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Publication - Professor Eric Herring

    Armed Groups and Fragmentation and Globalization in Iraq

    Citation

    Herring, E, 2010, ‘Armed Groups and Fragmentation and Globalization in Iraq’. in: K Mulaj (eds) Violent Non-State Actors in World Politics. Columbia University Press & C Hurst and Co, pp. 181 - 205

    Abstract

    In many cases the line between the state, parties, militias, insurgents and the international is blurred in Iraq. This creates a fundamental problem in that efforts to supposedly strengthen the state (by means of weapons, training, intelligence and other support) are often exploited by militias and insurgents within the state apparatus for their own ends. Even where there is cooperation with the US and the Iraqi government, there can be no confidence that this cooperation can be relied upon to continue. The independent and semi-independent organised armed groups have often shown their resilience against armed attack and their unwillingness to integrate fully into the state. There are still numerous ongoing armed conflicts in Iraq and the main focus of conflict has moved through a number of phases – multiple local mobilisations, then insurgency and counter-insurgency, then sectarianism and now power struggles that are not primarily about sectarian doctrine even though they are between groups of the same sect – while secondary strands of armed conflict have flared up or died down mainly according to their own logics. Up to the end of 2007 these phases represented the opposite of an evolution towards the creation of a coherent sovereign or governance state in Iraq: since then there have been at least some limited signs of increased coherence. In the meantime Iraq is a fragmented state in the sense that there is some state authority but a great deal of dispute over the location of legitimate authority and over the means of resolving such disputes. This contrasts with the categories of Iraq as a failed or fragile state, which respectively implies the absence of state authority or implies that it is weak but centralised.

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