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We get it: the Middle East can be a complicated place, and sometimes it’s difficult to wrap your head around all the regional conflicts and political drama - that’s where we come in. We’re here to break down the major headlines, talk with experts and journalists, and give you a clearer picture of what’s happening in the region so you can impress your friends and promote our podcast. Sorry, that’s the shameless plug we were supposed to delete. Oh well. Off the Hookah with Phil and Cooper is a production of Al-Monitor.

Off the Hookah with Phil and Cooper Al-Monitor

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We get it: the Middle East can be a complicated place, and sometimes it’s difficult to wrap your head around all the regional conflicts and political drama - that’s where we come in. We’re here to break down the major headlines, talk with experts and journalists, and give you a clearer picture of what’s happening in the region so you can impress your friends and promote our podcast. Sorry, that’s the shameless plug we were supposed to delete. Oh well. Off the Hookah with Phil and Cooper is a production of Al-Monitor.

    Episode #127: Turkey Playing Chicken (feat. Diego Cupolo & Mohammed al-Khatieb)

    Episode #127: Turkey Playing Chicken (feat. Diego Cupolo & Mohammed al-Khatieb)

    An update on Syria this week; Turkey is lashing out at a Syrian government offensive across the border in the Idlib province, a key Syrian territory of which Turkey has controlled parts of for several years - territory that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is looking to now regain. Why is Turkey so interested in this land, and what’s been the humanitarian cost of these battles over it? Phil and Cooper speak with Turkey Pulse contributor Diego Cupolo from Istanbul, and receive first-hand accounts from Syria Pulse contributor Mohammad al-Khateib from Idlib.


    Waves of displacement continue amid Idlib escalation (Mohammed al-Khatieb)
    Turkey, Syrian regime at last exit before all-out confrontation (Metin Gurcan)
    Turkey's hands tied as Syrian army makes gains in Idlib (Fehim Tastekin)
    Erdogan vies for leverage in Syria's Idlib as Turkish troops reinforce positions (Diego Cupolo)


    Extra Listening:


    Episode #67,   Deep Cuts (8/30/2018): Tensions rise in the Idlib province of Syria due to Turkey’s plan to invade.
    Episode #110,   The Not-So-Safe Zone (8/22/2019): The US and Turkey agree to a buffer zone along the Turkey-Syria border to prevent any military operations against the Kurds.
    Music: Bu Kolthoum - “Jouwana” ( Spotify |  Apple Music)

    • 16 Min.
    Episode #126: The Art of No Deal (feat. Yossi Beilin & Daoud Kuttab)

    Episode #126: The Art of No Deal (feat. Yossi Beilin & Daoud Kuttab)

    So Trump released the final installment of his Israel-Palestine peace plan. But we’ve heard this song before - last year in Bahrain, when his son-in-law Jared Kushner announced an underwhelming “economic peace plan” for propping up Palestine. Those plans fell on deaf ears - so what’s in this new proposal, and what’s in it for both sides of the conflict? Phil and Cooper speak with Al-Monitor columnist and former Israeli peace negotiator Yossi Beilin and Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse columnist Daoud Kuttab to understand the effects of these political gestures from the Trump Administration.
    Trump’s Israeli-US deal is not a peace plan (Yossi Beilin) Trump's plan unveiled: Netanyahu's best and worst day ever (Ben Caspit) Netanyahu's land of the settlers (Shlomi Eldar) US peace plan may unwittingly unite Palestinians against it (Adnan Abu Amer) Rival Palestinian factions unite against US 'deal of century' (Adnan Abu Amer)
    Extra Listening:
    Episode #105,  Bahrain Drain (7/12/2019): Jared Kushner releases the first portion of the Israeli-Palestinian “deal of the century” - an economic “peace and prosperity” platform - but it didn’t get the response they were looking for. Episode #113,  Déjà-Yahu (9/20/2019): The second round of Israeli elections in 2019 show Gantz barely leading Netanyahu, but always signals another political stalemate. Episode #120,  Gantz Hardly Wait (12/6/2019): Prime Minister Netanyahu is being indicted for corruption, and neither him or his opponent Benny Gantz have been able to form a majority government, meaning that Israel will head into a third do-over election in March 2020. Music: Hassan el Shafei - “Galbek Ween” (Spotify | Apple Music)

    • 20 Min.
    Episode #125: Drawing Lines (feat. Nazlan Ertan)

    Episode #125: Drawing Lines (feat. Nazlan Ertan)

    Protests in Iraq and Lebanon. Censorship in Egypt and Iran. Growing conservatism in Turkey. All of these events are catalysts - both good and bad - for artists in the Middle East. In a change of pace, Phil and Cooper speak with Nazlan Ertan, Al-Monitor’s Culture Editor, to talk about how recent uprisings have provided a special opportunity for protest art, and how governments utilize art and culture to transform their image or instill national pride.


