MIDDLE EAST

Omar al-Somah - between sports and politics

There are intertwining wars in the region, all the way from Iraq to Syria through Lebanon. This is in addition to wars in Libya and Yemen. These wars include other conflicts related to sects, parties and tribes and national, regional and international interests.

The Syrian war has been on for more than six years. No one expected this at the beginning as it was thought that Bashar al-Assad’s fate will be like Bin Ali in Tunisia or Mubarak in Egypt. However, this was not the case.

Assad’s fate was not even like that of Yemeni leader Ali Abdullah Saleh. Saleh’s fate has complicated the entire Yemeni case as after a political exit was secured for him, he continued to look for a way to retake the reins of power.

Russia and Iran both have interests to serve through Bashar al-Assad’s regime and they have done so by killing the Syrian opposition. This opposition was peaceful at the beginning but it militarized at the hands of al-Nusra and al-Qaeda after around six months from the regime’s brutal crackdown and amid Nasrallah’s and Khamenei’s justifications, Putin’s procrastination and Obama’s empty speeches. 

Social harmony 

I will not discuss this much but will rather address the repercussions of this war on Syrian social harmony and how non-politicized social categories are interacting with it.

Not everyone in Syria is a symbol of political opposition and not everyone is a minister, a warlord or a militia leader as there are people who have nothing to do with politics and some of them are public figures, such as artists and athletes like Omar Al Somah, the Syrian football player who plays for Al Ahli in the Saudi Professional League, and is the star of the Syrian national team.

Not everyone in Syria is a symbol of political opposition and not everyone is a minister, a warlord or a militia leader as there are people who have nothing to do with politics and some of them are public figures, such as artists and athletes like Omar Al Somah, the Syrian football player who plays for Al Ahli in the Saudi Professional League, and is the star of the Syrian national team.

Mashari Althaydi


Somah, who scored for the Syrian team in their recent game, played a significant role in qualifying his team against Iran in the World Cup qualifying rounds. After the game, he thanked the Syrian people and mentioned Bashar al-Assad in particular. 

People’s anger 

Just mentioning the name of Bashar sparked people’s anger, as how can he the son of Deir al-Zour, commend the head of the regime which caused the loss of his town and the displacement and murder of its people?

Meanwhile, the Iranian media complained of how ferocious the Syrian footballers were during the games played with its national team. Iranian agencies published an interview with Iranian striker Sardar Azmoun in which he attacked the Syrian team players and said: “I do not know why they say Syria is a brotherly country. They’ve insulted us in both matches.”

The point of narrating this is to excuse Somah and other non-politicized athletes or artists if they say a word here and there, as the Syrian disaster has escalated and pledges have not been fulfilled.

The scene is more complicated than it seems as there are complaints against the Syrian football team from Iran and others.

May God have mercy on Syria and its people.

This article is also available in Arabic.
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Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Althaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists. He tweets under @MAlthaydy.

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Last Update: Friday, 8 September 2017 KSA 20:27 - GMT 17:27
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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