This week's editor

Alex Sakalis, Editor

Alex Sakalis is associate editor of openDemocracy and co-edits the Can Europe Make It? page.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Redefining the poor as “terrorists”

Most so-called “terrorist” activity is a by-product of neoliberalism’s on-going crisis and its marginalisation of a growing proportion of the world’s population. 

Secularism at risk in Sub-Saharan secular states: the challenges for Senegal and Mali

Secularism is being challenged in several Sub-Saharan African states which have long guarded it as a principle of governance. Its preservation is important for the protection of women's citizen rights from religious interventions. In French.

La laïcité à l’épreuve dans les États laïques d’Afrique au Sud du Sahara : Les défis pour le Sénégal et le Mali

La laïcité est mise à l’épreuve dans plusieurs États d’Afrique subsaharienne qui l’ont gardé comme principe de gouvernance. Or sa préservation est importante pour les femmes, car elle permet de protéger leurs droits citoyens de toute intervention religieuse qui n’a jamais été aussi conservatrice et liée à la ‘droitisation’ complice du politique.

Feeble captain in troubled waters: Algeria’s foreign relations after Bouteflika’s re-election

The current triple crisis also constitutes a chance for Algeria. More than ever it becomes clear that the country is indispensable for a solution of the security problems in the region.

Mali: a colonel in his labyrinth

Western states have reflexively diagnosed the continuing violence and lawlessness in Mali's fragmented north to the ills of global jihad, willfully ignoring the region's deep links to the transnational criminal racket that sustains both the criminalized state and its criminals. 

The US military's new normal in Africa

Every new African nightmare turns out to be another opening for US military involvement.

Back to the future: America's new model for expeditionary warfare

In a world of supposed cutbacks, the US military continues to quietly move into Africa in a distinctly below-the-radar fashion. The Pentagon’s newest tactic: refight the colonial wars in partnership with the French.

On western military interventionism

Things are not as clear cut as one would like to believe: like war and peace, black and white, good or evil. As in real life, there are few obvious moral, or immoral solutions. Take Mali.

This week's window on the Middle East - November 13, 2013

Arab Awakening's columnists offer their weekly perspective on what is happening on the ground in the Middle East. Leading the week, Libya's Constituent Assembly: light at the end of the tunnel?

France’s unfinished business in Mali

Terrorism, extremism, and independence were, and remain, marginal nuisances nibbling on the Malian political and security scenes.

Guerra y paz, cosa de hombres

Una visión general confirma que la inclusión y participación de las mujeres en los actuales procesos de paz sólo se evidencia en la retórica al encontrar una gran resistencia dentro de la profundamente arraigada tradición masculina de diplomacia y resolución de conflictos. Read in English.

Male war, male peace

A survey of on-going peace processes confirms mere lip service is still being paid to women’s inclusion and participation within the powerfully embedded male tradition of diplomacy and peace building. Leer in Español.

A chronology of crisis in the Sahel

Awareness has not necessarily translated into more investment in good governance or poverty-reduction programmes. Instead, the US has supported training of local special forces units in counter-terrorism.

Europe's bold ride to stabilise Mali

On May 15 the EU will organise a donors’ conference on Mali. It should address the underlying causes of terrorism and instability, making investment in youth a priority 

Nigeria, the Boko Haram risk

Abuja's response to Boko Haram's insurgency is flawed and self-defeating. Without a change of policy, Nigeria will move ever closer to becoming a centre of transational jihadist struggle. 

Mali's reconciliation attempt

With a UN peacekeeping force soon to be deployed to Mali, what are the prospects for the recently created Dialogue and Reconciliation Commission?

AQIM: Maghreb to Mali, and back

The crisis in Mali highlights the distinctive character and trajectory of Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. A group forged in reactivity and ambiguity, marked by fluid leadership and unarticulated doctrine, finds itself at a crossroads, says Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou.

The desert's fertile soil: threats of instability still growing in the north

Claims of a French victory in Mali assume that groups aimed at an Islamic state. But western intervention in another 'front' on the war on terror yet again threatens future conflict, leaving northern populations vulnerable to the grievances that caused the insurgency in the first place.

The Mali effect

Many evolving disputes in north Africa and the Sahara fuse religious language and political impulse to powerful effect, says Stephen Ellis.

Mali, and remote-control war

The Afghan model of future war based on armed-drones and special-forces is being refined in Mali. But the western states there risk provoking the reaction that defeated them in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Bliss Was It in that Dawn to Be Next Door

February 17 is the anniversary of the Day of Rage in Benghazi which kicked off the Libyan Revolution in 2011. But behind the rage, our author finds the politics, the hopes, the justified impatience, and his Libyan friend, Salah. Meanwhile, libraries are burning in Timbuktu.

Europe needs principles for intervention

Why is Denmark involved in Mali? European leaders should clarify when, why and how to participate in military interventions and warfare abroad. Emerging security challenges in nearby neighbourhood regions, together with a waning Pax Americana, are obliging Europe to reconsider its future global role.

Conflict at the EU's southern borders: the Sahel crisis

Gradually, EU systems of governance have extended into the southern Mediterranean, linking dynamics in the Sahel with European interests through its borderlands. This could be a test of the EU's foreign policy ambitions. But is the Union ready and capable to act, and if so, what is at stake?

Mali, war after war

The combination of western advance and rebel retreat in northern Mali echoes the initial phase of the anti-Taliban campaign in Afghanistan. Britain's upgraded military commitment makes the parallel even more acute.

Algeria, Mali: another front in the “Global War on Terror”?

Algeria partnershipWhat the Islamist terrorist threat has become is an incoherent pretext to intervene militarily on the part of the west. The only principled position to adopt therefore is the rejection of both, for the self-determination and sovereignty of the peoples.

Mali, and the al-Qaida trap

A decade ago, western leaders' excessive reaction and inflated rhetoric served to amplify rather than diminish the power of Islamist groups. The same danger now overhangs Mali, Algeria and beyond.

Ah la Françafrique!

The present crisis raises a number of crucial questions, for France, Mali, the EU and our globalised world.

Algeria, Mali and beyond

The seizure of an international gas-plant in Algeria follows closely the escalation of conflict in Mali. The response of western states to both reinforces the worldview of their Islamist adversaries.

Mali, dynamic of war

The French-led military intervention in Mali both accelerates the war in the west African country and transforms its character. The prospect is of a long-term engagement that Islamist forces far beyond the region will see as an historic opportunity

Al-Qaida, idea in motion

The United States's "remote control" campaign against Islamist targets is intensifying. But behind the headlines, the transnational diffusion of al-Qaida's idea is just as potent.

Qatar intervening in northern Mali?

If the presence of Qatar in Mali is confirmed, it is difficult to establish how the emirate is trying to change the political and strategic situation.  However, despite the lack of proof of Qatari involvement in supporting armed fighters, there is some evidence that this might be the case.

Mali, preparing for war

Mali's army will be unable to dislodge the Islamist hold on the country's north, even with the help of fellow west African forces. This makes direct western military intervention more likely.

Mali, and the next war

The growing prospect of western-backed military intervention to reverse the spread of Islamism in west Africa is good news for an evolving al-Qaida movement. 

Syria, Mali, Nigeria: war's paralysis

The conflict in Syria leaves western powers with no good choices, and their agony is intensified by Islamist advances in west Africa. The search for intelligent security responses goes on.

Chaos in the Sahel

The wider regional Islamist threat from the GSPC/AQIM appeared to be minimal in the past (except to Mali, Niger and Mauritania). This is no longer the case. Such movements are proliferating and reforming in ways that could seriously threaten security inside Algeria itself. 

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