Arab Tyrant Manual Podcast


Iyad El-Baghdadi and Ahmed Gatnash study global authoritarianism, with a focus on the MENA region, and dive deep into universal strategies and tactics of authoritarians, as well as the best ways to resist. Support us on Patreon:


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Iyad El-Baghdadi and Ahmed Gatnash study global authoritarianism, with a focus on the MENA region, and dive deep into universal strategies and tactics of authoritarians, as well as the best ways to resist. Support us on Patreon:




043 - Ukraine is Dividing the Gulf States from the West

As Russia's invasion of Ukraine caused global energy prices to spike, the US looked to its traditional gulf partners to increase supply. However, Mohamed bin Zayed and Mohamed bin Salman chose not to - refusing President Joe Biden's calls and even raising prices, whilst making overt gestures of support for Putin. In this episode, Iyad El-Baghdadi and Ahmed Gatnash discuss how the war in Ukraine has pushed a wedge between the US and its traditionally-close gulf allies, and what this means...


042 - Working for Libyan Accountability, with Elham Saudi

In this episode, Ahmed Gatnash speaks to Elham Saudi, co-founder and director of Lawyers for Justice in Libya, about the fight for accountability and how human rights defenders can work towards accountability in areas that are ordinarily pushed to the sidelines. Elham can be found on Twitter (@elham_lfjl) and at (@LibyanJustice). They publish the Libya Matters podcast, and created the Ali Nouh fund, which provides emergency assistance to human rights defenders who are at...


041 - Authors' Retrospective of the The Middle East Crisis Factory

In this episode, Iyad and Ahmed interview each other about their own book, The Middle East Crisis Factory. They discuss the origin and context of the book, detail various struggles that were overcome through the writing process, and share their reflections on the project 12 months on from its publication. Buy The Middle East Crisis Factory: Support the Arab Tyrant Manual on Patreon: Our other podcast, Intergalactic Tarboush:...


040 - The Middle East Crisis Factory: an Interview on Gaslit Nation

This is a repost of an interview on the Gaslit Nation podcast, hosted by Sarah Kendzior and Andrea Chalupa. Iyad discusses the origin of the Middle East Crisis Factory book, the context of the Middle East's struggle for democracy in the world, and how that shapes the work of Kawaakibi Foundation. Find the Gaslit Nation podcast online: and on Twitter: @sarahkendzior, @AndreaChalupa and @gaslitnation Buy The Middle East Crisis Factory:...


039 - The Changing Activism Paradigm

Iyad and Ahmed discuss human rights and political activism around the world, and why it seems to fail so often. Follow us on Twitter @ArabTyrantMan, and join our Patreon to support our work and gain access to exclusive clips and pre-release episodes: Episode Time tags: 2:00 – Feelings of pointlessness in human rights activism 4:30 – "Folk politics" 6:00 – Trump, pandemic & a new phase in geopolitics 10:00 – How do we continue human rights work into the...


003 - Optimism vs. Pessimism Around the World

In this episode, Iyad and Ahmed discuss the concept of futurism and its relation to our work, as well as optimism versus pessimism in the spheres of religion, politics and human rights activism. Episode timetags: 00:30 - Futurism - tradition and modernity 05:50 - Pessimism in the Muslim community 08:45 - China's growth - birth rates, power and risk 15:10 - Genetic supremacy - Germanic germ theory 17:00 - Britain & colonialist nostalgia 19:00 - France & the nationalism of decline Support this...


038 - Changing Horizons

A continuation of the previous episode, Iyad and Ahmed discuss new changes in world politics, human rights activism and the podcast! Follow us on Twitter @ArabTyrantMan and join our Patreon to support our work and gain access to exclusive clips and pre-release episodes. Episode timestamps: 0:30 - The growth of Arab Tyrant Manual 5:00 - Overhauling the western democratic paradigm 10:00 - Evolving from defensive human rights work into active powerbuilding 14:30 - Understanding &...


037 - The Podcast Returns

Iyad and Ahmed kickstart the podcast again after a long hiatus - with updates on various developments at the Kawaakibi Foundation, in their personal lives and in global human rights. Follow us on Twitter @ArabTyrantMan and join our Patreon to support our work and gain access to exclusive clips and pre-release episodes. Episode timestamps: 0:30 - Intro to episode 1:30 - Changes to ATM, plus Intergalactic Tarboush, a new podcast! 3:00 - Why we went off the radar - being hunted by...


036 - What does Justice For Jamal Khashoggi look like?

