Alice Fordham http://wrvo.org en Syrian President Issues New Stamps, But Can't Deliver The Mail http://wrvo.org/post/syrian-president-issues-new-stamps-cant-deliver-mail As the Middle East froths with blood — from Iraq to Syria to the Gaza Strip — a commemorative set of three stamps depicting Syrian President Bashar Assad may not seem hugely relevant.<p>But these pieces of paper tell us much about the power struggles behind the slaughter in Syria. Thu, 24 Jul 2014 16:55:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 59394 at http://wrvo.org Syrian President Issues New Stamps, But Can't Deliver The Mail Amid Bloodshed, Brotherhood: Links Forged From Iraq's Game Of Rings http://wrvo.org/post/amid-bloodshed-brotherhood-links-forged-iraqs-game-rings In Iraq, a Ramadan game called Mheibbis brings even Sunnis and Shiites together in peaceful competition. A ring game traditionally played between neighborhoods during the holy month, Mheibbis has offered men the opportunity to break Baghdad's tension and offer messages of unity and brotherhood — even between rival sects. <div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2014 NPR. Wed, 09 Jul 2014 20:44:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 58617 at http://wrvo.org Iraqi Lawmakers Fail To Reach Deal On A New Government http://wrvo.org/post/iraq-lawmakers-fail-reach-deal-new-government Transcript <p>LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST: <p>Iraq is looking more and more like a country being divided into three parts. Hard-core Sunni militants have taken much of the west. Well-organized Kurdish soldiers have grabbed the north. And everywhere else, Shiites are mustering sectarian militia. Thousands of Iraqis have been killed in just the last month. Sun, 06 Jul 2014 11:55:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 58427 at http://wrvo.org Iraqi Parliament, And Maliki's Fate, Float In Limbo http://wrvo.org/post/iraqi-parliament-and-malikis-fate-float-limbo Transcript <p>MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: <p>This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.<p>ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: <p>And I'm Robert Siegel. With Iraq in crisis under the onslaught of Sunni extremists, the country's government is unable to pull together. A meeting of the Iraqi parliament fell apart today, and the issues before the body are critical for the government to function. The parliament was elected back in April, but members still have yet to agree on a speaker, a president and a prime minister. Tue, 01 Jul 2014 20:25:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 58204 at http://wrvo.org ISIS Gets A Rebrand, Declaring Its New Caliphate In The Process http://wrvo.org/post/isis-gets-rebrand-declaring-its-new-caliphate-process Transcript <p>ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: <p>This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.<p>MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: <p>I'm Melissa Block, and we begin the hour with the latest developments in Iraq. The extremist Islamist group that's grabbed territory across much of that country and parts of Syria is now making grandiose claims of worldwide authority. They now claim to rule over all Muslims everywhere. They've changed the name of the group from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria to simply the Islamic State. They say this is the dawn of a new caliphate, the old system of Muslim rule. Mon, 30 Jun 2014 20:17:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 58154 at http://wrvo.org Angry At Shiite-Led Government, Sunnis Are Loath To Help Calm Iraq http://wrvo.org/post/angry-shiite-led-government-sunnis-are-loath-help-calm-iraq Iraq is looking increasingly like a state partitioned along sectarian lines. Shiites control the south, but Sunni militants are sweeping through the north and west — and they're doing it with help from local Sunni populations.<p>Interviews with Sunni leaders show how hard it will be to build the kind of trust needed to put the country back together under one functioning authority.<p>In the Baghdad suburb of Dora, Sunni Sheik Abu Ali al-Jubbouri says the dangers Sunnis face are evident every night. Wed, 25 Jun 2014 21:53:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 57928 at http://wrvo.org Angry At Shiite-Led Government, Sunnis Are Loath To Help Calm Iraq Maliki's Power Base Crumbles As Iraq Slips Into Chaos http://wrvo.org/post/malikis-power-base-crumbles-iraq-slips-chaos Tens of thousands of Iraqi men brandishing assorted weapons are responding to a call to arms. They invoke the Mahdi, a figure from Shiite Muslim prophecies, as they march in a recent parade in Sadr City, a Shiite suburb of Baghdad, the Iraqi capital.<p>"We volunteer to protect our dear country," says Hazem al-Shemmari.<p>When Sunni militants took over parts of <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/iraq/" target="_blank">Iraq </a>this month, Shiite religious leaders called for volunteers to fight back.