The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer
Putin’s post-Soviet world remains a work in progress, but Africa already looms

Putin’s post-Soviet world remains a work in progress, but Africa already looms

January 19, 2022

Russian civilisationalism is proving handy as President Vladimir Putin seeks to expand the imaginary boundaries of his Russian World, whose frontiers are defined by Russian speakers and adherents to Russian culture rather than international law and/or ethnicity.

Kazakhstan, like Ukraine, spotlights the swapping of the rule of law for the law of the jungle

Kazakhstan, like Ukraine, spotlights the swapping of the rule of law for the law of the jungle

January 15, 2022

When a Russian-led military force intervened earlier this month, it did more than help Kazakh President Qasym-Johart Toqayev restore and strengthen his grip on power following days of protest and violent clashes with security forces.

The intervention brought to the fore a brewing competition for spheres of influence in Eurasia between perceived Russian and Turkish worlds whose boundaries are defined by civilization and /or language rather than a nation state’s internationally recognized borders.

Kazakhstan has lessons for the Gulf

Kazakhstan has lessons for the Gulf

January 12, 2022

Russia's intervention in Kazakhstan contains a cautionary message for Gulf foreign ministers visiting Beijing this week.

Saudi diplomacy needs flesh on its skeleton of sports and religion
Saudi and Emirati religious moderation inspires few beyond their borders

Saudi and Emirati religious moderation inspires few beyond their borders

January 8, 2022

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have drawn praise for social reforms that have domestically reduced the role of religion in public life, enhanced women's rights, and, in the case of the UAE, catered to non-Muslim lifestyles.

Yet, Saudi and Emirati efforts to position their countries as the Muslim world’s beacons of an autocratic notion of moderate Islam have done little to encourage moderation beyond their borders despite a radical cutback in decades-long global Saudi funding for the spread of an ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam and the Emirates’ trumpeting of notions of tolerance.

 

Is Kazakhstan Russia’s next Ukraine?

Is Kazakhstan Russia’s next Ukraine?

January 4, 2022

With Russian troops massing on Ukraine's borders, it's not only Ukrainians who worry about what President Vladimir Putin may have in store for them. It's Kazakhs too.

Qatar, like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but unlike Kuwait, cleanses its textbooks

Qatar, like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but unlike Kuwait, cleanses its textbooks

January 2, 2022

Qatar has begun to cleanse its schoolbooks of supremacist, racist or derogatory references as well as celebrations of violent jihad and martyrdom, according to a recently released study.

Pakistan revamps education at the point of a gun

Pakistan revamps education at the point of a gun

December 28, 2021

There is little indication that the government is doing anything but strengthening an education system that potentially constitutes a breeding ground for ultra-conservatism and radicalism in a region adjacent to Afghanistan where the Taliban appear bent on returning the country to a system that propagates similar values.

Christmas arrives in Saudi Arabia as kingdom plays catch-up in religious soft power rivalry

Christmas arrives in Saudi Arabia as kingdom plays catch-up in religious soft power rivalry

December 25, 2021

Long banned, Christmas has finally, at least tacitly, arrived in Saudi Arabia; just don’t use the name in marketing or be ostentatious about your tree.

Are Arab militias losing their usefulness for Iran?

Are Arab militias losing their usefulness for Iran?

December 22, 2021

Iranian support for Arab militias has long threatened Iran's detractors, unable to develop an effective counterstrategy. Now, the tide may be turning.

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