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Da’ish, stasis and bare life in Iraq

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Publication date2019
Host publicationIraq After Isis: The Challenges of Post-War Recovery
EditorsJacob Erikson, Ahmed Khaleel
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages20
ISBN (electronic)9783030009557
ISBN (print)9783030009540
<mark>Original language</mark>English


In recent years work produced on the emergence of ISIS has predominantly focussed upon ideological and tactical dimensions. This chapter takes a different approach to understand the emergence of the group, focussing upon the regulation of life and the concept of sovereignty. Using the theory of Giorgio Agamben, we suggest that Iraq has been existing under a state of exception since 2003 and the establishment of the Coalition Provisional Authority. The state of exception, a political-legal term, allows for the suspension of the norm of the law to preserve the law, but in doing so, marginalises people from politics in a situation referred to as bare life. This chapter argues that ISIS was able to cultivate support from disenfranchised Sunni communities residing within these conditions of bare life, as a consequence of the legal structures established by the CPA and ensuing governments. In addition, we must also consider the role played by informal structures—such as religion and tribalism—to gain a more nuanced understanding of the concept, along with how people then reside in bare life. As the state of exception and bare life continues, the defeat of ISIS will not rid Iraq of violence or extremism.