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HomeGlobal Perspective & Critical ResearchSectarianization and Memory in the post-Saddam Middle East: the ‘Alāqima

Sectarianization and Memory in the post-Saddam Middle East: the ‘Alāqima

Author: Nassima Neggaz

Affiliation: Division of Humanities, New College Florida, FL, USA

Organization/Publisher: The British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 

Date/Place: July 26, 2020/ UK

Type of Literature: Journal Article

Number of Pages: 19


Keywords: US Invasion, Iraq, Alaqima, Sectarianism, Saddam


The author critically evaluates an online narrative that reflects the split in Iraqi society post-2003 after the fall of Saddam Hussein. The international actors exploited the sectarian fault lines of Iraq by comparing the US invasion of Iraq with Hulagu Khan’s conquest of Baghdad in 1258. The victim of this discourse is the Iraqi Shiite population, being referred to as ‘Alqami of contemporary times. Muayad Ad-Din ibn Al-‘Alqami was the Shia minister of the Abbasid Caliphate who facilitated the Mongols’ invasion of Baghdad. Just as ‘Alqami colluded with a foreign power to remove the head of state, the Shiite population in the Middle East (particularly in Iraq) is likewise blamed and accused by political figures, religious clerics, and jihadist groups of facilitating the US’ invasion of Iraq in 2003. The study incorporates the “narrative constitution of identity” approach proposed by Margaret Somers in 1994. According to this theory, people adopt fabricated stories, narrated by ethno-sectarian entrepreneurs, to construct identities based on ethnicity or sect. The study identifies four components of narrativity: relationality of parts, casual emplotment, selective appropriation, and temporality.  Furthermore, the Gulf States—specifically UAE and Saudi Arabia— are promoting this narrative of Shiite betrayal and Sunni victimhood in the region. As a result of this propaganda, both state and non-state actors are mobilizing militias while fueling the anarchy in an already chaotic region. The article emphasizes the need of intra-Muslim discursive strategies to contain and restrict the “sect consciousnesses” in a polarized region. 

By: Muhammad Taimoor Bin Tanveer, CIGA Senior Research Associate



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