Off the Hookah with Phil and Cooper

Each week, we’ll dive into the top news happening around the Middle East to discuss the stories behind the headlines. Off the Hookah with Phil and Cooper is a production of Al-Monitor.
Off the Hookah with Phil and Cooper


Each week, we’ll dive into the top news happening around the Middle East to discuss the stories behind the headlines. With the proliferation of regional conflicts and political drama, we will break down the major developments, provide insight from some of the foremost experts, and have fun while we’re at it. Off the Hookah with Phil and Cooper is a production of Al-Monitor.


News & Politics


Episode #103: How to Lose the Iran Deal in 10 Days

Jun 21, 2019 19:44


More tensions building between the United States and Iran this week: there was the prospect of a military strike after an American drone was shot down over by Iranian forces, as well as more sanctions, more troops to the Middle East, and an Iranian threat of enriching more uranium. Phil and Cooper give you the definitive timeline of events that led to these recent spats, accelerating due to the Trump Administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran. Also, is the Iran Nuclear Deal finished? And how have Iranians been affected by recent sanctions? We speak with Al-Monitor Iran Pulse contributors to get more color from the region.

US blames Iran for Gulf tanker attack (Jack Detsch) Intel: What's next for US-Iran tensions after drone downing (Amberin Zaman) US sanctions fail to bend Iran’s economy, expert says (Jack Detsch) Iran says not seeking war after announcing boost in uranium stockpile Asia buoys Iran as sanctions hit (Barbara Slavin) How incompetence, sanctions jointly hit Iran’s economy (Bijan Khajehpour)

Extra Listening:

Episode #62, Pompeo and Circumstances (7/26/2018): Secretary of State Pompeo gives an anti-Iran speech that served as the unofficial launch for the Trump Administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against the country. Episode #51, Deal or No Deal (5/3/2018): Trump gets ready to pull out of the Iran Nuclear Deal after Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu gives him some enthralling (and old) intelligence on Iran. 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 #87,  Over the Hill (2/15/2019): A history of Iran’s political revolution in 1979 that has led to endless diplomatic tensions with the United States. Episode #99, Under Pressure (5/17/2019): Our most recent report on tensions between the US and Iran.

Music: Rana Farhan - “Chooni” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Episode #102, Thrown for a Loophole (feat. Bryant Harris)

Jun 14, 2019 19:41


The Trump Administration’s strong rhetoric following this week’s attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman is just another example of their maximum pressure campaign on Iran. Because of this, there are conversations in Congress about how the president’s office is utilizing war powers - the power to declare, and to sell weapons to other countries. What loopholes have Trump’s team been taking advantage of? And how have been lawmakers responded? Phil and Cooper discuss the laws in question and get some key reports from Al-Monitor’s congressional correspondent Bryant Harris.

Democrats want to tie Trump’s hands on Iran. Here are their options. (Bryant Harris) Democrats move to defund Yemen war after veto defeat (Bryant Harris) Democrats fret over Iran escalation risk (Bryant Harris) Republicans rebuke Trump over Gulf arms sales (Bryant Harris) Sen. Van Hollen challenges Trump's bypass of Congress on Saudi Arabia, Iran Congress opens several new fronts in bid to block Gulf arms sales US blames Iran for Gulf tanker attack (Jack Detsch)


Extra Listening:

Episode #8, A Hollow Orb for the King (5/31/2017): The US and Saudi Arabia sign a prospective arms deal totaling $350 billion over ten years. Episode #75, Crown Control (10/31/2018): A conversation with Al-Monitor columnist Bruce Riedel about the Saudi Crown Prince and his controversial policy decisions. Episode #77, Backing Out (11/14/2018): Phil and Cooper talk with Pentagon correspondent Jack Detsch about American military support for the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen.

Music: Mashrou’ Leila - “Cavalry” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Episode #101, Panic! at the Knesset (feat. Akiva Eldar)

Jun 7, 2019 23:06


Last week, something unprecedented happened in Israel: After a bruising election, no party was able to form a government. So, their legislature, the Knesset, disbanded and decided to hold an entirely new election this September. There’s a lot at stake for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s over the next fourteen weeks, with indictments looming and party feuds brewing. So how did this all happen? And what waits ahead for Netanyahu? Phil and Cooper break down the timeline of events and speak with Israel Pulse columnist Akiva Eldar for more insight.

Why Israel is voting again (Danny Zaken) Why new elections won’t save Israel’s democracy (Akiva Eldar) Israel’s Knesset in limbo (Mazal Mualem) The final round: Netanyahu versus Liberman (Ben Caspit) Protests spread against Netanyahu’s immunity law (Ben Caspit) Will Israeli Arabs come out to vote in September? (Akiva Eldar) Sen. Van Hollen challenges Trump's bypass of Congress on Saudi Arabia, Iran (Bryant Harris)

Extra Listening:

Episode #18, Netanya-Who, Me? (8/16/2017): Phil and Cooper break down the investigations into Netanyahu. 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 #89, Alliance Defiance (2/28/2019): Phil and Cooper explain the Blue & White Coalition and how it was becoming a serious threat to Netanyahu’s leadership, and talk with Mazal Mualem about Bibi’s alliance with far-right parties. Episode #90, Nobody Puts Bibi in the Corner (3/7/2019): Ben Caspit joins the podcast to talk about the announcement about Netanyahu’s potential indictment, and how it will affect him in the April elections. Episode #95, Breaking Benjamin (4/12/2019): Danny Zaken speaks with the podcast about the April election results.

Music: A-WA - “Hana Mash Hu Al Yaman” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Episode #100: Nile-n’ Out (feat. Ayah Aman & Julian Pecquet)

May 24, 2019 24:21


For “Off the Hookah’s” 100th episode, Phil and Cooper take a (figurative) trip to the legendary Nile River to talk about its importance to Egyptian life throughout history. But between a population boom, climate change, and new dam construction, the river is running dry, affecting the livelihoods of millions. In association with Al-Monitor’s new longform report, “Death of the Nile,” editor Julian Pecquet joins the podcast for a conversation with its author, Egypt Pulse contributor Ayah Aman, for the story behind the story.

Death of the Nile (Ayah Aman) Egypt intensifies diplomatic efforts to resume stalled talks over Ethiopia dam (Sept. 2018) Will drought fuel water conflict between Cairo, Addis Ababa? (April 2016) Egypt supports South Sudan to secure Nile share (Feb. 2015) Egypt seeks Saudi help on Ethiopia water dispute (March 2014) In switch, Egypt may join Ethiopia in Nile Dam project (Oct. 2013)

Music: Nathalie Saba - “Fe Nas” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Episode #099: Under Pressure (feat. Seyed Hossein Mousavian & Laura Rozen)

May 17, 2019 22:02


Over the past two weeks, we’ve seen the Trump Administration levy more sanctions and other warnings towards Iran, reaching the inevitable stage where news chyrons and pundit panels have started drumming up the possibility of another overseas war. Phil and Cooper explain the recent back-and-forth between the US and Iran, and speak with the experts from Al-Monitor to learn more about what’s happening behind the curtains.

Pro-Iran militia leader lashes out against Pompeo visit to Baghdad (Ali Mamouri) Trump names Iran’s IRGC terror organization, downplaying risks to US troops, Iraq stability (Laura Rozen) Iran condemns, reciprocates designation of IRGC as terrorist organization Intel: Navy downplays Iran hawks' messaging on latest deployment (Jack Detsch) Iran: UAE sabotage incident should be no excuse for US ‘adventurism’ 'Neither talks nor war,' Khamenei says of US-Iran tensions Iranian FM calls military action against Iran 'political suicide' If Rouhani’s Europe outreach fails, nuclear deal could collapse (Rohollah Faghihi)

Extra Listening:

Episode #62, Pompeo and Circumstances (7/26/2018): Secretary of State Pompeo gives an anti-Iran speech that served as the unofficial launch for the Trump Administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against the country.
Episode #51, Deal or No Deal (5/3/2018): Trump gets ready to pull out of the Iran Nuclear Deal after Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu gives him some enthralling (and old) intelligence on Iran. 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 #87, Over the Hill (2/15/2019): A history of Iran’s political revolution in 1979 that has led to endless diplomatic tensions with the United States.

Music: Mehrpouya - “Dokhtare Shab” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Episode #098: S-400 Days of Summer (feat. Jack Detsch & Semih Idiz)

May 10, 2019 20:33


Relations between Turkey and the United States have seen better days, and the partnership is being tested once again with conflicting arms deals. The Turkish military has decided to buy both American-made F-35 fighter jets and Russian-made S-400 missile systems. What’s so special about these jets and missiles, and why is this a big deal? Phil and Cooper answer these questions and speak with the experts at Al-Monitor to get more insight.

Turkey exerts its own leverage in F-35 jet standoff with US (Metin Gurcan) Can US convince Turkey to undo ‘done deal’ with Russia? (Metin Gurcan) As Turkey drifts away from the US, will Russia give it what it wants? (Semih Idiz) Is Erdogan’s trust in Trump in the S-400/F-35 standoff misplaced? (Semih Idiz) Why Turkey’s reliance on Trump for S-400 sanctions waiver appears misguided (Jack Detsch) Intel: How the US, Turkey got into standoff over Russia’s S-400 air defense system (Jack Detsch)


Extra Listening:

Episode #2, Back Up in Ya A** With the Referendum (4/19/2017): President Erdogan furthers his grip on power with a constitutional referendum. Episode #6, The Ottoman Empire Strikes Back (5/17/2017): A look into Erdogan’s paranoia over Fetullah Gulen and his purported role in the 2016 Turkey coup d’etat. Episode #39, The Road to Rojava (2/1/2018): Turkey begins a military operation to remove the Kurds from northern Syria. Episode #64, The Sound of Sanctions (8/10/2018): President Trump puts sanctions on Turkey. Episode #65, The Brunson Ultimatum (8/15/2018): Tensions rise between the US and Turkey over the imprisonment of American pastor Andrew Brunson

Music: Sakin – “Denek Hayatım” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Episode #097: Sisi Puede

Apr 25, 2019 20:33


This week, Egyptians voted on a referendum that would amend their constitution and give their sitting president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the opportunity to rule for another ten years. Who is Sisi? How did he come to power? And why is he such a controversial figure? Phil and Cooper discuss Sisi’s meteoric rise from Egypt’s military brass to the presidential palace, as well as the effects of this week’s contentious vote.

Proposal to extend Sisi's term sparks controversy in Egypt (Shahira Amin) Cowed Egyptians meet Sisi’s power grab with apathy (Shahira Amin) Egypt gears up for referendum (Rania Rabeaa Elabd) Senators rebuke Egypt as White House rolls out red carpet for Sisi (Bryant Harris)

Extra Listening:

Episode #2, Back Up In Your A** With the Referendum (4/19/2017): Turkey votes on a referendum to give President Recep Tayyip Erdogan more power. Episode #47, A Glance of Gaza (4/5/2018): Egypt’s presidential election sees President Sisi win with a whopping 97% of the vote. Episodes #83 & #84, The Jasmine Revolution Part I (1/17/2019) & Part II (1/24/2019): Phil and Cooper speak with Emir Sfaxi about the beginning of Tunisia’s revolution, which kickstarted the Arab Spring, and with Amberin Zaman about her recent reporting in Tunisia after the anniversary.

