First Wednesday: Crossing the Red Line

Talk Wednesday 4 September 2013, 7:00 PM

On 20 August last year President Barack Obama gave a speech declaring that if Bashar al-Assad’s government used chemical weapons it would cross a “red line”. It appears that line has now been crossed. Secretary of State John Kerry has said it is “undeniable” that the Assad government is responsible for the use of chemical weapons after an attack on 21 August left hundreds dead.

With the shadow of Iraq hanging over them, MPs in the UK voted against possible military action in Syria. We will be asking what are the implications of this move towards inaction, and whether it will have any impact on a US-led attack.

As the rhetoric about intervention in Syria escalates, we will be bringing together a panel of experts to examine the arguments for and against, and the implications of action or inaction.

If intervention were to occur, what form would it take? What reaction would we see from Syria’s neighbours and other countries already involved in the conflict?

Chaired by Paddy O’Connell of BBC Radio 4′s Broadcasting House.


Lina Sinjab was the BBC’s correspondent in Syria until a few months ago. She has been reporting for the BBC since 2007 and closely covered the uprising in Syria since it sparked in March 2011.

Scott Lucas is professor of American Studies at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran.

Shiraz Maher is a Senior Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, King’s College London, and a contributor to The Spectator. He studies terrorism and Islamic groups in the Middle East, and is currently working on project to map the Syria opposition.

Jonathan Steele is a columnist at The Guardian, roving foreign correspondent and author. He has reported on Afghanistan, Russia, Iraq, and many other countries. He was Washington Bureau Chief, Moscow Bureau Chief, and Chief Foreign Correspondent for The Guardian. He is author of many books, most recently Ghosts of Afghanistan.

Picture courtesy of multimedia journalist Ayman Oghanna.