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Rosemary Bechler, editor

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Violent Transitions

Speaking to a delegation of Latin dignitaries in 1962, President John F. Kennedy said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” His words ring prophetic as regimes in Egypt, Syria and Yemen who refuse to cede to the peaceful demands of their people find themselves locked in a deadly dance.

Arabs who have decided to seize their own destiny are confronted with regimes that are willing to use any means necessary to retain power. As Arabs struggle to overthrow their regimes, we will explore ways of averting violence, the virtues and drawbacks of international intervention and the sacrifice tens of thousands of Arabs are making for their freedom.

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Syria: when representational violence is as ruthless as political violence

Our representations of what happens in Syria contribute to the ongoing violence. The rhetoric allows the self-nominated international community to rationalise an ongoing structure of suffering, done with the best of intentions.

The roots and grassroots of the Syrian revolution (Part 3 of 4)

Dominant narratives on Syria simplify it to a struggle between a dictatorship vs Islamic extremists, with Syrians included only as passive, voiceless, victims. In Part 3, Syrians are re-introduced as a people revolting against authoritarianism in both its secular and religious embodiments.

The roots and grassroots of the Syrian revolution (Part 2 of 4)

In Part 2, the author dispels the myths used by the Syrian regime to legitimise itself. Is anything left of the regime's rhetoric of socialism, secularism and anti-imperialism?

Film review: First to Fall

The author reviews a documentary film shot over an 8-month period about two friends who abandon life in Canada to return to their home country, Libya, to fight in the revolution against Gaddafi’s army.

The Egyptian counter revolution: the Gulf connection

Maged Mandour

Since Egypt, as a rentier state, can ignore popular demands and rely on coercion, continuous financial support from Arab states, similar to international financial support, will only act as insulation for the regime from popular pressure.

Britain and Bahrain: still allied against democracy and human rights

An interview with Maryam al-Khawaja, a leading Bahraini human rights activist, on the continuing protests in Bahrain, the regime’s continued repression and the UK’s involvement in the ongoing situation.

On Lebanese sovereignty

The issue of what sovereignty means, and how it can be enforced, should not be confined to the defensive sphere alone. Increasing resentment against Syrians in the domestic sphere, and offhand statements about the army versus the law, do not augur well.

The conscience of Syria: An interview with activist and intellectual Yassin al-Haj Saleh

A popular Syrian intellectual responds to questions on the Syrian conflict and the west. Throughout, Yassin confronts and reframes several western fears and constructs about Islamists, intervention and the development of the uprising.

Film review: The Square

The author reviews the only documentary released to-date of the people's uprising in Egypt until the fall of Mohamed Morsi on 3 July 2013.

A sham election will only divide Syria further

While the international community’s attention has been grabbed by Ukraine, it should not overlook the latest events in Syria as Bashar al-Assad’s presidential ‘election campaign’ begins. The July poll is likely to increase, rather than heal, the divide between Syrians of all types.

Pressuring FIFA

FIFA may be forced to take action as something must be done to stop the relentless targeting of Palestinian footballers in Israel.

In Nasser's shadow

Maged Mandour

Nasserism is based on two main pillars, Arab nationalism and Arab socialism. Both have been considered to be progressive, anti-imperialist ideologies aimed at ridding the Arab world of its backwardness. But the revival of the Nasserist legacy has been selective at best, aimed at reinforcing a “false consciousness”. 

Status quo in Bahrain

As the struggle in Bahrain continues, people in the west need to hold their governments accountable for their support of despotic regimes. 

This week's window on the Middle East - March 3, 2014

Arab Awakening's columnists offer their weekly perspective on what is happening on the ground in the Middle East. Leading the week, Four reasons for throwing down a gauntlet to El Sisi.

Political violence and state repression in Egypt

Maged Mandour

The level of political violence and state repression is set to increase over the coming years in Egypt. The slogan, “Egypt is fighting terrorism” is only a short-term remedy, diverting attention away from a severe economic and political crisis.

The Arab Spring and the changing balance of global power

From an empirical-analytical point of view, what has happened in the Middle East and North Africa since Mohammed Bouazizi died? This is not an opinion piece, but an assessment of underlying factors which have put pressure on the aspiration for justice and political reform launched by the Arab Spring. (5,000 words) 

The Syrian revolution - a view from above

Many factors contributed to the revolutionary framework, however, all the players were striving for power. The one aspect, uniting all the Syrian people, which is constantly rejuvenated, is the organic desire for freedom and justice in the framework of a real nation state. Translation: العربية 

الثورة السورية: رؤية من الأعلى

عناصر كثيرة دخلت في السياق العام للثورة منها القريب ومنها الغريب عن ثقافتنا أخطرها العنف المتبادل بين النظام والجماعات الجهادية ، وكلها تتصارع لتجد منفذاً الى السلطة، أما العامل المتجدد والجامع للشعب بكل أطيافه هو النزعة للحرية والعدالة في ظل دولة وطنية حقيقية.

Bulgaria's 'chilly welcome' to Syrian refugees

As the civil war in Syria continues, refugees are desperately seeking refuge. It seems that Bulgaria has consistently preferred to engage in exacerbating the situation. Bulgarians have built a wall and are allowing far-right xenophobic rhetoric to prevail.

Lessons from a disillusioned revolutionary

Maged Mandour

A reflection on the three years that have passed since the Egyptian uprising began with a list of lessons for future generations.

A possible alternative

The independent revolutionary youth of Egypt who disapprove of both a military dictatorship and the Islamists are facing a brick wall. However, activating the Revolutionary Front and bridging the gap with democratic technocrats could strengthen the true liberal opposition and would be a crucial step for hope.

Egypt and the Arab uprisings

Three years on, the global significance of the Arab uprisings lies in the reminder of how brittle the seemingly invulnerable machinery of state can be. They remind us that another world is possible, and not just in the Middle East.

Egypt: an interview with Hossam El-Hamalawy

Three years after the Egyptian uprising began, the deep state and the military appear to be openly back in control. How did this happen? Khalil Bendib speaks with Egyptian activist, blogger, and journalist Hossam el-Hamalawy. Interview: 40 mins.

Coercion and social change: the case of the Egyptian revolution

Maged Mandour

Would a renewed 'Jacobin spirit' among the revolutionary forces in Egypt push the movement towards its logical conclusion?


Israel/Palestine: trapped by our own narratives?

This tragic historic clash - the product of centuries of virulent European antisemitism at home and rampant imperialism abroad, crowned by double or, in this case, treble dealings - is the root of the conflict. Almost everything else has been grafted on retrospectively.

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