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This week's editor

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Rosemary Bechler is openDemocracy’s Editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Almost every Iraqi who can speak freely would welcome the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. But how could this be achieved without horrendous consequences? Faleh Jabar warns that Iraq, with its system of rule highly resistant to peaceful change, is no Afghanistan. An intelligent strategy requires long-term thinking and creative solutions. For Yasser Alaskery, the unique nature of the Iraqi people’s burden makes forced removal of Saddam Hussein the only ethical solution. Progressive Iraqis should throw in their lot with the lesser evil – the United States – working to turn a successor puppet regime into one that is truly democratic and just.

Ready, set, crawl!

Despite protests and intense political pressure on Prime Minister Maliki’s coalition government, reforms in Iraq are likely to be slow, sporadic and contradictory. Meaningful reform is undermined by a political system that fosters immobility, an incompetent and politicised bureaucracy, corruption and a general over-reliance on the state

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.

Iraq: three years of war

openDemocracy presents the views of Iraqis on the third anniversary of the United States-led invasion of Iraq.

I am an Iraqi journalist

Alia Amer defends her calling as a service to the Iraqi people – and asks herself every day if the sacrifices they are being asked to make are worth it.

Ahmed, a story of Iraq

Alya Shakir’s family has survived wars, conscription, prison, robbery and exile, but it is a 3-year-old cousin who opens her eyes to Iraq’s current nightmare.

Parallel politics in Iraq

As politicians squabble in Baghdad, does a gathering of Iraqis in Cairo more truly represent the country’s interests?

Kirkuk: microcosm of Iraq

Want to understand Iraq two years after the start of the war? Take a look at Kirkuk, says Kurdish journalist Omar A Omar.

Reporting Iraq's election

Iraqi journalists from the Institute for War & Peace Reporting – not identified by name because of concerns over their security – send eyewitness accounts of election day in four of Iraq’s cities.

Our Election

On 30 January 2005 Iraqis go to the polls. What are they thinking?

Al-Jazeera: the world through Arab eyes

A booming satellite television industry offers the Arab world’s 280 million people fresh perspectives on Middle East and global affairs. Hazem Saghieh assesses the ambiguities of a revolution in Arab minds and screens.

Iraq in the balance

Iraqis are engaged in an intense national debate about the way they will now govern themselves. In this period of uncertainty, expectation and continued insurgency, six Iraqis discussed how they should shape their country’s future, its relationships with occupiers and neighbours, in mid–May, before the new government was formed.

An Iraqi's impressions: interview with Yahia Said

What is happening in Iraq? After the Fallujah siege, as insurgency continues and the June deadline for transfer of sovereignty approaches, Caspar Henderson of openDemocracy interviews the civil society researcher Yahia Said over a line between London and Baghdad.

Fallujanomics

An American life is worth a thousand Iraqi lives. Iraqi satirist and author Khalid Kishtainy does the accounts for the recent fighting in Fallujah.

Return to Baghdad

After long exile from Iraq, Raeid Jewad’s second return visit to Baghdad is an extraordinary mixture of hope and tragedy.

The next Iraqi state: secular or religious?

Will Iraq’s new state define its people as secular citizens, religious believers or members of a tribe? Sami Zubaida sees the Iraqi Governing Council’s arguments over “personal status” issues – including marriage, family, and women’s rights – as the latest, vital chapter of a struggle for democracy and the rule of law across the Middle East.

The next betrayal? The Kurds and their 'friends'

Iraqi Kurds have struggled for self-determination for eighty years. Iraq can have no peace – and the United States may lose an ally in the Middle East – if their rights are again denied, argues a Kurd who originally supported the US-led of Iraq invasion in 2003.

Dear General Ezzat!

Yahia Said, responding to Mazin Ezzat, reaffirms his belief that the reactions of Iraq's people to the violence around them will decide the country's future.

Not normal, but bleeding: a reply to Yahia Said

From Baghdad, Mazin Ezzat, a wounded former officer of the deposed Iraqi regime, responds to Yahia Said’s optimism with a bleaker view of his country’s prospects.

April to November: an Iraqi journey

In April 2003, Ayub Nuri embraced the change in Iraq with cautious hope. In July, he took the measure of a complex transition. Now, he reports on a time of bitterness and disillusion with the American occupiers.

