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Essential Middle East

Essential Middle East

Author: Al Jazeera

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In the world of news, headlines are essential, but providing in-depth analysis of news and current affairs became rare. We analyze the news and simplify complex geopolitical realities of the Middle East and wider Muslim world. 

To help you make sense of it all, join host Sami Zeidan, every Thursday.
41 Episodes
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has wrapped up his visit to ease tensions in the Middle East after pledging an “ironclad” US support for Israel. His trip came amid violence between Israelis and Palestinians, with the Israeli military carrying out deadly raids in the occupied West Bank. Israel has also announced punitive measures against Palestinians after a gunman killed seven Israelis in occupied East Jerusalem. The attack came a week after Israel’s deadly military raid in Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank and the killing of 10 Palestinians. In this episode:  Dr. Mustafa Barghouti (@MustafaBarghoti), Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative Episode credits: This episode was produced by Khaled Soltan and our intern Nada Shakir. The sound design was by George Al Wer and our recording engineer is Hamdi Aoun. Our engagement producer is Aya El Malik, and assistant engagement producer, Munera Al Dosari. Our executive producer is Omar Al Saleh and head of audio is Ney Al Varez. The show is hosted by Sami Zeidan. Connect with us: @AJEPodcasts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook
Iran has recently executed a British-Iranian national, Alireza Akbari, a former deputy defence minister, on charges of spying for Britain. Akbari’s execution comes as Iranian authorities have crushed anti-government protests and carried out four other executions. Western countries, including the US and the EU, have denounced Iran’s death sentences and trials as flawed.  Nationwide anti-government demonstrations erupted in Iran in September after the death of Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini, who morality police had detained for violating the country’s dress code.  In this episode:  Tara Sepehri Far (@sepehrifar), Iran and Kuwait Senior Researcher, Middle East and North Africa Division at Human Rights Watch Episode credit: This episode was produced by our intern, Nada Shakir. The sound design was by George Al Wer and our recording engineer is Hamdi Aoun. Our engagement producer is Aya El Malik, and assistant engagement producer, Munera Al Dosari. Our executive producer is Omar Al Saleh and head of audio is Ney Al Varez. The show is hosted by Sami Zeidan. Connect with us: @AJEPodcasts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook
In recent weeks, the United States Navy intercepted a fishing vessel smuggling more than 2,000 assault rifles in the Gulf of Oman on a maritime route from Iran to Yemen. Reports suggest the weapons were bound for the Houthi rebels who have controlled most of Yemen since 2014. Iran has long supported the Houthis in their conflict in Yemen and abroad but has denied supplying the group with arms. Meanwhile, Oxfam said that United Kingdom and US weapons provided to Saudi Arabia were directly used in attacks on civilians in Yemen. In this episode:  Abubakr Al-Shamahi (@ShamahiAbubakr), Al Jazeera English Digital’s Middle East and North Africa editor Episode credits: This episode was produced by our intern Nada Shakir. Our sound designer is George Alwer. The lead engagement producer is Aya Elmileik and the assistant engagement producer is Munera Al Dosari. Our recording engineer is Hamdi Aoun. Our executive producer is Omar Al Saleh. Ney Alvarez is the head of audio. The show is hosted by Sami Zeidan.  Connect with us: @AJEPodcasts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook  
As Israel's new government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn into office, his cabinet has gathered the most right-wing ministers in Israel's history. With ultranationalists and ultra-orthodox Jewish parties placed in notable positions, the new cabinet has pledged to expand illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. Itamar Ben-Gvir, a far-right Israeli minister, has even kicked off international condemnation by entering the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, a move many Palestinians described as 'unprecedented provocation.'  In this episode:  Daniel Levy, President of the US Middle East Project Episode credit: This episode was produced by our interns Reyam Al Jaafari and Nada Shakir. Our sound designer is George Alwer. The lead engagement producer is Aya Elmileik and the assistant engagement producer is Munera Al Dosari. Our executive producer is Omar Al Saleh. Ney Alvarez is the head of audio. The show is hosted by Sami Zeidan.  Connect with us: @AJEPodcasts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook
For many of the authoritarian regimes in the Middle East, technology has long been a tool to enable digital repression. These states are increasingly using information technology to suppress the flow of information, censor content, and even surveil citizens. In this episode:  Marc Owen Jones (@marcowenjones), associate professor of Middle East Studies at Hamad Bin Khalifa University Episode credits: This episode was produced by Khaled Soltan. Research done by our intern Nada Shakir. Our sound designer is George Alwer. The lead engagement producer is Aya Elmileik and the assistant engagement producer is Munera Al Dosari. Our executive producer is Omar Al Saleh. Ney Alvarez is the head of audio. The show is hosted by Sami Zeidan.  Connect with us: @AJEPodcasts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook  
A recent Arab American Action Network report in Illinois analyzed more than 200 police documents. It found that suspicious activity reports have criminalised Arabs and Muslims under the guise of "public safety". Further investigation by the community group has revealed a crisis in racial profiling and surveillance of Arabs and Muslims in the United States. In this episode:  Muhammad Sankari, lead organiser at the Arab American Action Network (@aaanmarkaz) Episode credits: This episode was produced by Khaled Soltan. Our sound designer is George Alwer. The lead engagement producer is Aya Elmileik and the assistant engagement producer is Munera Al Dosari. Our executive producer is Omar Al Saleh. Ney Alvarez is the head of audio. The show is hosted by Sami Zeidan.  Connect with us: @AJEPodcasts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook
