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Babel: Translating the Middle East

Center for Strategic and International Studies

2
Followers
15
Plays
Babel: Translating the Middle East

Babel: Translating the Middle East

Center for Strategic and International Studies

2
Followers
15
Plays
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About Us

Babel will take you beyond the headlines to discuss what’s really happening in the Middle East and North Africa. It features regional experts who explain what’s going on, provide context on pivotal developments, and highlight trends you may have missed. Jon Alterman, senior vice president, Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy, and director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts the podcast along with his two colleagues, Will Todman, associate fellow, and Amber Atteridge, associate director. This podcast is made possible through the generous support of the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates. All views, positions, and conclusions expressed here should be understood to be solely of those of the speaker(s).

Latest Episodes

Russia in the Middle East: Part Five

In part five, Jon Alterman looks at how the Middle East views Russia. He starts with Russia's relationships with Israel and Iran, before moving on to how Arab states, particularly Egypt, view Russia. Jon talkswith Elizabeth Tsurkov, fellow at the Center for Global Policy and at the Forum for Regional Thinking; Mohamed Anis Salem, an Egyptian diplomat with 35 years of experience; and Anna Borschevskaya, senior fellow at the Washington Institute. Song Credits: “Denzel Sprak” from CloudCover; “Coulis Coulis” from Confectionery; “Tarte Tatin” from Confectionery; “Dusting” from Confectionery, all via Blue Dot Studios. ThemeSong: "Tales of Arabia" by GreatstockMusic via Pond5. Elizabeth Tsurkov, "Syria's Economic Meltdown," Center for Global Policy, June 15, 2020. Anna Borschevskaya and Catherine Cleveland, "Russia's Arabic Propaganda," The Washington Institute, December 2018. Mohamed Anis Salem, "Arab Civil Nuclear Energy Programmes in a New Strategic Landscape,"The Nuclear Forum: Security Through Disarmament, 2016. Episode Transcript, "Russia in the Middle East: Part Five," CSIS, September 29, 2020.

25 min15 h ago
Comments
Russia in the Middle East: Part Five

Russia in the Middle East: Part Four

In part four, Jon Alterman looks at U.S.-Russian cooperation and competition in the Middle East. He follows how U.S. policy in the Middle East has shaped Russian policy in the region, and how the U.S.-Russian relationship in the Middle East has evolved over the past three decades.During the episode, Jontalkswith Anna Borschevskaya, senior fellow at the Washington Institute; Heather Conley, senior vice president for Europe, Eurasia, and the Artic and director of the Europe Program at CSIS; Phil Gordon, senior fellow in U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations; and Becca Wasser, fellow in the Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security. Song Credits: "Tarte Tatin" from Confectionary via Blue Dot Studios; “Borough” from Molerider via Blue Dot Studios; "Denzel Sprak” from CloudCover via Blue Dot Studios; and“The Records” from Union Hall via Blue Dot Studios. Phil Gordon, Losing the Long Game: The False Promise of Regime Change in the Middle East, St. Martin's Press, October 2020. Anna Borschevskaya, "Russia Aims to Preserve the Status Quo in Lebanon," The Washington Institute, August 12, 2020. Heather Conley on Energy 360°, "Race to the Top: China, Russia, U.S. Compete," CSIS, August 3, 2020. Becca Wasser and Ben Connable, "The Limits of Russian Strategy in the Middle East," London School of Economics, May 10, 2018. Episode Transcript, "Russia in the Middle East: Part Four," CSIS, September 22, 2020.

22 min1 w ago
Comments
Russia in the Middle East: Part Four

Russia in the Middle East: Part Three

In part three, Jon Alterman looks at Russian security interests in the Middle East. He starts with an overview of Russia's military presence, and then looks at how Moscow's presence has evolved in Syria, and then spread into Libya.He talkswith Olga Oliker, director of the Europe and Central Asia Program at the International Crisis Group; Alexey Khlebnikov, an expert at the Russian International Affairs Council;Wa'el Alzayat, CEO of Emgage Foundation and a former State Department official; and Eugene Rumer, director and senior fellow of the Russia and Eurasia Program at Carnegie. Song Credits: “Calisson” from Confectionery via Blue Dot Studios; “Dusting” from Confectionery via Blue Dot Studios; “Coulis Coulis” from Confectionery via Blue Dot Studios; and the theme song is "Tales of Arabia" by GreatstockMusic via Pond5. Wa'el Alzayat, "The Syrian Crucible and Future U.S. Option," in Re-engaging the Middle East: A New Vision for U.S. Policy, Brookings, September 22, 2020. Eugene Rumer, Russia in the Middle East: Jack of All Trades, Master of None, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, October 31, 2019. Alexey Khlebnikov, "Russia looks to the Middle East to boost arms exports," Middle East Institute, April 8, 2019. Episode Transcript, "Russia in the Middle East: Part Three," CSIS, September 15, 2020.

