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This week’s front page editor


Francesc Badia i Dalmases is Editor and Director of democraciaAbierta.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

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. 

For South Asians on the “We are all Malala” bandwagon

Given such levels of violence against girls and women, it is a wonder that so many Indians can feel superior while talking about the Taliban assault in neighbouring Pakistan. It will take more to defeat the Taliban, be they of the Islamic, Hindu or any other variety.

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.

The SWISH Report (21)

How does al-Qaida see the tumult in the Arab world, the persistent conflict in other regions - and its own prospects? The movement commissions its longstanding management consultants to write a report, which is exclusively published on openDemocracy.

Who’s heard of the ‘African Spring’?

If the under or mis-reported uprisings, protests, revolts and changes of regime in many parts of Africa over the past few years have told us anything, it is that politics on the continent does not always, or mostly, take place at the point of a gun.

The thinning world: Mali, Nigeria, India

Many powerful states tend to view current global conflicts through the lens of Islamism, and to put military action at the heart of the response. But the deeper roots and character of these conflicts are to be found in poverty and marginalisation, not ideology.

Mali: war, Islamism, and intervention

The advance of a radical movement in northern Mali, and its destruction of cultural treasures in the ancient city of Timbuktu, are increasing calls for a foreign military response.

Arab Spring south of the Sahara?

Why has the Arab Spring so far failed to spread south of the Sahara – and should some African leaders be looking over their shoulders?

Security in Nigeria depends on human welfare, not state-centric bureaucratisation

The creation of a Ministry for Homeland Security further entrenches a militarized vision of security centred on the state. This is an internal version of 'peacekeeping', not the 'peacebuilding' the country needs.

Who is the enemy Other?

In ganging up on housing estates, in racist attacks or inter-state brinkmanship, how does the enemy become the Other? This peculiar purification process requires a narrative and a chance to 'perform a boundary'. For local and national communities, leaders and politicians alike, it is one way to reinforce our own sense of group identity. Is there another way of feeling secure?

The African Regent Hotel: culture and corruption in Ghana and Nigeria

There are contentious circumstances surrounding the building of a luxury hotel. These circumstances raise questions about the relation of West African corruption to West African culture. There are several versions of the story.

Nigeria and Boko Haram in jihadi media discourse

Boko Haram, a violent islamist group operating in Nigeria, is often linked to Al-Qaeda and Somalia jihadists Al-Shabab, though there is no evidence to support these claims. Christopher Anzalone investigates the position of Boko Haram in international jihad looking at its profile in jihadi media sources

Of mini-skirts and morals: social control in Nigeria

The push to police the way that women dress continues across Africa on the pretext that it causes sexual harassment and violence against women. What really underlies this censorship of women’s expression? asks Bibi Bakare-Yusuf

Nigeria: the challenge of “Boko Haram II”

The radical Islamist group Boko Haram poses an increasing threat to the Nigerian state in the country’s north. How has it become so powerful and effective? The ingredients of an answer lie in the complex history, power-relationships and social inequalities of this marginalised region, says Morten Bøås.

Sanctioning Iranian oil

With increasing geopolitical instability in oil producing states and the barriers that stand in the way of reaching a multilateral policy, the threat of sanctions in Iran only serves to intensify uncertainty surrounding oil price forecasts for 2012

Nigeria: women on the outskirts of politics

With only nine women senators representing 54 million women in Nigeria, international support should focus on the broader political cycle and the numerous obstacles to women's political participation, rather than on the election moment, says Lisa Denney

"Just Go!” A final slap for the unwanted: Britain’s deportation shame

An activist witnesses deportees transported to Stansted airport in buses emblazoned with the company logo: Just Go!

Biker Africa: mobility doesn't just mean phones

In the past decade two inventions have dramatically altered life throughout the vast and diverse continent of Africa. The first is the mobile phone and the second (more rarely considered) is the motorbike.

America’s wars: the logic of escalation

The United States's political-military strategy for drawdown in Afghanistan is in trouble, even as Washington is tempted by increased high-tech military engagement in other theatres of war.