The word "halal" in Arabic refers to something that is religiously permissible to consume or do. But today, it has become a huge industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars. The global Islamic economy report projects halal trade to be more than $330bn in 2025.  In this episode:  Jonathan A.J. Wilson (@drjonwilson), halal branding expert Episode credits: This episode was produced by Khaled Soltan. Our sound designer is George Alwer. The lead engagement producer is Aya Elmileik and the assistant engagement producer is Munera Al Dosari. Our executive producer is Omar Al Saleh. Ney Alvarez is the head of audio. The show is hosted by Sami Zeidan.  Connect with us: @AJEPodcasts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook
Tunisia’s parliamentary elections are to take place on Saturday as the country is in the middle of its worst economic crisis. President Kais Saied has been accused of staging a coup in 2021 when he suspended parliament and sacked the prime minister. The main opposition parties are boycotting the vote. So where is Tunisia headed now? In this episode:  Elizia Volkmann (@EliziaVolkmann), freelance journalist Episode credits: This episode was produced by Salem Alyafie and Khaled Soltan. Research was done by our intern Reyam Al Jaafari. Our sound designer is George Alwer. The recording engineer is Hamdi Aoun. The lead engagement producer is Aya Elmileik and the assistant engagement producer is Munera Al Dosari. Our executive producer is Omar Al Saleh. Ney Alvarez is the head of audio. The show is hosted by Sami Zeidan.  Connect with us: @AJEPodcasts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook
Over the past few years, China has been cementing ties with Gulf states and investing heavily in their infrastructure deals. Now, Beijing is expanding its footprint in the region as Saudi Arabia hosts Chinese President Xi Jinping for a Saudi-Chinese summit. Xi’s long-awaited visit comes against the backdrop of strained United States-Saudi relations over energy supplies and concerns over growing Chinese influence in the Middle East. In this episode:  James M Dorsey (@mideastsoccer), senior fellow at Singapore's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies Episode credits: This episode was produced by Salem Alyafei, Khaled Soltan and our intern Nada Shakir.  Our sound designer is George Alwer. The lead engagement producer is Aya Elmileik and the assistant engagement producer is Munera Al Dosari. Our executive producer is Omar Al Saleh. Ney Alvarez is the head of audio. The show is hosted by Sami Zeidan.  Connect with us: @AJEPodcasts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook
Turkey has launched a wave of air raids in northern Syria and Iraq, after a deadly bombing on Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue. The country blames the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and groups it claims are PKK-affiliates in Syria and Iraq, for the bombing. The US and Russia have warned against a ground operation. In this episode: Taha Ozhan (@TahaOzhan), Research director at Ankara Institute Episode credits: This episode was produced by Khaled Soltan, Salem Alyafei and our intern Nada Shakir.  Our sound designer is George Alwer. The lead engagement producer is Aya Elmileik and the assistant engagement producer is Munera Al Dosari. Our executive producer is Omar Al Saleh. Ney Alvarez is the head of audio. The show is hosted by Sami Zeidan.  Connect with us: @AJEPodcasts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook
For the first time World Cup history, the tournament is hosted in the Middle East. Football has always been more than just a game in the Middle East.  Seen sometimes as a symbol of decolonisation and regime legitimisation, it also plays a role in fostering national identities. In the region, the beautiful game is intertwined with culture, politics and history. As the World Cup in Qatar is now underway, we explore the culture in history of football in the region. In this episode:  Abdullah Al-Arian (@anhistorian), author and associate professor at Georgetown University in Qatar. Episode credits: This episode was produced by Khaled Soltan and our intern Nada Shakir.  Our sound designer is George Alwer. The lead engagement producer is Aya Elmileik and the assistant engagement producer is Munera Al Dosari. Our executive producer is Omar Al Saleh. Ney Alvarez is the head of audio. The show is hosted by Sami Zeidan.  Connect with us: @AJEPodcasts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook
The clock is ticking for the world’s biggest football tournament all set to begin in Qatar this week. One of the smallest countries to host a World Cup, Qatar is expected to welcome approximately 1.2 million fans for one of the world's most-watched sporting events. From security threats to cyberattacks, to crowd management and potential hooliganism - the challenges are enormous for the host nation. So how is Qatar planning to ensure the security of millions of fans expected to attend the World Cup? In this episode:  Osama Bin Javaid (@osamabinjavaid), Al Jazeera English Correspondent Episode credits: This episode was co-produced by Salem Alyafei and our intern Nada Shakir. Our sound designer is George Alwer. Our lead engagement producer is Aya Elmileik and our assistant engagement producer is Adam Abou-Gad. The executive producer is Omar Al Saleh and the head of audio is Ney Alvarez. Our host is Sami Zeidan. Connect with us: @AJEPodcasts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook
We know water as a source of life. But dwindling resources could also be the reason for future wars in the Middle East. This precious commodity is slowly becoming scarce for several reasons. And there are worrying signs that our freshwater supplies in the region are running out fast. In this episode:  Duried Mahasneh, a specialist in hydrology and marine sciences Episode Credits: This episode was produced by Hayat Mongolian and Khaled Soltan. Our host is Sami Zeidan. George Alwer is the sound designer. Aya Elmileik is the lead engagement producer and Munera AlDosari is the assistant engagement producer. Omar al-Saleh is the executive producer. Ney Alvarez is Al Jazeera English’s head of audio. Connect with us at:@AJEPodcasts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook
