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This week's editor

Constitutional conventions: best practice

The Skinback Fusiliers, Episode One

openDemocracy and Our Kingdom are proud to serialise The Skinback Fusiliers, a fast, funny and deeply disturbing novel about life in the British army today seen through the eyes of three young men. The book is available on Kindle and through Amazon here.

Why democracy in the Arab world is no foregone conclusion

One way of assessing the prospects for democracy in the Middle East is to compare this region not only with eastern Europe in the late 1980s but also with southern Europe in the mid-1970s, where aged authoritarian regimes gave way to young democracies.

Libya: war or humanitarian intervention?

In the end the prospects for democracy depend on whether the rebels can mobilise support politically throughout Libya. The problem with the military approach is that it entrenches division. Our preoccupation with classic military means is undermining our capacity to address growing insecurity.

Libya, Arab democracy, and western policy

The United States and European intervention in Libya leaves open key questions about the future of western power in the wider region, says Godfrey Hodgson.

Voices from the military abyss – An Introduction to The Skinback Fusiliers.

openDemocracy and Our Kingdom are proud to serialiseThe Skinback Fusiliers, a fast, funny and deeply disturbing novel about life in the British army today seen through the eyes of three young men.

On violence, protest and London's March for the Alternative

How do we pass moral judgment over the use of political violence? What of situations that lack a basic strategy, as on London's March for the Alternative? Paul Sagar regrets the violence last Saturday, but tempers his judgment with an understanding of the underlying reasons.

My day in the cells

An activist in UK Uncut's account of his arrest and jailing after the 26 March demonstration

Unknown Soldier on the making of The Skinback Fusiliers

openDemocracy is serialising the novel The Skinback Fusiliers over the next two months. Here, the anonymous author, 'Unknown Soldier', gives an insight into the creation of this fast, funny and deeply disturbing novel about life in the British army.

Southern Fire

In the past year, reporting from Thailand has been dominated by the drama in Bangkok. The confrontation between redshirts and government troops is no doubt of great importance to Thailand’s future. But another conflict also deserves the world’s attention.

Mightiest for the mightiest: “The Net Delusion”

In “The Net Delusion”, Evgeny Morozov vents frustration at what he calls “cyber utopianism” in Western foreign policy. Far from being a tool to free the weak, Morozov argues, oppressive regimes are now the expert manipulators of Web 2.0. He’s certainly got a point, says John Lloyd, but he is also wrong to assume no one in the State Department shares his concerns.

The genesis of terrorism in the Sahara: Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb

Yvan Guichaoua reports back on the rise of a new force in the Sahara, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, news of which has reached the Western press through its kidnapping of European aid workers.

After Fukushima

As we pursue the abolition of nuclear weapons, we also need to phase out reliance on nuclear energy. Both are incompatible with our environmental and human security, says Rebecca Johnson.

Digital activism and the anti-cuts agenda

Outrage at the Coalition's austerity programme and the capacity for digital networked communications have given rise to a new activism. The common anti-cuts agenda is clear, but will new forms of communication, deliberation and organisation give rise to more radical objectives?

Budget 2011: defence spending falls, British role wanes despite Libya headlines

An aspect of the UK's budget that no one else has commented on

The IRGC and the “New” Middle East

The actions and declarations of the IRGC and regular military leaders indicate that Iran is working diligently to take advantage of the unrest in the Middle East. Annie Tracy Samuel explains how.

Libyan no-fly zone under fire

Libyan no-fly zone appears to lack direction as operations enter third day. Thousands of young Gbagbo supporters rush to enlist in national army. Yemeni general backs rebels after army fires on protestors. Bahrain’s monarch thanks GCC states for help in foiling foreign plot to destabilise the kingdom.

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?
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