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This week's editor

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Rosemary Bechler is openDemocracy’s Editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Caucasian prisoners (or how not to deal with militancy in Dagestan)

The southern republic of Dagestan is now Russia’s most violent flashpoint. Besieged by militants from one side, the republic is no better served by its security services on the other. Indeed, the brutality and lawlessness of these government forces actually risks motivating yet more young men to ‘go to the forest’ and join the fighters.

Pro-democracy demonstrations in northern Iraq/south Kurdistan

The winds of rebellion have reached the Kurdistan autonomous region in northern Iraq, where a series of demonstrations have broken out to demand greater democracy, improved social services, and an end to corruption.
In this interview, a prominent journalist and democracy advocate discusses the origins of the protests and the wider political situation in the Kurdish region

The tragedy that is Iraq

Totalitarian rule, war, sanctions, invasion, destruction, sectarian suspicions, western manipulation all have brought Iraq to its knees. Any formula that relies on a basic regrouping and reshuffling of a corrupt regime in control of state resources will collapse in violence.

If not now, when? The responsibility to protect Libyans – who?

Prominent neo-conservatives associated with the G.W.Bush administration have written to President Obama calling for a US-led Nato to develop plans to command Libyan waters and air space. Will this protect the Libyan people?

Iran's Green Movement: decapitated but not defeated

The arrest of Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, the defeated presidential candidates and leaders of Iran's Green Movement marks a new phase of repression in Iran. But a leaderless movement may emerge from this crisis united and all the stronger, as Egypt and Tunisia's protest movements have shown, argues Arash Falasiri.

End of ‘1989’?

The Arab world has spoken truth to power in ways that question the celebration of western style democracies and the ‘end of history’ marked by the ‘1989 velvet revolutions’.

Day of the Braindead

Our author prepares for Mardi Gras, intent on paying proper tribute to his local culture.

Côte d'Ivoire: the need to reach beyond the theatre of elections

The human security outlook deteriorates in Côte d'Ivoire, and "free and fair" elections are shown again to be far from a sufficient condition for democratic transition

Bahrain: evolution or revolution?

With its oil reserves measured in years rather than decades and facing the imminent yet difficult transition to a post-oil economy, Bahrainis simply cannot afford another wasted ten-year cycle of partial reform and renewed repression. Major unrest in the Gulf States is altering their self-projection as global actors and oases of stability in an otherwise insecure region. In this context, the Bahraini government’s lethal response to peaceful demonstrators inflicted immense damage on its international credibility

International pressure on Gaddafi mounts

International pressure on Gaddafi mounts. Belarus violates Ivorian arms embargo as violence escalates. Rangoon bomb blast. Yemen to announce government of national unity within 24 hours. North Korea threatens war over leaflets. All this and more in today’s briefing...

International commission calls for inquest into Bangladesh ethnic violence

The International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission calls for an impartial commission of inquiry to investigate ethnic unrest in Bangladesh’s restive Chittagong Hill Tracts region. Libya stands on the brink of civil war as the international community begins to respond. Iranian warships have docked at a Syrian port as Israel accuses Iran of making a ‘provocation’.

Weighing intervention in Libya

International organisations will never regain popular legitimacy if they continue their inaction over Libya. Intervention must be measured so as not to exacerbate the situation, but inaction is the worst course of all.

EU migration control: made by Gaddafi?

For over three years now, we have relied on Gaddafi and his state apparatus to keep asylum seekers and other migrants away from our European doors.

George Bush and the turn to human rights in the Arab world

Some have linked the emergence of a strong human rights agenda in the Arab world with the policies of the last American president. In a way they are right: post-9/11 abuses overseen by the Bush administration were the tragedy that brought to light the urgency of claiming rights.

Gaddafi: a model for the middle east's "mad men"

Gaddafi's resistance to popular demands and violent response presents a new model for regimes to resist democratic uprisings with extreme violence, mercenary arms, and the suppression of communications. Either countermeasures are adopted that limit the power of regimes to suppress their people, or citizens will continue to die at the hands of mad men.

