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JESSEN | LYSAGHT Development Professionals

IRAQ THE WAY FORWARD

Introduction – US Occupation of Iraq Response to Solicitation #00724170608 Amanda Jessen MA Candidate, Conflict Resolution Terrorism and Conflict Resolution May 9, 2013


Iraq: The Way Forward

In 2003, the United States led a multi-national coalition force into Iraq under the premise that Saddam Hussein’s regime was somehow connected to the Al Qaeda-driven attacks on the World Trade Center, which resulted in the loss of over 3,000 lives. The Iraqi Army was quickly overwhelmed and Baghdad fell to occupation forces. Just weeks after the initial invasion, Paul Bremer III, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, disbanded the army, letting loose hundreds of thousands of well-trained and well-armed men into the streets of Baghdad. Over the next several months, Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) organized and executed a countrywide wave of suicide bombings against Shiite holy sites in Baghdad and Karbala. This onslaught of bombings would be the first of countless others that would characterize the entirety of the United State’s mission in Iraq.1 The Political Landscape – 10 Years Later 10 years later, much of the country still struggles under the weight of reconstruction efforts. Basic service delivery is neither consistent nor fully functioning, the political system left behind by coalition forces is rife with corruption, and inter-sectarian tension boils just beneath the surface of the ethno-political landscape. 2 While ongoing violence and distrust continue to permeate relations between Sunni and Shiite communities, some argue that the largest problem facing modern-day Iraq is the unresolved dispute between the largely autonomous Kurdish region in the north and the central government in Baghdad over control and oil rights to key oil zones along the border. Underlying this conflict is the fundamental (and as yet unanswered) question of how power should be allocated throughout the country. Megan L. O’Sullivan, former special assistant to the president and deputy national security 1 Council on Foreign Relations. “Timeline: The Iraq War.” Online. Available at http://www.cfr. iraq/timelineiraq-war/p18876org/. 2 Ned Parker. “Welcome to the World’s Next Failed State.” Foreign Affairs. March/April 2012.

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Iraq: The Way Forward

advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan, asks, “Should Iraq be a more traditional Arab state, where power is centralized in the capital? Or should the regions and the provinces—i.e., the Kurdish Regional Government—have substantial authorities and autonomy?” 3 Al Qaeda in Iraq – Resulting Complications It would be enough for a country that had undergone 10 painful years of civil war to grapple with the above issues without the threat of ongoing violent extremism, but to make matters more complicated, Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), a Sunni fundamentalist group, continues to sow discord throughout the vulnerable country, seeking ultimately to undermine the current Shiite president, Nuri al-Maliki’s government by reigniting conflict between Sunni minority and Shiite majority populations. Germinating in the wake of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, AQI resolved to battle coalition forces through more generalized insurgency channels, culminating in peak violence from 2006-2007. In the wake of the US withdrawal from Iraq, AQI has redoubled in size and focus to stage jihadist operations throughout the country. Pointing to al-Maliki’s iron-fisted efforts to consolidate power in the wake of the US pullout, a spokesman for AQI is reported to have claimed that a war between the two branches of Islam is imminent, suggesting planned or potential acts of violence in the area. 4 AQI’s activities are not restricted geographically to Iraq; in fact, as the civil war in Syria has intensified in the wake of anti-government protesters gathering to demand the release of political prisoners in March 2011 5, AQI fighters have increasingly jumped the border to ally with Al Qaeda’s Syrian branch, Jahbat al-Nusra, to fight under the guise of the Free Syrian 3 Megan L. O’Sullivan. “Biden’s Rhetoric Could Harm U.S. Prospects in Iraq.” The Washington Post. July 21, 2009. 4 Jonathan Masters. “Al-Qaeda in Iraq.” Council on Foreign Relations. March 18, 2013. 5 “Syria Profile.” BBC News: Middle East. March 25, 2013. 3


Iraq: The Way Forward

Army. Al Qaeda co-optation of the anti-Assad movement is something feared by many moderate and even secular Syrians seeking to overthrow the current government. 6 Jessen Lysaght Development Professionals – Guiding Principles In response to USAID/OTI’s Request for Proposals (RFP) to obtain services for implementation of the initiative, Solutions to Violent Extremism in Iraq (SOVE-Iraq), Jessen Lysaght Development Professionals (JLDP) will pursue an “Iraqi-first” 7 approach to programming which necessitates a limited ex-patriot presence in favor of a deeper commitment to community

empowerment.

