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This week's editor

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Abyei referendum to be delayed, say northern officials

Vote in Abyei to be delayed, say northern officials, stoking fears of a return to conflict in Sudan. Greek police gas protesting public sector workers in Acropolis. Junta number two arrested in Niger amid rumours of a coup. Human rights groups refuse to appear before Sri Lanka war crimes commission. 23 Bahraini Shias charged with anti-state activities in run up to parliamentary elections. All this and more in today's security briefing.

Al-Qaida: condition and prospect

A series of developments across greater west Asia offers evidence of al-Qaida’s dispersed reality, continued energy and potential vulnerability.

Strains mount on US-Pakistani relationship after new allegations of ISI-Taliban links

The US accuses Pakistan of aiding Afghan militants - again; Are ancient weapons a testament to al-Qaida's weakness or its resourcefullness?; Tension rise in Bangkok amid fears of renewed Red Shirt protest; Chaos in Belgrade, as anti-gay protesters attack Gay Pride March. All this and more, in today's global security briefing....

Critical AfPak border crossing reopens to Nato convoys

Pakistan reopens critical border crossing to Nato convoys. Heir-apparent and new missiles appear at North Korean military parade. Kyrgyz voters avoid violence in parliamentary election. Budget woes constrain UN war crimes tribunals. All this and more in today’s security briefing.

The background to Osh: stories of conflict and coexistence

Reporting of the ethnic clashes that took place in the Kyrgyz city of Osh this summer has tended to spotlight the victimhood of either ethnic Kyrgyz or ethnic Uzbeks. This polarisation is but a reflection of competing historical narratives of Osh’s ethnic identity, writes Dr Nick Megoran.

SCR 1325: just words on a piece of paper

"SCR 1325 is a tool, and the utility of a tool depends on how it is perceived and how activists employ it. So we have this resolution. Great; so what? Tell me how we can get people fired up on the ground." Peace laureate Jody Williams talks to Lyric Thompson.

Chinese dissident wins nobel peace prize

The Nobel Peace prize is awarded to one of China’s foremost dissidents. Mohammad Abbas is set to seek Arab League backing for suspending dialogue with Israel over settlement construction. For the first time, a civilian peacekeeper has been abducted in the capital of Darfur. All this and more, in today’s security update…

This isn't the end of the far right in India

To some observers, the recent Ayodhya verdict and lack of mass ethnic violence in India indicates the softening of nationalist tensions. But the subtler, more powerful and pervasive side of Hindu Nationalism in civil society will ensure that this is not the twilight of ethnic strife.

Afghanistan betrayed

An overly obtuse and childish mentality by the Allied forces in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2006 has had devastating consequences for the mission. After destroying the country’s fragile social structure and abandoning the Afghan people, Carl Unargo argues that we will once again betray Afghanistan while celebrating with false confidence its “democratic” institutions.

Pakistan condemns US drone use in north-west

Pakistan condemns US drone use in north-west as Pak-US relations hit new low. Attack on British Embassy in Yemen highlights declining security situation there. Ugandan president offers to send 20,000 troops to bolster UN peacekeepers in Somalia. Guinean officials agree to run-off presidential vote date after weeks of delay. All this and more in today's security briefing.

The AfPak endgame

Behind the escalation of United States cross-border raids into Pakistan and of Taliban attacks on coalition tanker-convoys lie the cold political reality of an unwinnable war.

Kyiv’s Next Image Problem

The vivid image of democracy - in colour orange - made many Europeans emotionally attached to the idea of Ukrainian EU membership. That is likely to change, writes Andreas Umland. The country is today facing a dangerous anti-democratic challenge — from the new President’s authoritarian turn on the one hand and from a new right-radical movement on the other.

NATO: fiddling with nuclear bombs while the planet burns

Next month NATO members meet in Lisbon to agree on a new Strategic Concept. Rebecca Johnson argues that if we treated nuclear weapons as the previous century’s problem to be disposed of, instead of fetishizing them as instruments of high strategic value, we would stand a far better chance of maintaining global security

Ayodhya: verdict and consequence

An Indian court’s ruling on the Hindu-Muslim dispute over the sacred site of Ayodhya sheds light on the relationship between two forms of rationality in India, says Deep K Datta-Ray.

A Jihadist census: ‘Al Qaeda-Affiliated and ‘Homegrown’ Jihadism in the UK: 1999-2010'

A new report by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue has collated and published unprecedented levels of data on thousands of individuals implicated in Jihadist terrorism.

Chinese dragon versus Indian tiger

China's military and diplomatic expansion points to an intensifying arms race between the world's two most populous countries, argues Rajeev Sharma.

