America and al-Qaeda 3.0

We examine the resurgence of al-Qaeda in one of the world's most troubled regions and unpick the US' response.

Last updated: 27 Jan 2014 17:26
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As chaos, instability and violence engulfs the greater Middle East, Empire examines the resurgence of al-Qaeda in one of the world’s most troubled regions, and unpicks the US' response to an enemy once considered to be "on the path to defeat".

Since a supposed ousting from its former heartland in Afghanistan, al-Qaeda, and affiliated groups, now boast a significant, locally-controlled presence from Iraq to Mali, gaining a foothold in countries beset with internal conflict, and what President Obama referred to as "unrest".  Empire traces the symbiosis of insurgent gains and troubled states, as new alliances and new fractures between Islamist factions are played out across the Arab world.
With the likes of  the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) advancing in Syria and Iraq, and other al-Qaeda-linked organisations gaining territory and support in places such as Yemen and Somalia; we analyse the factors that have contributed to the emergence and rise of of increasingly emboldened extreme jihadist groups, and examine the policies of the US, as well as the countries most immediately affected, to counter the rising tide of violence. Has the absence of a coherent strategy by the Obama administration empowered the Islamists' cause? Or is Washington simply indifferent to or unalarmed by the new groups that refer to themselves as al-Qaeda?
Empire explores the retreat of political Islam, from its apogee with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Egyptian election success in 2012, to the nadir of Mohamed Morsi’s overthrow by military coup fourteen months later. We ask if this poverty of progress and stability provides more grist to the mill of those who insist that democracy and the Arab world make for incompatible bedfellows, and how does political legitimacy survive in a region increasingly dominated by bloodshed.
Joining us to discuss these topics are General Michael Hayden (retired US Air Force), a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA); Khalil Al-Anani from the Middle East Institute in Washington D.C, author of several books on Islamic movements, including the forthcoming  Unpacking the Muslim Brotherhood: Religion, Identity, and Politics; Marina Ottaway from the Woodrow Wilson Center, who writes regularly on political transformations in the Middle East - her most recent publication is Yemen on the Brink; and Bob Dreyfuss, an investigative journalist who is a specialist in national security issues, also a contributing editor to The Nation magazine and author of numerous titles including Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam. We also have contributions from Steven Simon, Executive Director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, former White House senior director for Middle Eastern and North African Affairs and co-author of various books such as The Age of Sacred Terror and The Next Attack.

Empire can be seen from the last Sunday of every month at 2000GMT, and is re-aired during the following week at these times GMT: Monday: 1200GMT; Tuesday: 0100GMT; Wednesday: 0600GMT.

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