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The Apocalyptic and The Sectarian: Identity, Bare Life and the Rise of Da'ish

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Abstract

Within the context of upstream operations, one must engage with events within particular boundaries of space and time. Understanding processes within these areas can also result in awareness of the emergence of particular groups and ideas. The emergence of Da’ish in 2014, was the result of the fragmentation of Iraq and the increasingly sectarian attempts to fill the post-Saddam vacuum. Mabon considers political organisation in Iraq across the 20th century, focussing upon the rise and fall of the sovereign state, and suggests that by considering events through the lens of sovereignty, we are better equipped to understand events. Mabon analyses the Iraqi state, before turning to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, considering the process of deba’athification and the establishment of Shi’a government in Baghdad, mass unemployment, and sectarian violence. The penetration of the Iraqi state by external actors, namely Saudi Arabia and Iran, whose geopolitical agendas—framed as support for sectarian kin—fed into the continued fragmentation of the state. From this, it is possible to see how Sunni communities became marginalised and securitised, resulting in what Giorgio Agamben (Homo sacer: Sovereign power and bare life. Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1995) has termed ‘bare life’. It is these conditions that gave rise to the emergence of Da’ish.