<p>Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a devout Shiite, gave speeches supporting the volunteers. Mon, 23 Jun 2014 20:07:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 57786 at http://wrvo.org Maliki's Power Base Crumbles As Iraq Slips Into Chaos Even Amid Onslaught, Hints That Violence In Iraq Could Escalate http://wrvo.org/post/even-amid-onslaught-hints-violence-iraq-could-escalate Transcript <p>MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: <p>This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block. Iraq is still under an onslaught by Sunni militant extremists. They captured the strategic city of Mosul this week and are holding large swathes of the country. If the Iraqi government was expecting the U.S. to send in the cavalry and help save the country from disintegration, President Obama said today that will not happen. He did say he's weighing a range of options to support Iraq's security forces. Those options presumably include airstrikes. Fri, 13 Jun 2014 20:55:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 57304 at http://wrvo.org Iraq's Army Is Ineffective Against Islamist Insurgents http://wrvo.org/post/iraqs-army-ineffective-against-islamist-insurgents There are reports of Iraqi government troops just fleeing, dropping their weapons and shedding their uniforms. The U.S. spent a lot of time and money training Iraqi forces. Fri, 13 Jun 2014 10:08:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 57269 at http://wrvo.org Islamist Militants Gain Ground In Northern Iraq http://wrvo.org/post/islamist-militants-gain-ground-northern-iraq Sunni Islamist militants have seized control of the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Tikrit and appear to be preparing an assault on Baghdad. Americans fought and died trying to prevent that from happening. Thu, 12 Jun 2014 09:22:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 57208 at http://wrvo.org Half A Million Iraqis Flee As Militants Move South http://wrvo.org/post/half-million-iraqis-flee-militants-move-south Transcript <p>MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: <p>From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.<p>AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: <p>And I'm Audie Cornish. In Iraq, swaths of the country of fallen to Islamist militants. They took the largest city of Mosul earlier this week. Now they're heading south. Today there are reports the militants have taken the city of Tikrit, an hour's drive from the capital, Baghdad. NPR's Alice Fordham has the latest.<p>ALICE FORDHAM, BYLINE: The radical group is called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. Wed, 11 Jun 2014 20:00:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 57176 at http://wrvo.org In Iraq, Mosul Falls To Insurgent Group http://wrvo.org/post/iraq-mosul-falls-insurgent-group Transcript <p>RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: <p>There are dramatic developments in Iraq where an extremist group, that's taken over large parts of Syria, has stormed into the major Iraqi city of Mosul. Leaders there are saying that this Al Qaeda offshoot, which is called the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria, may even be pushing south in the direction of Baghdad. NPR's Alice Fordham joins us now from northern Iraq for more. Wed, 11 Jun 2014 10:40:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 57151 at http://wrvo.org Key Iraqi City Falls To Islamist Militants http://wrvo.org/post/key-iraqi-city-falls-islamist-militants Transcript <p>MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: <p>From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.<p>AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: <p>I'm Audie Cornish, and we begin the hour with the threat of a de facto Islamist state stretching across parts of Iraq and Syria. The Iraqi government has now lost control of one of its biggest cities, Mosul, to extremist Sunni militants. The group is known as ISIS, which stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Tue, 10 Jun 2014 20:33:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 57124 at http://wrvo.org As Polls Close, Many Syrians Fear The Days To Come http://wrvo.org/post/polls-close-many-syrians-fear-days-come Transcript <p>ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: <p>Syria's highly questionable, and carefully choreographed, election leaves many people concerned about how it may embolden President Bashar al-Assad. NPR's Alice Fordham has been talking with people inside Syria and in neighboring Beirut.<p>ALICE FORDHAM, BYLINE: At the end of the day, Assad will be able to show that there were many Syrians who vote for him because they want to or because he made them. It's a demonstration of power, either way.<p>CELINE ALMAHDAD: (Through translator) What's happening is that everyone is afraid. Tue, 03 Jun 2014 20:08:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 56778 at http://wrvo.org What Elections? Syrian Opposition Rejects Assad's Expected Win http://wrvo.org/post/what-elections-syrian-opposition-rejects-assads-expected-win Tuesday's elections in Syria are sure to result in another term for President Bashar Assad, even as the international community says his regime is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians.<p>The opposition is railing against his inevitable triumph.<p>At a demonstration Friday by some of the 1 million Syrians who have fled into neighboring Lebanon, the view on the election was clear.