The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer
Shaping US Middle East policy amidst failing states, failed democratization and increased activism

Shaping US Middle East policy amidst failing states, failed democratization and increased activism

October 16, 2021

The future of US engagement in the Middle East hangs in the balance.

Two decades of forever war in Afghanistan and continued military engagement in Iraq and elsewhere in the region have prompted debate about what constitutes a US interest in the Middle East. China, and to a lesser degree Russia, loom large in the debate as America’s foremost strategic and geopolitical challenges.

Questions about US interests have also sparked discussion about whether the United States can best achieve its objectives by continued focus on security and military options or whether a greater emphasis on political, diplomatic, economic, and civil society tools may be a more productive approach.

US military presence in the Middle East: The less the better

US military presence in the Middle East: The less the better

October 14, 2021

It may not have been planned or coordinated but efforts by Middle Eastern states to dial down tensions serve as an example of what happens when big power interests coincide.

Gulf security: It’s not all bad news

Gulf security: It’s not all bad news

October 11, 2021

Gulf states are in a pickle.

They fear that the emerging parameters of a reconfigured US commitment to security in the Middle East threaten to upend a more-than-a-century-old pillar of regional security and leave them with no good alternatives.

Reducing Middle East tensions potentially lessens sectarianism and opens doors for women

Reducing Middle East tensions potentially lessens sectarianism and opens doors for women

October 9, 2021

Two separate developments involving improved relations between Sunni and Shiite Muslims and women’s sporting rights demonstrate major shifts in how rivalry for leadership of the Muslim world and competition to define Islam in the 21st century is playing out in a world in which Middle Eastern states can no longer depend on the United States coming to their defence.

Comparing textbooks: Even Afghanistan scores better than Pakistan

Comparing textbooks: Even Afghanistan scores better than Pakistan

October 7, 2021

Societal struggles and reform often take unexpected turns in vast swaths of land stretching from the Middle East into Central Asia.

Take education for example.

Concern about Iran prompts Israel to weigh acknowledgement of its own nuclear weapons

Concern about Iran prompts Israel to weigh acknowledgement of its own nuclear weapons

October 3, 2021

The report has sparked public debate in Israel about whether the Jewish state, which is long believed to have multiple nuclear weapons but consistently stopped short of confirming or denying the assertion, should finally do so to lay down a marker for Iran.

Afghanistan highlights link between religious soft power and Gulf security

Afghanistan highlights link between religious soft power and Gulf security

October 1, 2021

When Qatari foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed Abdulrahman Al-Thani this week described the Taliban’s repressive policies towards women and brutal administration of justice as “very disappointing” and taking Afghanistan “a step backwards,” he was doing more than holding Qatar up as a model of Islamic governance and offering the militants cover to moderate their ways.

UAE nation branding encounters early headwinds

UAE nation branding encounters early headwinds

September 28, 2021

A series of setbacks in recent weeks raises the spectre of the UAE’s decades-long, multi-million-dollar nation branding campaign fraying at the edges

UAE-Israel relations risk being built on questionable assumptions

UAE-Israel relations risk being built on questionable assumptions

September 26, 2021

A year of diplomatic relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel has proven to be mutually beneficial. The question is whether the assumptions underlying the UAE’s initiative that led three other Arab countries to also formalise their relations with the Jewish state will prove to be correct in the medium and long term.

The Battle for the Soul of Islam: Will the real reformer of the faith stand up?

The Battle for the Soul of Islam: Will the real reformer of the faith stand up?

September 23, 2021

Saudi and Emirati efforts to define ‘moderate’ Islam as socially more liberal while being subservient to an autocratic ruler is as much an endeavour to ensure regime survival and bolster aspirations to lead the Muslim world as it is an attempt to fend off challenges rooted in diverse strands of religious ultra-conservatism.

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