January 23, 2019

Castro Releases Podcast Episode on Middle East: “From Russia to Riyadh”

WASHINGTON—Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, today released a Diplomatic Cable episode on the tectonic shifts in the Middle East since the Arab Spring and the implications for U.S. foreign policy. This episode features Vali Nasr, former Special Advisor to President Obama’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan and current Dean at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

“We’re eight years past the Arab Spring, and still feeling tectonic shifts across the Middle East. As the Trump Administration continues to pull back from the region with the withdrawal of U.S forces in Syria, other countries like Russia will fill our void” said host Rep. Castro. “On this episode, I’m joined by Vali Nasr—a scholar and practitioner on all things Middle East—where we discuss Putin’s growing Middle Eastern ambitions, the future of U.S.-Saudi relations following the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the crisis in Yemen, prospects of a two-state solution, and the complex consequences of U.S. withdrawal from Syria.”

“[T]he Arab spring has underperformed. What it really produced for the region was really the collapse of the Arab world. So, the two, three largest Arab countries, Syria, you know, Egypt, Iraq, they all lost their footing. They ended up in civil war. There was no production of new institution,” said Dr. Nasr on the episode. “Ultimately, we could say that it produced a fundamental change in the strategic balance in the region. Because the Arab spring actually didn’t strengthen the Arab world but weakened it, power gravitated towards Iran and Turkey in this formula, and then therefore, in a way, what we’re trying to do very unsuccessfully is to shore up the Arab world.”

The episode is available on iTunes, Spotify, and Google Play.

Future episodes of the Diplomatic Cable will include discussions with House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel (NY-16), former Council on Foreign Relation’s Max Boot, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, former State Department Cyber Coordinator Chris Painter, and many other experts, practitioners, Members of Congress and American citizens. Episodes will focus on U.S. foreign policy in the 116th Congress, the consequences of a rising China, the crisis in American diplomacy and development, cyber diplomacy, and many other issues.

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