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Middle East Focus

English, News, 6 seasons, 131 episodes, 3 days, 2 hours, 52 minutes
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Weekly discussion of Middle East policy, arts, and culture, featuring experts from the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C.
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Deterrence Reasserted? Debating Iran's Missile Capabilities and Willingness to Use Force

On this week’s episode, David DesRoches and Abdolrasool (Farzam) Divsallar, a Non-Resident Scholar with MEI's Iran Program, speak to MEI Managing Editor Matthew Czekaj on Iran’s April 13 missile and drone attack on Israel and what it reveals about both countries’ attack and deterrence capabilities.  Note: This conversation was recorded on Friday, May 3, 2024. Recently published and upcoming works mentioned in this episode: David DesRoches' chapter on Saudi defense reform, in the edited volume Governance and Domestic Policy-Making in Saudi Arabia. Abdolrasool (Farzam) Divsallar's chapter on Iranian foreign policy institutions, published in the multi-author volume The Sacred Republic. Follow Farzam's work with the Middle East WMD-Free Zone project on the UNIDIR website.
5/22/202444 minutes, 29 seconds
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Sudan's civil war and its regional impact

On this week's episode, Jehanne Henry, Mirette Mabrouk, and MEI Editor-In-Chief Alistair Taylor discuss Sudan’s civil war and its regional impact. The conflict began on April 15th, 2023, when fighting broke out in Sudan’s capital of Khartoum between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) under Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) under Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (known as “Hemedti”). More than a year on, the fighting continues to rage and there seems to be no end in sight to the conflict.    
5/10/202443 minutes, 19 seconds
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Rethinking Democracy Ep. 2: What is the Rule of Law? With Thomas Carothers and Vali Nasr

About the series: This is a critical year for the future of democracy. Half the world’s population will go to the polls in 2024, at a time when citizens in America and across the globe are losing faith in democratic institutions. We often view the rollback of democracy and threats to the liberal international order as separate problems, but in reality they are closely interlinked. Through a new limited podcast series, MEI’s Gonul Tol seeks to examine the interplay between democracy’s domestic and international foes as well as how to counter them.   In this episode: According to the World Justice Project, 2023 was the sixth year in a row in which the rule of law has declined in most countries. The rule of law is a cornerstone of democratic societies - promoting fairness and ensuring accountability.  Thomas Carothers and Vali Nasr join Gonul Tol to answer the questions: What is the relationship between the rule of law and democracy? Why is the rule of law challenged in places like the Middle East, and can the West help advance it? 
4/30/202448 minutes, 17 seconds
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Opposition Upset Victory in Turkey's Local Elections

On this week's episode, Murat Somer - Professor of Political Science and International Relations at Istanbul’s Ozyegin University - and MEI Turkey Program Director Gonul Tol join MEI Editor-in-Chief Alistair Taylor to discuss the main opposition party’s surprising victory in Turkey’s March 31 local elections. In what some are calling a “red wave,” the Republican People’s Party (or CHP) notched up victories in both major cities and smaller towns and villages, winning control of Turkey’s 5 largest metropolitan areas and 35 of its 81 provincial municipalities. 
4/4/202445 minutes, 20 seconds
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Rethinking Democracy, Ep. 1: Why Does Democracy Flourish? With Francis Fukuyama and Paul Salem

About the series: This is a critical year for the future of democracy. Half the world’s population will go to the polls in 2024, at a time when citizens in America and across the globe are losing faith in democratic institutions. We often view the rollback of democracy and threats to the liberal international order as separate problems, but in reality they are closely interlinked. Through a new limited podcast series, MEI’s Gonul Tol seeks to examine the interplay between democracy’s domestic and international foes as well as how to counter them.   In this episode: The world’s oldest democracy is in trouble. According to a study by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution, 75% of Americans believe that “the future of American democracy is at risk in the 2024 presidential election.” We often debate why democracies die because we assume that authoritarian power is the exception and democracy is the norm. But history says otherwise.  Francis Fukuyama and Paul Salem join Gonul Tol to answer the question: Why has democracy flourished in certain countries and regions and not in others?  
3/26/202452 minutes, 13 seconds
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The Evolving Conflict Between Hezbollah and Israel

MEI's US-Lebanon Fellow Fadi Nicholas Nassar and Emile Hokayem - Director of Regional Security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies - discuss the changing and uncertain rules of engagement between Hezbollah and Israel, and the potential for war between the two following Oct. 7. 
3/11/202447 minutes, 44 seconds
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Interview with Rashid Al Khalifa - Bahraini artist, collector and founder of RAK Art Foundation

Director of MEI's Arts & Culture Program Lyne Sneige interviews HH Sheik Rashid Al Khalifa - artist, collector and founder of the RAK Art Foundation and a participating artist in MEI's current gallery exhibition "The Sea of Life: Modern and Contemporary Art from The Kingdom of Bahrain"
3/6/202437 minutes, 32 seconds
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What’s next for Pakistan after election shock?

