Showing posts from October, 2012

The issue of Arab Jews: Manipulating a Justified Cause

RSIS presents the following commentary The issue of Arab Jews: Manipulating a Justified Cause by James M. Dorsey. It is also available online at this link . (To print it, click on this link .). Kindly forward any comments or feedback to the Editor RSIS Commentaries, at ________________________________________ No. 202/2012 dated 31 October 2012 The issue of Arab Jews: Manipulating a Justified Cause By James M. Dorsey       Synopsis A recent United Nations conference on the rights of Jews forced to flee Arab countries in the wake of the establishment of the State of Israel focuses attention on a long overlooked consequence of the Middle East conflict. It also complicates the revival of Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations. Commentary THE PLIGHT of Palestinians uprooted and driven out of large chunks of historic Palestine to make way for a Jewish state lies at the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict. That epochal disp

Politics overshadow African championship final

Al Ahly militants By James M. Dorsey Next week’s African Championship League final between crowned Cairo club Al Ahly SC and Tunisian title defender Esperance Sportieve de Tunis is as much a battle of the titans as it is a struggle for the future of Egypt. At stake in the November 4 match in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria's Borg El-Arab Stadium, the first leg of the finals, is not only the African championship title but also a gamut of highly political issues, including the need for reform of law enforcement; the role of police and security forces in ensuring security in stadiums; the relationship between the club, its players and its fans; the right of fans to attend matches; and the campaign to remove associates of ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak from soccer and eradicate corruption. The match will be the first to be played by Al Ahly in front of its fans who have been banned from the few international and domestic matches that their club h

Revolt in the Middle East: Arab monarchies next?

RSIS presents the following commentary Revolt in the Middle East: Arab monarchies next? by James M. Dorsey. It is also available online at this link . (To print it, click on this link .). Kindly forward any comments or feedback to the Editor RSIS Commentaries, at No. 200/2012 dated 24 October 2012 Revolt in the Middle East: Arab monarchies next?   By James M. Dorsey        Synopsis The ever sharper sectarian divide between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in the Middle East constitutes the Achilles heel of Gulf monarchies like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. They have been resisting political reforms and seeking to insulate themselves from the wave of popular protests that have swept the region for the past two years. Commentary ARAB MONARCHS pride themselves on having so far largely managed widespread discontent in their countries with a combination of financial handouts, artificial job creation, social investment and in the cases of Jord

Beyond the Pitch: World soccer’s political battles (WSG v JMD)

Anto of Beyond the Pitch and Change FIFA’s David Larkin discuss starting at minute 28:45 in this broadcast “the ongoing case of Mohammed Bin Hammam with the AFC in crosshairs, how this case could be a flashpoint that can be exploited by both Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini given their political connections and motivations as 2015 comes into view. We explore why Mohammed Bin Hammam is such an important figure, what his case tells us about sports governance and sporting justice inside football and how journalists such as James Dorsey are becoming shocking casualties throughout this process as football continues to subvert the concept of transparency by controlling information and shooting the messenger, even threatening them with legal action over sources.” The broadcast was posted as world soccer body FIFA suspended Mr. Bin Hammam for another 45 days pending an investigation into charges that he last year bribed Caribbean soccer officials to secure their support for his elec

AU returns the Middle East and Africa’s most abused stadium to soccer

Al Shabab gunmen in Mogadishu Stadium By James M. Dorsey In a sign of improved security in Somalia, African Union (AU) troops will return Mogadishu Stadium, the most abused sports facility in a region with a history of battered stadiums, to the Somali Football Federation (SFF). The AU decision highlights the recent, significant setbacks suffered by Al Shabab, the Al Qaeda-linked Islamist militia that banned soccer alongside bras, music, movies, moustaches and gold fillings during the years that it controlled large chunks of football-crazy Somalia, including the stadium. It also celebrates the SFF’s leading role in resisting Al Shabab’s austere lifestyle based on an interpretation of Islamic law that is contested even in jihadist circles and successful campaign to win back child soldiers by offering them a future in soccer. The return follows a meeting in the stadium earlier this week between commanders of the African Union peacekeepers in Somalia (AMISOM) and S

World Cup qualifier: A battle for Iranian women’s rights

Fatma Iktasari second from left) and Shabnam Kazimi (second from right) defy ban on women (Source:  By James M. Dorsey When Iran beat favourite South Korea this week in a 2014 World Cup qualifier, it was not the only battle being fought in Tehran’s Azadi stadium. So was the fight for the right of women to attend soccer matches in the Islamic Republic. Fatma Iktasari and Shabnam Kazimi, dressed in the men’s clothes they wore to disguise themselves and illegally enter the stadium to watch the match, showed the victory sign in a picture published on an Iranian blog after the match. They were posing together with male friends and an Iranian flag. A poem accompanying the picture read: “Heroes, warriors Dream one day of a workshop with the kids in the ‘freedom’ gym The name ‘Iran’ did not vanish until the moment of victory and yelling The days of Good Hope to India My people even a little bit happy, happiness experi