Music: Al Massrieen - “Sah” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Episode #096: Northern Exposure

Apr 18, 2019 21:20


A lot has been happening in North Africa. In Algeria, its president of 20 years has stepped down in the face of unprecedented mass protests, and in Libya, the battle between its two rival governments is coming to a head as an infamous general has begun an offensive to take the capital city of Tripoli. Whew! Just reading that sentence is a lot to digest, so Phil and Cooper break down the timeline of events, and what might come next.

Algerian protesters reject military's gambit to maintain power (Simon Cordall) Is Bouteflika’s resignation enough to quell Algerian protests? (Simon Cordall) Protests drag on as Algerians demand real change (Simon Cordall) The emerging frontrunners in Algeria’s uncertain election (Ghada Hamrouche) The backstory to Hifter’s march on Tripoli (Jason Pack) US eyes bigger role for Libyan warlord as civil war looms (Jack Detsch)

Extra Listening:

Episode #91, The Fifth Time’s the Charm (3/14/2019): Phil and Cooper discuss the growing protests in Algeria over President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s decision to run for a fifth term. Episode #55, From Tripoli to Tobruk (5/31/2018): Libya currently has two rival governments fighting to be recognized - one in Tripoli, the other in Tobruk. Who are they, and why can’t they get along?

Music: Souad Massi - “Ghir Enta” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Episode #095: Breaking Benjamin (feat. Danny Zaken)

Apr 12, 2019 24:42


The Israeli election was held this week, and the results have found Prime Minister Netanyahu and his primary opponent Benny Gantz tied with 35 Knesset seats each. So why is Netanyahu still being hailed as the victor? Phil and Cooper discuss the events leading up to the election and Netanyahu’s path forward with Al-Monitor Israel Pulse contributor Danny Zaken.

Israeli right's election victory buys more time for Netanyahu (Ben Caspit) Likud’s election day dirty tricks (Shlomi Eldar) Israel’s election battles fought on social networks, not at mass rallies (Mazal Mualem) How Netanyahu is in good shape to win re-election despite trailing his rival (Danny Zaken)

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 #89, Alliance Defiance (2/28/2019): Phil and Cooper explain the Blue & White Coalition and how it was becoming a serious threat to Netanyahu’s leadership, and talk with Mazal Mualem about Bibi’s alliance with far-right parties. Episode #90, Nobody Puts Bibi in the Corner (3/7/2019): Ben Caspit joins the podcast to talk about the announcement about Netanyahu’s potential indictment, and how it will affect him in the April elections.

Music: Elisha Banai & the Forty Thieves - “Barcelona” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Episode #094: Ready Mayor One (feat. Ayla Jean Yackley)

Apr 4, 2019 15:45


Turkey held local elections this past Sunday - these elections happen every five years and account for thousands of mayors and councilors across the country. But President Erdogan’s party, the AKP, was defeated in some of Turkey’s largest cities. What do these losses mean for Turkey? And why are these elections important? Phil and Cooper speak with Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse contributor Ayla Jean Yackley about the results and their implications.

How Turkey's local elections mark rebuke for Erdogan's one-man rule (ALM Intel) Turkey's ruling AKP loses Ankara, Istanbul as opposition springs to life (Amberin Zaman) Turkey’s milestone elections shatter Erdogan’s air of invincibility (Cengiz Candar)
Erdogan’s government in panic over risk of electoral defeats (Kadri Gursel) Turkey’s army of jobless swelling to record level (Mustafa Sonmez)

Extra Listening:

Episode #79, Mr. 4000 (12/5/2018): Ayla Jean Yackley speaks with Phil and Cooper about Turkey’s economic troubles and how it relates to the 2019 local elections.

Music: Ayben - “Bilene Sor” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Episode #093: Who’s Controllin’ the Golan

Mar 28, 2019 17:20


With less than two weeks away until Israel’s general election, President Trump met with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and made a proclamation to recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory. You might have a lot of questions - where are the Golan Heights, what makes it so important, and who does it belong to? Phil and Cooper discuss this and more in this week’s episode.

New heights of irresponsibility over the Golan (Akiva Eldar) Pompeo in Jerusalem, bearing gifts for Netanyahu (Danny Zaken) How Trump's Golan decision will further frustrate Mideast peace process (Laura Rozen) Republicans push to lock in Trump’s shift on Golan Heights (Bryant Harris) Russia weighs in on Trump’s Golan Heights decision (Max Suchkov)

Extra Listening:

Episode #34, Quds You Be More Wrong? (12/13/2017): Phil and Cooper discuss President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Music: Carthago - “Hanen” (Spotify | iTunes | Bandcamp)

Episode #092: Nowruz Mubarak (feat. Bryant Harris)

Mar 21, 2019 18:49


Phil and Cooper discuss the Nowruz holiday - what are its origins? Who celebrates it, and how do you celebrate it? Also, Al-Monitor’s Congressional Correspondent Bryant Harris joins to discuss where the current round of 2020 presidential candidates stand on the question of the Iran Nuclear Deal.

Iran’s Islamic authorities slowly embrace ancient Festival of Fire (Zahra Alipour)
2020 Democrats vow to re-enter Iran nuclear deal (Bryant Harris)

Music: Various Artists - “Haji Firooz” (Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #091: The Fifth Time’s the Charm

Mar 14, 2019 21:44


In the last month, Algeria has seen historic protests form over the announcement of their long-suffering president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s candidacy for a fifth term in office. Phil and Cooper recap Bouteflika’s backstory and what’s happened since the protests began. Also, the Iranian president makes his strategic first visit to Iraq, but what makes it so important?

Algeria gambles on old captain to chart new waters (Simon Cordall) Will Algerian protesters accept ailing president’s offer for reforms? (Simon Cordall) Why Algerian protesters aren't satisfied with Bouteflika's latest 'concession' (Simon Cordall) Rouhani in Baghdad seeks outlets against US sanctions (Ali Mamouri) Iraqi officials stress need to boost Arab ties while balancing relations with Iran (Ali Mamouri) Rouhani goes to Iraq to boost trade, assert authority at home (Mohammad Shabani) Iran's hard-liners praise Rouhani for boosting trade with Iraq (Al-Monitor Staff)

Extra Listening:

Episode #4, Weekend at Bouteflika’s (5/3/2017): Phil and Cooper discuss Algeria's legislative elections and the mystery behind President Bouteflika. Episode #70, Cheddar Chatter (9/20/2018): Iraq's parliament elects a new speaker, Phil and Cooper talk about what the choice says about the new relationship between Iraq and Iran. Episode #72, Mystery at the Consulate (10/12/2018): Iraq's nomination for prime minister is another sign of Iranian influence in the country.

Music: Zaho - “Laissez-les Kouma” (feat. MHD) (Spotify | iTunes)

Episode #090: Nobody Puts Bibi in the Corner (feat. Ben Caspit)

Mar 7, 2019 19:59


Big news from Israel dropped last week: the attorney general Avichai Mandelblit formally indicted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on charges of bribery and fraud from three different investigations. After our discussion about Netanyahu’s tight polling on next month’s elections, how will these indictments affect his chances? Phil and Cooper speak with Al-Monitor columnist Ben Caspit for his expertise on Bibi.

Netanyahu fights for his political life (Ben Caspit) Intel: How Netanyahu’s indictment is scrambling Israeli politics a month before elections (Danny Zaken)

Extra Listening:

Episode #18, “Netanya-Who, Me?” (8/16/2017): Phil and Cooper review the multiple investigations against Netanyahu. Episode #33, “Bibi It’s Cold Outside” (12/6/2017): Ben Caspit makes his first appearance on the podcast and talks Bibi with us.
Episode #79, “Mr. 4000” (12/5/2018): Ben makes his second appearance and discusses the impending indictments on Netanyahu.

Music: Mercedes Band - “למה מוזר” (Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #089: Alliance Defiance (feat. Mazal Mualem)

Feb 28, 2019 20:30


There’s a new political force building steam in Israel by the name of Blue & White: a coalition of smaller centrist parties managed by former IDF Chief Benny Gantz and former journalist Yair Lapid. With the upcoming elections in April, Prime Minister Netanyahu and his Likud Party's hold on the government might be in jeopardy. Phil and Cooper speak with Al-Monitor columnist Mazal Mualem regarding these developments. Note: This episode was recorded before the announcement of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s indictment on Thursday.

Netanyahu’s successful operation of unifying the far right (Mazal Mualem) Can a centrist party win Israel's elections? (Mazal Mualem) Intel: How a center-left coalition has thrown Netanyahu’s re-election in doubt (Danny Zaken) Could new Israeli party topple Netanyahu’s Likud? (Ben Caspit) Netanyahu’s radical-right alliance rattles AIPAC's allegiance (Akiva Eldar) Netanyahu goes it alone (Mazal Mualem)

Podcast: Hosted by Mazal Mualem, “In the Neighborhood"

Music: Eliad - “Mexico” (Spotify | iTunes)

Episode #088: Conference Call

Feb 21, 2019 20:15


US foreign policy on the Middle East was put to the test at two recent conferences - the Warsaw Summit and the Munich Security Conference. How are the Trump administration’s positions on Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict being received on the global stage? Phil and Cooper explore what went down in the last week.

Trump allies hijack Warsaw summit with calls for Iran war, regime change (Laura Rozen) Iranian opposition unwelcome at Pompeo’s anti-Iran bash (Amberin Zaman) Will Warsaw summit unite US, EU against Iran? (Heidarali Masoudi) Veteran peace hands see growing Israeli-Arab alignment in Warsaw (Laura Rozen) Jordanians see Israel as only winner at Warsaw summit (Osama al Sharif) Zarif’s defense of Iran's missile program draws praise on social media (ALM Staff)

Music: Model - “Değmesin Ellerimiz” (Spotify | iTunes)

Episode #087: Over the Hill: The Iranian Revolution at 40 (feat. Mohammad Shabani)

Feb 15, 2019 24:03


In conjunction with Al-Monitor’s ‘Revolution at 40’ series, Phil and Cooper break down the events that led to the rise of the Islamic Republic, and speak with Iran Pulse editor Mohammad Shabani about the revolution after four decades. What’s changed for Iranians, and is the revolution still ongoing?

‘Revolution at 40’: More in-depth looks into this anniversary from Al-Monitor Iran Pulse contributors. Episode #66, ‘A River Runs Through It’: Phil and Cooper break down the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s.

