Insurgency in Iraq: An Historical Perspective

  • January 01, 2005
  • Dr Ian FW Beckett

The continuing proliferation of insurgent organizations suggests that insurgency is still widely perceived as an effective means either of achieving power and influence, or of bringing a cause to the notice of an international or national community. The end of European decolonization and the collapse of the Soviet Union together removed the motivational impulse for much conflict between the late 1940s and the late 1980s. However, new ideological, political, and commercial imperatives are now encouraging intrastate conflict and insurgency amid the breakdown of the international bipolar political system and the emergence of identity politics and of many more nonstate actors. This monograph considers the patterns of insurgency in the past by way of establishing how much the conflict in Iraq conforms to previous experience. In particular, the author compares and contrasts Iraq with previous Middle Eastern insurgencies such as those in Palestine, Aden, the Dhofar province of Oman, Algeria, and Lebanon. He suggests that there is much that can be learned from British, French, and Israeli experience.