The Salience Of Sectarianism: Iraqi Shi‘a in American Perceptions, 1958-1979 Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Merkel, Lauren
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
  • This thesis traces the emergence of official American perceptions of Shi‘a sectarianism in Iraq and identifies the transition point when American diplomats and intelligence analysts began to perceive the Iraqi Shi‘a as a threat to American interests in the region. Two factors shaped these perceptions: First, a lack of knowledge and mistaken understanding of Iraqi Shi‘a communities and political dissident movements among the American diplomatic and intelligence communities contributed to a false equivalence of Iraqi Shi‘a dissidence as purely religious when its goals were largely political in nature. Second, these misperceptions regarding internal Iraqi society allowed external factors, such as the Cold War and the Iranian Revolution, to play a disproportionate role in shaping official American perceptions of Iraqi Shi‘a sectarianism.
Date of publication
Resource type
  • Shields, Sarah
  • Aydin, Cemil
  • Lee, Wayne
  • Master of Arts
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2018

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