Landis in the News 2014 - Syria Comment

Landis in the News 2014


December 31, 2014
Voice of America
Fragmented Syria in Search of a Referee
by Barbara Slavin
December 30, 2014

The regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad controls only about 45 percent of the country but 65 percent of the population, according to Syria expert Josh Landis.

Foreign Policy
U.N.’s Fear of Angering Assad Leaves Gap in Syria Aid Effort
by Colum Lynch
December 30, 2014

“The dilemma for the U.N. is this: Do you want to piss off the Syrian government, which rules 65 percent of the Syrian people, in order to deliver aid to 5 percent of those ruled by militias not at war with America and the United Nations?” said Joshua Landis, a scholar and director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. U.N. relief agencies feel they “have to go along with Assad because [their] duty is just to feed people,” he said.

Al Jazeera
Syria ‘ready’ for peace talks with opposition
December 28, 2014

Joshua Landis, professor of Middle East studies at the University of Oklahoma, said the US was unlikely to throw its weight behind any Russian-initiated talks since Moscow insists that Assad should stay in power. “The US is bombing Assad’s major enemies, ISIL and al-Qaeda, but at the same time they don’t want to talk to Assad,” he told Al Jazeera. “They don’t want to have anything to do with him.”

CNN
New talks between Syria and opposition?
December 27, 2014

Joshua Landis of the University of Oklahoma talks about the possibility of new Syrian peace talks brokered by Russia.

Reuters
Syria’s war enters new year more fragmented than ever
by Alexander Dziadosz
December 25, 2014

Even with a safe zone, it would take far more resources than the United States has committed to “take a handful of fractious militias that own maybe 1 or 2 percent of Syria and turn them into the conquerors of the entire land,” said Joshua Landis, an expert on Syria at the University of Oklahoma.
He pointed to the hundreds of billions of dollars and years of military occupation the United States spent in Iraq, where the government is still struggling. “Nobody’s going to do that for Syria … All sides, all these proxy armies in Syria – their supporters are willing to spend enough money so that they don’t lose and not enough money that they can win,” Landis said.

NPR
For Syria’s President, The Year Ends Better Than It Began
by Alice Fordham
December 24, 2014

“I think Assad is in a stronger position today in many respects, certainly on the battlefield, and he has the United States as a strategic ally,” says Joshua Landis, a longtime Syria analyst and professor at the University of Oklahoma.

Middle East Eye
Iran ‘transformed’ Syrian army into militia:analysis
December 18, 2014

“If the Alawites started to fight amongst themselves, the whole edifice would collapse,” said Joshua Landis, director of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

Bloomberg
Rockefeller’s Memory Endures at Aleppo Hotel as Clashes Escalate
by Donna Abu-Nasr
December 09, 2014

For Assad, taking Aleppo is part of a strategy to keep the country’s main four population centers, said Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, who once lived in Syria. “If he takes Aleppo, the struggle for Syria will be over in many ways,” said Landis. With Aleppo and its countryside, Assad would control 75 percent of the population while the opposition has at least 50 percent of the territory, he said.

Newsnet 5 ABC Cleveland
U.S. recruits in Syria more focused on toppling Assad than fighting Islamic State
by Elaine M. Grossman
December 8, 2014

“Saudi Arabia tried to put together a tribal leadership for the southern command that was going to be out of Amman, Jordan, and it didn’t work.” Joshua Landis, a scholar at the University of Oklahoma, said in an interview.

Market Watch
Here are 5 global problems cheaper oil may fuel
by Tom Bemis
December 8, 2014

Before the U.S. bombing campaign began, the group was making as much as $1 million a day smuggling oil to users in Syria and Turkey, according to Treasury Department estimates in late October. However the ability of the U.S. to cut off all the oil is limited because it won’t bomb the actual oil wells, and the refining of the oil is done in simple backyard facilities, according to Joshua Landis, Director of the Center for Middle East studies at the University of Oklahoma.

The Philadelphia Inquirer
Worldview: Different approach on Syria
by Trudy Rubin
December 05, 2014

“The regime doesn’t want to go in and take Aleppo,” says Joshua Landis of the University of Oklahoma. “It just doesn’t want the rebels to have it.” A freeze in Aleppo would enable Assad to focus on attacking rebels elsewhere. Not surprisingly, while some rebels in Aleppo are interested in the freeze because it would save them and many civilians, rebel groups outside are wary. De Mistura is trying to convince them that “what is at stake is the survival of their own people and saving Aleppo.”

Al Arabiya
Interview with Syria expert Joshua Landis
by Talal al-Haj
November 29, 2014
العربی
أميركا.. آخر العلاج تقسيم سورية
by غازي دحمان
November 28, 2014

لا يقلّل من جدّية هذا الطرح أنه جاء في برنامج تلفزيوني، وبواسطة باحث أميركي، جوشوا لانديس، إذ دائماً ما كان يتم التبشير بالاستراتيجيات الأميركية على شكل هذا النمط من البلاغات، التي قد تتخذ، مرة، شكل محاضرة أكاديمية يلقيها فوكوياما، ويعلن فيها بداية هيمنة القطبية الأميركية على العالم، أو يفجّرها صموئيل هنتغتون، في كتابٍ يتوقع فيه بداية حرب الحضارات بين المسيحية والإسلامية، ويلتقي لانديس معهم، بامتلاكه الأداة اللازمة، بعد أن وضع الإطار النظري ورسم حدود سورية الشمالية الشرقيّة للسنّة، وسورية الغربية الجنوبية مع نظام الأسد، أما المبرر فهو من أجل حياة أفضل للطرفين.

Al Arabiya
ISIS controls an area the size of Britain: Syria expert
November 28, 2014

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) controls a third of Iraq and a third of Syria, a land mass that is the size of Britain, Joshua Landis, a top Syria expert and the director of the University of Oklahoma’s Center for Middle East Studies, told Al Arabiya’s Diplomatic Avenue on Friday. “The country that ISIS is building is the size of Great Britain; it has about eight or nine million people in it,” he said.

Voice of America
Because You Asked: Why Hasn’t US Struck Assad?
by Cecily Hilleary
November 26, 2014
“The U.S. got ‘spooked’ by the rise of Islamists in Egypt after Mubarak’s ouster,” said Joshua M. Landis, Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and editor of the blog Syria Comment. “When we removed dictators in Iraq and Libya, we simply facilitated the rise of Al Qaida, and that’s why we have supported dictators throughout the Middle East for forty years–because we don’t want Islamists to take over.”
The Christian Century
Refugee crisis
From the editors
November 25, 2014

The Christian Science Monitor
UN pushes for targeted Syrian ceasefires in hopes of delivering aid
by Nicholas Branford
November 25, 2014

“The UN cease-fire plan suggests that the international community is reconciling itself to the possibility that Assad is staying and may win back parts of Syria, in particular Aleppo,” says Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, referring to Syria’s second city. “This plan could help civilians and activists escape starvation if they are surrounded and cut off. It is the least the UN can do in a situation where it is helpless to change the balance of power on the ground.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer
Worldview: No one has coherent long-term solution to ISIS
by Trudy Rubin
November 24, 2014

Joshua Landis, a top Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma, says the only hope is the de facto partition of that country, with Assad (backed by Russia and Iran) agreeing to a cease-fire in the north and east. This rebel zone would be protected by a no-fly zone policed by U.S. and allied air power; Assad would continue to hold the heartland. Then, backed by Turkey, surviving moderates north of the cease-fire line could take on ISIS. Does this idea have potential? Could the United Nations’ talented special emissary for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, help organize the cease-fire?

