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This week's editor

Ray Filar

Ray Filar is co-editor of Transformation and a freelance journalist.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

How to support Syria

Today’s London conference might make a start by assessing the world’s catastrophic failure to stop the carnage in Syria and how this should be addressed for the future.

Who’s missing from Syria’s peace talks?

Those organising Syria’s peace talks must go beyond merely ticking the gender representation box. It's essential to move towards real inclusion of women peace advocates and larger civil society.

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.

Outside the box: a Sunni endgame in Syria, Iraq?

A series of related events point to a possible endgame scenario in Syria and Iraq.

John Kerry, where are women’s voices in the Syria peace talks?

The US may be tempted to congratulate itself for wrangling Russia to the table for the meeting on Syria’s peace talks. Yet an indispensable party is missing: Syrian women.

Conflicting interests in crowded skies prolong Syria’s agony

Turkey-Russia spat is a symptom of different, often incompatible agendas.

The paradox of the Syrian conflict and its politics

While the French president has won public approval and international backing for the fight against IS, differences persist about the necessity of coordinating with Russia.

Why it would be sheer folly to redraw Middle East borders along ethnic lines

However groundless the Sykes-Picot Agreement, is a Balkanisation of Syria and Iraq really the way forward?

The movement of refugees to Europe will continue, regardless of how dangerous EU states make it

Until the war ends and concerted international efforts to rebuild Syria and Iraq are implemented, the root causes of mass displacement will remain.

Body counting and precision bombing in failed states

The words ‘precision-guided missiles’ are used to make us think that British warplanes can go there and help the good guys, the so-called moderate rebels, without much, if any, collateral damage. 

Syria: to bomb or not to bomb? That is not the question

Recognise and accept the hard reality that there is no quick fix to the ISIS problem, no one solution: bombing is not the only option.

Three realities of the Isis conflict

The west must prioritise civilian wellbeing in any intervention. What might help?

Paris as a test case for the west

One effective way for western governments to keep their people safe is to press for fundamental reforms in countries where armed extremists thrive, rather than subverting democracy at home.

Russia’s policy in the Middle East imperilled by the Syrian intervention

This risky experiment in power projection continues traditional Russian policy in the region, but also departs from the careful manoeuvring aimed at exploiting confusion in US and European policies.  

Why we should oppose British air strikes against ISIL in Syria

Britain’s Prime Minister says we should not undertake air strikes lightly – he is right: we need to think about legitimate state building, not replying to terror with terror.

Another ‘Dodgy Dossier’ for war

Undeterred by the disastrous results of ‘regime change’ in Iraq and Libya, western powers have for four years been determinedly trying to help regime change in Syria along.

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.

The aid crisis for Syrian refugees

As the war is prolonged, families are exhausting their savings. Without a massive re-thinking of how aid is delivered and distributed, refugees in the region are going to look for ways to leave.

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?

Countering the logic of the war economy in Syria

The country has entered a vicious circle where Syria’s own resources are being used to destroy it, and where ordinary people have no choice but to rearrange their lives around the conflict and either join or pay armed actors to meet everyday needs.

Social resistance to IS in Syria: the case of Daraa

Areas that maintained a strong sense of social cohesion despite the 'new war' situation, such as Daraa, are far more resistant to the infiltration of both JAN and ISIL.

ISIL and governance

ISIL enters areas afflicted by weak governance, an active war economy, and ongoing conflict with the intention of changing this situation and imposing control to ensure the longevity of its rule. 

ISIL, JAN, and the war economy in Syria

The nature of ISIL and its ability to recruit based on economic needs is not something that can be countered by aerial bombardment.

Blame games

The perpetrators of the attacks on the London Underground in 2005 were also born and raised in Britain. So much for the British-French dichotomy.

The attack on Kunduz Trauma Centre

MSF is appealing to the world for help. A petition to urge President Obama to consent to a full investigation has been launched, and is gaining traction and international attention.

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).

Baathist/Syrian state institutions must be reformed

Assad is responsible for the damage being caused to Syria, but he is not the only one. Negotiators must reconsider their agreement over the fate of Syrian state institutions.

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.

Syrian activists are repairing the fabric of civil society, even as it comes undone

Syria has seen the emergence of a powerful culture of resistance, from subversive graffiti to makeshift hospitals, which continues to operate despite the violent and politically fractured terrain.

The violence of the word refugee

Words have power. The meaning of the word ‘refugee’ must be challenged to represent the experiences of the millions of individuals who have lost everything and yet wake up each day seeking to build a better life for themselves.

Anti-colonialism, grassroots nationalism and their impacts on international relations in Egypt

How do uprisings and national discourses in Egypt shape the international relations of the country? How are we to understand the current state of Egyptian nationalism and its relationship with the Arab world post-2011?

The Vienna Talks are the first serious attempt to end the war in Syria

The US is finally playing the role of facilitator, not party to the conflict. That is a good sign, and a hopeful one for the Syrian people.

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.


The siege of Damascus: an account of everyday life in Syria’s savage war

Peter Oborne spent two weeks in Damascus and gives a compelling account of people's struggles and steadfastness in government-held territory.

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