many areas and which the US proscribed as terrorist organisation

“The US has few interests in Syria and every incentive to stay out,” Landis said

And the main regional opponents of the Assad government – Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia – lack a co-ordinated approach and have not always worked in concert.

After Facing Up to World of Change, Clinton Leaves a Legacy of Caution - Dec 27, 2012
By Guy Taylor | The Washington Times

“You feel to a certain degree as if she’s covering her tracks,” said Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

Mr. Landis said Mrs. Clinton has “taken no risks” when it comes to U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia or other Persian Gulf monarchies that “propagate Wahabi Islam,” a fundamentalist movement that adheres strictly to the Koran and considers nonbelievers to be infidels. Nor, he said, has she been willing to stand up to Israel, which he described as pursuing “colonialist policies” in the West Bank that “infuriate Muslims.”

“If she is preparing to run four years from now, it makes a lot of sense,” Mr. Landis said….

No Easy Route if Assad Opts to Go, or to Stay, in Syria - Dec. 25, 2012
New York Times, by Anne Barnard

Now, Mr. Assad, 47, faces a set of unpalatable choices. Fleeing to become an Alawite militia leader is likely hard to imagine for the president, who grew up in Damascus, reached out to and married into the Sunni elite, and was even mocked in his ancestral village for his Damascus accent, said Joshua Landis, a University of Oklahoma professor who studies Syria and Alawites.

Assad’s Roll of the Dice: Is Winter Coming for the Syrian Rebellion?Dec 24, 2012
By Tony Karon: Time Magazine

…. “The greatest challenge facing the rebels is providing the basic necessities of life to Syrians living in areas no longer controlled by the state,” says Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma. “That’s why the regime is trying its best to disrupt food supplies in rebel-held areas. It needs them to fail, even to starve while they’re living under rebel control. The regime can’t allow the rebels to establish a workable alternative that pays salaries and is able to provide for those in its domain in the way that the state currently serves as the key provider to many millions of Syrians.”….

Robert Wright (Bloggingheads.tv, interviews Joshua Landis – December 21, 2012

“Is an Alawite State in Syria’s Future?,” December 20th, 2012
Cecily Hilleary interviews Joshua Landis.

Caught Between al Qaida and Iran, U.S. Struggles Over Syria ConflictDecember 20, 2012
By Hannah Allam | McClatchy Newspapers

 Joshua Landis, a Syria expert who’s the director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oklahoma, said the Obama administration was now sandwiched between its archenemies al Qaida and Iran, making it hard to maintain a position of avoiding direct involvement in the conflict. “America is paralyzed,” Landis said. “They don’t like Assad, but they’re even more fearful of the rebels.”

About the Alawites: On the Margins of Islam, At the Center of Power  –  December 16, 2012
Mohammed Sergie and Lara Setrakian interview Joshua Landis for Syria Deeply

….Ali is seen as the essence of god, Muhammad as the veil or outward appearance of Ali, and Farsi as the portal to the deity, said Joshua Landis, an associate professor at the University of Oklahoma and author of the influential Syria Comment blog (his recent lecture on the subject can be seen below).

As Syrian rebels close in, Assad has cards to playDecember 14, 2012
Salon, by Elizabeth Kennedy

“The West, for all its rhetorical bombast, has restricted the flow of important weapons,” said University of Oklahoma professor Joshua Landis, who runs an influential blog called Syria Comment. “They have not brought down this regime because they are frightened of the alternative.”

Four options Syria’s Assad faces as rebels gain momentum - December 13, 2012
The Globe and Mail, by Affan Chowdhry

“The Alawites convinced themselves that their group is going to [face] deep retribution and that these are Islamists that want to kill them. And that’s what the [Assad] regime has been saying and I imagine many feel very insecure. So they’re not going to lay down their arms,” said Mr. Landis.

Friends of Syria’ Recognize New Opposition Coalition – December 12, 2012
NPR Interview, All Things Considered

Syria conflict: Assad fires Scuds – December 12, 2012
The Guardian, by Matthew Weaver

Syria watcher Joshua Landis says the use of Scud missiles in Syria is a sign of desperation by the Assad regime.

Syrian President Bashar Assad: Will he fight or flee? - December 8, 2012
The Star, by Hamida Ghafour

Alawite civilians and soldiers risk being massacred if Assad were to abandon them, said Joshua Landis, director of Middle East Studies at Oklahoma University, who blogs at Syria Comment. “The Alawites are counting on Assad to protect his people from possible retribution,” he said. “He has kept them hostage in a sense and now he can’t abandon him.”

Assad is already using chemical weapons, Syrian opposition claims - December 7, 2012
The Times of Israel, by Elhanen Miller

Despite reports, Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and an expert on Syria, said Assad was unlikely to fully utilize his chemical weapons capabilities at this time.

Syrian Militia Leaders Depend On A Terrorist FactionDecember 6, 2012
NPR Interview with Melissa Block

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This week, we’re taking a broader view of the Syrian conflict, asking if the Assad regime has reached a tipping point, and if so, what might follow. Yesterday, I talked with Syria expert Andrew Tabler, and today we’ll hear from Joshua Landis, who directs the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Professor Landis, welcome back to the program.

DR. JOSHUA LANDIS: It’s a pleasure being with you.

BLOCK: We heard yesterday from Andrew Tabler that he didn’t see a neat, rapid fall of the Assad regime. He expects the war to go on for some time. What would your appraisal be?

LANDIS: Well, I agree with him. I think this is going to be still long and bloody. Assad is trying to hold on to Syria, but chances are he’s not going got be able to hold on to Damascus. That means falling back, most probably, to the coastal mountains where the population are majority Alawite, and that’s where the families and the kin of all the Alawite officers in this military live. And they are counting on this military to protect them against possible and probable retribution from these militias who’ve taken so much punishment from this military and from the Assad regime.

BLOCK: But if that scenario plays out, Professor Landis, it sounds like you’re talking about a rump regime over on the coast. It doesn’t sound like it’s a regime that has any authority as a state. I mean, the state effectively, it sounds like, would’ve fallen.

LANDIS: Yes. Once Damascus goes, you don’t really know what to call Syria anymore.

BLOCK: Well, it’s a really intriguing thought right there because what fills that vacuum?

LANDIS: Well, that’s what the rebels will fight over, this most important capital city. And that’s where you’ll begin to see, I think, tussling between the hundreds of rebel groups that are now fighting in Syria.

BLOCK: Among those hundreds of rebel groups, there are reports that at least one, possibly more, jihadist groups with ties to al-Qaida are becoming increasingly powerful, and the U.S. is said to be preparing to designate them a terrorist organization. What impact would that have, if any?

LANDIS: This is one of the most powerful militias in Syria today. And almost every militia leader, certainly all the Islamist militia leaders, of which there are many in Syria, have said that they need al-Nusra, Jabhat al-Nusra because they’re the best fighters. They’re getting a lot money and a lot of arms. And they’re willing to kill themselves. So for America to declare war on this organization at the same time it said it wants regime change and is on the side of the rebels against the Assad regime is a little confusing. But it underlines the squabbling that has already broken out within the rebel camp and this is – could be the beginning of a civil war amongst the rebels.

BLOCK: Would you – in terms of U.S. policy towards Syria, would you support at this point the U.S. deciding to go ahead and arm the rebels?

LANDIS: We could – and I, you know, I think we are arming them indirectly, and we have been encouraging the Gulf states to arm them and Turkey to help organize them. Our main problem right now is to bring greater unity. Now, the rebels are saying, if you give us money and arms, we will unify. I’m not sure that’s true. But giving money to the rebels might be a way to test this proposition and see how much unity we could bring. The problem is the United States is feeling very poor these days, and I don’t think it just wants to openly spend. And we would have to set, you know, how many billions of dollars we want to spend trying to influence the outcome in Syria.

BLOCK: Professor Landis, as you think about this increasingly bloody conflict in a very complicated country and a very resilient regime, what are the best and the worst-case scenarios that you can envision?

LANDIS: The worst-case scenario is that Syria continues as it is in emulous factions with hundreds of militias who are going to have to fight it out. And this is going to cause terrible suffering for the Syrian people, millions of refugees and starvation. And we’re seeing that happen. I know four different families where members have been kidnapped because people are starving, and they want money and that’s the way to get it. Now the best thing that could happen is that 70 percent of the population in Syria are Sunni Arabs. If they can coalesce and form a unified leadership, they could bring Syria out of this more quickly and save it a long and grinding civil war.

BLOCK: And how likely do you think that that best-case scenario is to happen?

LANDIS: Well, we don’t see it happening on the ground. Many of the national questions of Syria’s identity, basic identity, were never answered by the Syrian public because it went straight from colonial rule to dictatorship. And so we don’t know how long it’s going take Syrians to come to some kind of unity and whether they will. So these are the ongoing questions, and it looks like it’s going to be a long, difficult struggle.

BLOCK: Joshua Landis directs the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Professor Landis, thank you.

LANDIS: It’s a pleasure. Thank you.

Recognizing the Opposition in Syria5 December 2012
New York Times Room for Debate

The big question that haunts the coalition is how it will gain control of the armed elements of the revolution. Today, Syria is ruled by guns, radicals and tough guys. It will take a miracle for the U.S. to glue this new exile leadership on top of the militia lords in Syria.