24 min2 w ago
Comments
Russia in the Middle East: Part Three

Russia in the Middle East: Part Two

In part two, Jon Alterman explores Russian economic interests in the Middle East. He covers Middle Eastern investments in Russia, the arms industry, and the recent battle over oil production between Russia and Saudi Arabia.He also talkswith Carole Nakhle, founder and CEO of Crystol Energy, Nikolay Kozhanov, a consulting fellow at Chatham House, and Olga Oliker, director of the Europe and Eurasia Program at the International Crisis Group. Olga Oliker, "Putin's Future: Reading the tea leaves," Inkstick Media, January 21, 2020. Nikolay Kozhanov, Russian Policy Across the Middle East: Methods and Motivations, Chatham House, February 21, 2018. Carole Nakhle, "Russia's Energy Diplomacy in the Middle East," in Russia's return to the Middle East: building sandcastles?, European Union Institute for Security Studies, 2018. Episode Transcript, "Russia in the Middle East: Part Two," CSIS, September 8, 2020.

21 min3 w ago
Comments
Russia in the Middle East: Part Two

Russia in the Middle East: Part One

In the first episode of our new podcast miniseries,Russia in the Middle East, Jon Alterman gives an overview of Russian policy in the Middle East and how the Middle East fits into Russia’s worldview. He covers Russia's return to the Middle East and looks at how Russian foreign policy has changed since the fall of the Soviet Union. Jon also sits down with Dmitri Trenin, director of Carnegie's Moscow Center, and Celeste Wallander, president and CEO of the U.S.-Russia Foundation, for their insight into Russia’s foreign policy decisions. Song Credits: Episode one songs were “La-danza” by Olivier-Olsen and “Spring-in-Barcelona” by Ian-Post, both via Artlist. Celeste Wallander, "Putin's Gamble: U.S.-Russian relations in an era of global change," Krasno UNC, November 14, 2019. Jon Alterman, "Chinese and Russian Influence in the Middle East," House Testimony, May 9, 2019. Dmitri Trenin, What is Russia Up To In The Middle East?, Polity Press, 2018.

23 minSEP 1
Comments
Russia in the Middle East: Part One

Lebanon's Latest Explosion

This week Jon is joined by Nora Boustany, an award-winning former correspondent and a professor at the American University of Beirut. She draws on her own experiences living in Lebanon during and after the Civil War to provide perspective on Lebanon's current collapse. Then, Natasha and Jon are joined by the Middle East Program's new program manager and research associate, Danny Sharp, to discuss the impact of sectarianism on life in Lebanon. Natasha Hall, "Lebanon's political bosses are the real problem," The Hill, August 16, 2020. Jon Alterman, "Why the U.S. and Its Allies Should Keep Lebanon from Blowing Apart," The Hill, August 6, 2020. Jon Alterman, "Sectarianism in Lebanon," Babel: Translating the Middle East, CSIS, March 10, 2020. Nora Boustany, "Devalued Currency Terrorizes Beirut," Los Angeles Times, November 29, 1987. Transcript, "Lebanon's Latest Explosion," CSIS, August 25, 2020.

27 minAUG 25
Comments
Lebanon's Latest Explosion

Why Women Join the Islamic State

Azadeh Moaveni joins Jon Alterman to discuss her new book,Guest House for Young Widows.Azadeh is awriter and journalist who serves as the gender project director at the International Crisis Group. She tells Jon about some of the women she encountered while writing the book and why they joined the Islamic State. Then, Natasha, Will, and McKinley discuss the deradicalization process for women returning to their home countries. Will Todman and Erol Yayboke, “Refugees Could Help Solve Lebanon’s Economic Crisis,”CSIS,July 10, 2020. Will Todman, “Cross-Border Aid, Covid-19, and U.S. Decisions in Syria,”CSIS,May 8, 2020. Azadeh Moaveni,Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of ISIS,Penguin Random House, September 8, 2019. Transcript, “Why Women Join the Islamic State,”CSIS,August 11, 2020.

