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Beyond the Headlines

Author: The National UAE

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Dive deeper into the week's biggest stories from the Middle East and around the world with The National's foreign desk. Nuances are often missed in day-to-day headlines. We go Beyond the Headlines by bringing together the voices of experts and those living the news to provide a clearer picture of the region's shifting political and social landscape.
110 Episodes
At around 2 am on July 4, the Panamanian flagged Iranian tanker Grace 1 was boarded by British Royal Marines off the coast of Gibraltar at the mouth of the Mediterranean.The Marines from 42 Commando division stormed the vessel. some descended onto the ship’s deck by ropes from a Wildcat helicopter. The rest approached the side via speedboat.In this episode of Beyond the Headlines, host James Haines-Young, takes a look at the seized ship accused of dodging Syria-sanctions.Read more on our website:• Vanished Strait of Hormuz tanker 'towed to Iran for repairs', says Tehran (• We will negotiate if US lifts sanctions, says Iranian foreign minister (• Britain wants assurances before releasing Iranian oil tanker, Jeremy Hunt says  (• Panama withdrawing flags from vessels that violate sanctions (
In Northern Syria tens of thousands of women and children are now living in squalid, overcrowded camps. Thousands more military aged men have been corralled into Kurdish jails. Hundreds of them had left their homes in Europe and America to join the militants. Publicly, United States President Donald Trump has called for countries to take responsibility for their nationals who joined ISIS in Iraq and Syria and return them home. But how is America handling its extremists?A retired former probation officer has lead a deradicalisation programme in Minnesota with a local Somalian community. Can the results be used to counteract the threat of ISIS ideology?James Haines-Young speaks to The National's ( correspondent Stephen Starr, along with Nikita Malik from the Henry Jackson Society and Colin Clarke from the Soufan Group in New York to find out what the strategies and options are.If you would like to listen to our podcast about returning European ISIS fighters you can do so here ( . Subscribe for free to receive new episodes every week:Apple Podcasts ('preview-text--highlighted'%3Ecricket-pod%3C/span%3E/id1435804401) | Android ( | Google Podcasts ( | Audioboom ( | Spotify ( | RSS (
The first written records of locust swarms are over 3 millennia old. Today, international organisations work to prevent the formation of these swarms that devour their own body weight in food every day. A swarm of desert locusts can build into tens of millions of insects, wreaking havoc on farmland, and are a serious threat to human food security.In 2019 swarms have hit Sardinia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Jordan and Yemen.In this episode of Beyond the Headlines, host James Haines-Young speaks to Keith Cressman from the FAO Desert Locust Information Service that keeps a watch on all potential locust infestations across the globe and Professor Stephen Simpson AC, the Academic Director of the Charles Perkins Centre, who has over three decades experience in studying locusts. Read more on our website:• Massive locust swarm provides a desert bounty in central Yemen - in pictures (• Jordan sends out air force to defeat locust swarm (• Like the locusts, the regional response knows no borders (• Swarms of locusts descend on Al Dhafra in Abu Dhabi (
Hundreds of protesters converged on the streets of the southern Iraqi city of Basra last week.Demonstrators across the province are calling for structural change to fix rampant corruption, a stagnant economy, high unemployment ( and underfunded public utilities.Protests in Iraq are common, but last summer's demonstrations saw an escalation into violence. Hundreds were wounded and killed, and many thousands more were arrested after clashes with police forces. Government buildings were set on fire ( , and the province was on the edge of revolt.Despite the violence, little has changed. The government still suffers from mismanagement and fraud. The country's elite have done little to improve conditions for the lower classes.As temperatures creep closer to 50°C and the struggling electrical grid ( and fresh water supply are strained, many question whether the protests will spiral into similar violence.On this week's episode of Beyond the Headlines, host Campbell MacDiarmid ( speaks with Dr Renad Mansour, a research fellow in the Middle East and North Africa program at Chatham House, and Belkis Wille, the senior Iraq researcher in the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch. Read more on our website:Southern Iraq: Basra protests resume as temperatures and anger rise (’s electricity ministry subjected to political meddling, minister says ( years of war and drought, Iraq's bumper crop is burning (
On June 13th, two more tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman, just over a month after four vessels off the coast of the Emirate port at Fujairah. The USA blames Iran for the attacks and has sent one thousand troops to the region to deter any further attacks.Host, James Haines-Young looks at the strategic relevance of the Strait of Hormuz where the attacks happened and what the political motivations are behind the attacks.He speaks to Jennifer Gnana, The National's energy correspondent and Dr Aniseh Bassiri Tabrizi, Research Fellow on the Middle East from the Royal United Services Institute in London to discuss the economic aspects of instability in the region and the origins and outcomes of the current tensions.You can listen to our podcast on the rising tension between Iran and the USA in May here ( .Find related coverage and more at The National ( website.
On October 7, 2001 US forces invaded Afghanistan in response to the devastating 9/11 attacks by Al Qaeda from bases in the Afghan mountains. Although this drove the Taliban from power in a matter of days, 18 years later the bloody conflict is ongoing.  It is by far the longest US war and the most expensive.We speak to Stefanie Glinski in Kabul who has been reporting from across Afghanistan for The National ( , speaking to government supporters and Taliban families, reporting on war damaged schools and hearing how people in the cafes of Kabul are trying to build a more hopeful future. Nargis Azaryun who works with Open Society Foundations tells us about what peace talks mean for the societal changes that have occurred since the war started.  We also hear from Graeme Smith from Crisis group in London who spent years in Afghanistan, about efforts for talks, why they’re taking place now and what might come of it all.Read more on our website:The hidden lives of children of the Afghan Taliban ('What use is it all': surge in Kabul violence leaves Afghans celebrating Eid in Hospital ('s closing act in Afghanistan is playing out as both tragedy and farce (
Exporting ISIS justice

