Greg Myre | KERA News

Greg Myre

Greg Myre is a national security correspondent with a focus on counter-terrorism, a topic he has covered in the U.S., the Middle East and in many other countries around the world for more than two decades.

He was previously the international editor for NPR.org, working closely with NPR correspondents around the world and national security reporters in Washington. He heads the Parallels blog and is a frequent contributor to the website on global affairs. Prior to his current position, he was a senior editor at Morning Edition from 2008-2011.

Before joining NPR, Myre was a foreign correspondent for 20 years with The New York Times and The Associated Press.

He was first posted to South Africa in 1987, where he witnessed Nelson Mandela's release from prison and reported on the final years of apartheid. He was assigned to Pakistan in 1993 and often traveled to war-torn Afghanistan. He was one of the first reporters to interview members of an obscure new group calling itself the Taliban.

Myre was also posted to Cyprus and worked throughout the Middle East, including extended trips to Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. He went to Moscow from 1996 to 1999, covering the early days of Vladimir Putin.

He was based in Jerusalem from 2000-2007, reporting on the heaviest fighting ever between Israelis and the Palestinians.

In his years abroad, he traveled to more than 50 countries and reported on a dozen wars. He and his journalist wife Jennifer Griffin co-wrote a 2011 book on their time in Jerusalem, entitled, This Burning Land: Lessons from the Front Lines of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

Myre is a scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington and has appeared as an analyst on CNN, PBS, BBC, C-SPAN, Fox, Al Jazeera and other networks. He's a graduate of Yale University, where he played football and basketball.

It started so well. When Saddam Hussein's Iraq invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990, the United States swiftly cobbled together a broad coalition, unleashed a stunning new generation of air power and waged a lightning ground offensive that lasted all of four days. Iraqi troops were so desperate to quit that some surrendered to Western journalists armed only with notebooks.

The Iranian nuclear negotiations were hugely complicated. If you understood them, even vaguely, congratulations.

Now that there's a deal between Iran and six world powers, there's a whole new set of issues to master. Iran is obligated to scale back its nuclear program, inspectors will be poking around to ensure compliance and the international community will have to lift a raft of sanctions.

Here's a primer on what to expect in the next few months:

1. What Happens Next?

Is it a good deal?

President Obama and his detractors are headed for a ferocious debate on this question following the nuclear agreement announced Tuesday in Vienna between Iran and six world powers.

Greece By The Numbers

Jul 8, 2015

The Greek crisis is messy and complicated, filled with nebulous terms being casually tossed around. Most every story has obligatory mentions of "austerity," "bailouts" and "capital controls," but it can be difficult to determine what, precisely, all that jargon means.

So let's stick to the numbers. Here's a primer on some of the most important ones in the unfolding Greek drama:

What's Next For Greece?

Jul 6, 2015

Greeks waved flags and danced in the streets after they overwhelmingly voted to reject further austerity measures from their international creditors. But now comes the reckoning, as Greece faces the realities of an economy out of money and creditors out of patience.

Here are some of the fundamental questions:

When will the banks reopen?

In Afghanistan's rough and ragged reconstruction, one of the most frequently cited bright spots has been the surge in Afghan kids going to school.

When the Taliban were ousted in 2001, fewer than 1 million Afghans were in the classroom, and a minuscule number were girls. In recent years, the figure topped 8 million, with both sexes well represented, according to the Afghan government.

Now the extent of that success story is being thrown into doubt.

The past year has been a bleak one in global affairs: The relentless carnage in Syria. Russia's annexation of Crimea. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Is there anything to applaud?

When a major earthquake pummeled Kobe, Japan, in 1995, more than 6,000 people were killed, many buried as their traditional wooden homes collapsed under the weight of heavy, unstable tile roofs.

The quake's power was extraordinary and demonstrated Japan wasn't as prepared as it thought it was. Still, it was no match for Japanese resilience.

When Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi weighs the pros and cons of running such a fractured country, here's the upside: He can count on five separate military groups supporting his battle against the self-declared Islamic State.

The downside is that he has limited control of these groups, and of much of his country.

A former Guantanamo Bay prisoner, who had joined al-Qaida after his release, was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen, the group said in a statement Tuesday.

Ibrahim al-Rubaish had fought in Afghanistan before being arrested and held in Guantanamo. He would go on to be one of the top leaders in al-Qaida in Yemen.

The drone attack is a sign that the United States has not abandoned its military campaign against al-Qaida despite the chaos in Yemen. U.S. and Yemeni officials did not immediately comment.

President Obama is lobbying hard for a full-fledged nuclear deal with Iran. He hopes to raise the U.S. flag at an embassy in Cuba before he leaves office. He traveled to Myanmar last fall as he moves to normalize relations.

The Iranian nuclear negotiations have focused on one very big and specific question: Will a deal make it harder for Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon?

But the talks are also part of President Obama's much broader quest to repair the fractured relations between the U.S. and Iran, one defined by bitter recriminations in the 36 years since Iran's Islamic revolution in 1979.

