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This week's editor

Tom Rowley is editor of oDR.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

The Clash of Civilizations revisited

Samuel P. Huntington’s oft-pilloried work, “The Clash of Civilizations”, has long lost its original academic potency. However it has growing leverage at the grass-roots level where the clash has been reinterpreted to justify growing islamophobia

Kosovo: the UN court has spoken, let the dialogue begin

The Balkans are the next chapter in a quintessentially European story about competing claims for identity, sovereignty, and independence; and the European Union (backed by the United States) has a key role to play in it

Will Fini finish-off the Berlusconi saga?

Mr.Fini, who has rebranded himself a liberal Conservative with a Cameron-like position, may be paving the way for a new party of his own

Collective persecution of the Bahais in Iran

Many countries use national security as the pretext for violating human rights, but why should Iran single out the Bahais for this kind of persecution

Jordan’s uranium and Israel’s fears

At a time when other regional ties with Israel are facing setbacks, US and Israeli moves to prevent Jordan from enriching its own uranium may be misguided when Jordan can play positive role in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process

In search of an Israeli left

The disconnection between the international left and its counterparts in Israel has become near total, to the detriment of the causes that both espouse. But a situation with complex roots can be remedied by looking more closely at the work of people on the ground, say Keith Kahn-Harris & Joel Schalit.

Taliban propose joint committee to investigate civilian deaths

The Taliban propose a joint committee to investigate civilian deaths in Afghanistan. Pakistan has announced a crackdown on charities connected with Islamist militants. Israel and Palestinian Authority are on the brink of direct talks. The South African government uses a heavy hand to suppress the national strike. All this an more, in today’s security update.

An asymmetrical drone war

The United States and Israel see the next generation of armed drones as a potent reinforcement of their military capacity against insurgents and rogue states. But Iran and Hizbollah too are in the race.

Colombia: a tale of two leaders

Juan Manuel Santos has made a refreshing start as Colombia’s president by departing from the policies of his predecessor, Álvaro Uribe. But to map a new political direction he will need support from uncertain allies, says Adam Isacson.

UN criticises slow aid for Pakistan

UN calls for more aid to Pakistan flood victims, as giving remains highly politicised. Blast leaves seven dead in Xinjiang in a suspected ethnically-motivated attack. France begins Roma deportation. As last combat brigades depart Iraq, questions remain about its future. India accuses Pakistani soldiers of violating ceasefire in Kashmir.

Iraq’s future hanging by a thread

Iraqis now have greater physical security, though violence continues and politics are stalemated. But the years of conflict have corroded trust, entrenched sectarian identities, undermined livelihoods, and ravaged the environment. Zaid Al-Ali, travelling through Iraq, finds a society under intense stress whose human and national bonds are frayed - but far from broken.

The Holocaust, genocide studies, and politics

A compelling argument among scholars of genocide reflects the gradual development of the field beyond its point of origin, the Nazi murder of Europe’s Jews. The questions include whether and how different episodes of mass killing should be seen in a common frame; how such a development changes understanding of the Holocaust; and how historical interpretation and modern political argument intertwine, not least over Israel and anti-semitism. Martin Shaw, both participant and observer in this debate, presents an overview of its core issues.

Indonesia’s far east: security and politics

A tide of protest in Indonesia’s easternmost provinces of Papua and West Papua is a challenge to Jakarta, says Charles Reading: find a new security paradigm, or face increasing radicalism in the country’s poorest region.

Flood-ravaged Pakistan faces economic, political and security fall-out

Flood-ravaged Pakistan faces economic, political and security fall-out. Deadly attacks rock Iraqi capital, Baghdad. Afghan’s protest ‘civilian’ deaths. IDF accused of systematic abuse by rights groups. Blast in the Caucasuses. All this and more in today’s security briefing.

The guns of August: two years later

The bitter conflict over South Ossetia in August 2008 has turned to post-war stalemate. But just as the war and the current impasse involve more than Georgia and Russia, says Rein Müllerson, so progress in the region and beyond requires bold diplomatic thinking on all sides.

The drug war: new paradigm vs old paradox

The appointment of a new head of the lead United Nations anti-drugs agency is a precious opportunity to abandon a failed policy, says Juan Gabriel Tokatlian.

South Africa poised to boost AU troops in Somalia

South African cabinet meet to discuss the possibility of sending peacekeeping troops to Somalia. North Korea expresses further anger as Seoul and Washington carry out further military drills. Secular Palestinian groups join Hamas, saying that a return to direct talks with Israel would be ‘dangerous’. US Defence Secretary gives concrete dates for the beginning of US withdrawal from Afghanistan. All this and more in today's security briefing.

