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January 20 2014

07:10

More Iran Sanctions: Leverage, Or ‘A Path To War’?

As a new nuclear deal goes into effect with Iran, a growing number of US Senators call for still tougher sanctions. The White House says that’s the path to war.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, center, arrives at the 27th International Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. (AP)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, center, arrives at the 27th International Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. (AP)

Guests

Robin Wright, journalist and author, distinguished scholar at the United States Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson International Center. Author of “Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World,” “The Iran Primer: Power Politics and U.S. Policy” and “The Islamists are Coming: Who They Really Are.” (@wrightr)

Peter Beinart, contributing editor at The Atlantic and The National Journal. Associate professor of journalism and political science at the City University of New York. Author of “The Crisis Of Zionism,” “The Good Fight: Why Liberals — And Only Liberals — Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again” and “The Icarus Syndrome: A History of American Hubris.” (@PeterBeinart)

Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Co-chair of the project on U.S. Middle east Non-Proliferation Strategy. Co-author of nine studies on economic sanctions against Iran. (@dubo1968)

From Tom’s Reading List

TIME: A New Beginning In Tehran — “Since President Hassan Rouhani’s upset victory in last summer’s election, Iran has been consumed with a strategic recalibration. The signing of the short-term nuclear deal in November, which diplomats will spend the next six months trying to turn into an enduring pact, generated tangible change in Iran’s relations with the world. And among ordinary Iranians, it’s no longer off-limits to talk openly about eventual reconciliation with a country long known as the Great Satan.”

Haaretz: U.S. Senate sanctions bill is all about torpedoing a nuclear deal with Iran — “Even if a reasonable time frame were specified, there’s a bigger problem. By insisting that Obama certify an end to Iranian missile tests and support for terrorism, Menendez and company are insisting that a final deal cover subjects it was never meant to cover. The interim agreement makes clear that the sole goal of current negotiations is to “ensure [that] Iran’s nuclear programme will be exclusively peaceful.”

Wall Street Journal: A Bad Agreement Likely to Get Worse — “In the absence of verifiable Iranian commitments not to proceed with nuclear-weapon and ballistic-missile research, there is nothing to stop Iran from having a designed bomb and ballistic missile ready to go. Once Iran completes a dash to weapons-grade uranium, it can insert the warhead and quickly have a deliverable nuclear weapon.”

January 16 2014

07:01

Egypt, From Tahrir Square To Hard Reality

Egypt. After uprising, ousters, military takeover and a vote on a new constitution – we’ll look at dreams and hard realities in Egypt now.

Election workers look at a tablet for electric registration inside a polling station for the second day in the country's constitutional referendum at the Gamal Abdel Nasser school in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014. The vote is a milestone in a military-backed political roadmap toward new elections for a president and a ballot-box test of public opinion on the coup that removed Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood from power last July. (AP)

Election workers look at a tablet for electric registration inside a polling station for the second day in the country’s constitutional referendum at the Gamal Abdel Nasser school in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014. The vote is a milestone in a military-backed political roadmap toward new elections for a president and a ballot-box test of public opinion on the coup that removed Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood from power last July. (AP)

Guests

Nancy Youssef, Middle East bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers. (@nancyayoussef)

Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center, fellow at the Saban Center for the Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. (@shadihamid)

Karim Amer, producer of the new documentary “The Square.”  (@Karim_Amer33)

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: Egypt Holds Election Under Tight Security — “The violence has been fueled by the arrest of thousands of Mr. Morsi’s supporters and the killing of more than a thousand by security forces in street clashes. The government billed a “yes” vote in the constitutional referendum, which is scheduled to end Wednesday evening, as a stamp of approval for the military-backed government and its plans for a transition to democratic rule that include presidential and parliamentary elections.”

Politico Magazine: Hey General, It’s Me, Chuck. Again. — “Out of the 30 or so total calls, the U.S. government has provided 15 official readouts over six months, each with a similar set of messages to Sissi: Try to be less repressive and more inclusive. Egypt is the only country where Hagel has a regular, direct line of communication not just with the minister of defense but also the (effective) head of state, since Sissi happens to be both. With each passing month, the readouts become more surreal, with Hagel asking what has become one of the region’s more brutal, repressive regimes to be ‘democratic.’”

The Atlantic: The U.S. Is Giving Up On Middle East Democracy — And That’s A Mistake — “Today’s Middle East is a product, at least in part, of failed democratization, and one of the reasons it failed was the timid, half-hearted support of the Obama administration. That the U.S. is fundamentally limited in its ability to influence the internal politics of Arab states has been a consistent theme within the Obama administration as well as among analysts. No one denies that there are limits to what the U.S. can (or can’t) do; the question, however, is what those limits are.”

