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In the Arab world, does World Cup soccer trump the Gaza war?
By Ariel Ben Solomon
13/07/2014
The situation in Iraq, the Islamic State (IS), the war in Syria, and the World Cup in Brazil are grabbing the attention, expert says.
 
While violent clashes between Israel and the Palestinians tend to attract a disproportionate amount of the Arab world’s attention, the current war between Hamas in Gaza and Israel seems to be getting less responsiveness.

Arab newspapers are still giving top coverage to the conflict, but it is not appearing to be dominating the news, as other ongoing conflicts in the Arab world are still getting lots of coverage.

Mordechai Kedar, the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation) and a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, told The Jerusalem Post that the Arab world is “definitely” more indifferent than it was in the past regarding Israeli wars with the Palestinians.

The situation in Iraq, the growing power of the Islamic State (IS), the war in Syria, and the World Cup in Brazil are grabbing the attention, said Kedar.

“Hamas wants to get over the World Cup and grab the world’s attention,” he said.

In addition, as if that were not enough, there is the ongoing turmoil in Libya, Lebanon and Yemen, which is drawing attention away from Gaza. There is also the intra-Islamist conflict, particularly that between the jihadist groups IS and al-Qaida, and speculation over a Kurdish declaration of independence.

Then, there are the talks between world powers and Iran over the country’s nuclear program – and this – within the context of the regional Shi’ite-Sunni conflict.

Elijah J Magnier, the chief international correspondent for the Kuwaiti-based Al-Rai newspaper told the Post that Hamas has been isolated during the current war because of its political choices over the last few years.

Hamas, which had its leadership based in Syria prior to 2011, enjoyed the protection, military support, training and shelter from Iran, the Syrian regime and from Hezbollah.

When the war against Syrian President Bashar Assad began, explained Magnier, Hamas took a stand against Assad, thinking he would fall quickly.

The Gaza-based Sunni group’s leadership then went to Qatar and also found shelter in the arms of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, under former president Mohamed Morsi.

After the ousting of Morsi, Hamas had no one to turn to except to return to Iran, said Magnier.

Such a move contradicted the Sunni stance in the regional sectarian conflict against the Iran-Shi’ite axis and “Saudi Arabia, an arrow-head leading the Sunni flag, will never forgive Hamas for its choices,” asserted Magnier.

Therefore, he said, Hamas’s behavior has distanced itself from the Gulf states and other Sunni Islamist groups in the region, leaving it alone in the ongoing war.

Urayb ar-Rintawi, a columnist for the Jordanian Ad-Doustour newspaper, wrote on Friday that it is completely clear that many of the countries in the region are waiting for this round of fighting to stop in order to resume their usual issues as though nothing happened.
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