On this week's episode Tamkinet Karim, Syed Mohammad Ali, and Alistair Taylor discuss the results of Pakistan’s Feb. 8 elections and where things might be headed moving forward. Over the past two years, Pakistan has gone through a particularly turbulent period, following the removal of Imran Khan’s government in a no-confidence vote in April 2022 — a time marked by political instability, intense polarization, a worsening economic crisis, and growing threats to internal security. *Note: This episode was recorded before the formation of a coalition government on February 20, 2024.*
2/21/202436 minutes, 29 seconds
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Iran’s 1979 revolution and its resonance today

On this week's episode, MEI Iran Program Director Alex Vatanka, MEI Non-resident Scholar Andrew Scott Cooper, and MEI Editor-In-Chief Alistair Taylor discuss the Iranian Revolution of 1979. A seminal event in the history of the modern Middle East, the revolution transformed Iran and its impact continues to reverberate across the region today, nearly five decades on.
2/13/202435 minutes, 30 seconds
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Spotlight on US Syria policy

On this week's episode, Director of MEI's Syria and Countering Terrorism & Extremism Programs Charles Lister and MEI Editor-In-Chief Alistair Taylor talk about US policy toward Syria. The deadly Jan. 28 drone attack on a US military outpost in northeastern Jordan, near the borders with Syria and Iraq, has drawn renewed attention to the US military presence in the area. This comes against a backdrop of regional conflict and escalation. 
2/4/202429 minutes, 36 seconds
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The Gaza War's Regional Reverberations

On this week's episode, President and CEO of the Middle East Institute Paul Salem and Director of MEI’s Conflict Resolution and Track II Dialogues Program Randa Slim speak to MEI's Editor-in-Chief Alistair Taylor about growing concerns over the potential for large-scale regional escalation as the Gaza war continues.  *Note: This episode was recorded before drone attacks that killed US soldiers in Jordan on 1/28. *
1/29/202434 minutes, 36 seconds
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Antisemitism and Islamophobia in the US political discourse on Israel/Palestine

Sahar Aziz and Mitchell Plitnick discuss their study "Presumptively Antisemitic: Islamophobic Tropes in the Palestine Israel Discourse" with MEI's Palestine and Palestinian-Israeli Affairs Program Director Khaled Elgindy.
1/10/202441 minutes, 37 seconds
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Themes of COP28

MEI's Climate and Water Program discusses the top issues within the themes of COP28's agenda.  For more info on COP28 and climate issues in the MENA region, follow MEI's Spotlight on COP28.
12/5/202323 minutes, 2 seconds
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Turkey at 100

The year 2023 marks the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Turkish Republic. MEI Editor-in-chief Alistair Taylor and Turkey Program Director Gonul Tol discuss where things stand today: the political landscape in the aftermath of the May 2023 elections, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s push for constitutional change, and how Turkey is dealing with key foreign policy issues like the Israel-Hamas war, Sweden’s NATO membership bid, and relations with the U.S. 
12/5/202337 minutes, 18 seconds
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Iran and the Israel-Hamas War

On this week's episode, MEI's Editor in Chief Alistair Taylor talks to Iran Program Director Alex Vatanka about Iran and the Israel-Hamas war. As fighting rages in Gaza and the prospects for regional escalation continue to mount, Iran will remain a critical actor to watch. It is not only Israel’s main regional foe but also the leading provider of military aid and training for Hamas. Given the centrality of Iran in this latest Middle Eastern war, understanding how Tehran views the conflict and its endgame will be critical.
11/15/202330 minutes, 6 seconds
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Climate Financing

Director of MEI’s Climate and Water Program Mohammed Mahmoud speaks to energy and sustainable infrastructure expert Lucia Fuselli on the role of climate financing - a critical component of initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and bolstering climate resilience.  
9/19/202319 minutes, 2 seconds
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Prospects for Saudi Arabia-Israel Normalization

