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This week's editor

NSS, editor

Niki Seth-Smith is a freelance journalist and contributing editor to 50.50.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

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.

Putin’s partition plans and the politics of cynicism

Russian military involvement appears to be increasingly focused on propping up the Assad regime, contributing to a partitioned Syria in which Russia establishes a firm foothold on the eastern Mediterranean.

'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 refugee crisis: demilitarising masculinities

Photos emerging from the borders of Europe weave a new narrative around what it means to be vulnerable, to be a man, to say no to war and to be a refugee.

Film review: a Syrian love story

A Syrian Love Story is an intimate portrait of a Syrian family torn apart by war, especially moving and relevant in light of the continuing refugee crisis.

Russia’s military buildup in Syria could benefit the anti-ISIL coalition

Peace in Syria depends on a gradual devolution of power and diminished use of violence by non-state actors. It cannot depend on using non-state actors simply as tools for regime change.

ISIS, identity and the destruction of antiquities

Confronted with the suffering of Syrian refugees, mourning world heritage seems academic at best. But Islamic State must not succeed in its cultural cleansing.

With eyes on Europe, we are forgetting those still crossing

Instead of focusing on this humanitarian crisis, governments in Europe, the United States and Canada are only concerned with the number of migrants they can take in.

Europe: time to face up

Sharing responsibility for the refugee crisis is a first step, but it remains unclear if EU members will work towards resolving its root cause.

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.

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