AKC Lecture – Conflict Reduction & Counterinsurgency in Baghdad

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AKC 6 General – Spring Term 2010 – Conflicts & Conflict Resolution
28/02/11
AKC 6 – 28 February 2011
Conflicts & Conflict Resolution
Lecture 6: The Surge & Reduction of Conflict in Baghdad
Mr. Nick Krohley, Teaching Fellow, Middle East and Mediterranean Studies, KCL
Key Questions:
 What were the origins of the sectarian war in/for Baghdad?
 How/why did it begin?
 What were its operational dynamics?
 Who fought/killed/displaced whom?
 How & to what end?
 Why did fighting abate from 2007 onwards?
 What lessons does “the Iraq model” hold for our understanding of conflict & conflict regulation?
The Roots of Sectarianism in Iraq
Competing paradigms: Essentialism vs. opportunistic/calculating instrumentalism.
When was “the beginning”, and how did sectarianism come to dominate modern Iraqi politics?
7th Century? Late-18th Century? WWI? 1950s? 1991? The sanctions era? 2003? 2005?
Post-Saddam Politics
Dominant networks/aspirants to power: SIIC, Da’wa, Sadrists, former regime factions (military, security services, Ba’th
Party, etc…), “tribal” networks.
Main competitors for power defined themselves in sectarian terms – and fought/mobilized along sectarian lines.
Why? Might something different have happened?
Did Iraq’s political networks reflect the fabric/aspirations/views of Iraqi society? Could they have?
The legacy of modern Iraqi history – socio-political organization/mobilization in a post-totalitarian society.
The Sectarian War Begins
Circa 2004/2005, “resistance” against the new order gives way to competition over its form/content.
Run up to 2005 elections sees Shi’a political solidarity and AQI-led Sunni violence & rejectionism.
A reflection of essentialist popular hostility/hatred or of modern political calculations?
Through 2005 the cycle of violence escalates, AQI & “the Sunni insurgency” vs MoI & Mehdi Army.
The Dynamics of Sectarian War
Army/militia vs. Army/militia? “The Shi’a” vs. “the Sunnis”? Networks vs. civilians…
Guerrilla warfare – the pursuit of locality & conquest of territory.
Iraqi al-Qaeda & Mehdi Army as umbrella organizations for local groups, yet core networks drive violence.
Who joins? Who fights? The revenge of the displaced?
Meanwhile, the government is a participant – not a mediator.
The Sectarian War Peaks
February 2006 – al-Askari mosque bombed in Samarra.
“A psychological turning point” (V. Nasr) – dramatic escalation of violence but overall continuity of processes.
How “local” did Jaysh Mehdi or AQI become?
Who was active in what? What are the connotations/after-effects of complicity?
To what extent was sectarian hatred among ordinary civilians a driver of the fighting or a result of it?
The Decline of Sectarian Fighting in Baghdad
Why did it happen when it did (from early-2007)?
1. It had run its course – Baghdad was segregated.
Did the fighting end because “the Shi’a” won?
2. Its main protagonists were betrayed – the Awakening undercut AQ & PM Maliki turned on the Medhi Army.
How/why did this happen?
What had happened in the areas conquered by the Mehdi Army and al-Qaeda affiliated groups?
To what extent had “the Shi’a” or “the Sunnis” been grateful to their “saviors”?
3. The Surge & Counterinsurgency – US & Iraqi units established order in a divided city.
What was the Surge? What is “COIN”?
Establish law & order, foster development, build government capacity, “protect the population”.
Aggressive targeting of individuals/networks behind the violence – AQI & Medhi Army.
Barrier emplacement – was not a question of keeping “the masses” from one another’s throats.
What if it had been? How divided is Baghdad?
Lessons from Iraq?
The pitfalls of post-totalitarian politics?
Was democracy part of the problem?
How/when/why were occupying forces decisive?
Who had the initiative?
The importance of specificity regarding the roots & functional dynamics of conflict…
Suggested Reading
The Old Social Classes & Revolutionary Movements of Iraq, Hanna Batatu, Saqi Books, 2004
Republic of Fear, Kanan Makiya, University of California Press, 1998
A History of Iraq, Charles Tripp, Cambridge University Press, 2000
http://www.understandingwar.org/iraq-project
http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/middle-east-north-africa/iraq-syria-lebanon/iraq.aspx
http://www.brookings.edu/saban/iraq-index.aspx
 The AKC Examination will take place on Friday, 1st April between 14.30 and 16.30. If you have a
problem attending the exam, please contact Elizabeth ([email protected]) by Friday 26th February.
 AKC Exam Registration has now closed.
 Last year’s exam paper is online at http://www.kcl.ac.uk/about/structure/dean/akc/archive
 The AKC eLearning Pages are on your Blackboard with course code:
NS-0ZDOAKC1-3 10~11 Associate of King’s College
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