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This week's editor

NSS, editor

Niki Seth-Smith is a freelance journalist and contributing editor to 50.50.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Afghanistan: limits of military power

The United States-led coalition's problems in Afghanistan are accentuated by an enemy capable of reading its intentions - and which has time on its side.

Russia, Poland and the history wars

On the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Army's invasion of Poland, Rodric Braithwaite understands why Poles are not quick to give the Russians credit for occasionally getting things right. The end of communism would not have been possible without Mikhail Gorbachev and the Russians made impressive efforts in the 1980s and 1990s to establish an objective record of their own history.

Battle for Moldova’s political heart

Moldova's long-ruling communists, having recently been dethroned by the four-party Alliance for European Integration (AEI), are struggling to win back lost ground. The frantic activities of communist ex-President Voronin suggest he is not finding democracy easy

A world in need: the case for sustainable security

A combination of global crises makes the search for fresh, effective and transforming approaches to security essential.

(This article was first published on 10 September 2009)

"Born-again" Muslims: cultural schizophrenia

The divine rage that sparked the attacks on New York and Washington was inspired by the collision between a particular interpretation of Islamic faith and disabling social experience, says Malise Ruthven.

(This article was first published on 27 September 2001)

The dangers to Afghan democracy

The value of elections to the Afghan people should not be underestimated. Voter cynicism, a product of misgovernance of the country, should not be mistaken for voter apathy.

The right of return

Israeli understanding of the Jewishness of Israel is complex, and it makes the right of return the most contentious issue on the negotiating agenda

Secure Bradford before Helmand

Britain should secure its own disenfranchised Muslim community rather than sustaining a major expeditionary campaign in Afghanistan, argues John Mackinlay.

Iraq: new alliances, old repression

The pre-election manoeuvring in Iraq offers little hope for change that will improve the lives of a hard-pressed people, says Zaid Al-Ali.

Criminalise WMD

Now is the time to begin to repair the weakness of the weapons clauses in the International Criminal Court Statute and get the threat or use of weapons of mass destruction defined as a crime, urges Marlies Glasius.

Russia's beleaguered anti-fascists

Antif pastore

No to Nazis ! - Russian antifa poster

Neo-nazi movements in Russia target foreigners, gypsies and, frequently, the anti-fascists (antifa), not blameless themselves, but often framed by the police. Vlad Tupikin wonders if the Russian government is really dancing to the tune of the neo-nazis.

Afghanistan: the point of decision

The Barack Obama administration faces a vital foreign-policy choice over United States policy in Afghanistan. The country's uncertain election and rising insurgency make it even tougher. 

Israeli settlements and “ethnic cleansing”

The argument that the dismantling of Israeli communities in the Palestinian West Bank would amount to "ethnic cleansing" is increasingly being heard. It deserves close examination of a kind its proponents may not welcome, says Martin Shaw.

Abkhazia, Georgia, and history: a response

An anniversary article on the Georgia-Russia war of August 2008 from the perspective of Abkhazia has provoked a vigorous reaction focusing on questions of linguistics, settlement, and current politics. Its author, George Hewitt, responds to some of the points raised.

Nepal’s political impasse

The growing antagonism among major political actors casts doubt on Nepal's chances of achieving lasting peace, says Deepak Adhikari.

Sri Lanka’s hollow victory

The Colombo government's repression, detention and evasion in the wake of Sri Lanka's civil war highlight the need for an international inquiry into its last days, says Meenakshi Ganguly.

The Baghdad bomb, the United Nations, and America

The massacre of United Nations employees in Iraq on 19 August 2003 was a dark moment in the organisation's history. It also carries lessons for the United States in the age of Barack Obama, says Johanna Mendelson Forman.

(This article was first published on 19 August 2009)

Living after tragedy: the UN Baghdad bomb, one year on

A year after the bomb attack on the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Gil Loescher pays tribute to the victims, including his close colleague and openDemocracy partner Arthur C Helton, and reflects on the implications of the tragedy for the UN’s humanitarian work in Iraq and beyond.

(This article was first published on 19 August 2004)

The Arab future: conspiracy vs reality

A legal conflict between the daughters of former Egyptian presidents is a sad commentary on the condition of the Arab world, says Hazem Saghieh.

