VOMENA: April 8, 2014

Mansour Farhang on The Politics and Impacts of Iran’s Nuclear Program

Arak_Heavy_Water4After long days of negotiations in Switzerland, on April 2nd the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany agreed on a frame work with Iran that would radically scale back the country’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. With the deadline to finalize the details of the agreement is set for the end of June, there is much more diplomatic work to be done. However, the framework agreement marks an important first step in the negotiation process. This week we spend the hour with Mansour Farhang,a professor emeritus of International Relations at Bennington College to discuss the impacts of the sanctions on Iran and how this latest agreement has been received within the political and military establishment in the country. Professor Mansour argues that the agreement serves the  Iranian people and their national interest, and that this may be the first time that the  regime has ever made a decision in the national interest of Iranian people.



VOMENA: April 1, 2015

Ilan Pappé On the Israeli Election

Israeli Knesset (parliament) electionsThe recent Israeli election has become a public relations disaster for Western governments, with reelected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party promising not to allow the creation of a Palestinian state. Many thought the more liberal Zionist Union would be able to oust Netanyahu, but prominent Israeli historian Ilan Pappé expressed no surprise at the results. In a post-election article in Electronic Intifada, he wrote  “Those of us who know the nature of the beast could not have been surprised by the results of the Israeli election. Like many of my friends, I was also relieved that a liberal Zionist government was not elected. It would have allowed the charade of the “peace process” and the illusion of the two-state solution to linger on while the suffering of the Palestinians continues.” (Photograph: Salih Zeki Fazlioglu—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

This week, Khalil Bendib spoke with professor Pappe to get his take on what Netanyahu’s re-election says about Israeli society and whether we might now see a shift in the West’s unconditional support for Israel. Ilan Pappé is a renowned Israeli historian and the author of a number of books on Palestine, including his most recent which he co-authored with Noam Chomsey, titled we celebrate National Poetry Month by  bringing you some of the work of the Middle East’s most celebrated poet, Palestinian Mahmoud Darwish, translated by Iraqi poet Sinan Antoon.

Additional Information

Ilan Pappé’s newest book, On Palestine

Ilan Pappé on Electronic Intifada

Effects of the Election on Israeli-U.S. Relations

Poetry By Mahmoud Darwish


VOMENA: March 25, 2015

Yemen At Crossroads: An Interview with Activist Hisham Al-Omeisy

Yemen has grabbed the world’s attention as the country’s political crisis appears to have been deepened with the Saudi-led military intervention. According to The Guardian and other news organizations, the U.S. is providing “logistical and intelligence support” to the Saudi-led coalition against the Houthi forces in Yemen. In the absence of independent on-the-ground reporting by the major media outlets on the turmoil in Yemen, social media platforms are once again providing the much needed platform for activists in the country to post images, express their views, and raise their concerns about the fate of their country.

On Tuesday, twenty-four hours before the air strikes by Saudi Arabia, in the Yemeni city of Taiz, thousands of people protested the advandcement of Houthi forces to the southern city of Aden. Shahram Aghamir spoke with Yemeni activist Hisham Al-Omeisy about the worsening political climate in the country and the popular sentiments towards what was then a possible foriegn military assault.

Yemeni Activists on Social Media

Hisham Al-Omeisy @omeisy

We are all anti-Houthi but Hadi will forever be remembered as the prez whom allowed foreign forces to bombard own nation #Yemen

Mya @MaysaAlYemen 

I’m against Houthi and I’m 100% against Saleh, but today I am a YEMENI! I’m against any Saudi intervention in my country

Yemen Peace Project ?@YemenPeaceNews

Any air campaign against San’a will result in bloodshed, zero political progress. US support for KSA is a huge mistake here. #Yemen

Additional Information

Saudi Involvement in Yemen

Arab Nations’ Coalition Against Houthi forces

Opposition to Pakistani Involvement in Yemen


VOMENA: March 18, 2015

Rijin Sahakian On the Destruction of Archeological Sites in Iraq

Assyrian siteMarch 19th marks the 12th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.  Today, Iraq is back in the headlines because of the brutality with which ISIS has been trying to destroy what is left of Iraq’s diverse cultural and human landscape.  Since ISIS has moved into Northern Iraq, they have displaced over a million people and gone after the cultural heritage that make Iraq such an irreplaceable locus of world history. They have destroyed mosques, burned thousands of books in the library at Mosul and, in the past few weeks, desecrated some of the country’s most significant ancient archeological sites. (Photograph: Alamy, The Guardian)

This week, Malihe Razazan speaks with Rijin Sahakian, Iraq American International curator, about the incredible human and cultural losses that Iraq has endured as a result of more than a decade of sanctions, occupation and sectarian violence. Rijin Sahakian is an international curator and the Founding Director of Sada, a non-profit organization whose mission is to support the generation, presentation and preservation of contemporary art in Iraq. You can visit Sada’s website here.

