Conflict Research Programme

Violence and Political Markets in Africa and the Middle East

Duration: April 2017 – March 2021
Supported by: UK Department for International Development

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An Iraqi Bazaar. Photo: serkansenturk.

The Conflict Research Programme (CRP) is a three-year programme designed to address the drivers and dynamics of violent conflict in the Middle East and Africa and to inform the measures being used to tackle armed conflict and its impacts. The programme focuses on Iraq, Syria, DRC, Somalia and South Sudan, as well as the wider Horn of Africa/Red Sea and Middle East regions.

The LSE Middle East Centre (MEC) is leading the research on Iraq and on wider Middle East drivers of conflict. Our partners in Iraq are the Institute of Regional and International Studies at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani, as well as Al-Bayan Center for Planning and Studies, Al-Amal Association, Iraqi Women Network and Public Aid Organisation in Baghdad.

Projects

Patriarchal Norms and Legal Discrimination Against Women and Girls in Iraq

Led by: Taif Alkhudary, LSE Middle East Centre

This project will examine how current domestic Iraqi laws discriminate against women and girls in theory and in practice.

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Donor Interventions and Water Governance in Basra

Led by: Michael Mason, MEC

This project focuses on the extent to which water infrastructure interventions by international donors are sustainable and meet the water supply expectations of Iraqis.

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A Locality in Crisis: A Study of the Local Governance Crisis and Public Protests in Basra

Led by: Omar Al-Jaffal and Safaa Khalaf

This project analyses the role of, and challenges facing, local governance in the Basra district of Iraq in light of the ongoing crisis in service provision.

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Baghdad's Market Spaces and the Politics of Urban "Renewal"

Led by: Omar Sirri, University of Toronto

This project investigates the political economy of space in Baghdad’s marketplaces and aims to highlight the deeply political nature of Baghdad’s “renewal”.

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The Dynamics of Protest in Basra

Led by: Benedict Robin D'Cruz, University of Edinburgh

This project looks at protests and civil unrest in Iraq’s southern Basra province. It seeks to uncover the factors shaping protest dynamics and their relationship with potentially destabilising violence between protesters, the state and non-state armed groups.

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Decentralisation in Iraq

Led by: Ali Al-Mawlawi, Al-Bayan Center for Planning and Studies

This research project explores the extent to which decentralisation has been enforced and implemented in Iraq, detailing the obstacles and constraints, and offering possible ways forward.

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Conflict Drivers within the Kurdistan Region of Iraq: The Role of Patronage Networks

Led by: Mac Skelton, IRIS

This project interrogates the current and future state of the patronage networks of the two major Kurdish political parties, the KDP and the PUK.

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Past Projects

Conflict, Gender and Violence in Iraq

Led by: Zeynep Kaya, MEC

This project examines how masculinity and gender norms are contested, manipulated, and influence the conflict economy in Iraq.

Learn more | Download the final report

Payroll Expansion and the Political Marketplace in Iraq

Led by: Ali Al-Mawlawi, Al-Bayan Center for Planning and Studies

This project examines the nature of that corruption in both the institutions of the Government of Iraq and the Kurdish Regional Government by looking at the rapid expansion of government payrolls after 2003.

Learn more | Download the final report

'Pockets of Media Civicness' in a Conflictual Political Landscape: A Case Study of Iraqi Media

Led by: Aida Al-Kaisy

The project mapped out the media landscape in Iraq, identifying actual and potential ‘pockets of civicness’, and examined the drivers behind their development.

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Reforming Legal Responses to Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region

Led by: Güley Bor

This project analysed the extent to which existing domestic laws surrounding conflict-related SGBV response and reparations are being implemented and suggested how these laws should be reformed to provide better responses and reparations to women survivors of SGBV.

Learn more | Download the final report

Moral Populism and Satellite Sectarianisation

Led by: Jessica Watkins, MEC

This project re-assessed assumptions about whether and how satellite channels promote sectarianisation in the MENA by evaluating programme content, editorial style, and viewer participation in chat shows and associated online forums.

Learn more | Download the final report

Public Authority and Iraq's Disputed Territories

Led by: Christine van den Toorn, IRIS

This project looked into how the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Government of Iraq drive conflict through administrative policies and security forces positioning, as well as through the political marketplace and moral populism.

