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

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 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.


Insights into the Iraqi Federal Election 2021

Led by: Sajad Jiyad, Independent Researcher

This project analyses the upcoming federal elections including what these will mean for the political order in Iraq. 

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Disinformation in the Iraqi Media

This project aims to examine the key narratives of disinformation that are prevalent in the Iraqi media and to identify the impact it has on policy debates and political legitimacy.

Undemocratic Parties in a “Democratic” System: The Formation and Function of Political Parties in post-2003 Iraq

Led by: Omar Al-Jaffal, Independent Researcher

This project seeks to analyse the formation and internal function of Iraq’s political parties, arguing that their undemocratic practices and beliefs constitute the basis for understanding the failings of democracy in Iraq.  

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From Green to Blue? Local Policing in Iraq After ISIL

Led by: Jessica Watkins, LSE Middle East Centre

This project seeks to contextualise internationally-backed centralised efforts to demilitarise the local Iraqi police post-2017

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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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Water Governance in Basra

Led by: Michael Mason, LSE Middle East Centre

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, Independent Researchers

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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After the Uprising: Post-Mobilisation Strategies in Southern Iraq

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

This project looks at the tactical and strategic decisions that activists make during mobilisation and after protests abate, and maps out their potential impact on Iraqi politics.

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Past Projects

Understanding the Failures of Decentralisation in Iraq

Led by: Ali Al-Mawlawi, Independent Researcher

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.

Learn more | Download the final report

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.

Learn more | Download the final report

Conflict, Gender and Violence in Iraq

Led by: Zeynep Kaya, LSE Middle East Centre 

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, Independent Researcher

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, Independent Researcher 

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

Learn more | Download the final report 

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

Led by: Güley Bor, Independent Researcher

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, LSE Middle East Centre 

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



Toby Dodge

Professor Toby Dodge

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

Sandra Sfeir

Sandra Sfeir

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

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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