By

emphasizing

a

decentralized, credible, and local approach 8, the presence of JLDP as a firm located in America will not be confused with any sort of US agenda in the field. In this light, JLDP submits the forthcoming proposal for a technical delivery. A note about Jessen Lysaght Development Professionals: our firm strongly advocates for creative and mixed methodology solutions to protracted conflict scenarios. JLDP derives much of its organizational focus from ideas grounded in the many travels and experiences of conflict resolution practitioner and peacebuilder, John Paul Lederach. References to his metaphorical understandings of effecting peace run throughout the RFP response. Past USAID Interventions - Youth, Women, and Minority Groups Currently, USAID programs in Iraq prioritize capacity building, economic growth, agriculture, democracy and governance, and two key thematic areas, assistance to Iraqi women and

6 AP/Ryan Lucas. “Militant Group United with Al-Qaeda in Iraq.” Time Magazine Online. April 9, 2013. 7 USAID/Afghanistan. “Fact Sheet: Community Cohesion Initiative.” December 2012 8 Kristin Lord, Johan Nagl, Seth Rosen (eds.) “Beyond Bullets: A Pragmatic Strategy to Combat Violent Islamist Extremism.” Solarium Strategy Series. June 2009, p. 18.

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Iraq: The Way Forward

assistance to minorities. Of particular interest to SOVE-IRAQ is USAID’s previous track record in addressing youth, women, ethnic minority groups, and whole-of-community needs. Most notably, the USAID Community Action Program III (CAP III) has worked “at the grassroots level to foster citizen involvement and assist[ed] local communities to identify their problems.”9 Here, the program focus has been on generating the buy-in of minority communities to arrive at an understanding of community needs and priorities on their own. The results have been the construction of new schools, integration of water lines and electrical grids, and the provision of a mentorship program aimed at transferring skills to unemployed Iraqis.10 The unique needs of Iraqi women have been targeted through capacity building programming. Increased literacy rates, the proliferation of women-operated microbusinesses, and improved maternal health are all goals that have been resourced under previous USAID interventions. In addition, the Access to Justice program deliberately targets women by working to educate them about their civil rights and highlighting the steps needed to obtain legal assistance in the justice system. 11 Youth are singularly addressed through economic empowerment initiatives. The Iraqi Youth Initiative Program targets recent graduates who desire to learn trades and become professionals or entrepreneurs. The program has led to the creation of resource centers, relationships with micro finance institutions dedicated to lending to youth initiatives, and a strategy to capacitate youth in the areas of skills, etiquette, and overall qualifications for jobs 9 USAID/Iraq. “Assistance to Minorities.” April 15, 2013. 10 Ibid. 11 Ibid. 5


Iraq: The Way Forward

in the formal sector. USAID projects that over 5,200 youth will have participated in some part of the initiative by program’s end.12 Geographic Emphasis – USAID-Identified Target Areas Based on detail provided by the SOVE-IRAQ solicitation, JLDP will focus its efforts in Baghdad, Diyala Province, Anbar Province, Salah al-Din, and Basra Province. JLDP will establish a limited presence in the following major cities within each previously stated province: Baghdad, Baquba, Fallujah, Tikrit, and Basra, respectively. 13 Drivers of Violent Extremism – Core Features of an Enabling Environment USAID guidance on developing programming for countering violent extremism recommends assessing the nature of the problem of violent extremism first. In other words, is it primarily a concern of recruitment, the existence of a supportive community, or the presence of an enabling community that spawns the proliferation of terrorist violence? 14 In the case of Iraq, Jessen Lysaght Development Professionals argues that the primary challenge is one of the pervasiveness of an enabling community, one in which rule of law is weak, large percentages of the population are isolated and distrustful of government authority, and institutions themselves are fragile and endemically corrupt. USAID also enumerates three major categories under which primary drivers can be bucketed: socioeconomic drivers, political drivers, and cultural drivers. Jessen Lysaght Development

12 USAID/Iraq. ”Economic Empowerment.” April 15, 2013. 13 Iraq Body Count. “The War in Iraq: 10 years and counting.” Online. Available at

http://www.iraqbodycount.org/analysis/numbers/ten-years/. March 2013. 14 USAID. “Development Assistance and Counter-Extremism: A Guide to Programming.” October 2009, p. 5.