Watch A Trailer For ‘The Square’

January 13 2014

02:44

What should women wear in public? That depends on how you ask | Public Radio International

A new survey asked for opinions about how women should dress in public in the Middle East. The choices included images of women wearing different kinds of head coverings. The results and approach have been widely criticized. So Lebanese satirist Karl Sharro decided to do his own "survey" on what American women should wear. http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-01-10/what-should-women-wear-public-depends-how-you-ask

January 10 2014

16:29

The Rise of al Qaeda in the Middle East and the US Response

Guest host Judy Muller looks at al Qaeda's resurgence in the Middle East and what it means to the United States. http://www.kcrw.com/news/programs/tp/tp140109the_rise_of_al_qaeda

January 07 2014

23:12

News On The Ground From Baghdad

It can be hard to find a reporter in Baghdad these days. Long gone are the days of the American-led war, when every important international news source had a well-staffed Baghdad bureau, filled with on the scene reporters, local fixers and translators.

So we were very fortunate to have Reuters’ Suadad Al-Salhyan experienced Iraqi reporter, join us during our Jan. 7 hour on the growing crisis in that country’s Anbar province. She gave us a clear-eyed view of the situation in Fallujah.

“We are facing different situations in Ramadi and Fallujah in whole at this time. We have jihadist militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), we have tribal fighters and and at Fallujah, we have a small group from other insurgents, like Ansar al Dine and other small groups. They were breaking into other small groups outside Anbar, but they joined the groups together in Fallujah.”

Al-Salhy also noted that it’s hard to tell just where many of these militant groups in Anbar came from — or if they spilled over from the ongoing conflict in neighboring Syria.

“We cannot say specifically, they just came a few days ago. This part has witnessed many operations and attacks during the last few weeks. ISIS was trying to build its own state on the ground this time by launching high profile attacks on the border towns which belong to Iraq. So we have no idea how many specifically, but we are talking about hundreds of high profile, well-trained militants who cross the border from Syria.”

That surge of militants has fully occupied the city of Fallujah, al-Salhy said.

“Fallujah is still under siege today. The central government kept sending forces to reign in the attacks in Anbar province. There’s fighting in Ramadi, and in Fallujah they’re expecting a big battle will erupt any minute. But there’s no fighting in Fallujah — and even the shelling that was launched by the Iraqi army into the northern part of Fallujah was stopped this morning, when the tribal leaders in Ramadi and Fallujah made a deal with the central government to try to convince the militants to leave the city. In return, the army has not been allowed to enter the city and attack the militants inside the city. There will be talks in the next few days. Right now, they are not planning on launching any attacks targeting Fallujah.”

Reports that some of the weapons used by the Iraqi government have come from Iran, traditionally an enemy, can’t be verified, al-Salhy said.

“We have no evidence that Iranians are involved. But we know that for sure, the Russians are involved for sure. They came out of purchases that Iraq made in the last year — helicopters, Russain helicopters are definitely taking part at this time and because of this it seems like Iraqi are making great progress in Anbar at this time.  Against ISI, they destroyed many big camps that Iraqi troops couldn’t reach since the US troops left Iraq.”

And although the fighting and armed conflict is a mere 40 miles away from the capital in Baghdad, the central government and the people who work for it in the city aren’t worried, al-Salhy said.

“To be honest, no [people in Baghdad are not worried]. Already, it’s as thought it was known and it was expected. Already in the last few months Al Qaeda was showing up every time and planning high profile attacks against the local government in Anbar, in Ramadi and Fallujah and the towns along the Iraqi-Syrian border. And everybody was expecting it was a matter of time, the government hadn’t done anything to treat it. So it wasn’t a big surprise when they took control over the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. They were just waiting for a suitable time to announce their control over these cities.”

During a chaotic and important time in Iraq, we’re grateful to reporters like Suadad Al-Salhy for helping to keep us and our listeners informed on what’s going on.

08:01

Bloody Iraq: Syrian Spillover, Regional Fear

Iraq in trouble again. Al Qaeda spillover from Syria, now in Fallujah, Ramadi, Anbar Province. We’ll look at Iraq’s return to turmoil and the threat of regional upheaval.

