Policing Post-War Iraq: Insurgency, Civilian Police, and the Reconstruction of Society




Sociological Focus



We present an analysis of the ongoing dynamics of civilian police reform in Iraq since an end to major hostilities was declared in the Spring of 2003. Analyzing the development of Iraq’s new police forces since the fall of the Ba’ath regime, our study particularly focuses on the Iraqi police as a preferred target of insurgent attacks. Theoretically, we rely on sociological perspectives on the transformations of the police function in the process of democratization of the polity and apply these insights comparatively to the democratic reform of Iraq’s autocratic regime. We argue that the Iraqi insurgency is disproportionately targeted at the new Iraqi civilian police, not because of the role police would fulfill as representatives of the state, but because a well-established and regularly functioning police would represent an important and highly visible indicator of a pacified Iraqi society. First and foremost, we maintain, the insurgency is aimed at the Iraqi police forces in order to prevent a normalization of Iraq’s civil society.

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