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Iraq: The Way Forward

Professionals will recommend illustrative examples of best practices programming under these three categories. 15

Table 1

Mitigating Socioeconomic Drivers –

JLDP

Programs

Illustrative to

Engage

Youth In addressing the first, second, fourth, and fifth socioeconomic drivers, Jessen Lysaght Development Professionals seeks address discordance in social narratives of the self within communities of marginalized youth. 16 JLDP agrees that youth should remain a target demographic as much of the appeal of violent extremists like Al Qaeda revolves around the provision of a clear narrative of purpose to dislocated youth who have lived through and perhaps seek vengeance for suffering.17 Where Jessen Lysaght Development Professionals diverges from past USAID practice is in recommending wider latitude of interventions for youth that move beyond income generation or skills training for young men and women. JLDP believes that it is simply not enough to prepare young men and women for the work force

15 Ibid, p. ii – v. 16 USAID/Iraq. “Economic Growth: Iraqi Youth Initiative Program.” April 10, 2013. 17 Colonel John M. Venhaus, US Army. “Why Youth Join Al-Qaeda.” United States Institute of Peace Special Report. May 2010. 7


Iraq: The Way Forward

when part of the overarching strategy is to more holistically plug young people into their own communities. If Al Qaeda succeeds in recruiting because it is able to give meaning and purpose to the lives of listless and marginalized young men and women, it makes sense to counter that strategy by providing tools and resources to communities that will help instruct young people in developing a narrative of their own. M. Pasupathi, E. Mansour, and J.R. Brubaker suggest that “the life story itself develops in terms of its content and themes.” 18 It would be important then to create an environment in which young Iraqis could self-construct positive, life-affirming events that both become a part of their overall life story and perhaps work to de-emphasize traumatic events that may have occurred during the US occupation. Activity #1 – Creating a Shared Social Narrative Program Jessen Lysaght Development Professionals recommends implementation of a series of visioning workshops that could take place in Youth Resource Centers over the course of 4-6 weeks throughout targeted areas. In consultation and with express approval from community leaders (i.e. mayors or imams 19), JLDP consultants would help facilitate afternoon sessions designed to provide a culturally safe space for young women and men. Drawing on the imaging work of Elise Boulding, participants would be asked to participate in scenarios that begin with each participant making a list of things he or she wants to find in a future world based on hopes, not fears. Next he or she enters a world three decades hence, in fantasy, to explore as a time traveler what it is like to live in such a world. After the individual fantasying, participants form groups to construct composite worlds from individual 18 M. Pasupathi, E. Mansour, J.R. Brubaker. “Developing a Life Story: Constructing Relations Between Self and Experience in Autobiographical Narratives.” Human Development, 2007, p. 2. 19 Angel Storm. Personal Correspondence. April 17, 2013.