28 minAUG 11
Comments
Why Women Join the Islamic State

The History of Saudi-Iranian Competition

Kim Ghattas joins Jon to discuss her new book,Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East.Kim and Jon trace 40 years of competition between Saudi Arabia and Iran, starting with 1979 and ending with today. Then, the Middle East Program’s new senior fellow, Natasha Hall, joins Jon and McKinley for a discussion on the U.S. role in Saudi-Iranian competition. Jon Alterman, “Covid-19, the Iranians, and Us,”CSIS,July 21, 2020. Kim Ghattas, “The painful truth for Saudi Arabia: it needs the Iranian regime to survive,”The Guardian,January 29, 2020. Kim Ghattas, “What Jamal Khashoggi’s Murder Tells Us About the Saudi-Iran Rivalry,”The Atlantic,October 2, 2019. Episode transcript, “The History of Saudi-Iranian Competition,”CSIS,July 28, 2020. We would love your feedback! Please follow us@CSISMidEaston Twitter, send us an email atmiddleeastprogram@csis.orgor leave a review on iTunes.

34 minJUL 28
Comments
The History of Saudi-Iranian Competition

A Mezze: Blessed Bling

As demand for religious jewelry booms in the Middle East, fake gemstones are flooding the market.

4 minJUL 21
Comments
A Mezze: Blessed Bling

The Changing World of Arab Television

On this week'sepisode of Babel,Fadi Ismail joins Jon to discuss Arab television and how it's changing. Fadi Ismail is the founder and general manager of DKL studios in Dubai and has over 30 years of experience with Arab media.During their discussion, Fadi breaks down how and why he brought Turkish programming to the Arab world, what Arab audiences want, and what Arab youth are watching.Then, Jon, Will, and McKinley discuss how audiences are changing in the Arab world. Jon Alterman,New Media, New Politics? From Satellite Television to the Internet in the Arab World,The Washington Institute, 1998 Ravale Mohydin, “Soap operas, fatwas and censorship: the Turkey-UAE battle for hearts and minds,”Middle East Monitor,June 1, 2020. Nabih Bulos, “Game of Shows: In the Middle East, TV programs launched as weapons of war,”LA Times,December 9, 2019. Episode Transcript, “Changing World of Arab Television,” July 14, 2020.

26 minJUL 14
Comments
The Changing World of Arab Television

Latest Episodes

Russia in the Middle East: Part Five

In part five, Jon Alterman looks at how the Middle East views Russia. He starts with Russia's relationships with Israel and Iran, before moving on to how Arab states, particularly Egypt, view Russia. Jon talkswith Elizabeth Tsurkov, fellow at the Center for Global Policy and at the Forum for Regional Thinking; Mohamed Anis Salem, an Egyptian diplomat with 35 years of experience; and Anna Borschevskaya, senior fellow at the Washington Institute. Song Credits: “Denzel Sprak” from CloudCover; “Coulis Coulis” from Confectionery; “Tarte Tatin” from Confectionery; “Dusting” from Confectionery, all via Blue Dot Studios. ThemeSong: "Tales of Arabia" by GreatstockMusic via Pond5. Elizabeth Tsurkov, "Syria's Economic Meltdown," Center for Global Policy, June 15, 2020. Anna Borschevskaya and Catherine Cleveland, "Russia's Arabic Propaganda," The Washington Institute, December 2018. Mohamed Anis Salem, "Arab Civil Nuclear Energy Programmes in a New Strategic Landscape,"The Nuclear Forum: Security Through Disarmament, 2016. Episode Transcript, "Russia in the Middle East: Part Five," CSIS, September 29, 2020.

