This week's editor

Mariam Ali

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

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Are you listening, America?

In Iraq, the United States continues to plan for a long-term military presence despite spreading insurgency in the country. In Afghanistan, the result of two years of American occupation includes a reviving Taliban. The US’s enemies are learning from the “war on terror”. Is America?

Bombs on Istanbul

The primary target of the suicide bombings of Jewish and British institutions in Istanbul was Turkey itself. Will the assaults explode the delicate political balance of forces in this “secularist Muslim” country?

Sakartvelo, roots of turmoil

In 1972 the first secretaryship of the Georgian Communist Party passed from Vasil Mzhavanadze to one Eduard Shevardnadze of the interior ministry. He took power in the then Soviet republic claiming he would root out the corruption that had characterised his predecessor's 19-year rule. But many Georgians would argue that Shevardnadze’s own 13-year tenure was to turn corruption into an art of government.

Dear General Ezzat!

Yahia Said, responding to Mazin Ezzat, reaffirms his belief that the reactions of Iraq's people to the violence around them will decide the country's future.

April to November: an Iraqi journey

In April 2003, Ayub Nuri embraced the change in Iraq with cautious hope. In July, he took the measure of a complex transition. Now, he reports on a time of bitterness and disillusion with the American occupiers.

Not normal, but bleeding: a reply to Yahia Said

From Baghdad, Mazin Ezzat, a wounded former officer of the deposed Iraqi regime, responds to Yahia Said’s optimism with a bleaker view of his country’s prospects.

The Ba'ath restoration project

The current insurgency in Iraq casts fresh light on the United States’s swift advance in the war of March-April 2003. Does the war’s story include a long-term Ba’ath strategy to regain power?

Africa dreams Abrahamland: shanty-town voices on Israel-Palestine

For one informal gathering of the urban poor in Cameroon, long hours and empty stomachs are filled with animated discussion of violence in the Holy Land. Victor Youmbi, passing by, listens in.

Iraq - the democratic option

Amid terrorist carnage, military blunders and CIA panic, Mary Kaldor finds hope for a democratic future in the creative social energies of ordinary Iraqis. Will its possibilities be crushed by America’s vaulting strategic ambition and Britain’s disdainful pragmatism? The US presidential election in 2004 may help decide.

Al-Qaida and Iraq: America's troubled autumn

The sudden recall to Washington of Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, reinforces the message of recent events in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan: the United States’s militant enemies are regrouping.

Ayodhya: India's endless curse

The decade-long Hindu nationalist campaign to build a temple on the site of a destroyed mosque in Uttar Pradesh state is motivated less by religious zealotry than by the cynical political calculation of India’s ruling party.

Modern India’s joyous embrace of globalisation – with its attendant bounty of branded white goods, ever-expanding choice of cars, shopping malls and flyways – cannot conceal its ruling class’s obsession with a mythical medieval temple in the town of Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh.

The travails of occupation

The Iraq war is breaking lives and confounding expectations. Will the Coalition’s latest economic and security initiatives help resolve the problems of occupation, or reinforce them?

Eight days in Iraq

Yahia Said, returning to Iraq after a twenty-five year absence, finds a people yearning for freedom, normality – and an end to violence.

The political psychology of Hindu nationalism

Hindu nationalists think of themselves as a large Indian joint family, a parivar. And perhaps rightly so, for they are propelled by a family of closely-related ideas and, put together, all their networks and organisations constitute an enormous right-wing platform, a massive arena that showcases all known varieties of illiberalisms.

Iraq: whose strategy is working?

The escalating wave of armed attacks in Iraq is targeting humanitarian agencies, locally-recruited personnel and United States forces alike. The impact of occupation on the region brings further dangers. America has only one card left to play.

America's Iraqi dilemma

The drastic security problems facing United States forces in post-war Iraq confound the optimistic forecasts of six months ago. Strategic planners are rethinking, but in circumstances beyond their control.

Wanted in Iraq: a roadmap to free elections

The post-war turmoil in Iraq is exacerbated by a vacuum of political authority. Neither the Coalition Provisional Authority nor its appointed Governing Council offer Iraqis what they really need.

The real curse of oil

Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria…oil is curse not blessing for developing nations. Its real impact is to intensify corruption, civil conflict, and political patronage. A solution requires practical cures not conspiracy theories. Iraq is the place to start.

Afghanistan and Iraq: in search of stability

The first two targets of the ‘war on terror’ are far from pacified. Germany and Turkey are responding to United States requests to help, but the scale of the international support needed far exceeds current prospects.

