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This week's editor

En Liang Khong

En Liang Khong is openDemocracy’s assistant editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Science, defence and strategy

Without strategy, the science of war overtakes the art of war.

Is Iran heading towards another revolution?

Iran's history contains three millennia of despotism, but also three revolutions in the past century alone. The current unrest may suggest that another is on its way. It poses formidable challenges to both the current regime and the moderate reformist leadership

Can Iraq's Sadrists prove their nationalist credentials?

The kidnapping of Peter Moor has unveiled divisions and Iranian influence within the movement of Muqtada al-Sadr.

Al-Qaida: the Yemen factor

A near-miss airline attack refocuses attention on al-Qaida's diffused potency, and underlines the depth of Barack Obama's predicament

Journey through thorns: a Palestinian's story

Born in 1973, a Gazan boy turns into a man and studies to become an expert in trauma therapy. He has his own family and is separated from them. He tells us about his long journey to make a life for himself and his family, and for the Gazans he has left behind.

Leaving Gaza

A young citizen journalist has a rare chance to leave his homeland, reduced to rubble by the Israeli army’s most recent incursion. How does he feel about this new-found freedom?

Beyond stalemate: replacing the vicious with the virtuous circle

What is conflict transformation? How do you begin to approach the mutual hurt of conflict embedded in systems and culture? There are many strands to a challenging and delicate process. Here are some of them

The challenge of moving from war to peace

One of the challenges in this set of unseen and unsung practices is how to make it visible and strengthen its advocacy without destroying its impact. Conflict transformation work not only deserves but needs a wider audience

Rains fail again in east Africa

Repeated failure of rains in eastern Africa demonstrate the link between climate change and security. Yemeni security forces foil an al-Qaeda plot. Two Colombian rebel groups announce possibility of alliance against government. The end of much-criticised UN-backed Kimenia II operated in eastern Congo is announced. The Philippines prepares for evacuation ahead of predicted volcanic eruption. All this and more in today's update.

Obama in power: is the war in Afghanistan a Just War?

The Just War tradition is not meant to be deployed as a tick-box approach to war, not least because answers to the questions it poses are often not clear and even when they are, they may be contradictory. That said, does Obama win his case?

Iran raises nuclear tension with long-range missile test

Iran raises nuclear tension with missile test launch. Israel reacts angrily to Tzipi Livni arrest warrant issued by British court. US jail to hold 100 Guantanamo inmates. Amnesty International condemns Australia’s asylum policies. Danish police tear gas climate protestors. All this and more in today’s security update.

Leaked intelligence says Iran developing nuclear weapon

Secret document shows Iran working on key nuclear bomb component. Car bomb kills eight near Kabul hotel. Japan postpones decision on US Okinawa base. Sri Lanka general denies surrendered Tamil rebels shot. All this and much more in today’s security update.

Chilean election sees revision of Pinochet legacy

Chilean elections see potential rightward swing. Iranian men don headscarves in protest. Mugabe reelected leader of Zanu-PF. Thailand intercepts North Korean arms shipment. 31 prisoners escape in Philippines jailbreak.

The war dead in the era of liberal interventionism

In 2003 the bodies of 32 Spanish deceased soldiers who died on their return from Afghanistan were handed to the wrong families. Six years on, the search for responsibility continues, or does it?

The human cost of war

Diana Francis finds in an exhibition of quilts and arpilleras made by women from Ireland to Chile, a rallying call to say no to violence, public and private, on any scale; to work for the abolition of war and to transform the culture of violence in which women are objectified and subjugated.

Iraq's election crisis threatens to reignite sectarian conflict

Disputes over the allocation of votes threatens not only to delay Iraq's January elections but to enflame sectarian tensions and Sunni alienation from the political establishment.

Meeri Piribis: carrying the torch of hope

“No more will we let the army decide, the insurgents decide, or the patriarchal structures of our societies that control our lives and our movements. We will act and lead on our needs and our priorities, not theirs”. Jameen Kaur talks to Binalakshmi Nepram Mentschel about her work to end decades of violence in Manipur

A gangster's paradise

How can we prevent gang violence in the world's most violent city?

Not all hybrid structures are created equal: Some thoughts on bottom-up peacebuilding

Afghanistan has long experience of complex arrangements with local/traditional forms of governance. It is possible to see what factors work for peace-building and which do not

Nameless, Genderless: The Meena Bazaar Women

What prevents politicians from discussing national security issues and violence against women in the same sentence? Why do politicians continue to treat gender as a stand-alone issue?

Conflict Transformed? The start of a debate

In the first article of her series, Diana Francis reviews the aspirations and achievements of conflict transformers over the past twenty years, and argues that the only realistic response to the global phenomenon of war is to develop ‘nonviolence’ as a just and effective way forward.