Music: O-Hum - “Darvish” (Spotify | iTunes)

Episode #086: New Congress, Who Dis? (feat. Bryant Harris)

Feb 6, 2019 21:10


Since last year’s midterm elections, a new branch of Congressional freshmen have been shaking up the political world. How has this diverse group of progressive lawmakers been challenging the status quo with U.S. policy in the Middle East? Phil and Cooper speak with Al-Monitor’s congressional correspondent Bryant Harris about the recent spat between New York Rep. Eliot Engel and newcomer Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan over the Israel-Palestine conflict, and the battle over the pro-Palestinian Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Be sure to check out Al-Monitor’s running blog following legislation on the BDS movement in Congress.

Top Democrat on foreign affairs shoots down pro-Palestinian trips (Bryant Harris)  Intel: How the latest freshman-establishment spat is laying bare Democrats’ Palestinian problem (Bryant Harris) Senate’s first anti-BDS bill faces uncertain future in House (Bryant Harris) 

Music: Wael Kfoury – “Maghrorah” (Spotify | iTunes)

Episode #085: Taking Back Syria

Jan 31, 2019 19:36


Syria is eight years into its civil conflict, leaving hundreds of thousands dead and displaced, its infrastructure in ruins, and yet President Bashar al-Assad still clings onto power. Now that President Trump has decided to withdraw all US military from Syria, there’s an opportunity for influence in the region. So why are countries trying to renormalize relations with the besieged Assad government, and what’s the bigger picture? Phil and Cooper break it down for you. Also, Erdogan’s green new deal.

Jordan, Syria make headway in resuming normal ties (Osama al Sharif) Iran media on Bashir trip to Syria: Arab states have accepted reality of Assad EU says it’s premature for Syria to rejoin Arab League (Ahmed Aleem) Tunisia joins Arab efforts to mend ties with Syria’s Assad (Amel al-Hilali)
If US backtracks in Syria, Iraq hopes to fill its shoes (Mustafa Saadoun) Gulf states slowly warm to Damascus (Giorgio Cafiero) US-Gulf tensions mount over restrictions on Syria reconstruction (Giorgio Cafiero) Assad’s reconciliation with Arab world could upend Turkey’s plans (Semih Idiz) Erdogan's newfound love for cannabis (Pinar Tremblay)

Music: Assala Nasri - "Ya Magnon" (Spotify | iTunes)


Episode #084: The Jasmine Revolution, Part II (feat. Amberin Zaman)

Jan 24, 2019 22:43


The second of our two-part series on the anniversary of Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution, which led to the fall of their longtime dictator Ben Ali and the birth of the Arab Spring. Eight years later, Tunisia is considered to be the sole success story of the Spring, as they have been transitioning into a democracy since the revolution. Al-Monitor’s senior correspondent Amberin Zaman joins Phil and Cooper on this week’s podcast and discusses her recent travels to Tunisia, her meetings with their historic Truth and Dignity Commission, the security situation on their borders, and what lies ahead for the country.

Tunisia’s democracy on life support as politicians squabble (Amberin Zaman)
Tunisians cautiously optimistic as truth commission delivers final report (Amberin Zaman) How Tunisia’s main labor union cripples economic reform (Amberin Zaman)

Music: Si Lemhaf – “Ay Ay Ay” (Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #083: The Jasmine Revolution, Part I (feat. Emir Sfaxi)

Jan 17, 2019 23:42


The first of a two-part episode, Phil and Cooper reflect on Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution on its eight-year anniversary – and how the fall of Ben Ali precipitated the Arab Spring which changed the region forever. Our hosts speak with Tunisian Fulbright Scholar and public policy consultant Emir Sfaxi about the Ben Ali regime, how the government reformed after his fall, and his own experiences during the revolution.

Music: Nour Harkati & Aytma – “R’mel” (Soundcloud | Tour Dates)

Episode #082: Walk (Back) This Way (feat. Laura Rozen)

Jan 10, 2019 20:15


Before 2018 closed, President Trump announced that he would be withdrawing US troops from Syria now. Or did he mean within 30 days? Or four months? Phil and Cooper discuss the recent walk backs from the administration, and speak with Al-Monitor’s diplomatic correspondent Laura Rozen about Secretary Pompeo and John Bolton’s trips to the Middle East this week to smooth over everything.

Congress slams Trump on Syria pullout (Bryant Harris) Trump’s Syria pullout shakes up US Mideast policy (Jack Detsch)  US diplomats shaken by Trump decision to exit Syria (Laura Rozen) Trump signals possible flexibility on pace of Syria withdrawal (Laura Rozen) How Israeli senior officials deal with an unpredictable Trump (Ben Caspit) Pompeo heads to Mideast to stress 'US not going anywhere' (Laura Rozen) Rival fiefdoms emerge in scramble over Trump's Syria withdrawal (Laura Rozen)

Music: Gaye Su Akyol – “İstikrarlı Hayal Hakikattir” (iTunes | Spotify)

Episode #081: Peace Out 2018 (feat. Bryant Harris & A Cavalcade of Guests!)

Dec 20, 2018 23:44


How will we miss 2018? Let me count the ways. Alright, we’re done - let’s get this year over with. Phil and Cooper speak with Al-Monitor’s Congressional Correspondent Bryant Harris about the recent Senate vote on Yemen, and we will hear from him and many other Al-Monitor editors and columnists about their predictions for the coming year, featuring Mazal Mualem, Daoud Kuttab, Laura Rozen, Mohammad Shabbani, Ali Mamouri, Amberin Zaman, and Max Suchkov. Also, give a warm welcome to guest host, the late John McLaughlin. This is the last episode of 2018, see you in January!

Senate votes to end US involvement in Yemen war (Bryant Harris) 

Music: Fairuz – “Laylet Eid” (iTunes | Spotify)

Episode #080: Rockin' and Rollin' in the Anatolian (feat. Gokhan Yucel)

Dec 14, 2018 27:16


Turkish rock, also known as Anadolu rock, is witnessing a rebirth as a new generation of Turks and even Western audiences discover a genre of music that defined Turkey in the 1960s and 1970s but had faded away…until now. Phil and Cooper talk about the history of rock music in Turkey and speak with Gokhan Yucel who, through his Anatolian Rock Revival Project, is on the forefront of reintroducing Turkey’s legendary rockers to the world. Good luck getting these songs out of your head.

Anatolian Rock Revival Project (YouTube) Can Turkish psychedelic music go global? (Kenan Sharpe) Anatolian Rock Playlist by Al-Monitor (Spotify)

Music: Cem Keraca - "Emrah" (Spotify | iTunes)


Episode #079: Mr. 4000 (feat. Ben Caspit & Ayla Jean Yackley)

Dec 5, 2018 18:43


Phil and Cooper have a supersized episode: Al-Monitor columnist Ben Caspit calls in from Israel to talk about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the news of his possible indictment, and whether or not he’ll be kicked out of office; Turkey Pulse contributor Ayla Jean Yackley joins in studio to discuss the Turkish economy and how President Erdogan may be getting ahead of himself with recent economic upturns.

Expect drama as attorney general weighs Netanyahu indictment (Ben Caspit) Economists unmoved by pause in Turkish lira's plummet (Jasper Mortimer)

Music: Özdemir Erdoğan – “Gurbet” (Spotify | iTunes | YouTube)

Episode #078: Honey I Shrunk My Coalition (feat. Danny Zaken)

Nov 29, 2018 18:32


Phil and Cooper return from Thanksgiving with an update on the recent political events happening in Israel. Hostilities rose between Gaza and Israel earlier in November, which led to a ceasefire agreed to by all parties. But not quite all parties. Al-Monitor Israel Pulse contributor Danny Zaken speaks with the pod regarding a resignation in Netanyahu’s cabinet and what that portends.

No deal with Hamas will pay off for Israel (Shlomi Eldar) How Hamas’ rocket barrage affects Israeli defense policy (Rasha Abou Jalal) Netanyahu, Liberman criticized over Gaza cease-fire (Shlomi Eldar) Intel: How Israeli defense minister’s resignation is shaking up Israel and Hamas (Danny Zaken) Intel: How Hamas helped Netanyahu keep his coalition together (Danny Zaken)

Music: Tuna - בסיבוב / "Round" (feat. Tzlil Danin) (iTunesSpotify | YouTube)

Episode #077, Backing Out (ft. Jack Detsch)

Nov 14, 2018 17:33


Since 2015, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has led a bloody military intervention into its southern neighbor Yemen, whose government was overtaken by the Houthi movement. The United States government has played a large role in the continuation of Saudi Arabia’s operations, but as the body count rises and the humanitarian crisis deepens, are members of the Trump Administration starting to walk back their support? Al-Monitor Pentagon correspondent Jack Detsch joins Phil and Cooper to discuss on this week’s pod.

Intel: Why the US will stop supporting the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen (Jack Detsch) Pentagon braces for leaner Mideast war budget after Democrats win House (Jack Detsch)

Music: Massar Egbari - Cherophobia (iTunes | YouTube)

Episode #076: The Sound of Sanctions, Part II (feat. Barbara Slavin)

Nov 7, 2018 16:39


Phil and Cooper follow up on Episode #064 ("The Sound of Sanctions") to talk about the newest batch of sanctions dropped on Iran's massive oil sector this week. Al-Monitor columnist Barbara Slavin joins to give her insights on the economic and humanitarian tolls these policies cause, and how exactly this factors into US President Donald Trump’s Middle East strategy.

Khashoggi killing undercuts Trump campaign against Iran (Barbara Slavin) US fails to shield humanitarian trade with Iran as sanctions loom (Barbara Slavin) US to exempt eight nations from Iran sanctions snapback (Laura Rozen)

Music: Morteza - Morteza (iTunes | Spotify)

Episode #075: Crown Control (feat. Bruce Riedel)

Oct 31, 2018 22:03


Winding down our recent coverage of Saudi Arabia, Phil and Cooper speak with Al-Monitor columnist Bruce Riedel at the Brookings Institution to get his insight on the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the state of the US-Saudi relationship, their involvement in the Yemen Civil War and palace intrigue. Also, Happy Halloween.

Saudi Arabia's shifting narrative on Khashoggi reveals fragility (Bruce Riedel)

Music: Fayçal Azizi - Hak a Mama (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #074: All The Crown Prince's Men

Oct 25, 2018 16:59


Phil and Cooper give a short update on what’s transpired with the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi – this week the Saudi government admitted a role in his disappearance and death, but questions still remain. What did Turkey’s President have to say about the murder? And where do other countries in the Middle East stand on it? Also, a Pharoah and his passport.

Saudi Arabia's shifting narrative on Khashoggi reveals fragility (Bruce Riedel) Saudi Arabia says Khashoggi killed in ‘brawl' (Jack Detsch) Ankara seeks stable ties with Riyadh but demands answers on Khashoggi murder (Semih Idiz) Erdogan offers few answers, no smoking gun in Khashoggi killing (Amberin Zaman) Trump slams Saudi Khashoggi plot, US announces visa sanctions (Laura Rozen)

Music: Mashina - Ahuvati (iTunes | Spotify)

Episode #073: Going Rogue (feat. Amberin Zaman & Julian Pecquet)

Oct 17, 2018 25:33


Phil and Cooper speak with Turkey Pulse columnist Amberin Zaman and Washington editor Julian Pecquet about the tensions between the US and Turkey following the release of Pastor Andrew Brunson and the gruesome details of the Jamal Khashoggi disappearance.

