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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Saudi Arabia has stepped up efforts to outflank the United Arab Emirates and Qatar as the Gulf’s commercial, cultural, and/or geostrategic hub.
Sports governance worldwide has had the legs knocked out from under it. Yet, national and international sports administrators are slow in realizing the magnitude of what has hit them.
Former Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein has papered over a rare public dispute in the ruling Jordanian family in a move that is unlikely to resolve long-standing fissures in society and among the country’s elite and that echo multiple Middle Eastern fault lines.
Two initiatives send the clearest signal, yet, that China may be gearing up to play a greater political role in the Middle East.
Amid Washington chatter about the future of US-Saudi relations, the kingdom has launched an unprecedented public diplomacy campaign to marshal business and grassroots support beyond the Beltway to counter anti-Saudi sentiment in the Biden administration and Congress.
In a sign of the times, Turkish schoolbooks have replaced Saudi texts as the bull’s eye of criticism of supremacist and intolerant curricula in the Muslim world.
Saudi Sheikh Salman al-Awdah, a popular but controversial religious scholar who has been mostly in solitary confinement since 2017, appeared in court this week only to hear that his case had been again adjourned for four months.
Recent clashes in the Iranian province of Sistan and Balochistan highlight Iran’s vulnerabilities as well as its inability to overcome trauma and control its demons.
As Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov embarks on a four-day visit to the Gulf, Middle Eastern leaders are either struggling to get a grip on Joe Biden’s recalibration of US policy in the region or signalling their refusal to adapt to the president’s approach.
When Pope Francis sets foot in Iraq on Friday, he will be breaking historic ground while manoeuvring religious and political minefields. So will his foremost religious counterpart, Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Husayni al-Sistani, one of the Shia Muslim world’s foremost scholars and leaders.
When prominent Chinese Middle East scholars Sun Degang and Wu Sike last year described the Middle East as a “key region in big power diplomacy with Chinese characteristics in a new era,” they were signalling a shift in thinking that went further than a simple move away from publicly de-emphasizing the region’s importance.
The Biden administration’s publication of a US intelligence report that holds Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman responsible for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi creates a fundamental challenge to the kingdom’s geopolitical ambitions.
A little acknowledged provision of the 2015 international agreement that curbed Iran’s nuclear program explains jockeying by the United States and the Islamic republic over the modalities of a US return to the deal from which President Donald J. Trump withdrew.
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.
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