This week's editor

Mariam Ali

Mariam Ali is Associate Editor for openDemocracy's Arab Awakening page.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

A war going according to plan - but which plan?

A letter from Raqqa, in the heart of territory controlled by the Islamic State.

Modi's foreign policy blend

With the economy under control – Standard and Poor has recently raised India’s credit outlook to ‘stable’ – Modi is free to indulge in international relations. 

The once and future Syria

A negotiated peace may be Syria’s only salvation from imminent demise, but internal complexities and strategically incoherent external responses mean it will not be forthcoming.

The attractions of jihadism, and a generational nihilism stretching far beyond the Muslim sphere

French Muslims are protesting against the conflation of Islam with jihadism, and about France's engagement in the coalition. If the French government really wants to steer young people away from terrorism, here's what it should be doing instead. Interview with specialist on Islam, Olivier Roy.

Miscounting human trafficking and slavery

Two recent ‘studies’ have attracted a lot of international attention. Each presents incredibly flawed findings. And these studies matter.

Law’s mediations: the shifting definitions of trafficking

As trafficking becomes increasingly conflated with slavery and forced labor, there is less and less agreement amongst international organisations on the precise definitional boundaries of these terms.

The EU: wider and deeper with the Balkans

The post-1945 system is today overtaken by events and a new world order is about to emerge. This new—quite explosive—background doesn’t signal the end of the EU, but shouts out that its core features must be redesigned and receive broad popular support. The question is how.

Fielding the wrong ball – culture as a cause of ‘modern slavery’

New abolitionists often attribute trafficking in certain areas to ‘cultural attitudes’. In doing so, they not only explain away the legacies of European and American colonialism. They also falsely differentiate between exploitation in some ‘bad’ parts of the world and similar practices in their own countries.

Interview with imprisoned Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab

Rajab speaks about his experience in a Bahraini prison, the failure of western media and governments to support human rights in the Gulf, and the challenges facing his country's pro-democracy movement.

Brazil's election surprise

An unexpected result in the first round leaves the presidential election open. It also hints at Brazil's underlying political dynamics. 

Slavery and trafficking: beyond the hollow call

Reports on modern slavery miss the target when they blame individual actions and ‘a few bad apples’. This is a systemic problem, and the only solution can be a complete system overhaul.

Happy endings? Slavery, emancipation and freedom

Let’s stop giving the architects and beneficiaries of an increasingly neoliberal world order a platform on which to parade their moral condemnation of ‘slavery’, and focus on efforts to transform the meaning of ‘freedom’. 

Time to get serious about forced labour in supply chains

We now know that our shopping carts are full of forced labour. So why are governments and industry doing so little to stop it?

Turkey’s quagmire since the Arab Spring

Just last week Erdogan once again ruffled some feathers with his polemical outburst at the UN General Assembly, questioning the legitimacy of Sisi’s rule.

Turkey’s ISIS crisis

PKK has been fighting ferociously against ISIS from day one and is in need of arms and weapons. But it has long since been declared a terrorist organization by many including Turkey, the US, EU and NATO.

The once and future EU recovery

The instigators of these anti-social and anti-democratic policies, rules and treaties defend them as the mechanisms to bring recovery, end fiscal deficits and reduce public indebtedness. Were they successful, their authoritarian nature should make them unacceptable.

H2: the experience of a generation

Palestinians whose houses are on the a-Shahuda are prevented from leaving home by their front doors and must exit by climbing through their roofs and down the back of the building. There was a time when Hebron was undivided.

"Rwanda: The Untold Story": questions for the BBC

A deeply flawed BBC documentary on Rwanda's genocide raises serious questions over the corporation's ethics and standards.

EU centralisation-without-representation: a reply to Frances Coppola, Simon Wren-Lewis and Niall Ferguson

Europeans are against ‘more Europe', because they are against the particular type of authoritarian, anti-democratic political union on offer. It would not after all, be the first time in history that a political ruling class place their preference for more unchecked power ahead of their concern for shared prosperity.