Music: Yara - Ma Yhemmak (iTunesSpotify | YouTube)

Episode #072: Mystery at the Consulate

Oct 11, 2018 24:31


Phil and Cooper return from a brief sabbatical to give an update on Iraq’s government situation, and to talk about their brand new prime minister and president. Also, a timely update on the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi – who is he, what happened, and how does this affect relations in the Middle East?

Iraq's new president taps Adel Abdul Mahdi to form government (Fazel Hawramy) Powerful Shiite trio agrees on Iraqi prime minister candidate (Makram Najmuddine) What happened to Jamal Khashoggi? (Bruce Riedel) Will Khashoggi’s disappearance rock Turkish-Saudi relations? (Pinar Tremblay) Disappearance of Saudi journalist puts Erdogan in difficult situation (Semih Idiz) Turkish authorities to search Saudi consulate for missing journalist (Amberin Zaman)

Music: Altın Gün - Goca Dünya (iTunesSpotify | YouTube)

Episode #071: Vlad to the Bone

Sep 28, 2018 21:03


Al-Monitor Russia Mideast editor Max Suchkov joins Phil and Cooper in studio to discuss the recent tensions after a Russian cargo plane was shot down by Syrian missiles in the midst of an Israeli strike – how have Israeli/Russian relations been in the past, and how does this effect Russia’s role in the region? Also, what do the Russians get out of the recent agreement with Turkey?

Plane shot down over Syria puts Russia-Israel relations to the test (Max Suchkov) Russia raises stakes with Israel over downed plane (Marianna Belenkaya) What Putin-Erdogan deal means for Idlib (Max Suchkov) 

Music: LIKE.A - СНОСИТ КРЫШУ (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)


Episode #070: Cheddar Chatter

Sep 20, 2018 22:28


Iraq is finally moving towards forming a new government; this week their parliament elected a new speaker. Following up from their discussion in Episode 68, Phil and Cooper break down what the choice says about Iraq’s future. Also, an agreement between Russia and Turkey temporarily prevents a humanitarian disaster in Syria.

Iran 1, US 0: Iraq chooses a parliament speaker (Ali Mamouri) Iraq's Abadi under fire from pro-Iran political factions (Mustafa Saadoun) Iraqi Kurds stuck between Iran, US (Fazel Hawramy) Sistani calls for nominating new faces for next prime minister (Ali Mamouri) Turkey, Russia agree to buffer zone in Syria’s Idlib (Ayla Jean Yackley) Erdogan scores diplomatic wins in meetings with Putin, Merkel (Cengiz Candar) What Putin-Erdogan deal means for Idlib (Max Suchkov)

Music: The Grateful Dead & Hamza el Din - Ollin Arageed (iTunes | Spotify)

Episode #069: For the Love of Money (feat. Julian Pecquet)

Sep 13, 2018 26:35


Phil and Cooper speak with Al-Monitor’s Washington Editor, Julian Pecquet, about this week’s release of the annual series The Influence Game – an incisive research project on how US lobbying plays a role in shaping Middle East policy. Julian and our hosts talk about the Gulf’s dwindling influence war on Qatar, Turkey’s bad investment and other issues.

Please be sure to register online for free to access the Influence Game as well as Al-Monitor’s archive of thousands of great articles.

Music: Rachid Taha - Barra Barra (iTunes | Spotify)

Episode #068: Iraqi Path

Sep 6, 2018 23:16


Our hosts give a much-needed update on Iraq’s governmental chaos stemming from this year’s election and recount. Now that the recount is finished, why haven’t they been able to choose a new prime minister, or form a new government? The answer seems complicated, but Phil and Cooper explain the global forces (i.e. America and Iran) that are prolonging the issue. Also, Nike’s got a controversial new ad campaign.

As Iraq wraps up election recount, is a new government in sight? (Ali Mamouri) Iran-US conflict leaves Abadi in a dilemma (Ali Mamouri) Kurds put conditions for allying with Shiites to form government (Omar Sattar) Shiite split heats up as Iraqi lawmakers fail to elect speaker (Hamdi Malik)

Music: Ahmed Fakroun - Soleil Soleil (iTunes | Spotify)

Episode #067: Deep Cuts

Aug 30, 2018 28:22


America’s relationship with Palestine has grown even more fragile over the last few days, when the Trump Administration decided to cut much needed foreign aid to them. What’s the reasoning, and why now? Also, tension is building in Syria’s Idlib region – Phil and Cooper break down what Turkey, the Kurds and Russia have to do with it.

Palestinian aid critics wary of Trump cuts (Bryant Harris) Israel, US seek to redefine Palestinian refugees (Ben Caspit) Turkey strives to unite rebel factions in Syria against Assad (Khaled al-Khateb) Idlib locals worry as regime offensive looms (Mohammed al-Khatieb) Turkey amasses force of Syrian rebel factions at Idlib (Fehim Tastekin) Will Turkey’s 'strategic partnership' with Russia cover Idlib? (Semih Idiz)

Our Spotify playlist is available here.

Music: Elissa - Aayshalak (iTunes | Spotify)

Episode #066: A River Runs Through It

Aug 24, 2018 25:33


This week marks the 30th anniversary of the end of the Iran-Iraq War, and many of the scars of this war are still visible. Phil and Cooper break down the entirety of the war, from its major players to its major battles, as well as how the war is playing a role in recent tensions.

Iran-Iraq War continues to claim lives 30 years on (Makram Najmuddine) Iran-Iraq War continues to claim lives (Leila Alikarami)

Our Spotify playlist is available here.

Music: Googoosh - Respect (iTunes | Spotify)

Episode #065: The Brunson Ultimatum (feat. Ayla Jean Yackley)

Aug 15, 2018 22:35


We spoke too soon. Since last week’s discussion about sanctions in Turkey, a lot has changed: tensions have risen between the US and Turkey over the latter’s imprisonment of pastor Andrew Brunson, and neither one is backing down. Phil and Cooper recap what’s happened so far and get some perspective from Al-Monitor contributor Ayla Jean Yackley, who’s been covering the situation and joins us from Istanbul.

Music: Neşe Karaböcek – “Yali Yali” (Todd Terje edit on Soundcloud | YouTube). Neşe Karaböcek’s music is available on iTunes and Spotify.

Episode #064: The Sound of Sanctions

Aug 10, 2018 21:58


Today's focus is on sanctions: what are they, and how have the Trump Administration used them recently in Iran and Turkey? Phil and Cooper discuss the impact of these decisions on these already-struggling economies, and what the US is hoping to gain. Also, Dinesh D'Souza struggled to make another movie.

US reimposes sanctions as Iran deal crumbles (Bryant Harris) Sanctions threaten Iran's dream of becoming Eurasian transport hub (Mohsen Shariatinia) China set to fill vacuum left by French carmakers exiting Iran (Mohsen Shariatinia) Why is Europe underplaying its hand on Iran? (Axel Hellman) US hopes new sanctions fuel Iran protests (Laura Rozen) Trump makes good on threat to sanction Turkey (Bryant Harris) Turkey fumes over US sanctions, vows to retaliate (Semih Idiz) Turkey remains defiant in row with US over pastor as deal falls through (Amberin Zaman) Brunson affair taking economic toll on Turkey (Amberin Zaman)

Music: Simge - Miş Miş (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #063: The Solitude of Mahmoud (feat. Daoud Kuttab)

Aug 2, 2018 17:36


Phil and Cooper speak with Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse columnist Daoud Kuttab, about his new longform piece ‘Abbas bids Adieu,’ which delves into the Palestinian president’s ongoing struggles to renew his legacy and how it compares to his predecessor Yasser Arafat’s way of doing business. Also, zoo troubles in Egypt.

Abbas bids Adieu (Daoud Kuttab)

Music: Ali Hassan Kuban - Mabruk (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #062: Pompeo and Circumstances

Jul 26, 2018 22:31


Touching on two topics today: first, Israel passed a controversial new law that makes their Jewish roots official, though it’s been legislated at the expense of Arab Israelis and other minorities in the country. Second, Mike Pompeo made a bombastic speech about freedom in Iran – what does it say about the Trump policy on dealing with the Islamic Republic? Also, ABBA.

03:56 - Israeli legislators strip Arabic of official language status (Shlomi Eldar) 03:56 - Palestinians outraged at Jewish nation-state law (Daoud Kuttab) 11:55 - More fire and fury: Trump, Pompeo offer mixed messages on Iran (Laura Rozen) 11:55 - Rouhani, Trump in a war of words

Music: Hashemesh Tizrach - Guy & Yahel (iTunes | Spotify)


Episode #061: Blackout in Basra

Jul 20, 2018 17:15


Protests have broken out in southern Iraq, where citizens are arguing for the government to provide better basic services such as electricity and clean water. Phil and Cooper break down what’s happened so far, and how it relates to Iraq’s political atmosphere today. Also, Turkey has been holding an American pastor in jail since 2016, and how it’s become a political stalemate between Presidents Trump and Erdogan.

03:17 - Billion dollar debt, heat wave push Iran to cut electricity to Iraq (Ali Mamouri) 03:17 - Oil installations hit by protests in southern Iraq (Ali Mamouri) 03:17 - Iraq may soon be without a government, as clock runs out (Ali Mamouri) 03:17 - Iraqi protests escalate with no new government in sight (Ali Mamouri) 10:10 - Hopes soar for US pastor's release as Trump fist-bumps Erdogan (Amberin Zaman) 10:10 - Erdogan wants more from Trump before Turkey will free pastor (Amberin Zaman)

Music: Jadal - Salma (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #060: To Helsinki in a Handbasket (feat. Max Suchkov)

Jul 13, 2018 23:08


Next week, US President Donald Trump will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki to talk shop. Phil and Cooper, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed after a week off, jump headfirst into the summit, discussing recent tensions and how this summit relates to the Middle East, specifically Syria. Also, friend of the pod and Al-Monitor’s Russia-Mideast editor Max Suchkov joins us from Moscow to give his expert analysis.

Bolton lays ground for Trump, Putin summit (Max Suchkov) Russia, Jordan discuss Syria in run-up to Trump-Putin summit (Marianna Belenkaya) Can Russia deliver on Trump’s hope of ousting Iran from Syria? (Kirill Semenov) South Syria offensive rages as thousands flee (Tamer Osman)

монеточка (Monetochka) - каждый раз (Every Time) (iTunes | Spotify)

Episode #059: #ErdoWinning

Jun 29, 2018 19:23


Phil and Cooper follow up on last week’s episode breaking down the Turkish presidential elections with the results — who won, who lost and what’s next for the country. Also, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife has been charged with fraud. We look into the history and what this spells for the highest office in Israel.