Expert at USF Conference: U.S. Withdrawing from Much of the Middle East – December 4, 2012
WUSF News, by Steve Newborn

“We’ve sort of closed down on the Gulf and said, look, we want to keep our hands on the oil spigot. Because that runs the world. And if we can do that, that’s enough for us,” Landis says. “In many ways, that’s what America seems to be doing, is just shrinking back toward the Gulf and oil, and abandoning this other region to Turkey and Saudi Arabia and others.”

Syria: Spillover into IraqNovember 17, 2012
The Jerusalem Post, by Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi

Writing on his blog “Syria Comment,” Joshua Landis contends that “Iraq is seeing much more spillover from Syria than Lebanon.” His premise is that “already in response to the growing civil war in Syria, Iraqi violence has spiked and al-Qaida is resurgent there.”

Syria and Turkey: A Complex RelationshipNovember 15, 2012
PBS Newshour, by Larisa Epatko

 The relationship remained tense under Syrian leader Hafez al-Assad, the father of current President Bashar al-Assad (pictured at right). During the elder Assad’s leadership, Turkey took a peninsula-looking piece of land — Hatay province — from Syria, and still has it to this day, though some Syrian maps still show it as part of their country, Landis said.

Syria’s new hopeNovember 15, 2012
The Philadelphia Inquirer, by Trudy Rubin

“Khatib is a central figure who has enormous legitimacy,” said Joshua Landis, a noted American expert on Syria. The sheikh is a religious moderate who has called for political pluralism and opposed sectarian divisions. This sends a critical message to Assad’s Alawite sect that its members have a future in Syria if he is ousted.

Neue Koalition der syrischen Opposition – eine Chance?November 13, 2012
Echo der Zeit

Am Wochenende haben sich verschiedene syrische Oppositionsgruppen auf eine gemeinsame Koalition unter der Führung eines gemässigten islamischen Geistlichen geeinigt. Gespräch mit Joshua Landis, Direktor des Center of Middle Eastern Studies an der Universität Oklahoma.

Syria’s Opposition Wins Western Backing, But What About Western Weapons? - November 13, 2012
Time by Tony Karon

 ”It’s obviously a great step forward for the West and the Syrian opposition,” says Joshua Landis, a Syria specialist at the University of Oklahoma. “This group has great purchase among upper-class urban Sunnis, particularly those who have present a lot of time in the West. But the key question will be whether or not it is able to unify rebel military groups on the ground, which haven’t been particularly involved in this process.”

Syrian activists shuffle council; chaos rocks capitalNovember 5, 2012
USA Today by Sarah Lynch and Jennifer Collins

“They’re very good people, and they should run the country. The problem is they’re probably not going to run the country,” Joshua Landis, director of the Center of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oklahoma, said of the council.

“The people who are going to run the country have got beards, and they’ve got big guns, and they’re fighting in Aleppo today,” he said of the fighters, which include backers of an Islamist regime.

A Catalogue of Failures in Syria InterventionsNovember 5, 2012

Anti War Blog by John Glaser

Plan C, Landis writes, “is now in the making,” as the State Department tries again to meddle in Syria to produce a post-Assad ruling coalition Washington approves of.

Joshua Landis: Clinto’s Efforts to Build a Syrian Government in Exile Seems Doomed - November 5, 2012
Islamic Commentary

No matter who wins Tuesday’s election, U.S. likely to become entangled in Syria’s war - November 1, 2012
The Kansas City Star by Jonathan S. Landay

Such a zone “is going to change the balance of power. The only way Assad can project power in northern Syria today is by bombing with airplanes and helicopters,” said Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma. “If you take that out . . . then you are getting closer to a . . . situation where the rebels can set up camp and welcome (Syrian army) defectors in a safe environment. They could train and recruit.”

Big Ideas Podcast: Can Brahimi Negotiate an end to the Syrian War?October 31, 2012
Voice of America News by Middle East Voices

We also have with us Dr. Joshua Landis, the director of the Middle East Studies Center and associate professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Landis is an expert on Syrian affairs and author of the highly regarded Syria Comment blog.

Syrian situation topic of OU panel - October 30, 2012
Edmond Sun by William F. O’Brien

Landis spoke forcefully against any U.S. involvement in the Syrian conflict, and reminded the attendees that those who supported to the U.S. invasion of Iraq said that the American occupation would be paid for by Iraqi oil sales within six months of the invasion, but in fact the U.S. ended up spending billions of dollars in Iraq, and killed more than 10,000 Iraqis during the first six months of occupation.

Best of CBS Radio News: Joshua LandisOctober 25, 2012
CBS Radio News

For the first time since April, there may be a pause in fighting in Syria. The army says it will cease military operations from Friday to Monday to mark a Muslim holiday. Syria expert Joshua Landis tells CBS’s Rob Mank that he’s skeptical the ceasefire will hold with rebels apparently on the verge of controlling Syria’s largest city.

Syria Declares Eid Ceasefire Through Monday - October 25, 2012
Voice of America, by Edward Yeranian and Lisa Schlei

Syria scholar Joshua Landis, who heads the Center of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oklahoma and has been monitoring reports coming from Aleppo, said government forces appear mired in a fluid battle with rebels.

“The government has been flailing about in Aleppo for the last several weeks, bombing neighborhoods where it can’t send men in,” he said. “It doesn’t have the manpower to overtake the city and by some estimates — pretty well-educated estimates — there are about 70,000 rebel troops in Aleppo and the regime just cannot hang on. They just don’t have the manpower.”

Tensions among Alawites pose new challenges for AssadOctober 17, 2012
Washington Post, by Liz Sly

Syria scholar Joshua Landis, who maintains close contact with the community through his Alawite wife, says the gun battle occurred only because Osman insulted Mohammed al-Assad, known locally as the “Sheik of the Mountain” for his role as the Assad family’s premier enforcer in the town. An e-mail from a relative in the area described how Bashar al-Assad intervened in the dispute, calmed tempers and restored order, said Landis, a professor of political science at the University of Oklahoma.

Is a Turkey-Syria Conflict Inevitable? - October 15, 2012
Aljazeera

- Haldun Solmazturk, a retired brigadier-general

“…it looks as if … the Turkish government, they do want to go to war.”

- Joshua Landis, the director of the Center for Middle East Studies

“Turkey is trapped between national honour and national interest, the national honour required that Erdogan responded in some way that shows toughness and resolve and would intimidate the Syrians from further action across the border. On the other hand, the national interest is to stay out of Syria. Syria is a potential Vietnam for Turkey, it’s a swamp. It could suck Turkey in and cost Erdogan a great deal.”

Inside Syria, with presenter Mike Hanna, discusses the situation with guests: Yasar Yakis, a former foreign minister of Turkey; Haldun Solmazturk, a retired brigadier-general; and Joshua Landis, the director of the Center for Middle East Studies and an associate professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

“This one-sided policy, aiming to remove Bashar al-Assad by intervention in the domestic affairs of our neighbour, really intensified the conflict, sharpened the conflict, and probably resulted in more deaths than would have [occurred] otherwise.”

Faruk Logoglu,  the head of Foreign Relations of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP)

Skype Becomes Operations Center for Syrian Rebels - October 15, 2012
ABC News, by Lara Setrakian

“I don’t think you can underscore enough what a dramatic game changer social media has been,” said Landis. “A whole generation of youth in Syria had been completely depoliticized before the Arab Spring. Assad had managed to turn Syria into a bunch of sheep.”

Concerns Build Over Violence in SyriaOctober 11, 2012
NPR, heard on Talk of the Nation

Syrian rebels claim control of strategic townOctober 10, 2012

Joshua Landis, director of the Centre for Middle East Studies at Oklahoma University, told Al Jazeera that Maarat al-Numan would represent an important win.

“It’s one of the key provincial cities in this greater Idlib area that’s south of the Turkish border, and it’s been fought over for months,” said Landis.

“We’ve seen the rebels, in the last month, have advanced into Aleppo, but the battle has been very dreary in Aleppo and much of the city has been destroyed.”

Landis added that the opposition fighters have not yet “been able to convincingly defeat the Syrian army there”.

Is a Turkey-Syria conflict inevitable?October 7, 2012
Al Jazera English by Inside Syria

“Turkey is trapped between national honour and national interest, the national honour required that Erdogan responded in some way that shows toughness and resolve and would intimidate the Syrians from further action across the border. On the other hand, the national interest is to stay out of Syria. Syria is a potential Vietnam for Turkey, it’s a swamp. It could suck Turkey in and cost Erdogan a great deal.”

BBC Radio 5 Live Interview - October 6, 2012
Up All Night with Dotun Adebayo

” Also, as the situation between Syria and Turkey becomes more tense, the director of the Center for Middle East Studies, Joshua Landis, warns ‘Syria is a swamp and nobody wants to get sucked in there’ and says the more Turkey does to ‘destabilise’ Syria by its tough response to mortar attacks, the more refugees they’ll end up having to help.”

Professor Explains Why Aleppo And Damascus Are Doomed - October 5, 2012
Business Insider, by Michael Kelley

Prof. Joshua Landis, director of the Center of Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, provides an insightful commentary for the Reuters video of the aftermath in which he describes the plight of Syria’s two major cities:

“What we’re seeing now is the battle for Damascus and Aleppo. Aleppo is the great northern city of Syria. These two cities have 50 percent of Syria’s population. They are the two geese that lay the golden eggs of Syria. Whoever owns those two sites own Syria.”