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images and then in the analytic mode conceptualize the institutional infrastructure, values, and behavioral patterns that would make the fantasied world a sustainable, continually evolving one. Next an imagined history is constructed, working back form the future to the present, and finally strategies are examined for action in the present to bring about the desired future.20 It is JLDP’s position that the sort of visioning exercises explored at great length by Boulding would offer a chance to creatively engage the future at both the individual and group level, emphasizing a sense of agency that may at first feel unfamiliar to youth thus far discouraged from dreaming about a non-violent future. Participants would be free to imagine a shared reality that cuts across ethnic and gender lines, one in which infinitely more possibilities exist than what is ordinarily considered day-to-day. As participants endeavor to work backward from an imagined future through the steps that are needed to arrive there, the capacity to generate dialogue around tactical changes that are needed within their communities in the present to support envisioned change will become possible. At the end of the program, community leaders will award top prizes to the teams with the most innovative visions of the future. Activity #2 – Building Up a Critical Mass Program Harnessing the momentum of activity #1, the Building Up a Critical Mass Program will work to identify future leaders of Iraq from the list of participants in activity #1. Central to this program will be what John Paul Lederach calls the “Theory of the Critical Yeast.” Within the metaphor that he develops to support his theory, “yeast” refers to “a few strategically connected people [who] have greater potential for creating the social growth of an idea or process...”21 The “yeast”, or strategically connected people, must be “sweetened with sugar” in 20 Elise Boulding. “Feminist Inventions in the Art of Peacemaking: A Century Overview.” Peace & Change. Vol. 20 No. 4, October 1995, p. 413. 21 John Paul Lederach. The Moral Imagination. New York: Oxford University Press. 2010, p. 92. 9


Iraq: The Way Forward

order to fully activate. It is only after these strategically connected people are thoroughly mixed with the masses, or “flour”, that any successful social change or, “bread-making” becomes possible.22 In the case of activity #2, the “sweeting of the yeast” maps directly onto the social benefits derived from engaging in group thinking and dialoguing around imagining the future of Iraq. What will hopefully come out of that experience is a group of young people who have flexed their imaginations for the first time and are perhaps eager to apply the end results of visioning exercises to the environment around them. In conjunction with participating community leaders, JLDP will implement a culturally appropriate application process through which a smaller pool of dedicated and thoughtful young men and women are selected to form a Community Development Committee with oversight exercised by a willing community leader or otherwise respected adult. This committee will then have access to capacity building training that will teach the following: (1) core principles of community development; (2) how to design and implement a community development program of their own; and (3) strategies for drafting and submitting a small grant proposal. Building on the relationship between young entrepreneurs and microcredit institutions already established by USAID’s Youth Empowerment Initiative, this Community Development Committee would have the skills and knowledge necessary to both plan and request funding for a community development project. It is in this way that an activated sub-section of the youth demographic could very slowly and very effectively

22 Ibid. 10


Iraq: The Way Forward

permeate the ranks of Iraqi youth with creative and innovative thinking and a sense of community ownership. Mitigating Political Drivers – JLDP Illustrative Programs to Engage Women and Youth Among the several listed political drivers of terrorism, Jessen Lysaght Development Professionals suggests two activities to address the “absence or weakness of local government” rationale for increases in violent extremism. Relatedly, if violent extremists are successful because their efforts are deemed legitimate in the eyes of the public, then counterterrorism strategies should focus on delegitimizing terrorist activity in supportive areas.23 JLDP argues that reversing the tide of publically accepted violence begins by consolidating strong leadership at the local level of governance. Two demographics – youth and women – often find themselves outside of the loci of political power in the areas where they live. It is in this light that JLDP illustrates two civic and political engagement activities that will achieve the following: (1) teach the values of civic engagement to youth and women; (2) prepare youth and women to enter the public and private sectors with enhanced job skills and work experience; and (3) introduce the fundamentals of addressing grievances through democratic channels with the understanding that democracy can be molded to accommodate cultural priorities and practices. Activity #1 – Iraqi Women in Government Program Building on initiative from USAID’s Women in Governance program that was implemented in Afghanistan in February 201024, JLDP recommends implementing a program based in 23 Lord et al., p. 19. 24 USAID/Afghanistan. “Women in Governance (WIG).” 2013. 11


