Middle East Week

Middle East Week

Norway

A discussion with scholars of the Middle East about important events and issues in the region.

Episodes

French Political Culture and Radicalization  

Chris Meserole comes on the show to discuss The French Connection, a piece in Foreign Affairs based on research he’s doing with Will McCants. Some of the topics covered include:

Overview of the study and their initial findings Problems related to the use of the term ‘radicalization’ The data they used and unique measurements they created to contextualize it Limitations in the data available and the conclusions that makes possible Reactions and criticism of their work How younger scholars can get started with quantitative research How Chris would like to see the field incorporate data science in the future

Links:

The French connection: Explaining Sunni militancy around the world | Brookings Institution Religional – religion, conflict & data science - Chris’ site where he’s posting in-depth articles about the research Chris Meserole (@chrismeserole) on Twitter Karl Morand (@KarlMorand) on Twitter
Violence in Turkey on Two Fronts  

Aaron Stein comes on the show to discuss recent attacks in Turkey by the Islamic State and the PKK. Some of the topics covered include:

Background on the various groups involved in recent attacks The changing tactics and strategy of groups launching attacks in Turkey The significance of the fact that these attacks are from Turkey-based networks How the recent violence could affect Turkish politics Turkey’s recent refugee deal with the EU

Links:

Turkey’s Presidential Politics: The Far Right’s Collapse and the Kurdish Left’s Prosecution Kurdish Militants and Turkey’s New Urban Insurgency Turkey Wonk: Nuclear and Political Musings in Turkey and Beyond Aaron Stein (@aaronstein1) on Twitter Karl Morand (@KarlMorand) on Twitter
War in Yemen: Confusion, Chaos, and a Bit of Optimism  

Adam Baron comes back on the show to discuss the conflict in Yemen as it enters its second year. We covered a variety of topics related to the current situation and how things could play out in the near future:

What casual observers missunderstand Challenge of getting unbiased information about what’s happening on the ground Recent border truce between the Saudis and Houthis Saudi coalition strikes against al-Qaeda, and AQ’s current strength in the country What the future could hold for former president Saleh What the international community can do to help the situation The humanitarian crisis in Yemen

Links:

Adam Baron | European Council on Foreign Relations Adam Baron - Adam’s personal site Adam Baron (@adammbaron) on Twitter Karl Morand (@KarlMorand) on Twitter
Iraqi Military: Challenges & Opportunities  

Nate Rabkin comes back on the show to discuss the Iraqi Security Forces and their ongoing efforts to retake territory that is controlled by the Islamic State. Some of the topics covered include:

Effects of coalition efforts on the situation Places where Iraqi forces have made substantial progress The disparity between Iraqi special operations forces and regular army divisions Political problems that plague the Iraqi military Iraqi military’s short and long-term goals Problems holding territory once its been retaken from IS The controversial Popular Mobilization Units

Links:

Inside Iraqi Politics Nathaniel Rabkin (@NateRabkin) on Twitter Karl Morand (@KarlMorand) on Twitter

Thanks to Mikhail Yurchak, Ryan Gell, Adam Smith Intl., Wendy Plotkin for supporting the show. If you’d like to help support the podcast please visit the show’s Patreon page!

How the Fight Against the Islamic State Is Being Covered  

Charlie Winter comes back on the show to discuss how the Islamic State, and the campaign against them, is being covered. Some of the topics we discussed include:

How the fight against the Islamic State is covered in the media and political discourse Differences in how the Islamic State is covered and discussed in the US vs the UK The focus on military solutions at the expense of political and diplomatic ones How governments can improve the non-military aspects of the fight against the Islamic State Challenges posed by trying to quantify success in counter-narrative campaigns Projects Charlie is working on at GSU

Links

Charlie Winter (@charliewinter) on Twitter Isis has a strategy. Let’s not be part of it – The Guardian Karl Morand (@KarlMorand) on Twitter

Thanks to Mikhail Yurchak, Adam Smith Intl., Andrew, Alex, David de Bruijn, and Ryan Gell for supporting the show. If you’d like to help support the podcast please check out the show’s Patreon page.

