The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer
Saudi Arabia targets a more Republican Washington

Saudi Arabia targets a more Republican Washington

April 22, 2022

Rather than push for an immediate improvement of strained relations with the United States, Saudi Arabia appears to be looking forward to a time when US President Joe Biden's wings may be clipped.

Israel’s Ukraine conundrum may have implications for Gulf states

Israel’s Ukraine conundrum may have implications for Gulf states

April 19, 2022

Middle Eastern states see their ability narrow to walk a fine line in the Ukraine conflict. Israel is a case in point as tensions with Iran in Syria and Palestinians in Jerusalem flare, and both Russia and the United States signal impatience with its attempts to straddle the fence.

Iran capitalises on Central Asian vacuum created by the Ukraine war

Iran capitalises on Central Asian vacuum created by the Ukraine war

April 16, 2022

Anti-Iranian protests in Afghanistan and the stabbing of three clerics in Iran threaten to cast a shadow over Iranian efforts to capitalise on the fallout in Central Asia of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

US-Gulf divergence: Placing risky bets

US-Gulf divergence: Placing risky bets

April 13, 2022

Russia's invasion of Ukraine spotlights seemingly widening differences between the United States and its closest Middle Eastern allies, sparking eulogies for an era of bygone American regional dominance.

Applying double standards in Ukraine is a risky business

Applying double standards in Ukraine is a risky business

April 9, 2022

Russia’s suspension from the United Nations Human Rights Council was long overdue, even without the mass killing of innocent civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.

A country that poisons or otherwise does away with its critics at home and abroad and stifles freedom of the press, expression, and association should not qualify for a seat on the Council.

A quick look at current and past membership in the Council explains why the UN General Assembly vote to suspend Russia, like multiple aspects of the Ukraine war, raises the spectre of double standards.

Cooperating with autocrats: When is too much, too much?

Cooperating with autocrats: When is too much, too much?

April 6, 2022

Two recent publications have fuelled debate about democratic cooperation with autocratic governments in general, and Saudi Arabia in particular, in the wake of the Ukraine war. It is a debate that challenges US President Joe Biden’s framing of the conflict as a struggle between good and evil, democracy and autocracy.

The 2022 World Cup: Is Qatar Putting its Best Foot Forward?

The 2022 World Cup: Is Qatar Putting its Best Foot Forward?

April 3, 2022

This is Qatar's year to put its best foot forward.

A major producer of natural gas, the tiny Gulf state is under the magnifying glass as it enters the final phase of hosting the 2022 World Cup later this year and emerges as a potential part of efforts to reduce European dependence on Russian energy.

Always a major Middle Eastern power, Israel now takes centre stage

Always a major Middle Eastern power, Israel now takes centre stage

March 30, 2022

A straightforward message emerged from this week’s meeting in the Negev desert of the foreign ministers of four Arab countries, Israel and the United States: Israel is key to the security of Gulf autocracies and continued US engagement in the Middle East.

.New Books Network Review: Rivals in the Gulf

.New Books Network Review: Rivals in the Gulf

March 25, 2022

New Books Network Review: Rivals in the Gulf

Rivals in the Gulf: Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, Abdullah Bin Bayyah, and the Qatar-UAE Contest Over the Arab Spring and the Gulf Crisis (Routledge, 2021) goes to key questions of governance at the heart of developments in the Muslim world.

Warren looks at the issue through the lens of two of the foremost Middle Eastern religious protagonists and their backers: Egyptian-born Qatari national Yusuf a Qaradawi, widely seen as advocating an Islamic concept of democracy, and UAE-backed Abdullah Bin Bayyah who legitimizes in religious terms autocratic rule in the UAE as well as the Muslim world at large.

In doing so, Warren traces the history of the relationship between the two Islamic legal scholars and their Gulf state sponsors, their influence in shaping and/or legitimizing polices and systems of governance, and their vision of the proper relationship between the ruler and the ruled. He also highlights the development by Qaradawi and Bin Bayyah of new Islamic jurisprudence to religiously frame their differing approaches towards governance.

Warren’s book constitutes a significant contribution to the literature on the positioning of Islam in the 21st century, the regional competition for religious soft power in the Muslim world and beyond, and the struggle between autocratic regimes and social movements that strive to build more open systems of governance.

Autocratic vs. Democratic Islam = UAE vs. Indonesia
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