Podcast #45: Underdogs

Note: The original posting of this podcast linked to an older episode. This has been corrected – we apologize for the mistake.

Arabist podcast hosts Ursula Lindsey and Ashraf Khalil talk to Khaled Dawoud, a prominent Egyptian reporter and activist. Dawoud campaigned to remove the Muslim Brotherhood from power in 2013 but resigned as spokesman for the National Salvation Front, a secular political coalition, in protest over the killing of Islamist demonstrators on August 14. Dawoud has been attacked from all sides of the political spectrum as he continues to argue for a poliitically negotiated solution rather than the ongoing cycle of violence and repression. He looks back on his last three years of activism; the role of the revolutionary; the secular movement and whether, in ousting the Brotherhood, it became the pawn of the former regime and the military.

  • Mohamed Morsi's November 2012 constitutional declaration - link
  • Family of Al-Hosseini Abu Deif alleges he was assassinated - link
  • National Salvation Front Statement on August 14, 2013: "Today Egypt holds its head high..." - link
  • Constitution Party's Khaled Dawoud Stabbed by Pro-Morsi Supporters - link

Podcast #44: Just how bad is it exactly?

On this podcast, journalists Ursula Lindsey and Ashraf Khalil speak to Human Rights Watch's Sarah Leah Whitson about the greatest threats to human rights across the region, and about how to defend human rights in the midst of Egypt's "war on terrorism" and its crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood.  

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Podcast #43: Minority Report

A manly president, a bride like the moon -- this is Egypt,  Americans!

A manly president, a bride like the moon -- this is Egypt,  Americans!

The Arabist podcast is back after a long summer break, hosted by regulars Ursula Lindsey and Ashraf Khalil and featuring Lina Attalah, editor of Mada Masr. We discuss terrorism and military operations in the Sinai peninsula; the Egyptian media's cheering of the army; and the shortcomings of Egypt's new constitution. 

Podcast #43  (MP3, 30.1 MB) - or subscribe on iTunes.

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Podcast #42: An opposition strategy

Our latest podcast went up yesterday after a too-long absence. Ursula, Ashraf and I talked about the Dubai art scene and censorship in the Gulf, the UAE and Qatar's soft power, how Islamist governments are doing in Tunisia and Egypt, and then we zero in for a long discussion of the Egyptian opposition's strategy, or absence thereof, and what might need to be changed.

Remember you can always get the podcast first on iTunes.

The Arabist Podcast

Podcast #42:

Podcast #41: The Terrible Twos

More chaos and mayhem in Egypt over the weekend on the second anniversary of the January, 25 2011 uprising. Is Egypt becoming ungovernorable? What do the protestors want, can the opposition come up with a credible position, is the Muslim Brotherhood even interested in negotiating? Has the polarization created in late 2012 over the new constitution and Morsi's decree created an irreversible dynamic towards more repression, chaos, and instability? So many questions, so few clear answers — but we give it our best shot.

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Podcast #41:

Podcast #40: Referendumb

The first round of Egypt's referendum on the draft constitution rushed through by Islamist forces has taken place, resulting in a narrow win for Islamists in early results. Our guest Hossam Bahgat, Director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, helps us decode the trends, processes, and politics of the current crisis and how it might unfold.

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Podcast #40:

Podcast #38, Part 2: This is Cairo

The Ard al-Lewwa neighborhood of Cairo (Google Maps)

Here is Part 2 of this week’s podcast. This was an experiment: Christopher Lydon of Radio Open Source is in town (with collaborator Mark Fonseca Rendeiro) and we invited them to join us and gathered some of our accomplished friends to discuss a topic that is close to all of our hearts: the city of Cairo and the shape it’s in today. Our conversation with architect and urban planner Omar El Nagati, blogger Mohamed El Shahed and writer/curator Sara Rifki was as rich, dense and meandering as the city itself.

