Today's News, Tomorrow's Lesson - February 4, 2014

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

PBS NewsHour Extra

As the third anniversary of the Syrian Crisis approaches, it appears
on first glance that an end to the war is not in sight. Peace talks
aimed at ending the conflict concluded on Friday without any agreement.
However, United Nations mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said the fact that the
two sides met at all is progress.

“It was a very difficult start. But the sides have become used to
sitting in the same room. They have presented positions and listened to
one another. There have been moments when one side has even
acknowledged the concerns and the difficulties and the point of view of
the other side,” he said.

Despite this, in Syria, opposition activists claim that another
1,900 people have died in fighting since the peace talks began, and the
New York Times has reported that groups linked to al-Qaida
have seized control of most of Syria’s oil and gas resources.

And Mr. Brahimi lamented the fact that the two sides failed to agree
on lifting the siege of Homs, where civilians are trapped with no
access to food or medicine.

Other successful entrants included Endri Zavalani, a homeschooled
child from Albania, who won second prize in the ages 3-4 category for
the picture of a spaceship he created entirely from pinecones and other
foliage, and Zi Lu Wang, a student at the Absolute Fine Art Studio in
Corona, California, who triumphed in the ages 13-14 category for his
portrait of a zeppelin- and pirate ship-inspired spacecraft.

The rebels remain defiant about any deal with the government. “I
don’t think that there will be a kind of meeting of minds with this
criminal regime,” said Ahmad Jarba, president of the opposition Syrian
National Council. “It’s very difficult. I think that this regime was
forced to come to Geneva. Assad is trying to buy time because he knows
the end is near.”


1. The Syrian conflict began as part of the Arab Spring. What was
the Arab Spring? Which countries were involved?

2. Because the fighting in Syria is a war between groups from the same
country, it is described as a civil war. What do you think might happen
to civilians during a civil war?

3. Based on the article above, do you think that the negotiations were
a success, a failure or somewhere in between? If there was progress,
what was it? Explain your answer.