UN Envoy Urges World Body to Intervene to Solve Syria ViolenceSeptember 24, 2012
Bloomberg, by Nicole Gaouette and Flavia Kruse -Jackson

Joshua Landis, who heads the Middle Eastern department at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, said Brahimi’s comments were meant to “underline the hypocrisy of the international community” that says it wants a solution to the violence yet won’t compromise to reach one.

Rebels Announce Move of Headquarters from Tripoli to ‘Liberated’ Syria Territory - September 22, 2012
The New York Times, by Anne Barnard and Hania Mourtada

“The problem is that it gives the Syrian Air Force a target,” said Joshua Landis, a Syria analyst at the University of Oklahoma. “We have to see whether this is a credible headquarters or just a mobile camp that gives them a P.O. box in Syria.”

Analysis: Donors not walking the talk on humanitarian aid to SyriaSeptember 19, 2012
Irin News

“Nobody wants to strengthen the Assad regime by sending aid,” says Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, and curator of a widely-read blog on Syrian affairs. “The Western strategy is to starve the regime and feed the opposition. That, of course, is impossible to do without starving all of Syria. Sanctions are a very blunt tool, and they are meant to weaken the regime to get Syrians to revolt against it.

In Turkey, Alawite sect sides with Syria’s AssadSeptember 14, 2012
Washington Post, by William Booth

Turkish Alawites are increasingly weighing in with support for the Syrian regime on Alawite social media. “They are getting involved and are fearful for their co-religionists below the border,” said Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “They are buying into the notion that this is a foreign conspiracy.”

After Attacks in Egypt and Libya, USA asks: Why?September 12, 2012
USA Today, by Sarah Lynch, Oren Dorell, and David Jackson

“The growth of democracy in the Middle East is going to bring forward a lot of anti-American sentiment that has been suppressed for a long time by dictators who were seeking friendly relations with America,” said Joshua Landis, head of Middle Eastern studies at the University of Oklahoma.

“There are a lot of people who are very resentful towards the West and believe that the West is anti-Islamic so forth,” he said. “I think we are going to see a lot more of this. They are remaking their identities, and America, the West and Islam are at the very center of how different factions are going to position themselves.”

Record Number of Syrians Fled Country in AugustSeptember 4, 2012
NPR, heard on All Things Considered with Robert Siegel, Host

Listen

Transcript:

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I’m Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I’m Melissa Block.

The United Nations’ refugee agency calls it an astonishing number. More than 100,000 Syrians sought refugee status in August alone. That one month accounts for more than 40 percent of those who’ve fled Syria in the 17 months since the uprising began. And that doesn’t begin to count those who’ve fled and haven’t registered with authorities.

The refugee number is one of many that point to a dramatically escalating war in Syria, a conflict that’s being followed closely by Joshua Landis. He directs the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Joshua Landis, welcome back to the program.

JOSHUA LANDIS, UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA: It’s a pleasure being with you.

BLOCK: Along with that spike in refugees fleeing Syria that we just mentioned, we’re also seeing a really sharp rise in the death toll. According to opposition groups, there are about 5,000 people killed in August alone. UNICEF says 1,600 people were killed just last week. The caution being that these numbers are impossible to verify, but they do show an alarming trend. What do you think accounts for that steep rise?

OKLAHOMA: Well, two things. One is the opposition is getting stronger every week. It’s getting much better weapons that have been coming in with Gulf money. So it’s getting RPGs, a lot of grenades and grenade launchers.

BLOCK: RPGs are rocket-propelled grenades.

OKLAHOMA: Yes, indeed. And also, of course, the Syrian military is using airpower in a much broader and more indiscriminate way than it had been. The Syrian army remains very strong. Even though it’s losing ground, it has strong backing in Iran and Russia, and its got a command and control, which is what the opposition – although it has numbers, the opposition, and it has a lot of international support, it does not have good command and control. And it doesn’t have the kind of weaponry that the Syrian army has.

BLOCK: How resilient would you say the Syrian army is? How much can it take?

OKLAHOMA: It can take a lot. This is the problem, is that the Syrian army is transforming itself. As the Sunni Arabs defect from the army, and increasingly, the Sunni elements in the army are not trusted, the army has been remaking itself as an Alawite militia, increasingly. And we’re seeing this war devolve into a civil war between Alawites, the Shiite heterodox group – 12 percent of Syrians – and the Syrian Sunni Arabs who are 70 percent of the population roughly. And that’s why things are becoming increasingly more brutal, but it’s also why the Syrian army will not likely give up.

If they were to give up, the leadership in the army will be killed. And many Alawites believe that they would be marginalized in society as the Sunni Arabs take over. So they’re fighting a very brutal war, and it’s hard to see how this comes to an end anytime soon.

BLOCK: When you look at the Syrian opposition, as fragmented as it may be, how much territory do they control now? And are you seeing them expand their reach around the country?

OKLAHOMA: They are expanding their reach. The big swathes of territory that they do control our up near Idlib, the Turkish border, stretching from Idlib all the way over towards northern Aleppo. Then there are Kurds who’ve taken over the northeast of Syria. But the rebels have also extended their control, at least for moments, within the heart of the cities. And that has changed in the last month, and it’s one of the reasons for the rising death rate.

Because the urban centers, Damascus and Aleppo, which had been denied to the rebels for such a long time, have now become part of the battleground. And the rebels have shown their ability to strike into the very heart of both of Syria’s big, major urban centers. And it’s not just a rural battle. It’s now a battle everywhere in Syria.

BLOCK: But does that amount to a turning point in any way?

OKLAHOMA: Well, at first, everybody thought it would be the turning point. But the government has retaken both those cities. And I just was on the phone today with friends in Beirut, a Christian family that had left Aleppo to Beirut, and they are thinking of going home. They were talking about wanting to go back. And the government of Syria is saying they’re going to open schools soon, and these people are clinging to hope that somehow, they could return to their previous comfortable lives. And they wanted to enroll their kids in schools in Aleppo.

You know, that’s the way the battle is shifting back and forth. One minute, they’re fleeing, and the next minute they’re thinking of they can go back and resume their old lives, that maybe things will go back to the way they were.

BLOCK: I’ve been talking with Joshua Landis. He directs the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Professor Landis, thanks so much.

OKLAHOMA: A pleasure.

 

U.S. should stay out of Syria, University of Oklahoma expert saysSeptember 2, 2012
News OK by Silas Allen

Joshua Landis, the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, gave a lecture at OU Wednesday evening. Landis, the author of the political blog “Syria Comment,” said the civil war raging in Syria likely spells the end for Bashar al-Assad…

Taz - September 1, 2012

Syria’s Complicated PlightAugust 31, 2012
The Norman Transcript

Guests at Wednesday evening’s OU Associates dinner came away with different expectations on the crisis in Syria. But after hearing OU professor Josh Landis’ explanation of the region’s dynamics, it would be hard to disagree on a more complicated situation…

Assad Draws Shock Troops from Elite Sect in SyriaAugust 28, 2012
The Wall Street Journal by Bill Spindle

…”The Syrian army is being transformed into an Alawite militia,” said Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma. “As the Sunnis defect, more and more Alawites are being brought in, which is bringing in more of these villagers.”…

Violence continues to escalate in Syria with report of mass execution in DamascusAugust 27, 2012
Public Radio International by The Takeaway

Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, said the massacre over the weekend, if true, represents a serious escalation in the ongoing civil war.

“This is a bad sign for the future,” he said. “It lets us know there’s a very dark future in Syria. And there’s still a long way for escalation.”

Will Syria’s Kurds benefit from the crisis? August 10, 2012
BBC by Jonathan Marcus

Noted Syria expert Joshua Landis of the University of Oklahoma says that while Syria’s Kurds are a compact minority they are not a majority even in the north eastern border area with Turkey – where they constitute some 30-40% of the population.

They have sometimes tense relations with local Sunni Arab tribes who see this as an integral part of Syrian territory, reinforced by the fact that this is an area rich in oil resources vital to the Syrian economy.

Prof Landis argues that what is going on in the Kurdish north-east offers a useful pointer to President Assad’s “Plan B” should his control over key cities like Damascus and Aleppo crumble.

He says that the “embattled president withdrew government forces from the north-east because he couldn’t control it and wanted to focus on the most important battles in Aleppo and Damascus”.

“But in the back of the president’s mind, there may be the thought that empowering the Kurds is a way of weakening the Sunni Arab majority and underlining the risks of fragmentation should his government fall. It’s a strategy of playing upon divisions to sow chaos,” he said.

Syria High-level Defections Reveal Assad WeaknessJuly 16, 2012
Voice of America by David Arnold

“This regime depends on an alliance between Alawites and Sunnis,” said Joshua Landis, the director of the Middle East Studies Center at the University of Oklahoma. The departure of two prominent Sunnis may trigger a cascade of Sunni defections, he said.

Syria expert Joshua Landis: “Torn” about whether US should get more involvedJuly 16, 2012
Al-Monitor by Laura Rozen

Influential Syria expert Joshua Landis presented a bleak view of Syria’s prospects Monday, saying that the country is headed for “a hard landing and it’s going to get harder.”

