Yemen’s Political Soap Opera

Adam Baron comes back on the show to talk about the recent political drama in Yemen. We covered some of the major events of the past few months and then discussed other issues including:

  • Former ex-president Hadi ‘leaving’ Sanaa for Aden
  • Embassy closures in Yemen and what that could mean for the country
  • The southern secession movement and why they’ve been unable to capitalize on Yemen’s political chaos
  • The Houthi’s aims, and the blunders that have eroded some of their popular support
  • The potential for Yemen’s political problems to become far more violent
  • Failures of the international community to effectively handle the situation in Yemen
  • Role of Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other neighboring countries in the current conflict
  • Humanitarian problems that go largely unnoticed but could have serious long-term implications

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Palestinian Statehood Efforts

Hussein Ibish comes back on the show to talk about recent issues in the Israeli – Palestinian conflict, including Palestinian efforts to join international organizations and treaties, support for Palestine from other Arab states, Israel’s withholding of Palestinian tax revenue, and much more.

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Libya: Understanding the Crisis

Mary Fitzgerald comes back on the show to discuss the conflict in Libya. Topics we covered include:

  • The two competing parliaments, their strengths and weaknesses, and the various armed groups that make up their coalitions
  • The complexity of the conflict, and the importance of resisting simplistic narratives to describe the situation
  • Political leaders’ ability to control the armed groups operating in Libya
  • Attempts by the UN and UN Special Representative Bernadino Leon to deal with the crisis
  • Contradictions between what Libyan political leaders say and what they do
  • External actors’ role in the development and escalation of the crisis
  • How Libya’s oil factors into the conflict
  • What could come next in the Libyan conflict

Make sure you check out the book the upcoming book that Mary co-authored: The Libyan Revolution and its Aftermath – you can pre-order it on Amazon.

Continuing Problems for the Iraqi Security Forces

Nate Rabkin comes back on the show to talk about the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). We discussed the problems that were exposed by the ISIS advance this summer, efforts over the past few months to rebuild the ISF, the importance of Shiite militias in Iraq, the lack of cooperation between the ISF and Kurdish Peshmerga forces, what US airstrikes and military advisors mean for the ISF, current problems within the ISF, and more.

Nate is the managing editor of Inside Iraqi Politics, an excellent newsletter with in-depth information and analysis on Iraq.

Sources of Turkish Conduct – Part 2

Aaron Stein joins me for part 2 of our discussion on Turkey’s Middle East foreign policy. You can listen to part 1 here.

In this episode we talked about Turkey’s foreign policy towards Syria and Iraq, from the time the AKP came to power in 2002 to the current crisis.

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Sources of Turkish Conduct – Part 1

Aaron Stein joins me for a joint Middle East Week and Turkey Wonk podcast about Turkey’s foreign policy in the Middle East. This is part one of two episodes that are based on a forthcoming book by Aaron on this topic. In this first part we discussed:

  • Turkey’s policy of “Strategic Depth”
  • The motivations behind the AKP’s foreign policy strategy
  • Turkey’s role as mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and their support for Hamas
  • How Turkey reacted to the start of the Arab Spring in Tunisia
  • Turkey’s reaction to the uprising in Libya and their role in the current conflict
  • The ups and downs of Turkey’s foreign policy in Egypt after the fall of Mubarak

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Kurdish Independence

Michael Knights comes back on the show to discuss issues related to Kurdish independence. Topics covered include:

  • Kurdish autonomy through the 1990’s and 2000’s
  • The Kurdish economy and the importance of oil
  • Unity and cooperation amongst various Kurdish political parties and organizations
  • The potential future importance of Kurdish natural gas
  • How the international community has approached the issue of Kurdish independence
  • What the future could hold for Kurdish political and economic independence

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Political Chaos in Yemen

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Adam Baron comes on the show to discuss the ongoing political chaos in Yemen. Topics covered include:

  • Who the Houthis are, and where they get their power and influence
  • Saleh’s continued grip on power and recent connections to the Houthis
  • The Islamist Islah party’s current status
  • How AQAP fits into the current chaos
  • What president Hadi has been able to accomplish over the past two years
  • The importance of local politics in Yemen
  • The relevance of the international community (including the recent sanctions) on Yemeni politics
  • Problems with viewing the situation in Yemen through a sectarian lens

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Tunisian Politics: Beyond Secular vs. Islamist

Yasmine Ryan comes back on the show to talk about the recent elections in Tunisia. We talked about the major political parties in Tunisia (going beyond Islamist vs. secular), the level of participation and interest in the political process, economic challenges facing Tunisia, the upcoming presidential election, and more.

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Iran Nuclear Negotiations

Jeffrey Lewis comes on the show to discuss Iran’s nuclear program. We cover many arms control issues related to the ongoing negotiations.

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