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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is simultaneously speed dating and playing on multiple diplomatic, religious, and economic chessboards.
In a mirror image of recent polling in the Middle East, a just-published survey of Muslims in Southeast Asia suggests Islam’s central role in people’s daily lives and choices. Political and business leaders in Southeast Asia, home to 276.5 million Muslims who account for 40 per cent of the region's population, are likely to take note of the Southeast Asian survey as well as the recent polling in the Middle East amid perceptions of greater religious conservatism in their countries that are not only aligned with trends in other parts of the Muslim world but also in major non-Muslim faith groups across the globe.
Several recent public opinion surveys send a mixed message to autocratic reformers in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, which hosts this year's World Cup in less than two months. The surveys reveal contradictory attitudes among Arab youth towards religion as well as widespread rejection of notions of a moderate Islam and formal diplomatic ties with Israel.
US President Joe Biden’s pledge to return values, morals and ethics to politics and policies is 18 months into his presidency more of an aspiration than a reality. It is called into question by the crisis in democracy in the United States in the wake of his predecessor, Donald Trump, who questioned the legitimacy of the election that brought Mr. Biden to office. Even worse, Mr. Trump and his followers question the principle of a peaceful, democratic transition of power and are working hard to introduce at the state level legal and electoral procedures that would jeorpardize the principle of one man one vote. Nevertheless, Mr. Biden has framed NATO support for Ukraine in its resistance to the Russian invasion as a fight of democracy against autocracy although it is more a struggle for upholding international law and the rule of law. All of this raises the question whether politics and policies should be grounded in inclusive values, moral and ethics and how to square that with realities of realpolitik. The clash between the two was on public display with Mr. Biden’s controversial pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in July despite his vow during his election to treat the kingdom as a ‘pariah state’ and his initial refusal after he came to office to deal directly with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salam because of the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. To discuss, all of this today, I am joined by Ronald Llamas, a senior advisor to former Philippine President Benigno Aquino, long standing democracy and human rights activist, and a master of the darker arts of politics and policy implementation. To watch a video version of this story on YouTube please click here.
Fading hopes for a revival of the 2015 international agreement that curbed Iran’s nuclear program potentially puts one more nail in the coffin of a regional security architecture that would include rather than target the Islamic republic.
Too often, opportunism, in the absence of inclusive moral and ethical standards, allows leaders, officials, policymakers, and politicians to prioritise their interests rather than those of the nation or affected people elsewhere.
Indonesia’s geopolitical plate is piling up as the archipelago state prepares to host the Group of 20 (G20) summit and associated gatherings in November, including the Religion 20 (R20), a high-level meeting of religious leaders, the first under the G20’s auspices.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has inspired civilisationalist leaders to emerge from the woodwork and publicly define their states as civilisational rather than national entities.
Turkey’s reconciliation with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel is doing little to return the country to its “zero problems with our neighbours” policy declared more than a decade ago. Thank you to all who have demonstrated their appreciation for my column by becoming paid subscribers. This allows me to ensure that it continues to have maximum impact. Maintaining free distributions means that news website, blogs, and newsletters across the globe can republish it. I launched my column, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, 12 years ago. To borrow a phrase from an early proprietor of The Observer, it offers readers, listeners, and viewers ‘the scoop of interpretation.’ If you are able and willing to support the column, please become a paid subscriber by clicking on Substack on the subscription button and choosing one of the subscription options.
With the fate hanging in the balance of the 2015 international agreement that curbed Iran’s nuclear program, prospects for greater security and stability in the Middle East are meagre with or without a deal.
Qatar's 2022 World Cup promises to benefit not only itself but also to provide an unintended economic, political, and religious soft power boon for its foremost rival in the region, the United Arab Emirates. Thank you to all who have demonstrated their appreciation for my column by becoming paid subscribers. This allows me to ensure that it continues to have maximum impact. Maintaining free distributions means that news website, blogs, and newsletters across the globe can republish it. I launched my column, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, 12 years ago. To borrow a phrase from an early proprietor of The Observer, it offers readers, listeners, and viewers ‘the scoop of interpretation.’ If you are able and willing to support the column, please become a paid subscriber by clicking on Substack on the subscription button and choosing one of the subscription options.
A potential revival of the Iran nuclear accord is likely to test the sustainability of Middle Eastern efforts to dial down tensions and manage differences by improving diplomatic relations and fostering economic cooperation. Thank you to all who have demonstrated their appreciation for my column by becoming paid subscribers. This allows me to ensure that it continues to have maximum impact. Maintaining free distributions means that news website, blogs, and newsletters across the globe can republish it. I launched my column, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, 12 years ago. To borrow a phrase from an early proprietor of The Observer, it offers readers, listeners, and viewers ‘the scoop of interpretation.’ If you are able and willing to support the column, please become a paid subscriber by clicking on Substack on the subscription button and choosing one of the subscription options.
At first glance, there is little that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an Islamist and nationalist, has in common with Dogu Perincek, a maverick socialist, Eurasianist, and militant secularist and Kemalist. Yet it is Mr. Perincek, a man with a world of contacts in Russia, China, Iran, and Syria whose conspiratorial worldview identifies the United States as the core of all evil, that Mr. Erdogan at times turns to help resolve delicate geopolitical issues. Thank you to all who have demonstrated their appreciation for my column by becoming paid subscribers. This allows me to ensure that it continues to have maximum impact. Maintaining free distributions means that news website, blogs, and newsletters across the globe can republish it. I launched my column, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, 12 years ago. To borrow a phrase from an early proprietor of The Observer, it offers readers, listeners, and viewers ‘the scoop of interpretation.’ If you are able and willing to support the column, please become a paid subscriber by clicking on Substack on the subscription button and choosing one of the subscription options.
At first glance, a potential bid by Saudi Arabia and Egypt, two of the world's worst human rights violators, together with Greece, to host the 2030 World Cup sounds like an invitation to a perfect public relations fiasco. Thank you to all who have demonstrated their appreciation for my column by becoming paid subscribers. This allows me to ensure that it continues to have maximum impact. Maintaining free distributions means that news website, blogs, and newsletters across the globe can republish it. I launched my column, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, 12 years ago. To borrow a phrase from an early proprietor of The Observer, it offers readers, listeners, and viewers ‘the scoop of interpretation.’ If you are able and willing to support the column, please become a paid subscriber by clicking on Substack on the subscription button and choosing one of the subscription options.
Einstein