25 min15 h ago
Comments
Russia in the Middle East: Part Five

Russia in the Middle East: Part Four

In part four, Jon Alterman looks at U.S.-Russian cooperation and competition in the Middle East. He follows how U.S. policy in the Middle East has shaped Russian policy in the region, and how the U.S.-Russian relationship in the Middle East has evolved over the past three decades.During the episode, Jontalkswith Anna Borschevskaya, senior fellow at the Washington Institute; Heather Conley, senior vice president for Europe, Eurasia, and the Artic and director of the Europe Program at CSIS; Phil Gordon, senior fellow in U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations; and Becca Wasser, fellow in the Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security. Song Credits: "Tarte Tatin" from Confectionary via Blue Dot Studios; “Borough” from Molerider via Blue Dot Studios; "Denzel Sprak” from CloudCover via Blue Dot Studios; and“The Records” from Union Hall via Blue Dot Studios. Phil Gordon, Losing the Long Game: The False Promise of Regime Change in the Middle East, St. Martin's Press, October 2020. Anna Borschevskaya, "Russia Aims to Preserve the Status Quo in Lebanon," The Washington Institute, August 12, 2020. Heather Conley on Energy 360°, "Race to the Top: China, Russia, U.S. Compete," CSIS, August 3, 2020. Becca Wasser and Ben Connable, "The Limits of Russian Strategy in the Middle East," London School of Economics, May 10, 2018. Episode Transcript, "Russia in the Middle East: Part Four," CSIS, September 22, 2020.

22 min1 w ago
Comments
Russia in the Middle East: Part Four

Russia in the Middle East: Part Three

In part three, Jon Alterman looks at Russian security interests in the Middle East. He starts with an overview of Russia's military presence, and then looks at how Moscow's presence has evolved in Syria, and then spread into Libya.He talkswith Olga Oliker, director of the Europe and Central Asia Program at the International Crisis Group; Alexey Khlebnikov, an expert at the Russian International Affairs Council;Wa'el Alzayat, CEO of Emgage Foundation and a former State Department official; and Eugene Rumer, director and senior fellow of the Russia and Eurasia Program at Carnegie. Song Credits: “Calisson” from Confectionery via Blue Dot Studios; “Dusting” from Confectionery via Blue Dot Studios; “Coulis Coulis” from Confectionery via Blue Dot Studios; and the theme song is "Tales of Arabia" by GreatstockMusic via Pond5. Wa'el Alzayat, "The Syrian Crucible and Future U.S. Option," in Re-engaging the Middle East: A New Vision for U.S. Policy, Brookings, September 22, 2020. Eugene Rumer, Russia in the Middle East: Jack of All Trades, Master of None, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, October 31, 2019. Alexey Khlebnikov, "Russia looks to the Middle East to boost arms exports," Middle East Institute, April 8, 2019. Episode Transcript, "Russia in the Middle East: Part Three," CSIS, September 15, 2020.

24 min2 w ago
Comments
Russia in the Middle East: Part Three

Russia in the Middle East: Part Two

In part two, Jon Alterman explores Russian economic interests in the Middle East. He covers Middle Eastern investments in Russia, the arms industry, and the recent battle over oil production between Russia and Saudi Arabia.He also talkswith Carole Nakhle, founder and CEO of Crystol Energy, Nikolay Kozhanov, a consulting fellow at Chatham House, and Olga Oliker, director of the Europe and Eurasia Program at the International Crisis Group. Olga Oliker, "Putin's Future: Reading the tea leaves," Inkstick Media, January 21, 2020. Nikolay Kozhanov, Russian Policy Across the Middle East: Methods and Motivations, Chatham House, February 21, 2018. Carole Nakhle, "Russia's Energy Diplomacy in the Middle East," in Russia's return to the Middle East: building sandcastles?, European Union Institute for Security Studies, 2018. Episode Transcript, "Russia in the Middle East: Part Two," CSIS, September 8, 2020.

21 min3 w ago
Comments
Russia in the Middle East: Part Two

Russia in the Middle East: Part One

In the first episode of our new podcast miniseries,Russia in the Middle East, Jon Alterman gives an overview of Russian policy in the Middle East and how the Middle East fits into Russia’s worldview. He covers Russia's return to the Middle East and looks at how Russian foreign policy has changed since the fall of the Soviet Union. Jon also sits down with Dmitri Trenin, director of Carnegie's Moscow Center, and Celeste Wallander, president and CEO of the U.S.-Russia Foundation, for their insight into Russia’s foreign policy decisions. Song Credits: Episode one songs were “La-danza” by Olivier-Olsen and “Spring-in-Barcelona” by Ian-Post, both via Artlist. Celeste Wallander, "Putin's Gamble: U.S.-Russian relations in an era of global change," Krasno UNC, November 14, 2019. Jon Alterman, "Chinese and Russian Influence in the Middle East," House Testimony, May 9, 2019. Dmitri Trenin, What is Russia Up To In The Middle East?, Polity Press, 2018.