Iraq: The Way Forward

Baghdad that will funnel qualified and interested female university graduates into a 12month internship program that will provide on-the-ground experience in political decisionmaking as well as capacity building opportunities for participants. Selected women will intern with government officials at various line ministries within Iraq’s central government. With only 1 female minister out of 44 at the helm of line ministries, there is a desperate need to integrate higher numbers of qualified women throughout the top-levels of the Iraqi Government.25 The ultimate goal of the program is to transition young women into full-time positions in both the private and public sectors. For female participants who are not native to Baghdad, JLDP and local government partners will provide participants the opportunity to return to their towns of origin to carry out the remainder of their internship after the 8-month mark with the option of an additional 4month extension. The goal of providing this option is to encourage young women to return to their hometowns with the skills and practice of leadership developed in Baghdad. Participants would be placed within local government structures with the goal of introducing best practices to elected officials. The logic in returning interns to their place of birth is that local cultural codes would likely not permit women to travel or set up residence in foreign towns without express permission or accompaniment of male relatives. Completing their internships in their respective hometowns affords women both an opportunity to continue to broaden their skill base as well as the protection of the family apparatus. Introducing women to the best practices of working at both the national and local levels of governance will provide a historically underrepresented minority of the Iraqi population with 25 Zainab Shakir (Program Officer/Women for Women International/Baghdad). Interview. CNN. April 17, 2013. 12


Iraq: The Way Forward

a platform from which to voice unique insights, concerns, and recommendations. This program is one example of how the gender gap in political representation in Iraq might be made a little smaller. Activity #2 – MyGov Senior and Junior Youth Councils Program (MyGov Program) The next generation of leaders is critical to the sustainability of sound governance in all areas of the world. In terms of Iraq, there is tremendous potential to direct youth toward opportunities that will activate their minds and creative energies in civic and political engagement activities. The implementation of the MyGov Senior and Junior Youth Councils Program in targeted areas seeks to facilitate direct civic and political engagement of interested youth (this program was initially co-developed by a Deloitte team in conjunction with Filipino community leaders in Mindanao). The MyGov Program will be housed within local government structures and thus requires the buy-in of local leaders to be successful. The program itself will connect young leaders with local government officials, allowing participants to “shadow” officials and take part in capacity-building and training sessions focused on the principles of civic engagement and the democratic process. Topics that will be explored through capacity building efforts include: the basics of Iraqi governance structures and policy and legislative affairs as well as general employment skills like business writing, presentation skills, communication, and etiquette. Both councils will be required to consider and debate actual local measures being weighed by local officials so as to encourage critical thinking and application of political engagement skills learned throughout the lifecycle of the program. At the end of the program, councilmembers will be required to submit a project that outlines the future of Islam and 13


Iraq: The Way Forward

democracy to a review board comprised of JLDP partners and local leaders. Youth will also be required to serve their communities as volunteers and mentors to future generations of councilmembers. At the Senior Youth Council level, this program will target out-of-school youth who are able to commit to service for one year. At the Junior Youth Council level, this program will target youth who are preparing to move on from compulsory studies and are able to meet on a biweekly basis over the course of 6 months. Senior Youth Council members will rotate between local government departments every 4 months to ensure maximum exposure to the structures of local government functionality. Additionally, senior councilmembers will be responsible for mentoring a junior councilmember assigned to him or her. This program seeks to provide youth a platform from which to voice their concern over local political affairs. By participating in either or both of the youth councils, young men and women will have unprecedented access to the inner-workings of political decision-making, and will learn to leverage those skills to obtain employment in more formal sectors of the economy. On a human level, JLDP hopes to inspire a sense of agency, pride, and self-fulfillment on behalf of youth participants. Mitigating Cultural Drivers – JLDP Illustrative Programs to Engage Moderate Religious Leaders to Promote a Peaceful Islam In reviewing the shorter list of cultural drivers that grow violent extremism, JLDP makes recommendations for undercutting what USAID calls “proactive religious agendas.” In reference to Al Qaeda, Bruce Hoffman writes that Osama bin Laden’s chief concern is the

