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University of Bath (2015)

The new political settlement in Iraq : An examination of the role of Shi’a NGOs

Aljabiri, Janan

Titre : The new political settlement in Iraq : An examination of the role of Shi’a NGOs

Auteur : Aljabiri, Janan

Université de soutenance : University of Bath

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2015

Résumé partiel
NGOs have become well established in the West since the 1980s following the adoption of neoliberal policies, and despite the existence of Islamic NGOs in the Middle East since that time, this phenomenon only emerged in Iraq after the 2003 invasion that toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein. A proliferation of NGOs, in particular, within the Muslim Shi’a populated areas has been witnessed over the last decade and this thesis considers these NGOs in the context of what has been termed the Shi’a revival in Iraq (Nasr, 2006). More specifically, the aim is to explore and explain their role in re-fashioning state-society relations in terms of their objectives and functions in “human building” (Literal translation of words used in Arabic by my research participants to denote the role of NGOs in influencing human behaviour and Iraqi cultural values) and state building in the new post war political settlement. Davis and Robinson’s (2012) contention that religious NGOs have a multipronged interconnected agenda, which involves : providing for their community ; sacralising it, and attempting to influence the law of the state, is drawn upon to construct the analytical framework. An interpretive approach is used to investigate the roles of three Islamic Shi’a NGOs, for this researcher holds with the perspective that the participants and the researcher construct the knowledge about these roles. The main research tool employed is collecting interview data from members of the Shi’a NGOs, government representatives and specialists in this field, including : international and local organisations, some of which are secular NGOs. Documents and correspondence with academics concerned with social policy in Iraq are also drawn upon for the analysis. The first Shi’a NGO in the study is linked to the Shi’a religious establishment or al-Marja’iyya, being an umbrella NGO titled the ‘Civil Dialogue Forum’ and the second ‘al-Thabat Women’s Organisation’, with a focus on supporting widowed families and organising Shi’a ritual mourning sessions is one of its affiliates. The third NGO ‘al-Mehrab Foundation for Islamic Preaching’ is linked to a political group : the ‘Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq’.


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