This week’s program also features award winning Iraqi poet and novelist Sinan Antoon reading his poem “A Letter to Al-Mutanabbi Street,” from the book, Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, a project of Beau Beausoleil and Sarah Bodma.

Additional Information

The New York Times on the ISIS attack on Nimrud

Article on the Burning of Ancient Manuscripts at Mosul

Poems By Sinan Antoon

VOMENA: March 11, 2015

Lynsey Addario: The Experience of a Female War Photojournalist

PhotojournalistIRAQADDARIO024-1 Lynsey Addario has spent the better part of the last fifteen  years in war zones, taking the photographs few are brave enough to capture. She has covered the effects of wars and natural disasters on civilians from Iraq to Libya to the Philippines.  She has been taken hostage twice while working on assignment. This year, she turned the lens around and released a memoir about her life and career titled It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War.

In our first segment, Lynsey Addario speaks to Malihe Razazan about her work and life as a female photojournalist. She is one of the recipients of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting, for her photographs in ‘Talibanistan’ (The Photo Society). You can see her work on her website (here). Photograph: Lynsey Addario, lindseyaddario.com

Sid Patel on the Stanford Student Senate Divestment Resolution

On February 17th the Stanford Student Senate passed a resolution by a super-majority of 10-4-1 urging the university to divest from companies “maintaining the illegal infrastructure of the Israeli occupation”.  Stanford is the latest of more than 20 universities nationwide to pass divestment resolutions.

Josh Wilner spoke with Sid Patel, a co-facilitator for Students for Justice in Palestine at Stanford University, about the specifics of this historic resolution and the development of the Palestinian justice movement at Stanford and universities across the country. You can read the resolution here

Additional Information

Read reviews and purchase It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War.

Lynsey Addario interview with Time Magazine

Stanford Out Of Occupied Palestine website

Information about the UAW BDS vote

BDS information

Vomena: March 4th, 2015

Dave Zirin on Corruption and Forced Labor to Bring the World Cup to Qatar

The 2022 FIFA World Cugrieving-parents-Nepal-007p is already marred with controversy after The Guardian released a report on the conditions of Nepalese and other immigrant workers in Qatar. According to the report, young Nepalese workers were dying at rate of nearly one per day and were subject to deplorable living conditions. The workers’ pay is often withheld for months and the employers are refusing to give them documentation, which would allow them to seek other work. Director of Anti-Slavery International Aidan McQuade called the report “a clear proof of the use of systematic forced labor in Qatar.”
In our first segment, Shahram Aghamir speaks with The Nation’s sportswriter Dave Zirin about corruption in FIFA and the use of forced labor in Qatar to complete the more than 100 billion dollar construction of infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup. He is the author of Brazil’s Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, the Olympics, and the Fight for Democracy. You can read his article on Qatar here. ( Photograph: Peter Pattison/guardian.co.uk )

TehranNoirSalar Abdoh on His Award Winning Anthology Tehran Noir

In his new anthology, Iranian-American novelist and essayist Salar Abdoh has brought together 15 Iranian writers to reflect on Tehran and its many social and political contradictions. In the  introduction of the anthology, he writes “most writers around the world are inclined to think that their own sprawling metropolis is the capital of every imaginable vice and crime, of impossible love and tenderness and cruelty and malice in measures that seldom exist anywhere else. For me, Tehran’s case is no different—except that there really is a difference here. The city may be a hothouse of decadence, a den of inequity, all that. But it still exists under the watchful eye of a very unique entity, the Islamic Republic.”

Malihe Razazan talks to Salah Abdoh about the genesis of Tehran Noir and the unique landscape of Iran’s mega-city capital. In addition to being the editor and translator of Tehran Noir, he is the author of several books and short stories, including his most recent novel Tehran at Twilight. You can read reviews and purchase Tehran Noir here.

