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Criminals, Militias, and Insurgents: Organized Crime in Iraq

Authored by Dr. Phil Williams.


Brief Synopsis

Dr. Williams looks in detail at major criminal activities, including the theft, diversion, and smuggling of oil, the kidnapping of both Iraqis and foreigners, extortion, car theft, and the theft and smuggling of antiquities. He also considers the critical role played by corruption in facilitating and strengthening organized crime and shows how al-Qaeda in Iraq, Jaish-al-Mahdi, and the Sunni tribes used criminal activities to fund their campaigns of political violence. Dr. Williams identifies the roots of organized crime in post-Ba’athist Iraq in an authoritarian and corrupt state dominated by Saddam Hussein and subject to international sanctions. He also explains the rise of organized crime after the U.S. invasion in terms of two distinct waves: the first wave followed the collapse of the state and was accompanied by the breakdown of social control mechanisms and the development of anomie; the second wave was driven by anarchy, insecurity, political ambition, and the imperatives of resource generation for militias, insurgents, and other groups. He also identifies necessary responses to organized crime and corruption in Iraq, including efforts to reduce criminal opportunities, change incentive structures, and more directly target criminal organizations and activities. His analysis also emphasizes the vulnerability of conflict and post-conflict situations to organized crime and the requirement for a holistic or comprehensive strategy in which security, development, and the rule of law complement one another.

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Also by the Author/Editor:

Drug Trafficking, Violence, and Instability
From the New Middle Ages to a New Dark Age: The Decline of the State and U.S. Strategy

View other pubs in the following category:

Middle East and North Africa

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