On this week's episode, MEI's Editor-In-Chief Alistair Taylor discusses the Biden administration’s push to reach a normalization accord between Saudi Arabia and Israel with Martin Indyk, Sanam Vakil, and Bilal Saab.  While there are plenty of potential hurdles to reaching a deal — including Saudi Arabia’s steep demands, Israel’s far-right government, and challenging domestic politics here in the US — if done right, the potential geopolitical ramifications could be substantial.
9/7/202345 minutes, 1 second
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Little Amal Walks Across America

MEI’s Senior Vice President Kate Seelye speaks with award-winning theater director and writer Amir Nizar Zuabi - Artistic Director of the 'Amal Walks Across America' tour.  They discuss the upcoming U.S. tour of Little Amal, an internationally celebrated 12-foot-tall puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee girl traveling across the world carrying a message of hope and compassion for displaced people everywhere.
8/28/202326 minutes, 3 seconds
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Ben Samuels | 'Taking the Edge Off the Middle East' Ep. 3

Middle East Focus Presents: ‘Taking the Edge Off the Middle East’ with Brian Katulis A series of casual conversations with leading policy professionals on the most important happenings in the Middle East today - hosted by MEI VP for Policy Brian Katulis. Ben Samuels - U.S. correspondent for Haaretz - sits down with Brian to discuss how he got into journalism, the state of politics in Israel, and the country's ongoing judicial overhaul.  *Note: this episode was recorded on June 8, 2023.
8/22/202346 minutes, 51 seconds
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France’s Foreign Policy towards Lebanon and its Discontents

MEI U.S.-Lebanon Fellow Fadi Nicholas Nassar is joined by Karim Bitar for a discussion on French foreign policy towards Lebanon. The pair focus on the current state of affairs in Lebanon, historical trends in French policy towards the country and the region, and more in the latest episode of Middle East Focus.
7/21/20231 hour, 8 minutes, 43 seconds
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Perspectives from the Bonn Climate Change Conference Ahead of COP28

This year's Bonn Climate Change Conference featured events and discussions focusing on climate issues such as adaptation, mitigation, the global stocktake, and climate loss and damage. Progress on these issues at the Bonn Conference is intended to translate into potential draft decisions to be adopted at the COP28 meeting taking place in the UAE later this year. Mohammed Mahmoud discusses the details of the Bonn Conference, how it may have shaped the MENA climate change agenda, and other major outcomes with Athra Khamis and Neeshad Shafi, two of MEI’s non-resident scholars in the Climate and Water Program that attended the Bonn Conference.
7/10/202333 minutes, 35 seconds
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Itamar Rabinovich on “Middle Eastern Maze”

Brookings’ Distinguished Fellow on Foreign Policy Itamar Rabinovich discusses his new book - “Middle Eastern Maze: Israel, the Arabs, and the Region” - as well as contemporary Israeli politics with MEI’s VP for Policy Brian Katulis.
6/21/202325 minutes, 57 seconds
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Richard A. Clarke | 'Taking the Edge Off the Middle East' Ep. 2

Middle East Focus Presents: ‘Taking the Edge Off the Middle East’ with Brian Katulis A series of casual conversations with leading policy professionals on the most important happenings in the Middle East today - hosted by MEI VP for Policy Brian Katulis. After a decade of leadership, Richard A. Clarke recently retired as chairman of the Board of Governors of the Middle East Institute. He chats with Brian about what originally got him into public service, his 30 years working in U.S. government national security agencies (including the Pentagon, the State Department, and the White House National Security Council), and his recent move into writing fiction. 
6/12/202349 minutes, 10 seconds
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Art in Dialogue with Nature: An Exploration of Saudi Arabia’s New Valley of the Arts

Wadi AlFann ('Valley of the Arts') is a new global cultural destination in Saudi Arabia, where monumental contemporary artworks are being commissioned for AlUla’s majestic desert landscape.   Curator Iwona Blazwick and participating Saudi artist Manal Al Dowayan speak with MEI's Senior Vice President Kate Seelye about Wadi Al Fann's permanent art commissions and the impact of the Kingdom's investment in the arts as part of Saudi Vision 2030 on local communities and the international art scene.
6/7/202326 minutes, 36 seconds
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David Schenker | 'Taking the Edge Off the Middle East' Ep. 1

