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This week's editor

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Iraqi protests: aimed at changing the current regime?

Iraqi protesters recently denounced the Islamisation of Iraqi society, demanded better working conditions, and protested the torture of prisoners. But ‘regime change’ has a different meaning in Iraq, and unlike Egypt and Tunisia, these protesters are asking for more support from the current government.

Purging the Afghan government will not build the consensus necessary for peace talks

The resignation of a host of pro-Western, anti-Taliban officials from the Afghan government bodes badly for peace talks with the Taliban, argues Farhad Arian

Dealing with dissent - The view from the authorities

How is dissent understood in the UK by those tasked with its “facilitation”? Several sources have emerged in the last month which give an indication of the contradictory environment in which public order policing is evolving.

How to stop a Libyan massacre: the power is in our hands

Ranj Alaaldin issues a timely call for a considered form of intervention in Libya's uprising. With the Libyan air force already firing on its own people, and escalation likely, a no-fly zone must be implemented over Libyan airspace to prevent mass casualties.

No real freedom without dismantling the secret political police

In Egypt, police officers are needed back on the streets, protecting civilians from thugs: not the SSI back in full force again.

One asylum seeker in Belgium: Part Three

In March 2010, over 400 Macedonian asylum seekers arrived in Belgium. Many have since returned to Macedonia. Most are now considerably worse off. Parts One and Two.

Egypt after Mubarak: finding truth in transition

The prosecution of a scattering of old regime stooges is not enough to guarantee Egypt escapes the grip of corruption and cronyism. Egypt needs to draw on lessons from across the continent of Africa and beyond for examples of transitional justice, and may need its very own Truth and Reconciliation Commission, argues Marc Michael. This article is published in conjunction with History & Policy.

Protesters under fire from land, sea and air in Libya

Gaddafi uses planes to attack protesters. Ivorian troops fire on protesters as AU leaders seek resolution. Congo colonel sentenced to jail for rapes. Saleh rejects demands to go as Yemeni troops fire on demonstrators. All this and more in today’s briefing.

This is our revolution, too

Maybe western leaders are afraid that, having seen what it is like when a people dictate to their government what it should do for them, rather than the reverse, we might start to take our own rights back, wholesale

Musing on the death of western multiculturalism

Western countries should revise their model of citizenship by rendering it into an active model, allowing the impetus for integration to come from demonstrating the tremendous soft power of liberal societies.

Egypt, Algeria, Yemen: Further reading on the Arab uprising

Yale University Press have issued this sampler from recent books on the Egypt, Yemen and Algeria. All provide important background information on the histories, societies, politics and economies of nations now thrust into the media spotlight.

Who is behind the war on Sufism?

Sufism is under attack across the Muslim world. Ehsan Azari Stanizai traces the troubled but inspiring history of Islamic mysticism.

A universal fight

Edward Said should have been alive on February 12, 2011

February 14 in Iran: the silence of fear has been shattered

Since the new year, almost every eight hours someone has been executed in Iran. The authoritarian backlash against the major uprising of 2009 has held Iranians in a climate of fear, but the protests this week mark a new chapter for the Green Movement.

Egypt: Lessons from Iran

With their admirable courage and perseverance the Egyptian people have achieved a great success in toppling a corrupt dictator. But have they pushed their revolution far enough forward to prevent the US-backed army and dominant classes aborting the whole process?

The SWISH Report (18)

How should the ferment in Tunisia, Egypt and across the Arab world affect al-Qaida's thinking? The movement requested advice from the reliable SWISH consultancy, whose report is here exclusively published.

‘Where is India’s Tahrir Square?’

This is a question that may be as interesting for people in Egypt as it is for those in India. The answer also has some implications for activists in the much-vaunted western democracies

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?
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