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Iraq: the rise of the Shi'a, 1958-1980

Alaaldin, Ranj (2015) Iraq: the rise of the Shi'a, 1958-1980. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis offers a study of Shi‘i mobilisation in Iraq between 1958 and 1980. It does so by placing a particular emphasis on the establishment of the Islamic Da‘wa Party, the emergence of the Ba‘th regime, the 1979 Iranian revolution, and the Iran-Iraq war. This thesis analyses, specifically, how these aspects of Iraq’s history impacted on, firstly, the Shi‘i community’s contestation of power and politics, namely by looking at the way they fomented mobilisation and, secondly, the Shi‘i community’s relationship with the Iraqi state. This thesis makes an original contribution to the existing literature by showing how the Shi‘i identity became increasingly politicised as a consequence of the aforementioned events in Iraq’s history and how they transformed Shi‘i discontent into a form of resistance, asserted along communal terms and on the basis of the Shi‘i identity. It argues that Shi‘i mobilisation and the collective contestation of power, on the basis of the Shi‘i identity and grievances within the Shi‘i community, as well as the sectarian polarisation between the Shi‘i community and the Iraqi state can be attributed to this period and, therefore, much earlier than the existing scholarship suggests. Specifically, this thesis maintains that this is attributable to the mobilisation generated by Shi‘i clerical and political actors like the Islamic Da‘wa Party in the 1950s and 1960s; the sense of collectivity forged by these actors and, finally, the Iraqi state’s policies toward the Shi‘a. Turning to regional events, like the Iranian revolution, this thesis shows and argues that the revolution, whilst exacerbating Shi‘i mobilisation and sectarian polarisation in Iraq, did not cause it. In other words, it is not to the Iranian revolution that the significance of sub-national identities in Iraq and sectarian polarisation is attributable but, rather, local and indigenous factors, including the advent of a Shi‘i movement in the 1960s and the sectarian polarisation between the Shi‘a and the Ba‘th regime. For these same reasons, the Iran-Iraq war, although heightening the Shi‘i community’s sense of Iraqi nationalism to some degree, did not placate the Shi‘i community and its contestation of power against the Iraqi state. It is not necessarily to the Iran-Iraq war that we can turn to for evidence of the Shi‘a exercising greater loyalty to their Iraqi identity and the Iraqi state than their Shi‘i identity, as the existing scholarship maintains. By providing fresh perspectives on this period of Iraq’s history, the history of Iraq’s Shi‘i movement, the role of clerical and political actors, as well as fresh perspectives on the Iraqi state and the Ba‘th regime in particular, this thesis, more broadly, argues that it is to this period the polarisation of Iraq and the civil and sectarian conflicts that took place in the decades that followed, can be attributed.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2015 Ranj Alaaldin
Library of Congress subject classification: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BP Islam. Bahaism. Theosophy, etc
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D890 Eastern Hemisphere
Sets: Departments > International History
Supervisor: Schulze, Kirsten

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