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This week's editor

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Rosemary Bechler is openDemocracy’s Editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Belgium’s asylum seeker fiasco

People in Brussels are led to believe that there is a huge influx of asylum-seekers. Yes and no. The truth is much harder to tell. Many have ended up in the street and some have even taken the Belgian state to court. Part Two

Three years after independence, Kosovo still struggles for recognition

Kosovo faces a host of challenges in its fourth year of independence, not least the quest for diplomatic recognition.

The asylum seeker village – from Macedonia to Belgium: Part One

We begin a three-part account of the experiences of ethnic Albanians seeking asylum. Part One begins in Macedonia, which recently lifted visa restrictions towards Europe

Yugoslavs in the twenty-first century: ‘erased’ people

Two decades after the dissolution of Yugoslavia, Balkan countries have a complicated relationship with their Communist past. Two recent events in Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina highlight the complexities of regional identity, and the negative effects of compulsory ethnic identification.

Britain's Winter of Protest: A Fight Back For The Future

openDemocracy's UK Section, OurKingdom, has published a 350 page Reader on the Winter of Protests that swept into British politics in November last year. They began as a student opposition to the tripling of fees for university education but immediately escalated, because of a much wider protest against the coalition government's policies, as Anthony Barnett sets out here, in his foreword to the book. Edited by Dan Hancox and six colleagues all of whom have been 'kettled' by the police, it includes reports and arguments about the demonstrations, the occupations, the flashmob actions against tax avoidance, the question of generations, violence and the police, how higher education should be paid for, the aesthetics of protest, its music and images, the trade unions and the under-19s. You can read it (including in full screen version) or download a pdf here.

FIGHT BACK! Published

The Reader on the Winter Protests in Britain is now up! Freed download or scan its 350 pages

Why the Ocampo Six should not become Kenya’s Six

The risk that Kenya will face another round of electoral violence during next year’s presidential elections may have increased following the African Union summit held in Addis Ababa

Hang on a minute with ‘the domino effect’

It is the deeper process of social transformation which should spread from one country to the other and not just some hollowed out ‘pro-democracy movement’.

The Arab 1989?

The uprisings sweeping across the Middle East portend a political transformation as significant as those of 1989. The economic stagnation of the region, the failures of corrupt and repressive autocratic regimes, conjoined with a disenchanted youthful population wired together as never before, have triggered a political struggle few anticipated. Yet 1989 is not an entirely clear point of reference - the emergence of peaceful mass movements of change is a parallel, but the pull of the West, so marked in 1989, is weaker and more complex. Accordingly, the path ahead for these brave, inspiring, challenging movements is more uncertain.

Contested narratives and security implications as protests continue across the Arab world

Western commentary is divided as Obama rebukes Mubarak’s intransigence. Hizbollah and Iran laud the protesters as the PA and Hamas join other Arab governments in clamping down on displays of support. Israeli security policy is in disarray in the face of international pressure and domestic strife. All this and more, in today’s security briefing…

Sovereign democracy, Egyptian style

The similarities between the Egyptian and Russian regime are striking, says Grigorii Golosov. Arguably, Mubarak’s was the more liberal one.

This week’s theme: Failures of the Liberal State and responses on the ground

In thinking through the issues we were struck by how often failures happen at the level of the national state nowadays and remedies, responses, the making of solutions… all tend to happen at more local levels, from cities and villages to translocal networks and neighbourhoods.

After Mubarak's refusal to leave: which way will the armed pillars of the state jump?

Updated 11am. After Mubarak's refusal to stand down, attention must turn to what the armed pillars of the state will now do.The army may well be divided between loyalists and reformers; but the police and the Presidential Guard are also armed. The right kind of foreign pressure must continue.

America’s anaemic reaction to Egypt’s democratic struggle

The leaders of the United States have this time dropped the ball.

North Korea makes direct food aid appeal

North Korea makes direct appeal for food aid, highlighting worsening food security situation. Tensions ease on Thai-Cambodian border as refugees return hom. India-Pakistani peace talks to resume, say sources. All this and more in today’s briefing…

Afghanistan: echoes of Vietnam

The operational resemblance of aspects of the Afghan insurgency to the guerrilla campaigns against French and American forces in Vietnam is ominous for Washington.

Tahrir Square, February 4, 2011, 5.30am

Interviewee: Islam El Tahtawey is a 23 years old Egyptian opposition demonstrator, a junior auditor in Cairo. 

US Middle East policy: see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil… just act surprised

None of the Arab Revolts of 2011 have played themselves out as yet. So it will be a while before the Obama Administration can assess the damage to its interests: a set back or a debacle?

It’s not because they’re Arab

To frame the crisis in the region as an “Arab crisis” is to risk essentializing the problem in another, unique “world.”

Obama, Mubarak, and the Iron Cage of Liberalism

When a nonviolent battle is fought before curious, and sometimes fearful, international audiences, Western politicians face a near impossible task in supporting blatantly dictatorial regimes.

Afghans need to set the Afghan agenda 


The Afghan perspective is about incorporating a moderate version of Islam. There is still time to bring Afghanistan back onto the right course.

The Clash of Clichés

Does America want Europe to fail in its accommodation of Muslims? Passing remarks by politicians are often amplified by the international media, but sometimes we should ask why

Egypt’s pro-democracy movement: the struggle continues

Those who were expecting a quick victory are no doubt disappointed, but successful People Power movements of recent decades have usually been protracted struggles.

Preah Vihear: the Thai-Cambodia temple dispute

The diplomatic and near-military crisis of 2008 between Thailand and Cambodia reflects both deep historical tensions and contemporary domestic politics, says Milton Osborne.

(This article was first published on 25 August 2008) 

KEIN

Have we had enough of all sorts of fabricated fiction that reduce and limit complex realities towards more or less paranoid plots and universally exchangeable narratives? Then let's escape

The space between

Real change can only be achieved by responsible civic actors inhabiting the centre and reclaiming lost psychological and physical space for the public realm

Power and powerlessness in global cities

How does today’s globalization transform our perceptions of urban inequality and how do we respond to it? Inequality is a powerful social divider but also, in some circumstances, a unifier

Contradictions of ‘development’ in contemporary India

Is India moving on a path towards segregating society, enclaving economic space in a way that essentially excludes the majority from the development orbit?

Tirana: calm before a storm?

On 21 January, three people died when the Republican Guard opened fire on protesters in front of the Prime Minister’s office. This is taking place in Europe

What keeps Mubarak on his throne?

Mohammed Hussainy summarises the personalities and forces that prevent Mubarak from standing down.

Facts on the ground in Afghanistan: a village perspective

Let’s try asking Afghan people: “Has the west failed in Afghanistan?”

Social democracy: in crisis the world over

The crisis of social democracy is closely linked to that of capitalism. How should it respond to the sharp reminder that the interests of capital and labour are not identical?

Justice for Janitors campaign: open-sourcing labour conflicts against global neo-liberalism

New forms of shared strategy and campaigning are taking on the worst effects of fiercely competitive neoliberal service economies. Globalization from above can be fought and resisted effectively by processes of globalization from below

The Counter-Terrorism Review: Trading liberty for security

The review of the UK's counter-terrorism and security powers tackles efficiency issues, but fails to address the impact of these powers on Britain's communities and on our civil liberties.

Don't paint bulls-eyes on pictures of opponents, and why Sarah Palin should have known

There is a history of painting targets or cross-hairs onto pictures of those you disagree with in the USA. It is widely known that doing so can get them killed. So why does Palin look so clueless about it?
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