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This week's editor

En Liang Khong

En Liang Khong is openDemocracy’s assistant editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Isaias Afewerki and Eritrea: a nation’s tragedy

The political character of Eritrea's leader has transformed the hope of Africa's youngest independent nation-state into a nightmare, says Selam Kidane.

(This article was first published on 22 June 2009)

A Georgian appeal: open letter to the west

The deep political tensions in Georgia have led to one of the country’s leading politicians, Nino Burdzhanadze, standing against the country’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili. She explains her thinking and appeals for engagement and understanding from the west. openDemocracy publishes the text as part of our longstanding and independent coverage of Georgia and the region.


Lebanon's elections: reading the signs

A peaceful election dissolves myths and rearranges the country’s political jigsaw. But the issue of Hizbollah’s weapons remains, says Hazem Saghieh.

Lahore to Peshawar: the trophy-target war

The urbanisation of Pakistan’s internal war is intended to turn the country’s population centres into places of permanent insecurity, says Razi Ahmed.

The trouble with guns: Sri Lanka, South Africa, Ireland

The use of violence as an instrument of political liberation leads rather to failure and regression, says Martin Shaw.

‘Wahhabi’ village in Dagestan

As human rights violations escalate in the North Caucasus, Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch visits Dagestan, supposedly riven by the struggle between ‘Wahhabis' and the authorities. She visits the so-called ‘Wahhabi' village of Gudben. 

Pakistan: the road from hell

Pakistan won’t collapse. But it is in trouble, and needs strategic leadership.  Pervez Hoodbhoy offers a long-term view of the country’s predicament.

The Cairo speech: Arab Muslim voices

Barack Obama’s appeal for “a new beginning” in America’s relationship with Islam is finding an echo across the middle east, report Karim Kasim & Zaid Al-Ali.

Lebanon at the crossroads

The political rivalry between the two major political blocs reinforces the flaws of Lebanon's confessional electoral system to make the national election of June 2009 a tense moment, says Robert G Rabil.

Mindanao: poverty on the frontlines

Poverty and a lack of political will fuel insurgency in the restive south of the Philippines

Northern Ireland: between peace and reconciliation

The political agreement of 1998 marked the end of thirty years of violent conflict, but ground-level divisions in parts of Northern Ireland remain rooted and bitter. The “interface” areas are where the tensions are most severe and the work of groups seeking a deeper settlement most important, says Tom Lodge.

Barack Obama's middle east: pragmatism and hope

The prospects of a comprehensive peace process rest on the construction of a new political dynamic that includes a series of actors - Washington, Egypt, Syria, Iran, Israel, and Hamas and Hizbollah among them. On the eve of Barack Obama’s major speech in Cairo, Robert G Rabil surveys the terrain.

(This article was first published on 1 June 2009)

What Obama must say (and do) in Egypt

The United States president’s visit to Cairo needs to offer the Arab and Muslim worlds an America they can at last believe, says Nader Hashemi.

"Comrades, your enemy is yourselves!"

Scene One. The day that Yvette Lillian Myakayaka-Manzini, vice president of the ANC women's department, took her account of the struggle against apartheid to Gaza. Scene Two. On an Israeli beach...

Moldova: the Twitter Revolution that wasn’t

The protest that greeted Moldova's recent election represented domestic frustrations, not an abortive colour revolution. Addressing Moldova's deep-seated problems of poverty, criminality and national identity will require constructive input from Western powers

Pakistan and the “AfPak” strategy

The Pakistani army and state are seeking to find space for their own strategic interests in the region amid increasing pressure from the United States, says Shaun Gregory.

Sri Lanka’s challenge: winning the peace

The end of Sri Lanka’s long war creates a new political landscape in the torn country. Rohan Gunaratna assesses what must be done to build a lasting settlement.

How Do We Cope?

As summit follows summit, the fate of the Gazan people once again hangs in the balance. A young student and entrepreneur chronicles the ingenuity of his fellow Gazans.

Barack Obama: Israel's true friend

The United States president’s meeting with Israel’s prime minister offers Israel a future it must grasp, says Gideon Levy.

Karabakh: is war inevitable?

Armenia and Azerbaijan's dispute over Nagorno Karabakh could erupt in war at any time, warns Wayne Merry. This would be disastrous for both parties. To prevent war will require Washington and Moscow work together

Sri Lanka: after war, justice

The needs of the post-war period in Sri Lanka include accountability and redress for the violations of the past generation, says Luther Uthayakumaran.

Lebanon: chronicles of an attempted suicide

The campaign for Lebanon’s elections in June 2009 reflects the country's deep sectarian and ideological fissures. Indeed, the background to the vote is an extraordinary story of political tension and polarisation, which came to a climax in May 2008. In a closely-observed portrait of the country’s self-inflicted wounds, Zaid Al-Ali asks what Lebanon needs to create for itself an inclusive future.

Georgia on the brink - again

The very survival of a troubled polity may depend on finding a constructive way around the bitter tensions between Mikheil Saakashvili’s government and a fractured opposition, says Robert Parsons in Tbilisi.

The state of Israel: key to peace

The road to peace between Israelis and the Palestinians lies through the constitutional definition of Israel itself, says Gershon Baskin.

The United States and Israel: moment of truth

The Barack Obama administration must press Israel's prime minister to embrace progress towards a settlement with the Palestinians, says Akiva Eldar.

Al-Qaida today: a movement at the crossroads

What is happening to al-Qaida: does it still constitute a threat to its adversaries, and if so how grave? Fawaz A Gerges, author of "The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global", uses extensive survey evidence to examine the movement’s standing in the Muslim world and take the measure of its ability to continue its campaign

Moldova: recession hits a frozen conflict

With Moldova's horde of guest workers heading home, the effects of global recession will hit Europe's poorest country hard. This crisis could be used to unlock its frozen conflict with Transnistria, comments Louis O'Neill

Pakistan’s American problem

A suspicion of the United States in Pakistan outweighs opposition to the Taliban. Understand this and much else becomes clear, says Anatol Lieven.

(This article was first published on 6 May 2009)

Butcher and Bolt by David Loyn

In Afghanistan history is particularly poignant, says Richard Fyjis-Walker. Invaders ignore it hoping vainly that it will not repeat; the Afghans remember and draw on it, hoping that it will

Kettling: another special relationship

Britons are not alone in facing the kind of ‘kettling' practices deployed during the G-20 Summit. Over in America it's also been in use for some time.

Israel's attack on Gaza: an unjust war?

Perhaps enough time has elapsed to allow a rational assessment of the context and justification of the Israeli attack on Gaza, deploying the framework of just war theory, as enshrined in international law.

Planning for Prosperity

A viable Palestinian economy is impossible without disengagement from the Israeli economy, thoroughgoing reform of the Palestinian Authority, not to mention lifting the siege.

Pakistan: women's quest for entitlement

A generation of Pakistani women striving to affirm their rights in the public sphere can draw on a rich history to which education is central, says Pippa Virdee.

Sri Lanka’s displaced: the political vice

The desperate plight of Tamil civilians in northern Sri Lanka is the responsibility of the Colombo government and Tamil Tiger guerrillas alike, says Meenakshi Ganguly.

Barack Obama and Afghanistan: a closer look

The United States’s shift of strategy towards “AfPak” needs to go further by taking account of regional concerns and local agencies, says Mariano Aguirre.

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