Huffington Post
What’s Wrong With This picture? For U.S. Fight Against ISIS, Everything
by Akbar Shahid Ahmed, Ryan Grim
November 23, 2014

Joshua Landis, the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and the founder of the Syria Comment blog, said the U.S. dilemma is particularly complex because compromise with Iran’s regional allies to focus on the ISIS threat means different things in different arenas. “In Iraq, the United States has a partner, because it’s not ashamed, it’s not afraid to work with the sectarian Shiite government, because 60 percent [of Iraq] is Shiite,” Landis told The Huffington Post. “Even if they’re as brutal as Assad, America can say they’re the majority. In Syria, they can’t. They’ve demonized Assad and there’s been such a bloody civil war, so they can’t back him up.”

The Wilson Center
The Consequences of Misunderstanding the Middle East
by Aaron David Miller
November 19, 2014

Listen to Joshua Landis’s assessment, probably America’s top expert on matters Syrian: “If the militias overran Syria’s regime-controlled cities, a new major wave of refugees would set out for Lebanon and Jordan to spread the conflict into the rest of the Middle East. This is exactly what the United States does not want. It hopes to contain the violence inside Syria. The regime still controls some 65 percent of the Syrian people. Many regime-controlled cities have not been involved in war directly, such as Hama, much of Damascus, Latakia, Suwayda, Jableh, Tartus, Baniyas. For hundreds of militia men to overrun them would mean wide-scale looting and revenge against those who have fought in the Syrian army or are seen to be collaborators.”

The Washington Post
Some Alawites are beginning to question their support for Syria’s Assad
by Hugh Naylor
November 12, 2014

Joshua Landis, a professor of history at the University of Oklahoma who has regular contact with Alawites in Syria, said such criticism signals a shift in their thinking over how to end the war.

CNN
Fareed Zakaria GPS
Is backing Syria rebels a mistake?
November 8, 2014

PBS Newshour
How do gains by al-Nusra affect U.S. strategy in Syria?
by Judy Woodruff
November 6, 2014

Joshua Landis: “Today, the broad sentiments among Sunni Arabs who support the rebellion is that the United States is trying to find hired hands. And most Syrians don’t like them. We’re bombing Nusra. We’re bombing the al-Qaida groups. And we have killed a number of people with the Islamic Front who are allied with them, a very popular, broad-based group.”

The Times
US plans for Syrian rebel army in crisis
November 3, 2014
by Tom Coghlan and Sara Elizabeth Williams

The Guardian
Besieged town of Kobani gets reinforcements in fight against ISIS
by Constanze Letsch, Fazel Hawramy and Emma Graham-Harrison
October 29, 2014

“Kobani turned into an opportunity, it became symbolic for the US to have a win, or at least defend people who were begging us to defend them,” said Joshua Landis, director of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “Strategically its not important, but it has tremendous symbolic value.”

Foreign Policy
Syrian rebels oppose new U.S. war strategy
by John Hudson
October 23, 2014

“Kobani is a meat grinder for jihadis right now — perfect for the U.S.,” said Joshua Landis, director of the University of Oklahoma’s Center for Middle East Studies. “But I don’t think the U.S. is even going to try to roll up IS around Raqqa in the near future…. They’re probably not even going to deal seriously with Aleppo until they’ve consolidated allies in Syria and made progress in Iraq.”

Taraf
Suriye, bölünmeden olmaz…
by Haberi Yazdir
October 20, 2014

Dünyadaki önemli Suriye uzmanlarından akademisyen Joshua Landis, Suriye’de yaşananları, Orta Avrupa’da yaşanmış olan ‘büyük tasnif’e yani insanların etnik ve dini kimliklerine göre ayrışmasına benzetiyor. Oklahoma Üniversitesi Ortadoğu Çalışmaları Merkezi Direktörü Doç. Dr. Joshua Landis, Suriye’de ayaklanmadan sonra en önemli bilgi kaynaklarından biri hâline gelen Syria Comment blogunun yazarı.

The Washington Post
Obama needs to dial back his Syria strategy
by Fareed Zakaria
October 16, 2014

Scholar Joshua Landis — whose blog Syria Comment is an essential source — estimates that the Assad regime controls about half of Syrian territory, though much more of the population.

US still searching for credible allies in Syria
by Ken Dilanian and Zina Karam
October 16, 2014

“Most of these groups have worked closely with Jabat al Nusra at some point in the last year or so,” said Joshua Landis, the Arabic-speaking director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, referring to the head of Syria’s al-Qaida spinoff. “Some of them have worked hand in glove with ISIS. For Americans to call a sit-down and say ‘Here’s where we’re bombing’ doesn’t make any sense. We don’t trust these guys.”

Al-Bawaba
Interview with Syrian expert Professor Joshua Landis
by Danny Postel
October 14, 2014

Energy Compass
United States: Islamic State Strategy Still Indistinct
October 10, 2014

PRI
The US has lots at stake in the Syrian border town of Kobane
by Joyce Hackel
October 7, 2014

“This is the first time that our overall strategy is Syria is being challenged,” says Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Oklahoma University. After years of trying to avoid involvement in Syria, he argues, events may have outstripped the US’s ability to hold back.

The Australian
Extremists near Syria-Turkey border a moving, shape-shifting target
by John Lyons
October 4, 2014

“Turkey says that ISIS is not a terrorist organisation but Saudi says it is and (therefore) will help train the Syrian opposition,” leading US-based Syrian analyst Joshua Landis told The Weekend Australian. “Still, many Arabs will view this as a military campaign that will help Iran and Shi’ites dominate Sunnis.”

All Directions الجهات الاربع
الجهات الأربع – أوباما ومواجهة #داعش : توسيع التحالف… والعمليات؟
October 3, 2014

AlJazeera America
Questions for Obama’s Syria plan: Who are the moderate rebels?
by Michael Pizzi
October 2, 2014

According to Joshua Landis, a leading U.S. Syria scholar based at the University of Oklahoma, “the last thing we want to do is destroy the rest of government-controlled Syria. There would be millions more refugees pouring into Lebanon and Jordan, and we’d turn the rest of Syria’s cities into Aleppo and Homs,” two cities that have been gutted by the three-year civil war.

The Seattle Times
Obama efforts to oust Assad pushed to back burner
by Julie Pace
September 30, 2014

“If you destroy the central government, you’ve got the Iraq problem or the Libya problem, which is you’ve got no state left,” said Joshua Landis, the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

BBC
Alton Nolen: A jihadist beheading in Oklahoma?
by Joanna Jolly

September 29, 2014

The violent images posted on social media by Islamic militants could easily destabilise people who have no connection to Middle East, Landis says.

Philly.com

Worldview: Can Obama achieve his objectives in battle with ISIS?
September 28, 2014
by Trudy Rubin, Inquirer Columnist

Top Syria expert Josh Landis, at the University of Oklahoma, believes the United States might have to threaten to bomb Assad’s forces if they try to take advantage of the allied airstrikes to destroy the moderates. In effect this would mean forcing a cease-fire between vetted groups and the regime, which might ultimately facilitate negotiations.

