Middle East round-up: The first Arab World Cup


The World Cup’s on the town, Turkey’s ramping up its strikes on Syria and explosions in Jerusalem. Here’s your round-up, written by Abubakr Al-Shamahi, Al Jazeera Digital’s Middle East and North Africa editor.

If, like me, you will have fond recollections of the Nigeria workforce within the 1998 group stage, the Zidane headbutt within the 2006 remaining, the South African dancing within the 2010 opening match, and England lastly successful a penalty shoot-out in 2018 (simply me?), then I’m guessing you’re at the moment feasting your eyes on the competition of soccer that’s the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

It’s the first World Cup within the Arab world, and within the Middle East. I gained’t go on about what’s occurred on the pitch (effectively completed Saudi Arabia and Japan), there’s an entire World Cup e-newsletter for that, and intensive protection on our web site. But within the stands, Arab followers – particularly followers of MoroccoSaudi Arabia and Tunisia – have created a cauldron-like ambiance. It’s actually introduced home how particular it’s to host the most important match on the planet, and on the identical time present a unique facet to the area, a whole departure from the stereotypes that many have of it.

It’s not been with out controversy, after all. The strategy of awarding the match to Qatar has been criticised, as has the therapy of migrant employees and the LGBTQ+ neighborhood. FIFA banned a number of groups from carrying an armband that includes a rainbow, which has led to protests. And but many, significantly within the Middle East, have accused European international locations particularly of being hypocritical and Orientalist of their assaults on the match. Qatar itself has reiterated that everybody is welcome.

With the spectacular outcomes throughout the match to date, consideration is popping in direction of occasions on the sphere, quite than off it. But I’m certain we haven’t heard the tip of the talk surrounding this World Cup — there’s discuss that Saudi Arabia needs to host the 2030 version.

Is Turkey bluffing?

There’s been extra fallout from the November 13 bombing in Istanbul, with Turkey launching air raids in Syria and Iraq, concentrating on the teams it accuses of being behind the assault, the PKK and the YPG. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that the assaults in Syria had been a part of a new navy operation, which might contain tanks and floor troops “when convenient”.

So, are Turkish troops about to roll over the border once more, with the purpose of clearing out the YPG? On one hand, Erdogan has been threatening such an operation for months, just for nothing to occur within the face of opposition from the West, Russia and Iran. On the opposite, are Russia and Iran now too distracted with their very own issues?

It’s arduous to inform, however as of this week, there aren’t any main Turkish navy actions, and the preventing appears restricted to Turkish airstrikes and YPG missile assaults – that are nonetheless taking a heavy toll on civilians.

[READ: Is Turkey set for a new operation in Syria?]

Bombs on the streets of Jerusalem

Two explosions at bus stops in Jerusalem on Wednesday had been paying homage to Palestinian assaults that passed off on the top of the Second Intifada within the early 2000s, one thing that hasn’t been seen for years. The bombings killed a minimum of one Israeli, and injured others. No one has claimed duty for the assault, but it surely was praised by Hamas. The explosions occurred at a time when there appears to be no finish to the violence within the occupied West Bank, with Israeli troopers killing Palestinians throughout almost-daily raids. Two of the most recent victims had been a 16-year-old boy, and an 18-year-old on his method to college.

And Now for Something Different

Have you ever heard of Al Baik? If you will have, then you recognize. If you haven’t, it’s just like the Middle East’s model of KFC, solely higher (Al Baik doesn’t sponsor me or Al Jazeera). The fast-food chain is all over the place in Saudi Arabia’s western Hejaz area, however not likely accessible anyplace else (besides perhaps in the previous couple of years). In reality, the one purpose a number of non-Saudis learn about it’s as a result of they could have savoured it’s tasty choices whereas visiting the Muslim holy websites in Mecca and Medina. But now, for the primary time, and due to the World Cup, it’s in Doha. It’s fairly clear from the queues that the individuals love their fried hen.

In Brief

Iran assaults Kurdish separatist teams primarily based in northern Iraq – Gas cylinder explosion in Iraq kills 15 – Greece’s overseas minister lands in Libya’s Tripoliafter which promptly leaves after refusing to fulfill his counterpart – Egyptian activist Alaa Abd el-Fattah’s well being is severely deteriorating in jail – Morocco arrests its former human rights minister – Israeli air assaults kill 4 Syrian troopers – Houthi rebels assault Yemeni oil terminal – China indicators 27-year-gas cope with QatarPower – Human Rights Watch: More should be completed to assist youngsters repatriated from camps for suspected ISIL relations in Syria – Egyptian and Turkish leaders shake arms in newest signal that relations are thawing.

Lebanon’s financial institution holdups

Lebanese banks have been within the information in latest months for a spate of “bank heists” — which really contain individuals demanding their very own cash that banks aren’t permitting them to withdraw. The consideration has come from the strategies these individuals have used, together with getting into with weapons, faux and actual. In this opinion piece, Nizar Ghanem, the founding father of the motion representing Lebanese depositors, and Alex Ray, an analyst in Beirut, clarify why Lebanese are so offended with their banking system, and the risks this disaster will carry if it continues.

Quote of the Week

“It’s as if we were destined in Gaza to live in more and more pain” – Khitam Abu Rayya, who misplaced her brother, his spouse, their youngsters, and her grandchild after 21 individuals died in a fireplace in an condo within the Gaza Strip. The household had been celebrating a birthday.

[READ: Gene drug only hope for Turkish child, but costs millions]