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This week's editor

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Tahrir Square burns: a postcard from Egypt

An American in Cairo reflects on the experience of events there today and calls on the US to throw off its ties to the soon-to-be ancien regime

Patriarchal shows of generosity will not appease the Arab people

Arab regimes' attempts to buy off their people only highlight their duplicity, argues Mohammed Hussainy

Qatar: prestige and gamble

The small Gulf state of Qatar has translated economic assets and creative diplomacy into extraordinary global influence. But the eclipse of regional giants such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia is also a high-risk strategy, says Khaled Hroub.

Azerbaijan: rights situation no cause for celebration

It has been ten years since Azerbaijan became a member of the Council of Europe, but no one is in the mood for a party. The country’s media remains shackled, dubious laws continue to be used punitively, and political opponents are still sent to prison. The Council needs to take its membership criteria more seriously, suggests Giorgi Gogia.

Egyptians defy government ban in second day of protests

Egyptians defy government ban in second day of anti-government protests. Tunisia issues arrest warrant for Ben Ali. UK government revises control orders. Palestinian Authority defiant following Al Jazeera release of leaked documents. All this and more in today’s security briefing.

Drowning everyone but the terrorists: an interview with Boris Nemtsov

Monday’s attacks show that Russia’s counter-terrorist strategy is failing. The bad news for Russia’s leaders is that the public are no longer in the mood for excuses. Mumin Shakirov interviews opposition activist and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov. This is an preview of an exclusive and wide-ranging interview, to be published in the coming week.

The Arab crisis: food, energy, water, justice

Tunisia’s popular uprising is reverberating across the Arab world. But such movements face problems that go far wider than dictatorship to encompass the whole range of human security, says Vicken Cheterian.

Domodedovo: far simpler than a conspiracy

In a country lacking proper democratic process, linking Monday’s bomb attacks to forthcoming elections is trite. A more likely explanation is the lack of accountability that results from the very absence of elections, writes Kirill Rogov.

Mournful Unconcern: Russia reacts to Domodedovo

Desensitised to terror, Russians will not take long to get over the latest attack. Russian writer and openDemocracy contributor Elena Fanailova passed through Domodedovo Airport just thirty minutes before Monday’s bomb struck.

The Palestine Papers

It is highly plausible that the Palestine Papers will only serve to prolong the conflict. But it is also possible that their publication could change things.

Pakistan: the rising dangers

Pakistan’s society and government are under intense pressure from the growing influence of extreme religious movements. In the absence of enlightened and unifying political leadership the prospect of a great regression remains alive, says Marco Mezzera. 

A world in movement: prospects for 2011

The influence of rising states amid the infirmity of the United States and other established powers will make 2011 a transition year towards a new global order, says Mariano Aguirre.

Osh report: quick conclusions, lost opportunities

Poorly researched, political and overly assertive, the official report into last year’s violence in Osh and Jalalabat leaves as many questions as it answers. The national discussion to follow must avoid similar pitfalls.

Tunisia and the world: roots of turmoil

The uprising in Tunisia is at once a response to systemic inequity and injustice and an expression of the limits of elite control. But to the economic and political ingredients of the revolt must be added the potent if less evident one of global environmental crisis.

New Philippine counter-insurgency strategy fails to address the causes of conflict

A new, purportedly human rights-orientated counter-insurgency strategy has little chance of success in the Philippines if the clientelism of a flawed political and economic system is not simultaneously addressed, argues Mark Dearn

Lebanon: long live the settlement, the settlement is dead

Public opinion is deeply divided in Lebanon after renewed diplomatic efforts faltered in reaching a settlement over decisions of who will be Prime Minister, as well as the imminent Special Tribunal for Lebanon indictment

It is right to resist Islamophobia in Britain

Conservative Party Chair Sayeeda Warsi spoke out against Islamophobia and has met with a barrage of criticism from the right and a clear voice of support from a fellow Conservative Peter Oborne. There should be more like him.

One year anniversary of Obama’s broken promise to shut Guantanamo Bay

If Barack Obama had kept his word, Guantánamo Bay would have closed down by this day last year. The continuing existence of the detainment facility is a British, as well as an American, problem - not least because of the British detainee held there for almost nine years without charge.