CNN
Obama’s Syria dilemma: Does hurting ISIS help al-Assad?
September 24, 2014
by Jethro Mullen

“Syria is a fragmented country, and most of these militias have a very town-centric quality. They’re based on clan structures and regional structures,” Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, said in an interview with WBEZ earlier this month.”None of them have really developed a national scope, except for the Islamist ones, like al Qaeda and ISIS,” he said.

The sheer number of different militias across Syria — estimated in the hundreds — runs the risk of turning Syria into a patchwork of warlord fiefdoms.”If you just give them money without unifying them, you’re going to get Somalia,” said Landis.

Los Angeles Times

Lack of reliable partners in Syria poses daunting challenge to U.S.
September 23, 2014
by Patrick J. McDonnell

“We spent hundreds of billions of dollars and years of effort trying to build up forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, and look at what we got for it,” said Joshua Landis, a Middle East expert at the University of Oklahoma. “We don’t have a partner in Syria. That’s the reality of the situation.”

Syria Deeply
U.S. Strikes on ISIS Create ‘Shock,’ Face the Fallout
by Katarina Montrgomery
September 23, 2014

Joshua Landis: I think many Syrians are excited about the strikes. The kind of response I’m getting is, we need something to happen. The stalemate, the progress of radicals in taking territory, needs to be reversed. I don’t think anyone trusts the U.S. to fix Syria; that’s the underlying anxiety everyone is feeling.

CNN
Finding the ‘right’ rebels in Syria: One tough job
by Tim Lister
September 22, 2014

Joshua Landis, a veteran Syria-watcher and Associate Professor at the University of Oklahoma, says the situation inside Syria is more fluid and unpredictable than ever, with rebel groups confused about U.S. intentions and knocked sideways by ISIS’ ruthless advance. Landis says President Barack Obama is the reluctant warrior — forced by domestic politics and the outrage over the beheading of two Americans by ISIS to pledge not just to degrade but to destroy ISIS. That means going after its Syrian heartland — and without American “boots on the ground” mobilizing Syrian rebel groups to help.

Maclean’s
Iraq: The unwinnable war?
by Michael Petrou
September 18, 2014

Joshua Landis, an associate professor at the University of Oklahoma, believes efforts to rebuild pluralistic states in Iraq and Syria are futile. The entire region, he says, is “going through a great ethnic rebalancing,” meaning ethnic and religious minorities will be killed or driven from their homes, and he doubts America or any other outside power is willing to invest the blood and money necessary to stop it.

The Florida Times Union
House OKs Syrian money;many wonder if rebels trustworthy
by Clifford Davis
September 17, 2014

“There isn’t one, which is a problem,” said Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “According to the CIA, about 1,500 rebel groups operate in Syria. So the United States is trying to herd these cats and they’re all looking out for their villages and their interests.”

PRI
ISIS is selling cheap oil to its enemies-from Syria’s government to the Kurds
Producer Stephen Snyder
September 16, 2014

“It seems that this is going through brokers,” says Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at Oklahoma University. “In particular, one person who’s been fingered is a very prominent Christian businessman close to the [Syrian] president who buys it, then arranges with the Syrian government to have it shipped back.”

The Washington Post
Obama reneges on his foreign-policy promises
by Katrina vanden Heuvel
September 16, 2014

The Islamic State’s gruesome beheadings of two American journalists helped increase the drumbeat for war, finally moving public opinion to support bombing — but not troops. “We’re going to war because we’ve been spooked,” Joshua Landis, a Syrian specialist at the University of Oklahoma, noted.

World Bulletin
Iraqi official briefs Syria’s Assad on efforts against ISIL
September 16, 2014

Joshua Landis, an expert on Syria at the University of Oklahoma in the United States, said it was likely Washington and Damascus would use Iraq to communicate indirectly about ISIL. “We talk to the government in Iraq, they are going to talk to the government in Syria, and it is only going to be a matter of seconds before it is communicated,” he said. “I am sure American intelligence officers will factor that in and send messages through the Iraqis.”

AlJazeera
Inside Story
Host Ray Suarez
September 15, 2014
The Seattle Times
Critique on foreign policy and Islamic State from an Obama fan
by Nicholas Kristof
September 12, 2014

“We’re going to war because we’ve been spooked,” notes Joshua Landis, a Syria specialist at the University of Oklahoma. “But if we do it wrong, we could ensure that the violence spreads.”

WBEZ’s Worldview
Obama to announce new ISIS strategy
September 09, 2014

An interview and discussion about possible strategies for containing ISIS with Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

The Washington Post
Syria’s Assad thinks he is winning. He could be wrong.
September 09, 2014
by Liz Sly

Alawites are not about to join the overwhelmingly Sunni opposition and see no obvious alternative to the current regime, said Joshua Landis, a professor of history at the University of Oklahoma.
“There is a lot of anger. The massacres in Raqqah were very humiliating and depressing,” he said. “This is not tantamount to the collapse of the regime. It is not an Alawite revolt.”

Rudaw
Obama’s anti-IS Strategy Emerges, Questions Remain
September 07, 2014
by James Reinl

“It’s going to be Americans flying the planes. But ultimately, who will the US partner with on the ground?” Joshua Landis, a scholar at Oklahoma University, told Rudaw. “We’ve seen the US partner with the Peshmerga and the Iraqi army. In Syria, it’s much more complicated, but even in Iraq, how far do the Kurds want to go? They don’t want to extend themselves and rule over Sunni areas.”

Huffington Post
Striking ISIS In Syria May Require Coordination With Assad Regime
September 04, 2014
by Sabrina Siddiqui

Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies and associate professor at the University of Oklahoma, cautioned that such declarations might be premature.

“The problem with making those kinds of statements and washing your hands of Assad is that if you sit down with the authorities in Baghdad and you show them what your drones that have been flying over Syria tell you about ISIS, chances are that somebody in that room, some Iraqi in that room, is going to call up Bashar al-Assad within minutes after the Americans leave and say ‘here’s where the concentration of ISIS are, go bomb them.’ And Assad will.”

“Now that’s not America coordinating with Syria, but it sort of is,” he added.

WHYY Radio Times
with Marty Moss-Coane
ISIS and the Syria conundrum
September 3, 2014
World Politics Review
U.S. Policy in Syria Complicates Jordan’s Response to Islamic State Threat
September 3, 2014
by Frederick Deknatel
The Jerusalem Post
Jihadists in Syria not likely to open a new front against Israel-for now
August 28, 2014
by Ariel Ben Solomon

Joshua Landis, a Syria expert and the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, told the Post, “It makes no sense for any group to attack Israel, because the balance of power doesn’t favor them. “The problem for Israel is that, for rebel groups, winning on the battlefield is not always the measure of success, because these groups must prove their ideological bona fides,” said Landis. This means they “must prove that they mean what they say and stick to their principles.”

The Kashmir Monitor
Obama ‘authorizes spy flights over Syria’
August 27, 2014

But the dilemma Obama was facing was the lack of partners in Syria, Landis said. Neither the Syrian regime, nor the fragmented moderate rebels could be seen as reliable allies.
Landisk, who is the director of the centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, said that Obama must be clear about what he intends to do in the long-term.

