Iraq's Militias: Lessons from Basra's Fratricidal Violence

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Iraqi Militia

Iraq's Militias: Lessons from Basra's Fratricidal Violence

1300-1415, 20 June 2007

RUSI, 61 Whitehall

While international attention centres on Baghdad with its spectacular bombings and more comprehensible dynamics, Basra is a case study of Iraq’s multiple and multiplying forms of violence. The crime wave, political assassinations and sectarian killings of 2006 did recede thanks to Basra’s security plan – Operation Sinbad and a relative calm prevailed.  Yet this reality was both superficial and fleeting. By March-April 2007, renewed political tensions threatened to destabilise the city and it is now controlled by militias who appear more powerful and unconstrained than ever.  Periods of stability only reflect a momentary – and fragile – balance of interests or terror between rival militias. International Crisis Group Senior Analyst Peter Harling will present the conclusions from their forthcoming policy paper on Basra’s militia predicament and offer some policy responses for the international community for discussion.

Peter Harling is a Senior Analyst with the Middle East Program of the International Crisis Group and is currently based in Damascus. His research at Crisis Group is focused on Iraq, although he has also been conducting research in Lebanon and Syria.  Peter Harling has spent 7 years working in and on Iraq, where he had taken residency up to the outbreak of the 2003 war, and where he has returned on several assignments since the former regime’s fall. His areas of expertise on Iraq include tribalism, Islamism, and the insurgency. 

To attend this seminar please email Helen Wood on

For all other enquiries please call 0207 747 2643.

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