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This week’s front page editor

Rosemary Bechler

Rosemary Bechler is the mainsite editor of openDemocracy.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Iraq's political crisis and the shadow of sectarian politics

As the US completed its official withdrawal from Iraq, a series of events stoked a political crisis that will push Iraq toward a precipice.

Chronicle of a non-violent protest: Jobat, Madhya Pradesh (India)

For more than three weeks over 130 people have carried out the longest occupation of government-owned land ever registered in Madhya Pradesh (a state in central India).

In the shadows of globalisation: drug violence in Mexico and Central America

The wave of violence afflicting Mexico and the northern triangle of Central America (Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador) is caused by three developments: changes in the global drug market, the effect of the war against organised crime and the international financial crisis, making the problem not just a criminal one.

America, Israel, Iran: a shifting risk

A series of developments - in Iraq, the United States and Iran itself - nudges the balance of calculation towards an attack on Tehran. The additional danger is that this could happen by inadvertence.

Fumbling for change

If politics is “the art of the possible” then 2011 has left us, as artists, with suddenly a much larger canvas and a new palate of colours to choose from. This broadened scope requires of us a new capacity for imagination.

Holding on to the status quo, Gulf States seek political unity

If the Gulf Cooperation Council wanted to support democracy and stability, they would have invested in Tunisia and Egypt. Instead, they are investing in regimes that mimic their own Umayyad model of governance.

A turbulent twelve months in Belarus

This Monday marked a year since Belarusians staged a peaceful protest (brutally suppressed) against rigged presidential elections. Although the regime has not been overturned, and the economy has managed to teeter on collapse without fully imploding, it is clear that Belarusian politics are now in a different place, writes Janek Lasocki

National conflict reflected in diasporas: the quest for recognition among Kurdish youth in Sweden

Recognition is the first step towards reconciliation for Kurdish youth living in Sweden

Dangerous and provocative - is this Iran or the US?

Iran captured a CIA Sentinel drone - now the Republicans want Obama to "go get it"

The second Egyptian revolution: millions of Egyptians have left their homes

The renowned Egyptian feminist writer, activist, physician, and psychiatrist wrote from the eye of the storm on November 25, 2011. This text is published in cooperation with the Norwegian weekly Ny Tid and it's "Voices without borders" project.

Kim Jong-Il: leadership and legacy

North Korea's leader of almost two decades has died. What happens next will determine Kim Jong-Il's place in the country's history, says Charles K Armstrong.

‘Mr former Havel': the kind of politician we need

Warm memories pay tribute to Vaclav Havel who died today

Another road for Europe: a draft appeal

This draft appeal is launched by Rete@sinistra, Sbilanciamoci, il Manifesto and Lavoro e Libertà, who organised and spoke at the Florence Forum, ‘The way out. Europe and Italy, economic crisis and democracy’, bringing eight hundred people together to discuss 'our European alternatives' on December 9, 2011. The appeal, accompanied by its initial signatories, is undergoing discussion between several European civil society networks and groups, aiming at joint actions at the European level.

The multicultural empire

Unfortunately Niall Ferguson has managed to distract Pankaj Mishra from the main theatre of empire-building today which is more than just western superiority or domination. Both reify ‘western domination’, crediting it with an unmerited force and power.

Banning books in Britain, fifty years after Lady Chatterley

The main charges against Faraz were brought under the Terrorism Act 2006, and included the dissemination of terrorism publications, and also section 58, which makes possession of material related to terrorism an offence.

Syria’s guilty men

The violent repression of citizens in Syria is escalating, and can now be linked to named officials of the regime. This reinforces the case for concerted international pressure to end the suffering, says David Mepham.

The Long and the Quick of Revolution

This is the Raymond Williams Annual Lecture for 2011, coinciding with the publication of a new 50th anniversary edition of Raymond Williams’ The Long Revolution by Parthian Books, for which Anthony Barnett has written the foreword, also published here this week. In the lecture, he considers the potentially revolutionary events of the past year, starting with a double-democratic crisis in the ruling order, asking why now? and what kind of revolution is under way?

