Syria and Malaysia

Insight, wit and analysis from BBC correspondents, journalists and writers from around the world. Presented by Pascale Harter.

Redrawing the map

The idea of a "Greater Kurdistan" - a national territory for all the Kurds - was first mooted in the 1920s, on the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, but it never materialised. Instead Kurds live now as minorities with their own language and culture, in parts of Armenia, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Their status varies from country to country – but the Kurds often complain of repression.

Since 1991, Kurds in Iraq have enjoyed partial autonomy - which has grown stronger in the aftermath of the US-led invasion and the changes to the Iraqi political system. Now the government in Syria, preoccupied with putting down an armed uprising, seems to be loosening its grip on majority-Kurdis areas. Orla Guerin wonders if amid the chaos, the Kurds of Syria are seizing their freedom...

Fruits of the forest

Farmers and forest people in Malaysia believe their chances have improved too - to make a better living from the global boom in demand for palm oil. It's increasingly being used to produce biofuels. It's also the cheapest cooking oil in the world - and it's used in most of the processed foods you'll find on the shelves of your local shop.

But in Sarawak, deep in the rainforests of Malaysia, Jennifer Pak found the real cost of palm oil startling. And she came across an unlikely poster girl for forest preservation: Shirley, the chainsmoking orangutan...

(Image: Syrian Kurds hold their rifles as they flash the sign for victory, in the Kurdish town of Jinderes, near Aleppo, on July 22 2012. Credit: AFP / Getty Images)

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10 minutes

Last on

Wed 22 Aug 2012 03:50 GMT

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