The Arabist

The Arabist Podcast

27: Back in business

Ashraf Khalil is back from his long book-promoting sojourn in Amreeka, and joins Ursula Lindsey and I to talk about the aftermath of the NGO crisis, politics and dissent in the United Arab Emirates, and the launch of presidential election season in Egypt. Sorry for the echoey sound  as we're adjusting to new facilities.

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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25: A divisive anniversary

In this episode, we discuss Mohamed ElBaradei's decision not to run for president Egypt, the preparations for Egypt's new parliament and for the anniversary of the January 25 uprising, which has divided those who want more revolution and those who favor stability. All through the lens of Ashraf Khalil's new book, Liberation Square

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PodcastsIssandr El Amrani
24: It's a new year

For the first episode of 2012, we reflect of what's to come, discuss the Arab League mission in Syria, Egypt's elections and the rest of the transition timeline, take a first look at the presidential candidates, and wonder about what will take place on January 25, the anniversary of the Egyptian uprising.

The Arabist Podcast

As always, send us your questions at for questions, suggestions and corrections. Also, don't forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and leave comments and ratings there — I'll help us get noticed among all the other podcasts! As a bonus, we'll put up an iTunes-only outtakes and bloopers podcast you'll only be able to get there. 

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23: The Sandmonkey Episode

In this week's episode, Ursula and I talk to the legendary Egyptian blogger Sandmonkey, a major figure of the online coverage of the uprising. Also known as Mahmoud Salem, Sandmonkey was an unlucky candidate in the first round of Egypt's parliamentary elections, standing in a Cairo district. He tells us about his experience there and as an electoral campaign manager in second round in Suez, and how he sees the most recent clashes between protestors and the army in Tahrir.

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21: Electoral dilemmas

In this episode of the Arabist Podcast, we take a semi-break from the Egyptian elections to look at the bigger picture: the wave of elections bringing Islamists to office parties across the region, what Morocco's pretty tame Islamists might do, the electoral dilemmas of non-Islamists, and more. And we re-examine the issues of Saudi women getting behind the wheels, and the backlash against that from the powerful moron lobby among the Wahhabis.

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20: Islamic Republic of Egypt?

In this edition of the Arabist Podcast, we introduce a brand new segment, Regional Cliffnotes, and then delve into the initial results from the first round of Egypt's parliamentary elections. It's a triumph for the Islamists, with the Muslim Brotherhood getting a comfortable plurality, but the real surprise is that Salafists are the country's second political force.

And that's something that worries us.

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19: Elections!

So the elections in Egypt are upon us, and they didn't turn out to be a catastrophe. In fact, the turnout is looking good. But should we all be celebrating? Ursula Lindsey and I argue that while Egyptians have shown they're ready for democracy, the process still leaves much to be desired. And in any case, what happens next?

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You can read a transcript of this podcast here.

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Update on 2011-12-04 21:19 by Issandr El Amrani

A transcript of this podcast is available.

18: Back to Tahrir

After the last two days' exceptional events in Tahrir Square, Egypt seems to teeter on the brink of another revolution or political chaos. We discuss the recent violence and the scenarios the country faces: more violence and authoritarianism from SCAF, or a new political direction for the transition. Or will Egypt judt muddle through again — if it can?

Update on 2011-11-23 09:10 by Issandr El Amrani

Reader Akkadia has kindly transcribed this podcast — get it as a PDF.

17: Doom and Gloom

Ashraf, Ursula and I talk about the Arab League's surprisingly tough line on Syria — what what regional games may lie behind it — and then despair about how badly prepared Egypt's elections are, looking at all the things that might go wrong. And we remind you to send in your questions and suggestions at podcast [AT], and donate or advertise to keep this site and the podcast going!

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16: %^&* the French!

We were away in Tunisia in late October and never got a chance to do the podcast we had promised from there — we were too busy enjoying the well-organized election, promising democratic prospects and excellent fish. We catch up and talk what we saw there, why Egypt is so much worse off with its own upcoming elections, and agree that the French need to grow up about Islamism.

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Interview with Youssef Sidhoum

Youssef SidhoumLast week, I interviewed prominent Coptic intellectual Youssef Sidhoum about Maspero and the events that led up to it. I wanted to include it in this week's podcast, but since it was already long, I decided to release it separately. You can listen to it below, or get through your iTunes podcast subscription as usual.

The newspaper that Sidhoum publishes and edits, al-Watani, has an English section.

15: After Maspero

In this week’s podcast, we turn to the tragic events on October 9 in Downtown Cairo, when at least 25 people (mostly Coptic protestors) were killed at the Maspero state TV building. Ashraf, Ursula and I host New York Review of Books contributor Yasmine El Rashidi, an eyewitness to the massacre, and talk about what happened and its consequences.

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12: We regret to inform you that the revolution is cancelled

This week, Ashraf Khalil is back and we talk about the worrying turn Egypt's transition has taken, between the reinstatement of the Emergency Law, restrictions on media, threats against strikers and more. We also discuss Turkish PM Recep Erdogan's visit to Cairo, his reception by the army and Islamists, and which Turkish model is applicable in Egypt — if any.

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PodcastsIssandr El Amrani
11: The embassy and the trial

In this week's podcast, AFP reporter Samer Al Atrush and journalist Steve Negus join Ursula Lindsey. We discuss the clashes of Friday 9 September, in which protester defaced the Ministry of Interior, broke into the Israeli embassy and fought the police, and ask: why did the army and police seem to stand back? And has the protest movement let itself in for a crackdown?

We also discuss Mubarak's trial (for ordering police to shoot at demonstrators, and for corruption) which so far has offered little in the way of a smoking gun and has been marred by chaos. Samer gives eye-witness accounts of the clashes around the Israeli embassy and of courtroom shenanigans.  

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 (P.S.: we apologize to the poor sound quality of this week's podcast, due to technical problems and a broken microphone these were unavoidable.)

10: Libya and its consequences

We delayed this week's podcast to bring you two guests with expert knowledge of the Libyan war and its regional consequences: Steve Negus, who just returned from Tripoli and Benghazi, and Middle East correspondent for The Economist Max Rodenbeck. (Ashraf Khalil is off this week dealing with a looming book deadline.) We talk about why Tripoli fell so fast and how secure it is now, what might happen in Sirte and Sebha, the last Qadhafi strongholds, and what governance might look like in Libya for the foreseable future. We also discuss whether there is a Libyan model for humanitarian intervention, what it might mean for Syria, Qatar's steroid diplomacy, and still more. Finally, we discuss Libyan novelist Hisham Matar's novels and play a song from Libya's reggae-influenced pop music.

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9: Revolution jetlag

We're back from our break and talk sbout Tea Party politics, how the Mubarak trial is going so far and whether it should have taken place in the way it did, and how the situation in Sinai has created an Egyptian-Israeli crisis. And we touch upon what may be the beginning of the end for Syria and Libya.

PodcastsIssandr El Amrani
8: What's up in Sohag?

In this week's podcast, we give an update on the Tahrir Square sit-in, wonder if the never-ending cabinet shuffle will ever happen, talk about the politics in Upper Egypt with our guest Steve Negus, remember the movies that defined the late Mubarak era, and review the new Arabic comic Tok-Tok.

Sorry for the exclusive focus on Egypt lately — we want to talk about things we can bring added value to, and these days we're pretty Egypt focused. Please do let us know what you think at

We'll be taking a break for the next few weeks, so both blog posting and podcasting will be light. But we should be back up to speed in mid-August.

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