This week's editor

Alex Sakalis, Editor

Alex Sakalis is associate editor of openDemocracy and co-edits the Can Europe Make It? page.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

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.

On power in the Arab World

Maged Mandour

Arab autocrats’ power depends on more than physical coercion or the rise of Islamist extremism: it has deeper roots in the role of civil society, orientalism, and identity politics.

Whatever is happening to the Egyptians?

The socio-economic gap is widening, and taking an ideological and cultural form. This comes as no surprise, because unity makes people a threat to power.

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.

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.

Our otherness: imagining Balkan and mid-Eastern identities

Rayna Stamboliyska

The original quote by Orwell is “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past”. In just two sentences, he has embraced our fate.

Arab autocracy & revolution

Maged Mandour

Until now, the struggle between autocrats and revolutionaries has been confined within national boundaries. But as the trend shifts towards a pooling of autocratic regimes’ resources, any future confrontation must be regional. 

‘Your face now looks permanently in pain’—awaiting sentence in Egypt

The sister of a US-Egyptian activist on hunger strike in a Cairo jail, whose cause has been taken up by Amnesty International, issues a cri de coeur on the eve of a critical court appearance.

Further notes on the evolution of the jihadi international movement

The Islamic State project is finding some consensus in countries where political deadlock reduces our social lives to a primordial level. Social and economic frustration stays at an all-time high level, even in a country like Tunisia.

Women and the Arab Spring: a dream turned nightmare

Change must start from within each individual. As quoted in the Quran, “Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.”  

Egypt: scattered thoughts on a counter-revolutionary moment

The euphoric, Bakhtinian, carnivalesque and dramaturgical moment of January 2011, which caught the attention of numerous observers and which lasted for almost four years, seems to have withered away. 

Egyptian women's rights: no time for dissent

The act of dissent should match the need for equality, rather than the time for equality. In the fight for a right, there are no divisions.

The madame's story: renegotiating Cairo’s informal service sector

The Egyptian Government’s anti-terrorism measures are causing subtle but significant shifts in Cairo’s vibrant informal service sector - illustrated through the experiences of one middle-class resident and her long-serving part-time cleaner. Read part one of this two-part article: The maid's story.

The maid's story: renegotiating Cairo’s informal service sector

The Egyptian Government’s anti-terrorism measures are causing subtle but significant shifts in Cairo’s vibrant informal service sector- illustrated through the experiences of one middle-class resident and her long-serving part-time cleaner. Read part two of this two-part article: The madame's story.

In the shadow of an empire

Maged Mandour

The reasons for the involvement of the west in the MENA region are not limited to oil and security. These are the arguments used by both local autocrats and western powers to maintain control. The real threat however is a global revolutionary movement.

Egypt’s political prisoners

Egypt’s president has a simple solution for activists who protest against his draconian laws criminalising public assembly. Jail them.

Remembering, contesting and forgetting: the aftermath of the Cairo massacres

The Egyptian Government’s anti-terrorism measures in the wake of the Rab'aa mosque massacre continue to colour people’s daily lives with the suppressed trauma and memory of these events.

Report thy neighbour: policing Sisi’s Egypt

A regime bereft of legitimacy, save for its promise to guarantee national security, turns citizens into active players in a new culture of surveillance and reporting.

Liberalism without democracy: the case of Egypt

Maged Mandour

The weakness of the urban middle class and their sense of isolation has become a bastion for the support for autocracy. Fear of a social revolution has been the main driver in the alliance between the military and the urban middle class.

There is no such thing as a moderate Syrian opposition

The Syrian Arab Army has multiple charities that go house to house looking after its men in uniform.

On the margins of terror: Daesh and the new geography of hate in Sinai

The systematic neglect of border regions by military-backed governments in the Middle East has enabled the success of extreme terrorist groups in these marginalised areas, resulting in 'geographies of hate'.

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. 

Gendered paradoxes of Egypt’s transition

Four years after the downfall of Mubarak, women face a new patriarchal bargain: abandoning all forms of independent organizing in return for protection of their rights.

EU and the Arab world: 'cooperation' to fight terror is an excuse

Maged Mandour

The EU is following a bizarre logic, where support is given to autocratic regimes who benefit from the rise of extremist groups, instead of seeking reasons for the rise of radicalization among European youth. Why?

The Coptic Church: mixing politics with religion

Mina Fayek

To mourn the unjustly massacred and raise your voice against oppressors is unwelcome in the Coptic Church, but to interrupt prayers and let politicians speak during a mass is welcome and appropriate.

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.

Charlie Hebdo: the Prophet does not want to be avenged

Those who hold Muslims accountable for these acts, or demand that they apologize for them, are delusional. Beyond Europe, Al-Qaeda has declared open war against most Arab and Muslim-majority countries, especially those allied to the west. 

Article 11: feminists negotiating power in Egypt

Faced with unequal power relations at the negotiating table and authoritarian consolidation, a member of the 50-committee explores how feminist voices achieved leverage when drafting the 2014 Egyptian Constitution to include article 11. 

Interview: bread, freedom and social justice

The authors of Bread, Freedom and Social Justice discuss the lessons of the past few years for the labour movement and political activism in Egypt, so that we can move forward.

The CIA torture report: through Arab eyes

Maged Mandour

The fear that the US has lost its moral compass is vastly exaggerated, for the simple reason that the US - at least in the Arab World - never possessed this moral legitimacy in the first place.

We promise you an operetta

The development of Egypt's military-brand nationalism over the past year can be traced in a series of formulaic, epic 'operettas'.

Turkish PM in conversation, part 4: The Arab Spring and Turkey’s future

Has the Arab Spring failed to go far enough? What kind of complicating factor is ISIS? Turkey's PM calls for a stategy to ensure democracy survives in the region–and hints at the opportunity Europe has.

Turkish PM in conversation, Part 2: Old Turkey, New Turkey

Many observers fear Turkey is heading towards majoritarian tyranny. How does Turkey's 'representative democracy' contrast with General Sisi's claims that he represents the 'general will' of Egypt?

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