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This week's editor

Constitutional conventions: best practice

States, religious diversity, and the crisis of secularism

In India, the existence of deep religious diversity has ensured a conceptual response not only to problems within but also between religions. Without taking it as a blue print, the west must examine the Indian conception and learn from it, regarding peace between communities, community-specific rights, the rights of minorities, the porous divide between the modern state and religion, and the skills to accommodate the latter. They might begin by jettisoning the preoccupation with ‘equal treatment’.

The Commons debate on Libya: a milestone for British democracy?

The Commons debate on Libya has been dismissed by some as irrelevant, as military intervention has already begun. Yet this is a milestone for democracy, as Cameron has acknowledged the emerging convention that parliamentary approval is required for the deployment of British forces abroad

Loss of Chechnya: the case for the defence

Chechnya’s ex-foreign minister Ilyas Akhmadov has published a book chronicling the loss of his republic to Russia. Politicians from other countries with similar tales of loss and betrayal have tried to justify their actions in the same way. Oliver Bullough examines the current situation in the light of some of their accounts.

Libya: the view from where you are

The international war over Libya began on the late evening of 19 March 2011. Its meaning depends on the angle of vision - and what happens next.

Why I will vote "no" to Libya action

The Labour MP for Nottingham North sets out why he will oppose the West's military action in the vote in the House of Commons.

Multiculturalism and the politics of bad memories

‘Multiculturalism’ entails society offering a full range of prospects, membership, and respect to all its members – regardless of cultural and religious differences –while also creatively accommodating them in a fashion that is both morally persuasive and practically effective for the majority of society. Has Europe ever tried it?

The advantage of not understanding politics

The Arab uprisings have proved very different in type to those in Iran, in terms of the scale, scope, both their conscious constituents and their beneficiaries, dynamics and social roots.

When the armies go marching in: Bahrain and Libya

The Gulf Co-operation Council, whose normal work is to consolidate and promote oil interests, would do well to remember that just last week it admonished Gaddafi for using force against his fellow citizens.

Libya, Bahrain, and the Arab spring

Even as the United States military quietly prepares for possible action against the Gaddafi regime, the violence of rulers in Tripoli and Manama promises to stall the Arab democratic wave of 2011.

The Arab Revolutions: an end to the post-1967 problematic

Tunis and Egypt, despite still being the minority, have become the new rule, with the rest of the regimes being the exception.

Dealing with Saif Gaddafi: naivety, complicity or cautious engagement?

How should the London School of Economics have handled its Libyan connections? Fred Halliday strongly opposed engagement, while David Held, Co-Director of LSE Global Governance, has been a major supporter. Is this shown to have been naïve or complicit? No - a risk worth taking, argues the author

It should be Citizens Wootton Bassett

An English country town gets the royal treatment. But does it deserve it?

North Caucasus: one war lost, another one begins

The region of the North Caucasus is on fire. Its young people — poorly educated and unemployed — believe radical Islam could be solution to their problems. In Mother Russia, meanwhile, a new generation of disenfranchised youngsters are smarting from their lot. The two groups may be soon on collision course, warns Andrei Piontkovsky

Should Britain work with 'extremists' to prevent terrorism? Where do we draw the line?

The controversial 'Prevent' strategy, that aims to stop terrorism before it occurs by working with Muslim communities, is now under review. The government have signaled that 'Prevent' will no longer work with 'non-violent extremists', but who will they place under that category, and how will we know where the line is drawn?

Sectarianism and conflict in Bahrain

The media and politicians have done Iraq a great disservice by highlighting the overt sectarian identity of the oppressor and the oppressed. It must not make this same mistake with Bahrain.

Military intervention against Gaddafi might shake the regime in Iran

If major western capitals reach a consensus with the Arab world to intervene in Libya, Tehran may well perceive this as a threat against its own survival.

Kurdistan comes alive

Despite its unique circumstances, Kurdistan has not been immune to the chain of protests across the middle east. Ranj Alaaldin expresses hope that the movement will help build upon, rather than set back, the region's nascent democratic institutions.

