Ep237 Realignments in the Middle East & Africa feat Isa Blumi

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Guest: Dr. Isa Blumi. This is a wide-ranging discussion about the political realignments in the Gulf states, new partnerships in the Middle East and Africa, Qatar’s involvement in the withdrawal from Afghanistan, developments in Yemen, quiet military repurposing of strategic island of Socotra, the long and complicated exploitation of East Africa, the Red Sea region and Horn of Africa, the mass of military bases in Djbouti, the Turkey-Russia relationship and more.

For those listening to the audio version of this podcast, we have added many maps and other visual enhancements to the video version that you might find helpful during some of this discussion so if you are interested you can find those versions on Youtube and Rokfin right now and other video platforms in the not too distant future. 

Dr. Isa Blumi is an historian, an author and Professor of Global History, Islamic World, Ottoman Empire, Yemen, Albania. His most recent Destroying Yemen: What Chaos in Arabia Tells Us about the World tells the story of the wars in Yemen but also “ultimately tells an even larger story of today’s political economy of global capitalism, development, and the war on terror as disparate actors intersect in Arabia.”  He also authored the book Ottoman Refugees, 1878-1939: Migration in a Post-Imperial World

FOLLOW Isa Blumi @IsaBlumi and find his work at Google Scholar and his latest book at UCPress.edu

Around the Empire aroundtheempire.com is listener supported, independent media.

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Recorded on October 6, 2021. Music by Fluorescent Grey.

Reference Links:

  1. Book: Destroying Yemen: What Chaos in Arabia Tells Us about the World

Ep 208: NATO Escalation in Iraq feat Elijah Magnier

Ep 208: NATO Escalation in Iraq feat Elijah Magnier

Guest: Elijah Magnier. We talk about the the three attacks in one week on US bases in Iraq following an announcement that the US will escalate the operation in Iraq. US and NATO troops will no longer be withdrawn from Iraq but instead there will be a NATO escalation in Iraq and a substantial expansion of the mission. We also talk about Syria, the axis of resistance and the broader region.  When we recorded this interview a few days ago the media was reporting that the Biden administration is taking a calm approach, investigating the source of the attacks and not overreacting. All of that changed just a couple of days later when Biden launched an retaliatory attack on “infrastructure utilized by Iranian-backed militant groups in eastern Syria.” Reports on the multiple-target attack are still varying at the moment but the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claims that 22 people were killed. The strikes happened in al Bukamal near the border with Iraq and the “Iranian-backed militant groups” that the Pentagon spokesman referred to are Iraqi Popular Mobilization Force (PMF) fighters. The PMF is sponsored by the Iraqi government and was reorganized around 2014 to fight against ISIS, something that Elijah has explained in previous interviews on this podcast. No evidence from the alleged investigation that the media claimed the Biden administration was conducting before any response has been reported. The Pentagon frames it as a defensive strike and also claims that this was an attempt to “de-escalate the overall situation in both eastern Syria and Iraq.” 

There is also a bonus question for patrons about US support for Saudi operations in Yemen and an increase in deployment of US troops in Saudi Arabia and why the American people don’t elect leaders who can end the forever wars. 

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Ep 208EXTRA: Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Why We Can’t End Forever Wars

Ep 208EXTRA: Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Why We Can’t End Forever Wars

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Guest: Elijah Magnier. We talk about the the three attacks in one week on US bases in Iraq following an announcement that the US will escalate the operation in Iraq. US and NATO troops will no longer be withdrawn from Iraq but instead the escalate and expand the mission substantially. We also talk about Syria, the axis of resistance and the broader region.  When we recorded this interview a few days ago the media was reporting that the Biden administration is taking a calm approach, investigating the source of the attacks and not overreacting. All of that changed just a couple of days later when Biden launched an retaliatory attack on “infrastructure utilized by Iranian-backed militant groups in eastern Syria.” Reports on the multiple-target attack are still varying at the moment but the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claims that 22 people were killed. The strikes happened in al Bukamal near the border with Iraq and the “Iranian-backed militant groups” that the Pentagon spokesman referred to are Iraqi Popular Mobilization Force (PMF) fighters. The PMF is sponsored by the Iraqi government and was reorganized around 2014 to fight against ISIS, something that Elijah has explained in previous interviews on this podcast. No evidence from the alleged investigation that the media claimed the Biden administration was conducting before any response has been reported. The Pentagon frames it as a defensive strike and also claims that this was an attempt to “de-escalate the overall situation in both eastern Syria and Iraq.” 

This is a bonus episode for patrons about US support for Saudi operations in Yemen and an increase in deployment of US troops in Saudi Arabia and why the American people don’t elect leaders who can end the forever wars. 

Continue reading “Ep 208EXTRA: Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Why We Can’t End Forever Wars”

Ep 180EXTRA Will China be the Savior of the Global South? feat Isa Blumi

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Guest: Isa Blumi. We talk about the current state of affairs in the gulf states and the region during the economic crisis and lockdowns for Covid19, the UAE-Israel deal, the evolution of situation in the Middle East, the war Yemen and the rivalry between Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and Turkey. We discuss the increasing influence of China in the region and we also talk about media coverage and how it is heavily influenced by various sources of funding.  This is a bonus question for patrons at the end of the interview on China’s increasing influence in the Middle East and whether they will be a savior for the Global South. Episode 180EXTRA Will China be the Savior of the Global South?

