Friday, 24 July 2015

Richard Falk: Turkey under Erdoğan


The horror of the suspected ISIS bombing of a Turkish young socialist meeting in Suruc has highlighted how Turkey is bound-up with both Europe and the Middle East geographically, politically and culturally. The issues the country confronts are complex and multi-layered.

In this extract from his powerful new book Chaos and Counterrevolution: After the Arab Spring, Richard Falk, a world-renowned scholar of international law and former UN Rapporteur on Palestine, provides a highly informative and clear overview of developments in Turkey. He looks book at the historic developments in Turkey since 2002, and its shifting and complex foreign policy.

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My relationship to Turkey is far closer than it is to any of the other countries in the Middle East. My wife is Turkish, we have made long annual visits to Turkey for the past twenty years, and I have had the opportunity to know a wide range of Turkish political personalities quite closely.

I have also been motivated to write about the Turkish government and its leadership because it has so often been misunderstood. Western perceptions of Turkish political life are distorted by several interacting factors: the hostility of Turkey’s secular establishment to the governing AKP (Justice and
Development Party) and its dominant leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan; Turkey’s tensions with Israel and the United States; and the global media exhibiting hostility to Turkey due to the influence of these political forces.

While I share some of the criticisms directed at the AKP and Erdoğan, especially since 2011, I am also much more appreciative of their political, economic, and ethical performance than their harsh detractors.

Turkey and the Arab Spring

Turkey’s relationship to the Middle East is particularly layered and complex. It neither belongs to the Arab world nor to the European Christian world, yet is deeply implicated in the history, culture, economic and politics of both. Since 2002, Turkey has had dramatic ups and downs internally, regionally, and internationally. During this entire period it has been governed controversially by the AKP, which has been attacked as both authoritarian and trending toward Islamism. Its supporters emphasize tradition, social justice, and rapid economic development.

After the upheavals of the Arab Spring in early 2011, Turkey was popularly viewed as a model of stability and development throughout the region, a country that had managed to reconcile secularism and religion. Its prime minister (now president), Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was the most popular leader
in the Middle East; its foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, became one of the most influential diplomats in the world, admired for his energetic efforts to promote peaceful conflict resolution and compromise and to enlarge Turkey’s political horizons in all directions.

Secular opposition

Yet there were many bumps in the road. At home, the secular opposition has never been willing to accept the legitimacy of the AKP leadership, despite its extraordinary record of economic growth. At the same time this opposition was frustrated by its inability to produce either a credible alternative
program or interesting potential political leaders. As a result, the AKP has won election after election and the opposition became more and more embittered.

Since 2011, Erdoğan has relied on his electoral mandate and grassroots popularity to govern in a more overtly authoritarian style. He has especially agitated the secular ranks of “white Turks” with his rants about such social issues as abortion, alcohol, education, the role of women, and the desirability of population increase. Erdoğan seems increasingly to be abandoning any effort to lead in a manner that is inclusive of opposition concerns. To some extent, this is a reasonable reaction to the inflammatory behavior of the main opposition parties and media.

The Gezi Park uprising

The demonstrations in Gezi Park in 2013 showed the anti-Erdoğan fury that exists in Turkey, with its contradictory interpretations exhibiting the polarization ripping the country apart. There is no doubt that the Turkish police overreacted in a brutal manner and that Erdoğan handled the incident awkwardly, endorsing the use of excessive force. It is also the case that after the initial phase of the protests against turning an historic Istanbul park into a shopping mall, the second phase of the events in Gezi were more confrontational, apparently seeking to imitate the anti-Morsi street politics that created a crisis of governability in Egypt.

In the last year or so, the domestic scene in Turkey has been further roiled by conflict between the government and the Hizmet movement, led by an Islamic scholar and preacher living in Pennsylvania named Fethullah Gülen. The AKP accuses Hizmet of setting up a “parallel state” by deliberately
infiltrating its loyalists into the bureaucracy, especially the police and judiciary. Hizmet accuses Erdoğan of corruption, crony capitalism, and authoritarianism. As with the displaced secular opposition, Hizmet’s defection from the AKP cause has so far not diminished the AKP’s level of popular support.

