The writer 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, and a book with the same title.
Two separate developments involving improved relations between Sunni and Shia Muslims and women’s sporting rights demonstrate major shifts in how rivalry for the leadership of the Muslim world and competition to define Islam in the 21st century are playing out in a world where the Middle Eastern states can no longer depend on the United States coming to their defence.
Recent attacks on Kabul’s international airport by the Islamic State’s Afghan affiliate raise multiple questions, as well as the spectre of paradigm shifts in the drivers and expanding geography of political violence.
Afghanistan is showing the United Arab Emirates the downside of being a haven for deposed leaders and exiled politicians whose wealth is reportedly parked without question in Emirati financial institutions.
Boasting an almost 1,000-kilometre border with Iran and a history of troubled relations between the Iranians and Sunni Muslim militants, including the Taliban, Afghanistan could become a bellwether for the future of the rivalry between the Islamic Republic and Saudi Arabia.
A little acknowledged provision of the 2015 international agreement that curbed Iran’s nuclear programme explains jockeying by the United States and the Islamic republic over the modalities of a US return to the deal from which President Donald J Trump withdrew.
Demonstrating for the third week their determination to force the country’s military to return to its barracks, protesters in Myanmar appear to be learning lessons from a decade of protest in the Middle East and North Africa.
A nationalist Turkish television station with close ties to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dug up a 12-year-old map that projects Turkey’s sphere of influence in 2050 as stretching from South-eastern Europe on the northern coast of the Mediterranean and Libya on its southern shore across North Africa, the Gulf and the Levant into the Caucasus and Central Asia.