Exporting ISIS justice


This week on Beyond the Headlines, we look into the growing number of European ISIS fighters captured in Syria and ask what should Europe do with them? France has agreed to allow eleven ISIS fighters to be handed over to Iraq where the penalty for belonging to a terrorist group is death. France is opposed to the death penalty and has campaigned against the punishment globally. Is there a growing change in the European public's appetite for reform and rehabilitation? We speak top Hanif Qadir, who joined Al Qaeda in the early 2000s and has been working on deradicalisation and counter extremism programmes in the UK ever since his return in 2003. Also on the show is Dr Drew Mikhael, a fellow at Queen's University in Belfast who has spent years researching the nature of radicalisation and Anthony Dworkin, senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. You can keep up to date with all the headlines, news and more of our podcasts at
After a photograph of a queue of climbers waiting to summit Mount Everest went viral, we explore what risks this poses for climbers and sherpas.Eleven deaths have been recorded on the mountain so far this year, more than double last year's count. Some have attributed the deaths to overcrowding on the mountain. This week on Beyond the Headlines, we’re joined by Lakpa Rita Sherpa, a seasoned sherpa who has led more than 17 expeditions to the summit and Fatima Deryan, the first Lebanese woman to reach the peak.
The US has upped the pressure on Iran and since the start of May, tensions across the Middle East have risen. Officials on both sides are publically saying they don’t want a war ( but have released numerous statements warning of the devastating consequences if the other starts one.In recent weeks, there has been an uptick in rockets and weaponized drones launched towards Saudi Arabia from Iran-backed rebels in Yemen, four ships were sabotaged off the coast of the UAE ( , and a rocket landed in the secure Baghdad Green Zone where the US embassy is located.Analysts are concerned that despite no one wanting war, a regional game of brinksmanship could lead to a conflict.Iran has dozens of proxy forces across the region from Lebanon to Yemen and an increase in US forces in the region being implemented, there is a lot of room for mistakes.It doesn’t appear that anyone in the region wants to see the situation spill over ( and several intermediaries – including Iraq and Oman – are stepping forward even if Washington and Tehran say that the time’s not right for talks.This week on Beyond the headlines, we’re joined by The National’s Washington Correspondent Joyce Karam ( to discuss what’s next for the US and Iran and how do parties cool tensions when neither side appears set to talk.
Yemen's floating bomb

Yemen's floating bomb


Moored off Yemen’s Red Sea Coast is a rusting oil tanker, with a million barrels of crude aboard. It has been described as a 'floating bomb'.After going without maintenance for the duration of Yemen’s four-year civil war, the UN says it is now at risk of exploding, potentially unleashing an environmental catastrophe on an historic scale.But, with 80 million dollars’ worth of oil involved, Houthi rebels and the Yemeni government have disagreed on what is to be done.
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