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Political Violence and Activism in Iraq

von Nils Mallock

A Defence Mechanism Against Personal Uncertainty?

In October of 2019, mass protests erupted throughout Iraq and continue to lead to clashes between activist groups and state security forces. While specific demands and actors change over time, unrest is not a new phenomenon in a country that has been exposed to decades of extreme political violence and conflict. But what exactly motivates people to engage in such behavior?
The question why people take to the streets or engage in violent behavior has been widely discussed. However, there is no clear cut answer to this; different points of view still exist, often challenging each other. Some standpoints have changed over time or were refuted entirely. Consequently, theories and explanations have been adapted.
Further, despite a sense of urgency among policymakers, research so far offers inconclusive explanations and studies in particularly affected regions are rare. Therefore, a series of field experiments was conducted throughout Iraq in order to examine whether psychological factors can cause increased readiness to participate in different forms of political action. Results from 274 participants show that especially violent and illegal activism may in part be a reaction to feelings of personal uncertainty. Building on established theory and practices from the field, these novel findings offer actionable insights for policymakers to prevent and counter violent extremism in Iraq and beyond.

Gregor Jaecke

Gregor Jaecke bild

Leiter des Auslandsbüros Syrien/Irak

gregor.jaecke@kas.de +961 1 388 061/62 +961 1 388 064

David Labude

David Labude

Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter

david.labude@kas.de +961 1 388 061/62 +961 1 388 064