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This week's editor

NSS, editor

Niki Seth-Smith is a freelance journalist and contributing editor to 50.50.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Negotiating environmentalism in a democratizing Iran

The new environmentalists hail from affluent backgrounds and urban areas and their everyday consumption practices are imbued with political meaning, given the reduced space for organized channels to express discontent.

Letter from Iran: diplomacy trumps hostility?

The signing of the accord and the eventual loosening of the shackles of sanctions is a remarkable exercise in peace-building through negotiation and diplomacy.

America's not so exceptional foreign policy

What can explain the myopia of US policy towards Sudan, when it knows Sudan has been facilitating ISIS in Libya, Syria and Iraq, and other terror groups?

Iran’s nuclear deal reconsidered

Business delegations are flying in daily, making the most of this opportunity to establish themselves in Iran when Republican opposition to the deal is compromising US prospects at this critical early stage.

The limited effectiveness of US Middle East policy

There's not much the US can do in a post-Saddam Middle East except practice containment (and keep up airpower)—another invasion of foreign occupiers will only drive yet more legitimacy to Daesh.

What Europe can get from Iran

In shifting its relationship with Iran from containment to engagement, what could Europe gain from this historic nuclear agreement? Excerpt from the latest ECFR policy briefing.

Prospects for a future Kurdistan

A future independent Kurdish state faces many political, economic, and administrative challenges, but its success could be a game-changer in the Middle East.

Hunted, hooded and sold

Maziyar Moshtagh Gohari’s film Cechanok sweeps through the world of Middle Eastern falconry. At the Open City Documentary Festival on 18 June 2015.

Aziz’s notebook: transmitting the memory of violence

A granddaughter discovers her grandfather's notebook years after the political massacres that stole her mother and aunt. Beginning as a testimony of loss, it becomes an obsession to leave a trace against silence and denial. From States of Impunity.

Spilling the beans, Riyadh style

With recent events, the Saudis are involuntarily proving Obama's point: petrodollars and weapons cannot buy them security, but social and political reform just might.

Documenting the perpetrators amongst the people

A databank documenting human-rights violations in Iran by naming and shaming the perpetrators offers the opportunity to break through state-wide impunity. From States of Impunity.

The Iran Tribunal: defying international silence

Survivors of the Islamic Republic of Iran's brutal violence towards its opposition wanted acknowledgement that their situation was not simply ‘unseen’ but had been actively ignored. From States of Impunity.

Palestinian unity: a dream buried deep?

Neither Fatah nor Hamas are willing to accept power sharing, and the division between them is no longer merely ideological in nature.

Amendments to Sudanese criminal law

Walaa Salah

Amendments don't mean change. It’s high time for a comprehensive campaign against the entire legal system, calling for dignity and equality for all.

Iran behind the conciliatory veil

Right-wing US and Israeli venom against the outline agreement is one thing; genuine concern about the Islamic regime’s Shia expansionism and human-rights record is however another.

The Arab World: towards bi-polarity?

Maged Mandour

In Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Bahrain, it will be very difficult for revolutionary democratic movements to succeed in such a bi-polar order.

Iranian women human rights defenders: challenges and opportunities

If President Rouhani honours his promises and 'de-securitises' the general atmosphere, the work of women human rights defenders could lead to significant and tangible change towards ensuring human rights for Iranian citizens.

What if the Saudis win? Avoiding massive sectarian bloodshed in Yemen

Saudis won’t pull the triggers – AQAP, IS and various Sunni militias will do that – but they and their Sunni and American allies will be politically and morally culpable.

Arab autocracy & revolution

Maged Mandour

Until now, the struggle between autocrats and revolutionaries has been confined within national boundaries. But as the trend shifts towards a pooling of autocratic regimes’ resources, any future confrontation must be regional. 

Iran nuclear deal: keeping hope of peace alive

Conservatives in the US, Israel and Iran itself are all opposed to the outline nuclear accord. So it looks like progress.

Implications of the preliminary Iranian nuclear deal

Recognition has dawned that the potential pre-eminent state in the region, Iran, and the globally pre-eminent state, the United States, need each other.

Shia crescent: self-fulfilling prophecy

Iran does not have influence over the region’s various Shia actors by default, but is helped by the way the Arab world regimes have historically treated Shia actors in the region. 

Iran celebrates historic nuclear deal—all eyes now on supreme leader

A quarter-century on from the 'Islamic' revolution, Iran's beleaguered economy and its reformist leader desperately need a deal to end sanctions. But will the ideologically-driven Khamenei allow it?

What about an international education?

The 2012 US federal law denying visas to Iranian students comes into conflict with the educational mission of the US State Department. 

In the shadow of an empire

Maged Mandour

The reasons for the involvement of the west in the MENA region are not limited to oil and security. These are the arguments used by both local autocrats and western powers to maintain control. The real threat however is a global revolutionary movement.

The increasingly dangerous Israeli-Iranian front in Syria

Israel, Iran and their allies struggle over their interests in the fate of Syria, only adding to the instability in the region.

A Saudi-Iranian grand bargain

Pundits have long criticised the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) for propagating Wahhabism, its austere brand of Sunni Islam, but have failed to address the underlying regional context.

Will Middle East ground troops be rallied against IS ?

Try as we might, the question of Mr. Assad’s fate will not go away: all roads stubbornly lead back to Damascus.

Sectarianism and Iran’s foreign policy

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, toasted in the west as a rational thinker disinclined to give in to bombastic rhetoric, has also resorted to Iranophobia.

Saudi Arabia’s new king fuelling the feud among younger royals

Saudi Arabia must cover its tracks by not only forcefully denouncing ISIS and JN but actively introducing stiffer measures demonstrating that it is genuinely combating terrorism. How does this play out in terms of royal power?

Subsidising climate change

We need to raise awareness about how the rich oil nations keep subsidising oil extraction whilst agreeing that the world needs to cut emissions. Taxpayers cannot passively let their governments do this.

Will America's political discord torpedo the Iran talks?

Continued Republican efforts to force further sanctions on Iran threaten the fragile coalition making progress on nuclear negotiations, which already show wear from an outdated zero-sum approach. 

CEDAW and the quest of Iranian women for gender equality

A basic right for Iranian women could be guaranteed within an Islamic framework of governance provided those in government were inclined to interpret the faith in the spirit of equality, says Shirin Ebadi.

Israel in the Arab consciousness: friend or foe?

Maged Mandour

The events of the Arab Revolt have dramatically shifted the position of Israel in the region. Arab regimes have moved from rejecting the existence of Israel to accommodation, to implicit cooperation, in some cases, open cooperation.

When the people wanted to bring down the Syrian regime: Hezbollah as a counter-revolutionary proxy

The fruits of heroic resistance are feeding regional interests rather than the people that resisted. The proxy role of Islamic resistance is becoming a bargaining tool in regional diplomacy.

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