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Editor's Note: This interview originally aired March 22, 2013.

Audiences most likely know Egyptian-American stand-up comedian Ahmed Ahmed as a member of the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour.

“Comedians have become, most recently, cultural ambassadors of the world,” Ahmed said. “Whether you're in Africa, or America, or Russia, or Asia, laughter is the common language of the world.”

Joshua Landis and Suzette Grillot discuss what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech in Washington this week says about a possible shift in U.S./Middle East alliances. Many traditional U.S. allies are worried Washington might shift toward Iran and away from Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Later, Landis and Rebecca Cruise talk with Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Gordon Wood. He compares this decade’s uprisings in the Arab World to what he calls an “Atlantic Spring” that started in 1776.

John Trumbull's famous painting of the Founders presenting the Declaration of Independence to the Second Continental Congress.
Library of Congress

Beginning in 2010, a wave of revolutions swept the Middle East, removing rulers and establishing new regimes. Although the Arab Spring took place more than two centuries after the American Revolution, they occurred in similar social and political contexts.

“Before [the Arab Spring] there was an Atlantic Spring that began actually in 1776,” says Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Gordon Wood.

Joshua Landis and Suzette Grillot discuss riots in Egypt after a court in Cairo dropped its case against deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak, and about how a focus on counterterrorism has overtaken all hopes for democracy in the Middle East.

Then a conversation with literary critic Warren Motte about his work collecting tens of thousands of moments where characters gaze into mirrors.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry presides over a meeting of more than 60 anti-ISIL coalition parties held on December 3, 2014, at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
U.S. Department of State

Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Cairo throughout the week after a court ruled Saturday evening to dismiss charges against ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak over the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising in Egypt.

Samer Shehata joins Suzette Grillot to talk about democratic developments in Egypt, and how the conviction of journalists and questions about the fairness of May’s elections have affected the country’s relations with the United States.

Later, a conversation about police cooperation and Europe’s internal security policy with Canisius College political scientist John Occhipinti.

U.S. Department of State / Flickr Public Domain

It’s been almost 13 months since the coup that ousted Egypt’s first democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi. Since then, there’s been a great deal of violence that accompanied the transition leading to the inauguration of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on June 8.

Rebecca Cruise explains why Russia's ouster from the Group of Eight industrialized nations is mostly symbolic with little consequence, and Joshua Landis discusses the implications of the murder convictions of more than 500 supporters of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

Later, a conversation with political scientist Fevzi Bilgin about allegations against Turkey’s prime minister, and political instability ahead of Sunday's local elections.

Sebastian Horndasch / Flickr Creative Commons

A court in southern Egypt Monday convicted 529 supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, sentencing them to death on charges of murdering a policeman and attacking police.

The defendants were arrested after violent demonstrations that were a backlash for the police crackdown in August on pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo that killed hundreds of people.

In something of a surprise, Egyptian Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi announced Monday that his entire Cabinet is stepping down.

From Cairo, NPR's Leila Fadel says the prime minister gave no reason for the mass resignation.

Update at 11:05 a.m. ET: There's been a fourth blast in Cairo. We've added that development to the top of this post.

At least 200 refugees, mostly women and children, have drowned in South Sudan after a ferry sank as they were trying to cross the Nile River to escape fighting near the northern town of Malakal.

Army spokesman Col. Philip Aguer said the group was in an "overloaded" boat. The New York Times, which places the number of dead at between 200 and 300, reports that it is the worst such ferry accident to date as tens of thousands of residents have sought refuge.

The trial of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi opened and then was quickly adjourned Monday in Cairo.

The judge ordered a delay to Jan. 8 after Morsi refused to recognize the court's legitimacy or wear a prison uniform, and after Morsi and other defendants disrupted the proceeding with chants that included "down with military rule, this is a state not a military camp."

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

NPR assigned correspondent Kelly McEvers to Iraq in 2010 with instructions not to miss a day ahead of the expected troop withdrawal by the end of 2011.

“Then in late 2010, a young man in Tunisia set himself on fire, and literally changed everything,” McEvers says. “At first I was watching it on TV in Baghdad, sitting there thinking, ‘Do we really have to stay in Baghdad? C’mon, you know? Put me in coach!’ asking to be sent out on the stories.”

(We put a new top on this post at 11:50 a.m. ET and added a new development being reported by the AP at 2 p.m. ET.)

The Obama administration is still reviewing U.S. assistance to Egypt and it's incorrect to say that such aid has been "secretly" put on hold, the White House said Tuesday.