Towards statehood: three Palestinian interviews, January 2011

The problems inside Palestinian society as well as those between Palestine and Israel have solutions. The process may be long, difficulties are bound to appear. But with enough local and international commitment there is no impassable barrier. There are people - probably not a few on both sides - that realize that there is now an opportunity to properly address the many decades-old issues. Manuela Paraipan presents three interviews with representatives of political and civil society.
These interviews continue a series of conversations on the issue of Palestinian statehood. For the first part, an interview with PECDAR President Dr Mohammad Shteyyeh, click here

Palestine and the lottery ticket

An interview in January 2011 with Dr Mohammad Shteyyeh - President of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR) - who holds the rank of Minister, on the broad range of challenges faced by the Palestinians as well as Fatah's current political stance towards Hamas.

"Towards statehood" — click to read the continuation of Manuela Paraipan's interviews

Iraqi protests: aimed at changing the current regime?

Iraqi protesters recently denounced the Islamisation of Iraqi society, demanded better working conditions, and protested the torture of prisoners. But ‘regime change’ has a different meaning in Iraq, and unlike Egypt and Tunisia, these protesters are asking for more support from the current government.

Purging the Afghan government will not build the consensus necessary for peace talks

The resignation of a host of pro-Western, anti-Taliban officials from the Afghan government bodes badly for peace talks with the Taliban, argues Farhad Arian

Dealing with dissent - The view from the authorities

How is dissent understood in the UK by those tasked with its “facilitation”? Several sources have emerged in the last month which give an indication of the contradictory environment in which public order policing is evolving.

How to stop a Libyan massacre: the power is in our hands

Ranj Alaaldin issues a timely call for a considered form of intervention in Libya's uprising. With the Libyan air force already firing on its own people, and escalation likely, a no-fly zone must be implemented over Libyan airspace to prevent mass casualties.

No real freedom without dismantling the secret political police

In Egypt, police officers are needed back on the streets, protecting civilians from thugs: not the SSI back in full force again.

One asylum seeker in Belgium: Part Three

In March 2010, over 400 Macedonian asylum seekers arrived in Belgium. Many have since returned to Macedonia. Most are now considerably worse off. Parts One and Two.

Egypt after Mubarak: finding truth in transition

The prosecution of a scattering of old regime stooges is not enough to guarantee Egypt escapes the grip of corruption and cronyism. Egypt needs to draw on lessons from across the continent of Africa and beyond for examples of transitional justice, and may need its very own Truth and Reconciliation Commission, argues Marc Michael. This article is published in conjunction with History & Policy.

Protesters under fire from land, sea and air in Libya

Gaddafi uses planes to attack protesters. Ivorian troops fire on protesters as AU leaders seek resolution. Congo colonel sentenced to jail for rapes. Saleh rejects demands to go as Yemeni troops fire on demonstrators. All this and more in today’s briefing.

This is our revolution, too

Maybe western leaders are afraid that, having seen what it is like when a people dictate to their government what it should do for them, rather than the reverse, we might start to take our own rights back, wholesale

Musing on the death of western multiculturalism

Western countries should revise their model of citizenship by rendering it into an active model, allowing the impetus for integration to come from demonstrating the tremendous soft power of liberal societies.

Egypt, Algeria, Yemen: Further reading on the Arab uprising

Yale University Press have issued this sampler from recent books on the Egypt, Yemen and Algeria. All provide important background information on the histories, societies, politics and economies of nations now thrust into the media spotlight.

Who is behind the war on Sufism?

Sufism is under attack across the Muslim world. Ehsan Azari Stanizai traces the troubled but inspiring history of Islamic mysticism.

A universal fight

Edward Said should have been alive on February 12, 2011

February 14 in Iran: the silence of fear has been shattered

Since the new year, almost every eight hours someone has been executed in Iran. The authoritarian backlash against the major uprising of 2009 has held Iranians in a climate of fear, but the protests this week mark a new chapter for the Green Movement.

Egypt: Lessons from Iran

With their admirable courage and perseverance the Egyptian people have achieved a great success in toppling a corrupt dictator. But have they pushed their revolution far enough forward to prevent the US-backed army and dominant classes aborting the whole process?

The SWISH Report (18)

How should the ferment in Tunisia, Egypt and across the Arab world affect al-Qaida's thinking? The movement requested advice from the reliable SWISH consultancy, whose report is here exclusively published.

‘Where is India’s Tahrir Square?’

This is a question that may be as interesting for people in Egypt as it is for those in India. The answer also has some implications for activists in the much-vaunted western democracies

Belgium’s asylum seeker fiasco

People in Brussels are led to believe that there is a huge influx of asylum-seekers. Yes and no. The truth is much harder to tell. Many have ended up in the street and some have even taken the Belgian state to court. Part Two
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