The Syrian civil war

In recent years, Turkey has experienced a series of setbacks internationally. The AKP’s approach to Syria has been problematic in several ways that have weakened the overall credibility of Turkish relations with the region. Davutoğlu’s signature approach of “zero problems with neighbors” was
launched with fanfare as Turkey embraced al-Assad’s Syria, ending years of tension. When the Arab Spring arrived and Syrians rose up against the authoritarianism of the Assad regime in Damascus, Turkey first tried to urge democratic reforms. When these failed to materialize, Ankara sided with the
rebels and especially the Muslim Brotherhood component of the many-sided Syrian opposition, perceiving the conflict as certain to be quickly resolved in favor of the anti-government side. Damascus accused Turkey of intervening on behalf of the insurgency and promoting Sunni sectarianism.

Relations with Israel

A second vector of difficulty arose when Turkey criticized Israel after the breakdown of Turkey’s effort to mediate a solution to the conflict between Israel and Syria over the Golan Heights. The initial criticisms focused on Israel’s behavior in Gaza, especially the military operations known as Cast Lead that began at the end of 2008. These tensions reached their climax in 2010 when Israeli commandos attacked the Turkish civilian ship Mavi Marmara in international waters, killing nine Turkish passengers. The ship was the lead vessel in a flotilla of small, unarmed ships seeking to challenge Israel’s unlawful blockade of Gaza by delivering humanitarian goods directly
to the beleaguered Gazan population.

The problems with Israel overlapped with and reinforced some tensions with the United States. It seemed that the U.S. government expected Turkey to be as submissive after the Cold War as it had been during it. The AKP clearly sought to maintain its role in NATO as part of the Western alliance.

It also sought continuity in its relationship with the United States, but felt entitled to act as an independent player in the region. This posture came up against Washington’s insistence on having a free hand in the Middle East.

When Turkey, in collaboration with Brazil, sought to defuse nuclear tensions with Iran in 2010, Washington reacted angrily, reminding Turkey not to get out of line, as President Obama called for strengthened sanctions as the centerpiece of its reliance on coercive diplomacy to gain its goals in relation to Iran’s nuclear program. The Turkish initiative, designed to lower tensions, ran directly counter to the belligerently anti-Iranian approach being advocated by Israel.

Eliminating the 'deep state'

What followed was a worldwide campaign to discredit the AKP leadership, portraying Erdoğan as a second Putin. In my view, the AKP deserves a more balanced treatment. Turkey’s achievements since 2002 far outweigh its shortcomings. Erdoğan is skilled in surrounding himself with highly capable
officials and advisors, especially in key positions. Turkey’s economic development has been sustained far more successfully than that of other countries in the region, or in Europe for that matter. Perhaps the greatest of the AKP’s achievements has been eliminating the “deep state” as a force that had lurked below the surface of Turkish politics ever since the republic was established in 1920.

Gaining civilian control over security policies repudiated the Atatürk tradition, which allowed the
armed forces to play a custodial role in relation to the elected government and had seemed a permanent feature of Turkish political life, producing periodic military coups as well as supervision over the behavior of political leaders. Challenging this structure required great political skill and commitment as well as accepting the risk of provoking a coup, which nearly happened in the early years of AKP governance. Turkey also did its utmost to bring greater stability and prosperity to the region, through diplomacy, cultural exchanges, and trade/investment relations.

Beyond this, Davutoğlu and Erdoğan were innovative in encouraging diplomatic and economic
relations with Africa and Latin America, regions Turkey had previously ignored. As with so many countries in this period, Turkey’s fundamental problem has been the polarization of beliefs and affinities within its own population, which has created intense negativity in the political atmosphere.