Strategy and insurgency: an evolution in thinking?

America's internecine counter-insurgency debate is now making some progress, though not on a single predefined path.

Abkhazia: two years of independence

The small Black Sea republic of Abkhazia, already free of Georgia’s control since the war of 1992-93, emerged more secure from the Georgia-Russia war of August 2008. But if the “dreadful” years of its modern history have ended, the young state is now living through “difficult” times. George Hewitt, in Sukhum, reports and reflects.

Covering the conflict: Human rights and journalism in Northern Ireland

Did journalists do enough to defend human rights during the troubles in Northern Ireland? That was a key question in a fascinating debate in Belfast last week under the auspices of Amnesty International and Féile an Phobail.

Al-Qaida’s business jihad

The failed assault on a Japanese oil supertanker is, alongside developments in Iraq and Yemen, a signal of the al-Qaida movement’s protean challenge.

Kigali grenade attack injures seven days after Kagame re-elected

Grenade attack rocks Kigali just two days after Kagame re-elected as president, while opposition groups urge international community to reject result. The Lord’s Resistance Army is violently abducting recruits in central Africa, according to a recent report from Human Rights Watch. A top Iraqi general insists Iraq not ready for troop withdrawal, but comments brushed off by US and Iraqi officials. Car bomb rocks Bogota in first security test for Santos. All this and more in today’s briefing...

Farming in Gaza

Our Gaza correspondent goes on a visit to the countryside, to see how farmers who have survived every sort of setback are faring this summer

Sakartvelo: a political prospect

The two years since the war of August 2008 have been tough for Georgia. But in domestic politics and foreign relations alike the country has achieved more than once seemed possible, says Alexander Rondeli.

Can the flotilla inquiry save the Israeli-Turkish alliance?

An inquiry into Israel's raid on the Mamara is unlikely to heal the fractures of the Turkish-Israeli relationship. A definitive break in relations would alter the strategic balance of the middle east, leaving the possibility of peace even more forlorn, argues Avni Dogru.

Pakistan vs India in Afghanistan: David Cameron's reason

The British prime minister’s charge that Pakistan plays a prominent role in exporting terrorism is grounded in an assessment of the Afghanistan war's core strategic realities, says Shaun Gregory of the Pakistan Security Research Unit.

Georgia's plan for reunification

Georgia’s Minister for Reunification Temur Yakobashvili outlines his government’s plan to retrieve the territories lost two years ago, in its war with Russia

Israeli prime minister gives evidence at flotilla inquiry

Netanyahu says Israel acted legally during flotilla raid. North Korea fires artillery shells into waters near South Korean border. Abu Bakar Ba’asyir arrested in Indonesia. Venezuelan and Columbian presidents to meet for talks to restore diplomatic ties. All this and more in today's security briefing.

Kenya's new constitution

Overwhelming endorsement for the new constitution could be a major turning point. But only if an ambitious long-term process made by the people for the people can protect itself from sectarianisms old and new

Abkhazia and the Caucasus: the west’s choice

The Georgia-Russia war of August 2008 refroze a region. The small Black Sea nation of Abkhazia is the key to its unblocking, says Neal Ascherson.

China rising: what would Mackinder do?

Will China follow the course Mackinder plotted in relation to Tsarist Russia, turning inward once maritime expansion is checked?

Kashmir's e-protest

Fahad Shah reports on the rising tide of e-protest in Kashmir.

Sixty-five years after Hiroshima, the nightmare of nuclear war haunts us still

Daniel Bruno Sanz reviews the sci-fi imaginings of nuclear war and their place in contemporary consciousness.

Israel’s security trap

Israel’s combative military posture, evident both in a tense border skirmish with Lebanon and in its wider strategic plans, is a recipe for permanent insecurity.

Georgia, two years on: a future beyond war

A vicious short war between Georgia and Russia erupted on 8 August 2008 over one of Georgia's “occupied territories”, South Ossetia. Two years on, Mikheil Saakashvili remains in power, surrounded by another cluster of ambitious young colleagues. Tbilisi’s construction projects are transforming the city’s public spaces and social customs. A new realism governs foreign policy and economic ambitions, with Turkey an increasingly prominent neighbour. But amid the flux, the key to Georgia’s future relationship with Russia may lie in the distant past, says Donald Rayfield in a richly textured portrait.
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