This week's editor

Heather McRobie

Heather McRobie is an editor at 5050.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

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.

Iran: a 'bloody stain' on the nation

The war on women continues to manifest itself in different forms and intensity globally; tarnishing all societies with a ‘bloody stain’. In Iran, hard-liner interpretations of Islamic principles dictate gender norms, violation of which can be fatal.

Endgame: the United States and Iran

What stands in the way of Iran and the US cooperating openly to meet twin threats of Sunni extremism and state failure is any failure to resolve the nuclear deadlock. 

Iran’s hidden prisoners

Those arrested in Iran after the presidential election of June 2009 join the detainees from earlier moments of repression. The blogger and openDemocracy author Hossein Derakhshan is one of the latter. The anniversary of his incarceration is being marked by efforts to publicise his case, reports David Hayes.

(This article was first published on 30 October 2009. Hossein Derakhshan was released from prison on 19 November 2014)

Iran’s emerging institutional power and its effect on negotiations with the United States

It is now the US shift in institutional power that is threatening the process and undermining the President’s efforts. 

The imminent prospect of a US-Iran breakthrough worries the hawks

The more fundamentalist elements of the IRI, are now frightened with the prospect of diplomatic normalization and the loss of their grip on power. They fear that they will be overthrown.

Iran’s unresolved conflict between reformers and fundamentalists

Either the Islamic Republic wishes to remain in its fundamentalist cocoon and alienate more educated, westward-looking young Iranians, as well as be regarded as a pariah by the international community, or it wishes to join the modern world

ISIS airstrikes: between imperialism and orientalism

Maged Mandour

Islamic radicalism is the product of societal developments and it is not directly related to the religion of Islam. The lessons of Iraq are being actively ignored by the US and the west in general. The main tenets of American foreign policy, which have done well for extremism, are unchanged.

What is sectarianism in the Middle East?

The term is heard whenever the Middle East or Syria are discussed, yet a talking head would be pressed to define what they mean by sectarianism. Mohammad Dibo speaks to two prominent Arab thinkers willing to assist our understanding by going back to the basics.

Iranian justice

The revised code allows judges to refer to non-codified law (Shi’i jurisprudence which prescribes stoning for adultery) to reach their verdicts and widens the scope of crimes like ‘sowing corruption on earth’ for which the punishment is death.

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.

The Iran Tribunal: a route to justice and accountability in the Middle East?

Inspired by the 1960s Russell tribunal on Vietnam the ITC aims to document, clarify and publicise the treatment of political dissenters and members of religious and ethnic minorities by the Iranian government between 1981 and 1989.

Some are more equal than others: responses to political violence

While it is true that the US has, for once, signed up to a UN Security Council statement which calls for an "immediate and unconditional humanitarian cease-fire”, this might still be considered a tactical step to prevent more strongly worded resolutions against Israel being proposed in the Security Council.  

The USA and Iran: united for a “New” Iraq

As scenes of jubilation in Sunni cities coupled with fear and calls for jihad in Shia cities show how deep and explosive sectarian divisions are in Iraq, should Kurds be forced to stay on?

Iran: beyond concessions and expectations

What will it take for negotiating parties to reach a lasting deal over Iran's nuclear programme–and what does it mean for the non-proliferation regime? 

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