An empty street shows burned vehicles as buildings including a provincial government building, center in the background, are seen damaged in Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014. Provincial spokesman Dhari al-Rishawi said Iraqi security forces and allied tribesmen are pressing their campaign to rout al-Qaida from Fallujah and Ramadi, two main cities in the western Anbar province. (AP)

An empty street shows burned vehicles as buildings including a provincial government building, center in the background, are seen damaged in Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014. Provincial spokesman Dhari al-Rishawi said Iraqi security forces and allied tribesmen are pressing their campaign to rout al-Qaida from Fallujah and Ramadi, two main cities in the western Anbar province. (AP)

Guests

Suadad Alsalhy, Baghdad correspondent for Reuters. (@suadadalsalhy)

Ned Parker, independent foreign affairs reporter. Former Baghdad bureau chief for The Los Angeles Times. (@nedmparker1)

Roger Cohen, op-ed columnist for The New York Times. (@NYTimesCohen)

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: Scores Dead in Iraqi Battle With Al Qaeda-Linked Fighters – “The three days of fighting have left at least 21 people dead in Fallujah, including women and children, and an additional 11 dead in Ramadi, according to the Anbar Health Directorate. Many more have been injured. The assault on Fallujah, using helicopters, tanks and mortars, marks the government’s fourth attempt to retake the city since Thursday evening, when fighters loyal to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, seized most of the town, according to the security official.”

New York Times: Power Vacuum in Middle East Lifts Militants — “The bloodshed that has engulfed Iraq, Lebanon and Syria in the past two weeks exposes something new and destabilizing: the emergence of a post-American Middle East in which no broker has the power, or the will, to contain the region’s sectarian hatreds. Amid this vacuum, fanatical Islamists have flourished in both Iraq and Syria under the banner of Al Qaeda, as the two countries’ conflicts amplify each other and foster ever-deeper radicalism. Behind much of it is the bitter rivalry of two great oil powers, Iran and Saudi Arabia, whose rulers — claiming to represent Shiite and Sunni Islam, respectively — cynically deploy a sectarian agenda that makes almost any sort of accommodation a heresy.”

Foreign Affairs: The Iraq We Left Behind — “Both Maliki and his rivals are responsible for the slow slide toward chaos, prisoners of their own history under Saddam. Iraq today is divided between once-persecuted Shiite religious parties, such as Maliki’s Dawa Party, still hungry for revenge, and secular and Sunni parties that long for a less bloody version of Saddam’s Baath Party, with its nationalist ideology and intolerance of religious and ethnic politics. Meanwhile, the Kurds maneuver gingerly around the divisions in Baghdad. Their priority is to preserve their near autonomy in northern Iraq and ward off the resurrection of a powerful central government that could one day besiege their cities and bombard their villages, as Baghdad did throughout the twentieth century.”

December 19 2013

15:29

A Discussion and Book Signing with BBC's Paul Danahar, Author of The New Middle East: The World After the Arab Spring | Middle East Institute

The Middle East Institute is proud to host Paul Danahar, BBC's North America bureau chief, for a reading and discussion of his book, The New Middle East: The World After the Arab Spring (Bloomsbury Press, 2013). In his latest book, Danahar highlights the historic changes taking place in the Middle East, as the countries engulfed by the Arab Spring continue along their paths to democracy and tensions rise between the religious and the secular in Israel. Danahar will discuss how these factors are producing a new regional and global order, focusing on the implications for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, emerging democratic societies, and the new power narrative taking shape in the Middle East. Afterwards, Danahar will sign copies of his book. Bio: Paul Danahar served as the BBC's Middle East bureau chief between 2010-2013. During that period, he ran the organization's entire news operation in the region, which won an Emmy in 2013 for its coverage of the conflict in Syria. Previously, Danahar served as the BBC's East Asia bureau chief and the BBC's South Asia bureau chief, where he covered the rise, fall, and eventual return of the Taliban. He was awarded an MBE by Her Majesty the Queen in 2003 for his work as the Baghdad bureau chief during the American-led invasion. In 2013, he was appointed the BBC's North America bureau chief. He is now based in Washington, DC. http://www.mei.edu/events/discussion-and-book-signing-bbcs-paul-danahar-author-new-middle-east-world-after-arab-spring#audio

October 28 2013

13:17

Saudi Arabia, Iran And A Region In Flux

Saudi Arabia, Iran , and the new geo-political calculus of the Middle East, with America awkwardly in the middle.

