Alice Fordham en Amid Bloodshed, Brotherhood: Links Forged From Iraq's Game Of 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 45962 at Iraqi Lawmakers Fail To Reach Deal On A 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 45686 at Islamic State Releases Video It Claims Shows Leader Preaching Transcript <p>KELLY MCEVERS, HOST: <p>It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. Arun Rath is away. I'm Kelly McEvers. The leader of an extremist Sunni group that's been gobbling up territory in Iraq and Syria appears to have made his first public appearance. The group that now calls itself the Islamic State has released a video they say is their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, preaching the Friday sermon at an ancient mosque in Iraq's northern city of Mosul. Sat, 05 Jul 2014 21:06:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 45666 at Iraqi Parliament, And Maliki's Fate, Float In 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 45338 at ISIS Gets A Rebrand, Declaring Its New Caliphate In The 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 45248 at For Iraqis, A Ramadan Filled With Fear And Uncertainty For more than a billion Muslims, the holy month of Ramadan begins this week, as different religious leaders sight the first new moon of the month.<p>Muslims abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk and traditionally break that fast with an elaborate meal followed by a lot of tea and sweets. But many face a bleak Ramadan this year. Mon, 30 Jun 2014 01:54:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 45184 at For Iraqis, A Ramadan Filled With Fear And Uncertainty Angry At Shiite-Led Government, Sunnis Are Loath To 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 44869 at Angry At Shiite-Led Government, Sunnis Are Loath To Help Calm Iraq In Iraq, Shiites Take Up Arms Against Sunni Militants Transcript <p>RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: <p>It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.<p>STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: <p>And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. You know, years ago I was talking with a man in Baghdad. It was amid the chaos and the warfare following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. And the Iraqi man said it took us 35 years to get this way and it will take 35 years to change.<p>MONTAGNE: For a while it seemed like Iraq might get away with a mere decade of brutal transition. But now, Iraq shows signs of marching back to sectarian war. Tue, 24 Jun 2014 09:12:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 44705 at Maliki's Power Base Crumbles As Iraq Slips Into 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="" 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 44669 at Maliki's Power Base Crumbles As Iraq Slips Into Chaos Even Amid Onslaught, Hints That Violence In 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 20:11:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 43907 at Iraq's Army Is 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 43849 at Islamist Militants Gain Ground In 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 43735 at Half A Million Iraqis Flee As 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 20:18:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 43706 at In Iraq, Mosul Falls To 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 43658 at Key Iraqi City Falls To 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 43612 at As Polls Close, Many Syrians Fear The Days To 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 43054 at Key Areas Retaken, Assad Reasserts Himself Over War-Torn Syria Despite the civil war, Syria is holding a presidential election on Tuesday. President Bashar Assad is expected to win another seven-year term. Tue, 03 Jun 2014 09:31:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 42997 at What Elections? Syrian Opposition Rejects Assad's 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 42881 at What Elections? Syrian Opposition Rejects Assad's Expected Win Force And Fear In The Air, As Syrian Refugees Go To Polls In 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 20:06:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 42556 at Smugglers Thrive On Syria's 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 19:15:00 +0000 Alice Fordham 42456 at Smugglers Thrive On Syria's Chaos, Looting Cultural Treasures