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This week’s editor

Alex Sakalis, Editor

Alex Sakalis is associate editor of openDemocracy and co-edits the Can Europe Make It? page.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Skinback Fusiliers, Episode Seven

We present the seventh of ten weekly episodes from a brutal novel by an acclaimed British author

The Russians in Afghanistan: part II

In the second part of exclusive extracts from "Afgantsy", Rodric Braithwaite focuses on the soldiers who served in Afghanistan: their music, the dead, the wounded and the ambiguous reaction of their compatriots on their return. Most soldiers found adapting to life back home immensely difficult; some would later nostalgically reflect on their Afghan years as the best of their life.

Al-Qaida and the Arab spring: after bin Laden

The death of the al-Qaida leader is a symbolic moment. But far more important is that the future of his movement - and much else besides - is closely tied to the success or failure of the Arab risings.

Media whizz-kids of the security state

The very idea behind Pakistan's security state is that civilians are expendable, that there is no need to build civilian institutions because we are permanently invaded and the whole world is our enemy

Common sense before troops to Libya

We should focus on strengthening democratic and non-violent processes to stabilise Libya long-term.

R2P is misused

R2P, introduced without the slightest idea of how it has to be implemented, is nothing more than an alibi for half-hearted (Libya) or fully fledged (Ivory Coast) military operations and interventions. With regard to non-combatants (civilians), the UN should and could have done a better, more honest job.

What did Pakistan know?

If America wants Pakistan on side; if it wants to see a stable Pakistan that is not a haven for terrorists and that doesn’t export terrorism, then it needs to recognise that it (America) is the elephant in the room.

Rebuilding Cote d’Ivoire: Lessons from Sierra Leone

To tackle Cote d’Ivoire’s intractable problems after the demise of Gbagbo’s regime, security sector reform, reconciliation, resettlement and development must work in tandem

All the frogs croak before a storm: Dostoevsky versus Tolstoy on Humanitarian Interventions

Dostoevsky was in favor of military intervention in the Balkans, Tolstoy opposed to it. The arguments they put forward are surprisingly relevant to our own current wars.

The Hamas-Fatah unity deal: regional and international power dynamics

Despite the best efforts of the US and its European and regional allies to ignore them, international and regional factors that enabled the domestic power structures to remain in place for so long have also been the focus of protesters’ grievances and demands.

A human right to resist

We need the international community to favour the worldwide groundswell of civil resistance over armed violence. This could be facilitated by a more dynamic and comprehensive interpretation of existing international law in the light of a broader understanding of those rights of which civil resistance is comprised.

A new understanding of the Middle East

There are multiple reasons for looking beyond Islam for our comprehension of this tumultuous region, to culture, to politics, and also to the history of capitalism, foreign interference and domination – its winners and losers. Our reviewer of Beyond Islam: A New Understanding of the Middle East, by openDemocracy author Sami Zubaida, is drawn to a conclusion regarding having one’s pudding and eating it

Al-Qaeda post-Bin Laden: what next?

The Salafi-jihadist movement is losing its recruitment pool in the Arab world. Its latest strategies look elsewhere, and the death of Osama Bin Laden will not affect these plans.

Skinback Fusiliers, Episode Six

We present the sixth of ten weekly episodes from a brutal novel by an acclaimed British author

Israeli Foreign Minister urges boycott of PA – Hamas government

Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman calls on the International Community to boycott potential Hamas – PA government. Syrian crackdown intensifies as demonstrators continue to defy the regime. Clashes continue between Thai and Cambodian troops over a disputed border region. All this and more, in today’s security briefing…

Terrorism in historical perspective

All human beings are locked into a conflict that will endure for decades, the outcome of which is not certain. In face of it, says Fred Halliday, citizens need five resources: a clear sense of history; recognition of the reality of the danger; steady, intelligent, political leadership; the building of mass support for resistance to this major threat; and above all, a commitment to liberal and democratic values.

