DiscoverThe Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer
The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer

The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer

Author: James M. Dorsey

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Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, and co-host of the New Books in Middle Eastern Studies podcast. James is the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog, a book with the same title as well as Comparative Political Transitions between Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, co-authored with Dr. Teresita Cruz-Del Rosario and Shifting Sands, Essays on Sports and Politics in the Middle East and North Africa.
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Demonstrating for the third week their determination to force the country’s military to return to its barracks, protesters in Myanmar appear to be learning lessons from a decade of protest in the Middle East and North Africa.
A nationalist Turkish television station with close ties to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dug up a 12-year-old map that projects Turkey’s sphere of influence in 2050 as stretching from South-eastern Europe on the northern coast of the Mediterranean and Libya on its southern shore across North Africa, the Gulf and the Levant into the Caucasus and Central Asia.
Two decades of snail pace revisions of Saudi schoolbooks aimed at removing supremacist references to Jews, Christians, and Shiites suggest a willingness to delete offensive language while keeping in place fundamental concepts of an ultra-conservative, anti-pluralistic, and intolerant interpretation of Islam.
A prominent Muslim scholar has warned that the West’s failure to include the incarceration in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Muslim world of pro-democracy religious scholars risks perpetuating autocratic rule.
Two recent reports documenting significant Saudi progress in countering ingrained religious anti-Jewish, anti-Christian and anti-Shiite supremacism as well as anti-Western and other xenophobic attitudes suggest the kingdom’s receptivity to external pressure as it endeavours to position itself as the leader of a vaguely defined ‘moderate’ form of Islam.
Saudi Arabia’s combustible mix of religion, nationalism, and tradition as well as contradictions in the kingdom’s projection of itself as a driver of moderate Islam and major voice in combatting discrimination and racism spark heated debate on social media.
Religion scholar Esra Ozyurek has a knack for identifying trends that ring warning bells about where Europe is heading.
Think the Muslim world is united in opposing Islamophobia? Think twice.
A recent online survey by scholars at two Dutch universities of Iranian attitudes towards religion has revealed a stunning rejection of state-imposed adherence to conservative religious mores as well as the role of religion in public life.
Turkey’s state-controlled top religious authority has conditionally endorsed usury in a ruling that is likely to fuel debate about concepts of Islamic finance and could weaken President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s efforts to garner religious soft power by projecting Turkey as a leader defending Muslim causes.
Egyptian general-turned president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi sees the 2021 men’s handball world championship in Cairo and Alexandria as an opportunity to put his best foot forward at a time when Egypt’s relations with its closest regional and global partners are encountering substantial headwinds.
Silent about rising sectarian violence in Pakistan, Gulf states vying for religious soft power risk exposing the limitations of their concepts of an undefined ‘moderate’ Islam that is tolerant and endorses pluralism.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ushered in the new year, pledging to employ his country’s military to secure Turkey’s place in a rebalanced new world order.
President Joko Widodo’s recent cabinet reshuffle suggests that Indonesia may adopt a more critical attitude towards China and reinforce government support for efforts by Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the world’s largest Muslim movement, to reform Islam and position the Southeast Asian state as a key player in a battle with Middle Eastern rivals for the soul of Islam.
A projected sharp reduction in trade between the United States and China in the next two years coupled with moves to diversify supply chains potentially position Turkey alongside Vietnam, Mexico, Taiwan and Poland as competitors in efforts to reduce dependency on the People’s Republic, according to a just published study.
Turkey is leveraging its successful backing of Azerbaijan’s recent war against Armenia to counter Iran in the Caucasus and gradually challenge Russia in Central Asia, the heart of what Moscow considers its backyard.
Saudi Arabia appears to be drawing lines in the sand as the kingdom prepares for a new era in relations with the United States once President-elect Joe Biden assumes office in January.
Punching above its weight, the United Arab Emirates is wielding a combination of religious soft power, commercial and economic sway, and hard power in its bid to counter political Islam in ways that potentially could threaten pillars of Western democracy as well as US and European strategic interests.
Increasing strains between Pakistan and its traditional Arab allies, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, is about more than Gulf states opportunistically targeting India’s far more lucrative market. At the heart of the tensions, that potentially complicate Pakistan’s economic recovery, is also India’s ability to enhance Gulf states’ capacity to hedge their bets amid uncertainty about the continued US commitment to regional security.
David Rundell brings to his book, Vision or Mirage: Saudi Arabia at the Crossroads (I. B. Tauris, 2020), a granular analysis and insider’s understanding of the inner workings of the kingdom garnered as a US foreign service officer who served a total of 15 years in the country. Rundell skilfully weaves history into a multi-layered portrait of the transformation for good and bad that Saudi Arabia is experiencing under King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
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