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This week's editor

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Method in Trump’s madness?

A look at Donald Trump’s 'travel bans' with an eye to the harvesting of personal data, and the EU-US Privacy Shield, now on life support.

Populism, terrorism, and the crisis in western democracies: an interview with Iran’s former president

Abolhassan Banisadr, Iran's first post-revolutionary president, discusses neo-liberalism, the crisis in western democracies, and the relationship between Islamic terrorism and the rise of far-right politics.

The president who loved generals

General Mattis, now shaping Washington’s Iran policy, asked by President Obama what he thought were the top three threats, replied “Number one: Iran. Number two: Iran. Number three: Iran.”

Syrian civil society

The third annual meeting of the Syrian Civil Coalition was held in Beirut on January 27-30 2017. Could a new understanding have come too late?

Many birds, one stone: why did Iran execute 25 Sunni Kurds in August 2016?

In the chaos and instability the region is experiencing, now more than ever, religious and racial minorities find themselves between a rock and a hard place.

Campaign to free Arash Sadeghi

Iranian civil society activists Arash Sadeghi and Golrokh Ebrahimi-Iraee are victims of the regime's emboldened judiciary.

Make Russia great again? Aleppo and a plea from another world

During the last days of December, Russia will host a round of diplomatic talks with Iran and Turkey.

The regional implications of the fall of Aleppo

The lesson Arab autocrats are likely to learn from Syria is simple: under the current international climate the use of severe repression is effective.

Táhirih unveiled: poet, theologian and revolutionary

Táhirih – an important figure in Persian history – helps us imagine a more diverse feminism and a more progressive Middle East. Her legacy is not limited to Bahá’ís but belongs to all of us.

Erdogan at a crossroad: dictatorship or democracy

An interview with A.H. Banisadr, Iran’s former president, about the aftermath of the coup in Turkey.

What is missing in President Barzani’s rhetoric for a Kurdish state-building enterprise?

The question before Masoud Barzani is what to do in order to turn state-building rhetoric into a future Kurdish state.

Can Islamism provide deliverance?

Maged Mandour

Modern day Islamism represents the interests of a specific social class that has few qualms about current social and economic structures.

The June 1981 coup: the stolen narrative of the Iranian revolution

We can fundamentally transform our understanding of the Iranian revolution by letting the untold stories to be told.

Iran’s military objectives in Syria and Russia’s contradictory positions

As the US and Russia speak of a mutual agreement over Syria, Iran and Assad are continuing their ruthless slaughtering of the Syrian people.

Will Iran’s new parliament improve women’s rights?

The problem was the Guardian Council, a body which has veto authority over any legislature, which in this case rejected all 33 bills introduced by women deputies.

The moat that preserves the castle. What are the elections in Iran for?

As Frantz Fanon once argued, for colonial powers the most effective way to control a colonized people is to humiliate them. Reformist discourse in Iran functions in the same way.

The state of regional Kurdish politics: divided as ever

The confidence that prevailed in Kurdish streets in the aftermath of the Kobane victory is now replaced by a growing sense of abandonment and misery, with nationalism its natural expression.

The troubling political economy of Iraq’s Sh’ia clerical establishment

Iraqi and Iranian Shia have been competing over Iraq's shrine cities of Najaf and Karbala since the invasion. Al Sistani's successor will have to cope with the fall-out.

Saudi executions: beyond the numbers

The inability to recognise an affront to the rule of law, regardless of the identity of the perpetrator, reveals the region’s dire state of affairs, politically, morally, and intellectually. Arabic

Hans Blix – a diplomatic life

Hans Blix ponders his long career in international politics and diplomacy, the state of the Middle East, and why he is an advocate for nuclear power. Interview.

The drowned and the saved: Foucault's texts on migration and solidarity

This is (along with Islamism and neoliberalism) one of a certain number of global issues on which Foucault can be credited with having shown a degree of prescience; and the future he foresees is sombre.

Why so serious? on ‘Doozakhrafat’

It is as if he has been one of the staff in God’s kingdom, sitting there like the Thinker sculpture, his hands under his chin, observing the daily life of God and his buddies in heaven. A review.

The fragmentation of power in the Arab world

Maged Mandour

Many Arab countries seem to have reverted to a mode of power reminiscent of a pre-modern form of politics, where coercion is the sole source of power.


How big are our imaginary lizards?

The obviousness of simple facts often get so tainted by political antagonism and conspiracy theories that they pull nations apart, making us forget that no one’s blood is darker than the other. 

Netanyahu-Khamenei political tango

Netanyahu did have Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, disgraced former Iranian President, who with the support of Khamenei, would say one foul thing after another about Israel.

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.

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