We live in revolutionary times ... but what does this mean?

Encouraged by the Spanish movement for ‘Real Democracy Now!’, the Occupy network and above all the Arab Awakening, Anthony Barnett asks what revolution might actually mean in the developed democracies of the West. This is his foreword to the new edition of Raymond Williams' "The Long Revolution"

Damping the powder-keg: Paul Ingram responds to 'Playing with fire in the Middle East'

In the context of worsening relations between Iran, Syria and the west, Saeed Rahnema gave a bleak assessment of the likelihood of impending conflict. Though serious, Paul Ingram argues there are reasons to remain optimistic.

Neo-Nazi terror and Germany’s racism problem

A failed bank robbery on November 4 this year, exposed a cell in eastern Germany calling itself the “National Socialist Underground”, apparently responsible for the murder of at least ten people, most of them immigrants, among other acts of violence over the last decade. Together with the murder of dozens last summer by a Norwegian right-wing extremist this case has focused a spotlight on the presence of a new right-wing terrorism. Until the media and the population at large start recognizing immigrants and others marked by ethnic or religious difference as belonging to Germany, a deep-seated, everyday racism will provide fertile soil from which such acts of extremism will continue to grow.

Kandahar's transition woes

The gap between the logics of security (clear) and development (hold, build and transfer) remains stark

America, Israel, Iran: war in focus

The argument in America for war against Iran is often couched in religious-apocalyptic terms. But the decisive element in the end will be strategic and political calculation.

The courage of Cheran: organizing against violence

Mistrust in government systems of rule has led the town of Cherán in Mexico to create its own institutions. The community faces many challenges, not the least of which is the non-violent defence of their people in an area where armed gangs are a constant threat.

Nationalism casts a shadow over European democracy

It is nation states that have emasculated European institutions. What is often branded as the ‘national interest’ is nothing but a justification for the pursuit of internal politics.

Gaza, the ‘damn table’, and the Arab Spring

The wasted years of peace talks have finally sunk in. A decent future lies ahead, but only if the Palestinians can work together on a clear and simple set of timeless goals and tactics: non-violence, Palestinian unity, justice and equal rights, if possible with international law in its corner.

Time is up for awkward customer, Greece

Such complex situations cannot be resolved satisfactorily by only addressing numerical data or even the historic socio-economic and geopolitical factors that underpin them, without some understanding of the mindsets of the people involved. A reply to Vassilis Fouskas.

What’s good for the goose and gander is at some point for the Occupiers

When legitimate protesters are showered with contempt by those whose job it is to serve the community, humanity is insulted, but democracy especially. This is an important tipping point.

Wars of Decline: Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya

This article assesses the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya in terms of their legality, their consequences - local, regional and global - and their impact. It describes the growing impotence of western powers in reshaping global politics by force. Rather, it argues, the flawed application of organised violence as a tool in the defence and projection of western power has dissolved the grandiose project of the ‘American century.’

The Middle East on the brink: an urgent appeal for common sense

This is an appeal to the global citizenry to wake up to the dire situation unfolding before our eyes and to raise our voice. It is time to put concerted pressure on our respective governments, who are complicit in this cynical spectacle, and urge them to act responsibly for the benefit of all nations.

Bahrain: a response to the President’s Office

A defence of the authors’ original claims about how the roots of conflict in Bahrain must be addressed.

Mexico's parallel worlds

It is strange how you have to go abroad to see the ability of wildly divergent realities to persist, side-by-side, as if nothing were more natural.

Britain's policing: Kettling 2.0 and the Olympic State of Exception

Kettling, a controversial tactic used to contain protestors, now has an ugly sister: the steel police cordon, unveiled on the November 30 public sector strikes.

Four anecdotes and some news: or, The paths of resistance

On the fiftieth anniversary of the American intervention in Vietnam, one lesson might be that knowledge is never passed on, only acquired, that history is not a reality which must be discovered but must be thought about and then reconstructed.

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