23 minSEP 1
Comments
Russia in the Middle East: Part One

Lebanon's Latest Explosion

This week Jon is joined by Nora Boustany, an award-winning former correspondent and a professor at the American University of Beirut. She draws on her own experiences living in Lebanon during and after the Civil War to provide perspective on Lebanon's current collapse. Then, Natasha and Jon are joined by the Middle East Program's new program manager and research associate, Danny Sharp, to discuss the impact of sectarianism on life in Lebanon. Natasha Hall, "Lebanon's political bosses are the real problem," The Hill, August 16, 2020. Jon Alterman, "Why the U.S. and Its Allies Should Keep Lebanon from Blowing Apart," The Hill, August 6, 2020. Jon Alterman, "Sectarianism in Lebanon," Babel: Translating the Middle East, CSIS, March 10, 2020. Nora Boustany, "Devalued Currency Terrorizes Beirut," Los Angeles Times, November 29, 1987. Transcript, "Lebanon's Latest Explosion," CSIS, August 25, 2020.

27 minAUG 25
Comments
Lebanon's Latest Explosion

Why Women Join the Islamic State

Azadeh Moaveni joins Jon Alterman to discuss her new book,Guest House for Young Widows.Azadeh is awriter and journalist who serves as the gender project director at the International Crisis Group. She tells Jon about some of the women she encountered while writing the book and why they joined the Islamic State. Then, Natasha, Will, and McKinley discuss the deradicalization process for women returning to their home countries. Will Todman and Erol Yayboke, “Refugees Could Help Solve Lebanon’s Economic Crisis,”CSIS,July 10, 2020. Will Todman, “Cross-Border Aid, Covid-19, and U.S. Decisions in Syria,”CSIS,May 8, 2020. Azadeh Moaveni,Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of ISIS,Penguin Random House, September 8, 2019. Transcript, “Why Women Join the Islamic State,”CSIS,August 11, 2020.

28 minAUG 11
Comments
Why Women Join the Islamic State

The History of Saudi-Iranian Competition

Kim Ghattas joins Jon to discuss her new book,Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East.Kim and Jon trace 40 years of competition between Saudi Arabia and Iran, starting with 1979 and ending with today. Then, the Middle East Program’s new senior fellow, Natasha Hall, joins Jon and McKinley for a discussion on the U.S. role in Saudi-Iranian competition. Jon Alterman, “Covid-19, the Iranians, and Us,”CSIS,July 21, 2020. Kim Ghattas, “The painful truth for Saudi Arabia: it needs the Iranian regime to survive,”The Guardian,January 29, 2020. Kim Ghattas, “What Jamal Khashoggi’s Murder Tells Us About the Saudi-Iran Rivalry,”The Atlantic,October 2, 2019. Episode transcript, “The History of Saudi-Iranian Competition,”CSIS,July 28, 2020. We would love your feedback! Please follow us@CSISMidEaston Twitter, send us an email atmiddleeastprogram@csis.orgor leave a review on iTunes.

34 minJUL 28
Comments
The History of Saudi-Iranian Competition

A Mezze: Blessed Bling

As demand for religious jewelry booms in the Middle East, fake gemstones are flooding the market.

4 minJUL 21
Comments
A Mezze: Blessed Bling

The Changing World of Arab Television

On this week'sepisode of Babel,Fadi Ismail joins Jon to discuss Arab television and how it's changing. Fadi Ismail is the founder and general manager of DKL studios in Dubai and has over 30 years of experience with Arab media.During their discussion, Fadi breaks down how and why he brought Turkish programming to the Arab world, what Arab audiences want, and what Arab youth are watching.Then, Jon, Will, and McKinley discuss how audiences are changing in the Arab world. Jon Alterman,New Media, New Politics? From Satellite Television to the Internet in the Arab World,The Washington Institute, 1998 Ravale Mohydin, “Soap operas, fatwas and censorship: the Turkey-UAE battle for hearts and minds,”Middle East Monitor,June 1, 2020. Nabih Bulos, “Game of Shows: In the Middle East, TV programs launched as weapons of war,”LA Times,December 9, 2019. Episode Transcript, “Changing World of Arab Television,” July 14, 2020.

26 minJUL 14
Comments
The Changing World of Arab Television
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