Syria and Middle East SecurityJul 16, 2012
Wilson (Woodrow) Institute and C-Span

Joshua Landis spoke about political unrest and violence in Syria, as well as strategies to improve regional security. Among the topics he addressed were the rule of the Assad regime in Syria and the potential for U.S. .. Read More

Syrian General Defects, Heads To France As Assad’s Opponents Meet ThereJuly 6, 2012
NPR – Heard on All Things Considered with Robert Siegel, Host
Listen

Transcript

- ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

….How important is this? Well, we’re going to ask Professor Joshua Landis, who’s a Syria expert who directs the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. He’s joining us from Norman.

Welcome back to the program.

JOSHUA LANDIS: Good to be with you, Robert.

SIEGEL: What does it say here that Brigadier General Manaf Tlass has defected?

LANDIS: It’s very important. The Tlass family is a keystone of the Sunni Alawite alliance that’s been the bedrock of this regime for 40 years. The fact that they have bailed out says that this regime is falling apart and the essential alliances are falling apart. Increasingly, this struggle is becoming one of sectarian communities, the Alawites against the Sunnis.

In the beginning, this was – it seemed like – angry young men from the countryside. The Sunnis were low class. They were from rural districts. They had nothing to lose. For a long time, everybody has been saying, where’s the Sunni elite? How come they’re not defecting? Well, here is, you know, Mr. Sunni elite defecting.

SIEGEL: Now, there is a declaration of defection that’s posted on your website. You say it’s impossible to verify, but it looks reasonable. And, in it, Tlass says, I call for all my comrades in the armed forces, whatever their rank, who are dragged into this fight against their fellow Syrians and against their own ideas to stop supporting this regime. Would you expect others to follow him?

LANDIS: I do. I think that this sends a signal that Bashar al-Assad doesn’t have the confidence of his top generals. The place is falling apart. Everybody’s going to begin looking for the exit. The problem is that Manaf Tlass is a man of great wealth. His family has got power. He can take a golden parachute and land in Paris. He’s fine. Most generals in the Syrian army don’t have much money. They don’t have bodyguards. They don’t have a way out. They can’t get their families out and Manaf is able to get his wife out. His brother and father got out before him. His sister is out. His son, we believe, was at AUB, the American University in Beirut. He has been able to really manage this exit very gracefully.

SIEGEL: Manaf Tlass also wrote in that declaration of defection, I was – I’m quoting from the translation – “progressively dismissed from my place of duty in the armed forces.” That suggests that his misgivings about what the regime was doing were known to his superiors and it implies that there is at least some kind of debate that’s been going on among senior officers, doesn’t it?

LANDIS: It does. And friends who’ve recently been with him in Damascus, had dinner with him, say he that he was very bitter. He had been given the task of trying to bring Harasta and Duma, two neighborhoods of Damascus in the suburbs that had led this revolutionary process to heal. And he had gone out to the opposition. He talked with them. He got them to back off, but he also negotiated this and agreed that the regime would back off.

The regime center said, we’re not going to do it this way. They came down like a ton of bricks, breaking heads and we’ve seen the violence that’s ensued. And, in a sense, the people like Tlass, who were looking for a softer landing for the regime, got pushed aside. And he was sidelined. That’s the word and that’s certainly the word he’s putting out and bitter about it.

SIEGEL: Professor Landis, would Manaf Tlass strike Syrian opposition forces as either a possible leader of their cause or a transitional leader or is he too deeply associated with the old regime to be a credible leader of a new one?

LANDIS: You know, the opposition, I’m sure, are all celebrating. This is an important crack in the regime, but there is going to be tons of bitterness against him. This family has been an architect of this regime. They’re not going to embrace him.

There are others. Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam, who defected in 2005 and joined the Muslim Brotherhood. That fell apart. And there’s Rifaat al-Assad, the uncle of the present president of Syria, who is also in Paris, but none of them have been embraced by the opposition. In fact, they’ve been forbidden to come to opposition meetings, so I think the Tlass family, although people will be very happy to see the regime crumbling, they’re going to have a very hard time ingratiating themselves with the opposition.

SIEGEL: Professor Landis, thanks for talking with us once again.

LANDIS: Well, it’s my pleasure. Thank you.

SIEGEL: Joshua Landis, who directs the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

Assad Confidant Syrian Brigadier-General Manaf Tlas Defects - July 6, 2012
Bloomberg

“This will shake the regime to its bones,” Joshua Landis, director of the Middle East program at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, said in an e-mailed …

BBC The World Today – July 6, 2012

High-ranking general defects from Syrian militaryJuly 6, 2012
CNN

Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma, said Thursday in a post on his blog Syria Comment that if Tlas has indeed fled the country, “the regime will be thrown back on its heels.”

Tlas “was a close confidant of Bashar from his earliest days and part of his inner circle,” Landis said. And he “supported a policy of negotiation, flexibility and compromise” but “was overruled by the military leadership and has since looked for a way out.”

For example, Tlas had been ordered to solve problems in the restive Damascus suburban towns of Harasta and Douma, Landis said.

“He did a good job by negotiating with the opposition leaders in both suburbs, agreeing that both government forces and opposition would pull back,” Landis said.

But, Landis said, the “Alawi leadership said ‘no, that is not how we are going to do this.’ They pushed him aside and came down like a ton of bricks on the opposition in both neighborhoods, in an effort to assert state authority and crush the uprising through military means.”

Tlas is “perhaps the most senior Sunni in the regime because he was a close friend of Bashar,” Landis wrote.

“For 16 months the opposition has been complaining that elite Sunnis have not defected. That complaint can now, officially, be put to rest if the stories of Manaf’s flight prove to be true. In March it was rumored that he had led with his father and brother, but those stories were false,” he wrote.

Syrian Defector _ Regime Insider From Sunni FamilyJuly 6, 2012
Associated Press, BEIRUT

“The Tlass defection sends the sign that the regime is done for. No longer is this uprising merely about angry young men in the countryside. It has reached to the very top,” Syria analyst Joshua Landis wrote on his blog.

BBC 4 News Hour – July 5, 2012

BBC 5 Up all Night – July 5, 2012

Senior Syrian military officer defects - July 5, 2012
Washington Post by Liz Sly

Syria expert Joshua Landis wrote on his blog that Tlas had recently been pushed aside by the Alawite officers because he “supported a policy of negotiation, flexibility and compromise.

“He was overruled by the military leadership and has since looked for a way out,” Landis wrote. “If he has indeed fled the country, the regime will be thrown back on its heels.”

Russia Favors Syrian Solution to Political CrisisJune 28, 2012
Voice of America

Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma, told VOA the Obama administration has steadily gained confidence that its policy of regime change “is the correct one and is going to happen sooner or later.” He said Russia still appears convinced it can find a way to keep Assad loyalists in power even without the Assad family itself.

But Landis said the balance of power in Syria is changing. “The Arab majority, the Sunni Arab majority, is going to win this in the long run. That’s what’s been happening throughout the Middle East in the last several decades,” he said.

Landis predicted the transition from minority Alawite domination to Sunni Muslim rule in Syria would be protracted and messy. But he noted that Western and Arab sanctions on the Syrian government and assistance to the rebels are already bearing fruit.
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“Western Europe, the Gulf countries, America are starving the Syrian government with very strict sanctions. And they are feeding the opposition, pumping in money, arms [and] intelligence. This is rapidly changing the balance of power,” Landis said….

UN Members Differ on Conditions for Withdrawing Syria ObserversJune 20, 2012
Voice of America

Joshua Landis is the head of Middle East Studies at Oklahoma University. Speaking from Oklahoma, he said that some Western nations including the United …

Analysis: Options for military intervention in SyriaJune 19, 2012
BBC News

Joshua Landis, director of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, says: “Despite the growing chorus of politicians calling for US …

Syria crisis: UN says children used as human shields – live updatesJune 19, 2012
The Guardian

One contact of Syria watcher Joshua Landis highlights the plight of people in Talbiseh, one of the towns mentioned in Ban’s statement.

In Syria’s Sectarian Battle, Who Are The Alawites?: – June 17, 2012
NPR

Renee Montagne talks with Professor Joshua Landis about the Alawite sect in Syria. The minority group is the power base for President Bashar Assad’s government. Landis is director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

Syrian revolt is against tyrannyJune 17, 2012
Workers’ Liberty

According to Syria expert Joshua Landis, “Syrians have abandoned the regime in spirit, even if they have yet to defect in body”. “Sunni Syrians continue to …

The Wrath of the Shabiha: The Assad Regime’s Brutal Enforcers – June 13, 2012
TIME, By Rania Abouzeid

Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma who edits the prominent blog Syria Comment, says that the power and influence of the Shabiha has expanded during this time. “These shabiha who used to be in the shadows and looked down on by

Syria: Battle for the citiesJune 11, 2012
CNN – Damascus, By Ivan Watson, Omar al Muqdad and Shiyar Sayed Mohamed

“When the merchants of Hamidiya — the main souq (marketplace) — go on strike, you know you have lost the conscience and heart of Damascus,” wrote Joshua Landis, a Syria expert and director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “The Sunni bourgeoisie has now turned on the regime..”….

Dozens more killed as Syrian violence escalates - June 11, 2012
Detroit Free Press

“The psychological state of the people, after watching these massacres, is so far advanced,” said Syria expert Joshua Landis.

Rebels battle Syrian forces in DamascusJune 10, 2012
Atlanta Journal Constitution

But that is gathering strength in other places, in Aleppo, in Damascus and even the Kurdish regions,” said Syria expert Joshua Landis.