Cairo in 2050, according to a masterplan adopted by the government

We discussed the meaning and potential of Cairo’s reigning informality; how to find a balance between local initiative and state planning and regulation; whether the Muslim Brotherhood has a different urban development vision than the Mubarak regime; and the many exciting ways that Egyptians are laying claim to public space today.

Show note

Podcast #38, Part2:

Podcast #38, Part 1: History on repeat

A friend here in Cairo recently told me she felt history was repeating itself all around her: a new Egyptian train tragedy; bodies of Palestinian children being dug out of the rubble of Gaza as Israel carries out yet another bombardment; protesters and police facing off again, on year later, in Mohamed Mahmoud Street.

On Thursday evening President Mohamed Morsi issued a decree that involved some repetitions of its own: he sacked the corrupt public prosecutor (again, after a first failed attempt); he ordered the re-trial of policemen and former regime figures. Most strikingly, he gave himself and the Islamist-dominated constituent assembly immunity from all judicial challenges. “Don’t worry” Morsi repeated half a dozen times during a speech on Friday — the sweeping new powers he has given himself (which include the power to take any necessary action to defend the revolution and national security) are only temporary, and will not be misused, he said. But the thousands of protesters who had already come out and those who had attacked several offices of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party were indeed worried, and fuming, at their sense that history is repeating itself: Morsi is an elected president, but he has given himself more powers than even Mubarak had.

In the first installment of a two-part podcast (we had planned one on a different topic before the crisis), Issandr and Ashraf discuss the weekend’s events. The second part will be up soon.

Show Notes

Podcast #38:

Podcast #37: A constitutional Smörgåsbord

The long promised podcast on everything you wanted to know about the new Arab constitutions but were afraid to ask is here. We sit with guest Zaid al-Ali, a member of the team that advised on the Iraqi constitution in 2005 and now advisor to IDEA on constitution-writing, who has been monitoring the constitution-drafting processes in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.

We start with Libya, where things are just getting started and the big questions are about federalism and sharing the revenues from the oil sector. Then we look at Tunisia, where the process is humming along despite some hiccups and the new constitution should be adopted by the middle of next year. And finally we take a wide-ranging look at the contents of Egypt's constitution-writing process, just as the controversy pitting Islamists vs. secularists is heating up. What are the real problems with the drafts published so far? Al-Ali's first take is that, perhaps most importantly, that is no revolutionary constitution: it's mostly an adaptation of the previous one, and the divides often exaggerated by a badly managed process.

Grab a beverage and get ready to make use of your pause and rewind buttons: this is a dense one, ranging from Sharia and women's right to the future of civil-military relations.

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Podcast #37:

Podcast #36: Mean Streets

Back for another podcast! Ashraf tells us about his ordeal in Tahrir Square, where secularists gathered against Muslim Brotherhood domination. We take a look at the political dynamics of the fight over Egypt's constitution, and the possible scenarios it could lead to. And finally we discuss the last US presidential debate, or at least the bits that have to do with the Middle East, and wonder at the lack of big ideas on either side.

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Podcast #36:

Podcast #35: The embassy riots and their aftermath

We're back in Cairo and devote most of this episode to the US embassy riots: how they started, what they represent, the culture wars they involve, the MB-Salafi battle for who is the biggest defender of Islam, and much more. Also, we ask, what was Morsi thinking, and how might he make it up in his first visit to the US as president of Egypt.

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Podcast #35:

Podcast #34: Morsi's Night of Power

We interrupt our break from the podcast to discuss the latest in Egyptian politics: Morsi asserting his presidential powers on August 12, the changes in the Egyptian military and the new generation of officers now in charge, where Egypt's foreign policy might go from here, Sinai and Israel. And domestically, we look at early worrrying signs about press freedom in Morsi's Egypt, and whether the opposition can counter-balance to the Muslim Brothers' strength — if it is even capable of agreeing on anything in the first place — ahead of tomorrow's planned protests.