According to the Clooney Foundation For Justice, the destruction and plunder of the Middle East's cultural heritage are being committed on a scale not seen since World War II. Hundreds of thousands of artifacts are stolen from countries such as Yemen, Syria, and Iraq, smuggled through neighbouring states, and eventually sold to the highest bidder in the EU, the US, and worldwide. A portion of these profits is known to be used to finance conflicts and global terrorism. In this episode: Vasiliki Kynourgiopoulou, the dean of Academic Affairs at Georgetown and UNESCO’s chief adviser for Heritage Management and Sustainable Development Episode credits: This episode was produced by Khaled Soltan. Our host is Sami Zeidan. George Alwer is the sound designer. Aya Elmileik is the lead engagement producer and Munera AlDosari is the assistant engagement producer. Omar al-Saleh is the executive producer. Ney Alvarez is Al Jazeera English’s head of audio. Connect with us at:@AJEPodcasts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook  
France is home to one of western Europe's largest Muslim populations, estimated at 5.7 million. Since the nation held presidential and legislative elections, Muslims in France have endured a rise in discrimination, from bans on burkinis and Muslim headscarves to accusations of offending the values of the secular republic. Many Muslims feel the elections have stigmatised their faith and increased populist and right-wing attacks on their way of life. In this episode:  Nacira Guenif, Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Paris 8 Episode credits: This episode was produced by Hayat Mongodin and Khaled Soltan and hosted by Sami Zeidan. Research by our intern Nada Shakir. Our sound designer is George Alwer. Our lead engagement producer is Aya Elmileik and the assistant engagement producer is Munera AlDosari. Omar Al-Saleh is our executive producer. Ney Alvarez is Al Jazeera English’s head of audio. Connect with us at:@AJEPodcasts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook
Iran’s brutal crackdown on protests has failed to stop people from protesting for a fifth week. The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last month for violating the strict dress code angered many Iranians. She became an icon and her death led to the biggest anti-government protests in years. In this episode:  Mahmoud Amiry-Moghaddam (@iranhr), director of Iran Human Rights and professor of neuroscience at the University of Oslo in Norway Episode credits: This episode was produced by Khaled Soltan and hosted by Sami Zeidan. Research by our intern Nada Shakir. Our sound designer is George Alwer. Our lead engagement producer is Aya Elmileik and the assistant engagement producer is Munera AlDosari. Omar Al-Saleh is our executive producer. Ney Alvarez is Al Jazeera English’s head of audio. Connect with us at:@AJEPodcasts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook
The OPEC+ alliance of oil-exporting countries has announced reducing oil production by 2 million barrels per day, one of its largest supply cuts since the coronavirus pandemic. The decision comes at a time when many countries are grappling with soaring energy prices-fuelled inflation. So what is behind the new decision of OPEC+ to reduce oil production, and what could that mean for consumers? In this episode: Nikolay Kozhanov (@KozhanovNikolay), Research Associate Professor at Qatar University Episode credits: This episode was produced by Salim Alyafei. Research was done by our intern Nada Shakir. Our host is Sami Zeidan. Our lead engagement producer is Aya Elmileik and our assistant engagement producer is Munera AlDosari. Omar Al Saleh is the executive producer and Al Jazeera's head of audio is Ney Alvarez.  Connect with us at:@AJEPodcasts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook
Palestinian activists and common users claim their content is deliberately suppressed, and accuse social media companies of double standards. In this episode: Eliza Campbell (@elizaecampbell), journalist and former director of the cyber programme at the Middle East Institute. Episode credits: This episode was produced by Khaled Soltan. Our host is Sami Zeidan. Our research was done by intern Nada Shakir. George Alwer is the sound designer. Aya Elmileik is the lead engagement producer and Munera AlDosari is the assistant engagement producer. Omar al-Saleh is the executive producer. Connect with us at:@AJEPodcasts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook
An election in Bosnia is set to take place on October 2, as fear and uncertainty grip the country. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has only bolstered fears that Russia might try to use its good relations with Republika Srpska to prompt another conflict with Bosnian Muslims - to hit back at NATO. In this episode: Dr. Adnan Huskic, CSS Professor of International Relations and Politics at University Sarajevo School of Science and Technology Episode credits: This episode was produced by Khaled Soltan. Our host is Sami Zeidan. Our research was done by intern Nada Shakir. George Alwer is the sound designer. Aya Elmileik is the lead engagement producer and Munera AlDosari is the assistant engagement producer. Omar al-Saleh is the executive producer. Connect with us at:@AJEPodcasts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook
Since 2019, banks in Lebanon have imposed draconian controls on deposits, effectively locking millions of customers out of their foreign currency savings.  As a result, bank heists in Lebanon have become a growing trend – but in this case, these armed “robbers” are not stealing anyone else’s money.  They are just demanding access to their own savings. In this episode: Nizar Ghanem (@nizarghanem), Director of Research at Triangle, co-founder of the depositors union Episode credits: This episode was produced by Khaled Soltan. Our host is Sami Zeidan. Our research was done by intern Nada Shakir. George Alwer is the sound designer. Aya Elmileik is the lead engagement producer and Munera AlDosari is the assistant engagement producer. Omar al-Saleh is the executive producer. Connect with us at:@AJEPodcasts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook
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Comments (5)

