Columnists

Lest we forget

Libya, Syria and the “responsibility to protect”: a moment of inflection?

Since the Rwandan genocide and the wars in former Yugoslavia, the idea of a “responsibility to protect” vulnerable populations has acquired currency. The Libyan and Syrian crises have, however, seen the value of that currency recalibrated.

Policing academia: exporting 'expertise', importing marketisation

Manchester Metropolitan University is working with the Qatari government to train Qatari police officers. What does the export of policing 'expertise', such as within this lucrative business deal, reveal about the transformation of academia in the UK?

The new Russian power bloc

A quarter century after Mikhail Gorbachev supervised the collapse of Europe’s cold-war division, a world of new dividing lines is emerging—with Vladimir Putin playing an active part in inscribing them.

Obama, Saudi Arabia and “anti-terrorism”

Last week the US president, Barack Obama, visited Saudi Arabia. Fighting extremism, the crisis in Syria, and Iran's nuclear programme would all have been live concerns. Human rights, however, was not.

The heavy imprint of America's 'light footprint'

New documents reveal the blinding pace of US military operations in Africa as the Pentagon prepares for future wars. 

Women’s rights under threat in Iraq

Few disagree that the Iraqi government’s increasingly Shia character has alienated its Sunni population—but what has mounting sectarian division meant for the rights of women and girls?

On the frontline: citizen journalism in Syria

As the Syrian civil war moves into its fourth year, citizen journalists have filled the gap left by professionals denied access to or evacuated from the most dangerous country in the world for working journalists. But they are painfully aware of the growing uninterest of the international media in the unending conflict.

Qatar: FIFA must act

Pressure has mounted on FIFA to address the toll of deaths among migrant workers in Qatar, as the emirate prepares for the World Cup in 2022. As its Executive Committee meets today, the international trade union movement is demanding action.

Lebanon and the Syrian refugee crisis

It wasn’t as if Lebanon didn’t have troubles enough, with a shaky government finally formed last month. But the Syrian refugee crisis is taking a huge toll on a country which desperately needs international support.

Harper’s discordant notes

Unlike the US, Canada has always had a positive reputation in the strife-tone Middle East as an impartial broker and peacemaker. Until now.

Yemen’s troubled transition

In Yemen a transition towards a new political dispensation is threatened by Islamist violence, drone strikes, southern secessionism and tribal militancy. But concentrating on the first alone and failing to understand the wider context will not secure it.

Turkey’s new internet law: policing the online mall

Since the protests in Gezi Park eight months ago freedom of expression has coming under increasing attack, both on and offline. A new law now threatens digital civil society further, handing the government excessive and arbitrary power to monitor the web.   

Egyptian editors organise to confront media crisis

The military-backed government has sought to enrol journalists as foot-soldiers in its battle against the ousted Muslim Brotherhood. But when editors met this week in Cairo, a collective spirit stirred. 

Syria: from corridor diplomacy to humanitarian corridors

With the larger substantive issues of ceasefires and political transition at an impasse, the ground broken over humanitarian access has suddenly become a metric for whether the first phase of Geneva II will be considered a success.

Yemen’s future: like Tunisia or Libya?

The recent conclusion of the National Dialogue Conference in Yemen might seem to point to progress in that fractured state. But the absence of the rule of law and impartial authority is allowing violence to fester and the international community needs to act decisively.

Violence against women in Syria: a hidden truth

Despite saturated media coverage of the conflict, violence against women in Syria has largely gone unreported. Often horrifically abused, they have been doubly victimised by the public silence.

Hamas’ response to the Syrian uprising

Are we now witnessing a third phase in Hamas’s response towards the Syrian Uprising?

Nuclear disarmament ambitions in 2014

It's easy not to recognise the real, if slow, progress that has been made on nuclear disarmement. There will be big challenges in 2014 to maintain it.

Iraq’s Sunni civil war

Iraq’s Sunnis have become increasingly alienated from its Shia-dominated government. Al-Qaeda has been able to profit from its inability to offer cross-sectarian leadership.

Time to be bold and make peace in Syria

The regime and main opposition factions in Syria are setting preconditions for victory. Alternative, democratic preconditions need to be set for the Geneva talks to end an unwinnable war.

Syria's refugees: international effort needed

An Amnesty International report has highlighted the huge gap between the Syrian refugee crisis and the global response. Fortress Europe needs to discover an ethos of hospitality

More sanctions could undermine the Iran deal

US congressional efforts to introduce new sanctions legislation threatens the fragile ground gained through diplomatic efforts to secure an interim nuclear deal with Iran. 

Brokering Geneva II

How can the US and Russia look past their longstanding rivalry to move the political track forward and bring Syrian parties to the negotiating table?

Iran nuclear deal: the fall-out

The interim nuclear deal between the western powers and Iran faces significant domestic and international challenges. But after long hostility it may prove a trust-building stepping-stone to a larger agreement.

Why casualty recording matters

After narrowly avoiding military intervention in Syria, it is time for decision-makers to realise that there is a way to strengthen and reinforce the norms behind humanitarian intervention: systematic civilian casualty recording.

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