The report explores the perspectives of a group conflict in respect to Iraq situation. The background on the causes of the conflicts in Iraq covering the dispute among the three main tribes namely; Sunnis, Shiites and the Kurds is explained here. The religious differences and power games among the tribes leading to speculations of the possession of weapons of the mass destruction that led to the military intervention in 2003. The main players in the military operations were the US and the British army among other. The four perspectives of group conflicts include primordial, ethno symbolist, instrumentalist, and constructivist followed by a mechanism to manage the conflicts partition, consociationalism, and the civil society. Finally, the report delineates recommendations that the writers hypothesized to help in the conflict resolution in Iraq.
The paper deals with the common perspectives of the group conflicts namely: primordial, ethno symbolist, instrumentalist, and constructivist in respect to Iraq conflicts. Moreover, the write up will explore the possible mechanism instituted or proposed to manage Iraq conflicts. Some of the methods that will be given much weight to include: the partition, consociationalism, civil society and constructivist. For the effective understanding of conflicts, the report delineates a brief overview of Iraq as a nation. The roots of the conflict and its evolution are then discussed linking it with the theories of group conflicts. Moreover, the paper expounds on the effects, consequences, resolution measures and ethical consideration concerning Iraq conflict situation. Finally, some recommendations are given as per the evaluation of conflict.
According to Alexander (2007), human beings are such social beings that have to depend on one another for the conducive living. The environmental differences, genetic make-up and variations on interests coupled with the competition for scarce resources lead to the conflicts of interest. Conflicts are inevitable in the social set up despite the efforts to reduce their occurrence. However, what makes the difference between different groups is the mode of the conflicts’ resolution that is instituted by the involved groups (Brown 2000). Group categories can be categorized into two principal subgroups depending on the extent of the effect, intergroup and intragroup. Iraq conflicts focused on in this report are the intragroup conflicts (Alexander 2007).
Overview of Iraq
The country is dominated by three distinct tribes namely: Sunni, Shiite and Kurd. The Kurd tribe comprises of 15-20 percent of Iraq population, and it is majorly in the northern part of the country. Historically, Iraq was time-honored as a League of Nations directive under the British control with the ramification of the Treaty of services in 1920. This was followed by the establishment of the monarch governance that was more or less to the British leadership style. The Ottoman governance had strong roots among the tribes living in Iraq. The common religion was the Sunni Islam, which led to discrimination in the enrolment of the army and other government posts, where most of the army men were Sunnis. The differences in the ranks and proportions of leaders representing the leading tribes lead to the establishment of conflicts. The Sunnis continued to dominate the country's leadership even after the full independence in 1932. The superiority in army forces dominated over the democratic rule of the government, consequently leading to the declaration of Iraq as a republic in 1958 (Taylor & Youngs 2003).
Sunnis form one of the largest groups of the tribes in Iraq and the neighboring nations. It is the main vocal tribe and had persistently fought to retain power in Iraq for years. These are the well-developed army base credits the tribe capability in dominating the country's leadership. The main religious issues that raise the conflict between this tribe and the other Islamic groups is the belief of the religious leader after the death of Prophet Muhammad, the last prophet. Sunnis believe that leadership should be based on the consensus of Kurd, being one of the largest tribe in the world without the nation feeling the need to own their portion of the country. Their closest chance came during the signing of 1919 Treaty of Versalities but this had been averted by the establishment of Iraq and Turkey as the League Nations (Bruno 2007). The tribes suffer humiliations and oppressions from most of the Arabs nations. Thus, their intense migration to other non-Arabs countries may be a way out. Shiites tribe shares most of its characteristics with the Sunnis only varying in the beliefs of differing sects of the Muslim religion. Sunnis hold that the leader should be appointed by Allah, and should come from Muhammad descendants (Stoering 2010),
The religious differences among the two dominant tribes (Sunnis and Shiites) exacerbated the differences to the point of power sharing a deal within the religious docket, which latter collapsed. The struggle for power led to the pronounced harassment and the oppression of tribes from the government. Saddam Hussein’s leadership aroused the suspicion that he might be manufacturing the weapons of mass destruction. The United NationsOrganization responded to the speculations by sending a group of weapon experts to Iraq in 2002. Such progress was going on in 2003 with the report on a profound cooperation with Iraq officials. However, the search team complained of the poor information to allay the international regulation on Iraq. This prompted America and the British government to take some military actions in stopping Iraq from manufacturing the aforementioned weapons (Stoering 2010),
The consisted lack of cooperation of Iraq officials in the inspection moved other countries such as France and Russia to support the US and the British governments in increasing Iraq sanctions. On March 17, 2003, the President Bush announced that Saddam Hussein and his sons should have left the country (Iraq) and declared that the failure to do so would lead to the military invasion at the non-specified time. The following day, the United Nations’ weapon inspectors were withdrawn from Iraq paving the way for the military intervention. Iraq was launched on March 19, 2003 (“American Academy of Arts & Sciences” 2008).