Erdogan declares victory in historic Turkish vote (Ayla Jean Yackley) What’s next for Turkey following Erdogan’s election win? (Amberin Zaman) Erdogan still faces uphill battle despite electoral victory (Semih Idiz) Turkish opposition's unity crumbles as electoral slogans fade (Amberin Zaman) Turkish opposition fails miserably in critical election test (Sibel Hurtas) Netanyahu seemingly unfazed by wife's fraud indictment (Ben Caspit)

Music: Eifo HaYeled - What I’m Going Through (Bandcamp | iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #058: Recep, Set, Go (feat. Ayla Jean Yackley)

Jun 20, 2018 23:07


Presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey are happening in a few days, so Phil and Cooper revisit why the elections were rescheduled to this month, who the main candidates are and what results we might expect to see. To get some more expert analysis, we speak with Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse contributor Ayla Jean Yackley, who joins us from Istanbul where she’s reporting on the elections.

Turkey’s lira tumbles as inflation nears record high (Ayla Jean Yackley) Turkish opposition joins forces for parliament vote (Ayla Jean Yackley) Calls mount for Turkey to release jailed Kurdish politician ahead of vote (Ayla Jean Yackley) Polls show Erdogan ahead, but should Turks trust them? (Ayla Jean Yackley)

Music: Aleyna Tilki - Yalnız Çiçek (feat. Emrah Karaduman) (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #057: Iraqi Start (feat. Ali Mamouri)

Jun 14, 2018 22:23


Following up on Episode #53 ('Iraq the Vote'), Phil and Cooper give an update on the recent elections in Iraq. Over the past few weeks, there have been calls for a recount, an act of arson destroying ballots and the announcement of a big alliance. Al-Monitor's Iraq Pulse editor Ali Mamouri joins to give his expert views on what's been happening.

Disputes over election results flare after Baghdad ballot fire (Ali Mamouri)

Sadr allies with Iran-backed coalition to form government in Iraq (Ali Mamouri)

Music: Shatha Hassoun - Aykhbal Aykhbal (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #056: Crisscrossing the Jordan

Jun 7, 2018 21:15


The little kingdom of Jordan has been seeing historic protests recently, followed by the sacking of their prime minister. Phil and Cooper discuss what triggered the protests and what lies ahead for their new prime minister (and, more importantly, for their leader, King Abdullah II). Also, Turkey’s been on a firing streak, and their military is getting hurt the worst.

04:42 - Jordan’s days of rage force PM to resign (Osama al Sharif) 13:22 - Turkish military purges decimate career officer, pilot ranks (Metin Gurcan)

Music: El Morabba3 - Asheek (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #055: From Tripoli to Tobruk (feat. Mustafa Fetouri)

May 31, 2018 23:42


This week, French President Emmanuel Macron had the representatives of Libya’s rival governments come together to pave a path forward for their country – so how did we get here? Phil and Cooper break down the basics of Libya since the 1970s and speak with Al-Monitor contributor Mustafa Fetouri about the state of the country and this week’s events.

Music: Ahmed Fakroun - Gelty (iTunesSpotify)

Episode #054: Lightning Round

May 23, 2018 23:34


Phil and Cooper run the gamut of different issues in the Middle East this week, discussing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent speech about Iran, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas getting sick and the future of Palestine’s leadership, Turkey and Israel’s bitter feud over Gaza and a French petition about editing the Quran.

03:02 - America’s hawkish turn on Iran threatens Gulf alliance (Jack Detsch) 09:31 - Israel faces the unknown in post-Abbas era (Ben Caspit) 12:36 - Turkey and Israel: Barking, biting, but still doing business (Cengiz Candar) 17:37 - After calls to change the Quran, Turkey moves to ban all things French (Pinar Tremblay) 17:37 - French group's manifesto against Quran draws rebuttals in Egypt (Ahmed Fouad)

Music: Khaled - Hiya Hiya (iTunes | Spotify)

Episode #053: Iraq the Vote

May 16, 2018 22:57


The US officially opened its new embassy in Jerusalem, which led to protests that saw at least 60 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces. Phil and Cooper discuss the ramifications of the embassy move, as well as the history of the Nakba. Also, Iraq had elections and the results might change the country’s political landscape.

04:06 - US opens Jerusalem embassy amid Gaza bloodshed (Bryant Harris) 04:06 - Palestinians struggle to preserve memories in younger generation (Tessa Fox) 13:35 - Iraqi election results shock political class (Ali Mamouri) 13:35 - Iranian media react to populist cleric's victory in Iraq elections (Al-Monitor Staff)

Music: Rida - Neseet El Nom (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #052: JCP-No-Way

May 10, 2018 17:49


This week, President Trump withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal — what did he say and what’s the reality of the situation? Also, the Met Gala.

04:39 - The P5 minus 1: Trump exits Iran deal (Laura Rozen) 04:39 - EU divided over efforts to appease Trump on Iran deal - (Aniseh Bassiri Tabrizi) 04:39 - Some Iranians say nuclear deal can survive if Europe cooperates (Al-Monitor Staff)

Music: Fares Karam - Badna Nwallea (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #051: Deal or No Deal

May 3, 2018 21:32


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pulled out the stops this week with a "smoking gun" about Iran and the nuclear deal. Except it wasn't really a smoking gun — it was more like a blank cartridge. Phil and Cooper dissect the presentation and how it plays into President Trump's May 12 deadline on whether to stay in or leave the deal. Also, Iran's government likes to censor things.

Iran's TV censors draw ridicule, protests (Saied Jafari) For Netanyahu, Israel's only problem is Iran (Akiva Eldar) Trump, Netanyahu stand firm against Europe on Iran deal (Ben Caspit) Europe says Bibi's 'atomic archive' pitch proves need for Iran deal (Laura Rozen)

Music: Static & Ben El Favori - Silsulim (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #050: Everything is A-oK-P (feat. Pinar Tremblay)

Apr 26, 2018 20:01


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced early presidential elections that will take place in just a couple of months. Why the rush? What are Erdogan’s chances, and who will run against him? To get some answers, Phil and Cooper speak with Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse columnist Pinar Tremblay. Also, Kanye West.

Despite emphatic past denials, Erdogan calls for early elections (Pinar Tremblay) The dueling ayatollahs (Ali Mamouri)

Music: She Past Away - Asimilasyon (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #049: "Mission Accomplished"

Apr 19, 2018 27:24


Following up on last week’s podcast about the Syrian chemical weapons attack, Phil and Cooper discuss the resulting military action from the US, UK and France, what it indicates about Trump’s Syria policy and how other countries have reacted. Also, Jim Comey.

04:43 - Israel disappointed over US-led strike on Syria (Ben Caspit) 04:43 - Russia takes low-key approach to West's strike on Syria (Maxim Suchkov)  04:43 - Turkey's response to US-led Syria strikes: Not enough but welcomed (Pinar Tremblay) 04:43 - Congress seeks to exert more control over Middle East wars (Bryant Harris)

Music: Hawa Dafi - Shams Elhoreye (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #048: Red Lines Crossed

Apr 12, 2018 29:13


A tragic chemical weapons attack happened this past weekend in Syria, and world leaders are up in arms about it. Phil and Cooper take a careful look at the situation and how different countries are planning their next moves. Al-Monitor's Washington editor, Julian Pecquet, stops by for a cameo question. Also, Qatar’s emir visited the US this week.

03:09 - Turkey squeezed as US-Russia tensions rise in Syria (Amberin Zaman) 03:09 - Iran condemns chemical weapons attacks, denies Syria’s role (Al-Monitor Staff) 21:30 - Qatar hires Trump-linked lobbyist ahead of emir’s visit (Bryant Harris)

Song: Bu Kolthoum - Esset Abl El Noom (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #047: A Glance of Gaza

Apr 5, 2018 26:34


This past weekend’s events at the Gaza-Israel border saw some of the worst violence there since 2014. Phil and Cooper break down what happened and what’s next. Also, Sisi won his election and the sky is blue.

03:45 - Israel defends decision to deploy snipers amid Gaza protests (Akiva Eldar) 20:04 - Why Sisi doesn't need an official campaign (A correspondent in Egypt)

Music: 47Soul - Intro to Shamstep (iTunes | Spotify)

Episode #046: Bash the ‘Stache

Mar 29, 2018 25:45


You’ve probably heard about John Bolton by now – he’s about to become President Trump’s most trusted national security advisor. Phil and Cooper talk about his past, our present and how it will affect our future, with a focus on how he views the Middle East.

Iranian official declares Bolton appointment a 'shame' (Al-Monitor Staff) Russians fear Bolton may doom Iran deal, stoke arms race (Max Suchkov)

Episode #045: Doin’ the Rounds

Mar 23, 2018 24:52


It’s just Phil and Cooper, and in this week’s episode, they discuss three big issues: the status of Turkey’s military operation into Afrin to defeat the Kurds, a bill in US Congress failing to end support for the war in Yemen and the secret Israeli attack on a Syrian nuclear reactor. Whew! That was a mouthful.

04:29 - Turkey demands 'respect' after taking Syria’s Afrin from Kurdish militia (Ayla Jean Yackley) 04:29 - Turkey rolls into Afrin, apparently on way to Manbij (Metin Gurcan) 10:39 - Iran looms large as Congress casts Yemen war vote (Bryant Harris) 18:50 - The story behind Israel's secret strike on Syria's nuclear reactor (Ben Caspit)

Music: Athena - Kafama Gore (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #044: Tea for the Tillerson (feat. Laura Rozen)

Mar 16, 2018 23:24


Trump threw another wrench into America’s foreign policy by replacing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson via Twitter this week. Phil and Cooper speak with Al-Monitor’s diplomatic correspondent, Laura Rozen, to talk about how this bodes for the Middle East, including the Iran nuclear deal and the Saudi Arabia/Qatar spat. Apologies to Matt Damon.

With Tillerson firing, Trump throws transatlantic Iran talks into disarray (Laura Rozen) Iran deal advocates prepare to battle Pompeo nomination (Bryant Harris) State Department shake-up leaves Qatar hanging (Jack Detsch)

Music: Mona Haydar - Dog (feat. Jackie Cruz) (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)


Episode #043: A Glimpse of Ghouta

Mar 7, 2018 24:07


Phil and Cooper give a much-needed update on the Syrian conflict, especially with the recent atrocities taking place in Eastern Ghouta outside of Damascus. Also, Egypt dreams of a Magic Kingdom, and Gary Cohn says so long.

04:32 - Syria's Eastern Ghouta faces 'another Aleppo' (Tamer Osman) 04:32 - Calls for truce fall on deaf ears in Syria's Ghouta (Anton Mardasov)  18:12 - Old meets Magic Kingdom: Disneyland-style park comes to Egypt (David Awad)

Music: Khebez Dawle - Beta'ammer (iTunes | Spotify)

Episode #042: Indictments Are Forever (feat. Akiva Eldar)

Mar 1, 2018 30:41


Following up on the big news about Netanyahu’s possible indictments, Phil and Cooper speak with Al-Monitor’s very own Israel Pulse columnist Akiva Eldar to discuss the criminal charges, Netanyahu’s hopes and dreams, and the fear of war. Also, a meatball thief and Ben Carson’s furniture.