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Podcast 34:

Podcast #33: Egypt's quantum politics, or Schrodinger's transition

It's never a dull day in Egypt. Your exhausted podcasters explain the week that turned Egypt's flailing transition into a full-blown military coup, breaking down the steps: the Supreme Constitutional Court verdicts, SCAF's new constitutional declaration, the dual claims for the presidency, Mubarak's night of the living dead, and more. It's as if Egypt's politics have entered a quantum state, where every possibility is true and false at the same time. Fasten your seatbelts, turbulence ahead.

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From the blog:

Podcast #33:

Podcast #32: Really?!?

The usual three are joined by Ustaz Doktor Josh Stacher to discuss the upcoming second round of Egypt’s presidential election, judicial shenanigans and SCAF’s plotting, what kinds of powers the next president will and won’t have, US-Egypt relations, Salafi sex scandals and of course the infamous public service announcement warning against foreign spies that has been airing on Egyptian TV.

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If you have feedback, suggestions, questions or complaints, then get in touch with us at podcast@arabist.net and we’ll address your mail in the next episode.

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Podcast #32:

Podcast #31: A7atein

In this edition of the Arabist Podcast, the first since the presidential election, we talk about the results, how the various candidates ranked, the dilemma facing the one-half of voters who did not vote for Morsi and Shafiq, and the negotiations underway for endorsements. In a break from Egypt,  we discuss the terrible massacre at Houla, Syria and its consequences on the debate on international intervention. And we examine today's verdict from the Mubarak trial, what it means and how angry people are about it — and how it might influence the electoral calculus of the next two weeks.

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Podcast #31:

Podcast #30: Indecision time

The first round of Egypt's presidential elections are upon us. This week the regular gang is joined by two guests: former Arabist contributor Charles Levinson, who now is a Middle East correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, and Italian-Egyptian journalist Rolla Scolari  — both of whom are old Egypt hands.

We've talked in previous podcasts about why the context for the election is flawed for multiple reasons. Now we focus about the pure politics: who's ahead, who's trailing, what we think will happen, and what the country can handle — and give an anti-endorsement.

Podcast #30

Podcast #29: Presidency or bust!

There's 15 days left to the Egyptian presidential elections. We examine the insurgent campaign of Islamist Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, ask whether the Muslim Brothers are dangerously off-balance as they try to catch up, look at Amr Moussa's claim that he's the only candidate ready to be president on day one, and wonder whether the Abbaseya clashes and other factors contributing to Egypt's political instability could derail the elections or might simply continue even if there's a president.

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Podcast #29

Podcast #28: And then there were 13

Sorry we've been away for so long: travel, work, and sheer confusion and mental exhaustion over the state of Egypt's politics prevented us from getting together sooner. But we're now back with a new podcast, catching up on Egypt's shaky transition and looking at the latest presidential election news — the disqualification of leading candidates, the ones who remain, and what it might take to win the race.

Do check out Ashraf Khalil's recent piece on the Muslim Brothers and Ursula Lindsey's look at Hazem Abu Ismail for The World. I wrote about the disqualification of the leading candidates for The National, with more comments in this blog post. Steve Negus has a smart take on the Brothers' loss in popularity in recent months here. And just a note to say that Syria is on our minds, even if professionally we've been focusing on Egypt. We hope to tackle that thorny subject soon.

Podcast #28:

Podcast #26: The Aalam Wassef Episode

We're back after an unexpectedly long absence (we moved Arabist HQ to a new secret location last week.) Our special guest in this episode, Aalam Wassef, was an underground guerrilla video artist and activist who went by the pseudonym Ahmed Sherif. He continues to make videos and launch activist projects under his real name, except now the target is SCAF rather than Mubarak. We discuss his work, the call for a general strike to boot SCAF out, Egypt's military-industrial complex and the NGO crisis between Cairo and Washington. I really think it's a fantastic episode.

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Podcast #26