In defence of liberalism 2: socialist liberalism

It is all the more bitter that a misperception of liberalism by parts of the left is mirrored by an equally unreasonable and dogmatic belief in the supposed efficiency or inherent fairness of markets by many liberals. There is a third way after all.

When human trafficking becomes a Cause Celebre

Celebrities no longer just raise money and awareness. They offer advice about how to approach and ‘solve’ the human trafficking problem. The United Nations has multitudes of celebrities representing it as the ‘faces’ of the topic. 

Introducing: Beyond Trafficking and Slavery

This week’s special feature was edited by Neil Howard, Genevieve LeBaron and Cameron Thibos from openDemocracy’s new editorial partnership, Beyond Trafficking and Slavery.

The politics of exception: the bipartisan appeal of human trafficking

Contemporary abolitionism garners strong bipartisan support because it does not challenge major economic and political interests. But slavery, trafficking and forced labour are rooted in global patterns of injustice. For the movement to be effective it must sacrifice some of its support in order to speak truth to power.

Turkey and the Islamic State crisis: everyone's non-ally?

The military success of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq intensifies questions over Turkey's strategy and decisions. What Ankara does next will help to resolve them.   

Promoting the global secular alternative in the ISIS era

While many of us watch in horror as ISIS advances, and fundamentalist ideas spread across religious traditions around the world, Maryam Namazie and Marieme Hélie-Lucas - secular feminists from Iran and Algeria - told Karima Bennoune why they are convening the International Secular Conference in London.

Umbrella revolution: the academy reflects on Hong Kong’s struggle

Two professors in Hong Kong interview fellow academics, student activists and graduate students from mainland China in order to draw out Hong Kong’s history in relation to globalising forms of political expression. Colonial history, neoliberal urban governance, and Chinese authoritarianism all bear on the current unrest.

Why Hong Kong matters

Could mainland China not seek eventual convergence towards a democratic system, respectful of the full gamut of human rights? That actually is what the happenings in Hong Kong now are about.

The SWISH Report (25)

What should United Kingdom's defence policy be? A government department has commissioned advice from the noted SWISH management consultancy. This is an exclusive copy of its just completed report.

Kojève’s idea of the end of history: a philosophical key to the European economic crisis

What I would like to argue is that this historical and existential process retraced by Kojève helps to clarify the origin and the genesis of the present, European and global, supremacy of economic processes over all other fields of human activity. 

Critique of the boycott divestment sanctions movement, from a Jewish supporter of the Palestinian cause

The moral degeneration of Israel must not have as its indirect consequence the moral degeneration of the Palestinian solidarity movements, for in a desperate struggle there is such a danger as all sides losing at once. Here are arguments supporting sanctions against Israel, and opposing a cultural boycott.

Beyond Mosul

Shia militias, still operating under the control of former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, are laying siege to Latifiyya, especially the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haqq militia. Failure to address the broader effects of international assistance in Iraq’s fight promises to further polarize Iraq’s communities.

Further modest suggestions: a reply to Varoufakis and Galbraith

Simon Wren-Lewis responds to ‘Whither Europe?’, authored by Yanis Varoufakis and James Galbraith. The European Monetary Union needs to be improved, not transformed, and it is this obsession with austerity that needs to change.

Europe heading for the rocks: a reply to Varoufakis and Galbraith

Frances Coppola responds to ‘Whither Europe?’, authored by Yanis Varoufakis and James Galbraith. The Euro crisis is over, yes? Not so fast. It has simply moved from acute to chronic.

ISIS airstrikes: how to rehabilitate dictators and destroy the revolution

Maged Mandour

The American intervention will strengthen the hand of Arab autocrats against their opponents, Islamists and non-Islamists alike. It lends credibility to the 'war against terror' rhetoric that these regimes use as a suppressant to the revolution.

The Islamic State war: Iraq's echo

A major new war has begun in the Middle East. But the Islamic State movement is prepared, and the precedents are bleak.

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