04:42 - US ambassador to Israel lobbies in favor of settlers (Akiva Eldar) 04:42 - Israel plagued with political corruption (Akiva Eldar) 04:42 - Netanyahu’s real crime: Plundering land for settlers (Akiva Eldar)

Music: Tuna - 30 Rock (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #041: Budget, Budget Real Good (feat. Jack Detsch)

Feb 16, 2018 25:20


Phil and Cooper talk about the US defense budget with Al-Monitor’s Pentagon correspondent, Jack Detsch, to get an idea on where the massive amounts of money for foreign armies and weapons square off with President Trump’s constantly-changing views on the Middle East. Also, Bibi gets an indictment recommendation, and Valentine’s Day.

04:22 - Bibi's fight has just begun (Ben Caspit) 10:22 - US support for Kurds in Iraq, Syria unaffected by tensions with Turkey (Jack Detsch) 10:22 - Pentagon budget retains same troop levels in Iraq, Syria (Jack Detsch)

Episode #040: Two to Tango (feat. Daoud Kuttab)

Feb 10, 2018 30:11


This week’s episode is a Palestinian-centric pod, focusing on recent events such as the recognition of Jerusalem, the dead-in-the-water peace talks, and divisions between Fatah and Hamas. Phil and Cooper speak with Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse columnist Daoud Kuttab about these issues and more. Also, the Super Bowl.

05:24 - Abbas' diplomatic turn puts Washington in the rear-view mirror (Daoud Kuttab) 05:24 - Europe emerges as new sponsor of Mideast peace (Daoud Kuttab) 05:24 - Hamas chief's inclusion on US terror list will further derail peace efforts (Daoud Kuttab)

Music: A-WA - Habib Galbi (iTunes | Spotify)

Episode #039: The Road to Rojava (feat. Metin Gurcan)

Feb 2, 2018 28:14


You may have heard about Afrin, Syria in the news recently – Turkey’s army started a military operation there to battle what they’ve called ‘terrorists’. But it’s a lot more complicated than that. Phil and Cooper break it down, and Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse columnist and Turkish security expert Metin Gurcan joins and talks shop on the recent operation. Also, the Grammys are trash.

05:52 - 4 factors affecting Turkey's new operation in Syria (Metin Gurcan) 05:52 - Ankara might be awaiting Russian OK for Afrin operation (Metin Gurcan)

Episode #038: Sisi No Evil (feat. Shahira Amin)

Jan 27, 2018 24:35


It’s the 7th anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution, so Phil and Cooper break down what has happened since 2011 and the outlook for the country. Also, Shahira Amin joins to discuss her own struggles working for state-run media and her eventual break from them.

02:38 - Prize camels keep tradition alive in changing Saudi, but please no Botox! (Stephen Kalin/Reuters) 06:22 - Quitting the propaganda machine (Shahira Amin) 16:37 - Another general 'testing the waters' of Egypt's presidential race (Ahmed Youness) 16:37 - Who will run against Sisi in Egypt’s elections? (Muhammed Magdy) 16:37 - Can Sisi rival gain support of Egypt's Copts in 2018 elections? (Ahmed Fouad)

Episode #037: One Night in Sochi and the World’s Your Oyster (feat. Max Suchkov)

Jan 18, 2018 27:24


Phil and Cooper discuss the upcoming Sochi congress, a summit of Syrian groups brokered by Russia, Iran and Turkey to discuss the country’s future. It’s complicated but we have our expert in the studio all the way from Moscow – Al-Monitor’s Russia-Mideast editor Max Suchkov. Also, we discuss the Emoji Movie and Turkish hackers.

05:48 - What 2018 looks like for Russia, US regarding Syria (Max Suchkov) 05:48 - Moscow’s leverage in Syria is strong, but limited (Max Suchkov)

Music: Serebro - Mama Luba (iTunes | Spotify)

Episode #036: Hangin’ with Mr. Sisi

Jan 12, 2018 25:12


Off the Hookah returns for 2018 with a recap of the recent unrest in Iran: Phil and Cooper break down the timeline, the possible reasons for the protests and some of the figures who have been accused of organizing them. Also, the Egyptian government cracks down on kids breaking President Sisi’s balls.

04:05 - Protests in Iran unlikely to bring about change (Mohammad Ali Shabani) 04:05 - How Rouhani can use protests to advance reform (Mohammad Ali Shabani) 04:05 - Iran grapples with how to deal with protests (Ali Hashem) 04:05 - IRGC media producers open new front against Rouhani (Narges Bajoghli) 19:25 - Egyptian authorities clamp down on 'Sisi's balls' (Rasha Mahmoud)

Music: Sirvan Khosravi - Soojehat Tekrarie (iTunes | Spotify)

Episode #035: Peace Out 2017 (feat. Julian Pecquet, Jack Detsch & Bryant Harris)

Dec 21, 2017 33:10


Phil and Cooper thought about a clip show to commemorate the garbage bag that was 2017, but chose to do a panel recap instead. Al-Monitor's Washington bureau is on the pod this week to discuss the year in lobbying, defense and legislation with regard to the Middle East. This is the last episode of 2017; we’ll see you again January 10!

Middle East Lobbying - The Influence Game

Music: Klay BBj - Mayhebbouch Lehtiram (iTunes | Spotify)

Episode #034: Quds You Be More Wrong?

Dec 14, 2017 21:34


We’re playing catch-up this week on Off the Hookah, discussing President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the recent death of Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and what Saleh's legacy bodes for the future of the country.

03:19 - Arab leaders plan major response to Trump's Jerusalem move (Daoud Kuttab) 03:19 - Will Trump recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital? (Shlomi Eldar) 03:19 - Jerusalem recognition serves mainly Trump, Netanyahu (Ben Caspit) 11:53 - Yemen’s new, dangerous post-Saleh power vacuum (Giorgio Cafiero) 11:53 - Saudis fail at their own conspiracy (Bruce Riedel)

Music: DAM - Street Poetry (iTunes | Spotify)

Episode #033: Bibi It’s Cold Outside (feat. Ben Caspit)

Dec 7, 2017 24:46


Al-Monitor’s own Israel Pulse columnist Ben Caspit joins Phil and Cooper to discuss the toils and troubles of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu, from his willingness to put up with Trump’s unpredictability, to his political dealings with Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the investigations and his future. Also, Michael Flynn.

14:12 - Are Israel, Saudi Arabia about to upgrade relations? (Ben Caspit) 19:09 - Why Netanyahu actually supports Palestinian reconciliation (Ben Caspit)

Music: Peer Tasi - Dina Dina (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #032: The PLO(T) Thickens

Nov 30, 2017 25:57


Phil and Cooper discuss the weekend’s tragic attack at an Egyptian mosque, who might be responsible and possible ramifications for the region and the country’s president. Also, the Palestinians get a raw deal from the US State Department, Thanksgiving stories and the Royal Wedding.

05:50 - Sinai jihadis seek to sabotage Palestinian reconciliation (A correspondent in Sinai) 05:50 - Sinai massacre forebodes more violence (A correspondent in Sinai) 17:25 - PLO office closure threat could be last straw for Palestinians (Daoud Kuttab)

Music: Tamer Hosny - Ya Meli Einy (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #031: House of the Rising Saud (feat. Bruce Riedel)

Nov 16, 2017 26:18


Al-Monitor Gulf Pulse columnist Bruce Riedel joins this week’s podcast to give his expert insight into Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s recent shakedowns in the Saudi royal palace, what happens next and the reality of his big plans for the kingdom. Also, Phil’s out and Cooper talks about sports.

09:48 - High stakes as Saudi crown prince tries to remove opponents (Bruce Riedel) “Kings and Presidents: Saudi Arabia and the United States since FDR” by Bruce Riedel (available now on Amazon)

Music: Qusai - Kattiyour (feat. Hamza) (iTunes | Spotify)

Episode #030: Saad, Blink Twice if You Need Help

Nov 9, 2017 23:17


Saudi Arabia flew off the rails this weekend when a number of well-known Saudi princes and businessmen were arrested in an anti-corruption sweep, and the royal family may have even forced Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign. Phil and Cooper recap and reflect on the weekend’s whirlwind of events. Also, Osama Bin Laden’s cyber life.

05:27 - High stakes as Saudi crown prince tries to remove opponents (Bruce Riedel) 13:32 - After Hariri’s resignation, what’s next for Lebanon? (Joe Macaron) 13:32 - US sticks by Lebanese army despite Hariri resignation (Jack Detsch) 13:32 - Saudi Arabia’s call for international coalition against Hezbollah faces obstacles (Ali Rizk)

Music: Haifa Wehbe – El Wawa (iTunes | Spotify)

Episode #029: Are You Saying Boo or Boo-rzani? (feat. Amberin Zaman)

Nov 2, 2017 27:52


We're a day late, but Happy Halloween. Phil and Cooper forgo the usual back-and-forth and bring in the real expert — Al-Monitor's own Amberin Zaman — to discuss Iraqi Kurdistan's future after President Massoud Barzani stepped down from power this week. Also, Egyptian female pro wrestling.

05:46 - Ankara still frosty toward KRG as Barzani exists (Amberin Zaman) 22:43 - Female grapplers take it to the mat in Egypt (Salwa Samir)

Music: Dawoud Hussein & Haya Al Shuaibi - Thriller (Michael Jackson cover) (YouTube)

Episode #028: Reconcile This!

Oct 26, 2017 27:41


Phil and Cooper give a long-due rundown on the recent reconciliation of Palestine – who’s involved, what it means and how will it affect Trump’s deal-of-the-century — “Believe me!” — a peace deal with Israel. Also, fan mail presents a great question about Turkey’s education policy and evolution.

03:30 - Palestinians gauge economic impact of reconciliation (Adnan Abu Amer) 03:30 - Palestinians keep wary eye on reconciliation agreement (Ahmad Abu Amer) 03:30 - Hamas, Fatah ignore elephant in the room, for now (Shlomi Eldar) 20:02 - What is Turkey’s problem with Darwin? (Mustafa Akyol) 20:02 - Turkish schools told to cut evolution, make room for Quran (Barin Kayaoglu) 22:35 - ‘Earth is flat,’ pro-Erdogan youth leader argues (Mustafa Akyol)

Music: Khalas - Amoona (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)

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Episode #027: Kirkuk the Books

Oct 19, 2017 27:07


Last month's independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan angered a lot of its neighbors, and this past week saw the Iraqi army (with help) run the Kurds out of the contested territory of Kirkuk. Does this sound confusing? Phil and Cooper explain Kirkuk's importance in the Middle East, and how this scramble might affect the future of the region. Also, the Iran Deal and the Off the Hookah mail bag.

