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Showing posts from October, 2013

Drone strikes take out key members of Somali terror group (JMD on Russia Today)

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Members and supporters of the activist group CODEPINK dress in orange jumpsuits during a protest outside the National Defense University, where US President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak about his administration's counter terrorism policy, including the thorny issues of drone strikes and the future of the American prison at Guantanamo Bay, in Washington, DC. Photo credit: © EPA/JIM LO SCALZO By Crystal Park WASHINGTON (VOR) – Two members of the terrorist group al-Shabab have been killed by a U.S. military strike in Somalia. It's a sign of growing U.S. anti-terrorism efforts in the region. Earlier in October, the U.S. Navy SEALS conducted a raid in Somali to take down a Kenyan al-Shabab member.
After the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the U.S. is evolving the way it fights terrorism. Instead of boots on the ground, targeted drone strikes are becoming the preferred method.
However, Dr. James Dorsey, senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, says although…

Critics of Qatari sports, labor and foreign policy target its commercial interests

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By James M. Dorsey
Opponents of Qatar’s foreign, sports and labor policies are striking at the Gulf state’s commercial interests in a bid to either force it to embrace reform or punish it for its support of Islamist groups.
Britain’s powerful GMB trade union called this week on British construction companies active in Qatar and particularly those bidding for 2022 World Cup-related projects not to exploit cheap migrant labor that has become a focal point of controversy over the Gulf state’s hosting of the one of the world’s foremost sporting events.
World soccer body FIFA was forced earlier this month to take the living and working conditions of migrant workers, who constitute a majority of Qatar’s population and 94 percent of its workforce, into consideration in its deliberations over whether to move the Cup from summer to winter because of the Gulf state’s extreme summer temperatures.
In a letter to the chief executive officers of 13 British companies, GMB international officer Be…

Egyptian stage set for confrontations with ultras

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By James M. Dorsey
Militant, street battle-hardened soccer fans played a key role in toppling Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and resisting the military rulers who succeeded him. Almost three years later and four months after the military removed from office Egypt’s first democratically elected president, the stage appears to be set for renewed confrontations with the fans, one of the country’s largest civic groups.
The potential for confrontation is compounded by Egypt’s 6:1 loss earlier this month of a crucial 2014 World Cup qualifier against Ghana. Opposition forces and supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, blame Egypt’s defeat on military strongman General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. "You jinxed us, el-Sisi," said Mohammed Dardeer on Facebook, describing the general as "religiously defiled" in a comment reminiscent of perceptions in Iran that blamed the Islamic republic’s soccer failures on the intense interest in the ga…

Soccer's Impact on Middle East Politics (JMD at WINEP)

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Washington Institute for Near East Policy PolicyWatch 2158 October 16, 2013

Featuring James M. Dorsey


Watch the video: http://washin.st/1aOkejP


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On October 15, James Dorsey, a syndicated columnist and author of the blog (and forthcoming book) "The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer," addressed a Washington Institute Policy Forum. The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks.

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Over the past several years, soccer fields across the Middle East and North Africa have become battlegrounds for political, gender, and labor rights, as well as issues of national, ideological, and ethnic identity. Examining the recent and historical role of militant soccer fans in Egypt, Jordan, Iran, and other countries can help shed light on where each society stands on these issues today.

Most soccer clubs in the region were established with some kind of political or ideological leaning, whether pro-colonial, pro-monarchy, na…
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RSIS presents the following commentary US Freezing of Military Aid to Egypt: How Much of a Dent? 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 RSISPublication@ntu.edu.sg ________________________________________
No. 195/2013 dated 16 October 2013
US Freezing of Military Aid to Egypt: How Much of a Dent?
By James M. Dorsey
Synopsis
The decision by the Obama administration to freeze military aid deprives the Egyptian military of its favourite toys but does little to weaken its military capability. It further strains relations with key US allies in the Gulf, and highlights Washington’s difficulty in balancing its twin goals of stability and democratisation in the Middle East and North Africa.
Commentary THE OBAMA administration’s decision to impose sanctions on Egypt’s military- appointed government following the killing of 51 anti-military protestors in Egypt…

Middle East's Sunni-Shiite divide spills on to the soccer pitch

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By James M. Dorsey
Sectarian divisions fuelling conflict across the Middle East have spilt on to the soccer pitch with Iraq’s decision to boycott the Gulf Cup and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) warning the Iraqi government not to interfere in the game.
It is hard to separate the divisions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims that governments in Bahrain and Syria have used to counter popular uprisings and that Saudi Arabia employs to stem the region’s tidal wave of discontent and counter Iran in a struggle for regional hegemony from the soccer spat that has erupted in recent days.
Relations between Iraq and Saudi Arabia have been strained ever since Iraq’s Shiite majority gained power after the 2003 overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s minority Sunni rule. Saudi Arabia accuses Iraq of maintaining close ties to Iran and supporting the embattled government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Bahrain charges that Iran instigated the popular uprising on the island in 2011 that was brutally…

Turkish soccer’s financial crisis potentially sharpens political divide

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By James M. Dorsey
Financially stressed Turkish soccer clubs are becoming pawns in the political struggle between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and militant soccer fans who rank prominently among his detractors as soccer pitches and university campuses emerge as major battlefields between the government and its detractors.
Critics of Mr. Erdogan charge that the prime minister is seeking to enlist clubs in much the same carrot-and-stick way that he tamed the media by exploiting financial vulnerabilities and turning Turkey alongside Iran and China into the country with the most journalists behind bars. The impact of Mr. Erdogan’s effort to restrict media independence and limit independent critical reporting was evident when last June television stations broadcast soap operas and penguins instead of pictures of mass anti-government protests on Istanbul’s iconic Taksim Square in which soccer fans played a prominent role.
Soccer may however be a tougher nut to crack than the media. …

Egyptian ultras’ fight for existence is a struggle for public space

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By James M. Dorsey
Militant Egyptian soccer fans, a key player in Egypt’s almost three year-old political rollercoaster, are fighting a battle for their existence in the shadow of the military’s campaign to repress the Muslim Brotherhood. At the core of the battle is the military’s desire to crack down on one of the country’s largest civic groups and assert control of stadia in advance of a resumption later this month of the country’s suspended premier league.
In a statement echoing declarations on the eve of the mass anti-government protests in 2011 that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, the Ultras White Knights (UWK) -- the militant, highly politicized, well organized and street battle hardened supporters of storied Cairo soccer club Al Zamalek SC -- stressed that it was not a political organization irrespective of the political leanings of its members. In 2011, UWK alongside its arch rival, Ultras Ahlawy, the fan group of Zamalek competitor Al Ahli SC, stressed its non-political na…

Qatar: Perfecting the art of scoring own goals

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By James M. Dorsey
State-owned Qatari television network Al Jazeera prides itself on hard hitting, let-the chips-fall-where-they fall reporting. Yet, it has systematically avoided in recent days the one story that potentially could affect the very future, shape and security of the wealthy Gulf state: controversy over the timing of the 2022 World Cup and mounting criticism of living and working conditions of up to a million unskilled and semi-skilled workers expected to build infrastructure for the tournament.
That controversy could come to a head when the executive committee of world soccer body FIFA meets later this week to discuss the Qatari World Cup. Media reporting on and trade union agitation against often appalling conditions for foreign workers expected to be involved in the construction of tens of billions of dollars of infrastructure related to the tournament in a country in which local nationals constitute at best 15 percent of the total population and six percent of the w…