It is rather remarkable that the AKP has so far been able to ride this unruly horse of polarization without worse mishaps. The Turkish leadership is being daily challenged by a defamatory campaign by its opponents at home and abroad designed to undermine the legitimacy of the state, an undertaking aided by the international media.

The threat of ISIS

The 2014 emergence of ISIS near Turkey’s borders has added yet another destabilizing and daunting challenge, one further complicated by Ankara’s search for a peaceful resolution of its own long, violent conflict with its large Kurdish minority. Turkey finds itself pulled in opposite directions. ISIS is an effective force in the ongoing effort to topple the Assad regime, but is also guilty of massive atrocities and is the target of an American-led intervention.

ISIS poses a difficult dilemma for Turkey—to give priority either to sectarian objectives or to the defeat of extremist challenges to the status quo. These posts seek to explain AKP’s political strength at home and the innovativeness of its foreign policy while taking due account of its mistakes
and setbacks. All political actors, within the region and beyond, made mistakes during this turbulent period; while Turkey made important miscalculations, its intentions were constructive and its record stands up well compared to other main players in the region, including the United States.

Looking ahead

I anticipate two notable challenges for Turkey in 2015. The first is to respond to the worldwide Armenian campaign associated with observing the centennial anniversary of the 1915 massacres. The Erdoğan leadership has been more forthcoming in acknowledging these tragic events than its predecessors, but has not been willing to accede to the Armenian demand that they be acknowledged as “genocide.” One post tries to interpret this open wound and how it might be treated for the benefit of both sides. The second challenge involves the December 2015 UN climate-change conference in Paris, expected to be a make-or-break occasion with respect to heeding scientific warnings about global warming. To date Turkey has been extremely passive about international limits on carbon emissions and gives the impression of being unwilling to burden its economic ambitions by acting in an environmentally responsible manner.

To buy Chaos and Counterrevolution: After the Arab Spring visit Zed Books.




Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Marikana: Judicial inquiry whitewashes circumstances of the massacre of mineworkers in South Africa



The massacre of striking mineworkers in Marikana, South Africa in 2012 by state security forces was the result of the actions of mine unions, the mining corporations and individual police officers, an inquiry has found. The report from the judicial inquiry will do little dampen down anger from the strikers' families, however, who have waited years for its conclusions. Rather than holding to account the powerful figures ( those leading the opposition unions, the mine, the police and the ANC) the report instead, according to Guardian journalist Jack Shenker, "exonerates almost everybody".

"A complex web of political power and economic interests binds these interests together and the massacre wrenched many issues to the surface. To explain how so many unarmed people could be gunned down in broad daylight under South Africa’s post-apartheid democracy, the inquiry needed to probe the privilege and marginalisation of the country’s platinum belt – where grinding poverty and fabulous riches exist in symbiosis.

Instead, the Marikana report, while confirming some of the worst excesses and deceptions practised by the police and Lonmin, exonerates almost everybody. Its most strident conclusion is that there is a need for further inquiries, inquiries that – on the evidence of this one – will presumably end up calling for yet more inquiries, a process that will be repeated until everybody has forgotten that a massacre took place at all. Everyone, that is, except the relatives of the slain and those who continue to exist on the edge of survival in order to remove platinum from the ground."


In the video below Shenker explains the terrible circumstances of the massacre. Jack Shenker is the author of the e-book "Marikana: A Report from South Africa", available now for just 99p from Zed Books.




Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Paul Mason: Explaining Yanis Varoufakis

Since resigning from the Syriza government with the immortal words 'I will wear the creditors loathing with pride' Yanis Varoufakis has spoken out in sensational interviews in the New Statesman and Australian Radio Late Night Live detailing the hostility he faced from the EU creditors and European Central Bank. He also details how his plan to build on the historic OXI! of the referendum and seize control of Greece's banks and currency from Troika / IMF control was rejected by Alexis Tsipras and Syriza's inner cabinet.