Libya's Fragile Unity Agreement  

Mary Fitzgerald comes back on the show to discuss the latest attempts to bring an end to the conflict in Libya. Some of the topics we covered include:

Background on the unity agreement that was signed in December Challenges the new unity government is already facing The new UN envoy’s determination to make the unity agreement work Recent attacks on Libya’s oil infrastructure Islamic State’s presence in Libya and efforts to combat them Libya’s massive economic challenges

Links

Mary Fitzgerald The Libyan Revolution and its Aftermath - the edited volume Mary contributed to Mary Fitzgerald (@MaryFitzger) on Twitter Karl Morand (@KarlMorand) on Twitter GDP forecasts | The Economist

Thanks to Mikhail Yurchak, Ryan Gell, MJ, and Adam Smith Intl. for supporting the show. If you’d like to support the podcast you can check out the show’s Patreon page.

Iran-Saudi Arabia Conflict and Its Regional Effects  

Phillip Smyth comes on the show to discuss many issues surrounding the current Iran-Saudi Arabia tensions. We covered a variety of topics, particularly on the Iranian and Shia side of the conflict, such as:

The regional reactions and effects of the current crisis Detailed background on Nimr al-Nimr Iran’s desire to represent all Shia The conflict’s effect on minority Shia populations in the region

Links:

Hizballah Cavalcade | JIHADOLOGY Phillip Smyth (@PhillipSmyth) on Twitter Phillip Smyth | Foreign Policy Phillip Smyth - The Washington Institute for Near East Policy Karl Morand (@KarlMorand) on Twitter

Thanks to Mikhail Yurchak, Wendy Plotkin, and Adam Smith Intl. for supporting the podcast. You can support the show by checking out the podcast’s Patreon page.

UK's Role in Syria & Recent Diplomatic Efforts  

Michael Stephens comes back on the show to discuss the United Kingdom’s efforts to fight the Islamic State in Syria, as well as the latest developments in the diplomatic process seeking to bring an end to the conflict. Some of the topics covered include:

Background on UK foreign policy towards the conflict in Syria over the past few years The scars of the Iraq war and how they influence the perception of the conflict in Syria The unique military capabilities that the UK brings to the anti-IS coalition The need to separate UK and European domestic security issues and the fight against IS held territory Why the UK is unlikely to increase its role in Syria, such as sending ground troops The recent UN Security Council resolution on Syria

Links:

Michael Stephens (@MStephensGulf) on Twitter Stephens | RUSI Into the Valley of Death - Newsweek Middle East Karl Morand (@KarlMorand) on Twitter

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Thanks to Andrew, Alex, David De Bruijn, Wendy Plotkin, Adam Smith International, and Ryan Gell for supporting the show. If you’d like to make a small, monthly donation to help support the podcast, please check out the show’s Patreon page.

Tunisian Jihadism  

Bridget Moreng comes on the show to discuss jihadism in Tunisia. Some of the topics covered include:

What factors lead to the growth of jihadism after Ben Ali The relationship between AST, AQ, and KUIN Tunisian government efforts to combat jihadist groups The day-to-day attacks that go unnoticed The importance of the tourism industry in Tunisia Potential for Tunisia to become an Islamic State - al Qaeda battleground

Links:
- Tunisian Jihadism after the Sousse Massacre | Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
- Valens Global
- Bridget Moreng (@BridgetMoreng) on Twitter
- Karl Morand (@KarlMorand) on Twitter

Thanks to Adam Smith International, Wendy Plotkin, David De Bruijn, and Ryan Gell for supporting the podcast! If you’d like to support the show please check out the show’s Patreon page.

Understanding the Mali Hotel Attack  

Andrew Lebovich comes on the show to discuss the recent attack in Bamako, the groups involved, the security situation in Mali, and much more. Some of the topics we covered include:

Background on al-Mourabitoun and Moktar Belmoktar Why the attacks in Bamako weren’t surprising The concept of “extraversion” and how it relates to the targeting of the Radisson in Bamako Local vs. global focus of the attack France’s 2013 intervention in Mali and it’s relevance to the current situation Potential for improving the security situation and the need to reform the military and security services

Links:

Analysis: Mali hotel siege was horrifically predictable - Al Jazeera English Can we compare the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Bamako? - The Washington Post Of Mergers, MUJAO, and Mokhtar Belmokhtar | al-Wasat Andrew Lebovich (@tweetsintheME) on Twitter Karl Morand (@KarlMorand) on Twitter

Thanks to Zane, Wendy, David, and Ryan for supporting the podcast! If you’d like to support the show please check out the podcast’s Patreon page!

