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This week’s editor

Alex Sakalis, Editor

Alex Sakalis is associate editor of openDemocracy and co-edits the Can Europe Make It? page.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Even when guns are silent, the ideas behind them threaten. Warfare and conflict resolution urgently need to be explained, their causes clarified, and creative solutions explored.

Turkey and the Armenians: politics of history

A new generation's encounter with the Armenian genocide of 1915 is producing fresh understandings of Turkey's - and the middle east's - modern history, finds Vicken Cheterian.

Bosnia twenty years on: victims return to Višegrad to bury their dead

The author recalls the atrocities committed around Višegrad twenty years ago and suggests that even today, twenty years later, ethnic tensions remain a serious problem in Bosnia and Hercegovina and reconciliation between the different ethnic groups is tenuous at best

War minus the shooting: Russia vs Poland at Euro 2012

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‘War minus the shooting’ was George Orwell’s definition of sport, unpleasantly brought once more to mind during the recent battles between Russian and Polish football fans. There is a long history of animosity over sporting events between the two countries, but there could be a way forward, says Zygmunt Dzieciolowski

Azerbaijan: the geopolitical conundrum

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The recent Eurovision song contest catapulted Azerbaijan into world news and focused attention on its internal problems. But foreign policy issues are a cause of considerable concern too. The country is caught in between Iran, Russia and the West and finding a way to meet the needs of all of them is going to be extremely difficult, says Elkhan Nuriyev.

Srebrenica: genocide and memory

The Bosnian Serb massacre of around 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in July 1995 has left deep wounds. Ed Vulliamy revisits the scenes of a terrible crime, meets families and survivors, and reports on the search both for human remains and for justice.

(This article was first published on 4 July 2005)

Lines in shifting sands: Russia’s response to the Syrian uprising

Russian policy in the Middle East has been largely driven by pragmatic calculations of trade and geopolitical influence, in direct opposition to notions of liberal interventionalism and the ‘Arab Spring’. This week’s shocking massacre by Syrian forces in Houla, however, has fundamentally challenged the durability of that approach. Will Russia now fall in line with the position of its western partners? wonders Margot Light.

Karabakh: 'frozen' conflict nears melting point

Amid signs that Armenia and Azerbaijan may once more be edging towards armed conflict over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, Wayne Merry argues that the West needs to act fast, rather than allow an old and fruitless mediation process to meander on.

Mob justice in Lithuania: who can stand up to the madding crowd?

Next year Lithuania assumes the European presidency. Host to international conferences and a role model for other ex-communist countries, the country is currently gripped by a titillating case of alleged child abuse. It is being played out against a background of mob rule, support from politicians and complicity on the part of the police. How can this be? asks Violeta Davoliūtė

Georgia: the next evolution

The direction of Georgia's domestic politics and international orientation has been much disputed since the "rose revolution" of 2003. The former senior diplomat Tedo Japaridze argues that, in order to realise the democratic promise of that revolution and to become a reliable partner to its allies, Georgia now needs a peaceful transfer of power.

Israel and Iran: after the bombs fall

The international tensions around Tehran’s nuclear programme have eased as diplomatic talks are agreed. But the intensive planning in Israel for an assault on Iran continues. This makes it vital to understand the scale and probable consequences of a war.

Burma: between elections and democracy

The by-election victory of Aung San Suu Kyi’s party in Burma (Myanmar) raises the question of whether the country is at last on an irreversible path towards democracy. A detailed analysis of the context suggests seven reasons for caution, says Joakim Kreutz.

Dangerous allies: when football hooligans and politicans meet

Football hooliganism occurs in societies all over the world - even in the Soviet Union, however much that was officially denied. In today’s Russia, however, football fanaticism has developed clear political undertones, with evidence that some groups have been colluding with the Kremlin against its opponents. Is this a ticking timebomb? wonders Mikhail Loginov

Explosive theatre

The reality of war between nuclear states is beyond our imaginations, yet the issue demands public debate. As tensions rise over Iran’s nuclear programme, can theatre help us think the unthinkable? Review

Capoeira and security: the view from upside-down

Through an account of capoeira, the Brazilian dance-fight-game, we uncover two simultaneous stories of security: first, the gradual monopolisation of violence by the state; second, a somatic, lyrical representation of a history of violence, oppression and liberation.

