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The 2022 FIFA World Cup, one of the biggest international sporting events, is being held for the first time in the Middle East, with Qatar as the host nation. My experience attending the tournament underlines the economic, political and social tensions that this World Cup has put on prominent display.

A sign for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar amid questions about the host selection and Qatar's human rights record

After the financial and cultural success of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, more and more nations have vied for the chance to host the Olympics and the World Cup, leading to ambitious budgets and corruption in the selection process. Since the selection of Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup, though, FIFA and the IOC have course-corrected.

A woman protests in Iran after the death of Mahsa Amini

The initial inability of many in the West to fully grasp the scale of what is now unfolding in Iran is the product of three dynamics that reflect deeper problems with how the EU and U.S. engage with the wider world. To avoid repeating those mistakes, the West needs to mitigate such distortions of perceptions and policy.

The President of the UAE, a country in the Middle East, discussing climate change at COP27

As the United Nations COP27 Climate Change Conference closed Sunday, Egypt, this year’s host, hailed the agreements brokered there as a success. But there continues to be a gap between the climate-change commitments most countries in the Middle East and North Africa have formally expressed and their actual behavior.

Sanaa Seif protests for the release of her brother, jailed Egyptian pro-democracy and human rights activist Alaa Abd el-Fattah, in Egypt at COP27 in 2022

The U.N. COP27 Climate Change Summit has entered its final week, but the agenda for the remainder of the conference threatens to be overshadowed by concerns over Egypt’s poor human rights record, especially because of the restrictions Egyptian authorities have placed on the participation of civil society groups at the summit.

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The return of Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister has raised the question of whether he will revisit Israel’s neutrality over the war in Ukraine. But he is unlikely to, for a simple reason: Israel fears that aligning against Russia in Ukraine would curtail its freedom to operate against Iranian forces and proxies in Syria.

Gvir after Israeli elections in 2022

The new Israeli government under Benjamin Netanyahu is anticipated to be different than its predecessors due to the likely inclusion of two ultra-nationalist and Jewish supremacist parties. That will present a challenge to the U.S., in terms of the new government’s more unsavory figures and the policies it is expected to implement.

COP27 climate summit

The U.N. COP27 Climate Change Conference kicked off in Egypt this week, capping off a year of contrasts when it comes to climate action. On one hand, several states dramatically increased their climate ambitions. On the other, a series of extreme weather events reinforced the sense of urgency over the climate crisis.

Saudi Arabia arrested an activist for speech in another country, which is a human rights violations

Saudi Arabia has ramped up its crackdown on dissent, as recent cases make clear that the country is willing to surveil its citizens abroad and severely punish them for exercising their right to free expression within the jurisdiction of democratic countries, a worrying trend that appears to only be getting worse.

A group of Iranians listen to then-President Hassan Rouhani during a ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, Tehran, Iran, Feb. 11, 2019 (AP photo by Vahid Salemi).

The struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia has insinuated itself into nearly every regional issue, fracturing international alliances and sustaining wars across the region, while raising fears of a direct conflict between the two powers. Meanwhile, the region is rife with ongoing conflicts, and the long-simmering dispute between Israel and Palestine continues to flare up periodically.

Far-right Israeli lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir speaks to journalists outside of the Likud Party headquarters after meeting with Nov. 1 poll winner Benjamin Netanyahu about forming a government, in Tel Aviv, Israel

Israel’s fifth parliamentary election in four years secured a dramatic political comeback for former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is set to form a government that will include the ultra-nationalist Religious Zionism. The coalition already threatens to undermine Israel’s partnerships with Gulf States and the U.S.

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Israeli voters went to the polls for the fifth time since 2019 on Tuesday, in elections that many expected to deliver the same kind of “Groundhog Day” outcome of indecisive deadlock that characterized the previous four ballots. Instead, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu secured a stunning political comeback, overcoming his legal jeopardy stemming from corruption trials and a toxic personal brand that had splintered the Israeli right to win an outright majority. For the past three years, opposition to Netanyahu had driven the formation of an “anyone but Bibi” coalition among political factions that otherwise had little to nothing in […]

Iraq's new prime minister, who has complicated relations with Iran

Iraq’s parliament approved a new government last week, bringing an end to the year-long political deadlock that followed the country’s 2021 parliamentary elections. Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani will head the new government, backed by a coalition dominated by parties representing Iran-backed Shiite militias.