Dr. James M. Dorsey

Dr. James M. Dorsey

Dr. James M. Dorsey

(Ph.D. University of Utrecht). Specializes in the Muslim world's political, social, and economic fault lines as well as Chinese policy towards the region with a focus on geopolitics, social movements, and political and militant Islam. James also focuses on the nexus of sports, politics, and society. Email: [email protected]

Qatari vs. Saudi Wahhabism and the Perils of Top-Down Change

| December 7, 2017

Qatar and Saudi Arabia share a Wahhabi tradition, yet Qatar’s secular social character is more similar to that of Turkey. Despite their current antagonism, the leaders of the two countries share a forward-looking, less socially conservative vision. But a government-engineered modernizing process will be ineffective if it is not accompanied by political change.


Tackling Corruption: Why Saudi Prince Muhammad’s Approach Raises Questions

| December 4, 2017

Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s recent moves against the Saudi elite look more like a power and asset grab than a credible effort to eradicate corruption. He would be well advised to focus more on structural and institutional change.


Saudi Arabia’s Lebanon Gamble Might Pay Off

| December 1, 2017

Time will tell, but Saudi Arabia’s gamble to pressure Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed, Lebanese Shiite militia, by forcing Saad Hariri, the country’s prime minister, to resign, may be paying off despite widespread perceptions that the maneuver backfired.


The Battle for Control of Brussels’ Grand Mosque

| November 30, 2017

It’s hard to prove beyond doubt a direct causal link between militancy and Saudi-inspired ultra-conservative forms of Sunni Muslim Islam. That hasn’t stopped Belgium’s parliament from attempting to wrest control from Saudi Arabia of Brussel’s downtown Grand Mosque after three years in which Belgians played a prominent role in ISIS attacks in the Belgian capital as well as Paris.


Qatar: A Model of Social Change?

| November 20, 2017

The Gulf region’s onerous kafala or labor sponsorship system has been denounced as a form of modern slavery. Potential Qatari moves to become the first Gulf state to effectively abolish kafala could produce a rare World Cup that leaves a true legacy of social and economic change.


In Shadowy Covert Wars, Iran Takes Center Stage

| November 14, 2017

A series of incidents involving Iranian ethnic and religious minorities raises the specter of the US and Saudi Arabia seeking to destabilize the Islamic Republic. Indications are that Iran has no intention of sitting back passively in the face of this threat. Beyond its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, and Shiite militias in Iraq, Tehran may be strengthening its relations with the Taliban in Afghanistan.


As Saudi Arabia Reels, the Middle East Will Only Get Worse

| November 10, 2017

While the recent wave of dismissals and arrests of members of the Saudi ruling family, senior officials, and prominent businessmen clouds prospects for Prince Muhammad’s economic reform plans, signs of an escalation in Saudi-Iranian tensions bode ill for the rest of the region.


Saudi Crackdown Raises Specter of Wider Dissent

| November 6, 2017

Few noticed a rare protest that took place in Saudi Arabia in late January 2011 as a wave of popular uprisings swept the Middle East and North Africa, toppling the leaders of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. Yet that protest, as well as criticism of the government’s handling of floods in the Red Sea port of Jeddah in 2009, play an important role in Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s extension of his crackdown to members of the ruling family and the military. Prince Muhammad is attempting to stamp out any form of opposition to his mercurial rise, economic and social reform plans, and conduct of the Yemen war.


Kurdish Battle Positions Kurds as US Ally Against Iran

| October 27, 2017

There may be a silver, if risky, lining for Kurdish nationalists in their devastating loss of Kirkuk and other cities on the periphery of their semi-autonomous region as they lick their wounds and vent anger over the deep-seated internal divisions that facilitated the Iranian-backed Iraqi blitzkrieg. Mounting popular anger coupled with US Congressional fury could position the Kurds as a key player in potential US efforts to roll back Iranian influence in Iraq and counter the Islamic Republic as part of President Donald J. Trump’s tougher approach towards Tehran.


Shaping Eurasia’s Future: Unintended Consequences of Abrogating Iran’s Nuclear Deal

| October 13, 2017

US President Donald J. Trump’s targeting of the two-year-old agreement curtailing Iran’s ability to produce nuclear weapons could not only spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, but also tilt European-Chinese competition for domination of Eurasia’s future energy infrastructure in China’s favor.