Weekend Edition Sunday

Conceived as a cross between a Sunday newspaper and CBS' Sunday Morning with Charles KuraltWeekend Edition Sunday features interviews with newsmakers, artists, scientists, politicians, musicians, writers, theologians and historians. The program has covered news events from Nelson Mandela's 1990 release from a South African prison to the capture of Saddam Hussein.

Weekend Edition Sunday debuted on January 18, 1987, with host Susan Stamberg. Two years later, Liane Hansen took over the host chair, a position she held for 22 years. In that time, Hansen interviewed movers and shakers in politics, science, business and the arts. Her reporting travels took her from the slums of Cairo to the iron mines of Michigan's Upper Peninsula; from the oyster beds on the bayou in Houma, La., to Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park; and from the kitchens of Colonial Williamsburg, Va., to the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. In the fall of 2011, NPR National Desk Reporter Audie Cornish began hosting the show.

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Weekend Edition Sunday is heard on NPR Member stations across the United States and around the globe via NPR Worldwide. The conversation between the audience and the program staff continues throughout the social media world.

The Islamic State militant group released a video showing the execution of British aid worker David Haines. NPR's Lynn Neary talks with the BBC's Gordon Corera about the reaction in the U.K.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Iraqi troops in Anbar province in June. It's unclear whether Sunnis will joi...
President Obama wants Sunnis to join the battle against the Islamic State. But those who helped fight al-Qaida several years ago feel abused by the Iraqi military, and now are not so eager to sign up.

If President Obama's plan to battle Islamic State militants by bringing Iraq's Sunnis on board to fight sounds oddly familiar, that's because it is.

When the U.S. faced a raging insurgency by Sunni militants — then called al-Qaida in Iraq — seven years ago, it recruited local Sunni leaders and paid their tribesmen to fight against those militants.

The effort, dubbed the Awakening, quieted the threat — for a while. But the local leaders who led the tribesmen back then say that this time, the U.S. might have trouble convincing Sunnis to rejoin the fight.

One of those leaders, Ahmed al Qarghouli, says he led 90 men in the Awakening in the province of Anbar, where al-Qaida was strongest. He says his men were invaluable to the Americans.

"We helped them," he says. "We captured the weapons in a huge number of caches. We found a place where they manufactured car bombs, we found huge amounts of C-4 [explosive] and TNT."

Qarghouli reminisces about how they cleared a lake of weeds, eliminating a hiding place for al-Qaida. He let an American soldier sleep in his house.

"I kept videos to remember, as a record," Qarghouli says.

He feels proud when he watches those videos. But after the American withdrawal, Qarghouli says, his men's salaries were swallowed up by corruption or disappeared under a hostile, Shiite-led government.

A senior tribal sheikh from Anbar, Faris al Dulaimi, sits with Qarghouli as we talk. He knows exactly what he thinks about the Awakening.

"The Awakening is dead," Dulaimi says. He says it was the Iraqi government that killed it.

Dulaimi and others allege years of abuse by mainly Shiite security forces, including broken promises that the Awakening fighters would get jobs, and the bombing of civilian areas.

But they hate the Islamic State, and would fight alongside the Iraqi army against it — albeit with conditions.

"The first thing: We need an American guarantee that the Iraq government is going to give these people permanent appointments and payment," Qarghouli says. "We are a rich country!"

Some Awakening leaders also point out the Islamic State is a more formidable enemy, controlling territory in a way al-Qaida never did. Plus, this time, the Iraqi army has recruited feared Shiite militias as paramilitary forces.

Retired Col. Derek Harvey, who built the role of the Awakening as part of the surge of U.S. troops in Iraq in 2007, says he saw huge resentment after Sunnis were cut loose.

"Many become very disgruntled, and what we saw was a drift toward anti-government behavior," he says.

Harvey says he thinks as many as a quarter of them fought alongside the Islamic State this year. He says that everything depends on the new government, led by new Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Harvey says Abadi will have to work to "legitimize local defense forces and empower Sunni Arab political leaders of all stripes in these provinces" if he wants to gain their trust.

Abadi's been in power for almost a week now, and is making all the right promises. But political wrangling has stopped the appointment of both an interior and a defense minister. Harvey says this plan won't work until there's tangible political progress.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The much-anticipated video game, Destiny, was released this week. NPR's Lynn Neary speaks with gaming expert Adam Sessler about the new game and whether it was worth all the hype.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.