In the foreword - reproduced below - to the new edition of Varoufakis' The Global Minotaur: America, Europe and the Future of the Global Economy, Channel 4 News Economics Editor Paul Mason provides a vital overview of the man who shook European politics and the importance of the book to debates about the future of the European and world economy. 



By Paul Mason

On February 20, 2015, Yanis Varoufakis entered the HQ of the European Union alone—both literally and figuratively. He came without advisers, press liaison, or bodyguards—and with the Brussels press corps salivating over what seemed like a certain and abject surrender. Sixteen days before that, the European Central Bank had punctured the euphoria of Syriza's election victory by suddenly withdrawing its regular loan facility to the Greek banks, putting them on life support, and triggering a silent run on bank deposits.

By the time Varoufakis arrived in Brussels, he knew that up to €1 billion [$1.1 billion] a day were draining from the Greek banking system: he would, without a deal, be forced to impose capital controls, limiting ATM withdrawals, and preventing the removal of cash offshore. In the end he signed a deal somewhat short of abject surrender. Greece would get leeway to implement measures to counteract austerity; the high levels of government surplus (4 percent) demanded by the 2011 bailout were waived.
In all other senses, Greece was still a debt colony of the EU. But it had been granted a modicum of home rule, and what we used to call the "comprador bourgeoisie"—the pliant agents of the colonists—were gone.

Most ordinary politicians would have given a terse statement, taken a couple of questions and headed for the steam room in their hotel. Instead Varoufakis conducted a 40-minute Q&A hailing the deal as a minor victory—which, once you understand the eurozone, it was. For Varoufakis had, in those 16 days, vaulted the minotaur.


In the original version of his book, The Global Minotaur:America, Europe and the Future of the Global Economy , he set out an analysis of the 2008 crisis and its aftermath using the Cretan legend of the minotaur as a metaphor: the "Global Minotaur" was US capitalism centered on Wall Street, extracting tribute from the world after 1971. Lacking a Theseus to kill it, the mythical beast was killed by unsustainable economics. But the spirit of the minotaur lives on.

Austerity economics, and the primacy of the banks over households, businesses, and state treasuries, have been the articles of faith guiding the eurozone since the Greek crisis began. As America imposed its one-sided deal on the world after the fall of Bretton Woods, so Germany remained determined to take only the upside of the Euro arrangement.

With the arrival of Syriza in power the Euro Minotaur awakened, looked up, and took aim at the most colorful presence in its labyrinth—Varoufakis.

Though I'd been engaged with his work for years, I only met Yanis Varoufakis three days before the election of January 25, 2015. He lucidly laid out his argument, and his plan: Greece was effectively insolvent; Europe's bailout a €320 billion [$353 billion] handout to the north European banks to protect them from that fact. Unless the eurozone acquired an effective mechanism for recycling fiscal surpluses and deficits—with the mountains of idle savings energized so that they become productive investments, particularly where investment is lagging behind—it was "finished within two years."


But Varoufakis remained convinced, like the majority of Syriza's economic gurus, that a "good euro" was achievable. The auguries were positive: Mario Draghi (President of the European Central Bank) had launched quantitative easing—a €1.6 trillion [$1.75 trillion] monetary stimulus—plus he had called for less austerity. Jean-Claude Juncker (President of the European Commission) had launched a fund aimed at bringing €300 billion [$330 billion] of investment to the stricken eurozone. The politics were lined up in favour of Greece. Between the election and February 20, Varoufakis learned a lesson on behalf of the entire European left: politicians do not control Europe; the Minotaur does.

We don't know whether the reprieve Varoufakis won on February 20 will last, expand, or get closed down. But we do know the power that fresh ideas alone can bring. Varoufakis's straight-talking changed the modus operandi of Euro summits, probably forever. His preparedness to expose the workings of power-summitry and pressure threatened to put out of business a press corps whose working lives had been devoted to accommodating it. In every conversation there were three audiences: Greece, its debtors, and the workers and youth of Europe.