<p>"What elections?" says Mohamad al-Zain, a refugee in the dusty Lebanese border town of Arsal. "They're blood elections. Sun, 01 Jun 2014 16:47:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 56676 at http://wrvo.org What Elections? Syrian Opposition Rejects Assad's Expected Win Force And Fear In The Air, As Syrian Refugees Go To Polls In Lebanon http://wrvo.org/post/force-and-fear-air-syrian-refugees-go-polls-lebanon Syrian refugees in Lebanon are casting their votes ahead of Syria's presidential election next week. The election is seen as Bashar Assad's rigged bid for legitimacy — but many refugees believe that if they don't vote, they'll never be allowed back home. <div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2014 NPR. Wed, 28 May 2014 20:21:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 56480 at http://wrvo.org Smugglers Thrive On Syria's Chaos, Looting Cultural Treasures http://wrvo.org/post/smugglers-thrive-syrias-chaos-looting-cultural-treasures Smuggling is a way of life in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, just over the border from Syria. Driving along it, you see pale smugglers' trails snaking through mountain passes, and the guys who run touristy little antiques stores here say they can get you anything.<p>"Everything that have traditions and everything found in old houses," says Reda Ismail, who runs one of the many stores in the valley. Tue, 27 May 2014 19:42:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 56415 at http://wrvo.org Smugglers Thrive On Syria's Chaos, Looting Cultural Treasures Beirut's Holiday Inn: Once Chic, Then Battered, Still Contested http://wrvo.org/post/beiruts-holiday-inn-once-chic-then-battered-still-contested To check into Beirut's Holiday Inn these days, you need a permit from the army and the stamina to climb 26 flights of decaying stairs to the concrete carcass of a restaurant at the top that used to rotate.<p>This towering edifice may not look it today, but it was once the toast of Beirut, the most glamorous city in the Middle East before the 1975-'90 civil war turned the Lebanese capital into a byword for urban dystopia.<p>Unlike the U.S., where the Holiday Inn chain has a reputation for value, the one that opened in Beirut in the early 1970s quickly joined other upscale landmarks in the city, Tue, 27 May 2014 07:28:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 56373 at http://wrvo.org Beirut's Holiday Inn: Once Chic, Then Battered, Still Contested Iraq Debates Law That Would Allow Men To Marry 9-Year-Old Girls http://wrvo.org/post/iraq-debates-law-would-allow-men-marry-9-year-old-girls A stroll through the Baghdad Book Fair last month was a lesson in today's cultural norms in Iraq. The books — gold-embossed, neatly arrayed — were almost all religious, and most of the customers were men.<p>But in the middle of the white pavilion, a woman's voice rang out loud and strong. Tue, 13 May 2014 18:48:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 55714 at http://wrvo.org Iraq Debates Law That Would Allow Men To Marry 9-Year-Old Girls Syrian Rebels Cede Stronghold After Over A Year Under Siege http://wrvo.org/post/syrian-rebels-cede-stronghold-after-over-year-under-siege Transcript <p>MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: <p>There's a development today in Syria's civil war. Syrian rebels surrendered control of an important piece of ground, the city of Homs. That's been the heart of uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Hundreds of rebel fighters abandoned the city's central district. They left in rickety green buses, escorted by the United Nations. The rebels had been under siege and were running out of ammunition and food.<p>For more on the story, we're joined by NPR's Alice Fordham. Wed, 07 May 2014 20:30:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 55437 at http://wrvo.org A Symbol Of Syria's Uprising, Homs Reverts To Assad's Control http://wrvo.org/post/symbol-syrias-uprising-homs-reverts-assads-control The beginning of the end of the two-year siege of Old Homs came as green buses full of fighters bounced down uneven streets Wednesday — a scene that was captured in a photo that was retweeted hundreds of times.<p>More than 1,000 rebels were left of those who clung onto five neighborhoods in the central Syrian city while surrounded by forces loyal to President Bashar Assad. Wed, 07 May 2014 17:58:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 55421 at http://wrvo.org A Symbol Of Syria's Uprising, Homs Reverts To Assad's Control With Truce, Syrian Regime On The Verge Of An Important Gain http://wrvo.org/post/truce-syrian-regime-verge-important-gain The Syrian regime may be on the verge of an important gain in its civil war. Rebels say they have agreed to a conditional retreat from areas they hold in the city of Homs.<p>Opposition negotiators there, reached by Skype, say that under the deal <a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/04/19/304896445/syrian-rebel-stronghold-on-the-verge-of-government-takeover">they would leave battle-broken neighborhoods</a> where they have been besieged for almost two years. Fri, 02 May 2014 21:47:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 55209 at http://wrvo.org With Truce, Syrian Regime On The Verge Of An Important Gain An End In Sight For Siege Of Homs, As Syrian Rebels Plot Retreat http://wrvo.org/post/end-sight-siege-homs-syrian-rebels-plot-retreat Transcript <p>AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: <p>From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.