Implications of War
The oppression that had persisted in Iraq under the leadership of Saddam was weakened by the U.S. and its allied forces. However, the struggle for power among the groups did not settle. The war resulted into the death of forces from different sides of civilians and the destruction of oil reserves. There were some plans that the oil reserved would be used to reconstruct the country after the war (Copson 2003). The country managed to conduct the democratic elections under the supervision of the UN military force. The analyst suggests that after the withdrawal of peace, keeping forces may trigger the country into the tribal line disputes. The three tribes are speculated to equip themselves in the efforts to outshine each other and take the control over the country. Humanitarian agencies have cried a foul of the oppression and torture that the women and children were suffering, thus, urging the peace keeping forces to be maintained till the country stabilized.
Perspective of Group Conflicts
According to Steven (1995), primordial refers to the vitality which a man attributes to and it includes both the nativity and structures of nativity. But, in many cases, some nations fail to absorb recalcitrant minor tribes. Primordialism believes that the ethnic groups such as Sunnis, Kurds and Shiites of Iraq are deeply rooted in the human evaluation and, thus, they cannot be superseded. In this case, Iraq falls under this category, since it only recognized the two main tribes and making matters worse there were the issues of Sunnis dominating leadership and military position. According to this theory of the conflict emergency, dominating parties respond to the challenges arising from the nationalist in the mechanism that causes a buildup of stress on the primordialist pedigree. Primordialists have been described by researchers as the most positivists. Their calculative dimensions of judging events are their focal point of ethnic evaluations. Primordial as a perspective in group conflicts holds that the ethnic attachment are dictated rather than optional, absolute rather than pliable, and inexorably productive of conflict (Conversi 2002). There tends to give a summative encounter of the origin of conflict as solely emanating from the ethnic differences. Moreover, their solutions for conflicts tend to limit the further evaluation of the causes of conflicts.
In the religious aspect of the primordialism contest, there is the notion that secularism is a contemporary concept. Despite the fact that the tribes in Iraq are Islamic, the conflicts in the leadership after Prophet Muhammad have been cited as a fact to support primordialism. With their organizations in the religion changes, the tribes remain unaffected. Among the tribes, not everybody has adhered to the doctrines of the Islamic religion. Some of them are free thinkers, agnostics and the not churched ones. Primordialism considers religion and ethnic groups as irrepressible psychological constants playing a vital role in the human association.
Ethnosymbolism emphasizes on the link between the premodern and modern aspects of a social cohesion, yet acknowledging the changes which come in the modern society. The continuity of the nationality spirit is based on commonalities in myths, memories, and culture of inhabitants. The ethnosymbolism acknowledges the input of scholars in shaping the nation. Their contributions inform of the ideas, criticism and generators of motives that promote the nation’s progress to the modernity. The tribute is paid to scholars that play the role in unearthing and propagating traditions to the current generation (Gartner & Bercovitch 2006). Such scholars include philologists, archeologists, poets, historians and literature developers. According to Smith, their strategic use of national symbols is more crucial in harmonizing different eras of the use of nationalist principles and ideology. These partakers in the nationalist development enable the nation to “exist” from one generation to the other one, yet to maintain the link that identifies the nation different from other. Intellectuals in the context of ethnosymbolism should be the unsophisticated people loyal to their nation practices (Connor 1994). They do not belong to the unique class from the common people, but they have to be educated in both formal and informal education. As establishers of nationalism, these intellects have to identify, demarcate and delineate the extent of nation. The most significant factor concerning them is that they are capable of expressing the credible national loyalty. The credibility encompasses the ability to express themselves in the language of their core constituencies and capacities to reinterpret their ancestral myths into the current social context.
The main role of intellectuals as envisioned by ethnosymbolists is providing a framework that forms the basis for the formation of a bigger movement, which is able to propagate the culture of nation. The framework is functioning as a bridge that connects the past and the contemporary nationalities (Cordell & Wolff 2009). Moreover, intellectuals ensure that the modern translation of national culture is viable and is being in conformity with the political programs. By shifting the focus on incipient stages of nationalism, it becomes evident the role of intellects. It has become clear that it is difficult to conceive the nation without intellectuals. The first generation of amateur scholars is needed to picture the nation and to generate an initial stage of nation. In the context to Iraq, the embryonic stage of the country emanated from the British intellects that had established the nation as a League nation. Sunnis then have come in to occupy most of the positions in the government. The difficulties to establish the continuity in term of the religious leadership has been a main point for conflicts. The myths and culture, in general, have been affected massively in Iraq due to the oppressive leadership, and then because of the war. The war has made a number of citizens as emigrants in many countries. The Kurds have been in the search to spy where they can establish their own country. Thus, this can be associated with the lack of resourceful intellects as proposed by ethnosymbolism.
