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Iyad El-Baghdadi and Ahmed Gatnash discuss all things related to authoritarianism and liberty in the Arab Tyrant Manual podcast.

Join the discussion on Twitter #ArabTyrantManual or tweet us @iyad_elbaghdadi, @gatnash.

Episode 023 – Raed Fares: The Man Who Built a Civil Society in a War Zone

On Friday, November 23nd, Raed Fares was assassinated in northern Syria by masked gunmen suspected of being affiliated with al-Qaeda. This episode features an interview we recorded with him at the Oslo Freedom Forum in 2017, in which he told us what the Syrian revolution meant to him, and why he would not give up hope. Raed will be remembered forever as a visionary, and this interview shows why.

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Episode 022- Fauré Must Go!

In Togo, protests are gathering steam against the 50-year rule of the Gnassingbé family. In this episode, Farida Nabourema, a blogger and human rights activist who has been a fearless critic of corruption, dictatorship and colonialism, tells Iyad and Ahmed about the Fauré Must Go movement. We may call this the Arab Tyrant Manual, but that certainly doesn’t limit it to Arabs as this episode shows.

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Episode 021 – Is There a Light at the End of 2019’s Tunnel?

Ahmed and Iyad do a roundup of major news from 2018, and discuss the outlook for the world in 2019. Where were we vindicated over the last year? Which countries will have popular uprisings this year? Why are Arab countries normalising relations with Assad again after 8 years of brutality? What are the big corruption scandals we’re anticipating? And is there a light at the end of the tunnel after repression?

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Episode 020 – Sudan, Mother of Arab Revolutions

Sudan is in the middle of an uprising. That alone is notable, but Sudan is also one of the most fascinating and under-studied countries in the region, and has had more successful uprisings than any other country in the MENA region.

In this episode, Ahmed and Anas Abdalla take a historical dive into all the steps that have led to this juncture, from the lightest to the dark – from independence and through the coups, uprisings and civil wars.

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Episode 019 – The Kawaakibi Foundation Story

In this very special episode, we go through the history of our project from the early days of the Arab Spring through to the present. Our project is a child of the Arab spring, and if you’re interested in the evolution of resistance, this is a must listen.

On this New Year’s Eve we’re also taking a big step forward in launching our Patreon, which we hope will allow us to scale up, institutionalise, expand our team and become more regular.

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Episode 018 – The End Of Arab History

Ahmed and Iyad discuss the aftermath of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and current narratives around authoritarianism in the Middle East. Has Mohammed Bin Salman won? Is the Arab spring over? Is the current state of repression in the Arab world a sustainable “new normal”?

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Episode 017 – Where is Jamal Khashoggi?

Jamal Khashoggi, the veteran Saudi journalist and former royal advisor, is missing and presumed kidnapped. He was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

In this episode we replay a conversation Jamal had with Ahmed, Iyad and Nasser at the Oslo Freedom Forum earlier this year to understand more about Jamal and why this might be happening.

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Episode 016 – Mauritania’s Democratic Tipping Point?

Where in the world could you find out that your deceased grandfather voted in a constitutional referendum 3 years after he died? In this episode, Ahmed and Nasser discuss the recent elections in Mauritania, in which an empowered opposition threaten to undo President Ould Abdelaziz’ hopes for a constitutional amendment to allow himself third turn.

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Episode 014 – Inside the Iran Bubble, with Maryam Nayeb Yazdi

In this episode (part 1 of another 2-part show), Iyad El-Baghdadi (Twitter: @iyad_elbaghdadi) interviews Maryam Nayeb Yazdi (Twitter: @MaryamNayebYazd), a Canadian-Iranian human rights activist, about her journey into activism, and she tells us more about the country since 2009.

Maryam has joined the team of HRANA, who publicise human rights news from Iran, and you should follow them too – their Twitter account is @HRANA_English

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Episode 013 – Can Debate Save the Arab World?

A discussion between Belabbes Benkredda, Founding Director of the Munathara Initiative, and Iyad El-Baghdadi, Nasser Weddady and Ahmed Gatnash, on the public sphere, what teaching young people to debate can do for the world, and how to normalise civilised exchange of ideas and evaluation of them on their merits.

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Episode 012 – The Absentee Landlord of Cambodia’s Internet?

Part 2 of the conversation with Buzzfeed News’ Megha Rajagopalan, continuing the discussion on China but also touching on the effects of Facebook on various South Asian countries like Cambodia, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, including amplifying communal violence, and inadvertently empowering autocrats.

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Episode 011 – China: The Police State of the Future

Part 1 of a meandering conversation between Ahmed and Megha Rajagopalan, BuzzFeed News’ China bureau chief and Asia correspondent, about surveillance and censorship in China – the high-tech police state they’ve built, WeChat and other tech companies, Chinese memes, the effect it’s having on other south Asian countries, as well as comparisons and contrasts to Arab states.

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Episode 010: Dictators and Development Statistics

We attended the Oslo Freedom Forum last month. Ahmed (@Gatnash) sat down with Alex Gladstein (@Gladstein) to get an introduction to the forum, and speak about their goals and some of their achievements, as well as some of Alex’s research on dictatorships use of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and other development statistics.

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Episode 009 – The Catch-22 of Arab Economic Reform

In this conversation, Ahmed and Nasser discuss the Catch-22 of economic reform in the Arab World – the conflicting pressures on regional governments from established business interests and burgeoning youth populations create a true ‘rock and a hard place’ and allow us to understand much better the situation in Jordan, as well as the economic reforms in Saudi Arabia and possibly even predict what’s going to happen in other countries.

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Episode 006 – The Arab World Won’t Fix Itself

A wide-ranging conversation in which Ahmed and Nasser, touching on American air strikes on Syria, coup-proofing, Syrian regime relations with Nazis, emergent models of digital surveillance in China and the gulf, the Arab league, the perks of allying with authoritarian regimes and the long-term prospects of the Arab world.

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Episode 005 – Nonviolence

Iyad and Ahmed discuss nonviolent resistance to oppression – realistic mechanism of change or idealistic and ineffective? What is it, and how does it apply to different struggles today?

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Episode 004 – Scholars and Tyrants

Ahmed and Iyad talk about #globalpeace17 and Muslim scholars who legitimise and support tyrants. Why they do so, and what does this mean both for the Muslim world and for Islam?

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