DOHA, Qatar — The International Playing Card Stacking Federation announced that its first All Middle East competition will be postponed for the 99th time since it was first announced in 1915, sources confirmed Thursday.
"We sincerely regret postponing this long-awaited competition. Card stacking is an art of patience, precision, and achievement in the face of adversity, values which we believe have great meaning for the Middle East. However, given the current regional situation, we do not believe this an appropriate time for the competition," said spokesman and international champion card stacker Bryan Berg.
The delay, caused primarily by the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the ongoing Syrian civil war, and intensified Israel-Palestine conflict, is just the latest in an almost century-long string of delays and postponements since the competition was first proposed by British officer and card-stacking hobbyist Sir Arnold Wilson in 1915.
Previous delays have been caused by a variety of unexpected problems that made it impractical to stage the contest, including the Egyptian Revolution, the Iranian Revolution, the Iraqi Revolution, the Dhofar Rebellion, the Adwan Rebellion, the Ararat Rebellion, the Dersim Rebellion, World Wars 1 and 2, the Arab-Israeli Wars, the Iran-Iraq War, the Anglo-Iraqi War, the Franco-Syrian War, the Saudi-Yemeni War, the Lebanese Civil War, the Syrian Civil War, the Yemeni Civil Wars, the Suez Crisis, the Siege of Mecca, several intifadas, Operation Ajax, Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, the assassination of King Abdullah I of Jordan, the assassination of Anwar Sadat, the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, the assassination of Rafic Hariri, the assassinations of numerous Iraqi and Iranian prime ministers, the Armenian Genocide, the Assyrian Genocide, several genocides targeting the Kurds and Yazidis, the Semele Massacre, the Hama Massacre, the Mecca Massacre, the bombing of the King David Hotel, the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, a combined total of over 14 coups d'etat, and inclement weather, among other causes.
The delay is especially disappointing as organizers had held out hope as late as yesterday that an appropriately stable venue had been located in Dubai. However, the United Arab Emirates ultimately declined to host the competition, concerned that an additional several dozen tourists staying for a weeklong competition would tax their fresh water production capabilities to the breaking point.
Despite the postponement of the competition, the group's robust teaching and mentoring of youth throughout the region will continue unaffected.
"Stacking playing cards can be done with as few as two cards," says one volunteer card-stacking teacher who would only identify himself as "Idra" for fear of being construed as conducting a political activity and suffering reprisals by Hamas, Israeli settlers, the Shabiha, ISIS, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda and its affiliates, the Israeli Army, the Mossad, both the Syrian Army and the Free Syrian Army, the CIA, MI6, the Iranian Army, the mukhabarat of every country previously named plus Jordan, both the secret and non-secret Egyptian police, and western drone strikes.
Moments after Idra completed the most basic two card tower, a sheaf of threatening letters was forced through the door's mail slot from — among others — politicians seeking bribes in exchange for overlooking construction of an unauthorized card tower, fundamentalists furious over the use of cards that can be used to gamble, and the mafia which controls all local gambling.
In spite of the letters, Idra is optimistic.
"I think we are making good progress. Compared to when I first began, more and more of the threatening letters do not even mention stacking playing cards."
However, there was no time to read the other thirty-eight threatening letters to confirm this, as the wall of the house was suddenly blasted in by a vehicle-borne IED parked outside, the roof was caved in by a government artillery strike, and the remaining walls were crushed by a passing Israeli armored bulldozer, leaving only the mailbox standing.
The mailbox collapsed soon afterwards following a moderately strong breeze, apparently due to the use of library paste rather than nails by the contractor, a relative of a local official.
Due to the competition's postponement, the previous regional card stacking record of a five-tiered house of cards will likely stand for one more year. The record was achieved in Iraq during the 2007 Sunni Awakening, but was cut short when U.S. military leaders insisted on bringing visiting officials to see it for themselves, and their helicopter's rotor wash blew it over.
UPDATE: The contest has now been formally canceled, after the entire Middle East was rocked by a giant explosion. The region is now burning and slowly sinking into what is expected to become a new sea between the Arabian Sea and the Mediterranean.