What irked the debtors most was that Varoufakis looked and sounded like one of them. A successful professional economist in the West European tradition, who had moved left at a time when others of his generation were moving right, Varoufakis knows enough of the way the neoliberal world works to make every clash with it look and feel excruciating.

Most politicians cannot be theorists. First, because they are rarely thinkers; second, because the frenetic lifestyle they impose on themselves leaves no time for big ideas. But most of all because to be a theorist you have to admit the possibility of being wrong—the provisionality of knowledge—and you know you cannot spin your way out of a theoretical problem.

In his book, Varoufakis laid bare the central problem of the world economy: the lack of an agent to create new rules, new paradigms of behavior, new reservoirs of popular consent. If China is unready, the European center too unpopular, and America too decayed to do it, he asked the question: who will? Through the sheer incompetence and venality of the political centre in Greece, and the exasperation of its people, the answer was: the radical left.

Whether they win or lose their fight with the Euro institutions, Syriza have demonstrated the power of theory. Varoufakis predicted the catastrophic end of the Greek bonanza, the unsustainability of leveraged finance, and the fragmentation of the eurozone—even while the theories acceptable to the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times said the opposite. He also told his advisers, from the very beginning, that they could expect a deal with Europe only at "one minute past midnight." That is, he theorized the potential accidental outcomes of the crisis too.

That's what gives The Global Minotaur both its power and its poignancy. We don't know how the fight between Syriza and the eurozone will end—but we can be certain it will involve compromise. Politicians live in the world of compromise; theorists do not. But by the end of it, the radical left will know what it means to fight for a new, fairer kind of capitalism, in the teeth of resistance from the old kind.
March 28, 2015


This foreword was originally extracted in VICE.  

Monday, 13 July 2015

Behind the curtain: Yanis Varoufakis lifts the lid on negotiating with the Troika



Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek Finance Minister who resigned his position last week after winning an historic national referendum on the Greek bailout bid, has spoken out in an exclusive interview with the New Statesman. In it he lays bear the tense and frustrating negotiations between the Eurogroup and Greece's team, claiming he was repeatedly excluded from talks due to his persistent desire to "talk economics...which nobody does.”

"We were set up"

Varoufakis is strikingly clear in his analysis of the talks. "We were set up", he says - something that looks increasingly obvious as Tsipras backed down on almost all substantive points over Sunday night. This was little room to manoeuvre, with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, he claims, purposefully scuppering Syriza's attempts at reform.

“His view was ‘I’m not discussing the programme – this was accepted by the previous [Greek] government and we can’t possibly allow an election to change anything. 
“So at that point I said ‘Well perhaps we should simply not hold elections anymore for indebted countries’, and there was no answer. The only interpretation I can give [of their view] is, ‘Yes, that would be a good idea, but it would be difficult. So you either sign on the dotted line or you are out.’”



A coup by banks not tanks

Continuing the theme taken by the NO! campaign during the referendum, Varoufakis makes it clear that what's at stake is not simply the Greek bailouts, but rather than sovereignty of every European nation, and the democratic principle in itself. He was building on earlier comments made last week to Australian ABC's Late Night Live programme, where he said "In the coup d’état the choice of weapon used in order to bring down democracy then was the tanks. Well, this time it was the banks." Referring to the Eurogroup, who issued a memorandum unilaterally and without Greek oversight, he says:

“What we have is a non-existent group that has the greatest power to determine the lives of Europeans. It’s not answerable to anyone, given it doesn’t exist in law; no minutes are kept; and it’s confidential. No citizen ever knows what is said within . . . These are decisions of almost life and death, and no member has to answer to anybody.”

