The fate of the Assyrian minority in early independent Iraq: A test case of political violence based on rational primordialism

Alexander Bligha, Gadi Hitmanb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Analyzing ethno-national conflicts is usually not easy in that not all quantitative scientific tools are useful to the student of a conflict based on primordial elements. The burden of studying the outcome of a conflict is all the more complex given that the two conflicting groups might be at two different stages of their political development at any given time during the course of the conflict. In the case of the fate of the [Eastern Christian] Assyrian community in early independent Iraq, the political rationale for decisions taken by each party was drawn from different sociological, historical and political realms. Decisions in times of conflict and their political and historical ramifications are not always rational, since they draw upon primordial/communal considerations rather than the accurate reading of the overall true strategic scene. The violence was an outcome of a combination of primordial differences and rational choice. The Iraqis sought to establish a new sovereign state with minimal disturbances from its Christian minority that they perceived as not belonging to the new nation. As for the Assyrians, they chose violence believing that at least some superpowers would support them. Historically, this rational decision based upon a primordial dispute turned out to be a mistake primarily because of lack of external support, weak internal cohesion of the group, and feeble leadership.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-432
Number of pages14
JournalMiddle Eastern Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - 4 May 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, IRoutledge. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The fate of the Assyrian minority in early independent Iraq: A test case of political violence based on rational primordialism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this