Syria peace talks: Armed groups come in from the cold

  • 23 January 2017
  • From the section World
A view of Astana's Rixos President Hotel, the place that will host Syria peace talks in Kazakhstan (22 January 2017) Image copyright AFP
Image caption Those attending the talks at Astana's Rixos President Hotel must brave sub-zero temperatures to get there

There's a new venue, new brokers, and new negotiators, but can Syria talks here in Astana resolve the old intractable problems?

"Everything has changed since Aleppo," says a Western diplomat who's been engaged on Syria for the past several years. "There's a new equation."

The opposition's stinging defeat in Aleppo in December robbed them of their last major urban stronghold to challenge President Bashar al-Assad's rule.

And there was another game changer.

Behind the scenes, in the Turkish capital Ankara, a new Russian-Turkish alliance forged a deal to end the final fight for Syria's second city.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Presidents Putin and Erdogan (left and right) have stolen a march on Syria's other major players
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Snow is being cleared from the streets of Astana in advance of the talks

Read full article Syria peace talks: Armed groups come in from the cold

Aleppo siege: 'We are crying and afraid'

Media captionThe children of eastern Aleppo have never known a life without war

A biting winter's chill seeps through embattled Aleppo as a city braces itself for what could be the worst months of a war approaching its sixth year.

Driving into government-controlled west Aleppo, through military checkpoints, a landscape of skeletal buildings is a monument to Syria's spiral into violence.

Read full article Aleppo siege: 'We are crying and afraid'

Can dealmaker Trump seal Middle East peace?

President-elect Donald Trump pictured at Trump International Golf Club, on 20 November, 2016 in Bedminster Township, New Jersey. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The world is waiting to see where Donald Trump stands on complex issues in the Middle East

A president-elect who prides himself on the "art of the deal" is about to confront a mire in the Middle East where deals are sorely needed, but so very hard to clinch.

Across the Middle East and beyond, many are pondering Mr Trump's declarations in the heat of the campaign, his still sketchy comments in sit-down interviews, and his first choices for his team in White House Inc.

Read full article Can dealmaker Trump seal Middle East peace?

Why is Russia engaged in Aleppo?

Media captionHow the conflict in Aleppo has changed the fabric of the city

Russia has launched a major new assault on what it calls "terrorist targets" in Syria as a brief calm around Aleppo is shattered by devastating air strikes.

Moscow says its first warplanes to take off from its aircraft carrier now stationed off the Syrian coast did not target Aleppo itself.

Read full article Why is Russia engaged in Aleppo?

New UN chief Antonio Guterres will listen to the world

  • 18 October 2016
  • From the section World
Syrian men remove a baby from the rubble of a destroyed building following a reported air strike in the Qatarji neighbourhood of the northern city of Aleppo (21 September 2016) Image copyright AFP
Image caption Securing an end to the conflict in Syria has been identified by Mr Guterres as a priority

Talk to people who know Antonio Guterres and you hear the same refrain - the newly elected UN secretary general is a very good listener.

"He has this ability to stand his ground on important issues but still make you feel he's heard and understood your point of view," reflects Ninette Kelley who now heads the New York office of the UN's Refugee Agency, UNHCR.

Read full article New UN chief Antonio Guterres will listen to the world

'New Canadians' settle in as refugee acceptances slow

English language classes

Canada has settled more than 25,000 refugees, meeting a promise by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but the rate of acceptance has slowed

I went to Toronto to meet some of these 'New Canadians', as Mr Trudeau calls them, and to speak to the private groups sponsoring these refugees.

Read full article 'New Canadians' settle in as refugee acceptances slow

Two men from Baghdad - the artist and the entrepreneur

  • 31 July 2016
  • From the section Magazine
As Karim plays, Sadiq stands behind him, to the right, with his arms folded
Image caption As Karim plays, Sadiq stands behind him, to the right, with his arms folded

This is a story of Karim and Sadiq. It's also a story about Iraq.

The two men first met in 2001 - a time when Iraq was in the iron grip of Saddam Hussein, a time of few freedoms.

Read full article Two men from Baghdad - the artist and the entrepreneur

Iraq seeks more help as it sets sights on Mosul

Bullet casings lie on the ground as Iraqi government forces near the Qayara airbase (14 July 2016) Image copyright AFP
Image caption Iraqi government forces recently retook the Qayara airbase, 60km (40 miles) south of Mosul

Black banners of so-called Islamic State (IS) flap in the scorching heat of northern Iraq. Fighters' corpses lie where they fell, wrapped in dust, in parched wheat fields.

An Iraqi military convoy hurtles along dirt tracks, kicking up a haze which shrouds deserted shells of houses with a ghostly pallor.

Read full article Iraq seeks more help as it sets sights on Mosul

As Iran waits for nuclear deal dividends - could the EU help?

The EU and Iranian flags displayed in Tehran
Image caption Iran has seen a flurry of diplomatic activity after last year's nuclear deal

At a popular hotel in the Iranian capital they are kept busy changing the flags.

When we arrive in the early hours of Saturday, along with the largest EU delegation in more than a decade, the lobby is dominated by a table of pink lilies in glorious bloom fronted by Europe's 12-starred blue flag entwined with Iran's tricolour.

Read full article As Iran waits for nuclear deal dividends - could the EU help?

Syria: A different country after five years of war

Media captionThe BBC's chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet was in Deraa five years ago and has returned to see what civil war has done to the country and its people.

Its first moments were fleeting and furtive, small but significant.

Young women unfurled protest banners from their handbags on a busy Damascus street, then quickly retreated. Teenage boys sprayed graffiti on a school wall in the southern city of Deraa.

Read full article Syria: A different country after five years of war