The Varoufakis plan rejected by Tsipras

In order to push Greece into a better negotiating position, Varoufakis developed his own 3 point plan. When the ECB closed Greek banks, the government would respond by issuing Euro-denominated IOUs, applying a haircut to Greek-issued bonds to the ECB and seizing control of the Bank of Greece. His plan was voted down, 4 to 2, by the Cabinet. His resignation was bound to follow:

 “That very night the government decided that the will of the people, this resounding ‘No’, should not be what energised the energetic approach [his plan]. Instead it should lead to major concessions to the other side: the meeting of the council of political leaders, with our Prime Minister accepting the premise that whatever happens, whatever the other side does, we will never respond in any way that challenges them. And essentially that means folding. … You cease to negotiate.”

Visit the New Statesman to read Varoufakis' astonishing interview

"The Global Minotaur: America, Europe and the Future of the Global Economy" by Yanis Varoufakis, with a foreword by Paul Mason, is out now



Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Rogue Reporters gather to discuss The Racket

Waterstones Bookshop in Trafalgar Square saw lively debate this month as journalists Owen Jones, Ellie Mae O'Hagan, Amelia Abraham and Matt Kennard gathered for the launch of The Racket: A Rogue Reporter vs The Masters Of The Universe. Joined by Potent Whisper, who performed to the packed room, they discussed how a media environment owned by a tiny group of incredibly wealthy people shapes political debate and limits political possibilities. Watch the full discussion, and some fantastic extracts, below:
Potent Whisper performs at the launch night
Is capitalism a racket?
Owen Jones: do we have a free press?
Owen Jones takes on the British media
Journalist Ellie Mae O'Hagan

Confessions of a Terrorist: Free e-book



"The point is, even a most basic level of research would reveal that terrorists are not evil, inhuman, animal-like. I would have thought that some courageous novelists would have by now made a real effort to understand their subjects as real human beings – done some real research – and then narrated them in more authentic, more human terms. In my experience, most literary depictions of ‘terrorists’ involve a great deal of stereotyping, and are psychologically shallow and unconvincing." 
     - Richard Jackson

In an empty, abandoned factory, two men face each other across a table. One, "The Professor", a hardened Islamist fighter, ideologically committed and dangerously talented in his role of terrorist organiser. The other, Michael, a British intelligence officer, just as ideologically committed but operating within a perilous ethical and legal labyrinth. The interrogation that follows lays open both men to an examination of their core beliefs and visions of the world; the transcript filed (annotated and redacted) makes up the novel Confessions of a Terrorist, by Richard Jackson, out now in paperback. To celebrate its launch, Zed Books is delighted to present a FREE EBOOK to all our subscribers: Confessions of a Terrorist: The Declassified Document, featuring extracts from the novel. Simply follow the link to begin your free download.


Praise for Confessions of a Terrorist:

"Savage indictment of terror untruths... A book that's too important not to read" -
Morning Star

"It should be required reading" - E-International Relations

"As a scholar, of literature, history, diplomacy and human rights, Confessions of a Terrorist is by far the most insightful book I have read on the subject since the beginning of this Century" - Pambazuka News

Thursday, 28 May 2015

*Book launch* Africa: Why Economists Get it Wrong - Morten Jerven



6pm, Thursday 4th June @ SOAS


Not so long ago, Africa was being described as the ‘Hopeless Continent’. Recently, though, talk has turned to ‘Africa Rising’, with enthusiastic voices exclaiming the potential for economic growth across many of its countries. What, then, is the truth behind Africa’s growth, or lack of it?

In this provocative book, Morten Jerven fundamentally reframes the debate, challenging mainstream accounts of African economic history. Whilst for the past two decades experts have focused on explaining why there has been a ‘chronic failure of growth’ in Africa, Jerven shows that most African economies have been growing at a rapid pace since the mid-90s. In addition, African economies grew rapidly in the 50s, the 1960s, and even into the 1970s. Thus, African states were dismissed as incapable of development based largely on observations made during the 1980s and early 1990s. The result has been misguided analysis, and few practical lessons learned.

An essential account of the real impact economic growth has had on Africa, and what it means for the continent’s future.

