After eight gruelling years of war, the rebels in Syria seem to be making a last stand in the province of Idlib. The opposition stronghold in the northwest of the country has been under intense bombardment from government forces backed by Russia. Idlib is where many fighters from the defeated parts of the country were moved. It is also home to three-million civilians and the UN has warned of another refugee exodus and humanitarian catastrophe. Julian Worricker and a panel of expert guests examine the situation in Idlib and discuss how the Assad government has managed to consolidate power in the rest of the country. Why are Russia and Iran continuing back the Syrian government? Should Western countries accept reality and bring Syria into the fold? And - what does President Assad intend to do next?
What does the future hold for the Rohingya?
One year ago this week, the government of Myanmar signed an understanding with the United Nations that would pave the way for hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees to return home from camps in southern Bangladesh. But the UN says, no family has volunteered to return. Ever since the mass exodus of the Rohingya began in August 2017, the Burmese government and the military have received universal condemnation for their failure to stop the violence. The government, led by the Nobel Laureate Aung Saan Suu Kyi, says that the Rohingya are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and have been involved in attacks against the Burmese military. But in recent months the government has been cooperating with aid agencies to encourage the refugees to return. Does that indicate a change of heart? And if so, should the West reward Myanmar by ending its diplomatic isolation? And what does this crisis say about Myanmar’s democratic transition? Join Ritula Shah and guests as they explore what’s holding back the return of Rohingya to Myanmar.
European election results: Gridlock or opportunity?
This week the European elections have generated intense discussion: The turnout was the highest for twenty years. And for the first time in decades, the traditional Centre-Right and Centre-Left failed to win enough seats to form a majority. They are under pressure to forge fresh partnerships with smaller blocs, like the Far-Right, the Liberals or the Greens, who have been returned with a bigger share of the vote. Some argue that the new balance of power will better reflect the political realities of the EU member states. Others predict stalemate on big issues like migration, budget, and climate, as newly-emboldened smaller groups fight for their own agenda. Join Ritula Shah and guests as they discuss the road ahead for the European Parliament.
The new technology cold war
This week the tech giant Google announced it would not provide some of its services to the Chinese company, Huawei, the second biggest mobile handset maker in the world. The Trump administration alleged that Huawei might spy on America and its allies on behalf of the Chinese state, a claim rejected by the company. It said it was a victim of the trade war between Washington and Beijing, and its technology was strong enough to withstand American pressure and would, in fact, become the most advanced in the world within years. With China’s companies becoming global players in areas like mobile infrastructure, artificial intelligence, and surveillance, it looks set to pose a serious challenge to US dominance in technology. So, does China have the necessary expertise and investment backing to make the transition? And how much of that transformation will be affected by China's approach to governance, privacy, and human rights? Ritula Shah is joined by a panel of experts to discuss what a technology cold war will mean for the two technology superpowers, their allies and us, the consumers.
(Photo: A chip by Huawei's subsidiary HiSilicon displayed at the Huawei China Eco-Partner Conference in Fuzhou, China. Credit: Reuters)
Does WikiLeaks matter?
WikiLeaks has never been far from controversy since the release of its first cache of documents in 2006. Its supporters have welcomed the organisation as a bearer of truth and transparency. Its method of publishing troves of sensitive documents from governments and other organisations is seen as a way to fight against secrecy and censorship. Its detractors see it as an irresponsible leaker that has put lives in danger. Some point out that while WikiLeaks have been successful in embarrassing many politicians and businesses, it failed to usher any real change in transparency. This week Swedish prosecutors said they would look again at rape allegations against its founder, Julian Assange. He faces possible extradition to Sweden but also to the United States, where he would face charges for his work. So, away from Mr Assange’s legal challenges, does the organisation he founded still matter? Is the Wikileaks model of data release still relevant for today's journalism? What happens when non-state actors or vested interests initiate leaks with ulterior motives? Join Chris Morris and his guests as they discuss WikiLeaks and accountability.
(Photo: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gestures from the window of a prison van as he is driven out of Southwark Crown Court, London, 1 May 2019. Credit: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images)