Syria Deeply
Tabqa Victory Consolidates ISIS Control Around Raqqa-But Urban Showdown Still to Come
August 27, 2014
by Karen Leigh

Joshua Landis: It is another feather in their cap. They have taken three military bases around Raqqa, while the other militias (like Nusra) that had tried to take bases in the province struggled. And here’s ISIS blowing them away. This demonstrates that ISIS got a lot of new equipment and hardware from its conquests in Iraq. They’ve got heavy cannons and other stuff that can blow apart these bases.

Al Jazeera
Obama ‘authorizes spy flights over Syria’
August 26, 2014

Landis, who is the director of the centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, said that Obama must be clear about what he intends to do in the long-term.

Al Jazeera
US flights ‘to spy on Islamic State’ in Syria
August 26, 2014

Joshua Landis, an analyst on Syria, told Al Jazeera that advisers to Obama had been telling the president that the US would only be able to uproot the Islamic State group if they got involved in Syria. But the dilemma Obama was facing was the lack of partners in Syria, Landis said. Neither the Syrian regime nor the fragmented moderate rebels could be seen as reliable allies.

The Washington Post
The Islamic State or Assad? Isn’t there another choice?
by Adam Taylor
August 25, 2014

Joshua Landis, director of Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, argues that a key problem is that the more secular rebel groups don’t have the support they would need to actually control Syria.

Voice of America
Syria Urges International Help in Fighting Islamic State
August 25, 2014
by Edward Yeranian

Joshua Landis, who heads the Middle East Studies Department at the University of Oklahoma says he thinks there is “little possibility in Washington of a formal alliance or cooperation of any sort” with the Assad regime.
He says that “most military experts in Washington are calling for something akin to ‘mowing the lawn,’ as we just witnessed Israel do to Hamas in Gaza.” He believes that U.S. authorities want to “kill and disrupt IS concentrations and leaders in Syria [but] without partnering with [either the rebels or the Syrian regime]………to take over IS-held territory.”

NPR All Things Considered
In Syria, The U.S. Weighs A Range Of Unpalatable Options
by Michele Kelemen
August 20, 2014

Meanwhile, Joshua Landis, a Syria analyst, notes that any action the U.S. might take could play into Assad’s hands.
“It means helping his government, because any attempt to destroy ISIS, which owns a third of the country, is going to rebound to his benefit unless the other militias take that territory,” says Landis, who teaches at the University of Oklahoma and runs the blog Syria Comment.

The Christian Science Monitor
Could arming the ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels have changed history?
by Dan Murphy
August 15, 2014

And if Alloush were to hold on to them, what might he do some day? Joshua Landis, who studies Syria at the University of Oklahoma, wrote about Alloush last year. In Mr. Landis’s analysis, “Zahran Alloush’s rhetoric and propaganda videos provide much insight into his world view, attitude toward Syria’s religious minorities, and vision for Syria’s future. The difference between his ideology and that of al-Qaida groups is not profound. Rather, it is one of shades of grey.”

AlJazeera America
With Syria Buried in the news, hopes fade for ending world’s bloodiest war
August 1, 2014
by Michael Pizzi

In Syria, however, “there’s no good choice,” according to Joshua Landis, a Syria expert and the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “Its a broken country with no future, no resources and a lot of militias that are diametrically opposed to American values,” he said.
“We armed the mujahedeen [against the Soviets] in Afghanistan in the ’80s and lived to regret that decision. We should’ve let Russia keep it. Now we look at Syria and say, ‘Why take that away too?’”

Syria Deeply
As ISIS Advances, Assessing the State of the Syrian Army
July 31, 2014
by Karen Leigh

Joshua Landis: In Damascus, ISIS has gone to war with the Islamic Front in the Ghouta area and has been squeezed out of Ghouta, and is now trying to open a new front in Qalamoun, the range of mountains near Lebanon that the Syrian army just took back. The Syrian army can’t take all its men out of Qalamoun at this point – they have to be vigilant. They are facing pressure in Palmyra, where this month ISIS took the Shaar gas field and killed well over 100 Syrian soldiers. Others have [since] disappeared. Then ISIS has been taking villages around Aleppo. So even as the army threatens to take Aleppo and is besieging parts of the city, ISIS is threatening to come back and fight them again there.

The Daily Star
Assad supporters aghast at losses to ISIS
by Marlin Dick
July 28, 2014

Joshua Landis, the Syria Comment blogger and the head of the Center for Middle East Studies at The University of Oklahoma, said the regime’s strategy of dealing with ISIS, which last month spearheaded a similar, sudden offensive in Iraq, appeared to be “backfiring.”
“The Assad regime has given ISIS a pass for many months, in part because Assad has hoped that ISIS’ growth would spook the West,” Landis told The Daily Star. “But this cynical strategy seems to be backfiring today. ISIS is spooking Syrians even more than it is Westerners, and with good reason. ISIS is slashing and burning its way through a number of regime strongholds, and Syrians fear that their government has underestimated ISIS,” Landis said.

ABC News
Syria Records One of Its Deadliest Weeks Ever
July 27, 2014
by Karen Leigh

Joshua Landis, Editor of Syria Comment and Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma:Deaths have increased because fighting has increased. ISIS is attacking the regime now and they’re also trying to consolidate, and they’re attacking the other militias. They are on a real tear. The whole of Deir Ezzor province saw lots of fighting this month, and there’s been a lot of fighting in the Kurdish areas as well.

Eurasia Review
Can Islamic State Survive? What Can Us Do?
July 24, 2014
by Joshua Landis and Matthias Baun Brubaker Christensen

The Islamic State (formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham) emerged out of the ashes of two conflicts. It was born as a result of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and then used the power vacuum created by the civil war in Syria to create a base out of which it could create the foundations for an emerging state.

Tempo
Assad Claims Syrian Presidential Seat
July 17, 2014

Joshua Landis, expert on Syria form the University of Oklahoma, said that Assad’s speech shows that he is an important figure to maintain stability and security, and also to restore the hopes of Syrian refugees.

Sputnik News
Opinion: Despite Destruction of Chemical Weapons Syria to Retain Power in Middle East
July 17, 2014

Joshua Landis, Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma said the deal has turned out to be fairly good.
Mr. Landis, however said that the process will undoubtedly be fairly expensive and lots of precautions have to be taken not to allow anything to escape into the atmosphere.

Business Insider
Syria’s Assad to be sworn in, set out plans for new term
July 16, 2014

“He’s going to say: ‘I am the state, I am Syria, and if the West wants access to Syrians, they have to come through me’,” said Joshua Landis, an expert on Syria based at the University of Oklahoma in the United States.
His message is “that he is the only game in town, for stability, security, counter terrorism” and a solution to a refugee problem created by a conflict that has driven 3 million people out of the country, Landis said.

Voice of America
Syrian President Begins Third Term
July 16, 2014
by Edward Yeranian

Syria scholar Joshua Landis heads the University of Oklahoma Middle East studies department says Assad sounded confident, because things have been going his way lately. “His military campaigns have been by and large successful, whether it is in the Qalamoun region in shutting off the Lebanese back door to rebels, whether it is in retaking Homs, surrounding neighborhoods in Damascus and Aleppo. He is well on his way to retaking Aleppo, Syria’s northern capital. So, he has struck a tone of confidence.”

