a different side of Israel

Tag: United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates Forces the Closure of U.S-Backed Organizations

The United Arab Emirates have long been an ally of the United States, which made it all the more baffling when they made the move to shutter the National Democratic Institute. Their actions came amidst the public outcry of what many Egyptians believed to be foreign interference.

The Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke at a conference in Saudi Arabia to address the issue publicly. Egypt’s decision to take action against multiple non-profit U.S. institutes has prompted a debate in Washington over whether foreign aid should be withheld. The Obama administration eventually permitted an arms sale between the two nations to move forward after Egypt allowed staff members of the American organizations to safely exit the country. A German organization was also targeted and forced to close its doors.

The forced closures of the organizations created tensions during Clinton’s visit to the Persian Gulf. The original purpose of the visit was to strengthen the alliance between the U.S. and the Gulf Cooperation Council and address issues concerning anti-terrorism and nuclear proliferation. However, Clinton also found herself addressing Egypt’s action against the U.S. led organizations.

Despite the dismay over Egypt’s decision against the American groups, the U.S. hopes to continue to strengthen military relations with the gulf nations. The aim is to forge a military stronghold that includes a military defense system, which would serve as the main point of defense against military aggression from Iran.

Despite amicable relations between the two nations, The U.S. has blasted the gulf nations for human rights violations. The criticisms occurred right after the gulf council dispatched military forces to quell protestors in Bahrain who were in opposition against the region’s suppressive government policy.

Organizations like the National Democratic Institute have mainly provided programs in support of women’s role in the country. At this point, it is still unclear why Egypt made the decision to shut them down.

Dubai: Why Andy and not Shahar?

Something’s really shitty is happening when one player from Israel gets bumped at a tennis tournament and another is allowed to play. Such is the case at the annual Dubai Tennis Championships when Israeli female tennis star Shahar Peer was denied a visa to play there, while her male colleague, Andy Ram, was able to receive one. Last year, Israeli players, including Peer, didn’t have a problem playing in the tournament, which up to this year anyway appeared to be growing in standings, just like the Dubai Classic Annual Golf Tournament is, with big name golf professionals playing there.

Up to now, the Emirate city-state appeared to be one of the more liberal Arab countries with many Israeli businessmen able to go there and to conduct lucrative business deals, despite Dubai’s official non-recognition of Israel in the political arena. Coming on the heels of the recent military actions between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza, and the adverse publicity the 22 day conflict received in many international circles, the Sheikdom may have decided to ban Peer for this reason. Peer’s doubles partner, German player Anna-Lena Groenefeld, also found her self out of the tournament by not having a teammate to play with.

Israeli Tennis

There might have been some logic as to why Ms. Peer was not allowed to play, at least in some circles, due to political and cultural norms on the part of the Dubai government and the tournament organizers. But this situation has changed dramatically with the allowing of Andy Ram to play, making one wonder if Peer’s ouster was simply because she is a woman! The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) who is responsible for the welfare of female tennis players at such events, has fined the Dubai tourney organizers a record $300,000 for their rejecting of Peer, and will grant Shahar a compensation fee of $44,250 plus 130 ranking points for not being allowed to defend her world rankings in this event.

For his part, Ram appears happy that he was allowed to compete, although many people in both Israel and elsewhere feel that he should have refused to play, in sympathy with Peer. This makes the entire matter even more problematic, resulting in the “gender factor” being a possible reason for Ms. Peer being refused the visa. WTA officials are now requiring that tournament organizers for such events post a $2 million bond to compensate players and advertisers in the event such things happen in future tournaments. Ram’s visa granting was not automatic, however, and only resulted after the international men’ ATP tennis federation put pressure on the Dubai tourney organizers.

Still, the whole affair puts a bad tint on future tournament events to be held in Dubai, and in other so-called “moderate” Arab countries; and will probably have an effect on future participation by Israeli and other tennis players, especially female ones.

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