Why Obama faces a hopeless war in SyriaJune 10, 2012
Brisbane Times

… war when the US roto-rootered Saddam’s regime should have been expected,” the University of Oklahoma’s Joshua Landis, a leading Syria expert in the US, …

UN observers in Syria see gruesome evidence of a new massacre – June 9, 2012
Los Angeles Times

“The shabiha are increasingly taking over the military,” said Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma …

Stay Out of Syria
Foreign intervention to topple Bashar al-Assad’s bloody regime risks a fiasco on par with Iraq and Afghanistan.
BY JOSHUA LANDIS | JUNE 5, 2012 | Foreign Policy

Why US Intervention in Syria Could Spell Deep TroubleJune 6, 2012 ⋅
PRI-BBC Radio – By Joyce Hackel ⋅

Joshua Landis, director of the Middle Eastern Studies program at the University of Oklahoma, tells host Marco Werman that more assertive US intervention in Syria is unlikely to quell the violence there.

Houla massacre fuels Syrian resistanceJune 6, 2012
Financial Times

“The opposition seems to be getting stronger even as the exiled leadership has fallen apart,” said Joshua Landis, a Syria specialist at the University of …

Syria crisis causes spike in draft-dodgingJune 7, 2012
The Associated Press

… civil war along sectarian lines, is only going to become more sectarian as time goes on,” said Syria expert Joshua Landis at the University of Oklahoma.

Syria risks drawn-out civil war: expertsJune 7, 2012
AFP – The Express Tribune

“Washington needs interlocutors,” Joshua Landis, director for the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, told AFP, arguing that the …

Syria’s Shabiha: Killing in Bashar al-Assad’s nameJune 5, 2012
Al-Arabiya

… the Alawites are absolutely terrified of retribution if the government falls,” Professor Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies …

Will military intervention work in Syria?June 4, 2012
DigitalJournal.com

Joshua Landis the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies of the University of Oklahoma who specializes in Syrian affairs expressed a similar view in …

The Shabiha: Inside Assad’s death squadsJune 3, 2012
Telegraph.co.uk

… of retribution if the government falls,” said Professor Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma

Warrior worship thrives in Syrian conflictJune 2, 2012
Financial Times

But Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma, argues that the regime is likely to promote the cult of Maher among its footsoldiers in …

Fear of unknown hampers revolutionJune 2, 2012
Brisbane Times

… who “knew nothing about running a country or an economy”, says Joshua Landis, a pre-eminent Syria watcher and a professor at the University of Oklahoma.

Syria’s Bashar Assad Hangs Onto Power Despite TurmoilJune 1, 2012
NPR – Here and Now – hereandnow.wbur.org
Despite the rising death toll in Syria, including the reported massacre this week of more than 100 civilians in

Few Good Options Remain To End Syrian AttacksMay 29, 2012
Talk of the Nation

Guests: Rami Khouri, editor-at-large, Daily Star
Joshua Landis, director, Center for Middle East Studies, University of Oklahoma

The U.S. joined Britain, Germany, and other Western countries in expelling senior diplomats from Syria in response to the weekend assault that killed more than 100 civilians. Syria’s government denies any responsibility for the attacks, the latest in a year-long struggle for control of the country.

US, Allies Expel Syrian DiplomatsMay 30, 2012
BusinessWeek by By Donna Abu-Nasr and Nicole Gaouette

“The foreign community is raising the rhetorical bar once again in order to avoid direct military intervention,” Joshua Landis, director of the Middle East …

Red Cross Finds 5000 Syrian Refugees From Massacre SiteMay 30, 2012
Bloomberg

‘Tipping Point’ “The foreign community is raising the rhetorical bar once again in order to avoid direct military intervention,” Joshua Landis, …

As the U.S. and Others Toss Syria’s Envoys, Is Moscow Changing Its Mind About Assad? - May 29, 2012
Time Magazine - By Rania Abouzeid

Some observers say that the Houla massacre over the weekend, which left more than a hundred Syrians dead, including at least 32 children, may have prompted a shift in Russia’s stance…
So, Russia doesn’t support the Syrian government, yet it doesn’t want regime change but rather the implementation of a plan that effectively demands that Assad dismantle his own regime. Is that a shift in its policy?

No, says Professor Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma who edits the prominent blog “Syria Comment.” “Russia has a long history of saying that they’re not stuck on Assad, they’re critical of the regime, they don’t like the killing, that this has to be done in a peaceful way, a peaceful transition of power,” Landis says. “But under it all what they’re saying is they want to see a credible opposition that can take power peacefully before they’re willing to change their policy.”…

Syria further isolated after latest killingsMay 29, 2012
NPR – Marketplace.org

Joshua Landis directs the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Joshua Landis: The sanctions have been devastating for the Syrian …

Love in the Time of Syrian RevolutionMay 24 2012
The Atlantic by Justin Vela

“Some of those opposition members could fill up a micro bus and others could fill a pull-man,” explained Joshua Landis, a University of Oklahoma professor who edits the blog Syria Comment. “No one could mobilize more than this. And they were tired. They did not have any young people. They were mostly middle-aged. They had no connection to the youth of Syria who were deeply unorganized.” …

The Syian Paradox - May 22, 2012
New York Times Sunday Magazine, By ADAM DAVIDSON

….The Alawite ethnic and religious minority, which eventually assumed leadership of the party, was made up of poorly educated people from mountain villages who “knew nothing about running a country or an economy,” says Joshua Landis, a pre-eminent Syria watcher and a professor at the University of Oklahoma. The Alawites, he notes, had been given a role by the French colonial government in the military precisely because they had few ties to the majority Sunnis in the big cities: “They were very unsophisticated, and they didn’t have a deep community of cosmopolitan people from which to draw.” … As Landis notes: “They look out at the countryside and think: What if these people win? Are they going to respect capitalism? Are they going to preserve our wealth? Or are they going to come by and say, ‘Oh, you’ve been a collaborator for 40 years, and we’re going to take everything you own’? They don’t know.” …

Crony Capitalism, Syria StyleMay 22, 2012
NPR

Meet the guy who embodies everything that’s wrong with Syria’s economy. He’s the president’s cousin, and his nickname is “Mr. Ten Percent.”… Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma, explained how it works. In 2000, Bashar al-Assad passed a series of economic reforms which allowed entrepreneurs without government connections to open their own businesses. But there was a catch. If the business didn’t pay a cut to corrupt officials, “they could punch you in a hundred different ways,” said Landis. “They could force you to sell, tax you, or revoke your permission to change the sewage or electric lines.”…

Joshua Landis, Bassma Kodmani (spokesperson for the Syrian National Council), and Kamal Labwani (opposition leader who recently broke away from the SNC) discuss the Syrian opposition on aljazeera English. May 20, 2012

Assad: No News is Good NewsMay 18, 2012
The Majalla Magazine – by Alex Edwards

….The Syrian government itself has tried to manipulate the news agenda, announcing elections and reforms, and branded all of its opponents as “terrorists.” While it is true that the recent Syrian elections have been widely dismissed in the media as fraudulent, this has been acknowledged by experts on Syrian politics like Professor Joshua Landis, who described them as “the ruse that most thought they would be” on his blog….

Syria crisis – live updatesMay 16, 2012
The Guardian

… western concerns that the opposition militias could prove harmful to western and Israeli interests, Syria-watcher Joshua Landis says in a new blogpost.

US, allies sending a not-so-subtle message to Syria with Jordan War Games… - May 16, 2012
National Post

“The car bombs drove home the point that the insurgency is getting more lethal and capable all the time,” said Joshua Landis, a Syrian expert at the …

BC World News – May 15, 2012

Syrian Christians live in uneasy alliance with Bashar Assad -May 15, 2012
Washington Post, By S. Akminas

“They do support (Assad) and are feeling quite anxious,” said Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and a Syria expert. “Even so, there are plenty of Christians (in Syria) who believe that democracy in the long run is the best protection for Christians.”

Syria clashes ‘kill 23 troops’May 15, 2012
AFP

…”Law and order are also breaking down in Syria, which means that we should expect the spread of radical groups,” Middle East analyst Joshua Landis writes in …

CNN: Q&A: What options are left in Syria?  May 14, 2012

Syria expert Joshua Landis of the University of Oklahoma says a lack of finance means “authorities can no longer provide the basic commodities that have long been the central job of the government: providing grain and fuel.”

The World Food Program said recently that nearly 1.5 million Syrians were deprived of basic supplies. And the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization reported in March that Syria’s domestic grain output fell 10% in 2011 and that it would need to raise its imports by about one-third this year. But a shortage of hard currency may make that difficult….

