Analyzing the Onset of the Iraqi Civil War 2004 from the Perspective of Inclusive and Exclusive Elite Bargains

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  • Bilal Bunyamin Bag Kings College



Being one of the bloodiest internal conflicts since 1945, the Iraqi civil war unleashed disastrous dynamics in Iraq and the Middle East, which set the course for the current chaos in Iraq and the rise of Islamic State. This dissertation analyses the civil war’s onset in 2004 from the analytical perspective of inclusive and exclusive elite bargains. It hypothesizes that the exclusiveness of Iraq’s elite bargains for a political settlement after Saddam Hussein’s overthrow is the major cause of the civil war. A range of examined elite bargains from August 2002 until June 2004 illustrates the exclusiveness of the bargains. US officials based the post-Saddam political order on a small coalition of actors who had lived outside of Saddam-ruled Iraq for decades and had, therefore, no support base in the country. Kurdish actors are evidently the exception. At the same time, a number of influential key figures were excluded from the bargains and barred from any participation in the new political settlement of Iraq, leaving them without stakes in the stability of the country. This study finds out that excluded actors have indeed been at the core of the insurgent activities that led to the civil war. The bottom line of this dissertation is that the applied explanatory model, though it cannot explain Iraq’s internal disorder in all its facets, provides an essential tool to analyze the civil war onset in 2004.


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How to Cite

Bag, B. B. (2017). Analyzing the Onset of the Iraqi Civil War 2004 from the Perspective of Inclusive and Exclusive Elite Bargains. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 4(1), 44–64.



Original Manuscript
Received 2017-05-08
Accepted 2017-06-03
Published 2017-06-30