We’re inching very close to a significant milestone for our Middle East Analysis podcasts. This programme is the 99th in a series that started just as those popular uprisings took hold in the region in what was then called the “Arab Spring” in late 2010, early 2011.
Dr Harry Hagopian, our podcast contributor and the Bishops’ consultant on the Middle East North Africa region, joins us in the studio after a short unavoidable hiatus (which basically means the presenter and contributor were chasing each other in busy times to no avail!) to offer his considerable insight into this most beautiful but complex region.
So what’s in today’s extended podcast?
Well, unless you’re suffering from global political apathy and frustration, it can’t have escaped your attention that Donald Trump is the President-elect of the United States. We pass a short comment on that and Dr Hagopian makes an interesting contrast between the will of the people and how democracy works – or stumbles – in the East versus the West.
We also look to the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo as a number of short ceasefires have come to an end again leaving the people, particularly in the east of the city, facing violence, destruction and an uncertain future.
In neighbouring Iraq, the much-discussed Mosul offensive is underway to purge the city of the Daesh extremists that have occupied it since 2014. Reports suggest as many as 700,000 people could be displaced. Dr Hagopian looks at how the extremists have had two years to prepare for the inevitable push on Mosul and analyses what lies ahead.
Then there’s the $4m restoration of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. We discuss the Christian confessions responsible for the Church and how the conservation work is now finally underway.
We conclude with a big revelation about the future of our Middle East Analysis podcasts.