VOMENA: October 7, 2015


Battlefield Syria: Omar S. Dahi on the Conflict

putin-russia-will-continue-to-help-syria-if-the-us-attacksLast week,  Russian jets started carrying out airstrikes in Syria. This brings the total number of countries who have bombed Syrian territory in 2015 to an unbelievable 13.The military buildup in Bashar al-Assad’s western coastal heartlands and Moscow’s military intervention has  brought a new dimension to an already catastrophic civil war driven by internal and external state and non state actors. In this episode, we have a conversation with Omar S. Dahi about the latest military intervention by Russia and the future of what remains of the Syrian nation-state. Omar Dahi is an  associate professor of economics at Hampshire College. He also serves on the editorial committee at the Middle East Report, co-editor of the Syria page for Jadaliyya e-zine.

Amir Soltani on His New Film Dogtown Redemption

photo-originalThe new documentary film, Dogtown Redemption, delves inside the lives of West Oakland’s poor and homeless recyclers. Amir Soltani and Chihiro Wimbush  follow the lives of three homeless people trying to eke out a living by recycling other people’s trash. One of the questions the filmmaker raises is who owns our garbage and what makes otherwise marginal characters important voices in a conflict over race, class and public space in a modern American city.  Amir spoke to us about why he spent several years working on this  particular story.

Dogtown redemption will be screened at this year’s Mill Valley film festival on Satruday Oct 10th and Thursday Oct 15th.  Please tune in next week to hear  our extended conversation with  Dogtown redemption’ co director  Amir Soltani

Additional Information

Jadaliyya’s Syria page

Mill Valley Film Festival


VOMENA: September 9, 2015

The Humanitarian Catastrophe in Yemen

yemen-bombing_3251011bThree years after a popular uprising forced an end to Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 33-years of autocratic rule in Yemen,  the country is embroiled in a bitter civil war and is the target of a Saudi led military intervention. The ongoing conflict has catastrophic consequences for the population.  It has been more than five months since the Saudi led regional coalition began a bombing campaign,  coupled with an air and naval blockade of Yemen, ostensibly to force out Houthi forces and their allies and restore the government of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who  had assumed power in the wake of  Saleh’s departure. Reports indicate that upwards of 4,500 have been killed in the fighting so far, at least 500 of  them children. 21 million Yemenis are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance now, the highest number anywhere  in the world.

This week, we’ll have a conversation with San’a-based political analyst Hisham Al- Omeisy about the ongoing ramifications of the seemingly unending  war in his country of Yemen. (photo: telegraph.co.uk)

Golden Thread’s Re-orient Festival

In 2016, the Bay Area based theater company,  Golden Thread Productions will celebrate its 20th anniversary. For almost two decades, Golden Thread Production has created a space for cultural exchange, while exploring the diverse Middle Eastern cultures and identities. From  September 10th to Oct 4th  Golden Thread’s Re-orient 2015, will bring to stage eight short plays  in two repertory series from around world. Torange Yeghiazarian, Artistic Director of Golden Thread Productions will tell us about Re-Orient 2015, a festival of short plays which kicks off tomorrow and runs through October 4th at Z below in San Francisco. 

Additional Information

BBC on the “humanitarian catastrophe” in Yemen

The Guardian’s coverage of the Yemeni War 

Golden Thread’s Web Page 


VOMENA: September 2, 2015

A Perfect Metaphor? The Trash Crisis in Lebanon

garbagerisisOn Tuesday, Lebanese security forces arrested and beat up protesters staging a sit-in at the office of the environmental ministry in Beirut. For the past two week tens of thousands of people have been protesting over government’s inability to provide basic services, demanding an end to the widespread corruption and sectarianism embedded in the political sectarian structure; and Garbage has become a perfect metaphor for the rot of a chronically  dysfunctional political system like the one holding sway in Lebanon. According to various reports, at one point,  an estimated 8000 to 22,000 tonnes of rubbish piled up on the streets. The movement, called “You Stink”, has tapped into the general anger at the scale of corruption and paralysis of the confessional system in Lebanon. (photo: 24hournews.ca)

This week, we spend the hour with Ohio university assistant professor of history Ziad Abu-Rish to  discuss what the garbage crisis reveals about the political and economic structure of the Lebanese state.  

Additional Information

September 1st sit-in

Politico on the crisis and “Trashy politics” 

Lebanon’s garbage crisis reveals political paralysis



VOMENA: August 12, 2015

Continuing Coverage of the Turkish attack on the PKK

Photo: REUTERS/Murad Sezer.

Photo: REUTERS/Murad Sezer.

