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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

 

Where are the people of Syria?

To mark the fourth anniversary of the uprising, the people of Syria tell their stories. 

Why is Islamic State destroying Iraq’s historical heritage?

The Islamist organisation’s wanton annihilation of Iraq’s history is a shock ploy designed to recruit soldiers and boost morale in the face of military threat.

Afraid of the dark

The lights have gone out in Syria, a symbol for the destruction it has seen. This video, a part of the #withSyria campaign, calls for the international community to step up.

Riding the caliphate interstate with Jeff Steinberg

An interview on the origins of Islamic State and its relationship with regional and global powers.

Jordan vows to avenge Kasasbeh's murder

The murder by IS of Lt Muath Kasasbeh has caused outrage everywhere, especially in his home country, Jordan, which wants a price paid in blood.

The Islamic State's arrival in Gaza

With a never-ending siege on Gaza, the economic capacity of Palestinians has shrunk to an unbearable limit where families struggle to feed their children. A breeding ground is thereby created for extremism and radical ideologies. 

Why we hate our reflections: Saudi Arabia and the Islamic State

Al Saud might be afraid of many things, but the main threat to their survival comes from within their historical legacy, from their own language; from the Islamic State.

Infographic: understanding sectarianism

A very accessible introduction to how we should grasp and portray sect and sectarianism in Syria and the Middle East.

Homage to deformed cities

Gaza. Is there a city beyond the slogans?

The Egyptian lesson: how to strengthen student opposition

In a country choked with ironies, the Egyptian regime might just be building up the new student opposition that it is trying to eliminate.

Arab dictators: between tactical brilliance and strategic stupidity

Maged Mandour

The Arab World is becoming increasingly unstable and the current elites are using severe coercion to remain in power. However, the use of coercion will lead to instability, as the opposition becomes more radicalized and prone to violence.

Making local ceasefires work in Syria

Any approach to Syria should be judged by its ability to stop the daily abuses against civilians. Advocates of local ceasefires must strive for a balance between immediate relief from the daily suffering and commitment to basic rights and the aspirations of Syrians.

Tracing the impact of the Ferguson uprising in Turkey

It seems that the time has come for Erdogan to return the favour and make a similar phone call to Obama. He has an excuse to do so now, which can only spell more heartache.

Israel in the Arab consciousness: friend or foe?

Maged Mandour

The events of the Arab Revolt have dramatically shifted the position of Israel in the region. Arab regimes have moved from rejecting the existence of Israel to accommodation, to implicit cooperation, in some cases, open cooperation.

When the people wanted to bring down the Syrian regime: Hezbollah as a counter-revolutionary proxy

The fruits of heroic resistance are feeding regional interests rather than the people that resisted. The proxy role of Islamic resistance is becoming a bargaining tool in regional diplomacy.

The battle for Mohamed Mahmoud: developing a counter narrative

Maged Mandour

Even though the regime has the upper hand in material repression, it is far from invincible. Its Achilles heel is its ideological weakness, and the creation of a revolutionary mythology may be a first step in the long journey of dismantling its ideological base. 

For history’s sake, the Arab peoples have revolted

Not only did the Arab peoples revolt, but the power of their revolts was so significant and threatening to the regional geopolitical order that the regional powers had to diffuse the collective consciousness at any cost.

The last Arab

Maged Mandour

The signs of the erosion of Arab identity are visible across the region. This identity is directly tied to the nature of the Arab political order: the two go together.

Why not Kurdistan?

As the Iraqi crisis haunts the Kurds, double standards in the principle of self-determination come to the fore.

Can the Arab world defeat ISIS?

Maged Mandour

What will three forces contribute to the defeat of ISIS: Arab autocrats, moderate Islamist groups and secular democratic protest movements - the first initiators of the Arab Revolt? We can discount the first...

When the US chooses terrorism

IS was created by lack of justice, dignity and governance. Instead of tackling these root issues, the US chose to target the outcomes through brutal terrorism to maintain its hegemonic power structure in the region. 

Objectifying female fighters

We must acknowledge women's agency without allocating gratuitous attention to physical appearances or banal insinuations regarding their somehow 'illicit' deviation from conventional roles.

Scottish Green solidarity with the Kurdish people

We must support the people of Kobane in their fight against ISIS and Turkey's plans to install a buffer zone, both of which are plots to assassinate the democratic project in Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan). 

Understanding calls for reinstating the Islamic State

Maududi’s writings on implementing Sharia and Qutb’s radical approach contributed to Jihadist movements that have been multiplying like mushrooms since the mid-seventies of the last century.

ISIS airstrikes: between imperialism and orientalism

Maged Mandour

Islamic radicalism is the product of societal developments and it is not directly related to the religion of Islam. The lessons of Iraq are being actively ignored by the US and the west in general. The main tenets of American foreign policy, which have done well for extremism, are unchanged.

Three years on and the Copts' plight continues

Mina Fayek

Three years after the Maspero massacre, no justice has been served. This was a state crime, and more worryingly, the Egyptian state seems to be increasingly engaging in hostile acts towards Copts.

Interview with imprisoned Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab

Rajab speaks about his experience in a Bahraini prison, the failure of western media and governments to support human rights in the Gulf, and the challenges facing his country's pro-democracy movement.

Cultural heritage and violence in the Middle East

When people are dying in their thousands, why should we care about the destruction of artefacts? Cultural violence has long been a component in the obliteration of communities; it legitimates the denial of diversity and makes them much harder to rebuild.

IS in Algeria: serious threat or publicity stunt?

The latest act of violence may be part of a pattern of opportunist 'career advancement' for the leader of Jund El Khalifa, rather than an indication of real IS presence in Algeria.

ISIS airstrikes: how to rehabilitate dictators and destroy the revolution

Maged Mandour

The American intervention will strengthen the hand of Arab autocrats against their opponents, Islamists and non-Islamists alike. It lends credibility to the 'war against terror' rhetoric that these regimes use as a suppressant to the revolution.

The Islamic State and the global Great Game

The unravelling of Iraqi society set the context for the emergence of the Islamic State-led insurgency in Iraq. But the role played by IS is a byproduct of the flows of capital and ideology in a much wider theatre of power. 

Anti-Syrian sentiment in Lebanon

Lebanese nationalism has historically been exclusionary - as are all nationalisms - and isolationist, in that it accentuates differences between the Lebanese and other Levantines or other Arabs while downplaying shared attributes and characteristics.

Tripoli airstrikes

Maged Mandour

These airstrikes demonstrate new fault lines in the Arab world: between Arab conservative regimes, their Islamist foes, and the democratic secular forces who find themselves in an impossible situation. 

Hamas 2006-present

A timeline of oD articles on Hamas, from its election win in 2006 to the present day.

Ceasefires in which violations never cease: what’s next for Israel, Hamas, and Gaza?

For a century, the Zionist colonization of Palestine has proceeded primarily on the pragmatic principle of the quiet establishment of facts on the ground, which the world was to ultimately come to accept. It has been a highly successful policy.

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