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[ This message has been sent to you via the CASI-analysis mailing list ] Dear list, On Thursday I heard talk on Iraq by Charles Tripp (a middle east historian at SOAS). Since much of what he said was extremely interesting and insightful, I'm posting here some of my notes (missing out the historical section of his talk, and unfortunately also many of the nuances and details). If anyone has the chance to hear Tripp speak in future, I'd strongly recommend it. He really is very sharp and well-informed. Regional politics: Iraqi leaders are (somewhat justifiably) paranoid about foreign relations: Iraq is an artificially-created state, which could be destroyed by external actors. Water and oil dependency on Turkey, Syria, Iran. External relations not always bad, but Iraqi politicians are aware that their neighbours have a number of big sticks. Many iraqis can be seen as 5th columnists by their enemies: pro-Iranian Shiites (note Sadr's rhetoric against Persian clerical establishment), pan-Arabist Sunnis, Kurds for Kurdistan. Army: New Iraqi army is very small, 50-60,000 troops. Partly result of recruitment problems, but also perhaps to keep Iraq dependent on foreign military aid. Aimed at keeping internal order, following a bad pattern for Iraq. [compare a recent draft of the interim constitution: «the first task of the army is to preserve the integrity of the lands of the country. It may not intervene in politics» www.geocities.com/nathanbrown1/interimiraqiconstitution.html - Dan]. Re-recruitment of police has left many old networks unchanged; Nuri al-Badran, minister of the interior, is scary. New semi-military forces (civil defense corps, Facilities Protection Service, Department of Border enforcement) are uncomfortably well-placed to become repressive powers. CPA is either turning a blind eye to, or even encouraging, various party/ethnic militias: PUK, KDP, Badr Brigade, Mahdi's army. Members of most of these groups have been recruited for anti-terrorist batallions, and CPA has at times relied on Mahdi's Army to keep order in beyond-the-pale areas. INC is encouraging its members to join the oil protection corps, presumably jockeying for control. All this is very dangerous, both security-wise and in encouraging sectarianism. Religious leaders Shia clerics are extremely aware of the past. Aware that 1920 rebellion was shia-fuelled, but other groups got the benefits. Feel they need to make sure numbers count, hence Sistani's large demonstrations and support for democratic elections. Sistani's view of democracy seems naive: he sees it as easily controlled, and hence may be in for a shock when elections come and he can't control the votes of all shiites. Division of clerics between activist (al-Hakim, Sadr) and quietist (Sistani). Sistani is aware of the situation in Iran, where clerics have been tarnished and corrupted by their involvement in politics. He is now at the peak of his influence, able to pronounce on the big issues (elections, UN, occupation) without getting bogged down in politics. Refusing to deal directly with the US helps here . he won't be able to use that tactic when the government is Iraqi. After transfer of power, Sistani will either get involved in politics, in which case he loses much of the respect he currently has, or he will keep the respect and stay out of politics. Compare the rôle of Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr (Muqtada's father) in the 90s: was a quietist, but respected and could speak for a community, and drew 60,000-strong crowds. So was perceived as a threat and murdered by Saddam. Dual State All countries have a 'shadow state' of informal networks of power. This is particularly true of Iraq, for historical reasons (esp. Rôle of sanctions in forcing people to rely on shadow state networks, or suffer dire personal hardship). State machinery is being built up in the centre (under pressure from US election timetable) and at a local level (from a practical need to keep order). This leaves a vacuum of power at a medium level. Hence . in accordance with historical patterns . the centre sees provincial autonomy, worries about loss of control or disintegration of the country, loses its nerve, and uses oppressive, forceful tactics to subdue the provinces. Because of this, anyone wanting power is forced to seek the patronage of the centre, exacerbating problems of patronage and the shadow state. Look at the distribution of infrastructure projects (dams, etc.): CPA is often unaware of the rivalries underlying requests. According to a recent newspaper article Colonel Alan King, in charge of liaison with tribes, is relying on a 1918 British report on the tribes, given to him by a tribal sheikh [Glen, the author of the article, finds this amusing] The international political constituency for forced democratisation of Iraq is weak. The Metropolis tends to have little stamina . compare to the history of British imperialism, where grand visions of reform and modernisation are whittled down to keeping order. Similarly US politics (ironically, especially among neocons) has little tolerance for the long-term hands-off democratisation process: short-term practical needs will triumph. Officials on the ground are likely to rely on whatever means is available to keep order and achieve other objectives, even if this involves building up the shadow state. The British in Basra are particularly prone to this. Foreign officials are ineffective and uncommitted when it comes to building up state institutions . tendency to rely on 'people like us'. e.g. Iraqis who've been living in the West for many years. [These notes are rough and probably pretty inaccurate at places. If any of the above seems ridiculous, it's almost certainly my fault rather than Charles Tripp's] _______________________________________ Sent via the CASI-analysis mailing list To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-analysis All postings are archived on CASI's website at http://www.casi.org.uk