The Iraq weapons report: a review

The Iraq Survey Group has just published its interim report on the Saddam regime’s weapons programmes and capabilities. Ron Manley, a chemical weapons expert who oversaw the United Nations inspection operations in Iraq in the early 1990s, assesses it.

Iran and North Korea: the next targets?

Despite its problems in Iraq, the United States continues to focus on the nuclear ambitions of the other two ‘axis of evil’ states, North Korea and Iran. In the context of its doctrine of pre-emption, and the reluctance of the eight existing nuclear weapons states to disarm, can another dangerous conflict be averted?

Saddam's Islamist legacy

A recent visitor to Baghdad talks to influential Iraqis: what remains after dictatorship and manipulation of history, he finds, is a messianic revolutionary spirit in Islamic garb.

A war in trouble

The American project in Iraq is beset by severe pressures: armed resistance, logistical and morale problems, and the immense costs of reconstruction. Diplomatic discussions at the United Nations offer no respite. The window for progress on the ground is narrowing.

Iraq: the lesson from Somalia

Before agreeing to any military involvement in Iraqi peacekeeping, the United Nations and its member states should recall the bitter experience of the disastrous United States/UN operations in Somalia a decade ago.

Terrorism as regressive globalisation

An expert on modern warfare analyses the qualitatively new forms of terrorism we all face today – and the responses to them. How effective will a ‘war on terror’ turn out to be, and what of international law?

Iraqi realities

When it first planned the invasion, the US administration had a clear, ordered vision of the future of Iraq. The messy reality is in stark contrast. But despite the appearance of rapprochement with other powers, America is likely to continue to bear the overwhelming burden of a dangerous Iraqi occupation.

The neo-conservative lens

The intense logistical demands of United States forces in Iraq, no less than their exposure to guerrilla attacks, is a measure of the country’s security dilemma. The neo-conservative response is to escalate spending and troop numbers, avoid UN involvement, crush insurgency and ensure George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004. Can it work?

An Israeli journalist prepares to fight

Among the thousands of reservists regularly called up to serve in Israel's army was one journalist, musician, and writer. David Bender was more than willing to heed the call of his troubled nation. In this poignant and revealing account, he offers a glimpse of the daily life of an Israeli soldier.

Deciding to refuse

Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza presents acute moral dilemmas to many of its citizens. Some, like Guy Grossman, respond with ‘selective refusal’: a willingness to serve in the military but not in the occupied territories. Here, he explains the soul-searching and the political understanding that informs his decision.

Ariel Sharon and the Geometry of Occupation... (part 2)

Ariel Sharon and the Geometry of Occupation:
strategic points, flexible lines, tense surfaces, political volumes

Part one: Border versus frontier
The post-1967 transformation of the occupied territories is the story of how Israeli military and civilian planning became the executive arm of geopolitical strategy. The Suez Canal battles of the Yom Kippur war in 1973 were a national trauma that returned the ‘frontier’ to the Israeli public imagination. The figure of Ariel Sharon is central to this process.

The 'war on terror': two years on

The United States’s response to the atrocity of 9/11 was immediate. But the overthrow of the Taliban regime and Saddam’s Iraq has not crushed al-Qaida nor deterred militant resistance to United States forces. In his 100th column for openDemocracy, Paul Rogers assesses the political and human costs of the “war on terror”.

Ariel Sharon and the Geometry of Occupation... (part 1)

Ariel Sharon and the Geometry of Occupation:
strategic points, flexible lines, tense surfaces, political volumes

Part one: Border versus frontier

Put Chemical Ali on trial in Halabja

The arrest of Ali Hassan al-Majid, one of the old Iraqi regime’s most feared and hated figures, is an opportunity for his Kurdish victims to find belated justice.

The nail in the wood: an interview with Ismail Abu Shanab

Ismail Abu Shanab was a moderate by Hamas leadership standards. A ceasefire negotiator, he was prepared to consider the two-state solution. openDemocracy’s Paul Hilder interviewed him at his home in Gaza in July 2002, days after the assassination of Salah Shehadeh, leader of Hamas’s military wing. In this disturbing conversation, they talk about peace, violence, democracy, the US, bin Laden, and colonialism. One year on, Shanab shared Shehadeh’s fate.

A hard road in Iraq

The scale and severity of the casualties inflicted on United States troops in Iraq are increasing pressure on the Pentagon’s civilian leadership to share responsibility for the country’s security. But any such process is fraught with difficulties.
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