Panel 4a Explaining Violence in Iraq

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Chair: Dr Toby Dodge, Reader in International Relations, LSE

Paper 1: Gender-based Violence and Future for Women’s Rights
Professor Nadje Al Ali, Professor of Gender Studies, SOAS

Paper 2: The Legitimacy Deficit in Post-2003 Iraq
Dr Fanar Haddad, Lecturer and Tutor in Politics of the Post-Colonial Middle East, Queen Mary, University of London

Since 1921 Iraqi political elites have struggled to formulate an official ‘national narrative’ that can secure enough popular buy-in into successive authoritarian regimes. This struggle has become more polarised and resolution has become more elusive since 2003. The divergence in public imaginations of what ‘Iraq’ constitutes and who the new Iraq’s heroes and villains are remains a profoundly divisive issue. In addition to the shortcomings in the general performance of successive post-2003 Iraqi governments there are issues surrounding long-stalled social policies that have thus far had an increasingly divisive impact on Iraqi society; for example, educational reform, the symbolism employed by state-run media, the selective application of the constitution and the manipulative usage of the judiciary. The new Iraq was unavoidably mired in illegitimacy at its birth; political practice and policy since 2003 have only increased that legitimacy deficit with profound consequences for Iraqi social cohesion.

Paper 3: The Role of the Constitution and the Laws Issued after 2003 in Increasing and Maintaining Violence in Iraq
Professor Saad Jawad, Visiting Senior Fellow, Middle East Centre, LSE

Paper 4: Explaining Violence in Iraq after 2003
Professor Peter Sluglett, Visiting Research Professor, National University of Singapore

Last year, Mark Kukis, the Time bureau chief in Baghdad, published a collection of eyewitness accounts, Voices from Iraq: a People’s History, 2003-2009. Many are harrowing in the extreme, especially the stories of the shootings of children in front of their parents, or of grieving relatives retrieving dead bodies from mortuaries. It does not come as much of a surprise that few of the 65 odd interviewees express hope or optimism about for the future, or that many of the saddest and most heart-rending stories are accounts of neighbours killing neighbours, youngsters killing the youngsters they had grown up with, who happen to be of the ‘wrong sect’. Reports of civilian deaths in Iraq since 2003 vary widely, between the implausibly low figure of 104,000 (New England Journal of Medicine, 2008) and the more plausible but still rather high figure of 604,000 (The Lancet, 2006), out of a total population of some 30 million. Whatever the precise figures, the civilian death toll was especially high in 2006 and 2007, and of course sectarian killings are still a daily occurrence. >> download the paper

Paper 5: Violent Communication: Meaningful Action and Unintended Consequences in Iraq
Professor Charles Tripp, Professor of Politics with reference to the Middle East, SOAS

These are abridged versions of the abstracts submitted by  the presenters.
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