Middle East Focus Presents: ‘Taking the Edge Off the Middle East’ with Brian Katulis A series of casual conversations with leading policy professionals on the most important happenings in the Middle East today - hosted by MEI VP for Policy Brian Katulis. David Schenker - Director of the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy - sits down with Brian to discuss the beginnings of his career, his time in the Trump Administration, and the pros and cons of US-MENA policy. 
6/1/202348 minutes, 46 seconds
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Ending the use of child soldiers

On this week's episode Alistair Taylor, MEI's editor-in-chief, is joined by Mick Mulroy and Eric Oehlerich, Senior Fellows with MEI’s Defense & Security Program and the Co-founders of the Lobo Institute and End Child Soldiering, to discuss efforts to stop the recruitment and use of children in combat and rehabilitate former child soldiers. The use of child soliders is a widespread global problem that has a disproportionate impact on the broader Middle East, especially in Yemen, Syria, Sudan, and Somalia. For more information about the work of End Child Soldiering, please visit https://endchildsoldiering.com.
5/17/202336 minutes, 33 seconds
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Turkey’s Critical Elections

On this week's episode Alistair Taylor, MEI's editor-in-chief, is joined by Gönül Tol, the founding director of MEI's Turkey Program and the author of "Erdogan's War: A Strongman's Struggle at Home and in Syria," to discuss Turkey's critical upcoming elections. After two decades in power, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) are facing unprecedented challenges, including an economy in shambles, the ongoing impact of the devastating early February earthquakes, and a united opposition.
5/9/202332 minutes, 39 seconds
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Tunisia's new state institutions, legitimacy, and the future of the political transition

Tunisian President Kais Saied has reformed the structure of the Tunisian government, creating worries that democracy is being eroded in the North African country. Amidst ongoing economic turmoil and a growing migration issue, many are wondering if it is still possible to preserve democracy in Tunisia. Intissar Fakir, Director of MEI's North Africa & Sahel program, is joined by Chiraz Arbi and Lilia Blaise to discuss the current political situation and what the future may look like for Tunisia.
5/2/202357 minutes, 34 seconds
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What Does the US-China Tech Cold War Mean for the Middle East?

On this week's episode Alistair Taylor, MEI's editor-in-chief, is joined by Mohammed Soliman, director of MEI's Strategic Technologies and Cyber Security Program, to discuss the US-China tech Cold War and what it means for the Middle East. At the nexus of great power competition and rapid technological advances in areas like semiconductors and AI, the rivalry between Washington and Beijing is fuelling a longer-term process of economic and technological decoupling. Navigating this growing divide will be a key challenge for regional actors across MENA.
4/25/202319 minutes, 45 seconds
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Earth Day: Environmental Opportunities and Challenges in the Middle East

April 22 marks the annual observation of Earth Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness on issues of environmental conservation and protection. Mohammed Mahmoud, director of MEI's Climate and Water Program is joined by Alicia Dauth to discuss recent global and regional developments regarding the current climate crisis and their implications towards preserving the earth's environment, with a special focus on opportunities and challenges for the Middle East.
4/18/202326 minutes, 29 seconds
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On Food and Sustainability: A conversation with Moza Al Matrooshi and Christian Sleiman

Lyne Sneige, Director of the Arts & Culture Program at the Middle East Institute, speaks with artists Moza Al Matrooshi and Christian Sleiman about their works that are featured in MEI's current exhibition, Perceptible Rhythms/Alternative Temporalities. The conversation provides greater detail on the relationship between each artist's works and the themes of food and sustainability.
4/11/202330 minutes, 13 seconds
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Water Resource Challenges in MENA

Mohammed Mahmoud, Director of the Climate and Water Program at MEI, hosts a discussion on a variety of water resource challenges across the MENA region with Malak Altaeb, Megan Ferrando, Orestes Morfin, Youssef Wehbe, Zena Agha, and Andrei Covatariu. Questions on water availability, the relationship between water and conflict, future technologies, and more are addressed in the conversation.
3/30/202331 minutes, 31 seconds
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Can the Lira be saved?

