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This week's editor

NSS, editor

Niki Seth-Smith is a freelance journalist and contributing editor to 50.50.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Palestine’s right: past as prologue

There is urgent need for coordinated international pressure to end the sixty-year tragedy of the Palestinian people, writes Prince Hassan of Jordan, who finds inspiration for the effort in his own family's past. 

Iraq’s elections: winners, losers, and what’s next

The lessons of a peaceful Iraqi election are more complex than early readings suggest. The reverberations will be felt in Kurdish and Shi'a politics in particular, says Joost R Hiltermann. 

Uses of genocide: Kenya, Georgia, Israel, Sri Lanka

The concept of genocide has become a weapon of political polemic. But the violence inflicted on civilians in four conflicts shows how it is also rooted in the logic of modern wars, says Martin Shaw.

Pakistan's failed crackdown

Following the Mumbai attacks, Pakistan promised to go after Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists on its own soil. Yet despite cosmetic successes against the militants, the group's ability to recruit and foment violence remains unruffled

The Gaza war and the Syria-Israel front

The strategic and diplomatic fallout from the war Gaza leaves the future of a major regional peace initiative open, says Carsten Wieland.

The four lessons of Gaza

The beginning of an end to the bitter conflict in which Israelis and Palestinians are enmeshed must come from within, says Lucy Nusseibeh.

Afghanistan and Pakistan: recommendations for Obama

The challenges faced by the new Obama administration in Afghanistan and Pakistan are too big to be tackled alone

NGOs in Gaza: humanitarianism vs politics

The noble urge of aid agencies to support Palestinians is too often compromised by a blind eye to uncomfortable realities, says Hugo Slim.

Sniper under seige

The following letter reached openDemocracy from Tehran, accompanied by this story about the relationship between a sniper and his target. It could have been told yesterday, though it is in fact a flashback to the Iran-Iraq War

Sri Lanka under siege

The advance of Sri Lanka's army into the northern strongholds of the Tamil Tigers marks the end of a chapter in Sri Lanka's long civil war. But the conflict's human-rights toll is heavy, says Meenakshi Ganguly. 

Georgia and Russia, again

The career and testimony of a man who served both the Soviet Union and independent Georgia remain a guide to how embittered neighbours might repair their relationship, says Thomas de Waal.

The “Arab system” after Gaza

A combination of political failures, new players and shifting geopolitics in the middle east is creating a more radicalised environment - and a desperate last hope for peaceful progress, says Khaled Hroub.

Kashmir: the elusive peace

India bristled at recent suggestions by the British foreign minister David Miliband that a resolution of the Kashmir dispute would help solve the problem of terrorism in south Asia. In the wake of the Mumbai attacks, New Delhi is in no mood for compromise.

Iran and the Gaza war

Tehran's most bitter criticism during Israel's assault was directed at leading Arab states, says Sadegh Zibakalam.

Turkey-Israel relations after Gaza

Ankara's more active regional diplomacy in recent years is reflected in its growing links with Israel. The Gaza war puts the relationship under new strain, says Mustafa Kibaroglu.

The greater middle east: Obama’s six problems

An arc of states across "greater west Asia" will force itself to the new president's attention, says Fred Halliday.

Israel, Gaza and international law

The way Israel has conducted its military operations in Gaza extends a wider and dangerous trend towards state unilateralism, says Conor Gearty.

Barack Obama’s triple test

The foreign-policy in-tray of the new United States president should be headed by Palestine, Iran and Afghanistan, says Pervez Hoodbhoy.

Israel’s politics of war

The impact of Israel's three-week assault on Gaza on the civilian Palestinian population is revealing of its true character, says Martin Shaw.

(This article was first published on 19 January 2009)

Hamas after the Gaza war

The Hamas movement will emerge both stronger and unavoidable from Israel's assault on its Gaza heartland, says Khaled Hroub.