Einstein

2022-08-1610:35

If there is one thing that Israelis and Palestinians agree on and religiously adhere to, it’s Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Thank you to all who have demonstrated their appreciation for my column by becoming paid subscribers. This allows me to ensure that it continues to have maximum impact. Maintaining free distributions means that news website, blogs, and newsletters across the globe can republish it. I launched my column, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, 12 years ago. To borrow a phrase from an early proprietor of The Observer, it offers readers, listeners, and viewers ‘the scoop of interpretation.’ If you are able and willing to support the column, please become a paid subscriber by clicking on Substack on the subscription button and choosing one of the subscription options.
When Russia invaded Ukraine, it took itself off the map of Eurasian transport corridors linking China and Europe. At the same time, it breathed new life into moribund routes that would allow goods to travel across the Eurasian landmass without traversing Russia. It also opened the door to greater Russian connectivity with the Middle East and South and Southeast Asia. Thank you to all who have demonstrated their appreciation for my column by becoming paid subscribers. This allows me to ensure that it continues to have maximum impact. Maintaining free distributions means that news website, blogs, and newsletters across the globe can republish it. I launched my column, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, 12 years ago. To borrow a phrase from an early proprietor of The Observer, it offers readers, listeners, and viewers ‘the scoop of interpretation.’ If you are able and willing to support the column, please become a paid subscriber by clicking on Substack on the subscription button and choosing one of the subscription options.
When Prime Minister Victor Orban recently spelled out his vision of Hungary's frontiers, he joined a club of expansionist leaders such as Russia's Vladimir Putin, China's Xi Jinping, and members of the Indian power elite who define their countries’ borders in civilisational rather than national terms. Thank you to all who have demonstrated their appreciation for my column by becoming paid subscribers. This allows me to ensure that it continues to have maximum impact. Maintaining free distributions means that news website, blogs, and newsletters across the globe can republish it. I launched my column, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, 12 years ago. To borrow a phrase from an early proprietor of The Observer, it offers readers, listeners, and viewers ‘the scoop of interpretation.’ If you are able and willing to support the column, please become a paid subscriber by clicking on Substack on the subscription button and choosing one of the subscription options.
Temperatures in north-western Saudi Arabia, on average, seldom, if ever, drop below eight degrees Celsius except in the 2,400-metre high Sarawat mountains, where snow falls at best occasionally. However, that hasn't prevented Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from envisioning Saudi Arabia as competing for winter sports tourism.
President Joe Biden was not wrong when he declared that “justice has been served” with the killing of Al Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri in a US drone strike. The problem is that’s only half of the truth; the other half is that Mr. Zawahiri was more a has-been than a power to be reckoned with on the jihadist totem pole. In death, he may have scored his most significant achievement since becoming head of Al Qaeda as the symbol of the failure of decades of war in Afghanistan. Thank you to all who have demonstrated their appreciation for my column by becoming paid subscribers. This allows me to ensure that it continues to have maximum impact. Maintaining free distributions means that news website, blogs, and newsletters across the globe can republish it. I launched my column, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, 12 years ago. To borrow a phrase from an early proprietor of The Observer, it offers readers, listeners, and viewers ‘the scoop of interpretation.’ If you are able and willing to support the column, please become a paid subscriber by clicking on Substack on the subscription button and choosing one of the subscription options.
With Russia, Iranian assistance goes far beyond the supply of drones. Iran stands to gain substantially from being a key node in a Eurasian transport corridor that would help Russia circumvent US and European sanctions. Thank you to all who have demonstrated their appreciation for my column by becoming paid subscribers. This allows me to ensure that it continues to have maximum impact. Maintaining free distributions means that news website, blogs, and newsletters across the globe can republish it. I launched my column, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, 12 years ago. To borrow a phrase from an early proprietor of The Observer, it offers readers, listeners, and viewers ‘the scoop of interpretation.’ If you are able and willing to support the column, please become a paid subscriber by clicking on Substack on the subscription button and choosing one of the subscription options.
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