Oriente Próximo

Los conservadores iraníes en la cuerda floja

Las protestas masivas que sacuden a Irán desde septiembre —cuando Mahsa Amini, una joven de 22 años, murió mientras estaba en custodia de la policía moral— llegaron a la Copa del Mundo. Antes de perder 6 a 2 contra Inglaterra el mes pasado, el equipo iraní se negó a cantar el himno nacional de la República Islámica y algunos activistas presentes mostraron carteles de protesta y abuchearon al equipo por no abandonar completamente el torneo para demostrar su solidaridad con los cientos de jóvenes iraníes asesinados en las últimas 10 semanas.

El fútbol es, por lejos, el deporte favorito de los iraníes.…  Seguir leyendo »

Demonstrators in Beijing hold up blank sheets of paper to protest coronavirus restrictions and censorship on Nov. 28.(Thomas Peter/Reuters)

According to Dictionary.com, the verb “harass” means “to disturb or bother persistently; torment, as with troubles or cares; pester”.

Recent protests in Iran and China suggest another definition: “what tyrannical governments do to their people”.

More than anything else, what seems to have brought the people of both countries into the streets was being fed up with authorities’ incessant but unavoidable demands: In Iran, mandatory wearing of a hijab, or headscarf, for women (among other strictures); in China, endless lockdowns and coronavirus testing, on top of much other systematic surveillance and censorship.

Neither regime seems in danger of falling, though it’s anyone’s guess how the two dramas get resolved.…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman walks in Tehran on Tuesday. (Majid Asgaripour/West Asia News Agency/Reuters)

“Abolish” is a big word. If you’re using it, you had better be sure you’re using it right.

That’s why I’ve been reluctant to repeat, retweet or even comment on the news this week that Iran “abolished” — according to an embarrassing number of headlines — its infamous morality police.

The initial reports were based on the comments of Iranian Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, who alluded to the shuttering of the notorious police force in a response to a question at a news conference. On Monday, another government official closer to the specific committee that oversees hijab enforcement apparently confirmed the closure.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israeli far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir inspects the site of an explosion at a bus stop near an entrance to Jerusalem on Nov. 23. (Atef Safadi/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

It was Friday, Nov. 25, in Hebron, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. A group of Israeli Jews, from a left-wing, Orthodox group called Children of Abraham, had come to show solidarity with local Palestinian families who had borne the brunt of violence by Israeli settlers and their supporters a week earlier. On the way back to their bus, as one activist recounted to me, they happened on some Israeli soldiers dancing in the street with a group of pro-settler visitors.

One of the left-wing activists criticized the soldiers for the political display. An argument escalated. Then, as someone pulled out a phone and began to film, a soldier grabbed an activist, hurled him to the ground, and slammed a fist into his cheek, hard enough to break a bone.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mazloum Abdi, commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces, speaks at a Nov. 26 news conference in Hasakah, Syria. (Baderkhan Ahmad/AP)

In 2014, the world learned about my hometown, Kobane, and my people, the Syrian Kurds, when we dealt the Islamic State its first major defeat in partnership with the United States and the Global Coalition. The alliances we forged there led to the end of the ISIS caliphate in 2019.

Today, Kobane is again under threat — and all the gains of those partnerships are also in danger.

This time, the threat comes not from Islamic State terror, but from a U.S. ally and a member of NATO. For more than a week, the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rained bombs down on our cities, killing civilians, destroying critical civilian infrastructure and targeting the Syrian Democratic Forces working to keep ISIS down.…  Seguir leyendo »

Technicians work at the Arak heavy-water reactor's secondary circuit, as officials and media visit the site, near Arak, Iran, in December 2019. (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP) (AP)

Last month, the Biden administration’s special envoy for Iran said that nuclear talks with Tehran were unlikely to continue anytime soon. “If these negotiations are not happening, it’s because of Iran’s position and everything that has happened since [September]”, said Robert Malley, citing Iran’s crackdown on protests, its transfer of drones to Russia and its continuing imprisonment of American citizens.

His comments, which echoed a widespread unease with Iran in the West, are understandable. And yet none of the issues he cited changes the grim reality that Iran is now just days away from having enough weapons-grade material for a nuclear bomb — and that the international community is doing nothing to stop it.…  Seguir leyendo »

Houthi military forces parading in Hodeida, Yemen, September 2022. Houthi Military Media / Handout / Reuters

In April 2022, the opposing sides in Yemen’s devastating civil war achieved a rare breakthrough. After eight brutal years of conflict, they signed on to a UN-brokered truce that significantly curtailed the fighting that had driven an already impoverished country into a massive humanitarian crisis. Though it was unclear whether the two-month truce would even last that long, some observers allowed themselves to hope that it could be a first step toward a broader peace process. In the best-case scenario, they believed, it might even lead to a political settlement for a conflict that has pitted Houthi rebels, who control large parts of the country and are backed by Iran, against the internationally recognized Yemeni government and an allied Saudi-led coalition that, for much of the war, received logistics, intelligence support, and weaponry from Washington.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani speaks to press in Baghdad, Iraq on 27 November 2022. Photo by Iraqi Government Press Office/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

After nearly a year of political gridlock and violence, Iraq has a new government and a new prime minister, Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani. Sudani has made several reform pledges, including creating tens of thousands of new jobs and tackling rampant corruption. His predecessors all made similar promises, but ultimately failed to deliver. Can Sudani chart a different path, or will he repeat their mistakes?

