• 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 (https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/vanished-strait-of-hormuz-tanker-towed-to-iran-for-repairs-says-tehran-1.887211)
    • We will negotiate if US lifts sanctions, says Iranian foreign minister (https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/we-will-negotiate-if-us-lifts-sanctions-says-iranian-foreign-minister-1.886702)
    • Britain wants assurances before releasing Iranian oil tanker, Jeremy Hunt says  (https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/britain-wants-assurances-before-releasing-iranian-oil-tanker-jeremy-hunt-says-1.885851)
    • Panama withdrawing flags from vessels that violate sanctions (https://www.thenational.ae/world/the-americas/panama-withdrawing-flags-from-vessels-that-violate-sanctions-1.885827)

  • 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 (https://www.thenational.ae/) 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 (https://audioboom.com/posts/7282163-exporting-isis-justice) . 
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  • 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 (https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/massive-locust-swarm-provides-a-desert-bounty-in-central-yemen-in-pictures-1.878926)
    • Jordan sends out air force to defeat locust swarm (https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/jordan-sends-out-air-force-to-defeat-locust-swarm-1.858046)
    • Like the locusts, the regional response knows no borders (https://www.thenational.ae/opinion/comment/like-the-locusts-the-regional-response-knows-no-borders-1.826921)
    • Swarms of locusts descend on Al Dhafra in Abu Dhabi (https://www.thenational.ae/uae/environment/swarms-of-locusts-descend-on-al-dhafra-in-abu-dhabi-1.814724)

  • 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 (https://www.thenational.ae/opinion/comment/fifteen-years-after-the-us-led-invasion-the-iraqi-state-still-isn-t-getting-the-basics-right-it-is-running-out-of-time-1.752225) 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 (https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/protesters-set-iranian-consulate-ablaze-in-basra-1.768021) , 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 (https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/us-still-mulling-waiver-for-critical-iraqi-gas-purchase-from-iran-1.868088) 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 (https://www.thenational.ae/topics/Author/Campbell%20MacDiarmid) 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 (https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/southern-iraq-basra-protests-resume-as-temperatures-and-anger-rise-1.877162)
    Iraq’s electricity ministry subjected to political meddling, minister says (https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/iraq-s-electricity-ministry-subjected-to-political-meddling-minister-says-1.879039)
    After years of war and drought, Iraq's bumper crop is burning (https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/after-years-of-war-and-drought-iraq-s-bumper-crop-is-burning-1.876975)

  • 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 (https://audioboom.com/posts/7269301-what-s-next-for-america-and-iran) .
    Find related coverage and more at The National (https://www.thenational.ae/) 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 (https://www.thenational.ae/) , 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 (https://www.thenational.ae/world/asia/the-hidden-lives-of-children-of-the-afghan-taliban-1.873077)
    'What use is it all': surge in Kabul violence leaves Afghans celebrating Eid in Hospital (https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/what-use-is-it-all-surge-in-kabul-violence-leaves-afghans-celebrating-eid-in-hospital-1.870988)
    America's closing act in Afghanistan is playing out as both tragedy and farce (https://www.thenational.ae/opinion/comment/america-s-closing-act-in-afghanistan-is-playing-out-as-both-tragedy-and-farce-1.870376)

  • 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 https://www.thenational.ae/

  • 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 (https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/threats-from-iran-remain-high-but-have-been-put-on-hold-pentagon-chief-says-1.864604) 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 (https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/uae-welcomes-allies-participation-in-tanker-sabotage-investigation-1.865117) , 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 (https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/iraq-emerging-as-an-unofficial-iran-us-go-between-1.864538) 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 (https://www.thenational.ae/topics/Author/Joyce%20%20Karam) to discuss what’s next for the US and Iran and how do parties cool tensions when neither side appears set to talk.

  • 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.

  • For months, the headlines have revolved around the winding down of the Syrian war and what the next phase looks like. 

    In April, US backed and Kurdish led forces retook the once sprawling so called caliphate of ISIS in eastern Syria. Across much of the rest of the country, the regime was consolidating control.  

    But talking about the future has overlooked the fate of nearly 3 million civilians living in the last rebel-held territory that is now largely controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a group of hardline extremists once affiliated to Al Qaeda. 

    In recent weeks, the regime and its backers in Tehran and Moscow have turned their attention to the North eastern province of Idlib. 

    Over 150,000 people have already been displaced and 100 civilians killed in a campaign that those who fled Aleppo and Deraa say is as intense.

  • For three decades, Omar Al Bashir ruled over Sudan. But in April, in the face of growing protests, he was removed from office and the future of the country was suddenly up in the air.

    In this week's episode of Beyond the Headlines, we talk about the changes sweeping Sudan.

