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This week's editor

Dawn Foster, Co-Editor

Dawn Foster is Co-Editor at 5050 and a freelance journalist.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Why 'no-fly zones' or 'IS-free zones' are not a solution in Syria

An external military intervention to establish these zones, even with the best intentions, is likely to make things worse; the international community should instead work on building consensus. A NOREF policy brief.

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.

European values and the Arab world

Maged Mandour

EU politicians can promote 'European' values by stopping their support for autocratic regimes, and by starting to ask tough questions about radicalisation.


Post-Suruc Turkey

“Today, it is from the collective efforts around the Kurdish movement that we are learning what a society made up of free individuals might look like in Turkey.”

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?

A solution for Syria (part 2)

This excerpt from a NOREF expert analysis outlines the steps that need to be taken to transfer power to a transitional authority, which could stabilise the country and lead reconstruction.

A solution for Syria (part 1)

Syria is central to the security and future of the Middle East, but conditions for a resolution of the Syrian conflict through a political solution do not exist. An excerpt from a NOREF expert analysis.

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.

Why are so many Syrian children being left stateless?

Syrian women advocates recognize the links between the crisis of statelessness and the lack of reproductive justice for women, and argue that control over their own fertility and legal status is paramount.

Syria’s refugees: a global responsibility

Unless the Syrian refugee emergency is treated as a truly global responsibility, we cannot expect hard-pressed countries in the region to maintain the generosity they have demonstrated since the crisis erupted.  

We need an ICJ ruling on Syria

Getting the world’s most respected judicial body to weigh in on Syria might not stop the regime from bombing civilians, but it will increase the political cost of continued attacks.

The United Nations and a peace process strategy for Syria

A NOREF policy brief providing a series of recommendations for the development of a peacemkaing strategy for Syria, led by the UN with support from key countries.

The utter failure of the international community to protect civilians in Syria

The Syrian people need an immediate no-fly zone, and for the alternatives to IS/Da'esh and Assad to be taken seriously.

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.

Syrian Kurds turn the tables on ISIS

Syrian Kurds have won a strategic victory in Tel Abyad, uniting two of their self-run cantons and putting ISIS on the back foot.

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 Syrian impasse: navigating hard truths and the road forward

US diplomatic efforts to quell violence in Syria have been halfhearted and ineffective.

Palmyra: Tadmor and a very different heritage

The ancient city of Palmyra is also home to Tadmor prison, and was lost to us long before IS.

Mosul under IS

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

Out of the Middle East

It is time for Arab Gulf countries to stop being on the defensive and to accept their responsibility for what is happening in the region.

A Syrian’s view of Europe

Humam, fleeing his war-torn country, made the perilous crossing from North Africa to Europe. He now reminds Precarious Europe how big and wonderful Europe can be.

Challenging the Syrian state: using information systems to document human-rights violations

How modes of resistance to document state-sanctioned violence changed after the uprising. From States of Impunity.

From shore to shore: regional collapse and human insecurity

These are policies that, whilst having a humanitarian veneer, radically exacerbate the burdens of migrants and displaced persons from and in countries like Libya, Syria, Eritrea, and Somalia, alike. 

Palestinian unity: a dream buried deep?

Neither Fatah nor Hamas are willing to accept power sharing, and the division between them is no longer merely ideological in nature.

Desperate people, hazardous escapes

Those fleeing violent conflict or brutal repressive regimes, facing darkness and terror as they journey from home to Europe, deserve compassion—not intolerance, paranoia and hate.

Surveillance, migrant deaths and humanitarianism in the Mediterranean

Smugglers are not the cause of migration; they are the consequences of the EU’s expanding border surveillance regime. The EU should concentrate on saving migrants from this regime.

Listen to Syria’s non-violent activists: stop the bombs

Eighty-five groups representing 17,000 Syrians have backed the new campaign Planet Syria, demanding international pressure for an end to the bombs and real peace talks.

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. 

Further notes on the evolution of the jihadi international movement

The Islamic State project is finding some consensus in countries where political deadlock reduces our social lives to a primordial level. Social and economic frustration stays at an all-time high level, even in a country like Tunisia.

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. 

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.”  

Where are the people of Syria?

To mark the fourth anniversary of the uprising, the people of Syria tell their stories. 

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