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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

Control over people's lives is shifting beyond the grasp of traditional institutions. Democracy is embraced as a vision, but can be endlessly frustrated or disappointing in practice.

Tunisia: the Arab exception's test

The probable election victory of Béji Caid Essebsi is a vital moment in the pioneer country of the Arab revolts. It also reveals the scale of Tunisia's economic challenges.

The presidential election and linguistic violence in Tunisia

The leading presidential candidates and some of their supporters are setting a bad example with hostile, exclusionist rhetoric, fuelling a tense political atmosphere.

Britain in Bahrain: eyes wide shut

 A new naval base in the Gulf reveals both the flaws in Britain's strategic thinking and the limits of its military capacity.

Iran’s hidden prisoners

Those arrested in Iran after the presidential election of June 2009 join the detainees from earlier moments of repression. The blogger and openDemocracy author Hossein Derakhshan is one of the latter. The anniversary of his incarceration is being marked by efforts to publicise his case, reports David Hayes.

(This article was first published on 30 October 2009. Hossein Derakhshan was released from prison on 19 November 2014)

Palestine's statehood options: a dialogue

What are the choices facing Palestinians regarding their state sovereignty, and how best should they be pursued? Two legal scholars debate these increasingly urgent questions. 

Westphalia to Southphalia

Does the rise of non-western states such as China, India, South Africa, and Brazil threaten the dominant model of international politics?

Don’t touch my constitution! Burkina Faso's lesson

A popular uprising in the west African country reflects a wider awakening among citizens and young people across the continent.

A letter from Raqqa

A second letter from an Islamic State adherent operating in the part of Syria controlled by the movement.

Brazil: the road to 2018

Brazil emerges from the 2014 election with a re-elected president, two problems, and four names in mind.

A critique of Arab critique

The Arab world is often misunderstood by the tendency to ignore or flatten its differences - through time, across states, between peoples. Challenging this essentialism is the condition of progress. 

"Rwanda: The Untold Story": facts and fabrication

A BBC documentary on Rwanda produced great controversy, including in an article by Andrew Wallis. But his own critique is itself selective and inaccurate in important ways, replies one of those he criticised.

NGOs lose ground in Sisi's Egypt

NGOs in Egypt did not expect to have fewer freedoms under Sisi's presidency. But regressive laws and regulations governing them are now being reinforced.

Remote control: light on new war

Armed drones, special forces, privatisation and secrecy are the preferred tools of military campaigns from Iraq-Syria to the Sahel. Now, researchers are mapping this landscape in the public interest.

Bulgaria in limbo

A messy election in a troubling time leaves Bulgarians still waiting for light.

Brazil's election surprise

An unexpected result in the first round leaves the presidential election open. It also hints at Brazil's underlying political dynamics. 

"Rwanda: The Untold Story": questions for the BBC

A deeply flawed BBC documentary on Rwanda's genocide raises serious questions over the corporation's ethics and standards.

Turkey and the Islamic State crisis: everyone's non-ally?

The military success of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq intensifies questions over Turkey's strategy and decisions. What Ankara does next will help to resolve them.   

Hong Kong: the stakes are high

Beijing knows that the struggle for democracy in Hong Kong is not just about the future of the former British colony: the party monopoly on the mainland is ultimately at issue.

Arabs without capitals

The fragility of Arab capital cities reflects the lack of legitimacy among their rulers and the wider popular antagonism they provoke. 

The failed "mental revolution": Georgia, crime and criminal justice

Crime has been near the top of Georgia's political agenda for a decade. But successive governments have still to address fundamental questions of legitimacy and trust.

Turkey and the "Islamic State”

Turkey is notably reluctant to join a military campaign against ISIS. In fact, Ankara's ambiguity towards the radical Islamist group has deep political as well as historical roots.

Beijing-London: in the labyrinth

A visit to the party organisation at the centre of China's anti-corruption drive is a lesson in the concealments of power.

Islamism vs the weak Arab nations

The fragility of Arab national identity makes it difficult to resist the Islamic State. This makes the Kurdish experience relevant to the prospects of war against the movement.

Economic crisis and illicit drugs

The great recession since 2008-09 has reshaped international attitudes in ways that are influencing public policy on drugs. It is a process with echoes of the 1930s.

The thirty-year war, continued

Barack Obama's new strategy against the Islamic State commits the United States to further long-term conflict. It involves a great forgetting of the recent war in Iraq.

Egypt: time to end the diplomatic farce

Many Egyptians are smarting from the betrayal of their revolution while the military-backed regime tightens its grip. The international community can no longer ignore this.

Through the fog of peace

A new book by Gabrielle Rifkind and Gianni Picco highlights the urgent relevance of conflict resolution in addressing problems around the world, from Ukraine and Iran to the Islamic State.

Islamic State: from the inside

The west must understand the Islamic State's worldview, and accept its own failings, if it is to meet the challenge.

Islamists without a book

Most doctrines, political or religious, are embodied in sacred texts that act as guide and inspiration to their followers. Modern Islamists are significantly different.

Brazil's vote, Marina Silva's chance

A charismatic environmentalist is now leading Brazil's presidential race. Can she win and create the new politics she promises?

Israel's security after Gaza

Israel's military forces have embraced new tactics, weaponry and a network-centric strategy. But the latest conflict in Gaza leaves the country's security problems as intractable as ever.

Iraqis and Kurds: a question of responsibility

Iraq's escalating crisis highlights the contrasting attitudes to the United States of politicians in Baghdad and the Kurdish region.

America and Islamic State: mission creeping?

The United States is increasing support of its Iraqi and Kurdish allies and escalating attacks on its jihadist enemies. Islamic State's long-term plan, though, remains on track.  

Islamic State, Iraq, America: a new front

A military escalation in Iraq depends on Washington's assessment of the Islamic State's power and intentions. But the jihadis are also thinking hard about their next target. 

Egypt’s cover-up

The military-backed authorities in Egypt refused entry this week to two top officials of Human Rights Watch, seeking to launch their report on the massacre a year ago in Cairo. They blocked the messengers but they may have more trouble blocking the message.

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