This week's editor

Mariam Ali

Mariam Ali is Associate Editor for openDemocracy's Arab Awakening page.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

From the sublime to the ridiculous

The Middle East peace process is now meaningless. Ariel Sharon has the only game plan in town. Time to grasp this before contemplating solutions, says Lindsay Talmud.

Sharon's Gaza disengagement: roadmap to a Palestinian state?

Can Palestinians seize a victory from their defeat? They must now be given a fair chance to make a success of governing Gaza, so that it becomes the springboard to recover their destiny, argues Israel’s former foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, as he seeks a way forward after the Bush-Sharon accord.

Afghanistan: no time to lose

There is a real opportunity for Afghans to build a better future for themselves, says a recent visitor to the country with a UNHCR mission. But only swift, careful action by Nato can help them seize it. Can Nato deliver?

Between Fallujah and Palestine

The tactics and weapons used in the siege of the Iraqi city of Fallujah reveal the United States’s growing military cooperation with Israel.

The second trip to Fallujah and the courteous kidnappers

Jo Wilding returns to the besieged Iraqi city with aid supplies, is kidnapped by insurgents, and lives to tell the urgent, compelling story.

Sergeant Tratner of the First Armoured Division is irritated. “Git back or you’ll git killed,” are his opening words.

Lee says we’re press and he looks with disdain at the car. “In this piece of shit?”

Makes us less of a target for kidnappers, Lee tells him. Suddenly he decides he recognises Lee from the TV. Based in Germany, he watches the BBC. He sees Lee on TV all the time. “Cool. Hey, can I have your autograph?”

America and the Iraq war, or thinking 'inside out'

The seizure of United States foreign policy by neo-conservatives made possible the Iraq war. The result has been a disaster for the international community. After the Madrid bombs, Spanish citizens sounded the alert. Will Americans follow?

Understanding the insurgencies in Iraq

Will Iraqis unite in revolt against US forces? Beneath the boiling surface of Iraqi anger lies a more complex and fractious reality which points to a different outcome.

Give us hope, not bombs

An Iraqi Kurd who welcomed the US war in his country sees arrogance and force crushing chances for freedom. His view: American occupation policy is dangerously misjudged.

A strategy disintegrates

As civilian and military casualties mount, US strategy in Iraq and south-west Asia as a whole has entered a critical period, with potentially dire consequences. But there are no signs of rethinking emerging in Washington.

Enough revolution

A distinguished Arab commentator says US strategy in Iraq is unravelling. It is time to put aside simplistic caricatures, and think harder about the future of the Iraqi people.


An American life is worth a thousand Iraqi lives. Iraqi satirist and author Khalid Kishtainy does the accounts for the recent fighting in Fallujah.

Inside the Fire

A brave and harrowing report from inside the besieged city of Fallujah where ordinary people are trapped in the cross-fire.

11 April, Fallujah

Faith, not optimism: an interview with Sari Nusseibeh

Sari Nusseibeh is a Palestinian scholar and activist of independent mind who is committed to non-violence in both the methods and goals of struggle. He talks to Linda Benedikt about his Peoples’ Voice civic initiative with Ami Ayalon, and the prospects for a long-term settlement between Israel and Palestine.

The American military: all stressed out

United States force levels have declined and their active commitments increased since the cold war era. As the Pentagon redeploys troops around the world, the strains are beginning to show.

Where is Iraq going?

What lies behind the revolt of the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Shi’a followers? Does it signal the end of American rule in Iraq? Laura Sandys sees parallels and portents in an earlier period of colonial rule.

Iraq's past and future: remembering Sayyid Abdul Majid Khoei

In April 2003, the moderate Shi’a cleric Sayyid Abdul Majid Khoei returned to his Iraqi homeland after more than a decade in exile in Britain, and was murdered in the holy city of Najaf. Had he lived, Khoei might have played an important role in political developments in Iraq. Caspar Henderson attended a 2 April event commemorating his life, work and legacy.

Muqtada al-Sadr and the Mahdi Army: America's nightmare?

Could the insurgency of the radical Shi’a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr fuse with the Sunni rebellion to ignite Iraqi nationalism against the occupiers?

Beyond 'relative humanity' to a secular democratic state

The end of Zionism and its denial of the humanity of Palestinians will open the way to a single state that makes Israelis and Palestinians both moral and political equals, says the Palestinian writer Omar Barghouti.

A week of vengeance

A fury of violence in Iraq is targeting foreign civilian workers and Iraqi officials as well as United States forces. But incidents from Uzbekistan to Thailand reveal a spreading arc of dangerous conflict that suggests even worse to come.