07:54 - How Iran helped Baghdad seize back Kirkuk (Fazel Hawramy) 07:54 - Assessing impact of shifting Iran-KRG relations (Bijan Khajehpour) 07:54 - Congress threatens to withhold arms from Baghdad (Bryant Harris) 15:42 - Trump punts fate of Iran deal to Congress (Laura Rozen) 15:42 - Trump, Congress play game of chicken with Iran (Bryant Harris)

Song: Kathem Al Sahir - Chouby Akhz el Helwa (feat. Shakshaka) (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #026: Salman Swimming Upstream

Oct 12, 2017 25:43


US-Turkey relations are at an all-time low, and now it’s going to be harder for Americans to get visas to travel to Istanbul. Phil and Cooper explain the backstory of the scuffle between the two countries, and what’s happened since. Also, Saudi Arabian royalty visited Russia last week – what’s the significance of their first-ever visit from a Saudi king, and what might Russia be thinking? Also, Julian won an award, yeah Julian!

05:34 - Erdogan targets US envoy over escalating visa row (Amberin Zaman) 05:34 - Turkey, US keep finding ways to vex each other (Pinar Tremblay) 10:00 - Why are Turks disposing of $1 bills? (Tulay Cetingulec) 16:28 - Russians, Saudis look to spruce up relations (Max Suchkov) 16:28 - King Salman goes to Russia (Bruce Riedel) 16:28 - US missile defense sale to Saudis seen as effort to thwart Russia (Jack Detsch)

Music: Elif Kaya - Tövbe Tövbe (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #025: My Big Fat Kurdish Divorce

Oct 5, 2017 24:51


Phil and Cooper figured that last week’s referendum in Kurdistan deserved a little more airtime, so we give an update on the threats that the Kurds are dealing with along their borders after this landmark vote. Also, Palestine joins Interpol, and fall is in the air.

05:38 - Iraqi Kurds watch nervously as Erdogan heads for Tehran (Amberin Zaman) 05:38 - Turkey, Iran, Iraq in shaky alignment against Iraqi Kurdistan (Fehim Tastekin) 05:38 - Iran’s pressure on Kurds could backfire (Fazel Hawramy) 16:02 - Palestine’s admission to Interpol sparks angry response from Israel (Daoud Kuttab)

Music: Mohammed Assaf - Dammi Falastini (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #024: Revenge of the Kurds

Sep 29, 2017 27:21


Iraqi Kurdistan held an independence referendum this week for citizens to vote on whether they want to form their own country — so why is this a big deal and who is so against this? Phil and Cooper discuss this and more on a super-sized episode. Also: Saudi Arabia is feeling the need for speed (for all genders. Other rights reserved.)

What's next after Kurdish independence vote? (Amberin Zaman) Court backs Baghdad by stalling Kurdish referendum (Hassan al-Shanoun) Sectarianism in Iraq peaks ahead of Kurdistan referendum (Fazel Hawramy) Israel cheers on Kurds while ignoring Palestinians (Mazal Mualem) Congress warns Kurds against further steps after independence vote (Bryant Harris)

Music: Helly Luv - Revolution (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #023: UNGA UNGA Party (feat. Laura Rozen)

Sep 21, 2017 28:10


The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is convening this week in New York City, so heads of state from around the world are jockeying for who can get the longest speech and who can book the nicest presidential suite. Phil and Cooper travel up to the Big Apple to speak with Al-Monitor's diplomatic correspondent, Laura Rozen, who has been on-site, to discuss what she's been hearing within the halls of power.


Music: Elton John - Rocket Man (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #022: Stay Wonk (feat. Bryant Harris)

Sep 15, 2017 26:53


Phil and Cooper speak with Al-Monitor’s Congressional Correspondent, Bryant Harris, to learn more about Congress and Trump’s takes on Middle East foreign aid, in particular for Palestine and Egypt – no calculators necessary. Also, the Redskins are a garbage football team, FedEx Field is the worst stadium, and Cooper needs to be shamed for still being a fan.

Key Senate panel votes to slash Palestinian aid over ‘martyr’ payments (Bryant Harris) Senate panel slashes military aid to Egypt (Bryant Harris)

Song: Nesreen Tafesh – “123 Habibi” (SpotifyYoutube)

Episode #021: The ATQ-Team

Sep 8, 2017 21:58


An international sheikh of mystery has entered as an unexpected variable in the Qatar blockade crisis, so Phil and Cooper deliver everything they know about this strange scenario. And in other strange spy-action, our hosts discuss the unspoken-of scandal of two Turkish intelligence agents getting captured by the PKK. Sorry we’re late on this one, folks.

1. Developing PKK kidnapping story concerns KRG officials - Fazel Hawramy

2. Turkish silence speaks volumes as PKK points to spy ring - Amberin Zaman

Music: Zakaria Abdulla – “Bo Kurdistan” (iTunes | Spotify)

Episode #020: A Song of ISIS and Fire

Aug 31, 2017 21:56


Lebanon’s opposing political alliances, along with US, UK, and Syrian Armed Forces, are all at odds with one another – yet they’re sharing the same battlefield and fighting against ISIS. Phil and Cooper break down their differences and the context behind these unique (and secret) partnerships. Also, an update on Qatar, a sexual health hotline in Lebanon, and Gorka bids farewell.

03:40 - US, UK join Lebanon's strange military bedfellows (Nour Samaha) 17:09 - Hotline helps Lebanese talk about sex (Florence Massena)

Song: Haifa Wehbe – Baba Fen (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #019: Pretty Fly for a Sinai

Aug 24, 2017 25:05


There’s been a long ongoing insurgency in the Egypt’s Sinai peninsula between the central government and various insurgent groups. Phil and Cooper break down the situation and give a new update. Also, Turkish watermelons and solar eclipses.

05:10 - Why did tribes take up arms in Egypt's Sinai? (George Mikhail) 14:25 - Is Netanyahu’s son pulling him to the far-right? (Ben Caspit) 19:16 - Turks rediscover love for watermelon (Mehmet Cetingulec)

Song: Cairokee - Akher Oghnya / The Last Song (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #018: Netanya-Who, Me?

Aug 17, 2017 22:57


You may have heard that Israel’s president, Benjamin Netanyahu, is dealing with a lot of scandals – some that may even end his political career.  Phil and Cooper break down the facts and talk about what the future holds for Israel. Also, Egyptians…in space.

03:38 - Netanyahu's legacy will haunt Israel (Akiva Eldar) 03:38 - Netanyahu’s show of strength actually reflects weakness (Mazal Mualem) 03:38 - Are Israelis indifferent to corruption around Netanyahu? (Akiva Eldar) 03:38 - Differing scenarios for a post-Netanyahu government (Ben Caspit) 03:38 - Netanyahu's money man set to tell all (Ben Caspit) 18:30 - Egypt’s outer space ambitions face real world setbacks (Amr Mostafa)

Song: Static & Ben El Tavori - Tudo Bom (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #017: Selfies of Humiliation

Aug 10, 2017 24:03


After nearly 27 years of diplomatic stasis, Saudi Arabia is reaching out to Iraq. Phil and Cooper shed some light on the little-discussed relations between these two countries, as well as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's second inauguration this past week. Also, Frankenstein in Baghdad and other spooky stuff.

03:41 - Saudi Arabia engages Iraq after a quarter century (Bruce Riedel) 15:14 - Rouhani uses inauguration to send message of moderation (Ali Hashem) 15:14 - Rouhani officially begins second term (Ali Hashem) 15:14 - Iranian MPs face backlash over selfies with Mogherini (Al-Monitor Staff) 20:49 - 'Frankenstein in Baghdad' to come to life in film (Omar al-Jaffal)

Song: Husam Al Rassam - Habibti Mnin (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #016: The Trump Doctrine

Aug 3, 2017 30:20


Phil and Cooper spend this week reviewing the Middle East policy of Donald Trump, or the lack thereof — from the Iran nuclear deal to the Syrian civil war. Also, Lebanese snails and the Jersey Shore.

03:58 - Trump's plan for Mideast peace fades (Ben Caspit) 03:58 - Trump risks fallout from Iran deal assault (Laura Rozen) 03:58 - Palestinians, Israelis disappointed over US envoy's talks (Uri Savir) 03:58 - Kushner's first foray into Mideast peace reveals challenges ahead (Daoud Kuttab) 24:45 - Lebanese entrepreneurs discover an appetite for snails (Chloe Domat)

Song: Eyal Golan - Come Today (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #015: Fatwas “R” Us

Jul 27, 2017 27:00


Phil and Cooper break down the tensions that have been rising recently between Israel and Palestine regarding metal detectors at a holy site, as well as an update on the Qatar blockade. Also, there's a new craze at your local mall kiosk, and it's not an airbrushed shirt of a gangsta Tweety Bird. Advice from your local Islamic scholar? Details at 11.

02:44 - Netanyahu's rash decision on Temple Mount sparks speculation (Ben Caspit) 02:44 - PA, Israel security coordination out as Temple Mount crisis continues (Shlomi Eldar) 12:38 - Trump administration looks to Oman for help navigating Middle East (Giorgio Cafiero) 12:38 - Tillerson calls on Saudi bloc to lift blockade on Qatar (Laura Rozen) 19:23 - Fatwa on the go: Egypt's Al-Azhar sets up shop in Cairo metro (Shahira Amin)

Song: Apo & the Apostles - Fil Zaman (iTunes | Spotify | YouTube)

Episode #014: Where in the World is Masoud Rajavi?

Jul 20, 2017 24:52


Cooper returns after a long bike ride through Europe, so he and Phil discuss the controversial Iranian exile group MEK and the wedge they’ve driven between Iran and Palestine. Also, the Notorious R.T.E. (Recep Tayyip Erdogan) celebrates one year of “democracy” since last year’s failed military coup in Turkey.

03:24 - Iran-PA relations continue to nosedive (Ahmad Melhem) 10:36 - Saudi prince's endorsement of MEK angers Iranian officials (Arash Karami) 16:36 - Turkey's divisions on display on 'Day of National Unity' (Cengiz Candar) 16:36 - ‘Justice March’ spawns unique coalition in Turkey (Sibel Hurtas)

Song: Yas - Mosafer (iTunes | Spotify)


Episode #013: Inappropriation Behavior (feat. Julian Pecquet)

Jul 14, 2017 17:58


Cooper disappeared while hiking in the Alps searching for the Yeti. His last note said he’d be back on the podcast next week. In lieu of this, Al-Monitor’s Washington Editor, Julian Pecquet, joins Phil to talk about the future of the war on ISIS, as well as upcoming defense budgets in the Trump age.

Song: Tatazakarein by UTN1 (iTunes | Spotify)

Episode #012: How Now, Moscow (feat. Max Suchkov)

Jun 28, 2017 28:02


Tensions are building between the US and Russia regarding the Syrian conflict, so Phil and Cooper speak with Al-Monitor's Russia-Mideast editor, Max Suchkov, to get the lowdown. Also, the Saudi Arabia has a new crown prince, and what that spells for the rest of the Middle East.

