Viewing Iraq from the outside is made easier by compartmentalising its people (at least the Arabs among them) into Shi'as and Sunnis. But can such broad terms, inherently resistant to accurate quantification, description and definition, ever be a useful reflection of any society? If not, are we to discard the terms 'Shi'a' and 'Sunni' in seeking to understand Iraq? Or are we to deny their relevance and ignore them when considering Iraqi society? How are we to view the common Iraqi injunction that 'we are all brothers' or that 'we have no Shi'as and Sunnis' against the fact of sectarian civil war in 2006? Are they friends or enemies? Are they united or divided; indeed, are they Iraqis or are they Shi'as and Sunnis? Fanar Haddad provides the first comprehensive examination of sectarian relations and sectarian identities in Iraq. Rather than treating the subject by recourse to broad-based categorisation, his analysis recognises the inherent ambiguity of group identity. The salience of sectarian identity and views towards self and other are neither fixed nor constant; rather, they are part of a continuously fluctuating dynamic that sees the relevance of sectarian identity advancing and receding according to context and to wider socioeconomic and political conditions. What drives the salience of sectarian identity? How are sectarian identities negotiated in relation to Iraqi national identity and what role do sectarian identities play in the social and political lives of Iraqi Sunnis and Shi'as? These are some of the questions explored in this book with a particular focus on the two most significant turning points in modern Iraqi sectarian relations: the uprisings of March 1991 and the fall of the Ba'ath in 2003. Haddad explores how sectarian identities are negotiated and seeks finally to put to rest the alarmist and reductionist accounts that seek either to portray all things Iraqi in sectarian terms or to reduce sectarian identity to irrelevance.
Publisher: C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd
Number of pages: 256
Dimensions: 216 x 138 x 21 mm
'Sectarianism in Iraq provides a valuable insight into the complex interactions of social, religious, political, and ideational dynamics that are all too often referred to as being solely responsible for the devastating decline into near-civil war in Iraq in 2006-7. Haddad presents a nuanced, balanced, at times provocative account of why Iraqis of different sectarian colour committed the most atrocious acts against each other, while both maintained a near-identical narrative of their nationalist view. Sectarianism in Iraq is a powerful and insightful analysis of one of the most catastrophic events in modern Iraqi history.' * Gareth Stansfield, Professor of Middle East Politics, Director of the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter *
'Sectarianism in Iraq sets a new standard for the academic debate about sectarianism in Middle Eastern politics. ... Fanar Haddad explains the apparent paradox of why there is both a drive for continued sectarian coexistence in Iraq as well as frequent episodes of breakdowns of that lofty ideal. By zooming in on the dynamics of sectarian polarisation in 1991 and 2006, Haddad makes intelligible to the reader the continued search by Iraqi leaders for coexistence in a unified territorial framework, even in the midst of seemingly intractable quarrels.' * Dr Reidar Visser, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs *
'Lucid and intriguing, Fanar Haddad's book crosses the minefield of sectarianism in Iraq with great success. By focusing on sectarian relations, rather than Shiis and Sunnis alone and by analyzing various levels of culture, Haddad ably circumvents the stringencies of the dominant version of Iraqi nationalism and its discourse that silences any attempt to touch the sectarian issue. This vanguard study paves the way for further interpretations of this sensitive subject.' * Dr Ronen Zeidel, Director of Research, Center for Iraq Studies, University of Haifa, Israel 'This book is a must for those who would like to understand present day Iraq' -Ghassan Atiyyah, Director of the Iraq Foundation for Development and Democracy *