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    James M. Dorsey

    James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, a syndicated columnist and the author of the blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer. A veteran, award-winning foreign correspondent whose career focused on ethnic and religious conflict, James focuses at RSIS on political and social change in the Middle East and North Africa, the impact of change in the Middle East and North Africa on Southeast and Central Asia and the nexus of sports, politics and society in the Middle East and North Africa and Asia.

Author's Posts

  • China signals possible greater Middle East engagement0

    By James Dorsey      28 March 2021 Two initiatives send the clearest signal, yet, that China may be gearing up to play a greater political role in the Middle East. Touring the region this week, Foreign Minister Wang Yi laid out five principles Middle Eastern nations would need to adopt to achieve a measure of regional stability.

  • Playing US politics: Saudi Arabia targets Middle America0

    by James Dorsey   25 March 2021 Amid Washington chatter about the future of US-Saudi relations, the kingdom has launched an unprecedented public diplomacy campaign to marshal business and grassroots support beyond the Beltway to counter anti-Saudi sentiment in the Biden administration and Congress. To do so, the Saudi embassy in Washington has hired a lobbying

  • In the bull’s eye: Turkish, not Saudi, schoolbooks0

    by James Dorsey      21 March 2021 In a sign of the times, Turkish schoolbooks have replaced Saudi texts as the bull’s eye of criticism of supremacist and intolerant curricula in the Muslim world. Once  a model of secularism with an education system that taught evolution, cultural openness, and tolerance towards minorities that included

  • Russia Foreign Minister’s Gulf tour: A bellwether of US-Saudi relations0

    By James M. Dorsey    8 March 2021 As Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov embarks on a four-day visit to the Gulf, Middle Eastern leaders are either struggling to get a grip on Joe Biden’s recalibration of US policy in the region or signalling their refusal to adapt to the president’s approach. Mr. Lavrov’s visit to Saudi

  • China in the Middle East: Stepping up to the plate0

      By James M. Dorsey     3 March 2021 By defining Chinese characteristics as “seeking common ground while reserving differences,” a formula that implies conflict management rather than conflict resolution, Messrs. Sun and Wu were suggesting that China was seeking to prepare the ground for greater Chinese engagement in efforts to stabilize the Middle East,

  • US intelligence report leaves Saudi Arabia with no good geopolitical choices0

    By James M. Dorsey     28 February 2021 The Biden administration’s publication of a US intelligence report that holds Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman responsible for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi creates a fundamental challenge to the kingdom’s geopolitical ambitions. The challenge lies in whether and how Saudi Arabia will seek to further diversify its

  • A little acknowledged clause may be main obstacle to revival of Iran nuclear accord0

      By James M. Dorsey    26 February 2021 A little acknowledged provision of the 2015 international agreement that curbed Iran’s nuclear program 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. The provision’s magic date is 2023, when

  • Myanmar: Exploiting lessons learnt in the Middle East0

      By James M. Dorsey        24 February 2021 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. By the same token, Myanmar’s protesters, in

  • Turkey signals sweeping regional ambitions0

      By James M. Dorsey            22 February 2021 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

  • Saudi moderation has its limits0

    By James M. Dorsey   17 February 2021 Two recent reports documenting significant Saudi progress in countering ingrained religious anti-Jewish, anti-Christian and anti-Shiite supremacism as well as anti-Western and other xenophobic attitudes suggest the kingdom’s receptivity to external pressure as it endeavours to position itself as the leader of a vaguely defined ‘moderate’ form of Islam.

  • Islamophobia: A fungible prop for Muslim religious soft power0

      By James M. Dorsey   30 January 2021 Think the Muslim world is united in opposing Islamophobia? Think twice. Rising anti-Muslim sentiment in countries like China, Myanmar, and India as well as the West against the backdrop of increased support for anti-migration and extreme nationalist groups, and far-right populist parties is proving to be a

  • Iranians move into front line of the Middle East’s quest for religious change0

        By James M. Dorsey     26 January 2021 A recent online survey by scholars at two Dutch universities of Iranian attitudes towards religion has revealed a stunning rejection of state-imposed adherence to conservative religious mores as well as the role of religion in public life. Read further at https://mideastsoccer.blogspot.com/2021/01/iranians-move-into-front-line-of-middle.html Although compatible with a trend across the Middle

  • When is usury usury? Turkish fatwa casts doubt on Erdogan’s religious soft power drive0

    By James M. Dorsey    20 January 2021 Turkey’s state-controlled top religious authority has conditionally endorsed usury in a ruling that is likely to fuel debate about concepts of Islamic finance and could weaken President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s efforts to garner religious soft power by projecting Turkey as a leader defending Muslim causes. The ruling,

  • Middle East futures: Decade(s) of defiance and dissent0

        By James M. Dorsey    18 January 2021 An earlier version of this article appeared in Orient. If the 2010s were a decade of defiance and dissent, the 2020s promise to make mass anti-government protests a fixture of the greater Middle East’s political landscape. Protests in the coming decade are likely to be fuelled


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