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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

Sunni and Shi'a: coexistence and conflict

The deep and enduring split between Islam's two great sects cannot be healed in a climate of Muslim and Arab denial, says Hazem Saghieh.

The Syrian conundrum

Robert G Rabil's book reveals a Syria-United States relationship more changeable and nuanced than post-9/11 rhetoric indicates, says Carsten Wieland.

Pakistan: The army as the state

Pakistan’s economy and institutions are deeply penetrated by the country’s army, a new book and documentary film reveal. Ehsan Masood reports for openDemocracy.

Global security: a vision for change

The United States’s global military strategy serves a control paradigm. What the world needs is sustainable security.

The United States military surge in Iraq continues to gather pace. As it does so, three problems faced by the new strategy are becoming clear (see "Al-Qaida's fresh horizon", 5 April 2007).

Losing your only friend: a liberal Muslim's letter to the west

Amidst the talk about militant Islam's holy war against the west, Europe's phobia of homegrown Islamism, and academic theorisation of the eminent clash between the liberal west and the fundamentalist Islamic world, the west is slowly but steadily losing its main ally in the Arab and Islamic worlds - liberal Arabs and Muslims.

Most liberal Arabs, like most Arabs of all intellectual standpoints, don't savour the fact that foreign forces - predominantly western powers - occupy parts of their lands, have significant influence over their economic interests, and preach them about progress and socio-economic development. But the view of the liberal Arab or Muslim differs from that of his/her local cousin in a key respect: the deep belief that the post-renaissance value system of the west - based upon social liberalism and the sanctity of individualism, freedom, and free choice - is inherently superior to the value system propagated by the three socio-political systems currently dominating the Arab and Islamic worlds: dogmatic theocracy, patriarchal absolutism, and tribal traditionalism.

Al-Qaida's fresh horizon

The evolving nature of al-Qaida must be understood as the seventh year of the "war on terror" approaches.

Argentina's mirror: the causa Malvinas

2 April 2007 marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Falklands/Malvinas conflict. With the exception of 3,000 Falkland Islanders, 40 million Argentines and some thousands of Britons, arguably the rest of the world continues to be bemused by the whole issue. What is it exactly that we are remembering this week and for the duration of the seventy-four-day war: a tragic and unnecessary conflict, the justified redemption of national territory, a violation of international law by an illegitimate government, the cleansing of a "dirty war" by a "just war"?

Turkey to Pakistan: civic action for change

The suspension on 9 March 2007 of the chief justice of Pakistan's supreme court, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry for alleged misuse of power in challenging government actions has backfired on the country's president, Pervez Musharraf. A striking feature of the wave of protest against the decision - whose latest manifestation is a mass demonstration in Islamabad in support of Chaudhry outside the supreme-court building on 3 April - is the prominent role taken by Pakistan's lawyers.

Argentina and Britain: the lessons of war

Argentina’s democracy and commitment to global peace are the most important legacies of the Falklands war, argues Justin Vogler.

For someone born after the Beatles split up, I have surprisingly clear memories of the Falklands/Malvinas war, which started on 2 April 1982 when Argentina's military dictator Leopoldo Galtieri seized the islands, and ended seventy-four days later with the humiliating surrender of the Argentinean forces.

Argentina and the Malvinas, twenty-five years on

The story of how Argentineans have responded to defeat in the Malvinas/Falklands war of 1982 contains a quarter-century of contradictions, says Ivan Briscoe.

The great Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, who had been raised to admire gauchos and English gentlemen in equal measure, was gravely aggrieved by the sight of his two favourite nations at war in the south Atlantic. "Two bald men fighting over a comb", was his bitter putdown.

Churchillism: from Thatcher and the Falklands to Blair and Iraq

In 1982, Anthony Barnett argued that Britain's decision to wage war with Argentina in the south Atlantic was triggered by its deep political culture. Twenty-five years on, he looks afresh at the entrails.

Iraq's surge signals

The most zealous advocates of the latest United States strategy in Iraq cannot contemplate its failure.

The European Union and Palestine: a new engagement

The European Union could play a major role in reinvigorating the Palestine-Israel peace process by aiding Palestine. But it needs to be done intelligently and with care, says Richard Youngs

Riyadh's Arab summit: a precious opportunity

The Arab League summit of 28-29 March in Saudi Arabia's capital should build on and go beyond earlier efforts towards peace with Israel, says Yossi Alpher.

The Arab League summit: two challenges

The gathering in Riyadh represents a confluence of interests behind a regional solution to the Iraqi and Palestinian-Israeli conflicts, says Ghassan Khatib.