Divided AFC blasts Bin Hammam’s ‘intimidation tactics’

Mohammed Bin Hammam By James M. Dorsey Acting Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Zhang Jilong in an uncharacteristic outburst has accused the group’s suspended president Mohammed Bin Hammam and his lawyer, Eugene Gulland, of adopting “intimidatory tactics” in his battle to defeat charges of bribery, corruption and financial mismanagement. Sources close to the AFC said Mr. Jilong’s public attack on Mr. Bin Hammam, who has also been suspended as world soccer body FIFA vice president, followed a barrage of emails and other communications in which the Qatari national allegedly threatened and intimidated AFC executive committee members and staff. The sources said Mr. Bin Hammam had no right to contact individual AFC officials and should direct any communication’s to the group’s legal department. Mr. Bin Hammam is under investigation by the Malaysian police as well as the AFC and FIFA. Mr. Gulland, in an email to this reporter, rejected Mr. Jilong and the

Weakened Ahmadinejad seeks to revive his fortunes with soccer

President Ahmadinejad shakes hands with controversial player Ali Karimi (Source: By James M. Dorsey Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, following in the footsteps of deposed Arab autocrats, is attempting to polish his tarnished image by associating himself with one of Iran’s greatest passions: soccer. Mr. Ahmadinejad, whose economic policies are under attack despite punitive international sanctions and who has seen his power wane in advance of next year’s presidential election, this week paid a surprise visit to the Iranian national soccer team’s training camp in advance of its 2014 World Cup qualifier against South Korea. He went as far during the visit as shaking the hand of Ali Karimi, one of several players who wore green wrist bands during a 2009 international match in protest of alleged rigging of that year’s presidential election which returned Mr. Ahmadinejad to second term in office. The visit, Mr. Ahmadinejad’s third in recent years, echoed a

Royal bid for AFC presidency unlikely to succeed

BAHRAIN/QATAR Royal bid for AFC presidency unlikely to succeed A member of Bahrain ’s royal family, head of the Bahrain Football Association ( BFA ) Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa , is campaigning to become the next president of the Asian Football Confederation ( AFC ), courting yet more controversy for the region’s soccer establishment. The position has been vacant since Qatar ’s Mohammed Bin Hammam was suspended in May 2011, and investigations into his wrongdoings are ongoing, as are questions over Qatar’s winning bid for the 2022 World Cup ( GSN 930/7, 929/9 ). Sheikh Salman, a grandson of Bahrain’s late ruler Sheikh Salman II Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa who ruled from 1942 to 1962, has been accused of heading a committee that looked at photographs of anti-government protests to identify Shiite athletes taking part. Some 150 athletes were targeted, and among those detained were two of the island’s most prominent football players, Aala and Mo

Ultras force indefinite suspension of Egyptian soccer league

Ultras clash with supporters of President Morsi By James M. Dorsey A decision to indefinitely postpone the lifting of an eight-month ban on professional soccer in Egypt constitutes a milestone in an increasingly successful campaign by militant fans to root out corruption, force reform of the country’s hated security forces and ensure that senior officials responsible for the deaths of supporters and protesters are held accountable. The decision by the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) constitutes a major victory for the highly-politicized, street battle-hardened fans or ultras, the country’s largest civic group after the ruling Muslim Brotherhood, in a tug-of-war with the police and security forces, the country’s most despised institution because of its role in enforcing repression under ousted president Hosni Mubarak. The decision, at least for now, signifies that years of vicious street battles between the ultras and the security forces have partly shifted from s

Qatar’s love affair with France consummated with soccer

French football team Paris Saint-Germain has recently signed a record sponsorship deal with Qatari National Bank. This deal is only a part in a long-term strategy designed by Qatar to forge national identity with sports as a key-pillar, says journalist and blogger James M. Dorsey in this article that takes a look into the Qatar-France relationship. By  James M. Dorsey Play the Game 15 October 2012 Print version PSG owner Nasser al-Khelaifi (middle) recently recruited Zlatan Ibrahimovic (left) to the team. Photo by Flickr user jeanfrancios_beausejour  When Qatar six years ago first nibbled at acquiring Paris St. Germain (PSG), its interest reportedly evaporated because of the violence of PSG’s fans and the fact that two of the club’s key stakeholders, Canal Plus which accounted for much of its revenues through its purchase of Ligue 1 broadcast rights, and the City of Paris that owns Parc des Princes, PSG’s home stadium, felt queasy about signing a deal