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Ep 155 5 Years of War on Yemen & Coronavirus Crisis (Swapcast)

Ep 155 Swapcast 5 Years of War in Yemen and Coronavirus Crisis

On this Foreign Policy Focus and Around the Empire swapcast, Kyle and Joanne discuss the five year anniversary of the US/Saudi/UAE war on Yemen. The anniversary has received almost no media coverage in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak. It’s the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and makes Yemen extremely vulnerable to the coronavirus crisis. The US/Saudi/UAE/UK bombing campaign has intentionally targeted the civilian infrastructure of Yemen. 24 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and millions of children are at risk of starvation. Yemen must be remembered and the war must end.

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Ep 153 Saudi Crackdowns Fail to Silence Online Dissent feat Jennifer Pan & Alexandra Siegel

Ep 153 Saudi Crackdowns Fail to Silence Online Dissent feat Jennifer Pan and Alexandra Siegel

Guests: Jennifer Pan, Alexandra Siegel. We talk about their research paper titled  “How Saudi Crackdowns Fail to Silence Online Dissent” which was published in American Political Science Review. They studied the effects of well-known Saudi activists, religious leaders and journalists being imprisoned for online dissent. They analyzed tweets and Google search data from 2010 to 2017 using automated analysis of text and crowd-sourced evaluation of content to draw conclusions about the behavior of their peers and followers. Their research showed that it did not suppress online dissent overall. 

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Ep 132 Ending the War in Yemen feat Shireen Al-Adeimi

Ep 132 Ending the War in Yemen feat Shireen Al-Adeimi

Guest: Shireen Al-Adeimi. We discussed the recent attacks on Saudi oil facilities and the battle in Najran, near the Saudi-Yemen border. Shireen then lays out some history on the wars in recent decades in Yemen, both civil wars and foreign interventions, and offers important insights on how the Saudi-United Arab Emirates coalition backed by the US and other western powers, does not even have a coherent objective anymore. Further, the Saudis and Emiratis are fighting against each other in a proxy war. Lastly we talk about Samantha Power’s new memoir in which she omits any mention of the war in Yemen or her role in the Obama administration’s decision to support and sustain it. 

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Ep 127 Iraq Protests, US-Iran War, Regime Change feat Elijah Magnier

Ep 127 Iraq Protests, US-Iran War, Regime Change feat Elijah Magnier

Guest: Elijah Magnier. We discuss the uprising and protests across Iraq that turned violent this week, with over a hundred deaths and thousands of injuries. 

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Ep 105 War With Iran? feat Elijah Magnier

Guest: Elijah Magnier. According to Elijah’s analysis, the recent sabotage attacks in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia were a warning from Iran to the US and allies in the region about what kinds of retaliation would occur if escalation continues and an attack on Iran is carried out. We also talk about his recent reporting about the prospects for a summer war in Lebanon and the wider region.

Ep 105 War with Iran feat Elijah Magnier
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Ep 78 The Khashoggi Affair (Part 2) Roundtable with Kyle Anzalone, Will Porter

Friends of the show Kyle Anzalone and Will Porter join Joanne Leon for a special two-part series on the Khashoggi Affair, which symbolizes a much bigger geopolitical crisis and battle. Roundtable format, released in two separate episodes in the coming week for our listeners or available in advance, in full for patrons.

Ep 78 Khashoggi Affair - Part 2

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Ep 77 The Khashoggi Affair (Part 1) Roundtable with Kyle Anzalone, Will Porter

Friends of the show Kyle Anzalone and Will Porter join Joanne Leon for a special two-part series on the Khashoggi Affair, which symbolizes a much bigger geopolitical crisis and battle. Roundtable format, released in two separate episodes in the coming week for our listeners or available in advance, in full for patrons.

Ep77 Khashoggi Affair Part 1

Continue reading “Ep 77 The Khashoggi Affair (Part 1) Roundtable with Kyle Anzalone, Will Porter”

Ep 76 Istanbul Summit: Europe Joins Astana Process feat Joshua Landis

Middle East expert Joshua Landis returns to the show to discuss the recent summit in Istanbul, Europe’s move to join the Astana process, the war in Syria, the Khashoggi Affair and the forces aligning against the current US foreign policy in the MidEast.

Ep76 Istanbul Summit feat Joshua Landis

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Ep 66 The Mission in Yemen feat Nasser Arrabyee

Yemeni journalist and filmmaker Nasser Arrabyee speaks to us from Sanaa about the war in Yemen. In 2015, a CENTCOM commander told a US Senator that he did not know Saudi Arabia’s goals and objectives in its war on Yemen and therefore could not assess the chances of success. More than three years later, Nasser Arrabyee helps us explore the answers to those questions. We talk about the US-backed Saudi and UAE coalition’s mission in Yemen, the Yemeni Resistance and Iran’s involvement. Arrabyee updates us on the situation in Hodeidah and we discuss the recent AP report on the Saudi/UAE cooperation with al Qaeda.


Arrabyee has produced four documentaries about the war in Yemen and has been published by numerous media outlets including the New York Times, Bloomberg and Foreign Policy. FOLLOW @narrabyee on Twitter and find his work at his website yemen-now.com.

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Recorded on August 16, 2018. Music by Fluorescent Grey.

Reference Links:

  1. Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing (3/26/15) exchange between Sen. Gillibrand and Gen. Lloyd Austin (at 2:16:46)
  2. America Is Committing War Crimes and Doesn’t Even Know Why, Micah Zenko, Foreign Policy
  3. The toll of wars in the Middle East, WHYY Radio Times, Marty Moss-Coane
  4. Why is Saudi halting oil shipments through the Red Sea?, Stephen Kalin, Rania El Gamal, Reuters
  5. Yemen: US allies don’t defeat al-Qaida but pay it to go away, AP
  6. Inside the UAE’s war on al-Qaeda in Yemen, Bel Trew, The Independent
  7. After dozens of children die, Trump administration faces mounting pressure over Yemen war, Missy Ryan, Washington Post