Dr. James M. Dorsey

Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, and the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog, a book with the same title, Comparative Political Transitions between Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, co-authored with Dr. Teresita Cruz-Del Rosario and three forthcoming books, Shifting Sands, Essays on Sports and Politics in the Middle East and North Africaas well as Creating Frankenstein: The Saudi Export of Ultra-conservatism and China and the Middle East: Venturing into the Maelstrom.

The hacked email account of Yousef al-Otaiba, the influential United Arab Emirates ambassador in Washington, has provided unprecedented insight into the length to which the small Gulf state is willing to go in the pursuit of its regional ambitions.

Recent moves by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates suggest that the two Gulf states may be looking for ways to reduce tensions with Iran that permeate multiple conflicts wracking the Middle East and North Africa.

China, at the behest of Pakistan, has for the second time this year prevented the United Nations from listing a prominent Pakistani militant as a globally designated terrorist. China’s protection of Masood Azhar, who is believed to have close ties to Pakistani intelligence and the military, comes days after another militant group, whose leader is under house arrest in Pakistan, announced the formation of a political party.

A two-month old crisis pitting Qatar against an alliance led by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia is proving to be a double-edged sword.

Feuding Gulf states that have pumped millions of dollars into public diplomacy appear to have done better in damaging the reputations of their detractors than in polishing their own tarnished images.

A French investigation into possible corruption in business deals related to Qatar’s winning of World Cup hosting rights moved the 2022 tournament a step closer to becoming enmeshed in the two- month-old Gulf crisis.

As US President Donald J. Trump gropes with a set of bad options for responding to North Korea’s rapidly expanding nuclear and ballistic missiles program, he risks creating a similar, potentially explosive dilemma in the Middle East with his efforts to tighten the screws on Iran, if not engineer an end to the two-year old nuclear agreement Iran concluded with world powers.

Saudi Arabia, with the Islamic State on the ropes in Iraq, is forging ties to Iraqi Shiite leaders and offering to help fund reconstruction of Mosul and other predominantly Sunni Muslim cities that were devastated in the military campaign against the jihadist group.

A web of formal and informal Israeli-Arab relations and common fears of renewed popular uprisings that could threaten regimes and benefit Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood facilitated Israel’s backing down in the crisis over Jerusalem’s Temple Mount or Haram al Sharif, home to Islam’s third most holy shrine, the Al Aqsa mosque.

Lurking below the surface of the Gulf crisis, are rival, yet troubled, attempts by Qatar and its detractors to use sports to boost soft power and/or launder tarnished images of their autocracies.

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