What future for Palestine? An interview with Sari Nusseibeh

What are the prospects for the Palestinian national community in the wake of Israel’s killing of the Hamas leader, Sheikh Yassin, and Ariel Sharon’s declared plan to withdraw Israeli forces from Gaza? Linda Benedikt, for openDemocracy, talks to Sari Nusseibeh, president of Jerusalem al-Quds University and co-founder of the joint Palestinian-Israeli People’s Voice movement.

Atocha: a view from Washington

The shared horror and sympathy following the Madrid terrorist bombings reveal a transatlantic relationship alive but in need of unity against a common enemy, says John C. Hulsman of the Heritage Foundation.

Night falls in Gaza

The assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin has caused convulsive outrage among Gaza’s Palestinian people. From its epicentre, a young Irish human rights activist balances vivid reportage and cool reflection.

Madrid in the world's eyes

The terrorist atrocities in Madrid on 11 March, and the national election three days later, raise hard questions for Spaniards and Europeans, for Muslims and world citizens. What should they – we – do? openDemocracy invited 100 people from twelve countries to discuss the meaning and implications of these events. Caspar Henderson summarises a quietly passionate discussion.

Morocco and Spain: united by tragedy?

Moroccans in Spain were victims of the Madrid bombs and, it seems, also perpetrators. How will the relationship between the two states, equally ambiguous, be affected?

Axis of desperation

From Gaza to Pakistan, Afghanistan to Iraq, United States-led military strategy is producing local resistance and political challenge. The “war on terror” is in difficulty on several fronts.

Terrorism, democracy and Muslims after the Madrid bombs

openDemocracy responds to the 11 March bombings in Madrid with a swift, intelligent online discussion involving eight writers from six countries. Was the Spanish people's election of a new government an act of cowardice or a mighty democratic roar? What does Europe need to do, both to meet the danger and to include its Muslim communities?

Peacemaking at the sharp end: Iraq before and after war

One year on from the Iraq war, an experienced researcher of military conflict and peacemaking asks: was there an alternative, what can be done now, and what are the lessons of Iraq for conflict prevention and peace-building worldwide?

The anniversary of the war on Iraq falls on 19-20 March 2004.

Spain's shame

The Spanish people responded to the Madrid massacre by voting in a government opposed to the “war on terror”. An act of surrender and dishonour, says Douglas Murray.

A victory for Spain, not al-Qaida

The proximity of the Madrid blasts and the electoral defeat of Spain’s ruling party has been interpreted as a victory for terrorism. For Ivan Briscoe in Madrid, this is a profound misunderstanding of what happened in Spain.

The electoral victory of Spain’s Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE), three days after the devastating train bombings in central Madrid that killed over 200 citizens, was astounding.

A war of shadows

An extensive American military operation in the Afghan-Pakistan borderlands is attempting to complete the unfinished business of 2001. But the Madrid massacre has shown that the west’s elusive enemy has learned, adapted – and multiplied.

India and Pakistan: the cricket test

India and Pakistan are two South Asian giants joined by history and language, divided by politics and war. But now they are also engaged in exuberant, passionate, friendly rivalry where it really matters: on the cricket pitch. Maruf Khwaja - memorialist, exile, survivor, cricket nut with a foot in every camp – is in earthly paradise.

ETA after Madrid: the beginning of the end?

Even if it is exonerated of responsibility for the pre-election Madrid massacre, the militant Basque group that has waged a thirty-six year struggle against the Spanish state faces a difficult future.

The Madrid bombings: the 'war on terror' comes to Europe

Whoever was responsible for the atrocities on the Madrid railway system on Thursday 11 March, the implications will go far beyond the traumatic effects on the bereaved and injured.

If the Basque separatist organisation, Euskadi ta Askatasuna ("Basque homeland and liberty", ETA), had any involvement, the domestic security implications for the incoming Spanish government will be profound. The Madrid attacks were so substantial, and so precisely organised to kill and injure large numbers of people, that they would represent an action of a far greater order of magnitude than anything previously attempted by ETA.

How to say 'no' to terrorism

The real challenge of terrorism is to the quality of Europe's democracy. A response fueled by unchecked power can become fuel for a global civil war. There is, there must be, a better way.

First lessons from Spain

The Madrid bombings have taught us a powerful lesson: the ‘war on terror’ plays into the hands of its enemies. Politicians must learn to be modest in the face of those who perpetrate • “jihad”.
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