03:25 - The long-term cost of Saudi succession shake-up (Bruce Riedel) 04:53 - Gulf rift sends tremors through Yemen (Maysaa Shuja Al-Deen) 05:23 - Influence-rich Saudis blow through Sunni unity (Bruce Riedel) 08:48 - US attack on Syrian jet puts Putin under pressure (Max Suchkov) 25:35 - Russia picks 'bull terrier' as new ambassador to US (Max Suchkov)

Music: Ya Soshla S Uma (All the Things She Said) by t.A.T.u. (Spotify | iTunes | Facebook)

Episode #011: The Thinning Blue Line

Jun 22, 2017 21:51


Israel and Lebanon are each preparing for war, but why? Phil and Cooper break down the history between the two countries. Also, Iran strikes back at ISIS for the recent terror attacks in Tehran.

04:17 - IDF prepares for future of war in region (Ben Caspit) 04:17 - Are Hezbollah, Israel heading for a third war? (Nour Samaha) 10:51 - Hezbollah border tour offers a glimpse of possible war ahead (Associated Press/Zeina Karam) 17:06 - Iran's missile strikes in Syria send 'message' to region (Arash Karami)

Song: Reo - Ometz (Spotify | iTunes | Bandcamp | Facebook)


Episode #010: Big Trouble in Little al-Tanf

Jun 15, 2017 28:43


Recently, US forces in Syria have been exchanging fire with pro-regime militias. Phil and Cooper shed some light on these under-reported incidents and what everyone is fighting for. Also, a review of last week's terrorist attacks in Tehran, as well as Turkey's own Tinder app.

03:47 - Syrian rebel commander: 150 US troops at al-Tanf base (Mohammad Ersan) 14:25 - Iran struck by first Islamic State attacks (Rohollah Faghihi) 14:25 - Iran says IS attackers fought in Syria and Iraq (Arash Karami) 14:25 - Iran wakes up to Salafi recruitment in Kurdish regions (Fazel Hawramy) 14:25 - Rouhani to domestic critics: Peace more daring than war (Arash Karami) 14:25 - Road ahead unclear in aftermath of Tehran attacks (Ali Hashem) 22:34 - Turks don't click and tell on e-matchmaking (Nazlan Ertan)

Song: Omar Souleyman - Warni Warni (iTunes | Spotify)

Episode #009: Qatar? I Hardly Know Her!

Jun 8, 2017 24:23


After this week's diplomatic brouhaha in which much of the Gulf cut off ties with Qatar, Phil and Cooper go behind the music on the small country, its background and the controversy. They also discuss "The Ottoman Lieutenant" and its box office flop status after producers spent half their budget getting Ben Kingsley on board and the other half paying screenwriters who would pen a drama that denied the Armenian Genocide.

03:26 - In wake of Trump visit, Saudi-led Sunni bloc already splintering (Bruce Riedel) 03:26 - 'Fake news' sparks real crisis in the Gulf (Giorgio Cafiero) 18:57 - 'The Ottoman Lieutenant' loses box office war (Riada Asimovic Akyol)

Song: Ali Abdul Sattar - Hayya Taal (iTunes)

Episode #008: A Hollow Orb for the King

Jun 1, 2017 27:12


Phil and Cooper give a rundown on Trump's traveling travails, from Riyadh to Jerusalem. Also, a discussion regarding the tragic Manchester bombing and the extremist mindset. Seems like there's a lot of Tom Hanks references in this one. Can you find them all?

05:37 - Saudis trumpet Trump (Bruce Riedel) 12:12 - After Trump's Israel love offensive, will Bibi reach a deal with him? (Ben Caspit) 12:12 - Trump's peace process heavy on talk, light on details (Mazal Mualem) 15:33 - 20th-century Libyan jihadism's role in Manchester attack (Jason Pack) 23:13 - Lebanon's budding hashish business brings high returns (Fernanda van Tets)

Song: The Wanton Bishops - Sleep With The Lights On (iTunes | Spotify)

Episode #007: The Ayatollah of Rock-n-Rolla (feat. Ali Hashem)

May 25, 2017 23:09


This week, the podcast receives its first guest. Al-Monitor Columnist Ali Hashem joins Phil and Cooper to discuss the results of last week's Iranian elections, the mood on the ground in Tehran over the weekend, the path forward for President Hassan Rouhani and what the future holds for conservative hardliners. Phil and Cooper also talk about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's goon crew and their violence towards protesters on US soil.

01:18 - Ali Hashem's articles for Al-Monitor 17:13 - DC treated to Turkish-style crackdown on pro-Kurdish demonstrators (Amberin Zaman) 17:13 - McCain reacts to DC brawl: throw Turkey's ambassador 'the hell out' (Amberin Zaman) 17:13 - New voices join Washington clamor over beatdown by Erdogan guards (Amberin Zaman)

Song: Arsames - Cyrus the Great

Episode #006: The Ottoman Empire Strikes Back

May 18, 2017 24:49


Phil and Cooper have an update on this week's Iranian elections, as well as an important race being overshadowed by the presidential election. They also discuss the Notorious R.T.E. (Recep Tayyip Erdogan), who traveled to the US this week, and his decade-long diss track against Fethullah "Makaveli" Gulen. Also, Egypt's own Punk'd is a real rabble-rouser during Ramadan.

02:53 - Polls put Rouhani in lead with one week to go (Matt Dabrowski) 02:53 - The upcoming Iranian elections you haven't heard about (Rohollah Faghihi) 08:30 - Expectations low as Erdogan arrives in DC (Amberin Zaman) 08:30 - Odds appear stacked against success of Erdogan-Trump meeting (Semih Idiz) 18:22 - How far can Egypt's prank TV shows go? (David Awad)

Song: Farzad Farzin - To Che Baashi

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Episode #005: Livin’ It Up at the Hotel Kazakhstana

May 10, 2017 21:42


Phil and Cooper discuss a new Syrian ceasefire agreement drawn up in Astana, Kazakhstan by Russia, Iran and Turkey -- and its implications for the Trump Administration's foreign policy. They also discuss the new leadership of Hamas in Palestine, and the history behind the inter-party conflict there. In other news, Piers Morgan has a foot fetish.

04:18 - Syria to get civilian safe zones (Max Suchkov) 04:18 - US, Russia approach each other cautiously on Syria (Max Suchkov) 12:51 - What to expect from Hamas' newly elected leader (Adnan Abu Amer) 12:51 - Could Hamas' pragmatic new leader finally reconcile with Fatah? (Shlomi Eldar) 12:51 - Hamas defies charter, recognizes 1967 borders (Shlomi Eldar)

Song: Bashar Murad - Voices(YouTube)

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Episode #004: Weekend at Bouteflika's

May 3, 2017 30:19


Tensions have been rising between the US and Turkey after strikes against the YPG in Syria, and Phil and Cooper are here to break it down. In addition, they discuss this week's Algerian elections (which no one there really cares about, since no one knows whether their president is alive). Also, Disney movies and the Met Gala.

05:38 - Kurds call on US to set up no-fly zone after Turkish attacks (Amberin Zaman) 05:38 - YPG, Turkish forces exchange fire on Syrian border (Amberin Zaman) 05:38 - White House still quiet on Turkish airstrike in run-up to Erdogan visit (Amberin Zaman) 05:38 - US move to protect YPG could push Turkey into Russia's arms (Amberin Zaman) 05:38 - Does Turkey plan to continue airstrikes in Iraq, Syria? (Metin Gurcan) 16:02 - Self-reliant Algeria cracks open the door to US influence (Julian Pecquet) 23:40 - 'Beauty and the Beast' romances Egypt despite controversial content (David Awad)

Song: Cheb Khaled - C'est la vie

Feel free to email us at with any questions, comments, concerns, or feedback you may have!

Episode #003: Put a Gork In It

Apr 27, 2017 28:32


Phil and Cooper explain the purported plans of Trump administration honcho Sebastian Gorka to partition Libya, and why that's a bad idea. They discuss the candidates running for President of Iran as well as Aya Hegazy and Egypt's prisoner crisis. Also, Lee Greenwood's magnificent tracksuit and the Time 100 list.

5:12 - 3 reasons why partitioning Libya is a bad idea (Mustafa Fetouri) 15:31 - Is prominent conservative cleric really a threat to Rouhani? (Ali Hashem) 15:31 - Is conservative Iranian candidate reviving Ahmadinejad's Cabinet? (Arash Karami) 15:31 - Iran's Guardian Council announces presidential candidate list (Rohollah Faghihi) 21:17 - Aya Hegazy case spotlights Egypt's pretrial detention law (Shahira Amin)

Song: Nasser el-Mizdawi - Mashina

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Episode #002: Back Up In Your A** With the Referendum

Apr 20, 2017 22:19


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's constitutional referendum passed this past Sunday, and you may have heard some news about it. So what exactly does it do, and why are so many people so up in arms about it? Phil and Cooper break it down for you, and discuss Egypt's tourism troubles (and Jaden Smith's obsession with pyramids).

3:15 - Erdogan's referendum win no clean sweep (Barin Kayaoglu) 3:15 - Where does Erdogan's referendum win leave Turkey? (Cengiz Candar) 3:15 - Is calm transition possible after Turkey's referendum? (A correspondent in Turkey) 3:15 - Calls for referendum annulment rise in Turkey (Amberin Zaman) 17:15 - Why are Sylvester Stallone, Salma Hayek, Will Smith visiting Egypt? (Ahmed Aleem)

Intro Music: Geto Boys - Still

Song: Rashit - Teker Teker

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Episode #001: Splish Splash, A Strike Against the Ba’ath

Apr 13, 2017 28:59


Phil and Cooper kick off the inaugural podcast with a breakdown of the Syrian Civil War, as well as the fallout from last week's sarin gas attack and the subsequent US missile strike on a Syrian air base. Also, Turks angry with a candy bar give United passengers a run for their money.

9:03 - 3 Russian theories on why the US hit Syria (Maxim Suchkov) 12:47 - Russia 'furious' with Assad over gas attack (Laura Rozen) 13:58 - Iranian officials give 'muted' response to US missile strike in Syria (Arash Karami) 15:22 - After chemical attack, Turkey renews calls for Assad's ouster (Barin Kayaoglu) 17:00 - Saudis have high hopes for Trump following Syria airstrike (Bruce Riedel) 19:36 - Following gas attack, Israel reassesses Syrian threat (Ben Caspit) 23:36 - Turkish candy giant gets not-so-sweet reaction to April Fools' Day ad (Mustafa Akyol)

 Song: Omar Offendum - Damascus


Apr 8, 2017 45


Diving into the top news happening around the Middle East each week, we’ll discuss the stories behind the headlines. Off the Hookah with Phil and Cooper is a production of Al-Monitor. Coming soon.