Arab Digest Weekly Podcasts

Erdoğan and the mending of MENA fences

In this the 100th Arab Digest podcast editor William Law is in conversation with Aslı Aydıntaşbaş a journalist and a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. Their focus is on the remarkable volte-face of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the Middle East. An economic crisis and collapsing popular support have forced him into a major rethink and in the case of Saudi Arabia a significant climbdown.

Putin’s war plays well for MENA authoritarians

Arab Digest editor William Law’s guest this week is the author and MENA analyst Christopher Davidson. Their conversation focusses on how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is proving beneficial for the region’s autocratic leaders and not simply because the price of hydrocarbons has soared. Amongst other windfalls Russia’s oligarchs are finding new homes in the Gulf and bringing their wealth with them.

So what about the Kurds?

Arab Digest’s editor William Law welcomes back the journalist and researcher Sirwan Kajjo. Sirwan is an expert on Kurdish issues and their conversation explores the challenges, aspirations and issues facing a people without a country.

A Palestinian village in Israel you probably never heard of

Arab Digest editor William Law is in conversation with Aviv Tatarsky. He works with Ir Amim, a Jerusalem-based NGO fighting to prevent the destruction of Palestinian homes in the farming village of Al Walaja where terraced agriculture has been practiced for hundreds of years and a way of life is being besieged by the full force of the Israeli state.

America and the Kais Saied coup

Arab Digest editor William Law is joined by the Project on Middle East Democracy’s Amy Hawthorne. And their focus is Tunisia. While the world’s attention is riveted on Ukraine and Putin’s war, Kais Saied, the Tunisian president is quietly putting the finishing touches to a new dictatorship in North Africa. So what is the Biden administration, which claims to put democracy at the heart of its foreign policy, doing about it?

The trap: male guardianship in Qatar

Arab Digest editor William Law’s guest is Dania Akkad, an investigative journalist with Middle East Eye. Their conversation is about the practice of mahram, male guardianship, in the tiny and enormously wealthy Gulf state of Qatar. Despite the image it projects of an ultra-modern society embracing tolerance and openness, Qatar holds on to a practice that treats women as second-class citizens and that can enable domestic abuse and even murder.

Iraq in a suddenly changed world

Arab Digest editor William Law is joined by Chatham House’s Renad Mansour. Their conversation begins with the impact of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine on Iraq and other MENA countries who may find themselves forced to take sides. They then explore the current challenges the Iraqi people face in a country where politically sanctioned corruption flourishes at a rampant pace.

The Erdogan and MBZ embrace

Arab Digest editor welcomes back Sami Hamdi, editor-in-chief of The International Interest and their conversation explores a surprising rapprochement between the UAE and Turkey as President Erdoğan grapples with an economic crisis at home and setbacks to his efforts to assert leadership ascendancy in the MENA region.

Net zero chasing in the Gulf

Arab Digest editor William Law welcomes back author and analyst Jim Krane. Jim is energy research fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute and an expert on Gulf energy matters. Their conversation focusses on the quest for net zero. Are Gulf hydrocarbons producers serious about hitting their ambitious targets or is this little more than a PR mirage?

Pieces of the JCPOA puzzle

Arab Digest editor William Law’s guest this week is Annelle Sheline, a Research Fellow in the Middle East Program at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Their conversation explores the role that the Yemen war has played in making the already demanding challenge of bringing Iran and the US back into a nuclear deal just that much more difficult and how various actors are like pieces of a puzzle that just won’t fit.

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