Arda’s flags: a postcard from Abkhazia

The strategic significance and territorial claims on the region of Abkhazia have meant its citizens have become used to a life lived in geopolitical limbo. Following the 2008 South Ossetia war, however, a small number of small countries began to recognise Abkhazian independence. A tailor thought of a novel way to mark the development, reports Oliver Bullough.

Uncertainty looms amid progress in talks with the Taliban

The Afghan Taliban and the United States have begun talks, advancing prospects that coalition forces can withdraw from Afghanistan. But there are many potential pitfalls on the road to peace: a real risk of a political and military stalemate in Afghanistan, forcing the United States to leave the region under uncertain and possibly dangerous terms.

Strait of Hormuz: Iran’s bluff and the west’s fears

Iranian military action in the Strait of Hormuz is highly unlikely. It would not at all benefit most global and regional powers and would have disastrous consequences for Iran itself.

Taliban leadership decries sectarian attacks

Recent bombings in Afghanistan have raised fears of mounting violence between Sunnis and Shi'ites. This cannot be in the Taliban's strategic interest, argues Christopher Anzalone.

The Akunin-Navalny Interviews: part II

oD Russia continues publication of a remarkable exchange between two leaders of the Russian protest movement — writer Grigory Chkhartishvili, a.k.a Boris Akunin and politician-blogger Aleksey Navalny. In this part, the discussants compare their forecasts for the year ahead. 2012 will present an historic challenge to the authorities, they conclude, but will Russia's "arrestocratic" class be able to muster anything in response?

Russia’s Smouldering 'White Revolution'

The Putin regime has little to fear from the latest public protests which, despite drawing large crowds, are apolitical. True politics will only become possible in Russia when both the opposition and the regime focus on the tedious work of practical politics, says Nicolai N. Petro in his highly personal view of recent events.

Water in the Arab Spring

Water scarcity in the Middle East & North Africa is at the root of the region’s uprisings. In the coming years, it will also be the source of further social unrest across the region.

Ante Marković: the last Yugoslav leader

A sustained effort to reform Yugoslavia before the country was drowned in tide of senseless nationalism has been near forgotten. The death of the prime minister who led it has lessons for today, says Goran Fejic.

The material stakes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo elections

Private interest, not public voice, governs the immediate future of the DRC - the Democratic Republic of the Congo

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.

SOS from a Congolese peacebuilder: rescue the young democracy of DR Congo!

There are concrete steps the Congolese political establishment can take to avert post-election violence, if external pressure helps to engender the necessary political will.

Advocating the two state solution: the best bet?

We need to convince our governments and the EU to invest in a political strategy that reverses the destructive dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They need to understand that respect for international law is not a detail, but lies at the very heart of the conflict.

Kashmir: from national to human security

It is about time that saner heads in the Indian national security establishment mull over the implications of the continuation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Kashmir, says Wajahat Qazi

Armed conflict, land grabs and big business: Colombia’s deadly pact

The recent assassination of Colombian marxist insurgent group leader Alfonso Cano has been hailed internationally as an advance towards peace, giving Colombia a boost down the path to becoming the latest emerging market of Latin America. A closer look at the history and nature of Colombia's nearly 50 year-long armed struggle, however, tells us otherwise.

The Palestinian crossroads

The Palestinians' current political impasse offers them only difficult choices, says Ghassan Khatib.

Relocation failures in Sri Lanka

The tragic consequence of internal displacement in Sri Lanka and the failure of the government to address the situation will most likely be renewed instability.

Somalia: livelihood and politics

Somalia's long civil war and political fragmentation define the country to the world. Yet the society also contains potent resources of allegiance and solidarity, says the doyen of Somali studies, Ioan M Lewis.

Libya's revolution: tribe, nation, politics

The Libyan war is often portrayed through a “tribal” lens that fails to explain how the country’s tribes coexist with a sense of nationhood, says Igor Cherstich. 

The war on drugs: time to demilitarise

The United States armed forces have played a leading role in the “war on drugs” across much of Latin America. The results are damaging and counterproductive, says Juan Gabriel Tokatlian.

Quadriga Prize: the Circassian dimension

An international outcry at the award of the prestigious Quadriga Prize to Vladimir Putin resulted in its cancellation for 2011, thus depriving the 3 other nominees of the honour they were to have received. Political relations between Russia and Germany are not affected, but there is another dimension to the question, explains Sufian Zhemukhov.

Somalia: one country, three systems?

The international community is at a loss when it comes to solving Somalia. The country’s problems have slowly become every country’s problems: from cross-border terrorism to piracy. Looking to China may offer some lessons, says Patrick Duplat
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