This article uses the theory of recognition to analyze sectarian conflicts in Iraq. After describing the sectarian and historical background of contemporary Iraqi politics, the article critiques the implementation of consociationalism and policies influenced by liberal multiculturalism in deeply divided societies. It argues that these policies lead to a dangerous reification of identities. The article argues that a progressive implementation of deliberative democracy practices could improve identity-related issues in Iraq and explains how democratic practices are legitimized by the most influential Islamic religious figure in Iraq.
From Consociationalism to Deliberation?
Heaven-Sent Opportunity or Problem from Hell?
In early 2003, in the midst of the debates in the United Nations over what to do about Iraq, but before the French definitively threatened to use their veto, Secretary of State Colin Powell, in a clear though implied reference to France, remarked that, “with some of our friends, we have been in marriage counseling for 225 years.” The secretary did not say which partner was which in the marriage.
In this article, I describe, first, why the American view of the war they were fighting is better described as up-dated 'old war', then I analyse the reality on the ground as a 'new war', and, in the last section, I describe the possibilities for an alternative strategy to reduce the risks posed both to the Iraqi population and to the wider international community, first by Saddam Hussein before the war, and later by the 'new war' itself.
Prisoners of War and Society in Iraq, 1988–2007
This is the first study of Iraqi POWs (prisoners of war) of the Iran-Iraq War and their relations with Iraqi society when they were absent and upon their return. The most significant factor affecting those relations was the exceptionally long duration of imprisonment: 8 to 10 years on average. By using novels and memoirs written by the prisoners reflecting on their prison experience, this article will try to unravel how Iraqi POWs perceived their ordeal and how they were influenced by dominant social values. Societal attitudes are also analysed through novels and short stories by some of Iraq's leading authors, in which the returning POW is the main subject.
“Iraq tribal study,” al-Anbar's awakening, and social science
Roberto J. González
The concept of the “tribe” has captured the imagination of military planners, who have been inspired partly by social scientists. Interest in tribes stems from events in Iraq's al-Anbar province, where the US military has co-opted Sunni “tribal” leaders. Some social scientists have capitalized on these developments by doing contract work for the Pentagon. For example, the “Iraq tribal study”—prepared by a private company consisting of anthropologists and political scientists among others—suggests employing colonial-era techniques (such as divide and conquer) for social control. It also advocates bribing local leaders, a method that has become part of the US military's pacification strategy. Such imperial policing techniques are likely to aggravate armed conflict between and among ethnic groups and religious sects. Observers report that the US strategy is creating a dangerous situation resembling the Lebanese civil war, raising ethical questions about social scientists' involvement in these processes.
Narratives of Trauma of Iraqi Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Jordan
The occupation of Iraq and the ensuing sectarian violence have created an Iraqi refugee community, estimated at 700,000 to 1 million, which Jordan has hosted for several years. Residing for the most part in Amman's low-rent neighbourhoods, many Iraqis have overstayed their visas and live in fear of deportation. Marginalised both economically and socially, and forgotten by the U.S. and the international community, poverty-stricken Iraqi refugees and asylum seekers suffer not only from the traumatic experience of sectarian persecution and their escape from Iraq, but also from the stress and fatigue of their long-lasting transit to nowhere. Their narratives show a profound distress and a struggle for survival that is both psychological and economical, since their (il)legal status as 'guests' denies them the possibility of obtaining work permits.
Now that the war in Iraq is over, or at least mainly finished, we can ask ourselves if it already has, or is likely later to meet its announced aims. It will be useful to introduce a distinction between reasons, which can be cited for the war, and its goals, which naturally tend to follow from announced (and unannounced) justifications for this conflict.
¿Barómetro de conflictos?
*Full article is in Spanish
English abstract: This article revisits conflicts and the evolution of relationships between Turkey, Syria and Iraq, integrating the role of the Kurds in conflict over water resources, and addresses the causal role water played in the establishment of hydro-hegemonies amongst these riparian countries. The argument developed in this article is that water by itself, even though it is an ingredient of conflict and war, is not the only objective of water rivalries (or processes of cooperation) between co-riparian countries. More often, hydro-hegemonic relations form around this vital resource. Water is not the only cause of hydro-conflicts and even though it is part of basin conflicts, it contributes to a complex system of power relations between States and other actors involved in affairs that affect it.
Spanish abstract: Tomando como referencia el conflicto entre Turquía, Siria e Iraq e integrando el papel de los kurdos en los conflictos por el agua, el objetivo principal de este artículo es determinar ¿qué indica la evolución de las relaciones entre Turquía, Siria e Iraq y los kurdos en cuanto al papel del agua como causal de conflicto en el establecimiento de hidrohegemonías entre países ribereños? Principalmente se encuentra que el agua per se, pese a ser ingrediente de conflictos y guerras, no es siempre el único objetivo de la rivalidad entre estados corribereños en torno del agua (como no lo es tampoco en los procesos de cooperación). Lo que sí ocurre con mayor frecuencia es el establecimiento de relaciones hegemónicas en torno del líquido vital. Es decir, el agua no es la única causa de los conflictos hídricos y, aunque es parte de los conflictos en las cuencas, entra a formar parte de un sistema complejo de relaciones de poder entre los Estados y otros actores involucrados en los asuntos que las afectan.
French abstract Cet article fait le point sur le conflit entre la Turquie, la Syrie et l'Irak, en intégrant le rôle des Kurdes dans les conflits pour l'eau, et tente de répondre à la question : qu'indique l'évolution des relations entre la Turquie, la Syrie et l'Irak relativement au rôle de l'eau comme causalité de conflit dans l'établissement d'hydrohégémonies entre pays riverains ? L'argument développé est que l'eau en soi, même si elle est ingrédient de conflits et de guerres, n'est pas toujours l'unique objet de la rivalité entre États riverains en matière d'eau (comme elle ne l'est pas non plus dans les processus de coopération). Ce qui se produit plus fréquemment est l'établissement de relations hégémoniques autour du liquide vital. L'eau n'est pas l'unique cause des conflits hydriques et, même si elle fait partie des conflits dans les bassins, elle participe d'un système complexe de relations de pouvoir entre les États et d'autres acteurs impliqués dans les sujets qui les affectent.
Negotiating Everyday Life in Basra and the Re-emergence of Tribalism
This article explores the ways in which Basrans make their way in the world and examines how they negotiate certain situations that they encounter. One important means by which problems are dealt with in Basra is through recourse to one's tribe to mediate and resolve issues and sometimes even to protect an individual or family. I turn to ethnographic instances to highlight both the importance and capriciousness of tribes with respect to extending help when it is required. I then aim to show why tribalism has re-emerged within Iraq as a potent social and political force by reference to the shifting historical situation of the last 50 years.
Paul E. Farmer
What are the true costs of war? If anthropologists are to help answer this question, it will be because we can link personal narratives (and qualitative methods) to historically deep and geographically broad analyses of conflict. This essay seeks to explore the costs of armed conflict—the economic, affective, and general social costs of war—by examining the experience of a single family, two generations of it, caught in the midst of two conflicts. Their experience links the United States to Haiti, Cuba, and Iraq. As limited as conclusions might be, in reflecting on these narratives, we might still conclude that the true costs of war are rarely, if ever, gauged.