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Guest Writers

Fundamental rifts: power, wealth and inequality in the Arab world

Dr Adam HaniehOver four years since mass uprisings ousted sclerotic regimes in Tunisia and Egypt it can seem that the initial hopes represented by these movements lie in tatters. Libya, Syria, Yemen and Iraq remain mired in bloody armed conflicts that have led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands and displaced millions more within and across borders. In the pivotal case of Egypt, military rule has returned through the violent crushing of protests, the arrests of an estimated 40,000 people and the rebuilding of the repressive structures of the Mubarak era. Elsewhere, autocratic governments look more secure in their rule today than they have for many years.

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Turkey and the development of democracy in the Middle East

Yasar YakisThe evolution of democracy in the Middle East in its contemporary sense has gone through various stages. The first was the Ottoman period. With the exception of Iran and Morocco, almost all Middle Eastern countries were part of the Ottoman State for centuries. It is reasonable to say, therefore, that both democracy and the absence thereof must have been at comparable levels across the region for centuries, though some areas may have experienced better democracy than others.

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Palestine and the British trade unions

Stephen BellMEMO's important book "The Battle for Public Opinion in Europe" analysed changing perspectives in Europe towards the Palestinian struggle. A look at the trade unions in Britain reveals that a similar process is underway. Given that these bodies are the largest social movement in the country, with approximately 7 million members, the change is not unimportant.

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Accountability is an essential part of the peace process, not an obstacle

Toby M. CadmanIt has emerged that US Secretary of State John Kerry has urged the Palestinian Authority, possibly even used the threat of sanctions, not to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. If true, this would be the first time that a state has been threatened with sanctions in order not to apply the rule of law. I stress that this is an allegation and has not been confirmed; nonetheless, it would represent a deeply disturbing development in the long and bitter Palestinian conflict. The US must support the rule of law and not circumvent it in its own interests. It must also recognise that it is in Israel's best interest for the rule of law to be applied without discrimination and for a politically and economical stable Palestine to emerge from the peace process. Terrorism thrives on poverty and oppression, not stability and democracy.

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Youth challenges in the MENA region

Prof Emma MurphyIn September 2014, Arab labour ministers met with representatives of the ILO, trade unions and employers' organisations at the Arab Labour Conference in Cairo. Their debates revolved around the alarming increase in unemployment in recent years, with young people being particularly at risk as economies fail to grow sufficiently fast or in sectors which can accommodate the growing number of labour market entrants every year. In fact, participants argued that economic growth rates were declining in part because of the acute rise in youth unemployment since 2010 which lowers productivity and reduces demand.

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