Syrian army thwarts copycat bomb attack - May 13, 2012
Irish Times

…Commenting on the bombing, US analyst Joshua Landis said the rise of armed groups and the gradual erosion of security had provided an opportunity for …

Syrian Opposition’s Turn to Violence Creates U.S. DilemmaMay 10, 2012
Bloomberg – By Nicole Gaouette and Flavia Krause-Jackson

“America is not going to want to have its fingerprints on car bombs in Damascus,” said Joshua Landis, director of the Middle East program at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. “America is very careful about this because they don’t want to end up supporting terrorism, but that’s where we are headed. Insurgencies carry out terrorist acts. You can call it something different, but ultimately you’re blowing things up and trying to kill as many soldiers as you can.” …

Christians in Syria live with an uneasy sense of securityMay 10, 2012
USA TODAY – By Stephen Starr and S. Akminas

“They do support (Assad) and are feeling quite anxious,” said Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and a Syria expert. “Even so, there are plenty of Christians (in Syria) who believe that democracy in the long run is the best protection for Christians.” …

Assad Still Standing, By Stuart Draper and narrated by Joshua Landis
An excellent short documentary

Syrian Violence Continues as Monitoring Chief Heads to Country4/28/12
Voice of America
– by Edward Yeranian

Scholar Joshua Landis, who heads the Middle East program at the University of Oklahoma, argues that both the government and the opposition are using the brokered ceasefire to rearm and regroup: “The Annan peace plan is being used by both sides to regroup, rearm and reorganize. The Syrian regime is trying to convince the world that it’s fighting terrorism and Islamists and the opposition needs a breather to get armed, organized, [and] try to knit together some communications network that will help them bring together their scattered groups and militias and recover from this offensive waged against them by the regime in the last few months,” he said.

Syria faces neo-mujahideen struggle4/26/12
Asia Times
– by Victor Kotsev

According to Syria expert Joshua Landis, I doubt he will have a lot more success than the US has had in Iraq or Afghanistan, although, his army probably understands Syrians a lot better than US troops and commanders did Iraqis. But they will likely be provoked into over-reacting to terrorism, road-side bombs and demonstrations as they have already been. They can only lose the battle for hearts and minds. The Alawites cannot regain the battle for hearts and minds. They can only instill fear and play on Syrian anxieties about turning into a failed state, such as exists in Iraq. That is what worked in the past for the Assad regime. The regime has no new tricks up its sleeve. Syrian State TV is now trying to demonize the Saudi monarchy for being descended from Jews and backwards. That says a lot about the regime’s tactics.

Seven Killed in Syria as More UN Monitors Arrive4/25/12
VOA News

Middle East expert Joshua Landis, who lived in Syria, told VOA many citizens do not have faith that Mr. Annan’s mission will resolve the unrest.
“All the Syrians I know are very distraught. They are very worried. Even those who support the regime – and I know a fair number who do – they can’t see anything good coming out of this. They are getting angrier at Bashar. On the other hand, they don’t like the opposition.”

Activists: Syrian Troops Kill 27 Civilians4/25/12
VOA News

Middle East expert Joshua Landis, who lived in Syria, said that many Syrians do not have faith that the U.N. mission will resolve the unrest. “All the Syrians I know are very distraught. They are very worried. Even those who support the regime – and I know a fair number who do – they can’t see anything good coming out of this. They are getting angrier at Bashar. On the other hand, they don’t like the opposition,” Landis said.

The Question Remains: What Can Be Done to Hurt Syria’s Assad?4/20/12
Time
– by Vivienne Walt

“The problem is that Syria is potentially another Iraq,” says Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, who runs the Syria Comment blog. “We can kill Assad and destroy his military, that’s the easy part,” he told TIME on Thursday. “But then what? Then we have a failed state.”

Syria Elite Dance to Dawn as Risk of Assad Collapse Fades4/19/12
Bloomberg
– by Donna Abu-Nasr

“They’re frightened that a victory for the opposition means a decade of instability” if rural-based anti-Assad forces lacking economic competence take power, said Joshua Landis, director of the Middle East Studies program at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, who once lived in Syria.

World powers cling to Syria cease-fire despite fresh shelling, killings4/17/12
The Canadian Press
– by Ben Hubbard, Elizabeth A. Kennedy

“The international community is frightened,” Landis said. “Assad has laid down the gauntlet. He said, ‘I’m not going to leave, I’m going to burn the country down,’ and the world isn’t sure it wants to go down that road.”

Syrian expert: Russia is protecting Syria to save Iran4/16/12
Today’s Zaman
– by MİNHAC ÇELIK

Joshua Landis, an expert on Syria and the director of the University of Oklahoma’s Center for Middle East Studies, also told Today’s Zaman on Thursday that Turkey can “only lose if it invades” the country unilaterally, saying Ankara could quickly find itself in a military quagmire from which it “would not be able to extract itself until the Syrian regime is toppled … and a substitute government assembled.”

Analysts warn of mission creep in buffer zone plan4/15/12
Today’s Zaman
– by Noah Blaser

“And what if Turkey does limit its mission to a protecting a small humanitarian zone,” asks Joshua Landis, a long-time Syria commentator and director of the University of Oklahoma’s Middle East Studies Department. “What will Turkey do if a million or more Syrian refugees arrive in the safe zone, and the conflict drags on for years? Intervening has tremendous costs; it means committing yourself for the long term,” he writes in correspondence to Sunday’s Zaman.

CrossTalk: Still Syria?4/13/12
Russia Today

Fears Of Organ Failure For Hunger Strike Prisoner4/11/12
NPR

Listen to the Story
Ma l’Occidente non vuole la tregua4/3/12
Europa

È chiaro che la comunità internazionale si è impegnata ad affondare il regime», dice a Europa Joshua Landis, professore all’università dell’Oklahoma e autore del blog Syria Comment.

Activist: After Syrian pullout vow, crackdown appears to escalate4/3/12
CNN
– by Joe Sterling

Syria expert Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies and associate professor of Middle Eastern studies at the University of Oklahoma, said al-Assad recognizes that the “international community is working at cross-purposes,” and he has exploited that.

Syria Analyst: ‘We’re in for a Long, Protracted Struggle’4/2/12
PBS NEWSHOUR
– Interview By Judy Woodruff

Watch Syria Analyst: ‘We’re in for a Long, Protracted Struggle’ on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

Mideast expert: Syria faces Iraq-style insurgency4/1/12
Examiner
– by Michael Hughes

As Landis said during the Wright interview, “Syria needs a George Washington, but Americans cannot invent one for them.”

The hunt for ‘Plan B’ – planning for ‘the day after’ in Syria3/31/12
CNN
– by Elise Labott

“The U.S. is hoping these expats can deliver. They are telling you they can, but their actions and infighting are telling you they can’t,” said the University of Oklahoma’s Joshua Landis, who writes Syria Comment, a daily newsletter on Syrian politics. “The Obama administration fears they will implode or be overtaken by actors within Syria who are better connected to forces on the ground. The Obama administration doesn’t want to be caught going down the same yellow brick trail as the Bush administration did when it backed the Iraqi National Council only to discover that it didn’t have much purchase with Iraqi society.”

Why Religion is Fueling the Conflict in Syria3/29/12
NPR

Audio File
Analysts: Syria has ‘nothing to lose, something to gain’ from Annan plan3/28/12
CNN
– by Catherine E. Sholchet

“He has nothing to lose, and he has something to gain, and that is that he can potentially slow down the process of international isolation that is taking place,” said Joshua Landis, an associate professor at the University of Oklahoma who writes a daily newsletter analyzing events in Syria.

Syrian-Americans skeptical new peace plan will succeed one year after uprising3/27/12
Pasadena Star-News
– by Brenda Gazzar

Assad is seeking a way to end the uprising against his regime without stepping down or turning over power to the revolutionary forces, according to Syria expert Joshua Landis. “(Assad) believes that the Annan plan can be a step toward regaining international acceptance of his government,” Landis, director of the Center of Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, wrote Tuesday in his blog “Syria Comment.”

Syria’s Assad Retains Power as Foes Try Guerrilla Tactics3/23/12
Bloomberg
– by Flavia Krause-Jackson

Though he may be unable to crush the opposition, Assad may last at least until 2013, according to regional experts such as Joshua Landis, director of the Middle East Studies program at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. “It was a mistake to bet against the regime, which has got its act together, and chances are it will gain the upper hand,” Ken Pollack, director for the Persian Gulf at the National Security Council during the Clinton administration, said in a telephone interview. “The opposition, waiting in vain for outside help that isn’t coming, has had to switch tactics.”

The great Syria devide3/22/12
CNN
– by Bernard Gwertzman

The chances for the just-passed U.N. Security Council resolution calling for an end to the civil war in Syria being successful are “very slight,” says Joshua Landis, a leading Syria expert. Landis says that President Bashar al-Assad’s regime believes “that time is on their side and that they’re going to win this struggle,” while the opposition believes that the al-Assad regime is “hanging by a thread.”

Assad forces rout Syria rebels3/21/12
Financial Times
– by Michael Peel

Prof Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma, said the armed opposition was now likely to switch to a “classic … insurgency based on guerrilla warfare” having made a “big and costly” mistake by prematurely occupying territory it couldn’t hold against far superior government firepower

Why a U.N. Syria Peace Plan Poses a Challenge to Rebels3/21/12
Global Spin
– by Tony Karon

“In the first year of the Syrian uprising, the opposition naively believed that the entire Syrian population would embrace it and abandon the regime or that Bashar al-Assad would hand over power… [and that] a ‘Tahrir Square moment’ would arrive within months of the uprising’s start,” explains University of Oklahoma Syria expert Joshua Landis.

Alawites trapped in exestential struggle3/21/12
Financial Times
– by Roula Khalaf

“The Alawites are lost and they don’t know what to do,” says Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma. “For 40 years they have identified with the regime but now with the rise of sectarianism Syrians are having to put hatred in their hearts.”

When the Syrian Rebels Lose Their Halo3/20/12
The Atlantic
– by Robert Wright

We better get used to it, because there’s more car bombs and executions to come. That, at least, is the view of Joshua Landis, whose blog Syria Comment is among the best resources on the Syrian conflict. In his latest post he explained that, with the rebels’ attempt to hold ground in Homs and elsewhere having failed, they’ll have to revert to “phase II” in the standard insurgency playbook.

