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Showing posts from May, 2016

What happens when Arab autocrats are left to fend for themselves? Turmoil Galore

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What happens when Arab autocrats are left to fend for themselves? Turmoil Galore
By James M. Dorsey
(Remarks made at the Asia Pacific Roundtable, APR @ 30: Cooperation and Contestation in a Changing Regional Landscape)
We have been given the impossible task of telling you in the words of Hollywood director and actor Woody Allen everything about the Middle East that you want to know and never dared to ask and all of that in 15 minutes. So what I am going to do is give you a series of headlines so that we can flesh some of those out in the subsequent discussion. In doing so, I may be a bit provocative but that will hopefully make debate more lively.
Let me start by saying that the rise of Asia shares significant responsibility for the turmoil the Middle East is experiencing. Yes, you heard me correctly. What I mean to say with this is that popular wisdom has it that a war weary, indecisive and weak President Obama’s disengagement from the region lies at the root of nations with Saudi Ara…

Il calcio ai tempi dell’Isis (JMD quoted in Undici)

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Il calcio ai tempi dell’Isis Come si vive lo sport in Iraq, in Siria, e nei territori controllati da Daesh, tra attentati e divieti. Di Cristoforo Spinella Nell’estate del 2014, Ali Adnan Kadhim Nassir al Tameemi era già una stella del calcio iracheno. Protagonista ai Mondiali under 20 dell’anno prima – dove (anche) con un gol da videogioco segnato in semifinale all’Uruguay consolidò i suoi soprannomi di “Bale del Medio Oriente” e “Roberto Carlos di Baghdad” – il laterale sinistro stuzzicava in quei giorni le fantasie della Roma mentre si faceva le ossa in Turchia, al Rizespor. D’improvviso, in quel calciomercato di giugno, si smise di parlare delle sue prestazioni per raccontare una storia ancora più appetitosa per giornali e tv: Ali Adnan – oggi semplicemente così, sulla sua maglia numero 53 dell’Udinese – si era arruolato nell’esercito iracheno per combattere contro l’Isis. A corredo e riprova, le sue foto in tuta mimetica accanto ad alti ufficiali e presunti commilitoni. Una narra…

Turkish soccer brawls: The battle for the future of the Kemalist state

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By James M. Dorsey
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dresses up his increasing authoritarianism with nationalist and religious overtones, sparking battles over the future of the Kemalist state. Those battles, pitting nationalist and conservative forces against secularists and Kurds, are nowhere more evident than on Turkish soccer pitches.
A series of incidents in recent months highlighted the mounting tensions in Turkish society. Controversy rages over what actually happened in some of the incidents, particularly those in remote locations or that occurred away from the prying eyes of fans and/or the media,
The underlying political and social battles are nonetheless evident and beyond dispute irrespective of who did what to whom when. The incidents frequently occurred in matches between teams who represent very different and frequently diametrically opposed visions of what the Turkish state and society should be.
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Putting One’s Ear to the Ground: Rumblings of Mounting Discontent

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By James M. Dorsey
(Lecture at MEI Conference: The Middle East Peace Process After the Arab Uprisings)
When Jeremy Bowen, the BBC’s Middle East editor, returned to Jerusalem earlier this month, he was asked by colleagues what story he would be covering. The story seemed evident to Jeremy. It was of course the ongoing violence perpetrated by individual Palestinians against Israelis and the hard handed response by Israeli security forces. To his colleagues, that story had lost its news value, it was something that had already been going on for some eight months and had become part of the fabric of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
That may indeed be true and yet it is that very fabric that is becoming toxic on more than one level and that is changing in the wake of the popular Arab revolts of five years ago. For sure, the violence reflects the hardening of Israeli and Palestinian sentiments against one another. It is a hardening that takes place among reduced, if not the absence, of con…

Washington Post recommends The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer

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(Oxford Press) “The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer” By James M. Dorsey Oxford University Press From the influence of supporters in Egypt to a folk-song singing keeper in Syria and clandestine clubs formed by Saudi women, the journalist and scholar examines the considerable role of soccer in culture and politics in the most volatile region on the planet.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/soccer-insider/wp/2016/05/24/10-soccer-books-to-consider-adding-to-your-summer-reading-list/

Award winning journalist tells UCFB Wembley students of close relationship between football and politics in the Middle East (JMD at UCFB)

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Award winning journalist tells UCFB Wembley students of close relationship between football and politics in the Middle East It’s hard to think of anywhere in the world with a faster growing professional sport economy than the Middle East. Golf’s European Tour Race to Dubai has its showpiece season ender in the Gulf state, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is now firmly placed as the jewel in the crown of the Formula One season and, of course, Qatar is gearing up to host the controversial FIFA World Cup in 2022. Then there’s the influx of Middle Eastern investors in European football clubs. Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Malaga have all been transformed in recent seasons with billions of pounds being invested into playing squads, stadium infrastructure and worldwide marketing. Students at the iconic UCFB Wembley campus were given the unique opportunity to quiz James M. Dorsey, a man who knows more than most how sport is used as a political tool in the Middle East. The award winning j…

Playing politics: The AFC gets tied up in knots

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By James M. Dorsey
Two recent incidents involving the refusal of Arab teams to play their Palestinian counterparts on Palestinian soil highlight the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) willingness to play politics at the Palestinians’ expense at times with the connivance of the Palestine Authority headed by President Mahmoud Abbas.
The incidents further spotlight the consequences of the incestuous relationship between sports and politics that is nowhere more pervasive than in the Middle East. The AFC like other international sports associations propagates the fiction that the two are separate even if the politics that underlie its recent decisions and those of the Palestine Authority at times appear to contradict one another.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- JUST PUBLISHED: The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer. To order: http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/the-turbulent-world-of-middle-east-soccer
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Turkey and Egypt: The Battle to Control Dissent Pitches Fans against Autocrats (JMD in Research Turkey)

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Turkey and Egypt: The Battle to Control Dissent Pitches Fans against AutocratsAuthor: Date: May 15, 2016Independent TurkeyNewOp-Ed Articles *Source: Marksist.org © Turkey and Egypt:
The Battle to Control Dissent Pitches Fans against Autocrats Battles for control of stadiums and other public spaces in Turkey and Egypt have pitched militant soccer fans against authoritarian leaders determined to limit the supporters’ ability to challenge their authority. As a result, a struggle that comes on the back of years of confrontation in the stadiums and mass, watershed anti-government protests that in 2011 toppled Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and in 2013 rocked Turkey and reinforced President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s autocratic instincts, has moved beyond stadiums. In Egypt, general-turned-president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi inaugurated a new office of the Interior Ministry at the Police Academy in New Cairo, east of the Egyptian capital, as part of the relocation of the ministry a…