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This week's editor

Rosemary Belcher-2.jpg

Rosemary Bechler is openDemocracy’s Editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Why the west cannot defeat ISIS

Maged Mandour

ISIS has emerged from the wounds of the Arab world—for which the west is to a large extent responsibleand current airstrikes are pouring salt into these wounds.

International community neglects to act on Yazidi genocide

Mass murder, rape, slavery, and kidnapping; the situation for the Yazidi community is dire and the international community's reponse has been wholly inadequate.

If ISIS uses chemical weapons, the west will be partly responsible

How can the international community respond effectively and promptly to this growing threat, not just to the Middle East region, but to the world?

Islamic State as the Saddam regime’s afterlife: the Fedayeen Saddam

In the Fedayeen—connected to the global Islamist terrorist movement, combining elements of Ba’athism with an increasingly-stern Salafism—is a microcosm of the Saddam regime’s mutation into Islamic State (ISIS).

IS attacks and not playing their game

For the terrorists, best would be to be left alone to consolidate. Next best would be an epic all-out confrontation with western infidel ground forces. We should not give them what they want.

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.

Lifting the ban on women’s shelters in Iraq: promoting change in conflict

There is a crisis-level need for shelter in Iraq, so why does the Iraqi government maintain a policy that stymies critically needed temporary housing and threatens the safety of those willing to provide it?

Will Iraq's prime minister implement Al Sistani’s anti-corruption dictates?

The wave of protests sweeping across Iraq has led Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani to demand that Abadi get serious about tackling corruption. But the prime minister's response so far has been far from reassuring.

'Something wicked this way comes': the Arab transitions (part 2)

An excerpt from a NOREF report on the background to the current situation in the Middle East, focusing on the aftermath of the 'Arab Spring'. Part two: Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

The new war for the Middle East

ISIS has stepped opportunistically into the vacuum created by the absence of state, loss of shared narrative and feeble leverage of powers. But there may be a way ahead. A NOREF report.

Why is Turkey bombing the Kurds?

Given interlocking domestic, regional, and international developments, the AKP has launched attacks on ISIS and the PKK, the latter evidently being the main target, with four main objectives.

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?

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.

When it comes to ‘Islamic State,’ the west just doesn’t get it

There is much the west does not understand about its latest enemy, in which it faces more than 'just' extremists.

Book review: Enemy on the Euphrates

Ian Rutledge’s book, Enemy on the Euphrates: The British Occupation of Iraq and the Great Arab Revolt, 1914–1921 (Saqi Books, 2014), is a story of imperial arrogance and plunder and the inevitable reaction it generates.

Remembering Nazik Al-Mala'ika

On the eighth anniversary of her death, we remember the legacy of Iraq's uncrowned queen of poetry, Nazik Al-Mala'ika.

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.

The theology of American national security

Clinging to policies that have manifestly failed is madness—but that is exactly what the US is doing in Iraq.

The rebirth of Iraqi cinema

A group of young Iraqi filmmakers are working on creating a local film industry, in an attempt to present alternative realities and revive Iraqi culture.

Islamic State: more popular than you think

The powerful rise of religious fascism, though exacerbated by economic and political crises, is rooted in the ethnic and religious intolerance that has thrived in the region for decades.

The age of 'white men in suits'

Maged Mandour

White men in suits support Arab autocrats while the suffering many are vilified as dangerous to the fabric of western societies: external threats or worse, immigrants attempting to infiltrate.

Mosul under IS

Three Sunni men from Mosul describe life under the so-called Islamic State.

The wounds of Baghdad's Frankenstein

Ahmed al-Sa'dawi's novel, rather than reconciling the complexities of violence in Iraq, seeks to exorcise the demons that haunt the lives of ordinary people left with wounds from decades of imperial brutality. From States of Impunity.

The Iraqi crisis: rethinking the narrative

An approach to Iraq focused on military intervention, with some humanitarian assistance, has defied the complexity of the domestic and regional kaleidoscope. No wonder it is failing.

Self-immolation in Kurdish Iraq

Why has self-immolation become an alarmingly common trend in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein?

Iraq's vanishing heritage: risks and solutions

Despite the challenges involved in rescuing Iraq's endangered cultural and archaeological sites, a recent conference put forward concrete, long-term solutions.

Iraq's female citizens: prisoners of war

Iraqi woman human rights defender Yanar Mohammed spoke to Jennifer Allsopp at the Nobel Women’s Initiative conference about grass-roots responses to the atrocities women are facing under ISIS.

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.

Shelters without walls: women building protective infrastructures against rape

Women from Colombia, Syria, Nicaragua and Iraq are implementing multi-layered prevention strategies in their communities against rape being used as a weapon of war, offering immediate protection and countering stigma.

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. 

US airstrikes weaken ISIL but keep it as a viable threat

The US Air Force stood idly by as ISlL swept towards Baghdad, but swiftly scrambled in August to launch airstrikes to halt an unexpected advance towards Irbil – capital of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). 

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. 

Islamic State: beyond Tikrit

An intense battle for the Iraqi city of Tikrit, north of Baghdad, hints at the background and future of the wider conflict.  

Women and the Arab Spring: a dream turned nightmare

Change must start from within each individual. As quoted in the Quran, “Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.”  

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.

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