Global post
Is Iraq’s Maliki taking a page out of Assad’s playbook?
by Susannah George
July 14, 2014

Joshua Landis, a Syria scholar and director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, says he sees evidence that Maliki is beginning to create a loyal, sectarian fighting force out of what remains of his military. “He’s copying the Assad model because its the only one in the region that works.”

USA Today
Battle over Syria’s Aleppo nears
by Emma Beals
July 13, 2014

“Syria is really its four big cities. If (Assad) can retake Aleppo — the last big city contested by rebels, he will feel that he has destroyed the rebellion and retaken Syria,” said Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

The New York Times
Redrawn Lines Seen as No Cure in Iraq Conflict
June 26, 2014
by Robert F. Worth

“Assad government views the territory along the Mediterranean coast as far too vulnerable because it is cut off from Syria’s main water sources and because it would lack the major cities that are at the core of the economy, said Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma.Similar problems would afflict any effort to forge a new Sunni state in Iraq and Syria. For such a state to become sustainable it would need a real economy, and for that, it would require a major city — Aleppo is the only option — and probably a port on the Mediterranean, Mr. Landis said. Negotiating a land corridor that would achieve those goals without endangering the Alawite state would be nearly impossible, he added.

RT
CaUSe of CrISIS
Host: Oksana Boyko
June 22, 2014

The ISIS advance in Iraq caught the world off guard, and with a war-weary US public reluctant to support intervention, the US is turning to unlikely allies. Will its strategy of leading from behind work? And how will its choice of allies in Iraq affect the war in Syria? Oksana is joined by Joshua Landis, the Director of Oklahoma University’s Middle East Studies Centre, to attack these issues.

Interfaith Voices
Understanding the Rise of ISIS
by Maureen Fiedler
June 19, 2014
Oil Price
Why ISIS Won’t Stop With Iraq
by Claude Salhani
June 17, 2014

Modern Syria is bordered by Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan and Israel to the south and Lebanon to the west. “Greater Syria” incorporates most of the territories of each. “This is what “Syria” means in the mind of Middle Easterners, says Joshua Landis.

Trend

What’s in a name? The true meaning of the ISIS name and the real treat associated with it

by Claude Salhani

June 17, 2014

“If we can teach people that so many Arabs still think of Syria as Greater Syria, they will begin to understand the extent to which Sykes-Picot remains challenged in the region,” said Landis.

Al Jazeera Inside Story
Iraq on the brink
Host Ray Suarez
June 13, 2014

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Syria’s Phony Election: False Numbers and Real Victory
by Aron Lund
June 9, 2014

“This has nothing to do with democracy, ” Professor Joshua Landis, who is a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma, recently told National Public Radio. “This is about power and showing your enemies that you can make everybody under your control line up and kiss your hand.”

The Daily Star
U.S. mulls ‘war on Syria terror’ approach
by Marlin Dick
June 6, 2014

Joshua Landis says there are people in the intelligence community who understand all of the shades of gray among the militias, but that in the end, a concise policy needs to be “sold to Congress and the American public.” Obama’s overarching goal, Landis says, is counterterrorism, an argument used to back Sisi. “The U.S. is torn,” Landis added. “The big question for Obama is, does he want to cooperate with Iran on counterterrorism in the Levant, in Iraq and Syria, and particularly against ISIS?”

The Wilson Center
What’s to Become of Syria? U.S. Policy, the Opposition and the Regime
Host: Jane Harman
June 6, 2014

The Syrian civil war continues to drag on with no end in sight. With the diplomatic option seemingly dead and little chance of the defeat of the opposition, or the collapse of the Assad regime, what does the future hold?
In this Ground Truth Briefing, three veteran observers and analysts of Syria assess that future, the impact of recent presidential elections, a growing jihadi presence and the prospects for change in U.S policy.

Tampa Bay Times, PolitiFact.com
Claire McCaskill credits Hillary Clinton for ‘groundwork’ in Syria chemical weapons deal
by Steve Contorno
June 4, 2014

In many ways, Kerry almost “stumbled” into the agreement, said Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at Oklahoma University and author of the Syria Comment blog.

The Guardian
Syrians vote in presidential election
by Ian Black and Martin Chulov
June 3, 2014

“Part of being a leader is demonstrating power, and making people line up and elect you, whether out of fear or devotion, is an important process that demonstrates to his supporters that he is loved and feared,” Joshua Landis of Oklahama University.

Syria Deeply
Elections Shows Off Assad’s Confidence, Cements His Position in Power
by Karen Leigh
June 3, 2014

Joshua Landis: The election fulfilled two functions. First is a constitutional function, because Syria’s constitution says that every seven years a president needs to be elected. So he needs to do this for constitutional reasons. Second, it is a demonstration of leadership. Part of being a leader is demonstrating power, and making people line up and elect you, whether out of fear or devotion, is an important process that demonstrates to his supporters that he is loved and feared. And it demonstrates to his opponents that he has this massive approval and that he can bring people out onto the streets. It’s meant to intimidate the opposition.

Voice of America
Syria Election: Experts Weigh In
by Cecily Hillary
June 2, 2014

“Assad goes through the charade of elections for two reasons: One, It is required by the constitution. The constitution stipulates that every seven years the leader of the Baath Party will be elected as president. Secondly, the process of electioneering, with roadside signs, banners, TV adds, local hufles, or street parties, in Assad’s honor and all the notables of Syrian society parading their support for the president. These create an aura of leadership and invincibility which is part of za’ama, or ‘leadership’ in Syrian Arab culture. The public show of support creates an aura of invincibility and power.

USA TODAY
Syria holds elections amid lives interrupted
by Rasha Faek and John Dyer
June 3, 2014

“The government has got the upper hand,” Landis said. “The West always wants somebody to replace Assad that would be a little better, but they have never been able to engineer it.”

WAMC-NPR
What Syria’s President Seeks From A Not-So-Democratic Election
by Deborah Amos
June 2, 2014

The election has galvanized international attention, says Josh Landis, a longtime Syria analyst who teaches at the University of Oklahoma. But it is more a message than a vote, to friends and foes alike, he says. “It has nothing to do with democracy,” Landis says. “This is about power, and in showing your enemies that you can make everybody under your control line up and kiss your hand.”

Ahram
Al-Assad heading for victory in upcoming ‘blood’ elections
by Nadeen Shaker
May 30, 2014

Joshua Landis, the director of the Center of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oklahoma, also citing the constitutional need to hold elections, adds that for Al-Assad, the elections are “an important display of zaama [leadership], which all Arab Republican leaders choose to go through in order to demonstrate their power, popularity and the fealty of their subjects and followers.”

AlJazeera-Arabic
Syria Elections
May 29, 2014
Vice News
A Rebel Rift Is Brewing On Syria’s Southern Front
by Sara Elizabeth Williams
May 25, 2014

“For US intelligence, the primary concern is jihadism — that al Qaeda could get a permanent place in Syria,” Josh Landis, director of the Center of Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma told VICE News. “But al Qaeda is doing this, and America is worried.”