Iyad El-Baghdadi and Ahmed Gatnash discuss the release of the ODNI report confirming US intelligence's conclusion that MBS directly ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Now that two years of gaslighting by the Trump administration are finally over, we can turn to the important question: what does justice for Jamal look like? Iyad's article in the Washington Post:


035 - The Xinjiang Victims Database, with Gene Bunin

In this episode, Ahmed talks to Gene Bunin, founder of the Xinjiang Victims Database - a unique initiative to track the crimes being committed against individuals in the western region of China and investigate the fate of those missing. Find the database online at: Find us on Twitter at @gatnash and @arabtyrantman. Support our work:


034 - Reflections on the podcast, US elections and the future...

Ahmed Gatnash and Iyad El-Baghdadi reflect about the podcast, how far it's come, and plans for the future, as well as discussing Joe Biden's election victory and Trump's defeat, and what they mean for the MENA region and the global struggle for human rights. Support our work on Patreon here:


033 - The Left's Tribal Anti-Imperialism

In September, Ahmed spoke to Joey Ayoub, Lebanese writer and researcher, about tankies, genocide denial, red-brown alliances and the uncomfortable affinity between large parts of the political left and authoritarianism. Find Joey on Twitter @joeyayoub, and us at @gatnash and @arabtyrantman. Support our work: For full show notes, including all mentioned articles and links, go to:


032 - Lebanon vs Sectarian Warlord Oligarchy

Ahmed talks to Timour Azhari and Joey Ayoub about the massive popular movement against the entire political order which has rocked Lebanon for over 2 weeks. It has led to the end of the government already, but can it achieve the real goal - total systemic change? Catch our guests on Twitter: Support us on Patreon:


031 - Lessons from Egypt's latest protests

Ahmed Gatnash speaks about the recent protests in Egypt, which surprised almost everyone but show that the lessons of 2011 have still not been fully absorbed. For a text version of the article: Support our work:


030 - Is Your Phone Safe? Inside Saudi's Phone Hacking Scandal

Human Rights Foundation and Arab Tyrant Manual present this panel from this year's Oslo Freedom Forum, in which Iyad el-Baghdadi and Karen Attiah discuss the Saudi government's use of surveillance software. They go into detail on Jamal Khashoggi and his legacy, as well as the hack of Jeff Bezos and what activists can do to keep safe. Support us for more: You can find our partners the Human Rights Foundation here:


029 - Art vs Repression, from Egypt to Hong Kong - with Amr Waked & Denise Ho

Celebrities are notoriously shy of politics, advised to stay neutral for the sake of their careers. But what do you do when you can no longer be silent? Denise Ho, a singer and actress from Hong Kong, and Amr Waked, an Egyptian actor, discuss their journeys into activism, what it meant for their careers, the regimes they fight against and how their art plays a role. Denise and Amr can be found on Twitter (@hoccgoomusic and @amrwaked). Support us:


028 - In the Mirror: What Went Wrong with the Arab Spring?

At the Oslo Freedom Forum last year, 7 activists from the Arab region found ourselves in a room together. This is the discussion which followed - on identity, exile, activism, trauma and healing, whether the Arab Spring failed, and different visions of what the future holds. It was nuanced and surprisingly self-critical, but there was no cynicism or defeatism in the room - just the maturity of taking the long term view, as we recalibrate for the future. Mentioned in this episode: Asma's OFF...


027 - Iyad's Statement on Saudi Threats

This episode is a recording of Iyad El-Baghdadi's recent press conference, in which he speaks about the recent revelations from intelligence agencies that the Saudi government potentially poses a threat to his life. You can find a video version of the press conference and a transcript here:...


026 - The Power of Nonviolence, with Jamila Raqib

What is the purpose of nonviolence? What are its limits? Surely it couldn't work against someone as brutal as the Nazis...could it? In this episode, Iyad and Ahmed speak to Jamila Raqib, Executive Director of the Albert Einstein Institution - an organisation dedicated to advance the worldwide study and strategic use of nonviolent action. She tells us about working with Professor Gene Sharp, what issues are on the cutting edge of nonviolence, and future problems for nonviolent movements. You...


025 - Bombs, Ballots and Bullets: the Battle for Libya's Future

Ahmed Gatnash (@gatnash) discusses Libya with Nadine Dahan (@NadineDahan), a journalist and independent analyst focussed on Libya, human rights and transitional justice in the MENA region. As well as analysing the current crisis, started by Haftar's attempt to invade the capital Tripoli, they also provide a run-down of what's happened Libya since 2011 and how it came to be this bad - armed militias, terrorist groups, coups, rival parliaments, allegations of slavery, a dozen international...