Middle East Summary: The First Arab World Cup | news

The World Cup is in town, Turkey ramps up attacks on Syria and blasts in Jerusalem. Here is your summary, written by Abubakr Al-Shamahi, Middle East and North Africa Editor at Al Jazeera Digital.

If, like me, you have fond memories of the Nigerian team in the 1998 group stage, Zidane’s headbutt in the 2006 final, the South African dance in the opening game in 2010 and England’s final penalty shoot-out win in 2018 (just about me?), then you’ll revel probably just at the football festival, so that World Cup 2022 in Qatar.

It is the first World Cup in the Arab world and the Middle East. I won’t go into detail about what happened on the pitch (Well done Saudi Arabia and Japan) for that there is a whole World Cup newsletter and extensive coverage on our website. But in the stands, Arab fans – especially fans of Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia – have created a cauldron-like atmosphere. It really shows how special it is to host the biggest tournament in the world while showing a different side of the region, a complete departure from the stereotypes many have of it.

Of course it wasn’t without controversy. The process of awarding the tournament to Qatar has been criticized, as has the treatment of guest worker and the LGBTQ+ community. FIFA banned several teams from wearing an armband featuring a rainbow, prompting protests. And yet many, particularly in the Middle East, have accused European countries in particular of being hypocritical and Orientalist in their attacks on the tournament. Qatar itself has reiterated that everyone is welcome.

With the spectacular results seen throughout the tournament so far, attention is drawn to what is happening on the field rather than off it. But I’m sure we haven’t heard the end of the debate surrounding this World Cup – there’s talk of Saudi Arabia wanting to host the 2030 edition.

Is Turkey bluffing?

There were other consequences of the November 13 bombing in Istanbul Turkey launch airstrikes Syria and Iraq, which targets the groups it accuses of being behind the attack, the PKK and the YPG. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the attacks in Syria are part of a new military operation that will involve tanks and ground forces “when appropriate”.

So are Turkish troops threatening to roll over the border again to drive out the YPG? On the one hand, Erdogan has been threatening such an operation for months, just so that nothing happens against resistance from the West, Russia and Iran. On the other hand, are Russia and Iran now too distracted with their own problems?

It’s hard to say, but as of this week there have been no major Turkish military movements and fighting appears to have been limited to Turkish airstrikes and YPG rocket attacks – which are still 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 were reminded Palestinian Attacks that took place at the height of the Second Intifada in the early 2000s, something not seen in years. The bombings killed at least one Israeli, and hurt others. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it has been commended by Hamas. The blasts came at a time when violence in the United States seems to have no end occupied West Bank, with Israeli soldiers killing Palestinians in almost daily raids. Two of the youngest victims were a 16-year-old boy and an 18-year-old on their way to school.

And now for something else

Have you ever heard of AlBaik? If yes, then you know. If not, it’s like the Middle East version of KFC, only better (Al Baik doesn’t sponsor me or Al Jazeera). The fast food chain is all over Saudi Arabia’s western Hejaz region, but not really available anywhere else (except maybe in the last few years). In fact, the only reason many non-Saudis know about it is that they may have enjoyed its delicious offerings while visiting the Muslim holy sites of Mecca and Medina. But now it’s in Doha for the first time thanks to the World Cup. You can clearly see that people love their fried chicken by the snakes.


Iran attacks Kurdish Separatist groups based in northern iraq – Gas cylinder explosion in Iraq kills 15 – Greece’s Foreign Minister lands in Libya’s Tripoliand then promptly leaves after refusing to meet his counterpart – Egyptian activist Alaa Abd el-Fattahs Health deteriorates sharply in prison – Morocco arrests his former human rights minister – Israeli Airstrikes kill four Syrian Soldiers – Houthi Rebels attack Yemeni oil terminal – China signs 27-year gas deal with QatarEnergyHuman Rights Watch: More needs to be done to help children repatriated from camps on suspicion Isis family members SyriaEgyptian and Turkish Leaders shake hands in latest sign of thawing ties.

Bank robberies in Lebanon

Lebanese banks have been in the news over the last few months for a series of “bank robberies” – which actually involve people demanding their own money that the banks won’t allow them to withdraw. Attention has been drawn by the methods these people have used, including entering with fake and real guns. In this opinion piece, Nizar Ghanem, the founder of the movement representing Lebanese savers, and Alex Ray, an analyst in Beirut, explain why the Lebanese are so angry with their banking system and the dangers this crisis will pose if it continues.

quote of the week

“It’s as if we in Gaza were destined to live in more and more pain” – Khitam Abu Rayya, who lost her brother, wife, children and grandchild after 21 people died in an apartment fire in Gaza died. The family celebrated a birthday.

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


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