(This article was first published on 22 April 2004)

Protecting civilians: too important to be left to the military

Civilian protection requires simple, straightforward dialogue and negotiation with the people who can control whether other people are safe or not. And it works. As soon as you bring guns, tanks and air support into the picture, you are talking about something which more often than not does not work

The Russians in Afghanistan: part I

The Russian experience in Afghanistan is not a simple story. Far from being the imperialist expansion it is sometimes caricatured to be, the Russians stumbled into Afghanistan reluctantly, beset by ideological neuroses, incomplete intelligence, conflicting advice and the pressure of events. oDR is pleased to present the first part of exclusive extracts from Rodric Braithwaite’s “Afgantsy”

Afghanistan: between war and politics

The diplomatic signals point to negotiation with the Taliban as a route to ending the Afghan conflict. But the geopolitical hurdles remain formidable.

Refolution in the Arab world

A new word is needed to describe these events of recent months. They should be called ‘refolutions’, radical refusals of the old choice between reform and revolution - remarkably sensitive to the grave dangers and high costs of using violent means to get their way

Canada: democracy and core public values after 2 May

The Canadian Government has obfuscated over the transfer of its Afghan detainees to the brutal and torturing Afghan intelligence services. As Canada approaches election day, Craig Scott asks whether the country’s broken parliamentary and bureaucratic system is capable of responding to the concerns

Gulf States: studious silence falls on Arab Spring

New demands for political reform in the Gulf are meeting a repressive response by regimes especially panicked when pro-democracy protests swell into cross-sectarian movements for meaningful political reform. This brutality polarises opinion between advocates of reform and proponents of repression. It also poses a dilemma for western policy makers in their engagement with their strategic partners in the region.

Skinback Fusiliers, Episode Five

We present the fifth of ten weekly episodes from a brutal novel by an acclaimed British author

Glaring emissions: the threat to Indonesia's rainforest

Thanks to the Orwellian double-speak of Indonesian emissions abatement strategy, the proposed solution may in fact be the disaster itself.

Observing the Stokes Croft Riot

In the west of England, the police's bungled eviction of a squat involved in protests against a local Tesco created the conditions for a full-blown riot in the Stokes Croft area of Bristol.

Armed drone attacks sanctioned in Libya

The United States begins using drones in Libya as Europe sends in military advisers. Syrian regime appears increasingly vulnerable as Assad ends 48 years of emergency rule. Communal violence continues in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region of Bangladesh. All this and more, in today’s security update…

South Sudan: reflections on a fragile state

Despite continuing North-South tensions, intra-Southern fragility is now one of the most pressing concerns in Sudan, whether or not Khartoum is fuelling the flames of these insurrections. With independence due in just over two months, it needs addressing

Serbia and Kosovo: war of nerves

Since the ICJ ruled Kosovo’s independence legal last year, Serbia’s position on Kosovo has become untenable, both politically and in international law. Will the country’s politicians finally recognise that it is in their own interests to recognise Kosovo?

Libya: the view from the bunker

Libya's war is being shaped by Tripoli's defiance, the rebels' endurance, and the western coalition's strains. In the mix, a Gaddafi regime faced with elimination is making larger plans.

Gaza on my mind

The latest of the theatre director’s ‘strange days’ in Cairo, while waiting to hear if he and his partner have permission to enter Gaza; caught in stasis while extraordinary events unfold around them. Updated.

Misunderestimating the Tea Party

Independent and moderate US voters do share the Tea Party’s concern about the spiralling national debt, stagnant employment and collapsing currency.

New Turkey and the Arab Spring?

Once Turkey considers and comes to terms with the challenge of formulating a new political language, it can rise to the level it aspires to as a new actor in a new region and in a new global order.

Mikati’s critical mission in Lebanon

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon has become a central issue in the minds of the Lebanese, implicated in power conflicts among Lebanon’s major religious groups. Can Prime Minister-designate Najib Makati assume a conciliatory role and pull the country out of crisis?

I Live in a Small World

At home, our author has been building, with a hunger for food, wholeness, and what reckless history there is in the stones and the magic beneath them

Libya and R2P: norm consolidation or a perfect storm?

A similar conjoining of purpose with process, in relation to the collective use of force, has not been seen since the 1991 Gulf War.
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