Cascades of breaking news stories flood front pages and social media feeds, cataclysmic events happen every day, entire industries have been formed around dissecting and understanding the news. With The Gateway, we'll go in-depth on developments submerged under the ocean of breaking news developments and explore issues poorly or under-reported on. From our offices in Amman, Jordan, we at Al Bawaba are breaking through the news.
The Struggle to Survive in Gaza, with Dr. Khamis Elessi
This is a special episode of The Gateway podcast, I’m your host Ty Joplin. We’re going to skip the typical introduction format here to just get to our guest, Dr. Khamis El-Essi.
Dr. El-Essi is one of Gaza’s top doctors at Al-Shifa Hospital, who lives with his family under the constant threat of bombardment by Israeli drones, jets, and artillery. At the time of recording, Israeli strikes have killed over 200 Gazans in the past week, many of them women and children. In our talk, Dr. El-Essi is surrounded by his family, who he says haven’t slept in over a week due to the constant shelling. We reached out to him to give us a glimpse into life and death in Gaza right now, and hope you find this interview helpful.
We conducted this interview quickly, and without much professional equipment, because at any moment, power may be cut entirely off entirely on the Doctor’s end. So please forgive the quality of the recording as it’s the best we can do during this time.
Rescuing Migrants On the Mediterranean, with Mattea Weihe
Packed into rubber dinghies and old fishing boats, refugees from all over North Africa and the Middle East try to reach the safety of Europe every day. Because many of them have been tortured by smugglers or police, they carry open wounds which can get infected by the noxious combination of fluids in the boat. Leaking gas from engines mixes with salt water and feces along the choppy journey through the sea. Many will not make it.
Organizations like Sea-Watch have been conducting search and rescue operations on the Mediterranean Sea, to try and save refugees' lives. Al Bawaba is happy to share this interview with Sea-Watch’s spokesperson, Mattea Weihe, which was conducted by my colleague Nick Pritchard on April 4th. Just a few days before the interview, one Sea-Watch ship responded to six distress signals, and it was able to save around 450 people.
What the People of Yemen Want, with Shireen al-Adeimi
If there’s one well-known thing about the war in Yemen, it’s that it’s a humanitarian catastrophe. Its people are blockaded from the world and are suffering from famine, cholera, COVID-19, malnutrition, and a war that seems like it has no end. But so far little is said about the reasons the war has gone on so long, or about what motivated it to begin with, and what are the political forces driving it forward.
Instead, most mainstream media coverage of the politics of Yemen is mediated through a dense network of security-minded analysts who mystify the dynamics underlying the war, and leave out the Yemeni people entirely. You can find endless analyses about the war in Yemen as either a proxy war between Saudi Arabia, the US and Iran, how it’s a part of the never-ended War on Terror, and how it’s really a sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shia.
Little is said about what the people of Yemen want, and how these demands can be achieved. Their suffering is decontextualized and depoliticized, and they are depicted as helpless objects of despair amidst a raging conflict that is beyond their reach.
My guest today is here to set the record straight. I’ll be speaking with Shireen al-Adeimi, a Yemeni activist and Assistant Professor at Michigan State University.
Together we’ll debunk the myths surrounding the war in Yemen and highlight a foundational but rarely discussed dynamic that informs much of it. We’ll hone in on how the conflict can be viewed as part of an ongoing adversarial relationship between the elites, who have organized themselves into governments and warring parties as a method to ensure their power remains in place, and the people, whose dream of a responsive political and economic system remains unfulfilled.
Inside the Labor Camps of the Gulf, with Nick McGeehan
The cities of the Gulf region in the Middle East are often depicted as cutting-edge metropolises. Dubai in the UAE is home to the tallest building in the world, and it also has an indoor ski resort despite being in the desert. Abu Dhabi has its very own Louvre art museum. Doha in Qatar’s impressive skyline looks a mirage of steel sculptures reaching upwards in the middle of nowhere.
These images sell to the world the promise of the Gulf states as modern visionaries, bringing humanity into a new epoch of civilization.
But the picturesque skyscrapers or the region’s many artificially-made islands are virtually walled off from most of the countries’ inhabitants. Migrant workers make up a majority of these countries’ labor forces, and often form the bulk of their entire populations. But they are stuck living in packed labor camps or shantytowns, without access to clean water, hygiene, education, or healthcare. They are the ones who build these gleaming cities in the desert that inspire the world, and they are the ones who sustain life for the wealthy sub-strata of the countries’ people.
A recent report by The Guardian revealed that at least 6,500 migrant workers in Qatar had died from 2010-2020 while the country prepares to host the FIFA World Cup, most of them in circumstances the government did not explain.
So I’m seeking an explanation today from an expert on the situation of migrant workers in the Gulf. Nicholas McGeehan is a researcher and writer who has spent much of his professional life investigating the working conditions in the Gulf region of the Middle East, and he joins me in a discussion about the lived reality these people have, the economic forces throwing them towards the Middle East, and the political power that ensures their exploitation continues indefinitely.
Vaccine Apartheids and Palestine, with Yara Hawari
Israelis are beginning to enter post-COVID life thanks to their widespread vaccination, while Palestinians in the West Bank are facing renewed lockdown measures with no meaningful mass vaccination effort underway.
To get an overview of the current situation in Palestine and how its deprivation is representative of the global power divide, I’ll be speaking today with Yara Hawari. Dr. Hawari is a Senior Analyst at al-Shabaka, a center for Palestinian think tank, and is prolific writer on the politics of Israel and Palestine who has appeared in The Guardian, Al Jazeera, and Foreign Policy.
Meet the American Rabbi who Advises Gulf Monarchies
The formal diplomatic ties between Israel and Arab governments around the region are deepening. And even though Israeli-Arab diplomacy has existed through back channels for decades, the recent formalization of these connections has enabled a slew of political shifts to occur.
Rabbi Marc Schneier has on the forefront of these moves, advising some of these governments on their policy towards Israel and the American Jewish community. He’s been a special advisor to King Hamad of Bahrain, he led the first-ever Evangelical Christian mission to Azerbaijan, and continues to be in contact with officials front the UAE to help guide further interfaith efforts. As a political figure, he occupies a unique, if little known position in global politics. His presence in meetings and discussions allows governments to claim that they seek to be friendly to the Jewish people.
The first half of this discussion explores Rabbi Schneier’s beliefs regarding judaism, equality and civil rights. In the second half I challenge him on the tension I see between his beliefs that all people should be equal and deserve civil rights, and the governments he’s advising who evidently do not believe that. I also challenge him on whether he puts any pressure on these governments to improve their human rights record.