Conflict Research Program

The Conflict Research Program (CRP), led by the London School of Economics Middle East Center and funded by the UK Department for International Development (DfID), is a multi-year project designed to address the drivers and dynamics of violent conflict in the Middle East. The Institute of Regional and International Studies has been tasked with conducting at least one research project per year over the course of three years on topics covering the disputed territories, governance reform in the KRG, and displacement and migration in Iraq. IRIS will produce one peer-reviewed journal article and/or policy report per project.

IRIS currently has two projects under the Conflict Research Program: Reporting the Iraqi Federal Elections and Public Authority and Iraq's Disputed Territories.

Reporting the Iraqi Federal Elections

Over the past year, some analysts and academics have observed that Iraq is moving from identity to issue based politics. Other experts note that election campaigns in fact show that not much has fundamentally changed about Iraqi politics. The reality may be somewhere in the middle. An examination of three types of mobilization strategies - identity, issues, and patronage - will yield evidence of such a shift, or lack thereof. This project also will compare 2018 mobilization strategies and election results to Iraqi national elections in 2010 and 2014. It will examine mobilization strategies and results of the 2018 Iraqi elections to identify change and continuity among elites and on a popular level and evaluate the meaning of the results for the reform agenda, governance, and conflict dynamics. The first two reports evaluate mobilization strategies and the results of the federal elections, and the third analyzes the government formation process.

You can read the full text of our reports at the links below:

Public Authority and Iraq's Disputed Territories

From 2003 to 2014, in spite of de jure GoI authority, the Kurdish presence in the disputed territories, in the form of the local population, party offices, schools and clinics, and security forces, led it to assume de facto authority in many areas. Today, the GoI is in nearly exclusive control of the disputed territories for the first time since 2003. Despite current federal control, the territories remain disputed and so they will continue to be the main driver of conflict between the KRG and the federal government until a negotiated settlement is reached.
This project will look into how competing public authorities (KRG and GoI) at the local and national level drive conflict through administrative policies and security forces positioning, as well as through the political marketplace and moral populism (Iraqi nationalism vs. Kurdish ethno-nationalism). It will also look at the role of the political marketplace in public authority in disputed territories. Last, the study will search for civicness in the territories that might be galvanised to support a settlement and prevent further conflict.
You can read the full text of our outputs at the links below:
To learn more about the Conflict Research Program and our partners, visit the LSE Middle East Center CRP website here.