Targeted sanctions on Mugabe - should the EU appease Jacob Zuma?

The EU must not submit to Zuma's calls for the lifting of sanctions in Zimbabwe, argues Clifford Chitupa Mashiri

Ed Miliband: too light on Iraq

UK Labour leader Ed Miliband drew a political line under Iraq in his conference speech. But a future statesman needs to answer the dilemmas posed by liberal interventionism with more thoughtfulness

The success of Islamophobia

Today, we see that the rules of western European racism are shifting. On the one hand, they are becoming less racialist; on the other hand they are seeking to become official. How should we Europeans understand this, and how should we respond? In the first of her Inter Alia columns, Markha Valenta looks at the cross-continental emergence of Islamophobia.

Chechnya: choked by headscarves

In Chechnya there is official support for attacks on women when they are considered to have ‘flouted’ Islamic rules by not wearing a headscarf or covering up enough. Tanya Lokshina listened to some of the women’s despairing accounts.

From Helmand to Merseyside: Unmanned drones and the militarisation of UK policing

Serious questions must be asked about the use of military-style unmanned drones, pioneered in the war in Afghanistan, in domestic policing.

Colombia’s land reform under a new president

An ambitious new land reform bill, if it is passed, could have a profound impact on Colombia’s prospects for peace

Our weird and wanton wars

Why do we always seem to be at war? Is it because our physical and psychological distance from the carnage helps to sustain our self-belief as a peaceful people?

Afghanistan’s decade of war, and the endgame

The war in Afghanistan is at a critical point as it enters its tenth year – and the view that it is unwinnable can be glimpsed in unexpected places.

Forget Luzhkov: bulldogs under the carpet again

The struggle between Moscow’s mayor Luzhkov and President Medvedev has gripped Russia. What are those’ bulldogs under the carpet’ really fighting about? There are bigger battles going on, explains Vladimir Pastukhov.

Nicolas Sarkozy: a one-trick pony?

In recent months, Nicolas Sarkozy has reinvigorated the question of security in France. But this is nothing new and, given that the French president’s approval ratings reached an all-time low in July, the move is not surprising.

Britain’s security future

The severe cuts facing Britain’s armed forces are also an opportunity to embrace the new thinking they and the country need.

Guinea elections 'postponed' after violence, fraud and delays

Presidential run-off elections in Guinea are postponed after a weekend of violence and ongoing delays in preparation. Four of the most senior surviving Khmer Rouge cadres indicted In Cambodia. eight killed in minibus blast in southeast Turkey. Growing row over Trident renewal threatens coalition. European row over France’s treatment of Roma migrants deepens after EU official compares France’s Roma policy to Holocaust. All this and more in today’s briefing.

Sudan: prospect and lesson

The forthcoming referendum on independence in south Sudan could lead to the break-up of Africa’s biggest country. But if Sudan has failed as a unitary state its end carries dangers, says Richard Cockett.

Kashmir rocked by intensification of violence

Kashmir rocked by intensification of violence. Israeli-Palestinian peace talks overshadowed by violence. US drone strike kills 15 in northwest Pakistan. France blocks extradition of Rwandan genocide suspect. All this and more in today’s security briefing.

US strikes major arms deal with Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia agrees one of the world's largest ever arms deals; Sweeping constitutional reform in Turkey challenges military; US attack drones under the spotlight once again in Pakistan; Large-scale personnel changes for Nigeria's security services; More drug arrests, as Obama contradicts Clinton over Mexico; US considers how to deal with homegrown terrorism. All this and more in today's briefing.

Iran, sanctions and war: fuel of crisis

The international sanctions on Iran reinforce conservative rule. The threat of a military attack by the United States or Israel offers no aid to democratic advance. The result is a standoff on the edge of escalation, says Rasool Nafisi.

Oryol: when the ‘new nobility’ turned terrorist

The sleepy city of Oryol has erupted in terrorism. Investigations revealed how frustration at the state of Russia led security officers — the new nobility as their former boss calls them — to join the Oryol Partisans. Is this a one off or part of a wider movement?

How can we build an effective global peace movement?

If we are to present a credible challenge to the system of interlocking interests that combine to entrench militarism, our movement needs to be able to engage with that complexity. Celia McKeon, Judith Eversley and Steve Whiting join the conversation.

Jamaica's war on gangs

Jamaica is at the forefront of the Caribbean's fight against gangs, but the country needs to recognise that this is a complex struggle in which strong-arm tactics can be counter-productive, argues Robert Muggah and Glaister Leslie.
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