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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

Indonesia: bombs and politics

The Jakarta hotel bombs are evidence of a fragmentation of jihadi militancy in Indonesia. The attacks will have political consequences at elite level,  says Charles Reader.    

Hizbollah’s “divine victory”: three years on

The militant Islamist movement’s version of the war with Israel in July-August 2006 needs to be adjusted, says Hazem Saghieh.

Democracy-promotion: doctrine vs dialogue

George W Bush made democracy-support a central theme of his presidency. Barack Obama, by contrast, has downplayed it. Yet the latter's approach may achieve more effective results, says Mariano Aguirre.

The discovery of the Uyghurs

The unrest in China’s western province of Xinjiang - known to the Uyghurs as East Turkestan - has focused the world’s attention on a comparatively neglected people. It is long overdue, says Henryk Szadziewski of the Uyghur Human Rights Project.

(This article was originally published 9 July 2009) 

Russia – Belarus: an odd couple

The refusal of Belarus to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia points to a key factor behind its "marriage with Russia".  Both may favour a union, but for very different reasons, explains Sergei Markedonov

Arabs and the Iranian upheaval

The missed chances and false trails of the Arabs’ political projects are highlighted in their reaction to Iran’s proto-revolution, says Hazem Saghieh.

Georgia: between war and a future

A year after the disastrous war with Russia, the political elite in Tbilisi remains uncertain about how to define a way forward for the country. Vicken Cheterian assesses its predicament.

Israel’s path: from occupation to peace

The unravelling of the commitments made in earlier phases of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process must be reversed if Israel is to avoid international isolation, says Gershon Baskin.

The Uyghurs and China: lost and found nation

The broader roots of the eruption of protest in China's far-west region of Xinjiang lie in the experience of the Uyghur people under Beijing’s rule, says Yitzhak Shichor.

America, Russia, and a nuclear-free world

Behind the modest progress in arms-reduction agreed by Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev is a larger trend towards a world without nuclear weapons, says Andrew Mack.

Georgia's pluralistic feudalism: a frontline report

Georgia's leader-fixated politics lacks an institutional base and competing visions of the country's future. No wonder the gap between the rhetoric and reality of democracy is so sharp, finds Ilia Roubanis in Tbilisi.

Karabakh: peace, war and democracy

The dangerous tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the “frozen conflict” of Nagorno-Karabakh are growing. Hayk Kotanjian proposes a way forward from an official Armenian position. openDemocracy publishes the text as part of our longstanding and independent coverage of the Caucasus.

Iraq: face of corruption, mask of politics

The challenges to Iraq's authorities following the withdrawal of United States military forces from Iraq’s cities include building clean and efficient institutions that command the respect of citizens. The fight against corruption is central to the task, says Zaid Al-Ali.

We are visible

Katana Gégé Bukuru spoke to Isabel Hilton at the Nobel Women's Initiative gathering in Antigua about her work for women's human rights and the search for durable peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Sri Lanka - camps, media…genocide?

What kind of violence has the Sri Lankan state been committing against its Tamil civilian population as the island‘s civil war ended; on what scale and with what intentions? Martin Shaw explores the difficult terrain where war, atrocity and genocide meet.

Violence targets the weakest

We have found that the primary cause of all the violence and submission which women undergo is discrimination, and it is this which makes us more vulnerable than the others. Lucie Minzigama spoke to Isabel Hilton at the Nobel Women's initiative gathering in Guatemala about her work in Burundi working for women and children's human rights

Versailles, 1919-2009: a new world order’s legacy

The treaty concluded on 28 June 1918 reverberates today across a huge area from Iran and Iraq to the Balkans and even beyond, says David A Andelman.

Isaias Afewerki and Eritrea: a nation’s tragedy

The political character of Eritrea's leader has transformed the hope of Africa's youngest independent nation-state into a nightmare, says Selam Kidane.

(This article was first published on 22 June 2009)

A Georgian appeal: open letter to the west

The deep political tensions in Georgia have led to one of the country’s leading politicians, Nino Burdzhanadze, standing against the country’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili. She explains her thinking and appeals for engagement and understanding from the west. openDemocracy publishes the text as part of our longstanding and independent coverage of Georgia and the region.


Lebanon's elections: reading the signs

A peaceful election dissolves myths and rearranges the country’s political jigsaw. But the issue of Hizbollah’s weapons remains, says Hazem Saghieh.

Lahore to Peshawar: the trophy-target war

The urbanisation of Pakistan’s internal war is intended to turn the country’s population centres into places of permanent insecurity, says Razi Ahmed.

The trouble with guns: Sri Lanka, South Africa, Ireland

The use of violence as an instrument of political liberation leads rather to failure and regression, says Martin Shaw.

‘Wahhabi’ village in Dagestan

As human rights violations escalate in the North Caucasus, Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch visits Dagestan, supposedly riven by the struggle between ‘Wahhabis' and the authorities. She visits the so-called ‘Wahhabi' village of Gudben. 

Pakistan: the road from hell

Pakistan won’t collapse. But it is in trouble, and needs strategic leadership.  Pervez Hoodbhoy offers a long-term view of the country’s predicament.

The Cairo speech: Arab Muslim voices

Barack Obama’s appeal for “a new beginning” in America’s relationship with Islam is finding an echo across the middle east, report Karim Kasim & Zaid Al-Ali.

Lebanon at the crossroads

The political rivalry between the two major political blocs reinforces the flaws of Lebanon's confessional electoral system to make the national election of June 2009 a tense moment, says Robert G Rabil.

Mindanao: poverty on the frontlines

Poverty and a lack of political will fuel insurgency in the restive south of the Philippines

Northern Ireland: between peace and reconciliation

The political agreement of 1998 marked the end of thirty years of violent conflict, but ground-level divisions in parts of Northern Ireland remain rooted and bitter. The “interface” areas are where the tensions are most severe and the work of groups seeking a deeper settlement most important, says Tom Lodge.

Barack Obama's middle east: pragmatism and hope

The prospects of a comprehensive peace process rest on the construction of a new political dynamic that includes a series of actors - Washington, Egypt, Syria, Iran, Israel, and Hamas and Hizbollah among them. On the eve of Barack Obama’s major speech in Cairo, Robert G Rabil surveys the terrain.

(This article was first published on 1 June 2009)

What Obama must say (and do) in Egypt

The United States president’s visit to Cairo needs to offer the Arab and Muslim worlds an America they can at last believe, says Nader Hashemi.

"Comrades, your enemy is yourselves!"

Scene One. The day that Yvette Lillian Myakayaka-Manzini, vice president of the ANC women's department, took her account of the struggle against apartheid to Gaza. Scene Two. On an Israeli beach...

Moldova: the Twitter Revolution that wasn’t

The protest that greeted Moldova's recent election represented domestic frustrations, not an abortive colour revolution. Addressing Moldova's deep-seated problems of poverty, criminality and national identity will require constructive input from Western powers

Pakistan and the “AfPak” strategy

The Pakistani army and state are seeking to find space for their own strategic interests in the region amid increasing pressure from the United States, says Shaun Gregory.

Sri Lanka’s challenge: winning the peace

The end of Sri Lanka’s long war creates a new political landscape in the torn country. Rohan Gunaratna assesses what must be done to build a lasting settlement.

How Do We Cope?

As summit follows summit, the fate of the Gazan people once again hangs in the balance. A young student and entrepreneur chronicles the ingenuity of his fellow Gazans.

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