Splits over no-fly zone as Gaddafi forces gain ground

World mulls no-fly zone as Gaddafi troops gain ground: time is running out for rebels. India overtakes China as world’s largest arms importer. More civilians fleeing clashes in Ivory Coast as situation spirals towards civil war. Saudi troops sent into Bahrain. South Sudanese leaders pull out of talks amid accusations of northern intervention.

Where does the west stand on global freedom of expression?

US talk of global freedom of expression and an open internet sit uneasily with their sharp clampdown on Wikileaks. Can the west be honest with itself?

Rafiq al-Hariri's murder: why do Lebanese blame Syria?

The assassination of Lebanon’s former prime minister on 14 February has sparked fury in the country and confusion in the region. Lebanese journalist Hazem Saghieh investigates what really happened.

(This article was first published on 21 February 2005)

Yemen: Saleh’s final dance

There are many different strands to the protest under way in Yemen, including old and new grievances, and signs that some of them are coming together.

The Indonesian Government: closing window for peace in West Papua

Just as Indonesia’s president Susilo Bambang Yudhuyono was being feted globally for being a democrat, the Indonesian government was entrenching Papua’s reputation as Indonesia’s last bastion of authoritarian military rule. Now Peace Brigades International has finally been forced out.

What can the ‘Big Society’ learn from history?

Governments can do little to build civil society directly but much more to strengthen the conditions in which civil society can build itself.

Nuclear Follies

The so-called nuclear renaissance is irrational. Just look to Libya and Japan.

Afghanistan dreads the spring

Afghans suffer at the hands of everyone - the Taliban, the Afghan security forces, the international forces, and the warlords or drug barons - sometimes in combination. In language that is reminiscent of the way young people are talking in other parts of the Middle East, they want to reclaim their dignity.

Libya: the prospect of war

The military balance of Libya’s domestic conflict is raising debate about external intervention. But the strategy of the Gaddafi regime is also crucial to what happens next.

Intervention in Libya? A case of shooting from the hip, slowly

Politicians and public need to address the moral argument around the use of force, encompassing the humanitarian and democratic arguments deployed in favour of intervention balanced against risk aversion and moral objections.

The British should heed Free Libya’s call for a no fly zone

Britain's responsibility to protect the Libyan people from Gaddafi's crack-down is unavoidable. We must not be so fixated on our past mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan that we fail to help Libya to free itself. Let's pressure our government now to back a no-fly-zone and break with Britain's sorry past.

Israel and the Arab awakening

Israel’s political class is struggling to make sense of a crumbling Arab order and the loss of the certainties it embodied, reports Thomas O’Dwyer.

Libya: a hard road ahead


The military-political deadlock in Libya between supporters and opponents of the Gaddafi regime leaves a pervasive uncertainty over the country’s future. But even greater challenges will follow this conflict, says Alison Pargeter.

Libya’s regime at 40: a state of kleptocracy

The protection-racket formation that has ruled Libya since 1969 is now being embraced by western businessmen and diplomats. But it belongs to the past, says Fred Halliday.

(This article was first published on 8 September 2009)

Lebanon: the last conservative regime in the region?

Several Lebanese politicians and commentators have proudly presented the Arab revolutionary movements as an extension of the March 2005 uprising in Beirut. They are quite wrong.

A social democracy of the people? A review of Fight Back!

A review of Fight Back! A Reader on the Winter of Protest, published by OurKingdom on February 15 and free to download. Stuart White concludes that the Reader is

Libya: the Washington-London dilemma

In their pursuit of Muammar Gaddafi’s downfall, the powers that led the charge into Iraq face both military and political problems.

Rethinking the possible

Everywhere you go, people of the world are fed up with states and the class of accountants and crooked despots that manage them. Jarrett Zigon believes that such consensus has afforded a unique historical opportunity for change. We must now begin to develop alternatives to the modern nation-state, the contemporary global economic order, and the current assumptions of “moral” behaviour
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