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Iraq: The Way Forward

“restoration of a pan-Islamic caliphate that is at once as idealized as it is venerated.” 26 While this may be the stated strategic priority of the mastermind behind Al Qaeda’s vast network, there is still considerable disagreement between religious leaders about what is genuinely Islamic and what is not.27 It is within this space that JLDP believes that a peaceful Islam can provide a powerful alternative to individuals seeking redress for grievances, largely with the guidance and presence of moderate Islamic leaders in Iraq. In his review of what the United States has done so far to facilitate reconciliation efforts, Michael Eisenstadt lists the following as notable accomplishments: the incorporation of Sunni Arabs into security forces; the issuance of apologies and reparations for harm done to Iraqi civilians; identification and engagement of moderate elements of the Sunni Arab insurgency who are willing to participate in a more peaceful political process; and application of pressure on the Iraqi government to rehabilitate and integrate former insurgents and marginalized communities into the political process. 28 Calls for refocusing tensions between Sunni and Shiite communities on an issues-based dialogue rather than on claims of ancient animosity are important, but policymakers have stopped short of identifying who from Iraqi civil society could lead this process, since it is clear that the current administration has at least a vested interest in manipulating ethnic divides. 29 JLDP recommends partnering and working closely with religious moderates who can articulately speak the language of Islam, advocate for peaceful conflict resolution, and, within 26 Bruce Hoffman. Inside Terrorism. New York: Columbia University Press. 2006. p. 96. 27 Christina Hellmich. “Creating the Ideology of Al Qaeda: From Hypocrites to Salafi-Jihadists.” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism. London: Oxford. 2008, p. 119. 28 Michael Eisenstadt “’How This Ends’: - Iraq’s Uncertain Path toward National Reconciliation.” The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. April 2013 29 Ibid, p. 5. 15


Iraq: The Way Forward

this context, appeal to Sunnis and Shiites to channel their energies toward more issues-based dialogue. Activity #1 – Islamic Peace Media Campaign JLDP recognizes that the party that can best harness the power of the media stands the strongest chance of achieving a win. In looking at how Al Qaeda utilizes this tool, Bruce Hoffman writes “the mixture of ideology and propaganda alongside practical guidance on guerrilla warfare and related terrorist operations has come to typify al Qaeda’s current Internet profile.”30 In addition, al Qaeda has become adept at producing high-quality videos made available on computer CD-ROMS and DVDs that make for easy access to propaganda in more remote areas.31 JLDP responds to the realities of the ways in which global terrorist networks have leveraged the Internet age by recommending the implementation of the Islamic Peace Media Campaign. In close partnership with pre-identified moderate religious leaders, JLDP will assist in the development of Islamic curriculum that emphasizes peace through the power of love under which peace [is] a condition of all embracing harmony perceived through the inward renewal and transformation of the human consciousness... [where] renewal takes place within each person through the inward cleansing and loving surrender to the divine. 32 Critical to the building of this curriculum will be a resignification of the meaning of jihad as understood by Chaiwat Satha-Anand, which is a command from Allah to eliminate structural violence. Jihad will be further broken down into its component versions, Greater Jihad and 30 Hoffman, p. 217. 31 Ibid, p. 220. 32 Abdul Aziz Said, Nathan C. Funk, and Ayse Kadayifci. “Islamic Approaches to Peace and Conflict Resolution.” Peace and Conflict Resolution in Islam. p. 2.

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Iraq: The Way Forward

Lesser Jihad, with curricular material focusing on the requirements of Greater Jihad, which is an individual struggle to overcome inner weakness and evil. 33 By reimagining jihad as a nonviolent commitment to undoing structural violence, the images of a violent, indiscriminate jihad will be fundamentally challenged and perhaps lose some of its appeal to disaffected Muslims. This peace-based curriculum will be disseminated using a number of vehicles. To begin, a website will be set up with messages from moderate leaders, short clips that explain the main tenets of a peaceful Islam, and stories that pertain to the practice and prevalence of a peaceful Islam around the world. These components will also be burned to CDs and DVDs and distributed through partnering mosques throughout targeted areas. This campaign is ultimately designed to assist in the reimagination of Islam at a broad-based level as the best way to effect peace between warring communities, and that can allow for a more issues-based dialogue to flourish when trust and healthy connections are restored. Activity #2 – Islam-Centered Non-Violence Techniques Workshop The facilitation of Non-Violence Workshops is another illustrative intervention that would be explored under JLDP’s technical solution. While armed extremists may have the upper hand in terms of their ability to inflict death, pain, and suffering on communities that they target, communities on the receiving end have the power to choose non-violent responses both in terms of the terrorists themselves and in terms of the communities against which terrorists seek to mobilize popular acrimony. This particular intervention is designed to encourage Iraqis to pursue non-violent approaches as response mechanisms to terrorist violence. For 33 Chaiwat Satha-Anand. “The Non-Violent Crescent: Eight Theses on Muslim Non-Violent Actions.” p. 14. 17


