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Showing posts from September, 2015

FIFA to rescue of troubled Saudi King Salman

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By James M. Dorsey
Palestine is a headache Saudi King Salman doesn’t need as he confronts rare demands from members of his ruling family that he and his son be removed from power, growing unease about a seven-month old devastating military campaign in Yemen that has caused devastation and mounting civilian casualties, widespread criticism of the kingdom’s handling of the Haj in the wake of a deadly stampede, and concern about the financial and economic management of the kingdom against the backdrop of dropping oil prices.
Palestine emerged as a problem that threatened to escalate already high emotions in the kingdom with Saudi Arabia’s national soccer team scheduled to play a 2018 World Cup qualifier against Palestine in the Faisal al-Husseini International Stadium in Al-Ram, a town on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Travelling to Al-Ram would have meant that the Saudi squad would pass through Israeli security, passport and customs controls when it entered the West Bank from Jordan.
Doi…

Middle Eastern conflicts spill onto Spanish soccer pitch

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By James M. Dorsey
Inevitably, the mass exodus of refugees from conflict areas was going to provoke the spilling into Europe of multiple disputes in the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa. Spanish soccer is the first to feel the weight of the baggage that has turned vast numbers into destitute refugees. Kurdish rebels have accused a Syrian coach who was hired earlier this month by Real Madrid after having been tripped on camera by a Hungarian camera woman as he was running towards the border a child in his arms of being an Al Qaeda fighter and the instigator of a deadly anti-Kurdish soccer brawl.
The allegations raised by the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), believed to be associated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that is locked into escalating hostilities with Turkey, are serious. PDY media asserted that Osama Abdul Mohsen, the coach who landed in Spain, had been a fighter for Jabhat al Nusra, a major Syrian jihadist militia aligned with Al Qaeda.
The PYD and…

The Gulf: Not All That’s Gold Glitters (JMD in Middle East Perspectives)

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The Gulf: Not All That’s GoldGlitters
By James M.Dorsey Gleaming glass skyscrapers, state-of-the-art technology, and wealthy merchant families havereplaced theGulf’smuddytownsandvillagespopulatedbytradersandpearlfishersthatoncelackedelectricity, running water or modern communications. The region’s modern day projection of a visionarycutting- edge, 21st  century urban environment masks however the fact that some things have notchanged. Gulfstatescontinuetoberuledbythesamefamilies,generationaftergeneration.Thefamilieshave becomewhatanEmiratiregimecritic,YousifKhalifaal-Yousif,termed“aninstitutionofentitlement.”1 Alongsideautocrats,theregionalsoremainshometoholywarriorsandmodern-daypirates.The principle of governance that what is good for business is good for the village-turned-nation stillguides rulers who rank among the region’s foremostbusinessmen. If, however, the region’s physical transformation speaks to an almost unitary vision of modernity,its politics tell a very different story, on…