Al Monitor
Misreading Syria
by Richard Sale
May 22, 2014

To Joshua Landis, head of the Center of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oklahoma, such views represent a trap for the unwary: “We did get some fairly high-ranking defectors early on in the uprising who we thought could help us sort out questions of morale in the military, but they were likely to spin the information to make it sound like everyone was on the verge of defection if given the right incentives.”

Eurasia Review
Syria: The West Should Stop Raising False Expectation
by Joshua Landis
May 19, 2014
The Cairo Review of Global Affairs
Why Syria Matters
by Nader Hashemi
May 14, 2014

Similarly, Joshua Landis of the University of Oklahoma suggested an “important factor is that [Al-Assad] is popular among young people.” He explained: “I’m always astounded how the average guy in the street, the taxi driver, the person you talk to in a restaurant or wherever, they don’t talk about democracy. They complain about corruption, they want justice and equality, but they’ll look at elections in Lebanon and laugh, saying, ‘who needs that kind of democracy?'”

DW
US-Russian tensions over Ukraine threaten cooperation on Syria, Iran
by Spencer Kimball
May 14, 2014

“Under George H.W. Bush, we could get a unanimous UN decision to take down Iraq in the Gulf War in 1990 and it only cost us a few billion dollars,” Landis, a Middle East expert at the University of Oklahoma, told DW. “We could get the whole world to vote yes for a very forward military policy in the Middle East, which they would never vote yes for today under any circumstances,” he said.

AlJazeera
A peace mediator bows out as Syria’s military solution prevails
by Tom Kutsch
May 14, 2014

“The political question is really about the capitals,” said Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma, pointing to the American, European and Russian actors who have participated in the international political process and who hold seats on the Security Council.

AlJazeera
Inside Story
May 13, 2014
Host Ray Suarez
https://ajam.app.box.com/s/oyj5k0hjl3na0321rtel

Professor Landis: “There is going to be a long and difficult insurgencies for this regime to face and the rebells would be able to keep it alive.” Landis added, “The four largest rebel armies on the ground are not for democracy. Even the Saudi Arabia is turning away from the rebells.”

Independent European Daily Express
New Gestures to Opposition Unlikely to Change U.S. Syria Policy
May 8, 2014

So far as I can tell, Obama isn’t going to change his policy, and [the opposition] isn’t going to get lots of money or arms from Washington, said Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma and publisher of syriacomment.com, a widely read blog.

Live Leak
Interview with Joshua Lanids: Syrian rebels in ‘chaos’
May 8, 2014
Asia Times
US flies false flag for Syrian rebels
by Jim Lobe
May 8, 2014

“So far as I can tell, Obama isn’t going to change his policy, and [the opposition] isn’t going to get lots of money or arms from Washington,” said Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma and publisher of syriacomment.com, a widely read blog.

Time
Iranian Commander Lets Slip That Revolutionary Guard Is Fighting in Syria
May 7, 2014
By Karl Vick

But the most striking evidence of Iranian boots on the ground in Syria is video footage purporting to show a Guards commando unit. Filmed by an Iranian documentary maker, it was obtained by rebels who overran the unit and gave the footage to the BBC, which named the resulting documentary, Iran’s Secret Army. “It’s quite dramatic footage, and gives us our best information on the Iranian presence,” says Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “Iran’s involvement has been pretty heavy.”
It may be a question of keeping fuel off the fire. Iran feels it must deny its military involvement so as not to motivate the rebel side further, says Landis. The war has devolved into a sectarian conflict, with Shiite Iran and Hizballah aligned with Assad—whose heterodox Alawite faith is seen as kin to Shiism—against overwhelmingly Sunni rebel forces, which include extremists who regard Shiites as apostates. “The main rebel battle cry, the main rebel insult is ‘nizam majousi’,” or Persian regime, says Landis, who blogs at Syria Comment. “To call Syrians Alawite and assisters of the regime majous, means they are neither the right religion nor the right nationality or ethnic group: neither Sunni nor Arab.”

Inter Press Service
New Gestures to Opposition Unlikely to Change U.S. Syria Policy
May 7, 2014
by Jim Lobe

“So far as I can tell, Obama isn’t going to change his policy, and [the opposition] isn’t going to get lots of money or arms from Washington,” said Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma and publisher of syriacomment.com, a widely read blog.
“I think this is a way for [Secretary of State John] Kerry, who’s been much more aggressive on Syria than Obama, to show he has a policy after the failure of [the] Geneva II [peace talks between the regime and the opposition],” he told IPS.

Al Jazeera
Syria analyst says rebel fighters in ‘chaos’
May 4, 2014

A prominent Syria analyst has told Al Jazeera that President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have a “serious advantage” over opposition fighters, after the fall of Homs to the government. Joshua Landis, director of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, said the Syrian army and its allies have benefitted from centralised command and support from Iran and Russia. After their “very important” gains in Homs, the Syrian armed forces would concentrate on retaking Aleppo, Landis said.

Here & Now
U.N.’s Valerie Amos: Syria Aid Efforts ‘Not Working’
May 1, 2014
Host: Sacha Pfeiffer

Food has become a primary weapon in this war, and President Assad does not allow access to many parts of the rebel territory for U.N. food aid, and the U.N. has to abide by this through international law. And Assad then supplies food to the people who are in his territory, and who are submissive. And that means — we’ve seen from U.N. statistics that increasingly, they’re supplying food to more and more people, so they’ve been very successful for four-point-something million people a month. And but, increasingly, refugees or people from rebel-held territories are coming over to government-held territory in order to get that food, and so this is a way, in a sense, to tell the rebels and the people under them that if you want food and you don’t want to starve, you have to come to us and be submissive. And it’s having an effect, because people are crossing those lines and coming to government food areas.

The Kansas City Star
Is Assad testing the West on chemical weapons?
May 1, 2014
by Mitchell Prothero

Joshua Landis of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and an expert on the government of President Bashar al Assad says, “The fact that Assad has turned over close to 90 percent of his chemical weapons surprised most policy analysts because chemical weapons give him several clear advantages in the present war.” Landis added, “It seems logical that Assad would hold back a weapon that could be useful.”
Landis pointed out that the Syrian struggle is viewed as a death match by both sides. In that context, it’s not surprising that either side would deploy whatever weapon it needed to ensure that it was not defeated — “even if it means incinerating entire cities filled with young children and women.”

Eurasia Review
Did Killing of Abu Bassir Lead to the First Lattakia Offensive?
April 28, 2014
by Matthew Barber
Al Jazeera
Will elections in Syria make any difference?
Host Hazem Sika
April 26, 2014
The Times
Islamist takeover fear drives rebel chiefs back to Assad
April 26, 2014
by Hannah Lucinda Smith
WAMC Northeast Public Radio
Syria Gives Up Chemical Weapons…But A War Rages On
April 26, 2014
by Alice Fordham

“I do think it was smart of Assad, and he did in a sense rejuvenate himself to a certain degree,” says Joshua Landis, of the University of Oklahoma, who is an expert on Syria. “He made a crucial deal with the United States, which made him a partner in this — and it benefited Assad tremendously.”

The Nation
Is Washington Purposely Bleeding Syria?
April 25, 2014
by Omar Ghabra

Syria expert Joshua Landis recently echoed this belief when he tweeted that the United States is playing “a mischievous role. It is supporting rebels but making sure they cannot win.”