(This article was first published on 15 January 2009)

Snatching war from the jaws of peace

A multi-national offensive against the Lord's Resistance Army was meant to crush Uganda's rebels once and for all. Instead, the cautious gains of two years of ceasefire and delicate negotiations are about to be squandered.

The failure of force: an alternative option

The Gaza crisis highlights the urgent need for an international agency to lead the region towards a long-term and sustainable peace, says Prince Hassan of Jordan.

Israel’s Gaza war: five asymmetries

A series of contrasts - in ends, means, maps, media and morality - convinces Menachem Kellner, in Haifa, that Israel's assault on Hamas is justified.

Gaza: the wider war

The context and meaning of Israel's intensified offensive in the Gaza strip are defined and magnified by forces beyond its control.

The paradox of Basra

A visit to Iraq's second city reveals fraught divisions of wealth and ideology

Egypt’s dilemma: Gaza and beyond

The Gaza war exposes the longer-term security and political predicament of the country at the heart of the Arab world, says Tarek Osman.

The politics of ME, ME, ME

The shrillness and point-scoring of much internet-based discussion - on topics as diverse as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and chronic fatigue syndrome - is narrowing the space where a larger political dialogue should be, say Keith Kahn-Harris & David Hayes.

The Caucasus: a region in pieces

The political tensions of the Caucasus are reflected on the ground in a range of obstacles - from roadblocks and closed markets to polarised attitudes. It is time for a larger vision for the region that can provide hope of inclusive progress, writes Thomas de Waal.

Israel and Gaza: rhetoric and reality

The historical record of Israel's dealings with Gaza sheds light on its strategic aims in the current conflict there, says Avi Shlaim.

The bombing of Gaza

Two elected governments are at war in Gaza. What does this do to the faith that vox populi vox dei?

Gaza: outlines of an endgame

An outcome to the bitter contest over Gaza in which both sides claim a sort of victory is already becoming visible, says Ghassan Khatib.

Déja vu in Gaza

Do events in Gaza show the "responsibility to protect" to be nothing but pious buzz-words?

A message from Israeli women's organisations: the time for women is now

Statement by Israeli Women's Organizations

We women's organizations from a broad spectrum of political views demand an end to the bombing and other tools of death, and call for the immediate start of deliberations to talk peace and not make war. The dance of death and destruction must come to an end. We demand that war no longer be an option, nor violence a strategy,  nor killing an alternative. The society we want is one in which every individual can lead a life of security - personal, economic, and social.

Green Zone Turns Red, White and Black

Baghdad’s infamous Green Zone quietly slipped into Iraqi hands on the first day of 2009. The US embassy is moving to its new fortifications nearby and the hallmarks of American culture that sustained American troops–from Starbucks to Pizza Hut–have been re-exported. But as the US military relinquished control of the huge swath of Euphrates River frontage they have occupied since the spring of 2003, questions remained over how Iraqis will govern from the new Green Zone. Though the national security situation has improved dramatically, and is now completely under an Iraqi mandate, some analysts say insurgents will surely test the zone’s new owners. Big Think looks back on the history of the American-controlled Green Zone with three items: an excellent critique of the zone from the counter-insurgency experts at Small Wars Journal last May; the International Republican Institute’s 46-page “Visitor’s Guide to Baghdad’s Green Zone” (removed from centcom website but available at Wired); and a vivid account of Baghdad’s chaos in 2006 by Time correspondent Aparisim Ghosh. With the occupation in the process of being dismantled, at least militarily, conflict experts can begin to wade through the sea of analyses--spurious and valid--that pave the way to the history textbooks. A good starting place might be the comments of Michael Walzer, Professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies. He spoke to Big Think about applying the theory of a just war to the Iraq debacle.

 

What is Hamas?

Although controversial and polemic, Sara Roy's July 2007 reflections on Hamas present a picture of a complex organisation that should invite a sophisticated policy response.(Originally published in the Midlle East Policy Council Journal)

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