ISIS Oil Operations  

Matthew Reed comes back on the show to discuss ISIS oil operations. Some of the topics we covered include:

How analysts track ISIS oil operations How much oil ISIS is producing The process of getting oil from the ground to ISIS turning it into cash Coalition attacks on ISIS oil infrastructure Why the US-led coalition is hesitant to completely destroy ISIS’ oil operations What it would take to eliminate ISIS’ ability to profit from oil production Why ISIS doesn’t need to export oil to benefit from it

Links:

The Fuse | Taking Stock of ISIS Oil: Part 1 The Fuse | Taking Stock of ISIS Oil: Part 2 Matthew Reed (@matthewmreed) on Twitter Foreign Reports | Reporting Service on Middle East Affairs Karl Morand (@KarlMorand) on Twitter

Thanks to Zane, Andrew, and Alex for supporting the podcast! You can support the podcast by making a small donation on Patreon!

India's Relations with Israel & Palestine  

Nicolas Blarel comes on the show to discuss India’s relationship with Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some of the topics covered include:

Background on India’s trade and military relationship with Israel India’s support for Palestine and Palestinian leaders Recent visits to Israel by Indian leaders Narendra Modi’s potential upcoming visit to Israel and the region The benefits to Israel from a Modi visit Controversies related to recent UN votes by India dealing with Israel-Palestine issues Efforts to separate Israel-Palestine political issues from economic ties How India’s relationship with Israel and Palestine are viewed domestically in India

Links:

The Evolution of India’s Israel Policy: Continuity, Change, and Compromise since 1922 Blarel, Dr. N.R.J.B. - Faculty & Staff - Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences Nicolas Blarel (@nicoblar) on Twitter Karl Morand (@KarlMorand) on Twitter

You can support the podcast by making a small donation on Patreon!

Iran's Proxies in Syria  

Phillip Smyth comes back on the show to discuss recent news and issues related to Iranian proxy groups fighting in Syria. Some of the topics covered include:

Large increase in recruiting by Iranian proxy groups starting in August Iran’s determination to keep Assad in power Iran’s sectarian training of forces in Syria Why Iran’s interest in Syria extends far beyond just maintaining their connection to Hezbollah in Lebanon The recent increase of senior Iranian commanders being killed in Syria The complex web of Iran-backed groups operating in Syria The long-term implications of Iran’s leadership casualties

Thanks to David, Wendy, and Ryan for supporting the show. If you’d like to help support the podcast, and get some cool rewards, check out the show’s Patreon page!

Links:

Iran’s Losing Major Operatives in Syria - The Daily Beast Hizballah Cavalcade | JIHADOLOGY Phillip Smyth (@PhillipSmyth) on Twitter Karl Morand (@KarlMorand) on Twitter
Belgian Foreign Fighters in Iraq and Syria  

Pieter Van Ostaeyen comes back on the show to discuss Belgian foreign fighters traveling to Iraq and Syria. Some of the topics covered include:

The number of Belgians who’ve gone to Iraq and Syria and how it compares to other European countries Background on Sharia4Belgium and their role in getting Belgians to go to Syria and Iraq Efforts by the Belgian government to stop the flow of people out of the country to join the conflict Prosecutions of individuals and groups related to these issues

Links:

Belgian Fighters in Syria and Iraq ~ October 2015 « pietervanostaeyen United Nations News Centre - With high number of foreign fighters in Belgium, UN experts call for robust action to address risks Pieter Van Ostaeyen (@p_vanostaeyen) on Twitter Karl Morand (@KarlMorand) on Twitter

Thanks to Andrew, Alex, and Scott for supporting the show! You can support the podcast by making a small donation on Patreon!

Syrian Diaspora in the Gulf  

Elizabeth Dickinson comes back on the show to discuss the Syrian diaspora in the Gulf. We also talked about the current refugee crisis, and accusations that Gulf states aren’t helping as much as they could. Topics covered include:

The scale of the support Syrians in the Gulf provided to opposition groups in Syria Internal debate within the diaspora about whether or not to provide weapons How the diaspora’s resources are being exhausted The current focus on providing long-term assistance The reasons why NGO’s can’t do what the diaspora can as an informal network The growing sense of hopelessness amongst the people and groups

Links:

Godfathers and Thieves: How Syria’s Diaspora Crowd-Sourced a Revolution (Kindle Single) by Elizabeth Dickinson Elizabeth Dickinson - Journalist - Elizabeth’s personal site with links to her work Deca - a cooperative of award-winning journalists bringing deeply reported, global stories straight to your phone, tablet, e-reader, or computer—and to publishing partners worldwide Elizabeth Dickinson (@dickinsonbeth) on Twitter Karl Morand (@KarlMorand) on Twitter

Thanks to Melissa, Andrew, Alex, Scott, and David for their continued support of the show. You can help upport the podcast by making a small donation on Patreon!