When the global is local: UN Security Council Resolutions on sexual violence are for all of us

Joining the Reclaim the Night march in London last weekend, Vanessa Alexander asks how can we advocate for the adoption of UN resolutions for peace and security for women in war time, when women world wide do not yet experience peace and security in peace time?

Border zones and insecurity in the Americas

Border zones are potential incubators of conflict. Criminal gangs exploit weak state presence to forge a parallel state and prosecute their criminal enterprises sustained by fear, violence and brutality.

Links between the Taliban and al Qaeda have grown stronger

Rahimullah Yousufzai, the well-known Peshawar editor of The News International, has been covering Afghanistan and Pakistan for the past thirty years. Rare interviews with Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar to his credit, he offers a deep insight into the evolution of the Taliban. Kaustav Chakrabarti spoke with him recently on the Taliban, terrorism and the future of India-Pakistan relations.

Liberal peace transitions: a rethink is urgent

A significant shift is required if international statebuilding and peacebuilding projects around the world are to contribute to peace and lead to reconciliation while also engaging with international standards for democracy and human rights.

Urban siege in south Asia

A new wave of urban assaults poses a severe challenge in the cities of south Asia and beyond.

International law Is key

The Palestinians’ right of return challenges not only international law itself, but more so the political will of UN member states to act in the face of blatant racism and forced dispossession. A reply to Ahmed Badawi’s “Palestine: seize the initiative”.

India’s 21st-century war

In an age of climate change and deepening inequality, the spreading Naxalite insurgency in India - not al-Qaida - may show the world its future.

Can Armenia and Turkey be reconciled?

Could historical enemies Armenia and Turkey be moving towards reconciliation? Despite the potential pitfalls, Turkey's acknowledgement of the 1915 "genocide" being the most serious, compromise could be achieved, says Sergei Markedonov

War without end, amen

For an informed and sceptical take on the Afghanistan war, see Paul Rogers' many columns on the subject in his weekly openDemocracy commentary

Yet another British casualty in the war in Afghanistan has just been announced.  Only the British dead rate a mention, not those who are injured or maimed for life, nor the dead and injured of the country itself.   It is a long way from Tony Blair's confident statement in the House of Commons in October 2001 that British troops were joining a 'strong' coalition with 'robust plans' and 'humanitarian plans ... falling into place'.  There was debate, but no vote, on Blair's commitment of troops.

In January 2006, John Reid announced in Parliament 'a seamless package of democratic, political, developmental and [oh yes!] military assistance in Helmand'.  No vote.  In March Reid added this comment: 'If we came for three years here to accomplish our mission and had not fired one shot at the end of it, we would be very happy indeed'.  A large contingent of troops was deployed in Helmand in May of that year, the British presence rose by some 3,300 troops by the following summer.   Fatalities immediately began to rise every year, from 39 in 2006 to nearly 70 so far this year.  Now over 120 British troops have died there, the coalition is weak and growing weaker, and humanitarian plans have fallen into a corrupt limbo.

This eight year long war, tragic not only for the UK but more so for Afghanistan and Pakistan, has never once been put to the vote in the House of Commons.  There has been no need.  The government was able to enter into the war, and then to escalate the British commitment, through Royal Prerogative powers that do not even oblige ministers to inform Parliament on actions that they take under these powers.  As Andrew Blick said, in his magisterial dissection of the Ministry of Justice report reneging on the aborted government pledge to reform the Royal Prerogative, Parliament's ability to debate and vote on the deployment of troops in action will not be statutory (but is limited to a parliamentary resolution), and leaves the government enough discretion to drive a battalion or two through.

Suicide bomb in Iran kills 42

42 people killed and dozens injured in a suicide bombing in Iran's southeast. Civilians flee as Pakistan launches South Waziristan offensive. South Sudan village raided, seven die. Gun battles and bombings in southern Russia. UN passes resolution in support of Gaza report. All in today's security briefing.

AfPak: the unwinnable war

The United States is preparing both to escalate its commitment and retool its strategy in Afghanistan. But the realities of war - and, crucially, the calculations of Pakistan's elite - mean that this will only postpone the moment of real decision.

UN High Commissioner backs Gaza Report

The UN Human Rights chief backs the Goldstone report. More bomb attacks strike Pakistan. The head of Mi5 defends Britain’s foreign intelligence co-operation. All this and much more in today’s security update.

Angry exchange between India and China exposes ongoing rift

China and India exchange words over disputed Himalayan territory. Grenade attack injures forty in Moldova. Hezbollah plays down Israel's claims of missile stockpiling. North Korea accuses South of naval transgression. Deadly attacks hit police in Pakistan. All this and more in today's update.

The Armenia-Turkey process: don’t stop now

The openDemocracy authors Juan Gabriel Tokatlian and Vicken Cheterian are critical of the Armenia-Turkey rapprochment. But there is a positive case for the protocols, responds Kerem Oktem.
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