This week's editor

Mariam Ali

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

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Farkhunda paid for Afghanistan's culture of impunity

How can we interpret the lynching of Farkhunda by an angry mob in the heart of Kabul city? What are its implications for the future of Afghanistan?

With Ghani in Kabul, will relations with Pakistan change?

There are signs that the long-fraught relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan could improve, following the change of leadership in Kabul. Reciprocation from Islamabad will, however, be needed.

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.

The missing women of Afghanistan

After 13 years of war, 'democracy' is based on the rule of men, not law. 

Popular action against corruption

Some of the biggest corrupt operations are run by governments themselves, and watchdog bodies often lack sufficient power to challenge entrenched problems. There’s another powerful approach: popular action, as documented in Shaazka Beyerle’s new book Curtailing Corruption. Review.

India’s fight against terrorism

Al-Qaida's aging leaders are struggling to compete for recruits with Islamic State. Nevertheless, India must prepare itself for all sorts of terrorist threats, not least terrorist re-emergence in Afghanistan. What role might NATO play in this?

Through the fog of peace

A new book by Gabrielle Rifkind and Gianni Picco highlights the urgent relevance of conflict resolution in addressing problems around the world, from Ukraine and Iran to the Islamic State.

Drones in Afghanistan—under the radar

Drones in Afghanistan have been responsible for countless civilian casualties. That’s the problem—they’re countless.

The devastating truth of women’s rights in Afghanistan

The looming withdrawal of western forces from Afghanistan highlights the apparent dispensability of the modest gains Afghan women have seen since 2001—and the deep-seated forces which sustain a viciously patriarchal order.

Afghanistan: history repeats itself when ignored

The invading NATO forces, in an action allegedly aimed at the defeat of terrorism in a country which had no tradition of terrorist activities, appeared to act with no inkling of the lessons that could have been learned.

How the US created the Afghan war - and lost it

The unreported story of how the Haqqani network became America's greatest enemy.

Afghan media face an uncertain future

The presidential election has shown Afghanistan’s increasingly mature media scene at its best – hopefully not for the last time.

Counting the cost of conflict

Casualty recording has redefined efforts to protect civilians in conflict, and provide aid and accountability to victims of violence. But with an absence of political will to respond to conflict, what good are the numbers? 

Left behind: the rural youth in Afghanistan’s election

Despite the success of Afghanistan’s transparent, peaceful election, engagement with rural populations remained low. Failure to address the growing disaffection resulting from the urban-rural gap threatens the country's fragile progress. 

The drone-casualty-law-civic nexus

The issue of civilian casualties from armed-drone strikes in Afghanistan and elsewhere needs transparency from Britain's military establishment. Both legal and civic pressures are rising.

Negotiating with the Taliban

No one should expect progress in Afghanistan anytime soon, enmeshed as it is in a complex web of interaction among state and non-state actors. 

Afghanistan 2014: political transition

As Afghanistan heads for presidential elections on April 5, the country is going through one of the most critical periods in its post-Taleban history: the transition (Inteqal). 

India: jostling for geopolitical control in Afghanistan

Forecasts past the withdrawal of US and British forces in Afghanistan tend to prize fears of violence and instability spilling over into Pakistan, obscuring the country's vital importance to both India and China. 

The drone evasion

A parliamentary report on the UK's use of armed-drones in Afghanistan is, in its language and its attitude to casualties, a study in closure.

Troop withdrawals and women’s rights in Afghanistan

The ‘liberation of Afghan women’ was part of the dominant rhetoric used by international forces to justify military intervention and the ‘war on terror’ in post- 2001 Afghanistan. Yet, Afghanistan’s struggle for women’s rights did not begin with the arrival of troops, nor will it end upon their withdrawal

The anti-women gag law in Afghanistan: the pitfalls of hasty conclusions

Does the new criminal procedure code in Afghanistan signal the demise of all efforts to curb violence against women? An accurate reading of the law, and a nuanced understanding of the post-NATO developments and impact on women’s rights tells a different story.

Fetishizing “culture”: local militias and counterinsurgency in Afghanistan

The US military's attempt to mobilize local militias against the Taliban paradoxically imposes a “traditional” mode of governance on a subject people initially the target of an emancipatory and liberating discourse to justify military intervention in 2001. This is the sub-text to the corrosive relationship between President Karzai and his western allies.

Suffering happens, but Pakistan's Afghan refugees are more than just victims

The word 'refugee' conjures up images of rows of tents, barefoot children and saddened faces. The reality is more complex. My research shows that Afghan refugees have developed lives alongside Pakistani nationals in Karachi's poor katchi abadi areas: marrying, working, loving and learning together. 

Why the US should join forces with the Baathist regime in Syria

The Baathist regime is indeed guilty of great war crimes, but the human cost of a failed state would be a greater catastrophe. Washington should have learnt this lesson from Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq.

Afghanistan: beyond ethnicity

The international community has addressed Afghanistan through an ethnic prism. As anxiety grows about the future after international forces leave in 2014, a trajectory needs to be established towards a post-ethnic society--and the dispersed diaspora can play a role.

Taliban and Salafism: a historical and theological exploration

The Taliban, like other sociopolitical movements, is not reducible to Islamic doctrines.

Problematic protection: the law on Elimination of Violence against Women in Afghanistan

The attempt to get the Afghan parliament to ratify a key law on violence against women ended in a fiasco and has been angrily dismissed as the politicking of a single ambitious female politician. But the controversies around the EVAW law show that there are no perfect strategies available to women activists in Afghanistan.

Kabul: the humanitarian city

Initially mandated to protect and assist, the humanitarian project in Kabul has significantly reshaped the city over the past decade. In the absence of democratic control, and in the face of pervasive neoliberal logics, what happens to Kabuli's right to the city?

A way out of the Afghanistan conundrum

%22Bordering"A comprehensive peace will clearly not be achieved militarily, but how can the warring factions engaged with the complex conflict in Afghanistan be brought into negotiations? Engagement with Alternative Dispute Resolution practices at the regional level offers potential.

Afghanistan: an all-time struggle for women

We need to say “enough!” to the leadership of people who foster oligarchy and treat Afghanistan as a playground for their selfish interests. The biggest battlefront is the election. Whatever change may happen, if women’s perspectives are not included, it will make no difference to the lives of women at all.

Will courage be enough?

%22Bordering"Faced with rising violence in the run-up to the withdrawal of foreign troops, Afghan women’s rights activists fear for the future, Lynne O’Donnell reports from Kabul.

The poster boys of Kabul

Each year, for one week in September, Kabulis celebrate Martyrs Week. The image war which ensues on the streets, buildings and public spaces of the city is highly political, and has in recent years become increasingly violent.

Grading the drug war in Afghanistan a decade after: F

It might be unfair to call the US/NATO drug war a ‘failure’ since its purpose was never to address drug problems.

Karzai: a legacy of failure on Afghan women's rights?

With more fundamentalists predicted to win seats in the forthcoming election, the future is likely to see once again the use of religion as an instrument of extreme gender based oppression in Afghanistan. Will President Karzai use his remaining days in office to cement the foundations of women’s rights?

Why the solution to Afghan state building post-2014 lies in regional diplomacy

Until 2012, there was no comprehensive U.S. strategy on Afghanistan. Additionally, a number of systemic issues hampered the development of the Afghan state and economic gains. After the withdrawal of most U.S. troops in 2014, the only viable option for Afghanistan's development lies in consolidating regional diplomacy.

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