Child Soldiers of the Islamic State  

John Horgan comes back on the show to discuss his work studying the Islamic State’s use of child soldiers. Topics we covered include:

How IS recruits children The training pipeline children go through Comparing the use of child soldiers in various conflicts Existing research on rehabilitating child soldiers John’s work studying child soldier rehabilitation & reintegration in Pakistan

Links:

John Horgan - his personal site with links to his work This Is How the Islamic State Manufactures Child Militants | VICE News John Horgan (@Drjohnhorgan) on Twitter Karl Morand (@KarlMorand) on Twitter

Thanks to Andrew and David for their support of the show! You can support the podcast by making a small donation on Patreon!

Libya Peace Talks Continue  

Mary Fitzgerald comes back on the show to talk about the recent UN talks in Geneva and the ongoing effort to end the civil war in Libya. Topics we covered include:

The problem of what to do with Gen. Khalifa Hiftar Potential for small, local agreements to build to a national agreement Why the Islamic State, and their growth in Libya, is not a focus of the ongoing talks Economic issues Libya is facing, now and in the near future Importance and relevance of local militias to the potential of success of a national agreement

Links:

Mary Fitzgerald’s personal site, with links to her work The Libyan Revolution and its Aftermath: Peter Cole, Brian McQuinn - the recent book that Mary contributed to Mapping Libya’s factions - Middle East and North Africa programme (MENA) | European Council on Foreign Relations Mary Fitzgerald (@MaryFitzger) on Twitter Karl Morand (@KarlMorand) on Twitter

Thanks to Alex & Scott for their continued support of the show. You can support the podcast by making a small donation on Patreon.

Islamic State's Propaganda Strategy  

Charlie Winter comes on the show to talk about Islamic State propaganda. The basis for our discussion is Charlie’s recent paper “The Virtual Caliphate: Understanding Islamic State’s Propaganda Strategy” (PDF). The topics we covered include:

Islamic State propaganda that doesn’t focus on brutality How IS propaganda strategy has evolved The ability of Islamic State to control their message Efforts to counter Islamic State propaganda

Links:

Experts weigh in (part 4): Can the United States counter ISIS propaganda? | Brookings Institution Charlie Winter (@charliewinter) on Twitter Karl Morand (@KarlMorand) on Twitter Subscribe to the show in iTunes or with the RSS feed
Yemen: Not on the Brink, in Free Fall  

Adam Baron comes back on the show to discuss the ongoing war and humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Topics we covered include:

Background on the events that lead to the current situation The problems Yemen was facing prior to the past few months of fighting Recent failures to establish a humanitarian cease fire Realistic chances that a cease fire could happen soon AQAP taking advantage of the chaos and controlling territory Lack of urgency in the international community to solving the conflict Who in the international community could have a positive influence on the situation How the Yemeni public views the conflict

Links:

Adam Baron - Adam’s personal site, featuring links to his recent writings and past work Adam Baron | European Council on Foreign Relations Adam Baron (@adammbaron) on Twitter Karl Morand (@KarlMorand) on Twitter

Thanks to patrons of the podcast Andrew, Alex, Scott, David, and Melissa. You can support the podcast by making a small donation on Patreon!

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Tunisian Foreign Fighters  

Aaron Zelin comes back on the show to discuss Tunisian foreign fighters going to Iraq and Syria, and how Tunisia is handling security issues. Topics we covered include:

Radicalization of jihadists in prison How the democratic transition enabled free movement Tunisian government’s evolution in dealing with jihadis Instability on Tunisia’s borders Potential for regular jihadi attacks to become the new normal International support for civil society and security efforts

Links:

JIHADOLOGY - a clearinghouse for jihadi primary source material, original analysis, and translation service Jihadology Podcast Aaron Y. Zelin (@azelin) on Twitter Karl Morand (@KarlMorand) on Twitter

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