This week's editor

Mariam Ali

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

Constitutional conventions: best practice

International Security Correspondent Paul Rogers provides weekly commentary on the 'war on terror'. His acute commentaries are an indispensable guide to explaining the present conflict's development and mapping the future.

Islamic State: a letter from Raqqa

A fourth personal communication from the heart of territory where Islamic State holds sway.

Arms and the men: Sweden’s revoked Saudi arms deal

From the outside, the Swedish snub to the Saudi royals looks like a big triumph for women’s rights over commercial pressures. Close up, the ethical picture is a little muddier.

When will Islamic State use its chemical weapons?

The west turned a blind eye to the possible use of chemical weapons by militant Islamists allied against the Assad regime in Syria. Now that Islamic State almost certainly possesses them, the chickens are coming home to roost.

A perfect storm: Boko Haram, IS and the Nigerian election

Boko Haram’s alignment with Islamic State adds to mounting insecurity in Nigeria. A fortnight ahead of the already-deferred election, what does this mean for its democratic prospects?

Christian Zionism and Netanyahu's speech

The Israeli prime minister's purpose in Washington was to consolidate a vital and largely unrecognised political-religious alliance.

Climate-chaos migrants set to face increasingly closed borders

Climate change is set to trigger dangerously soaring temperatures this century, forcing many of humankind’s most vulnerable to migrate to survive. Yet the growing global obsession with border security will stifle their safe movement.

Libya, containing the danger

The chaos in Libya will not be stopped by lazy rhetoric or easy options. The country's neighbours, Tunisia and Algeria, can teach the west a lesson. 

Iraq, a new war's peril

The post-9/11 wars In Afghanistan and Iraq never really ended. But in the campaign against Islamic State, their maps are having to be redrawn.

Obama's human-rights lacuna in struggle against ‘extremism’

The US president went on the front foot against fundamentalist violence in the Middle East at a summit in Washington. But he was hobbled by his failure to place human rights in the region front and centre.

Islamic State: bring on the drones

The challenge of jihadism in Iraq, Syria, Libya and elsewhere is reinforcing the United States's embrace of "remote control" warfare.

Is there reason to hope for Minsk II?

The last Minsk agreement on eastern Ukraine failed to bring peace. The latest looks similar—but the context has changed.

Ukraine ceasefire announced at Minsk summit—what next?

The ceasefire agreement in Minsk over Ukraine was better than no outcome at all. But only a little better.

Israel’s "iron fist": what happened?

The containing of an explosion on the Hizbollah-Israel frontier has politics to thank. But next time could be different.

“Frankly, I don’t think we know who we killed”

A drone strike in Somalia highlights how the US is increasingly pursuing a strategy of remote-control warfare.

The two big holes in the strategy against IS

The US-led campaign against Islamic State isn’t working. It won’t unless it addresses Shia sectarianism in Iraq and Assad’s atrocities in Syria.

Armageddon's second life

The return of United States-Russia tensions marks the end of the post-cold war. It also heralds a bonanza for companies eager to supply deadly new arsenals to powerful states.

Blowback: the failure of remote-control warfare

It all seemed so convenient: remote-control warfare would minimise military casualties while rendering the civilian dead invisible. But the battlefield has come home.

Islamic State: the unknown war

Western states express optimism about the anti-jihadist campaign in Syria-Iraq. A report from a high-level meeting in London offers another view.    

Yemen: descent into anarchy

With the resignation of its president and prime minister, Yemen lacks the capacity to steer its political transition towards the goal of greater stability. The alternative, however, does not bear thinking about.

Obama, Netanyahu, Iran, Congress and the Republican Party

An intense political battle is going on over Iran on Capitol Hill. Insular Republicans underestimate at their peril international pressures driven by global security concerns.

Why the fight against Islamic State is not the success we're told it is

Is John Kerry right to be so gung-ho about military successes against Islamic State? Not reallyas the fundamental political challenges in Iraq and Syria remain unaddressed.

Islamic State, a view from Raqqa

A third letter from an Islamic State operative based in an area of Syria ruled by the movement.

In Ukraine, NATO has ceased to be an instrument of US foreign policy

In the renewed cold war over Ukraine, while Russia’s economy has been weakened by European sanctions, the US is no longer the hegemon it once was—and NATO is under strain.

How states can constrain resort to political violence

Recognising there are political elements to any campaign of militant violence makes it less ‘terrifying’ for society and is crucial in developing measures to constrain it. 

Four decades, two generations, one change

A confluence of experience, activism, energy and ideas is bringing a radical move towards sustainability ever closer.

France's trauma: a hard question

The Paris massacre and its aftershocks must also be considered in the context of the larger war being fought in the Middle East and Africa.

Britain in Bahrain: hopes and fears

A naval-base agreement between two royal states suits both sides. But money, along with security a big part of the deal, could also undermine it.

Deadly cargo: explosive weapons in populated areas

It’s been a year of searing images of horrifying mass civilian injury and death, from Gaza to eastern Ukraine. The world must set standards to curb resort to weapons with wide-area effects where many civilians are at risk.

A war of new connections

The close links between American surveillance of Africa and military facilities in England are revealed by campaigners working for non-violent social change.

Reflections on intervention in the 21st century

Where stands now the ‘responsibility to protect’? Recent egregious intervention failures require simplistic nostra to be replaced by a more complex understanding.

The gunship archipelago

The growth of secretive floating armouries raises a challenge to maritime security worldwide. 

After the torture report—rebalancing the scales of justice

In the voluminous responses to the long-awaited US Senate committee report on torture by the CIA, the essence of what must follow—prosecutions, not pardons—has been buried.

Britain in Bahrain: eyes wide shut

 A new naval base in the Gulf reveals both the flaws in Britain's strategic thinking and the limits of its military capacity.

The tale of the useful bulldozer

A single incident in the air war against the Islamic State offers a lesson in its character.

Afghanistan-Iraq: back to the future

Washington hoped for a clean getaway from the two countries it invaded in the early 2000s. The Taliban, like the Islamic State, has other ideas.

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