Iraq: The Way Forward

example, in cases where AQI has targeted moderate Sunni leaders eager to resolve intercommunal tensions with Shiites, the Sunni population of Iraq faces the decision to either persist for peace or follow AQI’s implicit instructions to radicalize. In considering the potential of Islam to offer a path to non-violent intervention, Satha-Anand argues that Islam itself is fertile soil for non-violence because of its potential for disobedience, strong discipline, sharing and social responsibility, perseverance and self-sacrifice, and the belief in the unity of the Muslim community. 34 Led by partnering religious leaders, once-monthly workshops on the principles and practices of non-violence will be held in key areas over the course of 6 months. Participants will range from young people to the elderly as each individual within a community bears the responsibility of promoting non-violence if it is to be a successful campaign. JLDP recommends an overall non-violent strategy of non-cooperation 35 with violent extremist activities and political or religious agenda. More specifically, the process of tahkim should be explored, which involves an arbitrator who is presumed to be wise and fair. During this session, connections to Muhammad as a skilled political leader and arbitrator should be strengthened. For this to work, Ahmad Moussalli writes “the ‘divine’ element of the conflict must be taken into account and then deconstructed into its political components.”36 In addition to exploring tahkim through dedicated sessions, the reimagination of sulh processes wherein the primary objective is to rule out revenge and centralize a condition of “forgetting” what happened in order to reinvigorate a new and friendly relationship between 34 Ibid. 35 Gene Sharp Waging Nonviolent Struggle: 20th Century Practice and 21st Century Potential. Boston: Extending Horizons Books. 2005. p. 19. 36 Ahmad Moussalli. “An Islamic Model for Political Conflict Resolution: Tahkim (Arbitration)”. Peace and Conflict Resolution in Islam, p. 12.

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Iraq: The Way Forward

parties will be explored. 37 In situations where one community perceives that an ethnically or religiously different community has committed harm against it, the process of arbitration should be explored as a way to facilitate forgiveness and reconciliation. Examples of Muslim non-violence practitioners should be highlighted as popular alternatives to jihadist heroes like Bin Laden and Zawahiri. Zeki Saritoprak writes that Muslim figures of non-violence are rarely counted among some of history’s most revered practitioners, but embedded in this oversight is the glossing over of Bediüzzaman Suid Nursi, a man who believed that persuasion was an elevated art form, and who often quoted the Iranian poet, Hafiz Shirazi, who wrote that, “The world is not a possession worthy of quarrelling over.” 38 Saritoprak makes the case that Nursi’s emphasis on response to violence through kind acts and an undeterred commitment to peace is a lesson worthy of teaching to Muslims who may have limited (if any) knowledge of his legacy. In all, peaceful engagement of core tenets of Islam through the legitimacy of moderate religious leaders would achieve the kind of inter-communal stability that is needed before more tactical issues like land disputes can be effectively resolved. If communities are given the opportunity to reconsider Islamic calls for violence perpetuated by extremist actors, perhaps the overall ranks of violent actors will shrink and the resolve to settle disputes peacefully will strengthen. While JLDP maintains that a solution that prioritizes undercutting socioeconomic, political, and cultural drivers of violent extremism through engagement with youth, women, and 37 George Irani and Nathan C. Funk. “Rituals of Reconciliation: Arab-Islamic Perspectives.” P. 13. 38 Zeki Saritoprak. “Bediüzzaman Said Nursi’s Paradigm of Islamic Nonviolence.” Crescent and Dove: Peace and Conflict Resolution in Islam. Ed. Qamar-ul Huda. Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace, 2013, p. 100. 19