According to Smith, instrumentalism views ethnicity and race as the tools that are organized as the means to particular ends (Smith 2004). Contrary to primordialism, this theory holds that ethnicity develops from the society. Instrumentalism theory does not support the idea of nation being dictated by the objective reality. Eric Hobsbawm (1995) argued that ethnicities are grand social engineers deliberately exciting up the activist emotions of masses. The common implication of this theory is that it strives to prioritize on the manufacturers of nations among those social groups that have a lot of benefits from it. It is rather irrelevant whether or not the holders of ethnic symbols, from which the rich assume their power, continue to do so for ages. These theorists snub the notion that nations are the mixed, pre-determined and natural entities. The theorists also object sternly the hypothesis that nationalism can be identified as forged from the discursive and political practices.
Saddam Hussein got engaged into the dishonest, fraudulent and devious use of nationalism, deforming it into the invasion, subjugation, war and genocide. He manipulated public feelings for the only principle to retain the powerful position (Juan 2002). Therefore, this theory was well depicted in Iraq leadership. The leadership elites in Iraq amassed the power that had been meant to benefit the country. The Sunnis being the most powerful religion ensured that they controlled most of operations in Iraq. There is a false interpretation for the issue who should succeed. Muhammad, as the religious leader, is a clear indication on how this theory accounts for the roots of conflicts in Iraq.
Constructivists suggest that the group conflicts arise some differences between the groups involved, especially the ethnic based groups, becoming more vigilant and acquiring more symbolic significance and culminating for the strong motives to promote the group solidarity (Fearon & Laitin 2000). According to this theory, the national or group identity is essentially impended on the current situation of group. This is believed to be the easiest way for confusing or convincing people to rally for the support of elite agenda. Criticizing the current situation gives the potential supporters an evidenced based approach rather than referring to past events. In this manner, the groups’ leaders or the elites in the society may influence on their groups to champion for their “rights” and for intensifying some conflicts between groups. However, the citizens may be convinced to believe the elites are doing that for the collective benefit of the group, the reality is that the leaders do this for championing their own interests (Harold, Benedict & Thonchai 2007). The agendas are behind Iraq attacks at neighboring countries, the U.S. is rallying the other powerful nation to support a military intervention. Besides, the Sunnis domination in power is some of the examples how constructivism has been employed to result to the conflict in Iraq. Groups and nations are seen as emerging from the struggle for power and resources. This indicates that stronger groups can merge with weaker ones to be involved into the conflict due to the issues of competition (Wolff 2007).
Management of Group Conflicts in Iraq
Despite the size of Iraq, partition seemed to be an appropriate strategy to control if not to end the conflicts in Iraq. The U.S. military was determining to champion for this strategy of solving conflicts (Eliot & Mackie 2007). The tribes’ superiority of power has caused the country to be divided into portions for each tribe to manage its own region. However, there should be a central government that oversees the governance of the country, at large. The long tension in the country has threatened the possibility to attain the stability. Once the peace keeping forces are withdrawn from the country, the government may fail to control operations and to rule peacefully due to the conflicts among tributes (James 2004). The plan called for the partition of Iraq into three main regions with the “strong” central Iraqi government. The federal countries would be divided according to the three ethnic groups in the country. These tribes include: Shiite Muslims, Sunni Arabs, and Iraqi Kurds. In the past, these tribes have been known to be engaged in the struggle for power in one way or another. Judging from the breakup of power sharing the deal including the Sunnis and the Shiites, there was a possibility that the agreement to share powers in the single union governance would be difficult to uphold. Moreover, the Sunnis being in power and the president coming from this tribe would be extremely adamant to lose the leadership.
This involves the power-sharing agreement formed of the government in the country or the society that has increased conflicts among the involved groups (Bogaards 2000). Consociationalism is a type of egalitarianism, in which ethnic, religious, or other groups in the society are given the autonomy to manage their own affairs in addition to being guaranteed power within the national government (Younis 2011). The objective of consociationalism is to unite and reconcile the societal disintegration, especially where some tribal and/or religious differences are the main cause of problem. The scheme helps in maintaining democracy and reducing conflicts in the society. This is seen as a possible strategy to reduce the conflicts among three main tribes in Iraq. There was a proposition for the tribes to join for sharing a deal that would be ratified and constitutionalized to help the country attaining the lifelong peace and stability.
Civil societies have gained a tribute in the prevention and peace building mechanism. Scholars have proposed the use of civil society for a peace prospect in Iraq. The civil society has been influential in the reconceptualization of security from nations engaged into ruling that oppresses the common citizens (Fischer 2010). Some quotable examples of the civil society have motivated the revolution including Egypt, Iran and America during the Civil War of the 1960s. The focus on the people-centered security originates from the enlightenment of citizens that have understood that the sustainable security of states can be attained from involving the civil society and paralyzing the government. This belief is shared in regions across the world that have experienced open conflicts and civil wars, which have oppressed communities and brought the devastation to the lives of ordinary people (Gordon 2004).
In Iraq, some of peace buiding organizations include Al Mesalla, which has developed the capacities of citizens and groups in respect to human rights and harmony. Baghdad Women Association empowers women and assisting women victims. The Civil Development Organization is being involved into peace education and promoting a dialogue among communities and other stakeholders, while the National Institute for Human Rights enhances the skills in the human rights education, peaceful coexistence and harmony in Iraq.