(This article was first published on 12 August 2009)

Israel-Palestine: solving the refugee question

A solution to the Palestinian refugee problem is a vital component of any durable peace agreement in the region. It seems impossible - but it can be done, says David Gardner.

The Russia-Georgia war: mission unaccomplished

The bitter conflict of August 2008 confounded all sides’ expectations - not least that Moscow’s military victory would translate into strategic-political gains. The Georgian scholar and former education minister in the Tbilisi government, Ghia Nodia, presents an anniversary audit of the war.

(This article was first published on 13 August 2009)

Ingushetia abandoned

The attack on a police station in Ingushetia on 17 August which killed or wounded 100 people follows a spate of recent incidents, including the assassination of Ingushetia's construction minister. In this recent overview of the post-Soviet history of Russia's smallest republic, Varvara Pakomenko examines the Kremlin's Caucasus policy and asks what the future holds for Ingushetia


This article was first published on 22 July 2009

Arthur C Helton: a tribute

Arthur C Helton, director of peace and conflict studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a columnist for openDemocracy, was killed in the bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad on 19 August 2003. His colleague and co-columnist, Gil Loescher, was critically injured. Caspar Henderson & David Hayes pay tribute on behalf of openDemocracy.

(This article was first published on 21 August 2003)

Halford Mackinder’s new world

The work of building peace and meeting human-security needs in the “heartland” areas of west Asia and its environs can draw both inspiration and warning from a pioneering 19th-century geopolitical thinker, says Prince Hassan of Jordan.

Russian public opinion and the Georgia war

A reading of public opinion suggests that the key motive of Russian policymakers in last year's Georgia war was to kill liberal expectations of the new President Medvedev, the Levada Centre's Alexei Levinson proposes.

Sukhumi: Café Lika on the brink of war

 Sukhumi, Black Sea Panorama

On a visit to the separatist republic of Abkhazia a week before the Russia-Georgia war in August 2008, openDemocracy/Russia editor Zygmunt Dzieciolowski was aware of growing tension. If war did break out, the locals knew that they would be the ones who paid the price.

The Georgia-Russia war, a year on

Georgia’s disastrous defeat in the conflict of August 2008 is not all it seemed.  The losses are clear and devastating, but Tbilisi has - albeit in less tangible ways - gained too. The outlines of a more realistic national project are becoming visible, says Donald Rayfield.

(This article was first published on 6 August 2009)

The Hizbollah project: last war, next war

The Hizbollah movement in Lebanon emerged intact and confident from war with Israel in July-August 2006. Since then it has reinvented its strategy, arsenal and thinking to pose an even greater threat to its enemy to the south. A forensic portrait of the world’s most sophisticated non-state force from Amal Saad-Ghorayeb.

Egypt: the blinkers of expertise

The tendency of foreign observers to reduce complex Egyptian reality to formulaic description misses some of its most significant and dynamic elements, says Tarek Osman.

(This article was first published on 12 August 2009)

Abkhazia and South Ossetia, a year on

The Georgia-Russia war of August 2008 has altered calculations about the future of the two territories that were central to the conflict. The scholar of Abkhazian linguistics and history, George Hewitt, offers an assessment from Sukhum.

(This article was first published on 11 August 2009)

The guns of August: non-event with consequences

The political fallout of the Russia-Georgia war of August 2008 affects far more than the main combatants: it has had a profound impact on the post-Soviet space, the United States, the European Union, even China and Turkey. Ivan Krastev draws up a balance-sheet of a toxic conflict, and looks ahead.

(This article was first published on 30 July 2009)

The human cost of war: name before shame

A precise record of the individual victims of war and conflict worldwide is emerging as a key objective of humanitarian work, says John Sloboda.

The WANA vision: regional model for global survival

The pressing challenge of climate change and associated problems of insecurity and development demands that the countries of west Asia and north Africa create new models of shared and inclusive cooperation, says Prince Hassan of Jordan.

Israel-Palestine: a man, a plan, and an outcome

The arrival of Barack Obama creates a last chance of real progress towards resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But to take it will require decisive leadership around a coherent strategy. Tony Klug outlines the key ingredients of a plan that speaks to the moment.

Israeli settlement, Arab movement

The issue of Israel’s West Bank settlements must not be subsumed by the larger Israel-Palestinian conflict, says Hazem Saghieh.
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