Respondent: Tunde Zack-Williams (University of Central Lancashire)
Chair: Christopher Cramer (SOAS)

All welcome. Please rsvp to cas@soas.ac.uk

*Book Launch* Change Everything: Creating an Economy for the Common Good



Global Governance Institute, University College London

Wednesday, 10 June 2015 from 17:30 to 19:30 

The Economy for the Common Good is a comprehensive and coherent economic model which provides an alternative to both major historic narratives “capitalism” and “communism”.
The current ecological, social and economic crisis requires a bold and strong vision and people who actively participate in developing a sustainable future. In that sense, the Economy for the Common Good movement understands itself as an initiator and inspirational force for far-reaching change.

Christian Felber, author of Change Everything,will be speaking on a panel with Jenny Sinclair, founder of the Together for the Common Good project, Diego Isabel, coordinator of the international expansion of the Economy for the Common Good, and Ed Mayo, secretary general of Co-Operatives UK, the national business association for co-operative and mutual enterprises.  The panel will be chaired by Dr Tom Pegram, Lecturer in Global Governance and the Deputy Director of the Global Governance Institute.

Tickets are free but RSVP here to avoid disappointment.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Sign-up for our email list for a FREE e-book, Confessions of a Terrorist: The Classified Document



To celebrate the release of a compelling new edition of Richard Jackson's powerful novel Confessions of a Terrorist, Zed Books is thrilled to announce the release of a free e-book for all our newsletter subscribers. To join our email list and receive exclusive early access to the free download of Confessions of a Terrorist: The Declassified Document, just sign up here. 

In a claustrophobic, concrete cell, two men face each other across a bare table. One is a wanted terrorist, the other a British intelligence officer. But this is no ordinary interrogation, and as they talk deep into the night and violent secrets are revealed, the line between interrogator and confessor begins inextricably to blur. Who, then, is the real terrorist? And will they pay for their guilt in blood?

This is the setting for Richard Jackson's tense, explosive novel Confessions of a Terrorist. Terrorism is the defining issue of our time, but for all the news coverage, how often do we really understand the motivations and complexities of the terrorist himself?

Richard Jackson, one of the world's leading experts on terrorism, does, and his unique insight has produced a novel at turns gripping, troubling and enlightening. Having met a number of terrorists, Jackson's novel uncovers the interrogation process and the complex set of stories and narratives each man produces to explain - and justify - his position in the world.

To launch this edition, with a new preface from the author, Richard Jackson will be reading from the book at a free Zed Books event on 11th June at Orford Road Social Club, 73 Orford Road, Walthamstow, E17 9QL. Entry is free and all are welcome. For more information please see the E17 Art Trail website.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Book Launch: Africa's New Oil @ SOAS


Date & Time: Monday 8 June 2015, 6:30-8:30PM

Venue: Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG

Speakers: Celeste Hicks, author & journalist; Gonyi Ajawin, Associate at Fasken Martineau LLP; Barnaby Briggs, Managing Director, FTI Consulting; Jim Cust, Director of Data & Analysis, Natural Resource Governance Institute. Chaired by Bronwen Manby, Visiting Senior Fellow, Centre for the Study of Human Rights, LSE.

In recent years, technological advances, higher commodity prices and an insatiable global thirst for energy have meant that African oil is increasingly in demand. Countries as far apart as Niger, Uganda, Chad, Ghana and Kenya are looking at the prospect of almost unimaginable flows of money into their national budgets.

But the story of African oil has usually been associated with conflict, corruption and disaster, with older producers such as Nigeria, Angola and Cameroon having little to show for the many billions of dollars they’ve earned. In this eye-opening book, former BBC correspondent Celeste Hicks questions the inevitability of the so-called ‘resource curse’, revealing what the discovery of oil means for ordinary Africans, and how China’s involvement threatens a profound change in Africa’s relationship with the West.

Join us as the author and a panel of experts explore oil production on the continent, an issue that will likely transform the fortunes of a number of African countries – for better or for worse.

This is a free event but please register for tickets here to ensure entry.