Landis in the News 2013 - Syria Comment

Landis in the News 2013


AlJazeera
Syria and the promise of 2014
December 29, 2013

“This year 2013 has seen a big transformation in the way the world looks at the Syrian problem. The stalemate between Assad’s forces and the new emerging Islamic front, which has been one of the big things that has come out of this year … at the beginning of the year there were hundreds of militias, today the Islamic Front has brought together some of the biggest militias and it can speak, I suppose, for the rebels better than anybody else.” Joshua Landis, the director of the Centre for Middle East Studies.

The New York Times
A Cease-Fire Is the Best Hope
December 21, 2013
by Joshua Landis

The best outcome that the United States can pursue today is a cease-fire. This will mean getting all concerned states to shut off the arms and military aid that they send to their proxies. Instead, aid must be directed to humanitarian needs. Only such a policy will stop the destruction of Syria, outflow of refuges and endless human suffering.

RT
End of the affair: Why US fell out of love with Syrian opposition
December 20, 2013

The US is reassessing its relations with the Syrian opposition and is now taking a second look at Assad, Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, told RT.
Landis added,”With the moderate Free Syrian Army troops being driven out of Syria by the more Islamist wing, America doesn’t really know what to do and this is where the new working relationship between Russia and the United States on Syria is very important for the US today because they face on one hand Assad, who they’ve said has to go, and they are looking at Islamists, which in many cases worry them more, as they think it’s possible that Syria would fall apart and become a base for some sort of transnational organization that could threaten America or Israel, its ally.”

Inter Press Service
Serious Paralysis on Pennsylvania Avenue
by Jim Lobe
December 20, 2013

“America is paralysed, as well as most of the West, because they can’t support Assad, but they won’t support these radical Islamists either,” according to Landis, whose blog, Syria Comment, has an influential readership here.

Global Post
Assad’s divide-and-conquer strategy proving effective against Syrian rebels
by Resse Erlich
December 18, 2013

According to some reports, General Salim Idris, head of the FSA, fled to Turkey after his men gave up the warehouse without a fight, leading the Obama administration to announce it would suspend “non-lethal aid” to opposition groups. This debacle revealed the weakness of the pro-US militias, according to Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

BBC News
Syria crisis: Time to rethink a future with Assad?
by Paul Adams
December 13, 2013

“Someone has got to bite the bullet and say Assad stays,” says Prof Joshua Landis, Director of the Centre of Middle Eastern Studies at Oklahoma University whose views are frequently sought by policy makers in Washington. “We don’t have another game in town.”

The Star
New year dawns darkly for Syria
by Olivia Ward
December 13, 2013

“What we’re looking at now are a lot of bad solutions,” says Joshua Landis of University of Oklahoma, a Syria expert. “(Bashar) Assad could stay in power. Militias are taking over territory. But any solution looks better than this war.”

The Daily Star
FSA struggles with Western aid freeze ahead of Geneva II
December 13, 2013
by Marlin Dick

The suspension of nonlethal military assistance nonetheless undercuts any “military option” that Washington can bring to Geneva, according to Joshua Landis, a Syria expert based in the U.S. “Most people understood the lack of control by Idriss, but an important pretense has now been pulled away,” Landis said. “Washington can go to Geneva, but it doesn’t have the military option.”

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

Voice of Russia
A new game of shared interests: the US, Russia and the Middle East
by Sean Nevins
December 9, 2013

The event had a series of panels that covered a broad range of topics, including Geneva 2, the Iran nuclear deal, and the role of the big powers in the region. Panelists at the conference included Zbigniew Brzezinski, Vitaly Churkin, Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Seyed Hossein Mousavian, along with Vali Nasr and Joshua Landis, both of whom gave one-on-one interviews with VOR America.

The Guardian
Critics question Catholic nun’s ‘alternative story’ on Syria civil war
by Raya Jalabi
December 05, 2013

“She’s probably not getting paid by the government,” said Joshua Landis, associate professor and director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “There is an element of truth to her narrative. There have been bad things happening to Christians in Syria … So you could imagine that she is a willing participant.”

Al Monitor
The United States, Russia and the Middle East Panel discussion
Moderator David Sanger
December 5, 2013

Al-Monitor’s conference with Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) held on Dec. 5, 2013, featured experts from government, academia, think tanks and the media discussing “The United States, Russia and the Middle East.”
* Joshua Landis, Associate Professor and Director of the University of Oklahoma’s Center for Middle East Studies

The Christian Science Monitor
Jihadi groups ‘devour’ Syria’s revolutionary children
by Alexander Christie-Miller
November 21, 2013

“Syria’s revolution is devouring its children, and ISIS is the devourer,” says Joshua Landis, director of the Center of Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, who runs the prominent blog Syria Comment.

