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Universiteit Leiden (2021)

Targets, Casualties, and Weapons of Conflict : How Non-State Actors Instrumentalize Water Resources and Infrastructures as Part of Military Tactics and Strategies (Iraq, Syria, and Yemen)

Remmits, Femke

Titre : Targets, Casualties, and Weapons of Conflict : How Non-State Actors Instrumentalize Water Resources and Infrastructures as Part of Military Tactics and Strategies (Iraq, Syria, and Yemen)

Auteur : Remmits, Femke

Université de soutenance : Universiteit Leiden

Grade : Master thesis | Crisis and Security Management (MSc) 2021

Résumé
This thesis examines the specific mechanisms through which non-state actors involved in the civil wars in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen have purposely targeted, employed, or manipulated water resources and infrastructures as instruments and tools during conflict. The presence of violent non-state actors seeking military expansion, combined with prevailing dire water situations, underline the importance of examining and clarifying the intersection between water and conflict in these countries. To critically examine how violent non-state actors can actively instrumentalize water-related resources and infrastructures to form part of warfare tactics and strategies, this thesis will focus on two specific non-state actors operating in episodes of conflict and analyse the following research question : How have the Islamic State and the Houthis instrumentalized water resources and infrastructures as a part of military tactics and strategies in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen ?. To study this phenomenon, this research applies the categories proposed by the conceptual model from Gleick who argued that water can become a target or a weapon during episodes of conflict. Chapter 2 provides a critical discussion of the existing academic body of knowledge on the connections between water and conflict before focusing on the literature theorizing the instrumentalization of water during episodes of conflict more particularly. The review of existing relevant literature leads to the theoretical approach employed for the current research project. Next, chapter 3 specifies the research design, including a justification of the adoption of a descriptive comparative case study model, as well as its operationalization. Chapter 4 and 5 apply the theoretical framework on the instrumentalization of water during conflict to the case studies of IS in Iraq and Syria between 2013-2020 and the Houthis in Yemen between 2014-2020. Based on the comparative analysis of the water-related military tactics and strategies of these two non-state actors, chapter 6 provides an answer to the research question and discusses the limitations to these findings. Chapter 7 discusses the conclusions of this study in relation to its academic and practical relevance

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Page publiée le 23 novembre 2022