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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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Featured articles

 

Why 'no-fly zones' or 'IS-free zones' are not a solution in Syria

An external military intervention to establish these zones, even with the best intentions, is likely to make things worse; the international community should instead work on building consensus. A NOREF policy brief.

Politics and diplomacy in Turkey: time to talk

Beset by domestic and regional crises, Turkey has adopted a defensive posture where dialogue would be preferable.

How Israeli impunity threatens Palestinian children

Israel should ensure justice for the murders of Ali and Saad Dawabshe, but its policies must fundamentally change if other Palestinian children are to have a future.

Recolonising international law: Israel’s naval blockade against Gaza

Israel invokes the privileges of engaging in international armed conflict but denies Palestinians their corresponding entitlements under the same body of law. This is the colonial nature of Israel’s legal logic.

One year after the war: Gaza’s lost hopes

A letter from Gaza, describing the impossibility of getting back to 'normal' one year after the war. Real change is needed before it is too late.

The new war for the Middle East

ISIS has stepped opportunistically into the vacuum created by the absence of state, loss of shared narrative and feeble leverage of powers. But there may be a way ahead. A NOREF report.

European values and the Arab world

Maged Mandour

EU politicians can promote 'European' values by stopping their support for autocratic regimes, and by starting to ask tough questions about radicalisation.


The problem with the 'women of ISIL'

Deeply problematic media narratives on Islam and women go unchallanged, distracting from the difficult questions and warping perceptions directly involved in justifying western military intervention in the Middle East.

America's not so exceptional foreign policy

What can explain the myopia of US policy towards Sudan, when it knows Sudan has been facilitating ISIS in Libya, Syria and Iraq, and other terror groups?

Jihadists and activists: Tunisian youth five years later

Refocusing attention on activist youth helps clarify the complexity of this historical moment we have variably called the 'Arab Spring' or 'Arab Awakening'.

Gaza's dark night

Palestinians want to leave. Nothing else. All Palestinians. Because there is not even drinking water anymore in Gaza. Even the Hamas guys in charge just want to leave.

Tunisia – tug of war?

Tunisia is now at a crossroads, facing the largest challenge to its democratic transition yet. How should it respond without undermining the rights and freedoms that have been so resolutely fought for?

The limited effectiveness of US Middle East policy

There's not much the US can do in a post-Saddam Middle East except practice containment (and keep up airpower)—another invasion of foreign occupiers will only drive yet more legitimacy to Daesh.

Bleak prospects for the Muslim Brotherhood

Maged MandourThe main obstacle facing Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood is arguably not physical repression, but the urgent need for self-rehabilitation.

 

North Sinai and Egyptian media

Early on 1 July, an Islamic State affiliate started a massive and unprecedented attack in Egypt. Once again, the media is failing to verify the information it spreads.

We need an ICJ ruling on Syria

Getting the world’s most respected judicial body to weigh in on Syria might not stop the regime from bombing civilians, but it will increase the political cost of continued attacks.

The United Nations and a peace process strategy for Syria

A NOREF policy brief providing a series of recommendations for the development of a peacemkaing strategy for Syria, led by the UN with support from key countries.

The utter failure of the international community to protect civilians in Syria

The Syrian people need an immediate no-fly zone, and for the alternatives to IS/Da'esh and Assad to be taken seriously.

Prospects for a future Kurdistan

A future independent Kurdish state faces many political, economic, and administrative challenges, but its success could be a game-changer in the Middle East.

Syrian Kurds turn the tables on ISIS

Syrian Kurds have won a strategic victory in Tel Abyad, uniting two of their self-run cantons and putting ISIS on the back foot.

Islamic State: more popular than you think

The powerful rise of religious fascism, though exacerbated by economic and political crises, is rooted in the ethnic and religious intolerance that has thrived in the region for decades.

The looming threat of ISIS in Sudan

ISIS is succesfully recruiting among disaffected Sudanese youth, and not enough is being done to stop it.

What is your occupation

Despatches from a trip to the 2015 Palestinian Festival of Literature. Part two: occupation.

The Syrian impasse: navigating hard truths and the road forward

US diplomatic efforts to quell violence in Syria have been halfhearted and ineffective.

Palmyra: Tadmor and a very different heritage

The ancient city of Palmyra is also home to Tadmor prison, and was lost to us long before IS.

Voyeuring occupation

Taking pictures in Palestinian refugee camps feels crude. But what is more clumsy is to go to the West Bank and ignore the occupation.

The age of 'white men in suits'

Maged Mandour

White men in suits support Arab autocrats while the suffering many are vilified as dangerous to the fabric of western societies: external threats or worse, immigrants attempting to infiltrate.

Out of the Middle East

It is time for Arab Gulf countries to stop being on the defensive and to accept their responsibility for what is happening in the region.

Spilling the beans, Riyadh style

With recent events, the Saudis are involuntarily proving Obama's point: petrodollars and weapons cannot buy them security, but social and political reform just might.

The dilemmas of migration and the alternatives

Force and denial are not going to solve the migrant crisis—instead we must turn to long-term economic, political, and cultural solutions.

Self-immolation in Kurdish Iraq

Why has self-immolation become an alarmingly common trend in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein?

Palestinian unity: a dream buried deep?

Neither Fatah nor Hamas are willing to accept power sharing, and the division between them is no longer merely ideological in nature.

Iraq's vanishing heritage: risks and solutions

Despite the challenges involved in rescuing Iraq's endangered cultural and archaeological sites, a recent conference put forward concrete, long-term solutions.

Desperate people, hazardous escapes

Those fleeing violent conflict or brutal repressive regimes, facing darkness and terror as they journey from home to Europe, deserve compassion—not intolerance, paranoia and hate.

The Arab World: towards bi-polarity?

Maged Mandour

In Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Bahrain, it will be very difficult for revolutionary democratic movements to succeed in such a bi-polar order.

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