In a televised speech on August 11, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed that his government would continue its military campaign against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) ” until weapons are laid down … and not one single terrorist” remained within his country’s borders. The statement came nearly two weeks after the Turkish government had announced a two-pronged “anti-terror” offensive against Daaesh or the Islamic State militants in Syria and the PKK strongholds in northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey. Turkey’s air raids have predominantly targeted the PKK, which accuses the Turkish state of using its campaign against Daesh or the Islamic State as cover for taking on the Kurdish rebels. The PKK militants have also responded by attacking Turkish security forces. The renewed fighting takes place two years after the Turkish state and the PKK agreed to a ceasefire, which was supposed to bring an end to three decades of bloody conflict between the two sides.

This week, We bring you the second part of our conversation with professor Kamran Matin,  a senior lecturer in International Relations at Sussex University, about the ongoing attack on Kurdish positions and the future of the Kurdish movement in the greater Middle East.

The Francophone school in Oakland

Over the past few centuries, the French language, just like English and Spanish, has spread all over the globe conveying values both positive and negative, of knowledge and emancipation, as well as conquest and oppression. Today, communities across the globe are reclaiming the empowering aspects of this rich language and culture, and Oakland has just opened its first independent charter Francophone school. This week, we speak with Algerian-born school director Mohammed Ben Mohammed Daoudi and his co-director René Waneka.


VOMENA: August 5, 2015


Kamran Matin on the Continuing Turkish Attacks on the PKK

s200_kamran.matinIn 1919, the Kurds brought their demands for an autonomous state to the Paris Conference in the wake of World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Nearly a century  later, the Kurdish question remains unresolved in the four countries in the Middle East where most Kurdish people live today: Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. As it has been widely reported, following an IS suicide bombing in the Turkish border town of Suruc  which killed 32 people mostly very young students, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), reacted by killing two Turkish police officers, which served as a pretext for an all-out Turkish attack on PKK bases in the Qandil mountains of Northern Iraq.

This week, We’ll bring you the first part of our conversation with Sussex University professor Kamran Matin about the ongoing attack on Kurdish positions and the future of the Kurdish movement in the greater Middle East.

Henry Norr on the Accusations Against Alison Weir

henrynorrOver the past two decades, the Marin County based organization If Americans Knew has worked tirelessly  to  advocate for peace and justice in Palestine and Israel.  Recently, the organization and its founder, Alison Weir, has come under attack by another local peace group, Jewish Voice for Peace. JVP is a liberal organization which was born in Berkeley at about the same time as If Americans Knew, and  until recently had collaborated with IAK.

We speak with well known Berkeley peace activist, Henry Norr, who has worked with both groups, to try understand what is behind this dispute among ostensible allies.


Additional Information

Kamran Matin in Open Democracy

Jadaliyya’s Turkey Page

Jewish Voice for Peace’s statement on Alison Weir

Alison Weir’s response to the Jewish Voice for Peace accusations


VOMENA: July 29, 2015

Osman Sahin on Turkey’s Foreign Policy Shift

Photo: Al-Moniter

Photo: Al-Moniter

In the last week, Turkey has joined the fight against the so called  Islamic State of Iraq, after the group it carried out a suicide bombing close to the Syrian border, killing 32 young socialist activists and students and injuring many more. Following that  horrific tragedy, the Turkish government came under pressure to stop the free movement of ISIS fighters and operatives over the Syrian border. The AKP  government has been often accused of active collaboration with ISIS fighters; allowing money, and munitions to move from one side of the border to the other.

Despite the bombing of a few ISIS targets, most of Turkey’s fire power has been directed toward the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK). According to Al- Monitor “The attack on IS was a single sortie against limited targets and closer to the Turkish border, while the one against the PKK was much different… Some 300 smart bombs were dropped in 185 sorties against approximately 400 PKK targets.” This week, we have a conversation with Dr Osman Sahin, a political scientist and a lecturer at Koc University, about  the Turkish government’s decided to start what has been presented as a concurrent two-pronged confrontation against PKK and Daesh (IS) and its effect on the future of Turkish politics.


Sally El Hosaini: My Brother The Devil

MBTD_1Sheet_sml1Welsh-Egyptian writer-director Sally El Hosaini’s  debut feature film,  My Brother the Devil, tells the story of two immigrant brothers growing up in the Hackney housing estate in East London. Mo  is a bright young student living with his  Egyptian family, and  his older brother Rashid is a high ranking member of a small-time local gang. The film’s setting reflects the multi ethnic makeup of London’s housing blocks, where young immigrant kids are linked by poverty, alienation and gang culture. The film won the Best Cinematography award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. We speak with Sally El Hosaini about her experience entering this world to make the film.



Al-Moniter on Turkey’s Foreign Policy shift

Jadaliyya’s Turkey Page

 My Brother the Devil Trailer





VOMENA: July 22, 2015


Nabil Al-Raee and  Alia Alrosan on the Freedom Theatre

Freedom-Theatre-0013Theater and artistic expression take on a special role  within zones of violence and conflict. For more than a decade, The Freedom Theatre, located in Jenin Refugee camp in the north of the occupied West Bank, has empowered Palestinian youth and fostered a community of artists committed to  social and political change.