MEI's US-Lebanon Fellow Fadi Nicholas Nassar speaks to Beirut-based international finance professional Mike Azar on Lebanon's financial crisis. What is the state of Lebanon's banking system, and how did it become so dysfunctional? What does Azar recommend to get Lebanon's economy back on track, and can the Lira be saved? 
3/10/202358 minutes, 48 seconds
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The influence of Atmospheric Rivers in MENA

Atmospheric rivers play an important role in the movement of water through the atmosphere and can release that water at magnitudes capable of producing extreme weather and flooding. But what are atmospheric rivers exactly? And how do they behave in relation to current climate change in the MENA region? MEI's Mohammed Mahmoud and Raha Hakimdavar are joined by Dr. Amin Dezfuli to discuss these questions and more.
2/28/202328 minutes, 26 seconds
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Russia's Influence in MENA After a Year of War in Ukraine

MEI Managing Editor Matthew Czekaj speaks with scholars Iulia-Sabina Joja, Alex Vatanka, Yörük Işık, Charles Lister, and Roger Kangas on Russia's current standing in the Middle East a year since re-invading Ukraine.    How has Russian aggression in Ukraine redrawn Moscow’s relationships in the MENA region? And as the Middle East increasingly becomes a key area of global great power competition, is Russia still a meaningful player there, politically, economically, militarily, and diplomatically?
2/24/20231 hour, 2 minutes, 56 seconds
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MEI's Arts and Culture Center joins DESIGNEAST in Dubai

MEI's Arts and Culture Center joins DESIGNEAST at Al Serkal Avenue in Dubai   DESIGNEAST is a new platform launching in Dubai during Art Week from 26 February to 5 March, 2023 focused on providing opportunities for emerging designers from the Middle East, South East Asia and China. MEI's Arts and Culture Center director Lyne Sneige speaks to founder and creative director Rue Kotharie about their opening show '(Un)common Threads' and two of the participating artists Ghizlane Sahli (Morocco) and Nour Hage (Lebanon/UK).
2/21/202340 minutes, 45 seconds
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Is There a Way Forward for Political Resolution in Yemen?

Director of MEI's Arabian Peninsula Program Gerald Feierstein speaks to MEI Non-Resident Scholars Fatima Abo Alasrar & Ibrahim Jalal on a host of current events in Yemen. What have  been the takeaways from U.S. Special Envoy Timothy Lenderking's recent visit to the country -  and what are the current trends in the Saudi-Houthi dialogue? 
2/13/202332 minutes, 51 seconds
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Justice, the Beirut Blast, and Lebanon's Continued Crisis

MEI's U.S.-Lebanon Fellow Fadi Nicholas Nassar speaks to Ronnie Chatah - host of the Beirut Banyan and founder of WalkBeirut - about justice in the wake of the Beirut Blast. Why have family members of the blast's victims recently been arrested, and where does accountability lie as Lebanon continues to slip into further crisis? 
2/1/202343 minutes, 21 seconds
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EU Energy Security & the Maghreb

North Africa and the Sahel Program Director Intissar Fakir speaks to Alberto Rizzi - pan-European fellow at the Rome Office of the European Council on Foreign Relations - about existing and future energy partnerships between the European Union and the Maghreb. In the wake of energy market disruption caused by the conflict in Ukraine, what alternative fuel sources are the EU looking towards - and how does this align with current production capacities in Maghreb countries? 
1/24/202328 minutes, 23 seconds
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MENA Music and More!

On today's episode, Middle East Focus kicks off the new year with Danny Hajjar, whose newsletter Sa'alouni El Nas brings diverse music and perspectives from the MENA region to inboxes worldwide. Interviewing Danny is Fadi Nicholas Nassar, U.S.-Lebanon Fellow at the Middle East Institute, Director of the Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution, and Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the Lebanese American University (LAU).   For more from Danny Hajjar and to subscribe to the Sa'alouni El Nas newsletter, visit his website: https://saalounielnas.substack.com/
1/3/202326 minutes, 14 seconds
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Iran’s Protests 3 Months On

Now entering their fourth month of defiance, the people of Iran continue to protest the regime of Ali Khamenei. Since protests began in September, the crackdown by security forces has become increasingly severe and the government has now begun executing protesters. According to figures from the Human Rights Activists News Agency, as of Dec. 15, nearly 500 protesters have been killed and almost 20,000 people have been arrested. Despite the risks, Iran's astonishingly brave protesters continue to call for the fall of the regime. For an update on the situation and an eye towards the future, host Alistair Taylor turns to Alex Vatanka, founding Director of the Iran Program at the Middle East Institute. 
12/19/202230 minutes, 43 seconds
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COP 27: Ask the Experts with Mohammed Mahmoud