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Reporting the Iraqi Federal Elections

Led by: Christine van den Toorn, IRIS

This project examined the mobilisation strategies and results of the 2018 Iraqi elections to identify change and continuity among elites and on a popular level. 

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Iraq's Popular Mobilisation Forces: The Possibility for Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration

Led by: Hayder Al-Khafaji, Al-Bayan Center for Planning and Studies

This project examined the ability of the Government of Iraq to control the Popular Mobilisation Forces and to realise its goal of integrating this group into Iraq’s mainstream security forces as well as its command and control structures.

Learn more | Download the final report

MEC Research Team

Toby Dodge

Professor Toby Dodge

Toby is Research Director for CRP Iraq and the wider Middle East.


Zeynep Kaya

Dr Zeynep Kaya

Zeynep's first year CRP research project looked at Conflict, Economy and Gender in Iraq.

Sandra Sfeir

Sandra Sfeir

Sandra is responsible for managing all Iraq and Middle East CRP projects.

Jessica Watkins

Dr Jessica Watkins

Jessica's first year CRP research project assessed whether and how satellite channels promote sectarianisation in the MENA.


IRIS Research Team

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Mac Skelton

Mac is leading IRIS' research project on the current and future state of the political patronage system in the KRI.

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Zmkan Ali Saleem

Zmkan is a researcher working on the IRIS project looking at patronage networks in the KRI.


Al-Bayan Center Research Team

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Ali Al-Mawlawi

Ali is leading Al-Bayan Center's Iraq research for the CRP. His research project focuses on decentralisation in Iraq.

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Sajad Jiyad

Sajad is a researcher working on the Al-Bayan Center research project, Decentralisation in Iraq.


Small Grants Research Team 

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Omar Al-Jaffal

Omar is leading a project alongside Safaa Khalaf, examining the role of, and challenges facing, local governance in the Basra district of Iraq in light of the ongoing crisis in service provision.

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Safaa Khalaf

Safaa is leading a research project alongside Omar Al-Jaffal on the role of, and challenges facing, local governance in the Basra district of Iraq in light of the ongoing crisis in service provision.

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Benedict Robin D'Cruz

Benedict's research project looks at the factors shaping protests and civil unrest in Iraq’s southern Basra province.

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Michael Mason

Michael's research project focuses on the extent to which water infrastructure interventions by international donors are sustainable and meet the water supply expectations of Iraqis.

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Zainab Mehdi

Zainab is Research Assistant on the project 'Donor Interventions and Water Governance in Basra', led by Michael Mason.

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Omar Sirri

Omar's research project investigates the political economy of space in Baghdad’s marketplaces


Conflict Research Fellows

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Zmkan Ali Saleem

Zmkan's research explores the post-ISIS emerging power structures in Diyala, Salahaddin, and Ninewa governorates and their implications for decentralisation.


About our Partners

Institute of Regional and International Studies

The Institute of Regional and International Studies (IRIS) is a policy research centre at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. IRIS provides in-depth analysis of the political, socioeconomic, and security issues facing the KRI, Iraq and the Middle East.

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Al-Bayan Center for Planning and Studies

Al-Bayan Center for Planning and Studies is an independent, nonprofit think tank based in Baghdad, Iraq. Its primary mission is to offer an authentic perspective on public and foreign policy issues related to Iraq and the region.

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Al-Amal Association

Al-Amal Association is Iraq’s foremost women’s rights organisation. Since its foundation in 1992, it has been at the forefront of campaigns for enhancing women’s rights and has pushed the Iraqi government and national actors to deliver on women’s rights and to end discrimination against them.

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Iraqi Women Network

Iraqi Women Network is a non-political, non-partisan umbrella network of Iraqi women’s rights NGOs. It works to build democracy, law enforcement and human rights and to eliminate violence and all forms of discrimination against women in Iraq.

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Public Aid Organisation

Public Aid Organisation is an Iraqi women’s rights organisation and forms part of the Iraqi Women Network.

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The programme has been funded by the UK Department for International Development, however, the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the UK government’s official policies.
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