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Playing games in NATO, Turkey eyes its role in a new world order

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  By James M. Dorsey Launched 12 years ago, my column, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, offers, to borrow a phrase from an early proprietor of The Observer, ‘the scoop of interpretation.’ The column continues to have significant impact. It is republished by news websites, blogs, and newsletters across the globe. Maintaining free distribution is key to maintaining the column’s impact. However, to do so, I rely on those readers who value the column and its impact by voluntarily becoming paid subscribers. 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. Thank you for your interest, readership, and support. To watch a video version of this story on YouTube please click here . A podcast version is available on   Soundcloud, Itunes , Spotify , Spreaker , and   Podbean. NATO’s spat over Turkish opposition to Swedish and Finnish membership

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s heady days

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  By James M. Dorsey To watch a video version of this story on YouTube please click here . A podcast version is available on   Soundcloud, Itunes , Spotify , Spreaker , and   Podbean. These are heady days for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. With King Salman home after a week in hospital during which he had a colonoscopy, rumours are rife that succession in the kingdom may not be far off. Speculation is not limited to a possible succession. Media reports suggest that US President Joe Biden may visit Saudi Arabia next month for a first meeting with the crown prince. Mr. Biden called Saudi Arabia a pariah state during his presidential election campaign. He has since effectively boycotted Mr. Bin Salman because of the crown prince's alleged involvement in the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Mr. Bin Salman has denied any involvement but said he accepted responsibility for the killing as Saudi Arabia’s de facto

Saudi religious moderation: the world’s foremost publisher of Qur’ans has yet to get the message

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  By James M. Dorsey To watch a video version of this story on YouTube please click here . A podcast version is available on   Soundcloud, Itunes , Spotify , Spreaker , and   Podbean. When the religious affairs minister of Guinea-Conakry visited Jeddah last week, his Saudi counterpart gifted him 50,000 Qur’ans. Saudi Islamic affairs minister Abdullatif Bin Abdulaziz Al-Sheikh offered the holy books as part of his ministry’s efforts to print and distribute them and spread their teachings. The Qur’ans were produced by the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur'an , which annually distributes millions of copies. Scholar Nora Derbal asserts that the Qur'ans “perpetuate a distinct Wahhabi reading of the scripture.” Similarly, Saudi Arabia distributed in Afghanistan in the last years of the US-backed government of President Ashraf Ghani thousands of Qur’ans produced by the printing complex, according to Mr. Ghani’s former education minister, Mirwais Ba

Ignoring the Middle East at one’s peril: Turkey plays games in NATO

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 By James M. Dorsey To watch a video version of this story on YouTube please click here . A podcast version is available on  Soundcloud, Itunes , Spotify , Spreaker , and  Podbean. Amid speculation about a reduced US military commitment to security in the Middle East, Turkey has spotlighted the region's ability to act as a disruptive force if its interests are neglected. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan set off alarm bells this week, declaring that he was not "positive" about possible Finnish and Swedish applications for membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. NATO membership is contingent on a unanimous vote in favour by the organisation's 30 members. Turkey has NATO's second-largest standing army. The vast majority of NATO members appear to endorse Finnish and Swedish membership. NATO members hope to approve the applications at a summit next month. A potential Turkish veto would complic

Indian civilisationalism: a potential next flashpoint?

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  By James M. Dorsey To watch a video version of this story on YouTube please click here . A podcast version is available on   Soundcloud, Itunes , Spotify , Spreaker , and   Podbean. When Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, he laid down a marker for a critical mass of world leaders who, like him, think in civilizational rather than national terms. In the minds of these leaders, the stakes in Ukraine are about much more than the future of a former Soviet republic or the rejiggering of Europe’s security architecture. Much like Mr. Putin’s ambition to establish a Russian world that is defined by the geography of Russian speakers and adherents of Russian culture rather than internationally recognized boundaries, men like Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi envision a 21 st -century world order in which civilisationalist aspirations trump national sovereignty, freedoms, and minority rights To them, creating a 21 st -century

Can Indonesia’s Humanitarian Islam inspire a Hindu nationalist equivalent?

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  By James M. Dorsey To watch a video version of this story on YouTube please click here . A podcast version is available on   Soundcloud, Itunes , Spotify , Spreaker , and   Podbean. There's a potential silver lining in Hindu nationalism's endorsement of Indonesia's Humanitarian Islam. That is if the approval produces a Hindu equivalent. At first glance, Hindu nationalist Ram Madhav’s call on Indian Muslims to embrace one, if not the world's most moderate expression of Islam, seems patronising and out of step. Mr. Madhav is a member of the executive of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), an almost century-old militant right-wing Hindu nationalist paramilitary volunteer organisation; former national secretary-general of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP); and a close associate of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In an essay published by Open , an Indian current affairs weekly, Mr. Madhav, widely viewed as a moderate among Hindu nationalists, call