The Dish
Syria’s Deadly Food Fight
by Andrew Sullivan
November 20, 2013

“Both sides want to be the food-giver, but Assad has made it very clear he’s not going to let anybody else but him feed Syrians,” said Joshua Landis, an expert on Syria at the University of Oklahoma. Assad’s hope: that “people will crawl back to him” for bread, salaries, and other subsidies. “And that’s what’s happening.”

PEN Canada
The Civil War in Syria
by Souad Sharabani
November 20, 2013

In this podcast, Souad Sharabani looks into the complexities of Syria’s civil war through in-depth interviews with foreign correspondent Eric Margolis and Middle Eastern Studies professor Joshua Landis.

CNN
Syria’s brutal war within a war gains momentum
by Tim Lister
November 18, 2013

Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, writes that according to one former prisoner, the ISIS “emir” in Azaz is a 16-year-old who has personally taken part in the torture of captives.
Recognizing the growing threat from ISIS, the Syrian National Council has accused it of “aggression towards Syrian revolutionary forces and indifference to the lives of the Syrian people.”

Foreign Policy
Why Has the U.N. Given Assad a Free Pass on Mass Murder?
by Colum Lynch
November 17, 2013

“Both sides want to be the food-giver, but Assad has made it very clear he’s not going to let anybody else but him feed Syrians,” said Joshua Landis, an expert on Syria at the University of Oklahoma. Assad’s hope: that “people will crawl back to him” for bread, salaries, and other subsidies. “And that’s what’s happening.

New York Times
Few Eager to Talk Peace in Syria, but a Mediator Won’t Stop
by Somini Sengupta
November 04, 2013

Joshua M. Landis, the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, blamed the Obama administration for insisting, on the one hand, that Mr. Assad must step down and, on the other, refusing to help the rebels oust him. “Brahimi is stuck with this two-faced approach,” Mr. Landis said. “He gave it the college try. He did what the Americans wanted, which is to really push for this political solution, but it’s quite clear there is no backing for it either among the Syrian opposition or among Western politicians.”

Al Jazeera
Inside Syria
Syria: Too Dangerous to cover?
November 03, 2013

Inside Syria, with presenter Hazem Sika, discusses with guests: Matthew Van Dyke, the filmmaker of a documentary about Syria called Not Anymore: A Story of Revolution; Joshua Landis, the director of the Center for Middle East Studies and a professor at the University of Oklahoma; and Zeina Khodr, Al Jazeera’s senior correspondent who has been covering the Syrian conflict from the beginning.

Al Jazeera
Hopes fade for Syria peace talks next month
by Michael Pizzi
October 30, 2013

With both sides — and their international backers — unwilling to budge on several key issues, the prospects for effective peace talks “are not good,” said Joshua Landis, a foremost Syria expert and author of the blog Syria Comment. “Everybody’s hiding behind what they would like to see happen, which is that Assad must go, but they can’t tell you how that’s going to happen,” said Landis about the countries pushing for a transition government. He called the conference a “charade.”

New Republic
The Secular Syrian Opposition May be Imploding
by Luke Jerod Kummer
October 29, 2013

“The Russian deal sent a clear message that the United States is not going to do the heavy lifting,” said Joshua Landis, the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “Right after that, everything started to move.”

Al Jazeera
Inside Syria: Geneva II: The last exit for peace?
October 20, 2013

“There are really two problems here. One is that Assad and his government remains strong and Syria in a sense is becoming partitioned – a de facto partition – with the government controlling the south and the west coast. The opposition members are controlling the north and east. Many of the political opposition [members] don’t want to go to talks in these conditions because … what you are getting is a demand of ceasefire and a de facto recognition of the partition of Syria. And that’s anathema for all the Syrian rebels,” says Joshua Landis, the director of the Center for Middle East Studies and a professor at the University of Oklahoma.

Associated Press
From England, one man feeds Western media on Syria
by Raphael Satter
October 20, 2013

“He’s just everywhere,” said Joshua Landis, the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “He’s the go-to guy for figures. … I can’t think of anybody who comes close.”

KGOU
Reporting On The Middle East: Syria And Egypt After The Arab Spring
by Brian Hardzinski
October 14, 2013

Landis called the conventional narrative in Syria of a growth in demand for reform, a brutish government that killed people, and turned the opposition even more radical is accurate, but glosses over 30 years of intense brutality by the ruling minority Alawite government. “The stakes are very high, because it’s become extremely sectarian, and extremely class-oriented,” Landis says. “Should they lose, there’s going to be hell to pay. It’s not just about reform. It’s about who’s going to win.

