Editor’s Note: A version of this story appears in today’s Meanwhile in the Middle East newsletter, CNN’s three-times-a-week look inside the region’s biggest stories. Sign up here.
Baghdad and Abu Dhabi
Iraq is holding its first international soccer tournament in more than four decades, hosting its Gulf Arab neighbors for a two-week competition as it emerges from its worst and longest political deadlock in years.
The tournament, analysts say, is a glimmer of hope for a struggling population, but also holds a political message – Iraq is signaling to its neighbors and the world that it is ready to move past decades of turmoil.
After more than 30 years of global isolation due to wars and sanctions, for many Iraqis the Arabian Gulf Cup – the tournament started on Friday and will run until January 19 – is something of a tonic.
“Iraq is a…