Tanks shell Damascus suburbs3/21/12
Financial Times
– by Michael Peel

Professor Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma, said the armed opposition was now likely to switch to a “classic . . . insurgency based on guerrilla warfare” having made a “big and costly” mistake by prematurely occupying territory it could not hold against far superior firepower.

Syria opposition struggling to unite3/16/12
Khaleej Times
– by AFP

“The opposition has to develop an insurgency and a leadership,” said Joshua Landis, director of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “If they cooperate together, the regime is toast but if they don’t the regime has a fighting chance.”

Syrian Opposition Leaders Break Up, No Chance of Make-Up3/15/12
PBS
– by P.J. Tobia

“For a long time, the opposition leaders wanted to take the ‘peaceful, peaceful’ approach with street protests and marches,” said Joshua Landis, who spent 2005 as a senior Fulbright Scholar in Syria and now runs SyriaComment, a blog about Syrian issues and news.

Real Housewives of the Arab Spring: Dictators’ big-spending spouses draw citizens’ ire3/15/12
TheStar.com
– by Olivia Ward

“This really contradicts the stories that she was trapped, like a beautiful Sunni princess, a hostage who would be killed or forced to leave her children behind,” said Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at University of Oklahoma.

Analysis: Options for military intervention in Syria3/14/12
BBC
– by Jonathan Marcus

Joshua Landis, director of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, says: “Despite the growing chorus of politicians calling for US leadership in Syria, the Obama administration is adamant that Washington should not take the lead, but follow regional partners, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.”

Dozens of Syrian civilians killed in Homs - 3/12/12
Financial Times
 - by Abigail Fielding-Smith

The regime has increasingly drawn on irregular forces to put down the uprising as the loyalty of army conscripts from the Sunni Muslim majority has become strained, said Joshua Landis, a professor of Middle East studies at the University of Oklahoma. He described the shabbiha as “shock troops for difficult fighting.”

Private sector’s hands tied as Syria sinks to its knees3/8/12
The National
– by Michael Karam

Assuming he is not exaggerating (Mr Landis is, if anything, known for being mildly sympathetic towards the Syrian president Bashar Al Assad, so the letter is unlikely to be carefully inserted propaganda), it is one of the most revealing dispatches from a city that had been relatively immune to Syria’s version of the Arab Spring.

Humanitarian Aid Stopped From Reaching Syrian Flashpoint Area3/2/12
Voice of America
– by Edward Yeranian

Middle East scholar Joshua Landis, who teaches at the University of Oklahoma, said the fact that government forces had regained control of Baba Amr would only enlarge the opposition movement in Syria: “There is going to be a temporary sense of victory by the Syrian government, but the opposition is gathering strength with every passing week,” said Landis. “The entire Sunni world, Arab world, is getting organized to take down the Assad regime, which has defied it, defied countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel and the United States for decades, now. But, more importantly, the Sunnis within Syria, the average Syrian farmer, the small town clerk are ready and mobilizing to fight against this regime.”

Free Syrian Army lacks organization in fight against Bashar Assad2/27/12

Reuters

Syria’s once urbane Assad shows ruthless streak2/27/12
Reuters
– by Mohammed Abbas

Faced with a growing population and dwindling resources, Assad, who heads the ruling Baath party, started by liberalizing the economy, but altered little else, a policy Oklahoma University’s Syria expert Joshua Landis called “foolish.”

No clear successor to Assad’s ‘coup-proof’ rule in Syria2/27/12
Reuters

…”The Assads have been planning for this for 40 years, for a Sunni uprising against them. And that’s why they’ve poured family members and sectarian members into the top upper ranks. It’s all about loyalty to coup-proof this regime,” said Joshua Landis, a professor at the University of Oklahoma who writes a newsletter on Syrian politics…

Progressives Embrace Humanitarian ImperialismAgain – 2/25/12
AntiWar.com
– by John V. Walsh

“Foreign Intervention in Syria? A Debate with Joshua Landis and Karam Nachar.” promised the headline on DemocracyNow! of 2/22. Eagerly I tuned in, hoping to hear a thorough exposé of the machinations of the US Empire in Syria on its march to Iran.

But this was neither exposé nor debate. Both sides, Landis and Nachar, were pro-intervention for “humanitarian” reasons. Nor did the host Amy Goodman or her co-host take these worthies to task for their retrograde views on imperial military action against a sovereign nation that had made no attack on the US. It was yet one more sign that the “progressive” movement in the West has largely abandoned its antiwar, anti-intervention stance…

Joshua Landis InterviewAs It Happens
cbc.ca
– Landis Interview starts @ 10 minutes

Joshua Landis on SyriaAssad will NOT fall (at least to 2013) – 2/23/12
blogging the casbah
– Scribed By Jesse Aizenstat

“Middle East analyst and Syrian guru, Josh Landis, has a new article out in the Spring issue of Middle East Policy. Here is the link for it.

On Josh’s blog, he bullet points the four mains reasons to support is conclusion: Why Syrian president Assad will make it to 2013…”

‘Friends of Syria’ Seek Ways to End Assad ‘Terror’ Campaign2/23/12
Bloomberg
– By Nicole Gaouette and Flavia Krause-Jackson

…With Syria’s large weapons stockpiles, and the potential for violence to keep getting worse and destabilize neighbors, the stakes are high for the meeting, analysts such as Joshua Landis said.

Risk of Failure

“These nations are coming together as a group, but they’re doing it in part out of fear,” said Landis, director of the Middle East Studies program at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. “The risk of getting nothing done is very high.”…

Foreign Intervention in Syria? A Debate With Joshua Landis and Karam Nachar. Part 1 of 2 – 2/22/12
Democracy Now!

Foreign Intervention in Syria? A Debate With Joshua Landis and Karam Nachar. Part 1 of 2 from Democracy Now! on Vimeo.

Foreign Intervention in Syria? A Debate With Joshua Landis and Karam Nachar. Part 2 of 22/22/12
Democray Now!

Foreign Intervention in Syria? A Debate With Joshua Landis and Karam Nachar. Part 2 of 2 from Democracy Now! on Vimeo.

BBC World Service News – 2/14/12

Center for Middle East Studies director discusses how he became involved with Syria2/14/12
The Oklahoma Daily
– by Ajinur Setiwaldi

When Joshua Landis earned a European history and French bachelor’s degree in 1979, he never foresaw becoming a leading expert on a Middle Eastern country currently in turmoil.

He knew he wasn’t going to be a doctor, a lawyer or a banker like his father, so he waved goodbye to his upbringing and decided to pursue an adventure…

More sanctions expected on Syria2-14-12
Marketplace World, American Public Media
– Interview by Kai Ryssdal

…Ryssdal: There is more talk everyday of what to do about Syria. Remind us what’s already been done — there are sanctions in place, right?

Landis: There are heavy sanctions in place. The United States had sanctions on Syria for three decades, but Europe joined in sanctions, and Europe provides almost 50 percent of trade with Syrians through the EU. And Europe stopped all energy imports and exports; companies like Shell withdrew; the commercial bank of Syria had been sanctioned — that means no letters of credit can be issued by the commercial banks that were honored in the international community. So there is a lot being done. The currency of Syria has collapsed by 50 percent. It went from 47 pounds to a dollar to 72, 73. So Syrians have lost half their purchasing power…

On Syria2/13/12
GordonCambell.scoop.co.nz

So far, the fighting in Syria has largely been limited to its smaller cities – Homs in particular. Aside from a few isolated incidents the revolt has not yet spread to major cities such as Aleppo and Damascus. All the same, as Syria expert Joshua Landis of the University of Oklahoma points out, Homs is a cautionary example of the dangerous fault lines that run through the entire society…

Syrian Instability: How Would Rest of World Respond?2/6/12
PBS Newshour

Watch Syrian Instability: How Would Rest of World Respond? on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

Crisis in Syria2/6/12
Charlie Rose, Bloomberg

Watch Here

U.S. shuts embassy in Syria as Obama tells Assad to go2/6/12
The Washington Times
– By Guy Taylor

…With outside pressure having failed to stop the crackdown, the international community is faced with “the hard realization that it’s going to be a war and it’s going to be decided on the battlefield,” said Joshua Landis, who heads the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

“That means it’s a long difficult battle,” said Mr. Landis, a Syria analyst. “Because the Syrian army is still quite strong, compared to the opposition.”

“The opposition has been growing stronger and stronger, but it is based on local militias that have been organizing on a very town-by-town basis,” he said. “They’re working on their own time schedules and under their own command, and there isn’t a lot of coordination.”…

With Syria Embassy Shut, What’s Next For The U.S.?2/6/12
NPR
– by Alan Greenblatt

…”People have not wanted to come to the conclusion that this is going to be a long, drawn-out civil war, and [that] Assad is going to have to be overturned militarily,” says Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “But people are increasingly coming to that conclusion.”

Pursuing diplomatic solutions to the Syrian problem, ultimately through the U.N., has been the primary focus and concern of U.S. policymakers, Landis says. But that course has reached a dead end, he suggests — at least for now…

As Syrian Violence Worsens, U.S. Diplomats Leave2/6/12
KERA News for North Texas
– By Alan Greenblatt

…”People have not wanted to come to the conclusion that this is going to be a long, drawn-out civil war, and [that] Assad is going to have to be overturned militarily,” says Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “But people are increasingly coming to that conclusion.”

