The Middle East North Africa region is complex - hardly breaking news. There are complex religious, political and socio-economic realities with global players pushing into the ring from every corner - intervening and retreating like a boxer stalking the target of his vested interest. Our 'Middle East Analysis' podcasts feature the analysis of Dr Harry Hagopian, an international lawyer and commentator on the Middle East North Africa region and the Gulf States.
Walls are meant for climbing
Ending a long-running podcast is painful. It's also hard to let go - especially when the expert sitting opposite you has been a friend for 15 years.
This is the last ever Middle East Analysis and, as such, is something of a fond farewell - on this channel at least - to Dr Harry Hagopian. The man's a colossus with a brain to match and a bucket-load of integrity. He also delivers his views and analysis with a fair dollop of wit and panache.
So it's with a heavy heart we say goodbye, but not without saying a huge thank-you to all our listeners. Whether you've tuned in regularly, been listening for years, or are comparatively new to the podcast, we salute you.
The last word is for Dr Hagopian... You may not be a prophet, Harry, but you're a mighty fine fellow!
Arab states not just making up the numbers
The football World Cup, hurtling through the group stages in Qatar after a fair helping of pre-tournament controversy, takes centre stage for our November Middle East Analysis podcast. Surely even the most optimistic Saudi looked at the Argentina fixture and prayed KSA would just keep the score down? Well, would you believe it? Lionel Messi and co found themselves chastened after an extraordinary 2-1 win for Saudi Arabia. And, as far as the Arab States are concerned, that result wasn't the only surprise. Morocco held Croatia, Iran bested Wales, Tunisia drew with Denmark and even the hosts put a goal past Senegal. The MENA countries are not just making up the numbers.
Not known as a football aficionado, our regular studio guest, Dr Harry Hagopian still has plenty to say on the subject before sinking his teeth into the violent crackdown on the protests in Iran before passing comment on the political survivor par excellence Bibi Netanyahu - cutting deals and grabbing power.
If that wasn't enough, we conclude with three of Harry's unique afterthoughts.
It's all on November's Middle East Analysis.
404 Solution Not Found
Ever clicked a link and hit a 404 "not found" error page? Happens a lot. It's also very frustrating. You think you've finally found that elusive content but it's a false dawn and you'll have to go back and search again. The image for this 'Middle East Analysis' podcast was taken on the West Bank side of the Separation Wall earlier this year. It seems rather appropriate for today's episode.
Dr Harry Hagopian, our resident international lawyer and regional analyst, takes on a quick-fire five to being our podcast looking at a variety of regional elections, off-shore gas deals and - stand by your bunks - sportswashing in the context of the Qatar-hosted football World Cup.
The meat in the sandwich is the ongoing turmoil and violence in northern Palestine. Harry gives his take on the situation in Jenin and Nablus. The prevailing writing on the wall? It's a 404 - Solution Not Found.
All this and a few off-the-cuff afterthoughts from the good doctor.
UN-workable demands for the MENA and Gulf regions?
Dr Harry Hagopian, the voice of 'Middle East Analysis', came up with the novel idea of looking behind the interventions made by the Heads of State and political leaders from the Middle East, North Africa and Gulf regions at the recent 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Treat this as a fly-on-the-wall side event, a briefing, that steps away from the carefully crafted podium speeches - somewhat predictable in terms of content and agenda - to get to the nub of neighbourly agitation or cooperation.
Iran, Qatar, Lebanon and, to a lesser degree, Israel/Palestine, Iraq and Jordan get the unique Hagopian treatment on this 'Middle East Analysis'.
Human Rights or Wrongs?
August's 'Middle East Analysis' podcast sees Dr Harry Hagopian rewind 34 years to look at the publication of Salman Rushdie's controversial fourth novel 'The Satanic Verses', the author's use of magical realism and the religious edict that left a bounty on his head the repercussions of which may have been felt three decades later.
We then discuss the closure of seven Palestinian NGOs after Israeli raids in the West Bank. But what do these human rights organisations stand accused of and when Israel is criticised for acting with impunity, what does that actually mean?
Dr Hagopian concludes with a few thoughts on November's World Cup football extravaganza in Qatar - the first Arab country to host the tournament - and a congratulatory word or two aimed in the direction of the Royal Hashemite Court as Jordan celebrates its Crown Prince's engagement.
Image of Sir Salman Rushdie: © Chris Kockelmann (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Fist Bumps and Formalities - President Biden in the Middle East
It's more of a hot rather than warm welcome to this 'Middle East Analysis' podcast. We've 'enjoyed' record temperatures of over 40°C in recent times here in the UK - far more in keeping with the Middle East, Gulf States and North Africa.
Here to cool us down with his usual stylish, sharp analysis is the voice of MEA, Dr Harry Hagopian. The topic? Well it can only be the four-day visit of US President Joe Biden to Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Jeddah.
A trip pilloried in certain quarters as high on photo ops, low on substance, was it a charm offensive to bolster US relations with Israel? Motivated, with an eye on Saudi Arabia, by the energy crisis and energy security? Or, as President Biden stressed to Arab leaders, to affirm that the US will not walk away from the region leaving a void to be filled by China, Russia or Iran?
Dr Harry Hagopian takes a deeper look and gives us his opinion on whether there were any takeaways other than a rather uncomforable fist bump with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah.