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  • Author: Alexander De Juan
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Institutions can contribute to regulating interethnic conflict; however, in many cases they fail to bring about lasting peace. The paper argues that their negligence of intraethnic factors accounts for some of this failure. Ethnic groups are often treated as unitary actors even though most consist of various linguistic, tribal or religious subgroups. This internal heterogeneity is often obscured by overarching collective ethnic identities that are fostered by interethnic conflict. However, when such interethnic conflict is settled, these subgroup differences may come back to the fore. This “resurgence” can lead to subgroup conflict about the political and economic resources provided through intergroup institutional settlements. Such conflict can in turn undermine the peace-making effect of intergroup arrangements. Different subgroup identity constellations make such destructive effects more or less likely. The paper focuses on self-government provisions in the aftermath of violent interethnic conflict and argues that lasting intergroup arrangements are especially challenging when they involve “contested” ethnic groups.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Political Violence, Ethnic Conflict, Religion, Governance, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Africa, Iraq
  • Author: Steven Simon
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: From a strategic perspective, Syria has gained some advantages and some disadvantages since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. President Bashar al - Asad, considered a callow leader five years ago, faced a testing period in 2003–06 and did more than merely survive. He withstood a threat of imminent regime change at the hands of the United States, and weathered heavy international fallout from the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and the summer war in 2006 between Israel and Hezbollah, which Syria has long supported. Bashar has emerged a cagey geopolitical operator, able to manage a delicate strategic balance, and Syria is now stronger than it has been at any time in recent history. Yet Syria faces a number of internal challenges due to Iraq's instability. Primary among these is coping socially, economically, and politically with a huge influx of Iraqi refugees, and mitigating the effect that sectarian (Shia-Sunni) and ethnic (Arab-Kurd) conflict in Iraq has on the fragile status quo in Syria.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Regional Cooperation, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Deborah Isser, Peter Van der Auweraert
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Iraq has experienced several waves of mass displacement over the last forty years that have left complex land and property crises in their wake. As security has improved and some of the nearly five million displaced Iraqis have begun to come home, resolution of these issues are at the fore of sustainable return.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Ethnic Conflict, Migration, Religion, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Ömer Taspinar
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: In what represents a remarkable departure from its policy of non-involvement, Turkey is once again becoming an important player in the Middle East. In recent years, Ankara has shown a growing willingness to mediate in the Arab– Israeli conflict; attended Arab League conferences; contributed to UN forces in Lebanon and NATO forces in Afghanistan; assumed a leadership position in the Organization of Islamic Conference and established closer ties with Syria, Iran, and Iraq.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, Islam, Nationalism, Religion
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Syria
  • Author: Patrick Gaughen
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Even as U.S. operations to co-opt large elements of the Sunni insurgency and target irreconciliable al-Qaeda in Iraq fighters resulted in lower levels of violence during the summer, U.S. forces have simultaneously pursued rogue elements of Muqtada as-Sadr's Jaysh al-Mahdi (JAM). These operations, often in collaboration with Iraqi Security Forces friendly to Sadr's main Shi'a rival, the Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq (ISCI), took place within the broader context of a violent struggle between ISCI and the Sadrist Trend for supremacy within the Shi'a community, the lucrative income from control of the Shi'a shrines, and control of southern oil fields. This struggle has increasingly centered on the city of Diwaniyah, located in southern Iraq, approximately halfway between the capital of Baghdad and the southern port city of Basrah.
  • Topic: Religion, Terrorism, Military Strategy, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Yemen, Syria
  • Author: Nazar Janabi
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Away from the headlines, Sunnis and Shiites are testing the waters of reconciliation in the Iraqi parliament with an agreement that may come at the expense of country's Kurdish population. The Kurdish political reaction to such an agreement could potentially exacerbate anti-Kurdish sentiment among many Arab parliamentarians, costing the Kurds some of the hard-earned political ground they have gained thus far.
  • Topic: Government, Political Economy, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Vesselin Popovski, Nicholas Turner
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Decisions over the use of force are the most significant and dangerous that leaders must take, both morally and in terms of achieving their goals. Consideration of the reasons that can justify behaviour resulting in the elimination of human life is as philosophical and ethical as it is political and legal. In the context of exponential increases in the destructiveness of war, particularly with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, such consideration assumes an even greater significance.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Peace Studies, Religion
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, Daniel Fink
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On January 14, in a rare show of unity, Sunni and Shiite Arab, Turkmen, and Christian Iraqis gathered at a conference in Ankara to denounce Kurdish plans to incorporate Kirkuk, the capital of Iraqs at-Tamim province, into the Kurdish region. This comes after recent violence in Kirkuk, including a December 26 roadside bomb that killed three and wounded six. Between December 2005 and July 2006, the number of reported violent incidents in Kirkuk increased by 76 percent, ending the citys previous status as a relatively safe area. With tensions in Kirkuk rising, how can violence be countered?
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Religion, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The bomb attack on a sacred Shiite shrine in Samarra on 22 February 2006 and subsequent reprisals against Sunni mosques and killings of Sunni Arabs is only the latest and bloodiest indication that Iraq is teetering on the threshold of wholesale disaster. Over the past year, social and political tensions evident since the removal of the Baathist regime have turned into deep rifts. Iraq's mosaic of communities has begun to fragment along ethnic, confessional and tribal lines, bringing in stability and violence to many areas, especially those with mixed populations. The most urgent of these incipient conflicts is a Sunni-Shiite schism that threatens to tear the country apart. Its most visible manifestation is a dirty war being fought between a small group of insurgents bent on fomenting sectarian strife by killing Shiites and certain government commando units carrying out reprisals against the Sunni Arab community in whose midst the insurgency continues to thrive. Iraqi political actors and the international community must act urgently to prevent a low-intensity conflict from escalating into an all-out civil war that could lead to Iraq's disintegration and destabilise the entire region.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Luke Patey
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Since its revolutionary birth in 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran has had a turbulent existence in international relations. From the US hostage crisis to the Iran-Iraq War to the current provocative development of its nuclear program, the short history of the Islamic Republic of Iran has been characterized by its volatile foreign politics. In fact, this is a feature very much resemblant of the country's tumultuous past, born from both its immense energy resources and its geo-strategic location. Regardless if Iran was under the rule of a Shah or the ultimate power of an Ayatollah, since the discovery of oil in the early 1900s, Iran's generous natural endowments have created an intimate link between itself and geopolitical competition.
  • Topic: Economics, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran
  • Author: George Adams
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in countless other hotspots around the world, religion has been a major factor in matters of war and peace. Since religion often plays a significant role in conflicts, it also needs to be one of the factors addressed in mediating conflicts. Yet, because the United States separates religion from political matters to a greater degree than many other areas of the world, Americans frequently have difficulty understanding the crucial role religion can play in conflict transformation.
  • Topic: Peace Studies, Religion
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Christoph Marcinkowski
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Recent political events surrounding the Iranian “nuclear crisis”, as well as the still unsettled fate of Iraq have resulted in a renewed interest in the Shi'ite dimension of Islam among political observers. This paper attempts to present an outline of some of the “essential features” of Twelver Shi'ite Islam as it distinguishes itself today from majority Sunnism. In particular, the different approaches of Sunnite and Shi'ite Muslims towards the issue of religious and political authority - resulting in history often in violent clashes - have been highlighted. Moreover, throughout their history, Shi'ites had put high emphasis on intellectual pursuit and reasoning, on philosophy and science. Although the paper focuses of the “Twelver Shi'ites” (today numerically and politically the strongest Shi'ite group), the today rather un-political Isma'ilis or “Sevener” Shi'ites, too, shall be referred to briefly, as they have also some pockets in Singapore among the Indian Muslim community. Of special interest to the political observer of contemporary Islam shall be the status of Shi'ite clerics (Arab. 'ulama') vis-à-vis their Sunnite colleagues.
  • Topic: International Relations, National Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq
  • Author: A. Rashied Omar
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame
  • Abstract: In the Spring of 2006 an Afghan citizen, Abdul Rahman, who had converted from Islam to Christianity was arrested under local shari`ah law which mandates the death penalty for apostasy. As a result of international pressure Abdul Rahman was released and given asylum in Italy. This widely publicized incident highlighted the urgent need for Muslims to seriously reexamine the restrictive shari`ah laws on apostasy. It is unfortunate, however, that this case took place in the war ravaged context of Afghanistan, where relief aid for the victims of war is dispensed by Christian agencies some with a primarily evangelistic agenda. A similar program of aid evangelism has been undertaken in wartorn Iraq. The activities of such groups have reinvigorated the debate over whether it is ethical for philanthropical activities and humanitarian service to be undertaken with the primary intent to proselytize. The legitimacy of religious conversion and the ethics of mission are challenging issues. But they are also pertinent issues that should form part of an honest dialogical encounter between Christians and Muslims, since they have important implications for conflict transformation and interreligious peacebuilding.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Crime, Religion
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq
  • Author: Reidar Visser
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: This paper discusses the two prevailing interpretations of the political attitudes of the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the leading Shiite cleric in Iraq today. It is argued that neither the traditional "quietist" paradigm nor more recent Machiavellian interpretations can satisfactorily explain Sistani's actions. An alternative interpretation is offered which highlights Sistani's historical oscillation between passive and activist positions. It is suggested that, after an activist intermezzo from June 2003 to December 2004, Sistani has reverted to a more secluded role, again showing an increasing reluctance to fulfil the wishes of his many wooers in Iraqi politics, and limiting his interference to matters directly connected with the Shiite faith and its institutions. It is concluded that Sistani's professional interests as a cleric – rather than any constant desire on his part to control and manipulate domestic politics – may be the key to understanding any future intervention in the political process in Iraq. Scepticism is also expressed toward the notion of Sistani as a guarantor for a "moderate" or "secular" Iraqi political system that would supposedly be fundamentally different from that of Iran – an idea that has featured prominently in policy-making circles in the United States and in other Western countries currently involved in Iraq.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Cecile Zwiebach
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: While U.S. and coalition forces—and increasingly the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF)—struggle to defeat the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, they are also dealing with a range of armed groups that complicate the security scenario. Militias and ad hoc units with different levels of government sanction are growing in strength, and the training of the ISF is progressing unevenly. While it is not possible to conduct a comprehensive survey of both independent groups and ISF units, a sampling of less publicized units illustrates how diffuse military power in Iraq has become.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: From Saudi Arabia's establishment in 1932, its minority Shiite population has been subject to discrimination and sectarian incitement. Beginning in the early 1990s, with then Crown Prince Abdullah's active support, the government took steps to improve inter-sectarian relations. But the measures were modest, and tensions are rising. The war in Iraq has had a notable effect, strengthening Shiite aspirations and Sunni suspicions and generally deepening confessional divisions throughout the region. King Abdullah needs to act resolutely to improve the lot of the two-million strong Shiite community and rein in domestic expressions of anti-Shiite hostility.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Government, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Reidar Visser
  • Publication Date: 08-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: This paper deals with non-conformist ideas among Iraqi Shi'is about the territorial integrity of the modern state of Iraq. Two findings are presented. First, new Internet communications technology has enabled radical Shi'is outside the main clerical, intellectual and political establishments to propagate visions of an independent Shi'i state for the areas south of Baghdad, a scheme that runs counter to a robust and long-standing anti-separatist tradition among wider sections of the Shi'i community. Secondly, by choosing the Internet as their primary modus operandi, the Shi'i separatists also expose their relative weakness vis-à-vis other and less radical trends in Iraqi Shi'i society.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Instead of healing the growing divisions between Iraq's three principal communities -- Shiites, Kurds and Sunni Arabs -- a rushed constitutional process has deepened rifts and hardened feelings. Without a strong U.S.-led initiative to assuage Sunni Arab concerns, the constitution is likely to fuel rather than dampen the insurgency, encourage ethnic and sectarian violence, and hasten the country's violent break-up.
  • Topic: Government, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arab Countries, Kurdistan
  • Author: Mona Iman
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: While the outcome of Iraq's October 15 national referendum is uncertain, it is clear that many of Iraq's Sunni Arabs will vote against it. Why are Sunni Arabs opposed to a constitution that appears to give them the same opportunities for self-governance that it provides to Kurds and Shia?
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Emily Hunt
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On November 2, Iraq's Defense Ministry appealed to junior officers from Saddam Hussein's disbanded army to return to service. The decision to include these soldiers is part of an ongoing strategy to minimize support for terrorism by reintegrating Sunnis into the political fabric of the new Iraq. This latest effort comes as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group steps up targeting of Shiite civilians in an effort to spark retaliatory attacks against Sunnis. But as Zarqawi's attacks on Shiites exact growing toll among civilians, his tactics may be causing a divide within the ranks of the resistance.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East