Noam Chomsky on the war against ISIL

We speak to the renowned US academic, and look at the state of Egypt five years after the Arab Spring

In this episode of UpFront, Mehdi Hasan speaks to the renowned American academic Noam Chomsky about his public spat with the Turkish president, the war against ISIL and Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

We also look at the ramifications of the Saudi Arabia-Iran feud, and debate the state of Egypt five years after the Arab Spring.

Headliner: Noam Chomsky on ISIL, Turkey and Ukraine

Noam Chomsky has been described as “arguably the most important intellectual alive”. And as one of the world’s most celebrated academics, he has published more than 100 books and is a leading critic on United States foreign policy. 

In the first of a special two-part interview, Chomsky sits down with Mehdi Hasan to discuss the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group, Ukraine and Turkey. 

Chomsky and other “so-called intellectuals” were recently criticised by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for supporting Kurdish separatists. The author and activist, who has accused the Turkish government of waging a “terrorist war” against the Kurds, tells UpFront that President Erdogan is “undoubtedly carrying out vicious repressive actions attacking the Kurdish population”, adding that he would call him a “murderer”. 

Chomsky also talks about imperialism, and comments on the row between Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Part two of the interview to be aired Friday, January 29 at 1930 GMT includes who Chomsky would vote for in the US presidential election, why he doesn’t support a full boycott of Israel, and the impact of the rise of Islamophobia. 

Reality Check: Beyond the Saudi Arabia-Iran feud

The spat between Saudi Arabia and Iran heated up earlier this month after the execution of Shia religious leader Nimr al-Nimr and the burning of the Saudi embassy in Tehran. 

Some have called the feud a war within the Muslim world, pointing to what many see as an inevitable clash between the two countries. A look at history however, proves otherwise. 

In this week’s Reality Check, Mehdi Hasan challenges the notion that the current row between Saudi Arabia and Iran stems from a 1,400-year-old theological split and says the feud should not taint relations between Muslims, the majority of whom live outside the Middle East. 

Arena: Is Egypt better off under Sisi?

Monday marks the fifth anniversary of the uprising that ended the 30-year rule of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. 

In 2013, the country’s first ever elected civilian president, Mohamed Morsi, was deposed in a military coup following massive protests against his rule. 

Since then, there have been large crackdowns on dissidents by the government and, according to Amnesty International, there has been a “dramatic deterioration in human rights”.

So, is the country better or worse off than it was before the Arab Spring? In this week’s Arena, Egyptian-American activist Mohamed Soltan, who was arrested and tortured for two years as a political prisoner in Egypt, debates with Raymond Stock, an expert on the Middle East.

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