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Showing posts from August, 2014

Saudi-Qatari rivalry spills onto the soccer pitch

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By James M. Dorsey
Unable to persuade Qatari leaders to drop their support for the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups, Saudi Arabia appears determined to deprive its tiny neighbour of its regional soccer supremacy.
A recent decision to build 11 stadia under the auspices of the Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Aramco), one of the country’s most efficient, forward-looking institutions, constitutes an effort to rival Qatar that is developing at least eight of the Middle East and North Africa’s most advanced facilities in advance of its hosting of the 2022 World Cup. It also signals the end to a debate in the kingdom on whether to emphasize individual rather than team sports in its five-year national sports plan in a bid to prevent soccer pitches from becoming venues of protest as elsewhere in the region.
The Saudi decision to battle Qatar on the soccer pitch followed the withdrawal five months ago of the ambassadors of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain from Doha. It ca…

So… who has won the Gaza war? (JMD quoted on Al Arabiya)

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So… who has won the Gaza war? If the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas holds, the 50-day Gaza war leaves much speculation over who has emerged victorious Text size AAA By Eman El-Shenawi | Al Arabiya News
Wednesday, 27 August 2014 An agreement has been reached, but one ultimate umbrella question remains. If the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas holds, who has emerged victorious from the 50-day Gaza war? 

On Sunday, the Palestinian death toll had exceeded 2,100 and the Israeli destruction of Gazan infrastructure had been ramped up to target Hamas offices in high-rise buildings. On the Israeli side, 64 soldiers and six civilians were killed.

Then, an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire calling for an indefinite halt to hostilities was struck. Israel has agreed to Egyptian proposal for ceasefire that will be unlimited in time. — Israel Foreign Min. (@IsraelMFA) August 26, 2014 “If Hamas abide by their commitment to cease all hostilities against Israel then both the Israeli and Palestinian people w…

Is Hamas winning the Gaza war?

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Credit: Zoriah/Flikr
By James M. Dorsey
Israeli destruction of Gazan infrastructure has turned the strip into a modern day Dresden. But returning Gaza to the Stone Age has not stopped Hamas, the Islamist militia in control of the territory, from inflicting significant political and psychological damage on Israel. Israeli military and intelligence sources fear that fundamental Israeli intelligence failures have put Hamas in a position to increase Israel’s political cost and determine when Israel’s longest war against the Palestinians will end.
Already, Israel’s almost two-month old war against Hamas has shifted from a sledgehammer approach intended to shock the Islamist militia into accepting Israeli demands for demilitarization into the one thing Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu had wanted to avoid: a war of attrition that would strengthen his right-wing critics at home and risk Israel losing control of ceasefire negotiations in which Egypt did Israel’s bidding.
Hamas’ refusal to bow…

Behind the Gaza ceasefire: Israel and Hamas talk potential peace

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RSIS Commentary is a platform to provide timely and, where appropriate, policy-relevant commentary and analysis of topical issues and contemporary developments. The views of the authors are their own and do not represent the official position of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, NTU. These commentaries may be reproduced electronically or in print with prior permission from RSIS and due recognition to the author(s) and RSIS. Please email: RSISPublications@ntu.edu.sgfor feedback to the Editor RSIS Commentaries, Mr Yang Razali Kassim. 
No. 168/2014 dated 22 August 2014 Behind the Gaza ceasefire:
Israel and Hamas talk potential peace
By James m. Dorsey
Synopsis


Israel and Hamas have significantly moderated their attitudes towards one another despite official denials. Indirect talks in Cairo designed to achieve a lasting ceasefire between the two war weary parties effectively constitute negotiations about the parameters of a potential future peace agreement.

Commentary

Wars ine…

Gulf states and their US critics seek to shape US perceptions on the soccer pitch

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UAE ambassador inaugurates soccer pitch in Washington DC
By James M. Dorsey
Gulf states seeking to polish images tarnished by allegations of violations of human rights and their critics are employing soccer in an effort to shape American perceptions. At stake for countries like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates is more than just reputation; it is the ability to invest in strategic US assets without being challenged on their trustworthiness as investors and allies, and the ability to wield soft power as a defence strategy in the absence of real hard power.
Both Qatar and the UAE have been in the firing line for their treatment of foreign workers who constitute a majority of their populations but operate under a sponsorship or kafala system that puts them at the mercy of their employers. The two states, and particularly the UAE, have also been taken to task on issues such as freedom of expression, torture and due legal process in court cases against political dissidents. They have fur…

Gaza war puts sporting boycott of Israel back on the front burner

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4 Palestinian kids killed by an Israeli shell while playing soccer on a Gaza beach
By James M. Dorsey
Ahmed Mohammed al Qatar and Udai Jaber’s burgeoning soccer careers came to a screeching halt in early August when the two 19-year olds were shot dead by Israeli forces in the West Bank town of Gaza during a protest against the war in Gaza. Days earlier, Ahed Zaqqut, a 49-year old Palestinian soccer legend, who once played a French team captained by European football governing body UEFA president Michel Platini, died when his home in Gaza was hit by Israeli fire.
The deaths of the three players and the trauma of Israel’s heavy handed month long assault on Gaza has not only cast a shadow over Palestinian soccer at a time that the Palestine national team was progressing with its qualification for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Club and upcoming participation in the Philippines’ Peace Cup.
Coupled with widespread international condemnation of Israel’s conduct of the Gaz…

Syria’s Fallout: Rise of Islamic State jihadists

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RSIS Commentary is a platform to provide timely and, where appropriate, policy-relevant commentary and analysis of topical issues and contemporary developments. The views of the authors are their own and do not represent the official position of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, NTU. These commentaries may be reproduced electronically or in print with prior permission from RSIS and due recognition to the author(s) and RSIS. Please email: RSISPublications@ntu.edu.sgfor feedback to the Editor RSIS Commentaries, Mr Yang Razali Kassim. 
No. 164/2014 dated 14 August 2014 Syria’s Fallout:
Rise of Islamic State jihadists
By James M. Dorsey Synopsis

US President Obama’s decision to launch air strikes against the Islamic State jihadists in Iraq is fraught with pitfalls and could persuade IS to consolidate its position in Syria.

Commentary

US President Barak Obama’s decision to launch air strikes against the Islamic State, the jihadist group that controls a large swath of Syria and I…

Year after Cairo carnage, Sisi turns page on Arab Spring (JMD quoted on AFP)

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