Additional Information

The Guardian report on forced labor in Qatar

FIFA Corruption in Choosing Qatar for the 2022 World Cup

Salar Abdoh’s latest novel Tehran at Twilight

Salar Abdoh’s Bay Area Events

VOMENA: February 25th, 2015

Sheila Carapico On The unfolding Political crisis in Yemen

carapicoOn February 5, the Houthi rebels in Yemen ousted the government in the capital Sanaa and dissolved the parliament. The Houthis announced that they were forming a five-member presidential council that would replace President Hadi for an interim two-year period and appointed  a “revolutionary committee” would be in charge of forming a new parliament with 551 members. As the Houthis tighten their grip on power, the political turmoil, which has engulfed Yemen for that past four years, appears to continue. Is the Houthi advance evidence of Yemen’s imminent collapse? What hope is there for the country?

This week, Shahram Aghamir speaks with University of Richmond political scientist Sheila Carapico about the situation leading up to  the Houthis’ march into the Yemen’s capital and takeover of the government. She is the co-author of “The breakdown of GCC Initiative”, published in the Middle East Research and Information Project. You can read her article here.


 Additional Resources:

Reflections on the political situation in Yemen

President Abdrabbuh Mansour escapes house arrest

Analysis of Houthi government isolation

Vomena: January 21, 2015

tugal_profileCihan Tugal on Turkey’s shifting alliances

The power bloc which has ruled Turkey since 2002 is undergoing a battle between its two main components: President Erdogan’s AKP and the Hizmat movement of Fethullah Gülen, a United States-based Islamic preacher. What are the consequences of this split for the so-called Turkish model of Islamism, which has been described as a marriage of “Islamic liberalism” in politics and neoliberal capitalism in the economy? Is the Turkish state about to become more authoritarian? And how have President Erdogan’s domestic and regional policies contributed to the rise of different and dormant Islamist forces inside the country?

This week, Shahram Aghamir speaks in depth with UC Berkeley sociologist Cihan Tugal about the rift between President Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the powerful Islamist Gülen community, as well as about the general political landscape in Turkey. Cihan Tugal’s focus includes mobilization, socioeconomic change, and the role of religion in sociopolitical projects. He is the author of Passive Revolution: Absorbing the Islamist Challenge to Capitalism. Click here to read Professor Tugal’s latest articles on Jadaliyya.

Additional Information

Turkish government replaces dozens of police chiefs

Towards the End of a Dream? The Erdogan-Gulen Fallout and Islamic Liberalism’s Descent

Who is benefiting from the Erdogan-Gulen split? 


Vomena: January 14, 2015

Cartoonists Slim and Khalil Bendib on Charlie Hebdo tragedy

Last Wednesday’s fatal shooting of several cartoonists at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris has renewed debates and concerns about the right to freedom of expression as well as about Islamophobia in western Europe and the United States.

In our first segment, Khalil Bendib speaks with prominent Algerian political cartoonist Mnawwar Merabtene, known as Slim, about his colleagues who were murdered in Paris last week. Khalil did the interview and the voiceover for this segment. Then, we hear from Khalil, himself an Algerian-born political cartoonist, paying tribute to the victims and sharing his thoughts about what this latest mass murder means in terms of the ongoing debate about the roles and responsibilities of political satire.

Nabil al-Raee and Alia Alrosan on The Freedom Theatre in Jenin

What is the role of theatre and artistic expression 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.

Artistic Director Nabil Al-Raee and theatre student Alia Alrosan explain the unique role of art and theatre in confronting the difficult realities of life under occupation for Palestinians living in Jenin Refugee Camp and beyond.

Additional Info

Learn more about Slim and other exiled African cartoonists in Europe in Scan: Journal of Media Arts Culture 

Slim compared to and praised by Georges Wolinski, one of the twelve murdered Charlie Hebdo cartoonists

Arna and Juliano Mer Khamis, and the history and legacy of The Freedom Theatre

The Freedom Bus Project and the 2015 Freedom Ride

Vomena: December 17, 2014


Richard Falk on Palestine: The Legitimacy of Hope

This week, Khalil Bendib is joined in the studio by Professor Richard Falk, who speaks about his former position as United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights. His new book, entitled Palestine: The Legitimacy of Hope, discusses what he describes as a legitimacy war, similar to the anti-apartheid campaign of the late 1980s and 1990s. He argues that Palestinian non-violent civil society movements, such as the 2005 call for Boycott divestment and sanctions of Corporations and Institutions that support Israeli occupation policies, have shifted the world’s political and moral imagination. Professor Falk calls the Palestinian struggle for self-determination “the greatest international moral issue of our time”.

Richard Falk is professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University and a Visiting Distinguished Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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