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What’s at stake in Turkey’s elections

Worries of economic downturn loom large as Turkish voters head into a critical election for the president and members of parliament on June 24. MEI’s Gonul Tol and W. Robert Pearson join host Paul Salem to analyze the myriad issues facing voters, and the prospects for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling AK party.


The battle for Hodeida and the humanitarian crisis in Yemen

Aid groups are warning that a major offensive underway to capture the strategic port of Hodeida could make Yemen’s humanitarian crisis even worse. Basma Alloush (Norwegian Refugee Council), Farea Al-Muslimi (Sana'a Center for Strategic Studies), and Gerald Feierstein (MEI), join host Paul Salem to assess the situation.


The Manbij deal and the state of US-Turkish cooperation in Syria

Can a deal to withdraw U.S.-backed Kurdish forces from the contested Syrian town of Manbij help to break the tension between opposing Turkish and American strategies in Syria? MEI’s Gonul Tol and Charles Lister join host Paul Salem to discuss.


A “diplomatic dance” in southern Syria

Several countries have engaged in a flurry of diplomatic moves in recent days to prevent combat between Israeli and Iranian forces in southern Syria from escalating into full-scale war. MEI senior fellows Robert Ford and Charles Lister join host Paul Salem to discuss these moves and the state of the Syrian conflict.


Pompeo’s sanction threats and Iran’s energy sector

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened Iran with the “strongest sanctions in history” following the U.S. exit from the nuclear deal and outlined twelve demands as conditions for striking a new treaty between the two countries. MEI’s Rauf Mammadov and Ahmad Majidyar join Paul Salem to discuss the implications of this policy and take a closer look at Iran’s oil and energy sector amid the sanction threats.


Breaking down Iraq’s parliamentary elections

Amb. Lukman Faily, Iraq’s ambassador to the United States from 2013-2016, and Randa Slim, director of MEI’s program on Conflict Resolution and Track II Dialogues, join host Paul Salem to analyze the results of Iraq’s parliamentary elections and their implications for Iraq, the region, and U.S. policy going forward.


Extra: Oman in the middle

In a region beset with conflicts, Oman has served as a valued intermediary in foreign relations, including as a facilitator in U.S.-Iranian contacts that led to the Iran nuclear deal. How is it managing its delicate diplomatic balancing act as it works to mediate the Yemen civil war and the dispute between Qatar and other GCC states? Sayyid Badr bin Hamad al-Busaidi, secretary general of Oman’s ministry of foreign affairs, joins guest host Gerald Feierstein to discuss.


The US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal

Alex Vatanka and Gerald Feierstein join host Paul Salem to discuss reactions in the region and around the world to Trump’s announcement that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and restore sanctions on Iran.


Trump’s new arms sales policy

What impact will the Trump administration’s new arms sales policy, named “Buy American,” have on the Middle East, historically one of the major destinations for U.S.-made weapons? Michael O’Hanlon, senior fellow and director of research for the Foreign Policy program at Brookings, and Bilal Saab, director of MEI’s Defense and Security program, join host Paul Salem to discuss.


Turkey’s snap elections and issues in U.S. relations

MEI’s Gonul Tol and Amb. Robert Pearson join Paul Salem to discuss the domestic political scene heading into Turkey’s snap presidential and parliamentary elections in early June and the state of its relations with the United States after the departure of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and pending arrival of Mike Pompeo.


The battles in, above and around Syria

Amb. Robert Ford and Charles Lister join host Paul Salem to discuss last week’s U.S. airstrikes in Syria in response to the Assad government’s ongoing use of chemical weapons, what the Trump administration is signaling about America’s plans there, and the escalating standoff between Israeli and Iranian forces in the country.


Economic Prospects for the Middle East

The Middle East has withstood a series of major economic shocks over the past decade, and growth is slowly coming back. But sustained high unemployment, especially among women and youth, will continue to put strain on the region’s economic prospects. Jihad Azour, director of the Middle East and Central Asia department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), joins host Paul Salem to survey the economic challenges facing the MENA region.


A Russian-Iranian-Turkish alliance in the making?

The leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey held a high-profile summit in Ankara this week, their second such summit in six months. Are we seeing the formation of a new security axis in the region, and if so, where would that leave the United States? MEI’s Gonul Tol and Alex Vatanka join host Paul Salem to discuss.


Egypt’s elections and what’s ahead in Sisi’s second term

Amb. Nabil Fahmy, dean of the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the American University in Cairo, joins host Paul Salem to discuss the political situation in Egypt and the range of issues facing President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi following his reelection this week to a second term in office.


Mohammed bin Salman in Washington: Impact on U.S.-Saudi relations

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman passed through D.C. this week to sell his Vision 2030 roadmap for transforming the Saudi economy. Karen Young, senior resident scholar Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, and Gerald Feierstein join host Paul Salem to discuss this, as well as other key policy issues affecting U.S.-Saudi relations, from the war in Yemen to the Kingdom’s internal crackdown on corruption.


Rex Tillerson’s exit and what’s next for US-Middle East policy

Outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had long been at odds with President Trump on key issues in the Middle East, from the intra-GCC dispute between Qatar and other member states, to the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the Iran nuclear deal. MEI fellows Gerald Feierstein, Charles Lister and Alex Vatanka join host Paul Salem to discuss how his replacement may impact these and other regional policy issues.


U.S.-Russia Dialogue and Preventing Regional Confrontation

Irina Zvyagelskaya, of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow and Randa Slim, director of MEI’s Program on Conflict Resolution and Track II Dialogues, join host Paul Salem to discuss U.S. and Russian efforts to find shared interests in the region, from Syria to Yemen, and to avoid confrontation and escalation.


The humanitarian disaster in Syria’s eastern Ghouta

The Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta is the site of a humanitarian disaster unfolding day by day as the Syrian regime and its Russian and Iranian backers have maintained a massive aerial assault that has killed hundreds. MEI Fellows Ibrahim al-Assil and Charles Lister join host Paul Salem to discuss the conditions on the ground and what led to the campaign that has turned Ghouta into a “Hell on Earth.”


Operation Olive Branch

Turkey is one month into its military offensive against U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces in the area of Afrin in northern Syria. How is the operation going, and how has the strained U.S.-Turkish relationship been affected? Gonul Tol, director of Turkish studies at MEI, and Amberin Zaman, a journalist and columnist for Al-Monitor, join host Paul Salem to discuss.


Lebanon’s long-delayed parliamentary elections

Lebanon has not held parliamentary elections for almost a decade, delayed in part to await the outcome of the Syrian crisis next door. Polls are now set for May 6 and the race to form a majority coalition is on. What will the elections mean for Lebanon’s ability to manage domestic and external pressures? How strong will Hezbollah’s influence be? And will a new election law help or add to the confusion? MEI’s Paul Salem and Randa Slim join guest host Jerry Feierstein to discuss.