He takes office at a time when many Iraqis feel disenfranchised. In the almost 20 years since regime change, Iraq’s elite have steadily lost economic and ideological power. The country’s economic decline and a growing youth population have put a strain on the system.…  Seguir leyendo »

Votante en una cabina electoral en las XVII Elecciones legislativas en Israel del 1 de noviembre de 2022. Foto: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit

Tema

¿Cuáles son las implicaciones internas y externas de las elecciones legislativas celebradas en Israel el pasado 1 de noviembre de 2022?

Resumen

El presente análisis estudia el impacto que la formación de una coalición de gobierno, compuesta por partidos de derecha, extrema derecha y ortodoxos religiosos, podría tener para el futuro político más inmediato de Israel, tanto dentro de su territorio, como en el contexto geopolítico regional, centrándose en el análisis de cuestiones identitarias susceptibles de antagonizar tanto a los árabes de Israel como a judíos críticos con el sistema o a sus aliados más inmediatos.

Análisis Israel y la cábala electoral

Según la concordancia cabalística entre cifras y letras hebreas, el número seis corresponde a la letra vav, que añadida como un prefijo a una palabra equivale a la conjunción “y”, funcionando como el elemento de unión y conexión entre dos extremos.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mohammad ben Salman (D), lors de la cérémonie d’ouverture de la Coupe du monde 2022 de football, au stade al-Bayt d’al-Khor, le 20 novembre 2022. Photo Manan Vatsyayana/AFP

Pour les Qatariens, le 18 décembre prochain sera à marquer d’une pierre blanche : le matin, ils se rassembleront pour célébrer la fête nationale du pays ; et, le soir, ils regarderont la finale de la Coupe du monde de la FIFA. Une heureuse coïncidence qui vient couronner une stratégie vieille de deux décennies : faire du football un tremplin de choix pour l’ascension internationale – et la sécurité nationale – de l’émirat.

Mais contrairement à de nombreux autres pays – du golfe Persique à la Russie en passant par l’Asie du Sud-Est – , qui ont simplement vu dans le football un outil efficace de « soft power » ou de stimulation économique, le Qatar y voit aussi une garantie sécuritaire.…  Seguir leyendo »

Jugadores de Alemania posan para la foto del equipo mientras se cubren la boca como protesta al gobierno de Qatar, previo al partido contra Japón en el Mundial, el 23 de noviembre de 2022. (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)

A finales de octubre, Peter Tatchell, uno de los activistas por los derechos de la comunidad LGBTQ+ más conocidos a nivel internacional, montó una protesta frente al Museo Nacional de Qatar para llamar la atención sobre la criminalización de esa población en el país, que penaliza la homosexualidad con condenas de uno a tres años de cárcel. Faltaba poco menos de un mes para que comenzara el Mundial de futbol, que no solo atraería a más de un millón de visitantes, sino también la mirada de cientos de millones de aficionados.

La Policía quitó a Tatchell un cartel que decía: “Qatar arresta, encarcela y somete a la población LGBT a terapias de conversión”.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pakistani President Arif Alvi, left, meets with Lt. Gen. Asim Munir, the new army chief, in Islamabad on Thursday. (Press Information Department handout via Reuters)

After months of intrigue, Pakistan finally has a new army chief. The job is going to Lt. Gen. Asim Munir, a former head of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the powerful military intelligence agency. Many Pakistanis breathed a sigh of relief at the news, which has — at least for the moment — warded off fears of a fresh political crisis. The reason: In recent months, ex-prime minister Imran Khan has been pushing for a confrontation with the senior army leadership that some feared might lead to the army announcing martial law. For the moment, at least, that threat appears to have been averted.…  Seguir leyendo »

The anti-regime protests in Iran — triggered by the death in police custody of the 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini — are now in their third month. More than 400 protesters have been killed since then; at least another 15,000 have been arrested. Iran is aching for change. The streets are filled with those who are willing to risk losing everything for their freedom.

That the unrest continues is itself a remarkable tribute to those overwhelmingly young Iranians who refuse to back down in the face of brutal violence from the regime. Western leaders have been slow to acknowledge the full significance and depth of what has been happening inside Iran — not least because of their fixation on persuading the regime to agree to a deal on Tehran’s nuclear program.…  Seguir leyendo »

¿Le importa realmente a los aficionados que Catar intente limpiar su imagen con el Mundial?

La elección de Catar por parte de la FIFA como sede del Mundial de Fútbol masculino de 2022 ha sido controvertida desde el primer día. Siguen surgiendo preguntas sobre la actitud de la nación en materia de derechos humanos y su trato a los trabajadores inmigrantes.

