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This week's editor

Constitutional conventions: best practice

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?

Rafiq al-Hariri's murder: why do Lebanese blame Syria?

The assassination of Lebanon’s former prime minister on 14 February has sparked fury in the country and confusion in the region. Lebanese journalist Hazem Saghieh investigates what really happened.

(This article was first published on 21 February 2005)

Yemen: Saleh’s final dance

There are many different strands to the protest under way in Yemen, including old and new grievances, and signs that some of them are coming together.

The Indonesian Government: closing window for peace in West Papua

Just as Indonesia’s president Susilo Bambang Yudhuyono was being feted globally for being a democrat, the Indonesian government was entrenching Papua’s reputation as Indonesia’s last bastion of authoritarian military rule. Now Peace Brigades International has finally been forced out.

What can the ‘Big Society’ learn from history?

Governments can do little to build civil society directly but much more to strengthen the conditions in which civil society can build itself.

Nuclear Follies

The so-called nuclear renaissance is irrational. Just look to Libya and Japan.

Afghanistan dreads the spring

Afghans suffer at the hands of everyone - the Taliban, the Afghan security forces, the international forces, and the warlords or drug barons - sometimes in combination. In language that is reminiscent of the way young people are talking in other parts of the Middle East, they want to reclaim their dignity.

Libya: the prospect of war

The military balance of Libya’s domestic conflict is raising debate about external intervention. But the strategy of the Gaddafi regime is also crucial to what happens next.

Intervention in Libya? A case of shooting from the hip, slowly

Politicians and public need to address the moral argument around the use of force, encompassing the humanitarian and democratic arguments deployed in favour of intervention balanced against risk aversion and moral objections.

The British should heed Free Libya’s call for a no fly zone

Britain's responsibility to protect the Libyan people from Gaddafi's crack-down is unavoidable. We must not be so fixated on our past mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan that we fail to help Libya to free itself. Let's pressure our government now to back a no-fly-zone and break with Britain's sorry past.

Israel and the Arab awakening

Israel’s political class is struggling to make sense of a crumbling Arab order and the loss of the certainties it embodied, reports Thomas O’Dwyer.

Libya: a hard road ahead

The military-political deadlock in Libya between supporters and opponents of the Gaddafi regime leaves a pervasive uncertainty over the country’s future. But even greater challenges will follow this conflict, says Alison Pargeter.

Libya’s regime at 40: a state of kleptocracy

The protection-racket formation that has ruled Libya since 1969 is now being embraced by western businessmen and diplomats. But it belongs to the past, says Fred Halliday.

(This article was first published on 8 September 2009)

Lebanon: the last conservative regime in the region?

Several Lebanese politicians and commentators have proudly presented the Arab revolutionary movements as an extension of the March 2005 uprising in Beirut. They are quite wrong.

A social democracy of the people? A review of Fight Back!

A review of Fight Back! A Reader on the Winter of Protest, published by OurKingdom on February 15 and free to download. Stuart White concludes that the Reader is

Libya: the Washington-London dilemma

In their pursuit of Muammar Gaddafi’s downfall, the powers that led the charge into Iraq face both military and political problems.

Rethinking the possible

Everywhere you go, people of the world are fed up with states and the class of accountants and crooked despots that manage them. Jarrett Zigon believes that such consensus has afforded a unique historical opportunity for change. We must now begin to develop alternatives to the modern nation-state, the contemporary global economic order, and the current assumptions of “moral” behaviour

Caucasian prisoners (or how not to deal with militancy in Dagestan)

The southern republic of Dagestan is now Russia’s most violent flashpoint. Besieged by militants from one side, the republic is no better served by its security services on the other. Indeed, the brutality and lawlessness of these government forces actually risks motivating yet more young men to ‘go to the forest’ and join the fighters.

