Babel will take you beyond the headlines to discuss what’s really happening in the Middle East and North Africa. It features regional experts who explain what’s going on, provide context on pivotal developments, and highlight trends you may have missed. Jon Alterman, senior vice president, Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy, and director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts the podcast along with his colleagues from the Middle East Program. This podcast is made possible through the generous support of the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates. All views, positions, and conclusions expressed here should be understood to be solely of those of the speaker(s).
Jordan's Royal Intrigue
This week on Babel, Jon Alterman talks about Jordan with Dr. Bessma Momani, professor of political science at the University of Waterloo and one of Canada's leading experts on the Middle East. Dr. Momani and Jon explore the recent controversy over former Crown Prince Hamzeh and the government’s concerns over public discontent. Then, Jon, Natasha Hall, and Danny Sharp discuss Jordanians' relationship with the state.
Bessma Momani, “Opinion: The authorities in Jordan sounded the alarm about a coup. Jordanians aren’t convinced,” Washington Post, April 7, 2021.
Bessma Momani, “Our feminist foreign policy is not perfect, but in Jordan, it’s doing a lot of good,” The Globe and Mail, March 31, 2019.
Will Todman, "The Collapse of Jordan's Social Safety Net," CSIS, December 17, 2019.
Episode Transcript, "Jordan's Royal Intrigue," CSIS, April 20, 2021.
A Mezze: Baby Boom or Bust
Being single in Iran could become very expensive if a conservative cleric gets his way. This is a short mezze from the Middle East Program at CSIS.
Lebanon's Energy Sector
This week on Babel, Jon Alterman talks with Jessica Obeid, energy consultant, a senior global advisor at the London-based consultancy Azure Strategy, and an academy associate with Chatham House's Energy, Environment, and Resources Programme. They talk about the Lebanese power sector and what its shortcomings tell us about broader fissures in Arab society. Then, Natasha Hall, Will Todman, and Jon continue the discussion about sectarianism and renewable energy, and discuss our new report.
Jessica Obeid, "Failure to Power: The Need for Decentralized Renewable Energy Models," CSIS, March 18, 2021.
Natasha Hall, "Lebanon's Political Bosses Are the Real Problem," CSIS, August 17, 2020.
Jessica Obeid, “Lebanon’s Power Sector: Making Reforms Work,” LCPS, June 2020.
Transcript, "Lebanon's Energy Sector," CSIS, April 6, 2021.
A Mezze: Borders Without Doctors
A short mezze episode from the Middle East Program at CSIS. The Egyptian government is trying to block doctors from leaving the country, but they aren't incentivizing doctors to stay, either.
Syria’s Decade of Tragedy
To mark a decade since protests first began in Syria, we are bringing you the stories and experiences of five different Syrians, in their own words. Omar Alshogre is now a student at Georgetown University, and he was 15 when he attended his first protest in 2011 and was subsequently imprisoned for the first time. Zaina Erhaim is an award-winning journalist, communications expert, and trainer originally from Syria who is now working with journalists throughout the Arab world. Ibrahim is from Madiq Castle, and was forcibly displaced to northern Syria in 2019, where he now lives. Wafiqa was a teacher in a town close to Damascus but was forcibly displaced in 2016. She now lives and teaches in Idlib. Finally, Ibrahim is from Madaya, a small town near Damascus that was under siege for several years.
We are honored to bring you their voices, and thank you to Omar, Zaina, Ibrahim, Wafiqa, and Ibrahim for entrusting us with their stories.
Special thanks to Kinan Azmeh and Kevork Mourad for the use of their song “A Sad Morning, Every Morning” and to Abdul-Wahab Kayyali for the use of his song “يا فجر لما تطل.”
Voice overs were provided by Natasha Hall, Mahmoud Ghanem, and Humzah Khan. Many thanks to our team at WeEdit who helped us edit and produce this episode. Thanks to McKinley Knoop for scripting the episode, Will Todman for suggesting guests, and Danny Sharp for his promotional efforts.
A Mezze: Perils of the Sea
Yemen’s once flourishing fishing industry is now on the rocks as the country’s conflict has turned previously tranquil shores into a warzone.
Great show ! Give it a listen
Great guests. Well produced. A well rounded show. There are not many shows like this !
Fresh perspective on classic matters
This is one of the best podcasts on the Middle East. Whether you're a beginner or an expert in the field, this is both a great introduction and a pleasant and insightful content. It's the perfect go-to podcast for English speakers focusing on the region. Great guests from the region and on-point commentary on recent and emerging topics. One of my personal favorite episodes so far is the one with satirist Karl Sharro, a.k.a. @KarlreMarks, where the ME team explores the state, charactersitics, and history of satire in Arab countries and more. Always interesting and refreshing topics!
Great podcast and very informative!