A party to death

Gabour, Giffords, gangs, guns and self-righteous thugs. The massacre in Arizona is part of a murderous culture, one in which death and violence are a norm and hardly reprehensible. It needs weapons to survive, but also a sentiment of righteous indignation that only a real or imagined support group can offer

Little optimism as Turkey hosts Iran nuclear talks

Expectations are low in latest round of Iranian nuclear talks. US threat to redeploy military forces instrumental in Beijing clamping down on Pyongyang. South Sudan set to ‘overwhelmingly’ vote for independence. All this and more, in today’s security update…

UK government linked to Bangladeshi 'death squad' renowned for use of torture

UK government linked to Bangladeshi 'death squad', renowned for use of torture. Eight arrested over mass rape in eastern DRC. The UN votes to increase peacekeepers in Ivory Coast as mediation fails. Nigerian troops ordered to shoot-to-kill in Jos as violence increases ahead of elections. All this and more in today’s briefing...

This week's theme: Human Security in practice

Mary Kaldor’s latest book is The Ultimate Weapon is No Weapon: Human Security and the New Rules of War and Peace co-authored with an American serving army officer, Shannon Beebe and published by Public Affairs. The book was primarily aimed at an American audience in the hope that the actual experience of Iraq and Afghanistan may open up an opportunity for rethinking security. It taps into what is already a wide-ranging debate in security circles. Here, our Human Security columnist introduces a special series of articles commissioned for openDemocracy on this theme


In the end, this is a war about fundamental human justice in almost every conceivable sense of that phrase. The solution, if there is one, will require an international response. From openDemocracy.

Africa: Security and development for the twenty-first century

If the west is to continue to assert that there should be African solutions to African problems - as is so often espoused - then it is the west that must change its security paradigm

Why 14 January 2011 will go down in history

Mohamed Ali Harrath is a former Tunisian dissident who was imprisoned and tortured after he set up a Muslim political party in Tunisia and had finally to flee the country. Now he is thinking of making a return visit.

Pakistan’s blasphemy law in context

The misuse of religion by the state and the fragmentation of Pakistan’s political society have both been evident since Pakistan’s birth in 1947, long before Pakistan became the ally of the US and Britain

Assam rebels ready for peace talks

A leader of the Indian separatist group Ulfa indicates he is ready for peace talks with the government. Unconfirmed reports emerge that China has stationed troops in northeast North Korea. All this and more in today’s security briefing.

From geopolitics to human security? - a review

Is the human security blueprint presented in the book by Mary Kaldor and Shannon D.Beebe achievable in a states system or does it depend upon a more cosmopolitan milieu? Andrey Makarychev reviews The Ultimate Weapon is No Weapon

Transnational networks and state-building in the Balkans

Informality allows people to change their immediate circumstances for the better, but it locks the state and society in a vicious circle of reproduction of a weak state, promising insecurity for the majority and prosperity for the few

Pluralism: what relevance for Uganda?

As Uganda moves into an intense election period under a multi-party system, Western notions of pluralism appear irrelevant in a context where cultural diversity often results in exclusion, to the detriment of the public good

Trouble ahead in Nepal

While the major political parties are busying themselves in realpolitik, the rest of the country, especially the southern part of Nepal and the hilly districts of west, feel that there is no government to speak of

Post-Wikileaks lessons from the Tunisian ‘intifada’

The real scandal revealed on closer examination of diplomatic cables from the MENA region, is the gulf that separates what US diplomats acknowledge in private and what US leaders say (and do) in public, vis-a-vis democracy promotion in the Middle East

War theater: Black Watch

Rahul Rao reviews the play Black Watch, which has become one of the most celebrated contemporary "war plays" since it first opened in 2006.

Afghanistan: losing the Afghan people

Through in-depth conversations with Afghans in the provinces of Balkh, Baghlan, Herat, Kabul, Kandahar, Khost, and Nangarhar, a better understanding was sought of both the dynamics of violence at local levels and Afghan, not international, aspirations for the future of their country

Hariri returns to Beirut as Lebanon teeters on the brink of chaos

Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri returns to Beirut in the face of opposition demands that he remain in exile. Years of political repression in Tunisia may be at an end as President Ben Ali flees the country. Iraqi soldiers shoot US counterparts, wounding three. All this and much more, in today’s security update…
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