With Egypt hosting COP 27 this week, all eyes are on climate change in the MENA region. For today's episode, Senior Fellow and Director of the Climate and Water Program Mohammed Mahmoud asked several of MEI's Climate and Water Program scholars what they consider to be the most pressing issues regarding climate change, water resources, and the environment. Today's guests include Andrei Covatariu, Athraa Khamis, Malak Altaeb, Megan Ferrando, Orestes Morfin, and Youssef Wehbe. 
11/7/202229 minutes, 43 seconds
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Russia’s War on Ukraine: Iran’s Growing Role and the Nuclear Threat

In today's episode, Alistair Taylor sits down with experts from MEI's Frontier Europe Initiative to assess the trajectory of Russia's war on Ukraine. They discuss Russia’s growing attacks on critical infrastructure, its recent deployment of Iranian drones and their impact on the battlefield, the potential nuclear threat, and where things might be headed from here.  Today's guests are General Philip Breedlove and Iulia-Sabina Joja. General Breedlove is a retired United States Air Force General who served as Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and Commander of U.S. European Command. He’s the Distinguished Chair of MEI’s Frontier Europe Initiative and a Distinguished Professor at the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at Georgia Tech. Iulia is a Senior Fellow and Director of MEI's Frontier Europe Initiative and Director of its "Afghanistan Watch" project. She teaches courses on European security at Georgetown and George Washington universities. 
11/1/202232 minutes, 51 seconds
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The Biden Administration’s National Security Strategy

The Biden Administration's National Security Strategy has drawn some criticism for its relatively late release, but what of its actual substance? Today, Alistair Taylor talks with four experts, each with unique insights into the context and strategy of this document with regards to the Middle East, North Africa, and American foreign policy at large.   Our first guest is Ross Harrison, a Senior Fellow and Director of Research at the Middle East Institute, and a Professor of Political Science at the University of Pittsburgh. Our second guest is Jerry Feierstein, Distinguished Senior Fellow on U.S. Diplomacy and Director of MEI’s Arabian Peninsula Affairs Program. We are then joined by Dr. Marwa Maziad, a Non-Resident Scholar with MEI's Defense and Security Program and a Visiting Assistant Professor of Israel Studies at the Gildenhorn Institute at the University of Maryland. Our final guest is Melissa Horvath, a Non-Resident Scholar with MEI’s Defense and Security Program and the lead Foreign Military Sales Instructor and Curriculum Developer at ASRC Federal.
10/25/202249 minutes, 24 seconds
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Pakistan's Climate, Economic, and Political Crises

Relentless floods in Pakistan have resulted in thousands of deaths, widespread displacement, and economic devastation. Today, we discuss these impacts as well as Pakistan's broader economic and climate change challenges, the ongoing political crisis, and developments on the foreign policy front. Joining us today are Syed Mohammad Ali, Elizabeth Threlkeld, and Arif Rafiq. Mohammed Ali is a non-resident scholar with MEI’s Afghanistan and Pakistan Program and a weekly columnist for Pakistan’s Express Tribune. Elizabeth is a Senior Fellow and Director of the South Asia Program at the Stimson Center. She previously served as a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State in Pakistan in Islamabad and Peshawar. Arif is the president of Vizier Consulting, a political risk advisory company focused on the Middle East and South Asia. He’s also a non-resident scholar with MEI’s Afghanistan and Pakistan Program.
10/11/202239 minutes, 26 seconds
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Contending with Reality in Palestine & Israel

Today's two-part episode is a study in contrasts. On one hand, the Partnership for Peace Fund strives to create a social and economic environment in which sustainable peace can become possible. On the other, hard political realities and gridlock undermine cooperation at every turn. The episode begins by discussing peace-building efforts with George Salem, co-founder and Chairman of the Arab American Institute and Inaugural Chair of the Partnership for Peace Advisory Board. The discussion then turns to political realities and facts on the ground with Brian Katulis, Vice President of Policy at MEI, and Khaled Elgindy, Senior Fellow and Director of the Program on Palestine and Palestinian-Israeli Affairs.
10/4/202252 minutes, 9 seconds
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Iran's Growing Protests

