KGOU

Saudi Arabia

President Obama meets with King Salman during a 2015 trip to Saudi Arabia.
Pete Souza / The White House

On Friday, France’s foreign minister described talks over Syria’s future as entering a “danger zone.” Opposition leaders have stepped away from the negotiating table in Geneva, accusing the regime led by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad of violating the cease-fire the U.S. and Russia painfully put together.

Representative of Assad’s regime might not even be at the negotiating table without Russia’s intervention. Airstrikes helped Syrian forces take back territory, put the rebels on their heel, and attack ISIS positions in the ancient city of Palmyra.

The portrait of Nimr Baqr al-Nimr, the recently deceased Shia cleric in al-Awamiyah, Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia.
Abbas Goudarzi / Wikimedia Commons

Since the January 2 assassination of popular Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, Iranians have continued to rally against Saudi Arabia, leading to a severing of diplomatic ties between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic.

Suzette Grillot joins the show from Paris to talk about what she’s seen in the European city in just the few weeks after the coordinated terrorist attack by ISIS militants.

Then guest host Brian Hardzinski talks with Ed Morse, the head of Global Commodities Research for Citigroup. He calls North America “the New Middle East,” – taking over the role of swing producer from Saudi Arabia. He'll also explain changing oil markets how he applies lessons from the 1980s to today. 

An oil field in the Middle East.
Michele Solmi / Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

1979 was a pretty interesting year to be in charge of international energy policy for the U.S. Department of State. The world was still recovering from a crippling energy crisis six years earlier, and the Iranian Revolution sparked a second oil shock that triggered a recession that would last for much of the early 1980s.

Joshua Landis and Suzette Grillot discuss the International Olympic Committee easing restrictions on refugee athletes, and a recent International Monetary Fund report describing the effect low oil prices could have on Middle East cash reserves:

Then Suzette talks with Leslie Woodward, one of the founders of the Post-Conflict Research Center in Sarajevo. Her organization works to ease the two-decade-old wounds of the wars in the Balkans.

The Al-Faisaliah Tower in downtown Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Mohammed Al-Deghaishim / United Nations Information Centres

Falling oil prices and continued instability in the Middle East will continue to deplete liquid financial assets in the region’s oil exporters, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF released its Middle East economic outlook report earlier this month, which indicates that Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest exporter of oil, could run out of cash reserves in five years unless crude prices rebound.

Joshua Landis explains rebel advances in Syria and new Saudi aggressiveness in its wars with Iran.

Then Suzette Grillot talks with University of Oklahoma German professor Bob Lemon and Oregon State University Cold War-era cultural scholar Sebastian Heiduschke about cinema and literature in East Germany.

Saudi King Abdullah talks with newly appointed Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdel-Aziz in Taif June 19, 2012. Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has appointed his defence minister, Prince Salman, as heir apparent, opting for stability and a continuation of cau
Saudi Press Agency / Reuters

Syria observers are questioning whether President Bashar al-Assad's time could be running short after rebels captured two large, northern cities inside of a month. Despite attempts to mount a counteroffensive, Syrian troops have been unable to regain any ground lost in the cities of Idlib and Jisr al-Shughour just south of the Turkish border.

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.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Israel, on July 23, 2014, before the two sat down to discuss a possible cease-fire to stop Israel's fight with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
U.S. Department of State

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered an address before Congress on Tuesday, urging President Obama not to craft a nuclear deal with Iran.

The domestic politics of the speech have been widely discussed, but the speech has raised issues of shifting U.S. alliances with Middle East countries.

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