The World Cup is in town, Turkey ramps up its attacks on Syria and explosions in Jerusalem. Here’s your rundown, written by Abubakr Al-Shamahi, Middle East and North Africa Editor of 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 dancing in the opening game of 2010 and England winning a penalty shoot-out in 2018 (just me?), then I’m guessing you’re currently staring at the football festival that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
It is the first World Cup in the Arab world, and in the Middle East. I won’t go on about what happened on the pitch (well done Saudi Arabia and Japan), there’s a whole World Cup newsletter for that, and comprehensive 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 showed how special it is to host the biggest tournament in the world and at the same time show a different side of the region, a complete departure from the stereotypes that many have of it.
Of course, it hasn’t been without controversy. The process of awarding the tournament to Qatar has been criticized, as has the handling of migrant workers and the LGBTQ+ community. FIFA banned several teams from wearing rainbow armbands. which has led to protests. And yet many, especially in the Middle East, have accused European countries in particular of it hypocrite and orientalist in their attacks on the tournament. Qatar itself has reiterated that everyone is welcome.
With the spectacular results in the tournament so far, the focus is more on events on the pitch than off it. But I’m sure we haven’t heard the end of the debate around this World Cup yet – Saudi Arabia is said to want to host the 2030 edition.
Is Turkey bluffing?
There are more consequences of the November 13 bombing in Istanbul Turkey launching air raids Syria and Iraq, targeting the groups accused of being behind the attack, the PKK and the YPG. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the attacks in Syria were part of a new military operationinvolving tanks and ground troops “when it suits”.
Are Turkish troops about to cross the border again, with the aim of cleaning up the YPG? On the one hand, Erdogan has been threatening such an operation for months, but nothing happens despite opposition from the West, Russia and Iran. On the other hand, are Russia and Iran now too distracted by their own problems?
It’s hard to say, but as of this week there are no major Turkish military movements and the fighting seems to be limited to Turkish airstrikes and YPG missile strikes – which are still taking a long time. heavy toll on civilians.
Bombs on the streets of Jerusalem
Two explosions at bus stops in Jerusalem on Wednesday reminded of Palestinian attacks that took place at the height of the Second Intifada in the early 2000s, something that has not happened for years. At least one person was killed in the bombings Israeli, and injured others. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it was praised by Hamas. The explosions took place at a time when there seems to be no end to the violence in the occupied West Bank, featuring Israeli soldiers killing Palestinians in almost daily raids. Two of the latest victims were a 16-year-old boy and a 18 year old on the way to school.
And now for something else
Have you ever heard of Al Baik? If you have it, you know it. If you haven’t, 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 for the last few years). In fact, the only reason many non-Saudis know about it is because they may have enjoyed the tasty offerings while visiting the Muslim holy sites in Mecca and Medina. But now, for the first time, and thanks to the World Cup it’s in Doha. It’s clear from the lines that people love their roast chicken.
Iran to attack Kurdish separatist groups located in northern Iraq – Explosion gas bottle in Iraq kills 15 – Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece lands in Tripoli of Libya, and then promptly leaves after refusing to meet his counterpart – Egyptian activist Alaa Abd el-Fattah health seriously deteriorated in prison – Morocco are arresting former minister of human rights – Israeli airstrikes kill four Syrian soldiers – Houthi rebels attack Yemeni oil terminal – China characters 27 year old gas deal with Qatar Energy – Human rights guard: More needs to be done to help children repatriated from camps for suspects ISIL family members in Syria – Egyptian and Turkish leaders shaking hands in last sign that relations are thawing.
Lebanese bank robberies
Lebanese banks have been in the news in recent months for a spate of “bank robberies” – with people basically demanding their own money that banks won’t allow them to withdraw. The attention has come because of the methods these people have used, including coming in with guns, fake and real. In this opinion piece Nizar Ghanem, the founder of the movement representing Lebanese savers, and Alex Ray, an analyst in Beirut, explain why Lebanese are so angry with their banking system and the dangers this crisis poses if it continues.
Quote of the week
“It is as if we in Gaza are destined to live in more and more pain” – Khitam Abu Rayya, who lost her brother, his wife, their children and her grandchild after 21 people died a fire in an apartment in the Gaza Strip. The family was celebrating a birthday.