131 episodes

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

    • News Commentary
    • 4.7, 52 Ratings

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.

    The Price is Wrong

    The Price is Wrong

    As the coronavirus crisis continues to grip the world, the markets have been on the shakiest ground yet since the 2008 economic recession - especially with regards to the price of oil. In the last few years, Saudi Arabia and Russia have developed a special relationship to stabilize oil prices in the face of growing competition from the Americans, who for the first time has begun to outpace both countries in terms of production. But when demand for oil began to fall precipitously in the face of COVID-19, the relationship ended in a messy way. Phil and Cooper break down the bad breakup and how it’s affected economies worldwide.
    Russia might not be ready for long-term OPEC commitment (Nikolay Kozhanov) Russia hoping to outdo Saudis over time in coronavirus-hit oil market (Max Suchkov) Does Moscow's withdrawal from OPEC-plus deal end Russia-Saudi honeymoon? (Nikolay Kozhanov) Intel: How the US is relying on Riyadh to reassure global markets (Elizabeth Hagedorn) Extra Listening
    Episode #114, Double Double, Oil and Trouble (9/27/2019): Exploring the special relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia in the face of attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure.


    Music: Elman - “Антигерой” (Spotify)

    • 14 min
    The Wizarding World of Bibi Netanyahu (feat. Ben Caspit)

    The Wizarding World of Bibi Netanyahu (feat. Ben Caspit)

    Phil and Cooper record their first remote podcast due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on recent political intrigue in Israel. After three rounds of elections, there may finally be a successful attempt at forming a new Israeli government, with opposition leader Benny Gantz having been tasked with building a coalition. But sitting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has his own ideas, and he’s using the coronavirus outbreak as a political cudgel. Al-Monitor contributor Ben Caspit joins us remotely from Israel to discuss this and more.
    Netanyahu's target: to isolate coronavirus, Benny Gantz (Ben Caspit) Netanyahu, Gantz get closer to reaching unity government (Mazal Mualem) Netanyahu's coronavirus strategy erodes Israel's democracy (Ben Caspit)
    Netanyahu wants an emergency government of Jews only (Afif Abu Much) Netanyahu's chief rival promises 'broad' government 'within a few days' (Elizabeth Hagedorn)
    Extra Listening:


    Episode #78,  Honey I Shrunk My Coalition (11/29/2018): Phil, Cooper, and Danny Zaken discuss Netanyahu’s political majority falling apart after the departure of Avigdor Liberman along with threats of other cabinet members leaving.
    Episode #95,  Breaking Benjamin (4/12/2019): The first round of elections are called by Netanyahu in an attempt to hold onto power in the face of impending indictments.
    Episode #101,  Panic! At The Knesset (6/7/2019): Netanyahu fails at forming a majority government and calls snap elections for September.
    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): After failing to form a majority government for a second time, a third round of elections are called in Israel.


    Music: Reines Girls - “We’ll Stay Friends” ( Spotify)

    • 13 min
    Hardliners and Health Scares (feat. Ali Ahmadi)

    Hardliners and Health Scares (feat. Ali Ahmadi)

    Iran held parliamentary elections at the end of February, resulting in a serious swing to the right, with conservative Principlist politicians sweeping the majority of seats from the sitting Reformists. How did this happen, and why are the results unsurprising? Also, the dreaded coronavirus has made Iran the third largest epicenter of the outbreak - how has the Iranian government been responding to the crisis, and how has it spread so quickly? Phil and Cooper discuss this and more with Ali Ahmadi, a geopolitical analyst based in Tehran.
    How Iranian hard-liners helped Reformists ahead of elections (Rohollah Faghihi) Khamenei calls on Iranians to participate in parliamentary vote Coronavirus puts more pressure on Iran's already strained economy (Bijan Khajehpour) Intel: Trump administration eases humanitarian trade restrictions on Iran amid coronavirus fears (Bryant Harris) Extra Listening:

    Episode #123,  Off the Brink (1/10/20): The Trump administration pulls off a targeted killing of the IRGC commander Qasem Soleimani, raising tensions between the US and Iran.


    Music: Radio Tehran - “Hamesheh” ( Spotify |  Apple Music)

    • 15 min
    Turkey Playing Chicken (feat. Diego Cupolo & Mohammed al-Khatieb)

    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
    The Art of No Deal (feat. Yossi Beilin & Daoud Kuttab)

    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
    Drawing Lines (feat. Nazlan Ertan)

    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

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
52 Ratings

52 Ratings

laurzzzzz2020 ,

My newest audio addiction

It’s like “My Favorite Murder,” but for the Middle East.

Emile123 ,

Excellent pod

They break down complicated topics into understandable conversation. The use of music from the region (they spotlight a different artist each week) makes listening VERY enjoyable!!! Can’t say enough good things. Keep it up.

19CAC59 ,

Phil and Cooper

These guys are great! They simplify the current events in the Middle East! I’m hooked on the hookah with Phil and Cooper!

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