Today's episode challenges preconceived notions about Iranian society, the hijab, and the regime clinging to power in Tehran. Joining us today for a highly enlightening conversation are two Iran experts, Marjan Keypour Greenblatt and Alex Vatanka. Marjan is the founder and director of the Alliance for Rights of All Minorities (ARAM), a non-resident scholar with MEI’s Iran Program, and a member of the Anti-Defamation League’s Task Force on Middle East Minorities. Alex is the director of MEI’s Iran Program and a Senior Fellow with the Frontier Europe Initiative. He is the author of the 2021 book The Battle of the Ayatollahs in Iran: The United States, Foreign Policy and Political Rivalry Since 1979.
9/23/202237 minutes, 43 seconds
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Yemen After Eight Years of Civil War

Now in the fifth month of a ceasefire, what are the prospects for a negotiated end to the Yemeni Civil War, and the beginning of a sustained peace? MEI Distinguished Sr. Fellow on U.S. Diplomacy and Director of the Arabian Peninsula program Gerald Feierstein discusses these questions with two outstanding scholars who have followed and written extensively about Yemen over the years. Fatima Abo Alasrar is a nonresident scholar at MEI and a Senior Analyst for the Washington Center for Yemeni Studies. Ibrahim Jalal is a Yemeni security, conflict, and defense researcher in the UK, an Erasmus Scholar, and a co-founding member of The Security Distillery think tank. 
9/13/202234 minutes, 47 seconds
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Algeria & France: Untangling Past and Present

French President Emmanuel Macron's recent visit to Algeria brought talks of cooperation and reconciliation to the fore in an otherwise fraught relationship. France and Algeria share a long and painful history, including 132 years of colonial occupation and an eight year war of devastation. In an effort to unpack the motivations and context behind Macron's visit, MEI Senior Fellow and Director of the North Africa and the Sahel Program Intissar Fakir speaks with Francis Ghilès, Senior Research Fellow with the Barcelona Center for International Affairs. For more from today's guest, click here.
9/2/202244 minutes, 55 seconds
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Iraq's Deepening Political Crisis

Ten months on from last October’s elections, Iraq still does not have a new government and faces a deepening political crisis. To understand the current situation's perils and what may be next for the future of the country, we are joined by Farhad Alaaldin, chairman of the Iraq Advisory Council, and Robert Ford, MEI Senior Fellow and former Ambassador to Syria and Algeria. 
8/25/202230 minutes, 58 seconds
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MENA Photography: More than your eyes can see

MEI Arts and Culture Center Director Lyne Sneige speaks with photographers Eman Ali and Samar Hazboun, who are featured in MEI's latest gallery exhibition "More Than Your Eyes Can See:  Contemporary Photography from the Arab World" - curated by Laila Abdul-Hadi Jadallah and in partnership with Tribe Magazine. 
8/9/202237 minutes, 24 seconds
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The US strike on al-Qaeda leader al-Zawahiri

On today’s episode, host Alistair Taylor explores the ramifications of the CIA drone strike that killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul, Afghanistan on July 31. Joining the program are three MEI experts - Mick Mulroy, Javid Ahmad, and Douglas London - who bring with them a variety of perspectives, from intelligence to diplomacy. 
8/9/202242 minutes, 22 seconds
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Biden's Trip to the Middle East

President Joe Biden's recent trip has received acclaim, scorn, and indifference from across the foreign policy establishment. Why did Biden go to the Middle East, and what did he seek to gain? In this much-anticipated episode, host Alistair Taylor and four expert guests reflect on this question from a variety of perspectives, diving deep into the motivations and repercussions of President Biden's trip. Esteemed guests include Paul Salem, President of MEI; Bilal Saab, Senior Fellow and Founding Director of the Defense and Security Program at MEI; Mirette Mabrouk, Senior Fellow and Founding Director of the Egypt Program at MEI; and Alex Vatanka, Director of the Iran Program and Senior Fellow at the Frontier Europe Initiative at MEI.
7/27/202255 minutes, 19 seconds
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Cyber Trends in the Middle East

This week, host Alistair Taylor speaks with Chris Kubecka, Distinguished Chair of the Cyber Security and Emerging Technology Program at the Middle East Institute. Their conversation covers recent cyber trends and developments in the Middle East, President Biden’s trip to the region, and MEI’s new book Cyber War and Cyber Peace: Digital Conflict in the Middle East.   To pre-order the book now, click the link below: https://www.bloomsbury.com/us/cyber-war-and-cyber-peace-9780755646005/
7/21/202217 minutes, 43 seconds
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Tunisia's Economy