Foreign Policy
Assad Rules Out Negotiations With Pretty Much Everyone in Opposition
by John Hudson
September 30, 2013

“Assad is precluding almost all interlocutors with these sweeping preconditions,” Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at Oklahoma University, tells The Cable. “He has named the select groups that he believes are the appropriate opposition, which are seen to be stooges of his government by much of the opposition.”

Al Jazeera
Syria: Breaking the deadlock
September 29, 2013

“Obama is focusing only on chemical weapons. He is quite specific that he is not intending to change the balance of power on the ground or to solve the Syrian civil war…. Assad is not going to go anywhere … he is a power on the ground, he is not going to step down.” Joshua Landis, the director of the Center for Middle East studies

The Citizen
Professor to illuminate Syrian past and U.S. future
September 26, 2013

In his presentation, Joshua Landis will unravel the region’s long and bloody history and discuss ramifications of Syria’s status as the last minority-dominated state in the region. He will assess Syria’s future as a divided or united nation and examine which course the U.S. should chart.

Al Jazeera
Syrian rebels turn on each other as ‘big tent’ strategy collapses
by Michael Pizzi
September 20, 2013

“This is a fight that’s been brewing for some time,” says Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and a foremost Syria expert. “Both sides, particularly the FSA, have been trying to pursue a big-tent strategy and work together with all the extremists, but that’s failing.”

PRI
The Fighting in Syria Grinds on Despite Diplomatic Deal
September 17, 2013
Host Aaron Schachter

“Nobody is winning,” says Joshua Landis, Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oklahoma.
“The US is committed to arming and supporting the rebels just enough to keep fighting, but not enough to win. And that is a policy of stalemate.” Landis says the Assad government has benefited from aid from the Lebanese shi’ite group, Hezbollah, and from Iran.

Conflict & Justice: The Fighting in Syria Grinds on Despite Diplomatic Deal
Anadolu Agency
Russia offers way out for Obama, Assad
by Selen Tonkuş
September 16, 2013

Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma Joshua Landis told AA that Obama had a very weak hand to play when he realized that the American people did not want to bomb Syria and that Congress would vote against him. Landis added, “Russia’s credibility is now on the line. Putin must deliver something from Assad.” Elaborating on whether or not Russia could be trusted in the new process, Landis said, “After all, Russia has protected Assad at every turn. But in the present context – one in which the US is retreating from its customary position of Policeman of the world – this diplomatic effort is better than nothing.”

Yomiuri Shimbun
by Yoshikazu Shirakawa
September 12, 2013

“[Obama]’s in a sense being shoved into this problem against his will. So if you look at all of the variations that have taken place in the last few weeks, they make sense in this light. He does not want to be in this war, and he would rather lose a vote. The American people don’t want him to do it. The congress doesn’t want him to do it. Nobody wants him to do it.”

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.”

Bloomberg
Obama’s Decision Stirs Doubts About America’s Resolve
by Nicole Gaouette
September 01, 2013

“The regime people are taking great comfort from this,” said Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at Oklahoma University in Norman, Oklahoma. “They see it as a sign of Obama’s weakness, that he doesn’t really want to hurt them or get involved.”

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 conflict
May 06 2013
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.”

Al Jazeera
Inside Syria
Jordan: Straddling Syria sensitivities
May 05, 2013

“Any buffer zone that will be created will not only protect Jordan, I suppose, but also to create a friendly environment for Israel … one way to break the stalemate is for the opposition to trade the Golan Heights for Israeli help in bringing down Assad.” Joshua Landis, associate professor at the University of Oklahoma

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.

Al Jazeera
Inside Syria
Preparing for the day after al-Assad’s fall
April 07, 2013

“I think we are not anywhere near a post-Assad Syria, yes the battle for Damascus is beginning but the problem is that the Alawite community and others who back this government are in this for a duration and they are going to fight like mad.”
– Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma

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 Says
26 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.”

Al Jazeera
Interview with Joshua Landis: Obama under pressure to increase US involvement in Syria
March 18, 2013

Joshua Landis, director of Middle Eastern Studies at the Univesity of Oklahoma, tells Al Jazeera that the Syrian strike on Lebanese territory is part of a larger spillover of the Syrian war into neighbouring countries. He also says the Obama administration is fighting pressure to increase US involvement in Syria.

Al Jazeera
Inside Syria
Where is the Syrian conflict heading?
March 17, 2013

To assess the current situation, the possible outcomes and next steps, Inside Syria, with presenter Hazem Sika, is joined by guests: Yaser Tabbara; legal advisor for the Syrian National Coalition, and the Syrian opposition coalition in the United States; Joshua Landis, a Syria expert and director of Center of the Middle East Studies, and associate professor at the University of Oklahoma; and Danny Makki, the co-founder of the Syrian Youth in Britain – a group of Syrians advocating democratic change through dialogue.

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 SyriaJanuary 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.