    Hamza Hendawi, The National’s Cairo correspondent, has been on the ground in Sudan this week. She tells foreign editor James Haines-Young about the mood in the streets of Khartoum, where since December demonstrations have drawn millions and eventually helped lead to a dramatic end to the ruinous reign of Mr Al Bashir.

    Now, the military along with the main protest group – dubbed the Freedom and Change Forces – are working together to oversee the transition into Sudan's new future.

  • Suicide bombs, 359 dead and an ISIS claim of responsibility. On Sunday, Sri Lanka was hit by the single largest terror attack in its history. Hundreds attending Easter Sunday mass or at high-end Colombo hotels were killed and wounded in a coordinated wave of bombings.

    In the wake of the blasts, communities have undoubtedly rallied together. But the shared grief belies the underlying communal tensions that have existed for years.

    Amid the pain, there is also anger. It appears intelligence received by some government officials could have helped police prevent the attacks. But the documents were not shared with everyone.

    Jack Moore, Deputy Foreign Editor at The National, talks us through the last week in Sri Lanka where he has been reporting.

  • The scale of India’s ongoing election is staggering – nearly 900 million people are registered to cast their ballots.

    And there are many issues at stake, with India's economy on pace to become of the world's five largest this year.

    While many have been concerned about the economy and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s track record of reforms, national security, the rural economy and Hindi nationalism are all issues that have played a central role as Indians go to the polls.

    The National's Ramola Talwar Badam was in Uttar Pradesh, and she brings perspective and analysis with foreign editor James Haines-Young in this week's episode of Beyond the Headlines.

  • After weeks of mounting protest, Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika has stepped down, ending 20 years as the country’s ruler.  

    While the moment is historic, protesters – many of whom won’t remember a time before Mr Bouteflika was their president – are not finished. 

    Fear that a younger, healthier version of the ailing 82-year old will step into his place or that the army may co-opt power, they say they will push on to ensure a real democratic transition. 

    After years of economic stagnation after oil revenue – the backbone of the economy – collapsed when oil prices fell in 2014, people are calling for a brighter future. Unemployment is high, costs are rising and many felt that there would be no future if Mr Bouteflika had won a fifth term in the election that was supposed to take place in April. 

    But now, they say they are turning a new page in their country’s history.

    In this week’s Beyond the Headlines, The National’s Foreign Editor James Haines-Young speaks to Chellali Khalil who has been part of the protests since the start, and Algerian researcher Tin Hinane El Kadi from the London School of Economics to ask how the country got here and what comes next.

  • The Untied Kingdom’s march towards Brexit has been postponed but questions about the fate of the country’s place in the world continue to swirl.

    Prime Minister Theresa May has been given extra few weeks to breath but the UK remains no closer to any solutions.

    On this week’s edition of Beyond the Headlines The National’s Editor-in-Chief Mina Al Oraibi sat down with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to discuss how the divide nation can move forward.

  • It's been one week since the terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch New Zealand. The mass shooting was the worst peacetime attack in New Zealand’s history, and has shaken the country to its core.

    In the week that followed the slaying of 50 people by a white supremacist gunman at two separate mosques, New Zealanders rallied around the victims, while grappling with shock, grief and anger. The government, meanwhile, has moved swiftly to announce stricter gun laws. 

    _The National_'s journalists and expatriated New Zealanders, Ashleigh Stewart and Campbell MacDiarmid, discuss how their homeland is responding to the tragedy, and bring stories of some of the victim's families.

  • Syrian Democratic Forces are slowly extinguishing what’s left of the Islamic State. The US-backed SDF has the grouped trapped in a tiny sliver of land along the Euphrates River.

    Baghouz, Syria, is a small farming village. Before it became home to the last pocket of ISIS, it was just a dot on the map that many Syrians hadn’t even heard of. Now it’s the centre of a months-long battle between the SDF and what’s left of ISIS.

    Assistant Foreign Editor, Campbell MacDiarmid and Multimedia Producer Willy Lowry travelled to Baghouz to cover ISIS’s last stand.

    In this edition of Beyond the Headlines, we take you to the frontlines in the fight to end ISIS.

  • Enric Sala has a plan to save the planet. National Geographic’s explorer-in-residence is in Abu Dhabi for the World Ocean Summit. His one message — that we need to protect 30 per cent of our planet’s land and oceans by 2030.

    But at a time when it feels overwhelmingly difficult to be positive about the Earth’s future, what can be done to save our habitats?

    “Being a conservationist, sometimes it is hard to be optimistic,” he says. But despite the worrying headlines, the plastic in our oceans, the devastating deforestation, all is not yet lost, Sala claims.

    “I have seen with my own eyes how nature comes back when we give her some space, both in the oceans and on the land. Right now, we are at a tipping point so it's not too late.”

    Listen to the full interview with Mina Al Oraibi, editor-in-chief of The National on protecting the Earth and its species.