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Arab Autumn: Syria

Following last year’s ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad launched a violent attack on Syrian activists who presented similar demands: for economic prosperity, political freedom and civil rights.

In the ensuing civil war, thousands of people have died, and many more have fled to bordering countries. The Syrian government continues to claim that the opposition are terrorists trying to destabilise the country – and the opposition says this is merely a tactic employed to justify the regime’s attacks. Meanwhile, global leaders struggle to find a diplomatic solution for this war-torn country.

Join host Sally Warhaft and guests Rodger Shanahan, Dr Sally Totman and Brian Stoddart as they discuss the complex situation in Syria – and what, if any, role Australia should play as a ‘good global citizen’.


Portrait of Sally Warhaft

Sally Warhaft

Sally Warhaft is a Melbourne broadcaster, anthropologist and writer. She is the host of The Fifth Estate, the Wheeler Centre’s live series focusing on journalism, politics, media, and international relations, and The Leap Year, a Wheeler Centre podcast about Australians' lives in the fog of the Covid-19 pandemic. She is a former editor of the Monthly magazine and the author of the bestselling book Well May We Say: The Speeches that Made Australia.

Sally is a regular host and commentator on ABC radio and has a PhD in anthropology. She did her fieldwork in Mumbai, India, living by the seashore with the local fishing community.

Portrait of Sally Totman

Sally Totman

Sally is Senior Lecturer in Middle East Studies and the Convener of the Middle East Studies program at Deakin. In addition, Sally is the Chair of the Faculty of Arts & Education Academic Progress and Discipline Committee and co-founder of the Australia Middle East Research Forum (AMERF).

Portrait of Rodger Shanahan

Rodger Shanahan

Dr Rodger Shanahan is a non-resident fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy and part-time member of the Refugee Review Tribunal. A former army officer, he had extensive service within the Parachute Battalion Group and has had operational service with the UN in South Lebanon and Syria.

Portrait of Brian Stoddart

Brian Stoddart

Brian Stoddart, emeritus professor at La Trobe University, where he served as vice-chancellor, is now an international consultant on higher education reform - work which took him to Syria immediately before the current disturbances.

The Fifth Estate

For in-depth insider analysis of current affairs, it doesn't get any better than The Fifth Estate.
This long-running series is a mainstay of the Wheeler Centre’s programme, and of public conversation in Melbourne. Our in-house news anchor Sally Warhaft hosts guests from the world of politics, culture, journalism and international relations to dissect pressing questions of policy, power and public affairs. It's a chance to give complex local and global issues the thoughtful discussion they deserve.

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