Pursuing diplomatic solutions to the Syrian problem, ultimately through the U.N., has been the primary focus and concern of U.S. policymakers, Landis says. But that course has reached a dead end, he suggests — at least for now.

Instead, Assad may be further emboldened by the Security Council veto. Not that he’s hesitated to use force against his own people up to this point.

“It’s going to be a long and bloody struggle, because Assad still has a lot of supporters, and he has a professional army,” Landis says. “There is going to be no cavalry riding over the hill to save the Syrian opposition from a long struggle.”

Fighting over Syria at the UN2/2/12
Asia Times
– by Victor Kotsev

The situation in the country is perhaps best summed up in a conversation between a young taxi driver from the city of Idlib and Ehsani, a Syrian-American banker whose accounts frequently feature on the blog of Syria expert Joshua Landis:
“What does the president have to do to gain your support from this point?” I ask. “It is too late. There is nothing,” came the quick response. “How long will it take for the revolution to succeed and topple the regime?” “Four years,” came the quick response. Naturally, I act surprised. He makes a bet with me that it will be this long. The four years are needed before the country is truly starving and when even the eight-year old is forced to go down onto the streets to join the protests. “Only then, will the regime fall,” was his explanation.

How long can al-Assad remain in power?2/2/12
CNN

Russia Faces Onslaught at UN to Back Ouster of Assad in Syria – 2/2/12
Bloomberg BusinessWeek – By Flavia Krause-Jackson

…The Russians may still have time to re-think their position. Joshua Landis, director of the Middle East Studies program at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, said that while the regime is ultimately doomed, it may survive into 2013…

The Fall of the House of Assad?2/2/12
The American Prospect
– by Gershom Gorenberg

…Wagering on when the regime will crumble or what will replace it is equally risky. Assad has already defied Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s December prediction that the Syrian regime had only “weeks” left. Assad and the Alawite minority’s rule could last into 2013 or beyond but are “doomed in the long run,” writes Joshua Landis, an American expert and editor of the Syria Comment blog— an evaluation made more damning by Landis’s pro-Assad reputation. Then again, a Lebanese expert suggested to me this week that the Alawite-led army might try to follow the Egyptian example, sacrificing the dictator so that it can remain the real power. A Sunni takeover, perhaps by the Muslim Brotherhood, is also possible—or a sectarian war of all against all…

Russia resists UN drive to halt Syria ‘killing machine’2/1/12
Times of Malta
– by AFP

“It is the beginning of an all-out armed conflict,” said Joshua Landis, head of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.
“We are heading toward real chaos,” he added. “The Syrian public in general is beginning to (realise) that there isn’t a magic ending to this, there isn’t a regime collapse.

Syria’s fractured opposition a long way from victory2/1/12
CNBC
– By Kazi Stastna

…”There are a lot of different divisions,” said Joshua Landis, an associate professor and director of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma who runs the website Syria Comment.

“There’s the Islamists versus the secularists; there’s the young versus the old; there’s the inside leaders who are on the streets versus the SNC [Syrian national Council] type leaders … who have been out of the country for a long time and who are very savvy at talking to the West.”

There are also, he points out, ethnic divisions between Kurds and Arabs as well as religious divisions between the minorities and Muslims…

Russia resists UN drive to halt Syria ‘killing machine’2/1/12
Times of Malta.com

…”It is the beginning of an all-out armed conflict,” said Joshua Landis, head of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

“We are heading toward real chaos,” he added. “The Syrian public in general is beginning to (realise) that there isn’t a magic ending to this, there isn’t a regime collapse.

“People had hoped that by peaceful demonstrations they would cause Bashar al-Assad to resign or he would run away, or that there would be a Tahrir Square moment,” Landis said, referring to the epicentre of Egypt’s mass protests that toppled Hosni Mubarak last year.

“All that turned out to be wishful thinking.”…

Inside Syria: Escalating violence pushes country toward full-blown war1/31/12
Reuters TV

Landis Talks About Syria’s Assad Regime1/30/12
All Things Considered, NPR
– Interview by Audie Cornish
Listen Here

For more on the situation in Syria, Audie Cornish talks with Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. He says the Assad regime is likely to hang on far longer than anyone could have predicted when the uprising began last March.

Syrian Opposition Council Backed by U.S. Hindered by Divisions1/30/12
Bloomberg
– By Nicole Gaouette

…While the U.S. has lined up behind the main opposition coalition, the Syrian National Council, analysts such as Joshua Landis say the group faces high hurdles.

“There are divisions between old and young, urban rich and rural poor, secularists and Islamists, the opposition inside and outside the country,” Landis, director of the Middle East studies program at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, said in an interview. “It’s not promising.”…

Syria Troops Fight Rebels Outside Damascus Before UN Meeting1/30/12
San Francisco Chronicle
– by Massoud A. Derhally and Glen Carey, ©2012 Bloomberg News

…”The momentum has stalled, Russia is still there blocking the way for a condemnation that could lead to intervention and the international community is disorganized on this and nobody wants to lead the way,” said Joshua Landis, a Syria specialist who heads the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma in Norman.

“Syria sees this disorganization and they’re cracking down with greater force now to try and quell the demonstrations,” Landis added. “The situation is leading to greater conflict, Syria is deeply divided and the international community’s cavalry is not going to ride in there.”…

Syria Troops Fight Rebels Near Damascus Before UN Security Council Meeting1/30/12
Bloomberg
– By Massoud A. Derhally and Glen Carey

…“The momentum has stalled, Russia is still there blocking the way for a condemnation that could lead to intervention and the international community is disorganized on this and nobody wants to lead the way,” said Joshua Landis, a Syria specialist who heads the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma in Norman.

“Syria sees this disorganization and they’re cracking down with greater force now to try and quell the demonstrations,” Landis added. “The situation is leading to greater conflict, Syria is deeply divided and the international community’s cavalry is not going to ride in there.”

Syria Uprising: Religion overshadowing the Democratic push1/30/12
DayPress

…”The need for tremendous sacrifice and to shame Sunni supporters of the regime to defect is moving the opposition toward a sectarian logic similar to what we have witnessed elsewhere in the region,” says Joshua Landis, a Syria expert and director of the Middle East Center at the University of Oklahoma.

Syria, Egypt, Libya and Middle East unrest – Friday 27 January
the guardian

…The Assad regime is likely to last well into 2013–if not longer–despite Syria’s rapidly deteriorating economic and security conditions, according to Syrian watcher Joshua Landis, director of the Centre for Middle East studies at the University of Oklahoma.

Writing for Bitter Lemons, Landis says Assad is doomed but only in the long run.

So long as the Syrian military leadership remains united, the opposition remains fragmented, and foreign powers remain on the sidelines, the Assad regime is likely to survive, but all three of these elements are changing, even if gradually, in the favor of the opposition. The predominant role of minorities in the governments of the region, which was universal at the end of the colonial period, is being brought to a violent conclusion…

Syria’s Assad regime is doomed, but the battle will be long and bloody1/26/12
Bitter Lemons
– By Joshua Landis

The Syrian regime headed by Bashar Assad is doomed in the long run, but is likely to last longer than most believe. In December, the leader of Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood stated that President Assad would fall “in the next few months”, the US State Department proclaimed Assad to be a “dead man walking”, and Israel’s defense minister insisted that Assad would fall in a matter of weeks. This has turned out to be wishful thinking…

Arab League to Present Syria Plan to UN Security Council1/26/12
Voice of America
– Edward Yeranian

…Joshua Landis, who teaches at the University of Oklahoma and edits the website “Syria Comment,” says that rebel soldiers calling themselves the “Free Syrian Army” are disorganized and unable to match the much stronger government forces:

“It’s a bunch of little militias that have popped up in different towns and are taking no central orders. They call themselves the Free Syrian Army, but they’re not coordinating their military efforts. If they were coordinating, they’d all rise up and fight the Syrian Army at once,” Landis said…

Arab monitor mission to Syria limps on amid rifts – 1/25/12
Reuters

…”The Saudis don’t want a precedent of military intervention for democracy promotion,” said Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at Oklahoma University…

Assad’s inner circle1/23/12
ALJAZEERA
– by Cajsa Wikstrom

…Joshua Landis, director of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, says rumours of internal conflicts, mostly stemming from the Lebanese press and the opposition, originate in a “tremendous amount of wishful thinking that the Assad family will collapse on its own”…

Interview on NPR – 1/23/12
The Takeaway
– John Hockenberry

Interview on BBC – 1/22/12

Interview on France 24 TV – 1/20/12

Syria’s protesters are on their own1/9/12
The Guardian
– Brian Whitaker

“What we are witnessing … is not the clash of two titanic and centralised bodies: the state and the opposition. Instead, we are seeing the steady erosion of state authority and national institutions, as the opposition, which remains largely organised on a local basis, undermines central authority at many points.”

Archives for Landis in the News :: Current year :: 2011 :: 2010 :: 2009 :: 2008 :: 2007 :: 2006 (click on the year)

High-ranking general defects from Syrian military – CNN.com

www.cnn.com/2012/07/06/world/meast/syria-defector…/index.html

updated 2:23 PM EDT, Fri July 6, 2012 …. Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma, said Thursday in a post on his blog Syria Comment that if

3 May 2013