Ever since FDR famously sailed into the Suez Canal to meet with Saudi King Ibn Saud in 1945 on the American destroyer the USS Quincy, the United States and Saudi Arabia have been deep strategic partners in the Middle East.  Plenty of stresses, as the US allied with Israel and the Saudis flexed their massive oil power and exported Wahabi Islam.  But the Saudi monarchy had also been an American bedrock in the region.  Now the talk is of potential crackup in the partnership.  That’s big.  Up next On Point:  Saudi fury as the US charts a new course in the Middle East.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Stephen Kinzer, professor on International Relations at Boston University and a former New York Times correspondent. Author of “The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles and Their Secret World War” and “Reset: Iran, Turkey and America’s Future.” (@StephenKinzer)

Dr. Abel Aziz Aluwaisheg, Assistant Secretary General for Negotiations and Strategic Dialogue at the Gulf Cooperation Council. (@abuhamad1)

Dan Drezner, professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, columnist at Foreign Policy Magazine and senior editor at The National Interest. (@DanDrezner)

From Tom’s Reading List

Arab News: Saudi move highlights need for UN Security Council reforms — “The timing of the Saudi decision on Friday appeared to be related in particular to the failure of the UNSC to stop the carnage perpetrated by the Syria regime. Over the past 30 months, the Syrian regime has killed over (100,000) of its own people, while forcing seven million Syrians to be either refugees outside their country, or displaced inside it. UN human rights agencies and special commissions have documented crimes committed by the Syria regime, including mass killings, torture, rape, collective punishment and wholesale destruction of towns and neighborhoods. They have also named key officials who are believed to be behind crimes against humanity committed in Syria.”

Foreign Policy: On Syria, You Say Bureaucratic Politics, I Say Realism — Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off – “Clearly, a lack of consensus among Obama’s top foreign policymakers buttressed his own stated reluctance to get too deeply involved in Syria.  That said, the policymakers with the most influence over the president were articulating a rationale for why continued conflict might not be a bad thing.”

The Guardian: New President Hassan Rouhani make the unimaginable imaginable for Iran — “Finding a way to bring Iran back into the world’s mainstream will be Rouhani’s principal challenge. His power is limited, though in the fluid world of Iranian politics, he is likely to accumulate more. His adversaries, most notably supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel and the United States, ridicule him as a puppet of repressive mullahs.”

August 21 2013

01:18

Aug 20, 2013 — Matthew Duss & Michael Hanna

January 28 2012

23:31

Russia's Strategy in the Middle East

Russia's approach to the Middle East is at a turning point, as the changes associated with the Arab Spring continue to destabilize regimes and alliances and Iran appears to be moving ahead with its nuclear program in defiance of Russia and the West. January 26, 2012 http://www.carnegieendowment.org/2012/01/26/russia-s-strategy-in-middle-east/92mr

December 28 2011

05:35

Foucault and Middle East Studies

Keynote Address by Professor Timothy Mitchell, Columbia University

June 07 2011

15:51

Francis Fukuyama: How Did We Get Here?

How did our political system grow into what we have today? Author Francis Fukuyama on political order and the inevitability of conflict.

May 23 2011

14:00

The U.S. The Arab Spring And Mideast Peace

The U.S., Israel and the Arab Spring. Where does it go all go?

May 20 2011

14:00

The Week In The News

The President’s big Mideast speech. Candidate Gingrich in trouble with his party. Rape charges for the head of the IMF. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

April 28 2011

15:00

Syrian Spring, Arab Spring

We peer into the uprising and brutal crackdown in Syria. Will the "Arab Spring" come to a grinding halt at Syria's doorstep, or will it sweep away the Assad regime along with the others?

February 04 2011

15:00

Week in the News: Egypt & the Middle East; Health Care

Egypt on fire. America wrapped in snow. Superbowl fever and an NFL strike threat. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

December 05 2010

06:39

The Sixth Crisis: Iran, Israel, America, and the Rumors of War — Dr Dana H. Allin at the LSE

Dr. Allin will speak on the tangle of Middle East crises: Iran's growing nuclear challenge, the impasse on Israel-Palestine, and the consequences of both for President Obama's efforts to recast America's relations with the world's Muslims. This event marks the publication of Dr Allin's latest book The Sixth Crisis: Iran, Israel, America, and the Rumors of War. Dana H. Allin is Editor, Survival, and Senior Fellow for US Foreign Policy and Transatlantic Affairs at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London. He is also Adjunct Professor of European Studies at the Bologna Center of the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University. From http://www.lse.ac.uk/resources/podcasts/publicLecturesAndEvents.htm

October 13 2010

00:23

Tariq Ramadan: Islam & the West

Top Muslim scholar and lightning rod Tariq Ramadan says the West and Islam can get along. We hear him out.

September 14 2010

02:45

MidEast Peace: The Last Optimists

You can call them the last optimists. As new peace talks kick off in Egypt, we hear from Palestinians and Israelis who say peace has a chance.

August 19 2010

03:47

Airstrikes, Israel, and Iran

The Atlantic magazine’s Jeffrey Goldberg says Israel is preparing right now to bomb Iran. We get his report, and a critique of bombing to stop “the bomb” in Iran.
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