    How artistic freedom of expression shrinks in 'new' Egypt (Shahira Amin)
    Artists splash Iraqi protests with vivid imagery (Gilgamesh Nabeel)
    'Eggupation' breeds revolutionary thinking in Beirut (Euan Ward) 
    Lebanon's revolutionary art flourishes despite culture sector strike (Nicholas Frakes)
    Joker jumps from screen to streets of global revolutions (Nicholas Frakes)
    Iran's top cultural event jeopardized by artist boycotts (Saeid Jafari)
    The Istanbul Archaeological Museums return, piece by piece (Giuseppe Mancini)
    Istanbul's Arter ‘pushing boundaries' of Turkey's art scene (Ayla Jean Yackley)


    Music: Cairokee - “Kan Lak Ma’aya” (ft. Umm Kulthum) ( Spotify |  Apple Music)

    • 21 Min.
    Episode #124: Muscat’s Out of the Bag (feat. Karen Young)

    Episode #124: Muscat’s Out of the Bag (feat. Karen Young)

    Oman’s leader, Sultan Qaboos, died last week after ruling the country for 50 years. Qaboos is considered the father of modern Oman, so Phil and Cooper explore his life, the coup d’etat that changed his destiny, and the social and economic realities for Omanis under his rule. And what do we know about his successor? Al-Monitor Gulf Pulse contributor Karen Young joins the podcast to lend her expertise on the overlooked Gulf nation and more.


    What’s next for Oman following Sultan Qaboos’ death? (Kristian Ulrichsen)
    Sell-off in Oman reveals privatization with regional characteristics (Karen Young)
    Russia eyes Oman as mediator for regional crises (Kirill Semenov)
    Oman minister describes role as 'facilitator' of diplomacy in turbulent region
    Oman’s humanitarian aid to Yemen also pragmatic (Sebastian Castelier)


    Extra Listening:


    Episode #9,  Qatar? I Hardly Know Her (6/7/2017): A group of Gulf countries and Egypt place a controversial embargo on Qatar for supporting terrorism and having diplomatic relations with Iran.
    Music: Sal Davis - “Sultan Qaboos Song” ( YouTube)

    • 21 Min.
    Episode #123: Off the Brink (feat. Ali Hashem)

    Episode #123: Off the Brink (feat. Ali Hashem)

    We’re back from holiday break and you probably have a lot of questions: Who was Qasem Soleimani? Why was he assassinated? Will the US and Iran de-escalate these tensions, and what can we expect to happen next? Phil and Cooper deep dive into the last several days of serious escalations between the two countries, answering these questions and more.


    What Iran lost with Soleimani’s killing (Ali Hashem)
    Soleimani’s assassination unites Iranians (Rohollah Faghihi)
    US position in Iraq in jeopardy after strikes (Jack Detsch)
    Pro-Iranian militias behind US Embassy attack in Baghdad (Ali Mamouri)
    US allies, Democrats express concerns after assassination of Iran’s Soleimani (Laura Rozen) 
    Iranian missiles strike coalition installations in Iraq (Jack Detsch)

    Extra Listening:


    Episode #52,  JCP-No-Way (5/10/2018): Trump withdraws from the Iran Nuclear Deal.
    Episode #64,  The Sound of Sanctions (8/10/2018): Phil and Cooper discuss the first round of Trump’s new sanctions on Iran.
    Episode #76,  The Sound of Sanctions, Part II (11/7/2018): Phil and Cooper speak with Barbara Slavin about the second round of new sanctions, and how they’ve already affected Iran’s economy.
    Episode #99,  Under Pressure (5/17/2019): Tensions between the US and Iran with threats of military action.
    Episode #119,  If You Smell What Iraq is Cooking (11/21/2019): Growing protests in Iraq spark concern in the region.


    Music: Arash - “Temptation” ( Spotify |  Apple Music)

    • 22 Min.
    Episode #122: Peace Out 2019 (feat. Special Guests from Al-Monitor)

    Episode #122: Peace Out 2019 (feat. Special Guests from Al-Monitor)

    It’s that time of year, folks, whether you’re trying to find the cheapest apple pie in the grocery store or battling parents for the last Turboman doll at a toy store, Phil and Cooper have a show for you! What’s on the horizon for the Middle East in the new year? What about Congress, and the presidential elections? And how about some year-end predictions from some of Al-Monitor’s columnists and contributors? Also, John McLaughlin rises again, and more surprises!

    Be sure to check out  Al-Monitor’s Election 2020 Coverage by Bryant Harris!

    Music: Jean-Marie Riachi - “Jingle Bells” ( Spotify |  Apple Music)

    • 32 Min.

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