The Times
Assad infiltrates jihadist ranks to divide and rule
by Deborah Haynes & Laura Pital
April 24, 2014

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

“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.”

VPR
CIA Is Quietly Ramping Up Aid To Syrian Rebels, Sources Say
April 23, 2014
by Tom Bowman

“Today, Assad is winning the war in Syria quite handily, and I think most Western powers have completely written off the rebels,” says Joshua Landis, of the University of Oklahoma.

Los Angeles Times
Chemical weapons removal from Syria nearly 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.”

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.”

Chicago Tribune
U.N. Documents expose Assad’s starvation campaign
April 21, 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.

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.

The Times
US training but no guns for Syrian rebels
by Sara Elizabeth Williams and Tom Coghlan
April 10, 2014

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.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Al Qaeda: the new franchise
April 6, 2014
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 Times

Assad’s gangs will kill us all, say terrified Sunnis

by Hannah Lucinda Smith and Tom Coghlan

March 29, 2014

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.

Al Hurra

إيران وسورية وعملية السلام.. كيري يخوض أصعب المفاوضات في عامه الأول
February 21, 2014

وقد يكون النزاع في سورية الذي أودى بحياة أكثر من 136 ألف شخص منذ اندلاعه في آذار/مارس 2011، حسب الأمم المتحدة، أكثر الملفات تعقيدا وتشعبا. ورغم أن واشنطن ساهمت مع موسكو في اعلان بمواقف دبلوماسية من بينها بيان جنيف 1 الذي فتح الباب أمام عقد مؤتمر جنيف 2 لتسوية الأزمة السورية، إلا أن كيري، حسب أستاذ العلاقات الدولية ومدير مركز دراسات الشرق الأوسط في جامعة أوكلاهوما جوشوا لانديس، “لم ينجز أي شيء في هذا الملف”.

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.”

KGOU World Views
Tenuous Order Threatens Central African Republic’s Stability
February 7, 2014
by Nick Aguilera & Associated Press

“They lynched him, chopped him to pieces, burnt him with rubber tires, and people began cheering. The French peacekeepers came, but they didn’t know what to do,” says Joshua Landis, the author of Syria Comment and the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

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 Arabiya
Facebook: 10 years young in the Arab world
by Ben Flanagan
February 4, 2014

He 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.

Al Jazeera America
Al-Qaeda disavows Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
February 3, 2014

“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.”

VPR Vermont’s NPR
What Comes Next In Syria?
February 1, 2014
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.

NaplesNews.com

Why Syrian peace talks ended with no deal

February 1, 2014
By Elizabeth Hagedorn

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.

Net Nebraska’s PBS & NPR Stations

Who’s To Blame For Failed Syrian Peace Talks, And What’s Next?

January 31, 2014

With Jeffrey Brown

Joshua Landis, University of Oklahoma: Well, I think many people were expecting that the United States would be willing to take half a loaf, that it would be willing to compromise to the point of not asking for regime change in Syria in order to get, perhaps, some access to starving people, to victims inside Syria, and perhaps the beginnings of a cease-fire, in order to alleviate the suffering of the Syrians and the big outflow of refugees that risks to bring down and trouble neighboring states.

Toronto Star

Bouthaina Shaaban: The dark side of Syria’s public face

January 31, 2014

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.”

PBS Newshour

Who’s to blame for failed Syrian peace talks, and what’s next?

January 31, 2014

With Jeffrey Brown

Syria Deeply
Q+A: On the opening day of peace talks in Switzerland, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry came out stronger than predicted against the Syrian government, calling for regime change
January 30, 2014
by Karen Leigh

Josh Landis: I was surprised by how forcefully Kerry came out for regime change. It made me wonder what he’s trying to accomplish. I thought he might go for half a loaf, which would be to get a cease-fire and try to reduce the suffering for Syrians, reduce the outflow of refugees, bring pressure on neighboring countries and move away from conflict. But that was clearly not his agenda. His agenda was to use American strength.

The Wilson Center
Assessing Geneva II: Is there a Way to End the Syrian Nightmare?
Host: Aaron D. Miller
January 27, 2014
The Sunday Times
Save my little girl
January 26, 2014

The Times
Clique of clansmen shields arrogant Assad from reality
by Roger Boyes
January 25, 2014

He is convinced that he is negotiating in Geneva from a position of strength. “His army is stronger, his allies are more committed and the regime’s capacity for brutality has kept it in charge,” says a leading Syria commentator, Joshua Landis, director of the Centre of Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

NPR
Syrian
Loyalists ‘Will Continue To Fight’ For Assad

Host Celeste Headlee
January 24, 2014

Joshua Landis: The Syrian war has been going on now for three years. One-third of the population – that’s about 8 million people – have been displaced. And, you know, this is a major humanitarian disaster. Getting the actors to Geneva to begin to talk is a great accomplishment because it means that they recognize there has got to be a political solution. But the two sides are still very far apart. The U.S. started out this conference, Secretary of State Kerry, saying that there needed to be regime change in Syria, that Assad had to stand down and that there should be some kind of transitional government established.

The Jerusalem Post
Syrian peace talks overshadowed by intensified sectarian conflict
by Ariel Ben Solomon
January 23, 2014

“Most Syrians today reject the notion of partition or even autonomous regions, but the military stalemate has endured for almost two years,” said Joshua Landis, a Syria expert and the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, in an article for Al-Jazeera America.

AlJazeera
Analysis: Why Syria’s Assad enters Geneva talks in position of strength
by Joshua Landis
January 23, 2014

While Assad insists that his army is “making progress,” it is not at all clear that he can retake Syria or that Syria’s allies will continue to bankroll his attempt to do so. Iran and Russia may well be content to have the Assad regime survive in only half of Syria if Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the West agree to the other half for the rebels. Even then, a deal remains a distant prospect.

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

The Christian Science Monitor
Dueling opinions aired at Syrian peace talks
by Ariel Zirulnick
January 22, 2014

The government delegation speaks in Montreaux from a position of strength, writes Joshua Landis, who runs the prominent blog Syria Comment, in an op-ed for Al Jazeera America. The loyalty of the Syrian Army, superior weapons, and fragmentation of the rebel forces have all combined to make Assad stronger than he was two years ago, he explains. This is why he can afford to brush off demands for a transitional government.

Radio New Zealand National
Syria peace conference aimed at ending conflict
by Kathryn Ryan
January 22, 2014
Your Middle East
Critics of Obama’s Syria policy are misguided
by Aaron Magid
January 22, 2014

Professor Joshua Landis, a widely respected expert on Syria, refutes the assessment that a strong and liberal rebel group existed in Syria at the time. “The Founding Fathers of Syria are all Islamists,” declared Landis. “There is not one militia where the leaders that says we should not have Shariyah law.”

The National
Syria talks could bring about modest gains, say analysts
by Taimur Khan
January 22, 2014

“If the rebel military commanders, who have the most legitimacy inside Syria, can’t bring down the Syrian air force, can’t stop Assad’s tanks and artillery that are pounding neighbourhoods to smithereens, there isn’t going to be any groundswell of support for continuing this war,” said Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma.