During a tough Israeli election campaign, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu managed to antagonize, among others, the White House, Israel's Arab citizens and the Palestinians.

Now that Netanyahu's Likud Party has come out on top, the prime minister has sought to ease tensions with a series of gestures.

Yemen's downward spiral toward civil war is a disaster for the poorest country in the Arab world and adds one more member to the growing list of Middle East states that have imploded in the past several years.

But how important is Yemen to the wider world?

One argument holds that Yemen is, and always has been, an isolated backwater. The chaos is tragic for Yemenis, but remains largely an internal feud between rival groups and will have limited spillover beyond its borders.

During his campaign, Benjamin Netanyahu aggressively opposed the negotiations on Iran's nuclear program, ruled out a Palestinian state on his watch, and argued that Israel would be best served by a government of the right.

If Netanyahu now cobbles together the coalition government he wants, his fourth term as Israel's prime minister could put him on an increasingly confrontational path with the Palestinians, the Obama administration and the international community.

Since first becoming prime minister in 1996, Benjamin Netanyahu has hammered away at Iran's nuclear program, calling it the greatest threat to Israel. Yet Tuesday's speech to Congress, like many before it, sharply criticized the international response to Iran while offering relatively little as an alternative.

A new pan-Arab television channel, Al-Arab, began broadcasting Sunday afternoon from the Gulf nation of Bahrain. By dawn Monday, it was off the air.

"Broadcast stopped for technical and administrative reasons. We will be back soon, inshallah [God willing]," the news channel wrote Monday on its Twitter feed.

Al-Arab's apparent offense was broadcasting an interview with Khalil al-Marzooq, a prominent critic of Bahrain's monarchy.

Even in the best of times, it's hard to tell if anyone is in control of Yemen.

It's a particularly pressing question Tuesday amid reports that Shiite Houthi rebels have seized the presidential palace in the poor, unstable nation at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. Some government officials called it a coup, while the rebels said it wasn't. But there's been no official word on the status of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Plenty of world leaders have condemned the deadly attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and a fair number took part in a rally held Sunday in Paris.

But as is always the case, it's much easier to condemn actions abroad than critically examine one's record at home.

When Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a 1989 fatwa calling for the killing of British writer Salman Rushdie, many in the West could scarcely believe a literary novel would prompt an international death threat.

We've come a long way since then.

When a 2011 firebombing destroyed the office of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, editor Stephane Charbonnier said the publication would not shy away from taking jabs at radical Islam.

"If we can poke fun at everything in France, if we can talk about anything in France apart from Islam or the consequences of Islamism, that is annoying," Charbonnier said at the time. "This is the first time we have been physically attacked, but we won't let it get to us."

The flood of Syrian refugees has been straining Lebanon for several years, and the Lebanese have now responded by imposing visa restrictions on Syria for the first time ever.

Residents from the neighboring Arab states have traditionally been able to travel back and forth easily despite relations that have often been tumultuous. But more than 1 million Syrian refugees have entered Lebanon since Syria's civil war began in 2011, placing a huge burden on Lebanon, a country of just 4 million people.

Wars raged in the Middle East and beyond. Economic woes stretched across continents. Crashing oil prices boosted some countries and slammed others. World leaders had a lot on their plate this past year. They were responsible for some of their trouble, and some of it just happened to them.

Whether they earned their good fortune or got hammered by bad luck, here's a look at the leaders who fared the best and the worst in 2014, plus a peek at what they can expect next year:

Vladimir Putin's Roller-Coaster Year

Since his return to the Russian presidency in 2012, Vladimir Putin has been on a tear: He has annexed Crimea, crushed opposition at home and challenged the West at most every turn.

With oil seemingly stable at more than $100 a barrel, the government coffers were full, and Putin received mostly cheers at home and few repercussions abroad for his consistently aggressive approach.

Nazila Fathi covered turbulent events in her native Iran for years as The New York Times correspondent. She learned to navigate the complicated system that tolerates reporting on many topics but can also toss reporters in jail if they step across a line never explicitly defined by the country's Islamic authorities.

Fathi recalls one editor telling her what journalists could do in Iran: "We have the freedom to say whatever we want to say, but we don't know what happens afterwards."

With his coalition government splintering, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sacked two senior Cabinet ministers, said Parliament should be dissolved and called for early elections.

The Israeli media reported that new elections could be held as early as March.

Netanyahu has been prime minister for the past five years — an extremely long tenure in a country marked by fractious politics and unstable coalition governments. He has more than two years left in his current term before new elections are required in 2017.

The Islamic State isn't the first Middle East extremist group to make a gruesome spectacle of kidnapping and killing Westerners. The first wave came in the 1980s, when Hezbollah in Lebanon seized dozens of Westerners amid an anarchic civil war.

As the U.S. military winds down its role in Afghanistan, the U.S. commander there, Gen. John Campbell, says Afghan forces have improved enough to handle the Taliban forces that are still waging war.

The Afghan military is "the strongest institution in Afghanistan," Campbell told NPR Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep in an interview broadcast on Veterans Day.

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