Mafraj Radio Episode 6: US Intelligence, Addressing the Water Crisis, and Celebrating Ramadan

On this episode, we get an inside look at the US intelligence system with journalist and former intelligence analyst Joshua Foust, we discuss Yemen's water crisis with UNDP advisor Walid 'Ali, and we learn about Ramadan traditions from the creator of Yemen Kitchen, Wigdan al-Guneid. 

This is probably the longest episode we've done so far, and I think that's a good thing. The interview with Joshua Foust, which opens the episode, covers subjects that aren't discussed in any discussion of the US counter-terrorism program that I've seen elsewhere, and I think it's very valuable for both critics and supporters of US policy to understand how the intelligence system works. I didn't edit much out of that interview because it's so important, and because Josh's personal insights are such an asset to the discussion. We'll definitely be returning to different aspects of US policy in future episodes.

The water crisis is another subject that we'll be exploring in multiple episodes. On this episode we talk to Walid 'Ali, who oversees the environmental portfolio for UNDP in Yemen. Our interview includes a discussion of some of the possible solutions to the water shortage.

To wrap up the episode, we talk to Wigdan al-Guneid, the creator of a unique blog where she writes about Yemeni food and Yemen's cultural history. Wigdan tells us about how Yemenis observe the holy month of Ramadan and the holiday of 'Eid al-Fitr.

About our guests:

Joshua Foust: Joshua Foust is freelance journalist with a broad background in counter-terrorism and foreign policy. He currently edits the “State of Play” collection at Medium, a new platform for writing online, which covers foreign policy issues. For its entire production run, April 2010 to May of 2013, he was the national security columnist for PBS Need to Know, a weekly magazine show.

Joshua has also written for The Atlantic, the New York Times, the New York Daily News, the Christian Science MonitorForeign PolicyThe American Prospect, and the Columbian Journalism Review. In November of 2010 he published his first book, Afghanistan Journal: Selections from, which was praised by the New York Times as “an attuned observer of the American-led effort in Afghanistan.”

From January 2011 to March of 2013, Joshua was a Fellow at the American Security Project. Before that fellowship, he was a senior intelligence analyst for the U.S. military, a civilian adviser to the U.S. military in Afghanistan, a political analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency in Yemen, and the in-house futurist for the U.S. Army’s Intelligence and Security Command.

Joshua tweets at @JoshuaFoust

Walid 'Ali: Walid Ali is climate change and environmental policy advisor at the UNDP office in Yemen. He oversees a number of projects relating to environmental and natural resource management.

Wigdan al-Guneid: Wigdan al-Guneid is from the city of Ta‘iz in lower Yemen. Currently residing in the US, she is an architectural designer, and is passionate about Yemeni food, culture, and history.

Follow her on Twitter at @YemenKitchen