Al-Qaida's standing

The blindness of the Bush administration is a key weapon in the al-Qaida network’s armoury

Iraqis in freefall

Whatever official narratives and recovery plans say, the real experience of Iraqis since 2003 is a collapse of livelihoods under war and occupation, says Zaid Al-Ali.

India and its Maoists: failure and success

The slaughter of fifty-five policemen in an encampment of seventy-nine at Rani Bodli in the heavily forested Dantewada district (8,362 square kilometers of forest in a total area of 10,239 square kilometres) of Chhattisgarh state, on 15 March 2007, has once again focused sharp national and international attention on the growing but little understood Maoist threat in India.

Pervez Musharraf's bed of nails

Pervez Musharraf's beleaguered government has begun a desperate attempt to defuse the crisis that the president himself precipitated on 9 March 2007 by suspending the chief justice of the supreme court, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry. Around him is a country in uproar over this peremptory use of executive power, with lawyers and opposition activists and leaders battling the police outside courts in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi.

The United States and Africa: eyes on the prize

Three concerns – oil, China and the war on terror – are pushing the United States toward greater involvement in Africa.

The costs of America's long war

The United States's planned defence spending reveals both its military ambition and its fear of losing control of an unruly world.

Palestine's argument: Mecca and beyond

The Saudi-mediated pact between Fatah and Hamas marks the return of Palestine as an arena for regional rivalry, says Khaled Hroub.

In the month since the agreement in Mecca, after the summit of 6-8 February 2007 which broke the bloody deadlock between Fatah and Hamas, the implications for Palestine and the region have become increasingly apparent.

The law and genocide: Bosnia, Serbia, and justice

The International Court of Justice ruling on Bosnia's case against Serbia must be considered in strict legal rather than wider political or moral terms, says Anthony Dworkin.

The west's Afghan blues

The tensions among Nato member-states over military strategy in Afghanistan complicate the struggle against a reviving Taliban.

The International Court of Justice: Serbia, Bosnia, and genocide

The world court's decision to clear Serbia of genocide in Bosnia is an exercise in denial, says Martin Shaw.

Mai Ghoussoub in her time

Mai Ghoussoub, the founder and joint proprietor of Al Saqi Bookshop and the publishing company linked to it, has died suddenly at the age of 54. Her death is cruel, completely unexpected and still inexplicable. Much more than a bookshop owner and publisher, she was one of the most open, generous, and tolerant people in the cultural life of London over the past thirty years.

Her own work as a sculptor grew in stature with each passing year, and her literary contributions to debate over the middle east were highly personal, urgent pleas for a culture of democratic reconciliation of differences - for a move beyond the cycle of revenge and grievance in which Arab (and Israeli) politics is stuck. Quite apart from her own creative work, she was a kind and encouraging friend to writers, artists, and young people finding their way intellectually and politically. Her instinct, the opposite of the coldly exclusionary reflex of English literary London, was to draw people in, to assume the best of them and to help them by introducing them to writers or academics who might stimulate them. Her death leaves a raw wound for many of us that will take a long time to heal.

Iraq: the beginning of the end

The proposed British evacuation of Iraq prefigures the failure of the United States-led project in the country.

India under assault

The only way to halt the series of terrorist attacks on Indian targets is to understand where they are coming from and act accordingly, says Ajai Sahni.

Another "mindless" attack has been executed by terrorists on a civilian target, leaving sixty-eight dead on 19 February 2007 in the Delhi-Attari special train that links up with the Samjhauta (Understanding) Express, to Lahore - a crucial symbolic link between the subcontinent's divided people.

Remembering Mai Ghoussoub

The loss of the Lebanese artist and publisher leaves her friends and colleagues bereft. Maggie Gee, Anna Wilson and Anthony Barnett pay tribute to Mai Ghoussoub.

Britain's 21st-century defence

Two key military decisions will soon reveal whether the British government understands the real global-security challenges of the coming decades.

Islam, religion and ideology

The argument made by Meghnad Desai for the confinement of religion to the private sphere does not take account of the dynamics of modern Islamic belief, says Sami Zubaida.

Kosovo: the Balkans' last independent state

Kosovo's separation from Serbia represents the culmination of a modern European historical process, says Marko Attila Hoare.

The Persian Gulf: a war of position

The logistics of the United States military build-up off Iran's coast are ominous.

Kosovo: a break in the ice

The interim proposal for Kosovo’s future presented by Martti Ahtisaari faces the people of the contested territory with hard new choices, says TK Vogel.

The United States and Iran: the logic of war

The Bush administrations's hardline rhetoric, backed by more military hardware in the Persian Gulf, brings a devastating confrontation nearer.
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