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This week's editor


Guest editor Ronan Harrington introduces this week's theme: Spirituality and Visionary Politics.

Ronan is a freelance political strategist and co-creator of Alter Ego, a gathering exploring the future of progressive politics.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

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.

Barack Obama: Israel's true friend

The United States president’s meeting with Israel’s prime minister offers Israel a future it must grasp, says Gideon Levy.

Karabakh: is war inevitable?

Armenia and Azerbaijan's dispute over Nagorno Karabakh could erupt in war at any time, warns Wayne Merry. This would be disastrous for both parties. To prevent war will require Washington and Moscow work together

Sri Lanka: after war, justice

The needs of the post-war period in Sri Lanka include accountability and redress for the violations of the past generation, says Luther Uthayakumaran.

Lebanon: chronicles of an attempted suicide

The campaign for Lebanon’s elections in June 2009 reflects the country's deep sectarian and ideological fissures. Indeed, the background to the vote is an extraordinary story of political tension and polarisation, which came to a climax in May 2008. In a closely-observed portrait of the country’s self-inflicted wounds, Zaid Al-Ali asks what Lebanon needs to create for itself an inclusive future.

Georgia on the brink - again

The very survival of a troubled polity may depend on finding a constructive way around the bitter tensions between Mikheil Saakashvili’s government and a fractured opposition, says Robert Parsons in Tbilisi.

The state of Israel: key to peace

The road to peace between Israelis and the Palestinians lies through the constitutional definition of Israel itself, says Gershon Baskin.

The United States and Israel: moment of truth

The Barack Obama administration must press Israel's prime minister to embrace progress towards a settlement with the Palestinians, says Akiva Eldar.

Al-Qaida today: a movement at the crossroads

What is happening to al-Qaida: does it still constitute a threat to its adversaries, and if so how grave? Fawaz A Gerges, author of "The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global", uses extensive survey evidence to examine the movement’s standing in the Muslim world and take the measure of its ability to continue its campaign

Moldova: recession hits a frozen conflict

With Moldova's horde of guest workers heading home, the effects of global recession will hit Europe's poorest country hard. This crisis could be used to unlock its frozen conflict with Transnistria, comments Louis O'Neill

Pakistan’s American problem

A suspicion of the United States in Pakistan outweighs opposition to the Taliban. Understand this and much else becomes clear, says Anatol Lieven.

(This article was first published on 6 May 2009)

Butcher and Bolt by David Loyn

In Afghanistan history is particularly poignant, says Richard Fyjis-Walker. Invaders ignore it hoping vainly that it will not repeat; the Afghans remember and draw on it, hoping that it will

Kettling: another special relationship

Britons are not alone in facing the kind of ‘kettling' practices deployed during the G-20 Summit. Over in America it's also been in use for some time.

Israel's attack on Gaza: an unjust war?

Perhaps enough time has elapsed to allow a rational assessment of the context and justification of the Israeli attack on Gaza, deploying the framework of just war theory, as enshrined in international law.

Planning for Prosperity

A viable Palestinian economy is impossible without disengagement from the Israeli economy, thoroughgoing reform of the Palestinian Authority, not to mention lifting the siege.

Pakistan: women's quest for entitlement

A generation of Pakistani women striving to affirm their rights in the public sphere can draw on a rich history to which education is central, says Pippa Virdee.

Sri Lanka’s displaced: the political vice

The desperate plight of Tamil civilians in northern Sri Lanka is the responsibility of the Colombo government and Tamil Tiger guerrillas alike, says Meenakshi Ganguly.

Barack Obama and Afghanistan: a closer look

The United States’s shift of strategy towards “AfPak” needs to go further by taking account of regional concerns and local agencies, says Mariano Aguirre.

Nepal’s misty season

A cynical Maoist government, disarrayed parties, rival armies, a racked economy, a drifting peace process, ethnic and caste divisions - Nepalis are being failed by their leaders, says Manjushree Thapa. 

Afghanistan: a new realism?

An acknowledgment of the failure of western strategy against the Taliban is the condition of progress, says Richard Fyjis-Walker.

Gaza's underground economy

At the first signs of a cessation of the conflict in Gaza, tunnel building recommenced. They are both goldmines and graves

Pakistan: a path through danger

The heart of Pakistan’s crisis is arbitrary power. The solution is a democratic system founded on the rule of law, says Asma Jahangir.

Who'll stop the rain?

Trapped in her Chennai home by torrential downpours and floods, Swetha Regunathan had no option but to immerse herself in the spectacle of the Mumbai attacks

The Left and Hamas

In attempting to extend solidarity to those resisting imperialist power today, European leftists suffer from a debilitating failure of imagination, particularly acute when it comes to Islamist resistance.

Why Hamas is no ‘extremist'

Revisiting the reasons for the Islamist Revolution, we need to understand that Hamas are the ‘moderates', in a self-defeating western drama which has bequeathed a much more dangerous Middle East.

The Pakistani identity crisis

After the attack in Lahore on the Sri Lankan cricket team, an expat Pakistani comes to terms with the changing reality of her country

Sharia law comes to the Swat valley

Islamabad insists that its compromise with Islamists in the Swat valley will help bring peace to the region. But is the peace of sharia law what Pakistanis want?

Combating sexual and gender-based violence: a key role for US women peacekeepers

There is an opportunity for the US to have an impact in the international community, specifically in peacekeeping, where it is now all but absent. And it’s down to the women, argues Kristen Cordell.

Paramilitaries throw Bangladesh into chaos

As a day-long rebellion dies down, the fledgling democratic government in Dhaka claims to have weathered its first real test

Israel's rightward shift: a history of the present

A withered left, a fragmented right, a stagnant politics and a frozen peace compose the bleak Israeli ingredients of the search for national and regional progress, says Colin Shindler.

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