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This week's editor

Rosemary Belcher-2.jpg

Rosemary Bechler is openDemocracy’s Editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Debates and articles from across the openDemocracy website that discuss or are relevant to the Middle East

La pobreza mundial: los errores del Nobel de Economía

La pobreza no es un problema individual de falta de recursos que puede resolverse a través de la educación, como defienden Angus Deaton y el Banco Mundial. El problema es la forma en que se distribuyen los recursos. English.

من بيروت إلى باريس، الحزن الانتقائي: "كلّنا يعني كلّنا" مذنبون

في كشفنا الحزن الانتقائي للآخرين، يبرز حزننا الانتقائي. علينا أن نعترف بعدم كفاءتنا في التعامل مع مصائب وعذابات الناس وأن نظهر التضامن بالفعل وبالقول مع جميع ضحايا الإرهاب والقمع English

Why the west cannot defeat ISIS

Maged Mandour

ISIS has emerged from the wounds of the Arab world—for which the west is to a large extent responsibleand current airstrikes are pouring salt into these wounds.

The aid crisis for Syrian refugees

As the war is prolonged, families are exhausting their savings. Without a massive re-thinking of how aid is delivered and distributed, refugees in the region are going to look for ways to leave.

The ISIS threat: terror, propaganda and ideology

Mainstream Muslim scholars must engage with reinterpreting passages of the Qur'an that seem to support ISIS' treatment of women. Translated excerpt from Trusselen fra IS: Terror, propaganda og ideologi.

Israel, ISIS and the Paris attacks

The recent spate of terror attacks around the world have given Israel an opportunity to showcase its military and intelligence capabilities—and to further crack down on Palestinians.

International community neglects to act on Yazidi genocide

Mass murder, rape, slavery, and kidnapping; the situation for the Yazidi community is dire and the international community's reponse has been wholly inadequate.

Government failure to upgrade informal settlements in Egypt: a brief history

Is civil administration and planning in Egypt being run professionally according to research and analysis, or is it as ‘random’ as the housing it claims to improve?

Countering the logic of the war economy in Syria

The country has entered a vicious circle where Syria’s own resources are being used to destroy it, and where ordinary people have no choice but to rearrange their lives around the conflict and either join or pay armed actors to meet everyday needs.

Social resistance to IS in Syria: the case of Daraa

Areas that maintained a strong sense of social cohesion despite the 'new war' situation, such as Daraa, are far more resistant to the infiltration of both JAN and ISIL.

ISIL and governance

ISIL enters areas afflicted by weak governance, an active war economy, and ongoing conflict with the intention of changing this situation and imposing control to ensure the longevity of its rule. 

ISIL, JAN, and the war economy in Syria

The nature of ISIL and its ability to recruit based on economic needs is not something that can be countered by aerial bombardment.

Islamic State as the Saddam regime’s afterlife: the Fedayeen Saddam

In the Fedayeen—connected to the global Islamist terrorist movement, combining elements of Ba’athism with an increasingly-stern Salafism—is a microcosm of the Saddam regime’s mutation into Islamic State (ISIS).

Baathist/Syrian state institutions must be reformed

Assad is responsible for the damage being caused to Syria, but he is not the only one. Negotiators must reconsider their agreement over the fate of Syrian state institutions.

Asking the right questions for the fate of Arab countries

Young people in the region are increasingly holding their parents’ generation responsible for their social and political exclusion, but it's never too late to start changing.

From Beirut, this is Paris: in a world that doesn’t care about Arab lives

There is a stark contrast in the reaction of the world to the horrific terrorist attacks in Lebanon and France. But in the world that doesn’t care about Arab lives, Arabs lead the way.

Gaza: walking ‘eyes wide open’ into another war

The ramping up of air strikes in Gaza combined with a humanitarian crisis compounded by a stalled reconstruction effort following last summer’s war, should compel us all into a heightened state of activism using BDS.

Syrian activists are repairing the fabric of civil society, even as it comes undone

Syria has seen the emergence of a powerful culture of resistance, from subversive graffiti to makeshift hospitals, which continues to operate despite the violent and politically fractured terrain.

Lebanon's foreign minister under fire: a comment on Gebran Bassil's real estate holdings

In order to promote accountability, the Lebanese public and journalists have to abide by a code of conduct that respects the right to a fair trial and the right to a defence. 

Update: Egypt’s Hossam Bahgat released from military intelligence

The award-winning journalist was released after being held for interrogation, sparking an outcry from local and international rights organisations.

From Mubarak to Sisi: the end of liberal autocracy

Maged Mandour

Unlike during the Mubarak era, the current regime lacks a reliable civilian ally to populate the legislative branch of the state.


Egyptian journalist under military interrogation for “harming national security”

Prominent journalist and rights activist Hossam Bahgat faces military trial in Egypt for his investigative journalism.

Turkey: repeating past mistakes

Civilian Kurds bear the brunt of Turkey's indiscriminate campaign against the PKKOnly learning from history can finally end the vicious cycle of conflict and bring about a new dawn of peace.

Saudi blockade threatens famine in Yemen

Yemeni civilians are starving as the international community tacitly allows the blockade to continue. It must be lifted so they have a chance for survival.

The violence of the word refugee

Words have power. The meaning of the word ‘refugee’ must be challenged to represent the experiences of the millions of individuals who have lost everything and yet wake up each day seeking to build a better life for themselves.

Red carpets for everyone? Cameron ought to tackle Sisi on human rights

We can expect the PM to talk to Egypt's president about trade and security—but what about disappearances, detentions, and stifled dissent?

From non-violent resistance to non-violent resilience

Resilience requires diversity—not only to weather a storm or disturbance, but also to cultivate and build new solutions. So how can we go from violent or even non-violent resistance to non-violent resilience? 

No revolution this year: Sudan’s October Revolution and the Arab Spring

Sudan's 1964 revolution brought a military regime to an end. The reasons for the revolt were similar to those of the Arab Spring, and they persist—so why are there no protests?

What is Tunisia's Nobel prize rewarding?

By reassuring the political and economic elite and backing the privatisation operation led by sponsors and donors, this Nobel peace prize could well be one for ‘social peace at all costs’.

A new Palestinian leader for a new intifada?

A former political advisor to Hamas insists it's still too early to call a third intifada, but says it will grow into one as a new young leadership emerges.

Why almost nobody participated in the Egyptian parliamentary elections

Awaited for more than two years, the first round of parliamentary elections in Egypt has bluntly confirmed the widespread disillusion of many voters about the country's political system.

Enquanto o mundo assiste há 59,5 milhões de deslocados internos na terra

Uns 6 milhões de Colombianos fazem com que o segundo país do mundo com mais deslocados internos (DIs) por motivos de violência não esteja no Médio-Oriente, mas sim na América Latina. Español. English.

Mientras el mundo anda mirando, hay 59,5 millones de desplazados internos en la tierra

Unos 6 millones de colombianos hacen que el segundo país del mundo con más desplazados internos (DIs) por motivos de violencia no esté en Oriente Medio, sino en América Latina. Português. English.

The fragmentation of power in the Arab world

Maged Mandour

Many Arab countries seem to have reverted to a mode of power reminiscent of a pre-modern form of politics, where coercion is the sole source of power.

What price dignity?

Tying dignity to external factors such as work, nationalism, or state policy, impedes efforts towards a universal understanding of dignity for all.

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