Iraq: The Way Forward

moderate religious leaders affords the people of Iraq the best chance of moving beyond the trauma of occupation and false-start recovery efforts, JLDP notes that there exist some ethical challenges to consider ahead of program implementation. In the words of Lederach The two greatest tragedies that negatively affect peacebuilding in settings of protracted conflict arise principally from the lack of discipline of stillness by those who come from the outside with good intentions. 39 Essentially, JLDP takes this to mean that the greatest potential for pitfalls in programming arises when implementers fail to notice the intricacies and nuances within the communities they hope to positively impact. While JLDP firmly agrees that all illustrative examples have been vetted for glaring setbacks, JLDP acknowledges that certain considerations must be kept in mind as it engages youth, women, and moderate leaders to lead Iraq to a more hopeful future. Engaging with Youth To begin, it is important to avoid aggregating youth into one monolithic demographic. Programmatic attention must be paid to differentiating between male and female youth as well as economic status, gender, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity and religion.40 JLDP and its partners must be careful to respect the various differences and qualities of youth members from one target area to the next. Second, JLDP recognizes that where youth are more actively engaged in non-income generating activities at school or outside the home, the overall productive capacity of the household may suffer a setback. JLDP will need to explore further how to mitigate against potential harm done to the economic welfare of families with youth who participate in programming. 39 Lederach, p. 104. 40 USAID Youth in Development Policy. P. 13, 2012. 20


Iraq: The Way Forward

In addition, the appeal of these programs may be lost on youth (or, in some cases, completely impossible) without the buy-in of respected community leaders and/or elders. JLDP and partnering organizations should carefully and thoughtfully explore how to make critical thinking and social, civic and political engagement activities both appealing and feasible to youth who are most at-risk of radicalization. Engaging with Women JLDP imagines that there may be considerable cultural resistance to the implementation of programming for Iraqi women. Finding a way to respect cultural norms without leaving women out of the development picture will be a challenging endeavor. Restrictions on women posed by fundamentalist interpretations of Islam will be an ever-present hurdle to address. In addition, women themselves may have no interest in participating in a program that brings them closer to the political process. In a class lecture at Georgetown University, Dr. Ayse Kadayifci recalled that during her trip to Iraq, women responded to the question of whether or not they would vote for a female political leader by categorically opting for the hypothetical male opponent. Dr. Kadayifci remarked that in the Arab world, there is a general female distaste for joining political machines, which women view as inherently corrupt. 41 The challenge, therefore, will be to make the case that women in leadership positions will not have a deleterious effect on either the women involved or the political process itself. Engaging with Moderate Religious Leaders While generating traction among moderate Islamic leaders may have an impact on watering down the appeal of violent interpretations of Islam itself, there is the very real risk that JLDP 41 Dr. Ayse Kadayifci. “Gender and Peacebuilding.� Lecture. Georgetown University. April 16, 2013. 21


Iraq: The Way Forward

might be seen as working to co-opt said leaders to further a western agenda. These leaders must be perceived to be effecting peace of their own volition; in fact, JLDP may have to remain nearly invisible during this particular part of program implementation. In addition, whether or not selected Islamic leaders are indeed “moderate” will be difficult to determine. As is the case with any individual, these leaders will inevitably have objectives and goals of their own, and whether or not those objectives map onto JLDP’s will not be known until a relationship is established and implementation begins. JLDP and its partners must be especially careful in choosing these candidates as what they say could actually undermine the mission to articulate a peaceful Islam. Concluding Comments In his conceptualization of the enredo, or “tangled net” effect, Lederach argues that “if you do not have the right people in place and connected in the right way, that solution collapses.” 42 The overarching goal of this technical solution is to implement programs that connect the right people in the right way to an integrated and peaceful approach to building a future for Iraq. If Jessen Lysaght Development Professionals is to be successful in this endeavor, the most telling result will be the degree to which otherwise unconnected and antagonistic parties are, in the aftermath of programming, working collaboratively and respectfully toward a shared vision.

42 Lederach, p. 77. 22

Iraq: The Way Forward - A Private Sector Response to a Mock USAID Solicitation  

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