The Globalist's Top Ten Books in 2016: The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer
“The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer has helped me immensely with great information and perspective.”
Bob Bradley, former US and Egyptian national coach
"James Dorsey’s The Turbulent World of Middle Eastern Soccer (has) become a reference point for those seeking the latest information as well as looking at the broader picture."
Alon Raab in The International Journal of the History of Sport
“Dorsey’s blog is a goldmine of information.”Play the Game"Your expertise is clearly superior when it comes to Middle Eastern soccer."
Andrew Das, The New York Times soccer blog Goal."No one is better at this kind of work than James Dorsey"David Zirin, Sports Illustrated
"Essential Reading"Change FIFA"A fantastic new blog'Richard Whitall of A More Splendid Life"James combines his intimate knowledge of the region with a great passion for soccer"Christopher Ahl, Play the Game"An excellent Middle East Football blog"James Corbett, Inside World Football
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Israel, Hamas Struggle for Moral High Ground
By James M. Dorsey
If Israel came close to destroying Hamas in two earlier confrontations in 2008/9 and 2012, it has succeeded in the latest round of fighting to rescue the group from potential demise. Hamas is emerging as the key player capable of cornering Israel politically and diplomatically despite its military superiority.
But more importantly it highlights a growing realisation that Hamas is emerging politically strengthened from the death and destruction in Gaza while Israel is fighting a rear guard battle to turn military success into political victory.
Israeli spokesmen have projected the acceptance by Hamas and other militant Palestinian groups of a United Nations call for another 24-hour ceasefire as an indication that Hamas had been seriously damaged by the three-week old Israeli assault. More likely is that Hamas hoped to force Israel into a corner after Israel had rejected US Secretary of State John Kerry’s proposal for a seven-day halt to hostilities because it would have legitimised Hamas’ demands for a lifting of the seven-year-old Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza, the opening of all the territories border crossings, the free flow of goods and services into the strip and the release of funds for payment of Gazan public sector salaries.
A Hamas spokesman, hours before the group’s acceptance of the UN ceasefire proposal, left little doubt that the Islamist militia had ensured the collapse of an earlier 12-hour ceasefire negotiated by the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, Qatar, Turkey and Egypt. The spokesman charged that the ceasefire would only allow Israel to prepare its military and intelligence resources for a second round in Gaza.
The stakes for both Israel and Hamas are high: Israel cannot afford a halt to hostilities that opens the door to acceptance of Hamas’ demands. Otherwise this would invite questioning of its refusal to deal with Hamas, undercut its effort to undermine the recently agreed Palestinian national unity government supported by Palestine Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as well as Hamas, and derail its determination to choke Hamas by blockading Gaza. Hamas for its part needs to demonstrate even if the current conflagration was engineered by Israel that the terrible toll in terms of human life and physical destruction ultimately produced a significant improvement in the lives of the 1.8 million inhabitants of Gaza.
With pictures of utter destruction and bodies being pulled out of rubble where once home stood dominating television news, Hamas is gaining the upper hand. Mr. Kerry’s emphasis on Hamas’ demands while referring in his ceasefire plan to Israeli security concerns in only the most general of terms reflects the swing of public empathy towards the Palestinians even if the Obama administration continues to officially uphold Israel’s right to defend itself.
Nonetheless, the realisation that Israel could emerge the real loser from the latest fighting is beginning to take root in Israeli government circles as well as the country’s political and security establishment. Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon has effectively called for an end to Israeli attempts to undermine the Palestinian national unity government by suggesting that Abbas, who until now controls only the West Bank, extend his writ to Gaza as part of what he termed a reconciliation government.
Senior Israeli officials have suggested in recent days that they were never opposed to a Hamas-backed unity government even though Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu broke off US-sponsored peace talks after Abbas reached agreement with Hamas. Ayalon was echoing a plan drafted by the Economic Co-operation Foundation, an Israeli think tank.
“Israel is now an instrument in the hands of Hamas, not the opposite. Hamas doesn't care if its population suffers under the attacks or not, because the population is suffering anyway. Hamas doesn't really care about their own casualties either. They want to achieve something that will change the situation in Gaza. This is a really complicated situation for Israel.
“It would take one to two years to take over the Gaza Strip and get rid of the tunnels, the weapons depots and the ammunition stashes step-by-step. It would take time, but from the military point of view, it is possible. But then we would have 2 million people, most of them refugees, under our control and would be faced with criticism from the international community,” Diskin told German magazine Der Spiegel.
Israel’s dilemma is evident. Its definition of ensuring security exclusively through military superiority and heavy-handed repression rather than political compromise is increasingly costing it international support, particularly in the United States, its major ally, and strengthening calls for boycotts and sanctions.
“I think the government may bring this problem onto the country. We are losing legitimacy and the room to operate is no longer great, not even when danger looms… There are plenty of people within Shin Bet (another name for Shabak, the Israeli internal security service), Mossad (Israel external security service), and the army who think like I do.
“But in another five years, we will be very lonely people. Because the number of religious Zionists in positions of political power and in the military is continually growing,” Diskin said referring to the growing influence in the military of more religious segments of Israeli society as well as the right-wing drift among Israelis.
James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies as Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, co-director of the Institute of Fan Culture of the University of Würzburg and the author of the blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, and a forthcoming book with the same title.
Block S4, Level B4, 50 Nanyang Avenue, Singapore 639798
Tel: +65 6790 6982 | Fax: +65 6794 0617 | www.rsis.edu.sg
Monday, July 28, 2014
The 2022 World Cup: A potential Monkey Wrench for Change (JMD in The International Journal of the History of Sport)
Some scholars as well as government critics including Qatari activist and author Ali Khalifa al Kuwari, charge that the demographic imbalance serves the Al Thani’s purpose because it avoids the creation of an indigenous working class that would have strong grounds to demand its rights, replacing it with imported labour that has no illusion of ever becoming naturalized citizens. “The great influx of immigrant workers, regardless of how necessary they are, is a benefit to the ruler, who is keen to treat people as temporary and readily disposable, rather than as citizens with all their attendant rights,” Al Kuwari said in an interview with Germany’s Heinrich Boell Stiftung. He noted that the number of Qatari nationals as a percentage of the total population had dropped from 40 percent in 1970 to 12 percent in 2010. As a result, Qataris dropped from accounting for 14 percent of the work force in 2001 to a mere six percent in 2014. If population projections of five million inhabitants in 2022 used, according to Al Kuwari, for Qatar’s multi-billion dollar metro and railway projects are correct, the percentage of Qatari nationals would drop even more dramatically.