Monsoon flooding causes chaos in Pakistan, India

Monsoon flooding causes chaos in Pakistan, India. Seven killed as police open fire on protestors in Tamil Nadu. Blast at French nuclear plant sparks fears of leak. At least 75 killed in Nairobi pipeline explosion. Troops sent to quell Indonesia clashes. All necessary measures authorised to stop Jos violence. All this and more in today’s security briefing...

Al-Qaida: an enduring insurgency

A series of incidents in Nigeria, Algeria, Iraq and Pakistan signals the transnational capacity of al-Qaida-type networks. Within this pattern, Nigeria holds a lesson for the Arab awakening.

Supreme Court orders inquiry into ethnic violence in Karachi

Al Qaeda claims responsibility for Algeria bomb attack. Sudan announces ceasefire in South Kordofan. Up to 160 killed in Turkish attacks on Northern Iraq. Boko Haram claims responsibility for UN attack. All this and more in today's security briefing...

Al-Qaida franchise: the Nigerian case

The growth of the Boko Haram armed movement in Nigeria illustrates the capacity of modern Islamist groups to diversify and make an effective impact - aided by the local state's response.

Security challenges raise questions about Turkey’s regional power status

As Turkey flies air strikes against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq and fails to play an important role in the Syrian crisis, its ambitions to become a regional power need to be questioned. Report highlights links between Islamist insurgents in northern Nigeria and al-Qaeda. In West Africa, piracy is on the rise, while a human rights commission reveals that thousands of unidentified bodies have been buried in mass graves in Kashmir. All this in today's security briefing.

Boko Haram: militant political network or criminal calling card?

A wave of attacks in northern and central Nigeria have been attributed to the Islamist organisation Boko Haram. But the true extent of their capabilities and goals remain something of a mystery, explains Murray Last. This article was first published on the Royal Africa Society's African Arguments blog.

Egyptian army declares it will not use force against civilians as protests intensify

Egypt's military maintain ambiguous stance on protests. 99% of southerners vote for independence, according to first official reports. Surge in political violence ahead of April’s elections in Nigeria. Elected parliament convenes in Myanmar for first time in twenty years.

Nigeria: tottering on the tip of anarchy

Nigeria's "inexplicable capacity to totter on the tip of anarchy, but fall back into an unexpected order of sorts" is being tested in the run-up to elections

UK government linked to Bangladeshi 'death squad' renowned for use of torture

UK government linked to Bangladeshi 'death squad', renowned for use of torture. Eight arrested over mass rape in eastern DRC. The UN votes to increase peacekeepers in Ivory Coast as mediation fails. Nigerian troops ordered to shoot-to-kill in Jos as violence increases ahead of elections. All this and more in today’s briefing...

Blackwater still in the dock, but for how long?

Blackwater trials failing to produce convictions. Yemen resource conflict highlighted in two reports. Arms thought to be destined for Nigerian Delta intercepted. Karzai presses ahead with ban on private military companies, drawing mixed response. All this and more in today's security briefing.

Iran blames Stuxnet worm on western powers

Iran subject to largest-ever cyber-attack. Nigerian Independence Day marred by bombings. Europe steps up terror-alert following US warnings. All this and more in this week's security briefing.

Ban seeks to placate Kagame over UN report

Ban seeks to placate Kagame over UN report. China warns Japan over fishing boat incident. ‘Nigerian Taliban’ raid jail, freeing prisoners. Bombing rocks Russian market. Clinton describes Mexico drugs crime as “like an insurgency.” All this and more in today’s briefing.

Privatising Africa's everyday security

Industrial action by guards at the World Cup highlights the growing prevalence of private firms in the provision of security across Africa

African Union warns of bombing campaign in Somalia

African Union warns of bomb attacks in Somalia. Nigerian President Yar’Adua dies. Greek austerity protests turn deadly. Darfur’s largest rebel group pulls out of Doha peace talks. Mumbai gunman sentenced to death. All this and more in today’s briefing.

Nigeria and the politics of massacre

The brutal violence against people of a different ethnicity or religion seen in the central Nigerian state of Jos is the most common face of genocide worldwide, says Martin Shaw.
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