Author Howard Kaplan returns to Covert Contact to discuss Bullets of Palestine (the second novel in his Jerusalem Spy Series), chronic tensions in the Middle East, the prospect for reconciliation, Abu Nidal, and his approach to writing.
Longtime listeners will recognize Howard from episode 21 where we discussed the first novel in the series.
Phillip Smyth is a researcher at the University of Maryland who focuses on Iran-backed Shiite proxy groups. He is also well-known for his Hizballah Cavalcade project on Jihadology. In episode 70 Phillip joins me for a quick look at how the change in U.S. leadership is impacting the balance of sectarian power and our policy toward Iran. Are there fundamental shifts underway? Is the U.S. actually leading or are actors in the region just seizing a perceived window of opportunity to advance their own agendas? We tackle it all in this episode.
In episode 29 Brookings Institution senior fellow and author of Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East joins me to discuss the difficult relationship Islamist movements have with democracy and power at the state level in general. Years of research, and deep contacts, led Shadi to some unexpected findings about how Islamist movements navigate through political systems. We also discuss the state of affairs in the United States – primarily the apparent increase in, and acceptance of, anti-Muslim bigotry in the 2016 presidential campaign. It is a fascinating discussion that reflects the challenges inherent in democracy and serves as a reminder that the tensions balanced by democracy could also destroy it if society rejects or loses the shared value system that makes it all possible.
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Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East
Brookings Institution: Shadi Hamid