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This week’s front page editor


Francesc Badia i Dalmases is Editor and Director of democraciaAbierta.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Voices from all sides discuss the Iraq war and an aftermath of war which brought tragedy to two of our columnists in the Baghdad bombing of the UN. You miught like to visit Arthur Helton and Gil Loescher's humanitarian monitor Iraq: the human cost, Paul Rogers's definitive Global Security column, and Wendell Steavenson's writings on Afghanistan and Iran.

No monopoly on David Kelly’s death: Miles Goslett responds to David Aaronovitch’s criticism

The author of An Inconvenient Death asks why Aaronovitch has spent so much time on a book he believes worthless – and argues that Aaronovitch’s own writing on the subject does not stand up well to scrutiny.

Mosul: the looming battle has begun

The Mosul operation marks the return of US forces to Iraq after their 2011 withdrawal. What would a long term stability in Mosul need?

The Iraqi crisis: rethinking the narrative

An approach to Iraq focused on military intervention, with some humanitarian assistance, has defied the complexity of the domestic and regional kaleidoscope. No wonder it is failing.

Eyes wide shut: Commons Defence Committee and UK security policy

It appears self-evident to a key Westminster committee that global insecurity requires a significant upgrade in UK military capability. Self-evident—and wrong.

Iraq: the assault on minorities

Islamic State is certainly a threat—but not mainly to the West, as the horrific experiences of members of minorities in Iraq testifiy.

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.

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.

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.

ISIS: the spreading cancer

Sometimes states exaggerate the threat posed by violence from non-state forces. With ISIS in Iraq and Syria, however, the opposite is true: its onward march threatens the region and the international community.

The individualisation of radical Islam in Britain

Presenting “British values” as the antidote to Islamic fundamentalism misunderstands the process of radicalisation and what should be done to stem it.

Is ISIS on the march in Iraq?

The remarkable resurgence of Sunni-fundamentalist violence in Iraq has taken the west by surprise, yet it is a symptom of the long-evident inability of the Shia-led government there to exercise authority impartially.

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?

Iraq redux: British commanders before the ICC?

Evidence has been compiled suggesting agents of the UK state committed war crimes in Iraq, punishable before the International Criminal Court. Institutional amnesia about Britain’s early intervention in Northern Ireland may prove to have been costly.

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.

Thinking about war with Iran

The real Iranian threat is not its nuclear capacity but its independence. If Iran continues to stand as a model of defiance for increasingly poverty-stricken and restless populations of family fiefdoms in the Gulf, the current US-backed setups will either fall or be forced to democratise. These potentially catastrophic losses of empire go a long way to explaining the rising beat of war drums in the region.

Pakistan: next in line?

After Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, the US has now turned its belligerent attention towards Pakistan. But opening up a new battlefront, this time in Pakistan, in the run-up to the presidential elections, will prove another quagmire for the Obama administration.

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.

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

Iraqi refugees: problems and prospects

Iraqi refugees in neighbouring Arab states are unwilling to return to their country and unable to emigrate further west. Their perilous situation needs to be addressed by the powers who created this humanitarian crisis, says Dawn Chatty.

Iraq, war and WikiLeaks: the real story

The tranche of American military documents released by the WikiLeaks project contains a wealth of detail about the coalition's indifference to civilian life. But the materials also tell a deeper story of “how” war has killed in Iraq, says Martin Shaw.

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.

Launching the Iraq Inquiry Digest: an online project

As a partner of the Iraq Inquiry Digest, OurKingdom will be carrying its feed in its right sidebar

Today, with the help of colleagues and the support of openDemocracy and others, I am launching a new website to cover the Chilcot Inquiry into Britain's participation in the Iraq war. The site has big ambitions: it intends not only to be the definitive resource on the issue but also to hold the Inquiry itself to account. It will also be open and participative, even if the Inquiry isn't.

The site is called Iraq Inquiry Digest, which hopefully conveys an intention to make digestible both the existing information and the Inquiry's forthcoming public hearings. Its strapline is "everything about the Chilcot Inquiry in one place" and in pursuit of this the site already includes a lot of information. It aims both to be helpful to the Inquiry and  to challenge it to be transparent and not engage in an establishment fudge. It can be found at

I'm the site's editor and main contributor. Another significant contributor is Dr Brian Jones, who was head of the weapons of mass destruction analysis branch of the UK Defence Intelligence Staff until shortly before the Iraq war and gave evidence to the earlier Hutton and Butler inquiries. Also supporting the project and likely to contribute are Dr Chris Lamb, who made a freedom of information request for the  minutes of two key meetings of the British Cabinet; Rose Gentle, whose son Gordon was killed in Iraq; Dr Glen Rangwala who exposed the "dodgy dossier" on Iraq's alleged concealment attempts and MPs from each of the major UK political parties. Journalists Peter Oborne and Michael Smith, who published the internationally famous Downing Street documents, are also supporters, as are Index on Censorship.

So far we have attempted to assemble the existing evidence and define the questions that the Inquiry needs to answer. The overriding questions, which should be of interest to people across the world, not least in Iraq, are how did Britain come to sign up for the US-led invasion and what responsibility does it bear for the chaos and bloodshed that followed? 

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.

Afghanistan and Iraq: western wars, genocidal risks

The enormous harm inflicted on civilians by the “new western way of war” can be measured in tens of thousands of deaths and displacements. But Washington and London’s responsibility goes even wider, says Martin Shaw.

(This article was published on 24 July 2009)

Iraq’s elections: winners, losers, and what’s next

The lessons of a peaceful Iraqi election are more complex than early readings suggest. The reverberations will be felt in Kurdish and Shi'a politics in particular, says Joost R Hiltermann. 

The paradox of Basra

A visit to Iraq's second city reveals fraught divisions of wealth and ideology

Washington's choice: subdue Iran, secure Iraq

In managing its unfinished business with Tehran and Baghdad, the George W Bush administration seeks to bind the region - and its successor.

(This article was first published on 12 June 2008)

Iraq: unified by oil?

Iraq’s people vote on their draft constitution on 15 October. A single sentence in the document may be the key to its success, says Tamara Chalabi.

Fallujah's lesson for Iraq

The United States-led assault on Fallujah signals the political failure of the attempt to stabilise Iraq by re-empowering supporters of Saddam’s Ba’ath party and the Sunni elite it represents, says Sama Hadad.

Dying for Empire, Blair, or Scotland?

The death of three young Scots soldiers in central Iraq may, says a grieving Stephen Howe, be the decisive moment for Scotland’s democratic nationalism to assert itself over the imperial militarism that sent its sons into a killing–field.

Fallujah slaughter, Baghdad anger

The assault on Fallujah is inflicting great political as well as humanitarian damage, reports Dahr Jamail from Baghdad.

Return to Iraq

Six months after their first trip to post-Saddam Iraq, Mary Kaldor and Yahia Said return to find that trust in the coalition has collapsed. They assess the nature of the violence and the likelihood of overcoming it. A catastrophe is possible but not necessary, is the conclusion to their report, from which we publish this extract.

Give us hope, not bombs

An Iraqi Kurd who welcomed the US war in his country sees arrogance and force crushing chances for freedom. His view: American occupation policy is dangerously misjudged.

Understanding the insurgencies in Iraq

Will Iraqis unite in revolt against US forces? Beneath the boiling surface of Iraqi anger lies a more complex and fractious reality which points to a different outcome.

Enough revolution

A distinguished Arab commentator says US strategy in Iraq is unravelling. It is time to put aside simplistic caricatures, and think harder about the future of the Iraqi people.
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