Intissar Fakir is joined by Marwa Haddar and Fadil Aliriza to discuss the economic issues Tunisia is facing, international financial institutions' role in the crisis, and the government's actions, or lack thereof, to help the country.  
7/7/202232 minutes, 13 seconds
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Iraq's Political Shift

Randa Slim is joined by Farhad Alaadin and Marsin Alshamary to discuss the latest political events in Iraqi Parliament, Muqtada al-Sadr, and what the future of Iraqi politics could look like moving forward.
6/30/202231 minutes, 33 seconds
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Somalia (Horn of Africa, part 2 of 2)

Guled Ahmed joins the program to discuss the political climate in Somalia, its recent elections, security conditions, and the role of external actors including the African Union, Gulf states, Turkey, and the U.S.
6/10/202227 minutes, 12 seconds
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Expedition to Antarctica

In this interview from MEI's Climate and Water program, guest host Mohammed Mahmoud speaks with Athra Khamis about her journey to the remote continent of Antarctica, what she saw there, and how it impacted her views on climate change.
6/2/202222 minutes, 1 second
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Ethiopia (Horn of Africa, part 1 of 2)

Nathenael Gemechu moderates a conversation with Michael Woldemariam and Guled Ahmed on Ethiopia in the first installment of a two-part series on the Horn of Africa. Woldemariam and Ahmed discuss the ongoing Tigrayan conflict that includes Ethiopia and Eritrea and the influence of external players.
5/27/202223 minutes, 55 seconds
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Pakistan's Political Crisis

Marvin Weinbaum, Madiha Afzal, and Syed Mohammad Ali discuss the recent political upheaval in Pakistan, which comes against the backdrop of mounting economic problems.
5/17/202246 minutes, 50 seconds
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Energy in the Eastern Mediterranean

Karen Young, director of MEI's Program on Economics and Energy, is joined by Emily Stromquist and Colby Connelly for a discussion on gas and energy developments in the Eastern Mediterranean.
5/5/202228 minutes, 37 seconds
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A Conversation with Dr. Haider al-Abadi

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Dr. Haider al-Abadi joins the program to discuss the country’s fight against ISIS, Iraqi politics and the challenges of reform. Dr. al-Abadi has a new book out, entitled "Impossible Victory: How Iraq Defeated ISIS" (Biteback Publishing, April 2022).
4/29/202224 minutes, 30 seconds
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France's Presidential Election and Foreign Policy

Intissar Fakir, Cinzia Bianco, and Perla Srour-Gandon discuss the results of the recent French presidential election and what they mean for France's foreign policy and the Middle East.
4/26/202228 minutes, 36 seconds
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Youth Climate Activism in MENA

Mohammed Mahmoud and Neeshad Shafi discuss youth climate activism in the region and Shafi's experience at MENA Climate Week and the Doha forum.
4/22/202223 minutes, 25 seconds
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US-Gulf Relations at the Crossroads

Amb. Gerald Feierstein, Bilal Saab, and Karen Young join guest host Brian Katulis to discuss their recent MEI policy paper, US-Gulf Relations at the Crossroads: Time for a Recalibration, and why they believe now is not the time to disengage from the region. Read the paper here: https://www.mei.edu/publications/us-gulf-relations-crossroads-time-recalibration
4/15/202236 minutes, 29 seconds
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Israel & Palestine: Hot topics in Congress

Host Alistair Taylor speaks with Khaled Elgindy and Lara Friedman about the release of their recently completed 2022 congressional briefing series on Israel and Palestine: Hot topics in Congress. The eight-part webinar series features an array of Palestinian and Israeli voices, weighing in on some of the most pressing and timely Israel/Palestine-related topics in Congress. Recordings of all eight sessions of the congressional briefing series can be found on the MEI and FMEP websites at www.mei.edu and www.fmep.org.  
4/8/202218 minutes, 4 seconds
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The Parallels of Ukraine and Syria

Iulia-Sabina Joja and Charles Lister discuss the parallels between the wars in Ukraine and Syria, the similarities of Russia’s tactics in both conflicts, and what the recent history in Syria may signal for Ukraine in the months ahead.
4/1/202239 minutes, 40 seconds