Para algunos, todo el evento ejemplifica el concepto de sportwashing o lavado de imagen deportivo, es decir, el uso del deporte como herramienta de poder blando para limpiar (y distraer) una reputación política o humanitaria turbia. Y como ejercicio de relaciones públicas, la Copa del Mundo masculina es un gran negocio. El último, organizado por otra controvertida nación anfitriona, Rusia, atrajo a 3 500 millones de espectadores en todo el mundo.…  Seguir leyendo »

Goleada en el estercolero

Cuando nuestra última dictadura se adornaba con las primeras copas de Europa del Real Madrid, con el título continental fruto del cabezazo de Marcelino o con los éxitos de Bahamontes y Santana, yo ni siquiera llegaba a adolescente.

La primera vez que la mirada hacia el palco me amargó una gesta deportiva no fue, sin embargo, una ocasión cualquiera. Acababa de vivir in situ, en el pabellón olímpico de Los Angeles, detrás del banquillo de la selección española de baloncesto, pegado al cogote de mi amigo Antonio Díaz-Miguel, nuestro gran triunfo ante la Yugoslavia de Petrovic, Delibasic y Dalipagic, en los Juegos Olímpicos del 84.…  Seguir leyendo »

Gianni Infantino, presidente de la FIFA, ha afirmado, en unas declaraciones muy sentimentales, con ocasión del discurso inaugural del Mundial de Qatar, cómo se siente ante el polémico y éticamente cuestionable acontecimiento deportivo. “Hoy me siento qatarí, hoy me siento árabe, hoy me siento africano, hoy me siento gay, hoy me siento discapacitado, hoy me siento trabajador migrante”. Y pareciera que su declaración fuese universal, enarbolando la bandera de los oprimidos, de los desafortunados del mundo, con los que pareciera vaya a estar a partir de hoy. Pero sus palabras han comenzado con el adverbio “hoy”, y eso abre alguna otra perspectiva.…  Seguir leyendo »

Catar la sangre

No sabe uno de dónde vendrá tanto miedo reverencial a la FIFA, entidad incompatible con la transparencia y ajena a los controles que, con los habituales subterfugios almibarados propios de vacuo discurso del deporte, alberga corrupciones sin cuento. Al final le va a resultar más fácil a la comunidad internacional someter a Rusia que a la cueva de Infantino. Un tipo cuya figura imaginé mucho antes de verla, hará unos cuarenta años, cuando leí 'Gog', de Giovanni Papini. Su protagonista encarna la amoralidad y el aburrimiento. Le habrá supuesto un esfuerzo considerable al jefe del último organismo impune del mundo civilizado simular indignación cuando reprochó a algunos occidentales renuentes a la tiranía que tuvieran valores.…  Seguir leyendo »

Giovanni Vincenzo Infantino, presidente de la FIFA. Foto por Présidence de la République du Bénin

Es mentira que vivamos en un mundo aburrido y monótono y tampoco es verdad que la tecnología y el consumismo nos hayan convertido en figuras insensibles al dolor y las desdichas ajenas. No me esforzaré en argumentar en contra de esos juicios tan desdichados e injustos, me bastará con recordar las maravillosas palabras que ha pronunciado Gianni Infantino, preboste de la FIFA, en el comienzo del Mundial qatarí: “Hoy me siento qatarí, árabe, africano, gay, discapacitado, trabajador migrante… Me siento como ellos y sé lo que es sufrir acoso desde pequeño. Fui pelirrojo y sufrí bullying”.

Al expresarse de forma tan desgarradora y solidaria, Infantino ha hecho el milagro de que el fútbol deje de ser parte de una industria del entertainment y lo ha puesto a la cabeza de la conciencia moral del mundo.…  Seguir leyendo »

A worker walks past FIFA World Cup banners outside the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, on Nov. 6. KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

As the FIFA Men’s World Cup begins, Qatar is facing media scrutiny for the abuse and exploitation of migrant workers who built and delivered an  estimated $220 billion of World Cup infrastructure—as well as discrimination against  women and  LGBT people. Qatari authorities are anxious to deflect attention from the country’s human rights record by claiming that the criticism is  racist, because such criticism against a World Cup host is “unprecedented”. FIFA President Gianni Infantino said the same, delivering a  rambling speech on the eve of the World Cup.

Qatari authorities might be able to justifiably complain about lazy reporting on the Arab world, but the biggest criticism about Qatar is that this World Cup has been built on racial injustice—delivered at the cost of abuse and exploitation of low-paid migrant workers primarily from South Asia and Africa.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iran’s national football team, known affectionately as Team Melli, kicked off its World Cup on Monday in dispiriting fashion. The side, which came into the tournament the highest-ranked team from Asia, lost a one-sided match to  England, 6-2. There is time to make amends. On Friday, Team Melli plays Wales — a potentially winnable match for the Iranians — before taking on the United States in a tantalizing fixture next week.

For Iranian football fans, myself included, World Cup games are ordinarily the pinnacle of sporting excitement. This year, in Qatar, things are different. Team Melli is playing amid a popular uprising, set off by the killing of a young Kurdish Iranian woman,  Mahsa Amini, by Iran’s morality police in mid-September.…  Seguir leyendo »