Eight days in Iraq

Yahia Said, returning to Iraq after a twenty-five year absence, finds a people yearning for freedom, normality – and an end to violence.

Wanted in Iraq: a roadmap to free elections

The post-war turmoil in Iraq is exacerbated by a vacuum of political authority. Neither the Coalition Provisional Authority nor its appointed Governing Council offer Iraqis what they really need.

Put Chemical Ali on trial in Halabja

The arrest of Ali Hassan al-Majid, one of the old Iraqi regime’s most feared and hated figures, is an opportunity for his Kurdish victims to find belated justice.

Singing Iraq: poets in conversation

Two long-exiled Iraqi poets, after reading their poetry at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts in the wake of war and a complex liberation in their homeland, discuss with the audience the legacy of a long dictatorship on their own and their compatriots’ spiritual condition.

Singing Iraq: poetry by Hashem Shafiq

The great change in Iraq in the spring of 2003 allowed the voices of the country’s poets to be newly heard. Here are three of the poems Hashem Shafiq read at a moving Iraqi poetry event in London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Singing Iraq: poetry by Salah Niazi

Salah Niazi’s poetry moves between the quotidian and the eternal. He writes in both English and Arabic; the translations here are his own.

Singing Iraq: poetry by Fadhil Assultani

A few weeks after the war in Iraq, three Iraqi poets read to an audience at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. Uncertainty and excitement mingled, as the writers spoke of a time that seemed to be both receding and emerging into view. New freedom was ahead, bringing unheard stories and fresh voices. Identities were shifting just as attention fell upon them. Fadhil Assultani was one of the poets present. These translations of his poems come from Iraqi Poetry Today, the Spring 2003 issue of Modern Poetry in Translation. Poetry by Salah Niazi and Hashem Shafiq will follow soon on openDemocracy, along with the discussion from that evening, which ranged over many of the political, personal and artistic questions these exiled Iraqi writers now face.

Brief encounters in an anxious land

A few months ago in northern Iraq, Ayub Nuri was barely surviving. Now he is engaged as a fixer/translator for the BBC in Baghdad, and has bought a state-of-the-art laptop plus satellite phone. Through the internet he can communicate with the whole world. In this vivid kaleidoscope of current public opinion in Iraq, he foresees difficult times. But intelligent guys seem to be thriving already.

Wanted in Iraq: a programme of weapons cleansing

After decades of dictatorship and war, and amidst continuing social suspicion and insecurity, Iraq has an overriding need: disarmament.

Iraq spring

In his third report from northern Iraq, the journalist and guide Ayub Nuri reflects on the complex tribal, religious and ethnic relations that war and liberation have brought to the surface. The intoxicating new freedoms are testing Iraqis’ patience and trust in their new rulers; the US needs urgently to prepare the ground for a democracy in which all the country’s peoples will be secure.

Life after Saddam

The toxic shadow of the dictator has fallen across all twenty-five years of this young Iraqi exile’s life. From sinister visits to his nursery school to everyday chit chat, fear and paranoia infused his family’s life; now return and freedom beckon, but can the occupying forces deliver the democracy they have promised?

No place for <i>jihad</i> in Kurdistan

The war against the Iraqi regime is still claiming victims on the northern front, foreign journalists among them. But the sinister activities of radical Islamist forces in Kurdistan equally concern an informed analyst of his homeland.

Iraqi Faces

A series of black and white portraits by Italian photographer Michele Stallo.

The northern Iraqi kaleidoscope

The northern frontline of the Iraq war does not separate only Kurds and regime forces. Independent Kurdish groups, pressed by Turkish incursions in the rear, are also engaged in bitter fighting with the extremist guerrillas of Ansar al-Islam. A Kurdish observer sends a vivid diary of a many-sided conflict.

A just solution: military intervention

All the arguments about war must recognise an essential truth: the vicious tyranny of Saddam Hussein can only be ended by force, and with outside help.

Man, the proud mother of imperfection

A Kurdish film-maker brings a cinematic perspective to the Iraqi affair – a political contest that appears as formulaic and controlled as it is real. Is another plot line possible?

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