Showing posts from July, 2015

Qatar’s quagmire: existential fears and missed opportunities

By James M. Dorsey
Walking around Qatar’s monumental Aspire Dome sports academy, coach Fred Engh noticed kids playing soccer on an indoor field big enough to accommodate four teams simultaneously during a break in an annual gathering of hundreds of sports leaders designed to project the Gulf state as an innovative, socially responsible global sports hub.
Mr. Engh’s initial impression that the government was catering to the whole of its population, a majority of whom are poorly paid migrant workers whose restrictive labour and working conditions have become a focal point of criticism since Qatar won the hosting rights for the 2022 World Cup were however quickly dashed.
“It looked great and I was happy to see that the Qatar people cared enough to allow kids to come in and play in this magnificent facility. I was wrong. Not every local kid was allowed. It was open to only those that had money,” Mr. Engh said in a recent Huffington Post column.
Chatting with a group of nearby migrant wo…

AMarriage on the Rocks? Saudis Look Beyond U.S. After Iran Deal (JMD quoted on Bloomberg)

AMarriage on the Rocks? Saudis Look Beyond U.S. After Iran Deal by Glen Carey July 30, 2015 — 7:01 AM SGT Share on FacebookShare on Twitter
Former Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal once compared the bond with the U.S. to a “Muslim marriage,” or one that wasn’t necessarily monogamous.
The kingdom’s recent overtures to other partners suggest the relationship is going through another reappraisal because of the landmark accord with regional rival Iran. After visiting Russia and France last month, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman returned home with $23 billion of aircraft and energy contracts.
“Trust between Saudi Arabia and the U.S. has been damaged by the Iran nuclear deal,” said Paul Sullivan, a Middle East specialist at Georgetown University in Washington. “Many in Saudi Arabia feel abandoned by the U.S.”
The U.S., the world’s largest arms supplier, and China each accounted for about 13 percent of Saudi trade last year
They have hit the rocks before, most notably in the wake …

The Cairo derby: Politics vs. repression

By James M. Dorsey
This month’s premier league final between Cairo’s two storied clubs, Al Ahli SC and Al Zamalek SC, once the world’s most violent derby, was more than a clash between two soccer giants. It was a clash between management styles and diametrically opposed approaches towards militant, highly politicized, street battle-hardened soccer fans. The clash highlighted the advantages of engagement as opposed to the risk of radicalization and escalating political violence.
On the pitch like on the streets and university campuses of Egypt, Zamalek’s emergence as this year’s Egyptian champion despite Ahli having won the derby itself would seem to legitimize the club’s aggressive effort to criminalize its fan base.
The facts on the ground, however, suggest that Al Ahli’s engagement with its supporters has produced far better results, including greater cooperation with a group that like its Zamalek counterpart played a key role in the toppling in 2011 of President Hosni Mubarak and…

‘Sports bodies must be monitored to end corruption’ (JMD in Today)

‘Sports bodies must be monitored to end corruption’ The Swiss authorities launched an investigation into FIFA’s awarding of hosting rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Photo: Getty Images Monies meant for distribution should be kept withindependent agency, says award-winning journalist mailprint View all comments BYIAN DE COTTA PUBLISHED: 4:16 AM, JULY 18, 2015

Israeli soccer violence moves racism up the government’s agenda

By James M. Dorsey
A violent display of racism by extreme nationalist supporters of storied Israeli football club Beitar Jerusalem coupled with recent Ethiopian Israeli protests against discrimination and the government’s handling of the capture of two Israelis by Hamas has moved racist attitudes towards dark-skinned Jews and Israeli Palestinian up the government’s agenda.
Driving calls for the banning of La Familia, the racist anti-Arab, anti-Muslim fan group of Beitar is concern about damage the group did to Israel’s image abroad rather than a worrisome trend in society at a time that Israel is anxious about the gathering momentum of calls to boycott, disinvest from and sanction the Jewish state for its policy towards the West Bank and Gaza.
Israeli foreign ministry officials charged that an incident in Belgium in which Beitar fans waved flags of the outlawed racist Kach party founded by assassinated Rabbi Meir Kahane and threw flares and smoke guns on to the pitch as well as a mis…

Anti-Chinese Protests in Turkey: Relations with China Under Test

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: feedback to the Editor RSIS Commentary, Yang Razali Kassim. 
No. 153/2015 dated 15 July 2015 Anti-Chinese Protests in Turkey: Relations with China Under Test
By James M. Dorsey

Protests in Turkey against alleged repression of Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang have put China’s sensitive relationships with the Muslim world to the test. The protests raise the spectre of China’s restrictive policy towards the Uighurs muddying relations with other Muslim nations as well.

CHINA AND TURKEY had high hopes…

More Corrupt Than FIFA: A Brief History of Syrian Football