Conflict and Fragility


Book: Armed Organizations and Political Elites in Civil Wars

29 May 2024 - 09:44
Source: Book cover
Pathways to Power in Syria and Iraq

This book consolidates several years of research at Clingendael in a critical examination of two issues that are pivotal to contemporary conflict resolution. To start with, it examines the relation between political settlements – i.e. relations and structures of power that outline how a country is run – and civil war outbreak with a focus on options for violence available to elite factions in different settlements and at different moments in time. This offers the broad picture of (violent) political contestation for relative power and the right to rule in political settlements in limited access orders. 

Next, it traces the coercive profiles of selected armed groups across time to examine how elite factions mobilize and orient violence to advance their interests before, during and after civil war. This details the specific mechanics of coercion that elites use to gain competitive advantage in such contestations for power. 

By charting the nature of the political settlements of Syria and Iraq, as well as the evolution of the Eagles of the Whirlwind of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, the Syrian Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG), the Badr Organization and the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the book makes such abstract concepts concrete and paints a real-life picture of particular uses of violence in the quest for power during civil war.

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