Challenges to moderation theory: Muqtada al-Sadr and Iraq’s Sadrist movement

Date created: 
2011-08-23
Identifier: 
etd6806
Keywords: 
Moderation
Al-Sadr
Mahdi Army
Sadrist
Moderation Theory
Islamist
Abstract: 

Nearly all scholarship on radical political movements suggests that participation in formal politics will lead to moderation. Yet Iraq’s Sadrist Movement, the Shi’a Islamist group headed by Muqtada al-Sadr, defies the widespread assumption that political inclusion leads to moderation. This thesis will examine the Sadrist Movement to explore when political participation produces ideological moderation and when it does not. In late 2004, the Sadrist Movement recognized the legitimacy of the Iraqi state, ceased using violence and entered electoral politics. The literature suggests that the Sadrist movement should have continued to moderate in response to further political and material incentives. However, in 2006 the Sadrists returned to violence and grew increasingly hostile toward democratic politics. Why did the Sadrist Movement reverse course in this manner? This work argues that unstable environments, such as that of post-2003 Iraq, can cause parties to behave in ways that defy the assumptions of moderation theory.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
Rights: 
Copyright remains with the author. The author granted permission for the file to be printed and for the text to be copied and pasted.
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Tamir Moustafa
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School for International Studies
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.
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