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About Zaid Al-Ali

Zaid Al-Ali is a senior adviser on constitutional building for International IDEA. He has been following the transition processes in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt closely, and was previously involved in Iraq. His latest book is "The Struggle for Iraq's Future: How Corruption, Incompetence and Sectarianism Have Undermined Democracy." He tweets @zalali

Articles by Zaid Al-Ali

This week’s front page editor


Sunny Hundal is openDemocracy’s social media editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

The possible devastating outcome of a Kurdish referendum

An attempt to establish a Kurdish state including Kirkuk is likely to result in a truncated and economically devastated mini-Kurdistan.

Iraq’s next parliamentary elections: the stakes

We are now completely at the mercy of our political class. Many of the same faces will return, and those who are new will have been imposed on us by the same party structures that have been running the country since 2003.

Tunisia’s new constitution: progress and challenges to come

Most Tunisians agree that their new constitution is an advance, despite the imperfections. The people’s new democratic spirit is what will make Tunisia a success, and it will hopefully serve as an inspiration for the entire Arab region in times to come.  (4,485 words)

Iraq: ten years of hubris and incompetence

Many of the problems that afflict Iraqis today are rooted in the rushed and undemocratic constitution of 2005, says Zaid Al-Ali. 

The new Egyptian constitution: an initial assessment of its merits and flaws

Egypt cannot be described as a religious state, given that political power remains firmly in the hands of civilians, but religion will now play a real role in inspiring how the state is to function. And military trials of civilians have been elevated to a constitutional principle.

Egypt's draft constitution: an analysis

The text of the Egyptian state's new constitution is reaching a critical juncture. How does it measure up to fundamental rights and principles, and accord with recent constitutional practice elsewhere in the world? Zaid Al-Ali inspects the document.

Iraqi regionalism and its discontents

The incompetence of Iraq's central governance is fuelling demands for the formation by local provinces of self-governing regions. But such a course is most unlikely to solve the core problems Iraqis are facing, says Zaid Al-Ali.

Libya’s interim constitution: an assessment

A draft constitution for the new Libyan state has already been released. A close reading reveals echoes of and contrasts with comparable texts from Egypt and Tunisia. But the speed of its publication is a serious concern, says Zaid Al-Ali.

What Egypt should learn from Iraq

The Iraqi experience of creating a new constitution from political and social ruin offers lessons for Egypt, says Zaid Al-Ali.

Iraq’s future hanging by a thread

Iraqis now have greater physical security, though violence continues and politics are stalemated. But the years of conflict have corroded trust, entrenched sectarian identities, undermined livelihoods, and ravaged the environment. Zaid Al-Ali, travelling through Iraq, finds a society under intense stress whose human and national bonds are frayed - but far from broken.

Maliki, Allawi and the Iraqi people

International jubilation following high participation in Iraq's elections is premature, argues Zaid Al-Ali.

Iraq: new alliances, old repression

The pre-election manoeuvring in Iraq offers little hope for change that will improve the lives of a hard-pressed people, says Zaid Al-Ali.

Iraq: face of corruption, mask of politics

The challenges to Iraq's authorities following the withdrawal of United States military forces from Iraq’s cities include building clean and efficient institutions that command the respect of citizens. The fight against corruption is central to the task, says Zaid Al-Ali.

The Cairo speech: Arab Muslim voices

Barack Obama’s appeal for “a new beginning” in America’s relationship with Islam is finding an echo across the middle east, report Karim Kasim & Zaid Al-Ali.

Lebanon: chronicles of an attempted suicide

The campaign for Lebanon’s elections in June 2009 reflects the country's deep sectarian and ideological fissures. Indeed, the background to the vote is an extraordinary story of political tension and polarisation, which came to a climax in May 2008. In a closely-observed portrait of the country’s self-inflicted wounds, Zaid Al-Ali asks what Lebanon needs to create for itself an inclusive future.

What Obama means for Iraq

The United States president-elect promises to withdraw troops from Iraq. Will he deliver? Barack Obama's past statements offer a less certain guide than his opposition to the Iraq war might suggest, says Zaid Al-Ali.

Lebanon’s Palestinian shame

Lebanon's security as well as its self-interest demands a policy of humanity and respect towards the Palestinians in its midst, says Zaid Al-Ali.

Iraq: a wall to conquer us

The United States plan to cantonise Baghdad follows the sectarian logic of its occupation, says Zaid Al-Ali.

Iraqis in freefall

Whatever official narratives and recovery plans say, the real experience of Iraqis since 2003 is a collapse of livelihoods under war and occupation, says Zaid Al-Ali.

The United States in Iraq: the case for withdrawal

The post-2003 occupation is only the latest chapter in Washington's long, disastrous involvement in Iraq. Zaid Al-Ali tracks a bitter history and draws a lesson.

Lebanon on the brink - but of what?

Lebanon's internal political fractures combine with regional pressures to create a perilous moment for the country, reports Zaid Al-Ali in Beirut.

The US votes: the road ahead for Iraq

United States politicians are rethinking their options in Iraq. But would a new policy resolve or intensify the war? Zaid Al-Ali assesses Washington's evolving agenda.

Saving Iraq: a critique of Peter W Galbraith

In response to the United States's deepening predicament in Iraq, influential American voices are advocating the country's partition. Zaid Al-Ali assesses Peter W Galbraith's presentation of this case in his book "The End of Iraq."

Iraq's war of elimination

The intense sectarian violence in Baghdad is not uncontrolled but part of a conscious, organised political strategy by Shi'a and Sunni militias alike, says Zaid Al-Ali.

'Whatever happens, Hizbollah has already won'

Lebanese and their fellow Arabs are digesting the war's lessons and debating what comes next. Zaid Al-Ali, in Beirut, reports.

Hizbollah's last stand?

Both Israel and Hizbollah find themselves committed to fresh military strategies that in combination guarantee a long war, writes Zaid Al-Ali in Beirut.

What we've lost in Iraq

The effect of three years of war and occupation can be measured in the dire condition of Iraq’s economy and its people’s daily lives, says Zaid Al-Ali.

The day Iraqis have waited for

Amidst violence and insecurity, the vote for a new parliament is the most important event of the year in Iraq, says Zaid Al-Ali.

Iraq: a constitution to nowhere

The Iraqi constitution may lead to the country’s disintegration, says Zaid Al-Ali. How did Iraqis reach this point?

Iraq: a constitution or an epitaph?

Iraqi politicians have a new deadline of 22 August to reach agreement on a new constitution. Zaid Al-Ali asks if extra time can resolve fundamental differences of political principle over federalism, women, and religion.

Lebanon's pre-election hangover

Political party games are dominating the election campaign in Lebanon, but the issues of Hizbollah and Iran cannot be long avoided, says Zaid Al-Ali in Beirut.

The end of secularism in Iraq

The domination of politics by religion is a relatively recent trend in Iraq – and offers no long-term solution to Iraq’s crisis, says Zaid Al-Ali.

Iraq's dangerous elections

The planning of Iraq’s national elections in January 2005 is accompanied by extreme violence and political uncertainty. Zaid Al-Ali asks whether Shi’a divisions over participation and the extent of Iranian influence in Iraq could further inflame a dangerous situation.

Iraq - the lost generation

A young Iraqi returns to his devastated homeland and commits himself to help rebuild its future.
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