<p>ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: <p>And I'm Robert Siegel.<p>The Syrian regime may be on the verge of an important advance in that country's civil war. Rebels said today that they've agreed to a conditional retreat from parts of the city of Homs. Fri, 02 May 2014 20:21:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 55198 at http://wrvo.org Amid Violence And Without U.S. Troops, Iraq Votes http://wrvo.org/post/amid-violence-and-without-us-troops-iraq-votes Iraqis are voting for Parliament Wednesday for the first time since American soldiers withdrew more than two years ago. Without their support, and amid intense violence, the poll will test Iraq's fragile democracy to its limits.<p>The election is for the 328-seat Parliament and offers more than 9,000 candidates on party lists. It will probably end up with no party winning a majority and lead to weeks or months of coalition haggling to form a new government.<p>It comes at a time of ongoing battles between Sunni Muslim extremists and Iraqi security forces. Wed, 30 Apr 2014 12:59:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 55056 at http://wrvo.org Amid Violence And Without U.S. Troops, Iraq Votes On Cusp Of Third Term, Could Iraqi President Be A New Dictator? http://wrvo.org/post/cusp-third-term-could-iraqi-president-be-new-dictator Transcript <p>MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: <p>In Iraq, campaign posters cover the blast walls in Baghdad. Wednesday's national elections will be the first since U.S. troops withdrew in 2011. Change is a major campaign theme, but Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki wants one thing to stay the same - him. He's running for a third term. Critics worry his strong-arm tactics resemble those used by Saddam Hussein. NPR's Alice Fordham was recently in Iraq and filed this report.<p>ALICE FORDHAM, BYLINE: Here's the kind of incident that inflames this divided country. Mon, 28 Apr 2014 20:17:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 54973 at http://wrvo.org How To Survive In Iraqi Politics http://wrvo.org/post/how-survive-iraqi-politics Low to the dusty ground, by a reed-fringed river and a lush date palm orchard, is the farmhouse where Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, grew up.<p>The place is Junaja, one of hundreds of poor, Shiite Muslim farming towns in southern Iraq. Donkey carts jog alongside battered buses. No monument, no ostentation honors Maliki. The only new thing in town is the mosque.<p>Junaja's most famous son has now led the country for eight turbulent years, and he's making a bid for four more as Iraq holds its first parliamentary elections since U.S. forces withdrew at the end of 2011. Mon, 28 Apr 2014 18:16:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 54961 at http://wrvo.org How To Survive In Iraqi Politics Syria Gives Up Chemical Weapons ... But A War Rages On http://wrvo.org/post/syria-gives-chemical-weapons-war-rages Sunday is the deadline for Syrian President Bashar Assad to hand over his government's chemical weapons stockpile, and he will have surrendered the vast majority of his declared arsenal.<p>Some call this a triumph. Others say Assad used the deal to buy time for brutal offensives in the civil war raging through the country. Sat, 26 Apr 2014 09:27:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 54876 at http://wrvo.org Syria Gives Up Chemical Weapons ... But A War Rages On For Extremists In Syria, Extortion Brings Piles Of Cash From Iraq http://wrvo.org/post/extremists-syria-extortion-brings-piles-cash-iraq The renegade Islamist group known as <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-24179084" target="_blank">ISIS</a> now controls swaths of Syria and Iraq, and it's partly because the fighters are so rich. Mon, 21 Apr 2014 17:45:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 54597 at http://wrvo.org For Extremists In Syria, Extortion Brings Piles Of Cash From Iraq Syrian Rebel Stronghold On The Verge Of Government Takeover http://wrvo.org/post/syrian-rebel-stronghold-verge-government-takeover The Syrian city of Homs has been a rebel stronghold since the anti-government uprising began. But one rebel tells NPR that they're low on ammunition and medical gear. Sat, 19 Apr 2014 12:12:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 54510 at http://wrvo.org Sunni Discontent Fuels Growing Violence In Iraq's Anbar Province http://wrvo.org/post/sunni-discontent-fuels-growing-violence-iraqs-anbar-province Violence has reignited in western Iraq, with Islamist fighters taking over much of Anbar province three months ago. A renegade al-Qaida group has set up its headquarters in Fallujah — the city where hundreds of U.S. soldiers died a decade ago, trying to wrest it from insurgent control.<p>But this time, the enemy isn't the U.S. and it's not just extremists fighting. Fri, 18 Apr 2014 07:33:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 54451 at http://wrvo.org Sunni Discontent Fuels Growing Violence In Iraq's Anbar Province