Showing posts from March, 2015

Gulf Alliances: Regional States Hedge Their Bets

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: for feedback to the Editor RSIS Commentary, Yang Razali Kassim.  No. 074/2015 dated 31 March 2015 Gulf Alliances: Regional States Hedge Their Bets By James M. Dorsey Synopsis The Saudi-led intervention in Yemen designed to prevent Iranian-backed forces from gaining power symbolises the Gulf’s new assertiveness. Potential US-Iranian agreement on resolving the nuclear crisis has fuelled concern among Arab Gulf states about

Contours of future Israeli-Palestinian battles emerge on the soccer pitch

PFA Ptresident Jibril Rajoub By James M. Dorsey Legal and diplomatic battles in United Nations organizations and international sport associations involving charges of war crimes and efforts to suspend membership of one or the other are likely to shape future Israeli-Palestinian relations in the wake of last month’s electoral victory by Binyamin Netanyahu. The contours of the coming battles are emerging on the soccer pitches even before Mr. Netanyahu forms his cabinet with a Palestinian campaign to suspend Israeli membership of world soccer body FIFA and the petitioning by an Israeli law firm of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Palestine Football Association (PFA) president Major General Jibril Rajoub for war crimes allegedly committed during last year’s Gaza war. A statement on the PFA’s website sought to win support for a PFA resolution calling for the suspension of its Israeli counterpart, the Israeli Football Federation (IFA), slated for sub

Soccer riots reflect long-standing discontent in Iran’s predominantly Arab Khuzestan

By James M. Dorsey Long-simmering discontent in Ahwaz, the soccer-crazy, predominantly ethnic Arab capital of Iran’s Khuzestan province that Iraqi president Saddam Hussein unsuccessfully tried to exploit when he launched the Iran-Iraq war in 1980, exploded on the pitch earlier this month during an Asian championship League qualifier between the city’s state-owned Foolad FC and Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia. Anti-government protests during the match in which Iranian fans declared support for the Saudi opponent of their home team defied the fact that Saudi Arabia is fighting across the Middle East a proxy war with the Islamic republic that the kingdom frames in terms of sectarian differences between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. Soccer fans defiantly expressed support for Al Hilal during the match and burnt pictures of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the late spiritual leader who spearheaded the 1979 Iranian revolution that toppled the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and his successo

How Qatar is its own worst enemy

How Qatar is its own worst enemy By James M. Dorsey This is the Accepted Manuscript of this article that was published by Taylor Francis Group in The International Journal of the History of Sport ,   DOI:10.1080/09523367.2015.1008212 Qatar is proving to be its own worst enemy in achieving its soft power goals of embedding itself in the international community as a good citizen despite having put crucial blocks in place. Its failure to convincingly follow through on promises to reform its controversial migrant labour system, demonstrate its sincerity in stopping a flow of funds to jihadist organizations, and develop a robust communications strategy that counters legitimate criticism as well as attacks by its detractors has cost it significant reputational damage and diplomatic and political capital. As a result, Qatar has found itself in recent years under continuous attack amid allegations of corruption in its successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup, denunciation