NPR-KGOU
So Now What? Breaking Down The Syrian Peace Talks
Host Brian Hardzinski
January 22, 2014

“If they thought they could win militarily, they wouldn’t have gone to Geneva,” Landis says. “The opposition still hopes the United States is going to get rid of Assad for them at some level, and the Syrians still hope that Russia is going to come through, and they’re going to be able to conquer the country.”

Winnipeg Free Press
Future of Assad is focus of Syria peace talks, which turn into bitter test of wills
by Lori Hinnant & Matthew Lee
January 21, 2014

“The balance of power on the ground suggests he is going to stay,” said Joshua Landis, the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “Unless Kerry has got something up his sleeve, this might be a rhetorical flourish rather than a real commitment to the Syrian opposition.”

Al Jazeera Inside Story
Ending the Fighting in Syria
Host: Ray Suarez
January 21, 2014
The Toronto Star
Peace talks flounder as Syrian civil war grinds on
by Olivia Ward & Michelle Shephard
January 20, 2014

“The problem is that America has very little leverage,” says Syria expert Joshua Landis of University of Oklahoma. “The main message is that Washington isn’t willing to spend much money on Syria. It won’t do what it did in Iraq and Afghanistan and loosen the purse strings.”
But he adds, nobody is winning this zero-sum game. “If you’re Assad or his opposition it looks grim. It’s hard to envisage him conquering the whole country. But there is the possibility of a ceasefire (creating) two different worlds, the government side and the rebel side.”

The Star
Peace talks flounder as Syrian civil war grinds on
by Olivia Ward, Michelle Shephard
January 20, 2014

“The problem is that America has very little leverage,” says Syria expert Joshua Landis of University of Oklahoma. “The main message is that Washington isn’t willing to spend much money on Syria. It won’t do what it did in Iraq and Afghanistan and loosen the purse strings.”

LA Times
Syria’s Assad uses the truce as latest weapon against rebels
by Raja Abdulrahim and Patrick J. McDonnell
January 19, 2014

If the truces do last, they could become “a road map” for Assad to negotiate with the opposition and in effect accept its surrender, said Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “They’re pacifying these neighborhoods…. They have created a wasteland and they’re calling it peace,” Landis said. “These truces being brokered, in a way, are Assad telling the world, ‘I’m here, I’m reconquering this territory and you’ve got to come to terms with me because you have no other choice.'”

Al Jazeera
Inside Syria-Syria: Talking about peace talks
by Adrian Finighan
January 19, 2014

We look at the hurdles facing the warring parties ahead of the international-led negotiations in Geneva. Adrian Finighan speaks to Ammar Waqqaf, a Syrian political activist who supports the Syrian government; Joshua Landis, the director of the Centre for Middle East Studies and a professor at the University of Oklahoma.

The Jerusalem Post
With Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq consumed with sectarian vioence-and with no side able to claim victory-a spike in violence is more likely as both sides work to change the facts on the ground
January 17, 2014

“Most Syrians today reject the notion of partition or even autonomous regions, but the military stalemate has endured for almost two years,” said Joshua Landis, a Syria expert and the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, in an article for Al-Jazeera America.

Newsweek
Anyone for Peace Talks?
by Benny Avni
January 16, 2014

“There is a military stalemate” in Syria, so “what sort of agreement is there to be reached?” wondered Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. It’s hard to envision outsiders, including America, ending the war “without boots on the ground,” he added.

RT
Cross Talk: Who was Sharon?
by Peter Lavelle
January 15, 2014

What will Ariel Sharon be best remembered for? How did he change Israel and the Middle East? And was Sharon evil or a hero? CrossTalking with Joshua Landis, Yousef Munayyer and Amir Oren.

McClatchy DC
West may not be winner in Syria battle of ‘good al Qaida’ vs. ‘bad al Qaida’
January 10, 2014
by Hannah Allam

“Yes, we’re closer to having a leadership of the opposition that can actually presume to call the shots in rebel Syria. But it’s not one we’re going to like very much,” 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.

The Clarion Project
The Battle between ISIS and Syria’s Rebel Militias
January 9, 2014
Voice of America
Rebel-on Rebel Violence Spreading in Syria
by Jamie Dettmer
January 8, 2014

Analyst Joshua Landis, author of the influential Syria Comment blog, highlighted a similar point, arguing that the Islamic Front would appear to be holding the door open to a rapprochement with ISIL. According to Landis, “ISIL’s goal of an Islamic state is not substantially different than that of the Islamic Front or the many other militias fighting in Syria.”

The Blaze
Why You Need to Read and Care About the Name of the Al-Qaeda Group That Just Gained Strength in Iraq
by Sharona Schwartz
January 8, 2014

Joshua Landis of Syria Comment says that the Islamic State “has its eyes on the rest of Greater Syria” which includes Lebanon “but is focused on Iraq and Syria and the immediate ambition.”

Los Angles Times
Syria’s Assad: Still the wrong choice
by Nabeel A. Khoury
January 7, 2014

The recommendation to rehabilitate Assad is based on false premises. Crocker and Landis argue that Assad in power, even if only in a part of Syria, potentially offers the West the prospect of stability in a volatile region. They suggest that Assad might be an ally in the war on terrorism. If Assad does not prevail, they say, jihadi Sunni extremists embedded among the Syrian opposition will take over.

National Review
Epiphany Epithets in Syria
by Patrick Brennan
January 6, 2014
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Pushing Back Against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant: The Path to Conflict
by Aron Lund
January 6, 2014
The Christian Science Monitor
Why President Bashar al-Assad’s rule may endure
by Nicholas Blanford
January 5, 2014

“I think the regime, in essence, still remains very weak,” says Joshua Landis, director of the Center of Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and author of the influential “Syria Comment” blog. “Even though the opposition has been so weak and divided and fighting among each other, [Assad] has not been able to make any dramatic gains, and I think we are seeing the apex of the regime effort right now.”

The Clarion Project
The Battle between ISIS and Syria’s Rebel Militias
by Joshua Landis
January 9, 2014

A major confrontation has broken out between the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Syria’s other rebel militias. It is being led by two newly organized coalitions, called Jaysh al Mujahidiin and the Front of Syrian Revolutionaries. But many other militias have also declared war on ISIS, insisting that it must abandon its attempt to establish a state and that its fighters must either integrate into Syria’s other militias or quit the country altogether. Fighting between Free Syria Army militias and ISIS has been widespread in the countryside of Aleppo and Idlib.

Maclean’s
In the Middle East, an ancient war is new again
by Michael Petrou
January 3, 2014

Assad’s family and many of his supporters are Alawite Muslims, followers of an offshoot of Shia Islam. “It means they’re not Muslims, because they’re still these weirdo Zoroastrians,” says Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “And they’re not even Arabs. They’re crypto-Iranians.

El Mundo
Siria consuma su descenso a los infiernos
by LLUÍS MIQUEL HURTADO
January 01, 2014

«El yihadismo seguirá fuerte, y Oc- cidente está estancado en el debate entre quienes creen que Bashar Asad es peor que la oposición y quienes opinan al revés», señala a EL MUNDO Joshua Landis, director del Centro de Estudios de Oriente Próximo. Francia aseguró el domin- go que Asad «usa a los extremistas para conseguir sus objetivos».

 

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