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This week's editor

NYDJH, editor

Our guest editors this week are Nira Yuval-Davis and Jamie Hakim of the University of East London’s Centre for research on Migration, Refugees and Belonging. They introduce us to this week's theme: Anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim racisms and Palestine/Israel.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

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

The siege of Damascus: an account of everyday life in Syria’s savage war

Peter Oborne spent two weeks in Damascus and gives a compelling account of people's struggles and steadfastness in government-held territory.

Putin’s partition plans and the politics of cynicism

Russian military involvement appears to be increasingly focused on propping up the Assad regime, contributing to a partitioned Syria in which Russia establishes a firm foothold on the eastern Mediterranean.

Bahrain’s uprising: resistance and repression in the Gulf

A review of an interdisciplinary book exploring both the contemporary uprising and Bahrain’s lengthy history of contentious politics, exploring postcolonialism, foreign actors, human rights, and social media.

Administrative detention and Israel's moral imperative

A review of Israel’s detention policy reveals it to be outrageous, convoluted, and self-defeating.

Will Iraq's prime minister implement Al Sistani’s anti-corruption dictates?

The wave of protests sweeping across Iraq has led Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani to demand that Abadi get serious about tackling corruption. But the prime minister's response so far has been far from reassuring.

Egypt: pardon evokes frustration rather than celebration

Think about the thousands who are held in prison, with or without charge, with or without trials, who are not getting the exposure necessary to make their release a political win for Sisi. 

In defence of Tunisia’s democratic sovereignty

Tunisia's sovereignty is already at risk, and its destiny now seems to depend largely on negotiations between an international oligarchy and the national plutocracy.

On the absence of Arab intellectuals

Maged Mandour

An explanation for the conspicuous absence of Arab intellectuals from the revolutionary (and counter-revolutionary) scene.


'Something wicked this way comes': the Arab transitions (part 2)

An excerpt from a NOREF report on the background to the current situation in the Middle East, focusing on the aftermath of the 'Arab Spring'. Part two: Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

Israel: refugees not welcome

While other countries in the region are hosting millions of refugees fleeing Syria, Israel is hosting none and is forcing out the several thousands of African asylum seekers already in the country.

Breaking boundaries

Aliyah Tarek

The youth of Egypt are changing, but are these new attitudes temporary, or have they penetrated on a deeper level that can transform the next generation?

Film review: a Syrian love story

A Syrian Love Story is an intimate portrait of a Syrian family torn apart by war, especially moving and relevant in light of the continuing refugee crisis.

Turkey: media crackdown amid escalating violence

At the very moment that critical independent media are needed most in Turkey, we are witnessing a renewed crackdown on media freedom.

ISIS, identity and the destruction of antiquities

Confronted with the suffering of Syrian refugees, mourning world heritage seems academic at best. But Islamic State must not succeed in its cultural cleansing.

Outside the box: is the Islamic State close to victory?

Many facts belie the myth that Islamic State is on its back heel, and its longevity, proximity to Damascus, as well as the weakness of its enemies mean that it may wreak yet more havoc.

Where is the voice for peace in the Middle East?

There is a dire lack of regional dialogue, social capital, trust and network development among peace-minded and peacebuilding-oriented civil society activists and organisations in the MENA region. 

Better to be a dog than a Bedouin

The demolition of Umm Al Hiran and displacement of its Bedouin residents is the beginning of the Prawer Plan under another name.

'Something wicked this way comes': the Arab transitions (part 1)

An excerpt from a NOREF report on the background to the current situation in the Middle East, focusing on the aftermath of the 'Arab Spring'. Part one: North Africa, Egypt and the Gulf.

Building autonomy in Turkey and Kurdistan: an interview with Revolutionary Anarchist Action

On the history of anarchism in Turkey and establishing alternatives to the current system through self-organisation, mutual aid and co-operatives.

Europe: time to face up

Sharing responsibility for the refugee crisis is a first step, but it remains unclear if EU members will work towards resolving its root cause.

Why does the Algerian regime fear Rachad?

In light of propaganda against the movement, media censorship, book banning and bogus Interpol arrest warrants against its founders, the regime clearly sees it as a threat. But why?

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.

'The people want', but what do they want?

Maged Mandour

The famous slogan “The people want the downfall of the regime” follows a notion promoted by Arab autocrats to give the illusion of change and hinder the development of post-revolutionary strategy.

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.

Dreams of return find new meaning on Zaatari's third anniversary

The permanence of the Zaatari Syrian refugee camp in Jordan is not accepted by all, but is a truth that is transforming lives and attitudes inside the informal city.

Lebanon's refugees: resisting hegemony through culture

Seenaryo, a small independent theatre project that starts this week with Syrian and Palestinian children, seeks to foster an alternative political proposal in a situation where politics has emphatically failed. 

Window on the Middle East - July 28, 2015

Arab Awakening's columnists offer their perspective on what is happening on the ground in the Middle East. 

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.

Dialogue in Libya: challenges and conditions of success

Steps need to be taken to promote consensus, in order to consolidate the nation to which Libyans aspire. This NOREF report explores whether there can there be dialogue in the context currently prevailing in Libya.

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