Pro-democracy demonstrations in northern Iraq/south Kurdistan

The winds of rebellion have reached the Kurdistan autonomous region in northern Iraq, where a series of demonstrations have broken out to demand greater democracy, improved social services, and an end to corruption.
In this interview, a prominent journalist and democracy advocate discusses the origins of the protests and the wider political situation in the Kurdish region

The tragedy that is Iraq

Totalitarian rule, war, sanctions, invasion, destruction, sectarian suspicions, western manipulation all have brought Iraq to its knees. Any formula that relies on a basic regrouping and reshuffling of a corrupt regime in control of state resources will collapse in violence.

If not now, when? The responsibility to protect Libyans – who?

Prominent neo-conservatives associated with the G.W.Bush administration have written to President Obama calling for a US-led Nato to develop plans to command Libyan waters and air space. Will this protect the Libyan people?

Iran's Green Movement: decapitated but not defeated

The arrest of Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, the defeated presidential candidates and leaders of Iran's Green Movement marks a new phase of repression in Iran. But a leaderless movement may emerge from this crisis united and all the stronger, as Egypt and Tunisia's protest movements have shown, argues Arash Falasiri.

End of ‘1989’?

The Arab world has spoken truth to power in ways that question the celebration of western style democracies and the ‘end of history’ marked by the ‘1989 velvet revolutions’.

Day of the Braindead

Our author prepares for Mardi Gras, intent on paying proper tribute to his local culture.

Côte d'Ivoire: the need to reach beyond the theatre of elections

The human security outlook deteriorates in Côte d'Ivoire, and "free and fair" elections are shown again to be far from a sufficient condition for democratic transition

Bahrain: evolution or revolution?

With its oil reserves measured in years rather than decades and facing the imminent yet difficult transition to a post-oil economy, Bahrainis simply cannot afford another wasted ten-year cycle of partial reform and renewed repression. Major unrest in the Gulf States is altering their self-projection as global actors and oases of stability in an otherwise insecure region. In this context, the Bahraini government’s lethal response to peaceful demonstrators inflicted immense damage on its international credibility

International pressure on Gaddafi mounts

International pressure on Gaddafi mounts. Belarus violates Ivorian arms embargo as violence escalates. Rangoon bomb blast. Yemen to announce government of national unity within 24 hours. North Korea threatens war over leaflets. All this and more in today’s briefing...

International commission calls for inquest into Bangladesh ethnic violence

The International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission calls for an impartial commission of inquiry to investigate ethnic unrest in Bangladesh’s restive Chittagong Hill Tracts region. Libya stands on the brink of civil war as the international community begins to respond. Iranian warships have docked at a Syrian port as Israel accuses Iran of making a ‘provocation’.

Weighing intervention in Libya

International organisations will never regain popular legitimacy if they continue their inaction over Libya. Intervention must be measured so as not to exacerbate the situation, but inaction is the worst course of all.

EU migration control: made by Gaddafi?

For over three years now, we have relied on Gaddafi and his state apparatus to keep asylum seekers and other migrants away from our European doors.

George Bush and the turn to human rights in the Arab world

Some have linked the emergence of a strong human rights agenda in the Arab world with the policies of the last American president. In a way they are right: post-9/11 abuses overseen by the Bush administration were the tragedy that brought to light the urgency of claiming rights.

Gaddafi: a model for the middle east's "mad men"

Gaddafi's resistance to popular demands and violent response presents a new model for regimes to resist democratic uprisings with extreme violence, mercenary arms, and the suppression of communications. Either countermeasures are adopted that limit the power of regimes to suppress their people, or citizens will continue to die at the hands of mad men.

Towards statehood: three Palestinian interviews, January 2011

The problems inside Palestinian society as well as those between Palestine and Israel have solutions. The process may be long, difficulties are bound to appear. But with enough local and international commitment there is no impassable barrier. There are people - probably not a few on both sides - that realize that there is now an opportunity to properly address the many decades-old issues. Manuela Paraipan presents three interviews with representatives of political and civil society.
These interviews continue a series of conversations on the issue of Palestinian statehood. For the first part, an interview with PECDAR President Dr Mohammad Shteyyeh, click here
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