This week, Artistic Director of the Freedom Theater Nabil Al-Raee and theater student Alia Alrosan discuss the unique role of art and theater in confronting the difficult realities of life under occupation for Palestinians living in Jenin Refugee Camp and beyond.

Khaled Jarrar on his  award-winning documentary, “Infiltrators”

infiltratorsThe Palestinian people of the occupied West Bank face extreme danger and hardship just to live their daily lives. Khaled Jarrar’s  award-winning documentary film, “Infiltrators” is an hard look into that world. Shot over the course of 4 years, the film documents the crossing of Palestinians over Israel’s 20-foot apartheid wall. Palestinians who cross in search of work, a short visit with loved ones or medical treatment they cannot receive in the West Bank, risk arrest or worse. We spoke with Khaled Jarrar about his film and life in the occupied west bank.


The Freedom Theatre Facebook page

Review of  “Infiltrators” in Middle East Monitor

Khaled Jarrar in Jadaliyya


VOMENA: July 15, 2015

Ilan Pappe: On Palestine

chompappe_cover Renowned Israeli historian Illan Pappe’s new book On Palestine, coauthored with Noam Chomsky,  frames the debate about the future of Palestine between the old and new positions on the left . Professors Pappe and Chomsky discuss a wide variety of topics, from the one state solution to the BDS movement and its call for an academic boycott.

This week, we spend the hour with professor Pappe discussing his new book and the political theory he presents in On Palestine.

VOMENA: July 8, 2015

Iran’s Nuclear Deal and the Day After

s200_kamran.matinFor more than a week, diplomats from Iran and six world powers have gathered in Vienna’s Coburg Palace to finalize a historic deal on Iran’s nuclear program.   The officials from Iran and the US have told reporters  “we are making good progress on almost all of the issues..But there are a few issues which … remain to be resolved” as a result, the self imposed deadline of June 30th is now extend to Friday July 10th.

This week, we spend the hour with Kamran Matin, Assistant Professor in International Relations at Sussex University about the sticking points of the negotiations, the impact of sanctions on Iran’s economy and polity, and what we may expect in the country if the issue of Iran’s nuclear program is resolved peacefully.


July 9th is the 10th anniversary of Palestinian civil society’s call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions; and the 11th anniversary of the International Court of Justice ruling against the Wall.

On Thursday, July 9th Palestinian physician, activist, and politician, Mustafa Barghouti who serves as General Secretary of the Palestine National Initiative Will be speaking about the BDS movement, ICJ’s ruling against the apartheid wall, his trip to Gaza, the settlement expansion and future strategies. After returning from Gaza in September 2014 following Israel’s brutal 51-day assault, Dr. Barghouti said, “This inhumanity can’t continue. There’s only one way out – to establish boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel in order to dismantle this occupation and this apartheid.”

This event will take place on Thursday, July 9th from 7-10 pm at the First Congregational Church, located at 2345 Channing way in Berkeley. The Event is a Benefit for Middle East Children’s Alliance projects for Palestinian children


The Guardian’s coverage of the negotiations

Kamran Matin’s book Recasting Iranian Modernity: International Relations and Social Change

Mustafa Barghouti in Berkeley July 9th

Arab Film Festival Facebook


VOMENA: July 1, 2015

Max Blumenthal on the 2014 Assault on Gaza

51daywarJuly 8th marks the first anniversary of last year’s Israel’s military assault on Gaza, a fifty-one day attack that left over 2,000 people dead, at least 10,000 homes destroyed and nearly 300,000 Palestinians displaced. In his new book , “The 51 Day War: Resistance and Ruin in Gaza,” award-winning journalist and author  Max Blumenthal reveals the cynical deceptions that led to the brutal, genocidal operation.

This week, we have a conversation with Max Blumenthal about his new book “The 51 Day War: Resistance and Ruin in Gaza” and the BDS movement. Max Blumenthal was on the ground during this onslaught, which he argues was an entirely avoidable catastrophe.

Delinda Hanely on Receiving the Racheal Corrie Award

Delinda-Hanley-Ed.Delinda Hanley of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs is this year’s recipient of Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee’s “Rachel Corrie Award.” She has been recognized for her tireless work to educate Americans and the public about the Middle East and issues such as the Israeli killing of Rachel Corrie. This week, we speak with Delinda about her work and receiving this illustrious award.


Max Blumenthal Speaking at First Congregational Church in Berkeley July 1st

“The 51 Day War: Resistance and Ruin in Gaza” Verso Books

Delinda Hanely Receives  the Rachel Corrie Award


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