mahdi ghader

He said the Golf? the undeniable truth is that its Persian Golf🇮🇷🇮🇷🇮🇷 remember and practice it every day

Jan 6th
Reply

Ryan Persaud

Is China's leadership really "long term oriented?" They've had no response to US tech sanctions, kept the one child policy in place for decades, don't know how to deal with COVID, don't have an answer for tightening wealthy markets (i.e. eventually, India, Vietnam and so on will take China's place for purely political reasons). They don't seem to be very good "long term thinkers." This "expert" is parroting a meme from the 2000s. The CCP is an authoritarian organization and suffers from all of the issues all authoritarians do.

Dec 20th
Reply

Masih Rezvani_PhD

He is a liar and traitor

Dec 14th
Reply

Bahman Pedrood

What a shit show. First of all, YPG is different from PKK. The equivalency between these two is all the turkish terrorist regime's propaganda and lies, being reiterated by your guest. Secondly, your guest says there is NO REASON for Kurds to be angry; lie again. Anyone can easily find numerous crime cases against humanity by the turkish terrorist military and paramilitary groups (like the infamous Esedullah team) in Kobani and other near-border regions of Iraq and Syria in the news archives. Thirdly, there is no evidence or sign to attribute the recent istanbul attack to pkk or any kurdish group. The only reason erdogan's regime has engaged in the air strikes is to distract public focus in turkey from their deficits and extreme financial difficulties, give the blame to Kurds and abroad sources, to deceive the people to his favor for the next election. The only part your guest was not wrong about, is the fact that the problem is not new. Turkish regime has slaughtered Kurds for no valid reason for decades now. This has been the case in Iraq and Syria as well (but not in Iran where Kurds has been an essential, indisputable part of the country both in ancient and modern times, and the nation is not based on an ethnicity). Kurds have been subject to all kinds of massacre and crime by the Turkish regime, but no one cares because Turkish racist regime has had the power and can destabilize many parts of Europe and the region if talked against, as has done many times. Please don't try to replace the position of predator and prey. It is disgusting!

Dec 6th
Reply (1)
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