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Armed Conflicts and Ideological Warfare

Session XIII-11, 2022 Annual Meeting

On Sunday, December 4 at 1:30 pm

Panel Description
  • This paper explores the relationship between violence and scalar politics as a means of understanding the emergence of municipal politics in the post-war era in Lebanon. In assessing the centrality of containment practices in precarious war-time circumstances, I delineate the means through which various sectors of Lebanese society responded to the specter of violence: I look at the formation of popular committees in Choueifat formed to circumvent the scarcity of resources and services; the formation of checkpoints by youth residents of Aitat to demarcate parameters of safety; the legislations emerging in response to the territorial disintegration by the Lebanese state, resulting in decentralization decrees; and finally the entrenchment of checkpoints and public administrations by militias. I illustrate the mechanisms through which the strategies of containing violence and the various effects of violence on society came to operate as the blueprint for the sociospatial containment implemented by the institutionalized militias in the post-war era. This, I argue, allows for and nuanced understanding of the role of scale and space in the hegemonic governmentality of sectarianism, contemporarily materializing through municipalities since the writing of the Municipal Act of 1977. This paper thus thinks through the role of the specter of violence in the entrenchment of the post-war governmentality in Lebanon and argues that the geographical configurations of violence and containment appearing throughout the war—or the geographies of war—come to inform the political landscape of Lebanese polity with the culmination of the war in 1990. Embedding the geographies of war necessary for the contemporary governmentality of sectarianism, I contend, requires the looming threat of violence by the “other” sectarian group. This specter comes to be deeply enmeshed with the durability of the militia-ran governance appearing with the culmination of the war.
  • The production and use of chemical weapons by the Spanish army during the so-called Rif War in Morocco, successfully concealed for over half a century, began to be exposed by international and Spanish researchers from 1990 and especially during the 2000s. Two main issues have been hitherto explored. On the one hand, the role of Hugo Stoltzenberg, a German chemist and industrialist who sold chemical weapons to Spain and directed the installation of a military toxic gas factory near Madrid. On the other hand, the types and quantities of chemical weapons produced in or purchased by Spain, the tactics of gas attacks and the military operations in which they were used in Morocco, including an evaluation of their eventual impact on the march of the Rif War and on the civil population’s health and living conditions. In this paper we will propose an updated reassessment of the question of chemical warfare in Morocco’s Rif War. On the one hand, we will point out the main gaps and inconsistencies of the prevailing historical narrative. On the other hand, we will present fresh research that will contribute to clarify hitherto unknown aspects of the question, including the mobilization of chemical companies, the use of toxic gases by the French army or the role of army health personnel and the risks to which they were exposed. For this purpose, we will use documentary evidence gathered at archives in Spain, France, and other European countries.
  • One month after the Korean War broke out, Turkey announced its decision to send a brigade to join the United Nations Command in Korea. Turkey was the fourth largest troop contributor after the US, UK and Canada. Among the UN prisoners captured by North Korean and the Chinese People’s Volunteers, the Turks were the third largest POW contingent after the Americans and the British. It was estimated that about 38 percent of American prisoners and 15 percent of British did not survive captivity. As many as a third of the American prisoners were accused of having collaborated in some form with the Communists. Twenty-one American prisoners refused repatriation and elected to remain with the enemy. In comparison, all Turkish prisoners survived their captivity. Not a single one appeared to have collaborated with the enemy. Why did Turks had better records? Why did Turkish POWs appear to be immune to Communist indoctrination? Existing literature about Korean War POWs has until now focused primarily on the treatment and behavior of American and British prisoners in Communist camps. Yet Turkish prisoners’ conduct has long been neglected by English-language accounts. Drawing on a diversified body of published and unpublished documentary materials from Turkish, Chinese and English sources, this paper argues that the main reasons why Turkish prisoners successfully resisted Chinese “lenient policy” and “re-education programs” are their strict system of military discipline as Atatürk’s soldiers and strong religious belief. This paper examined the declassified documents from the National Archives in the US, the Great Britain, China and Turkey, and especially the most recently unlocked Korean catalogue at the Military History and Strategic Studies Archives (ATASE) in Ankara. This paper has also drawn upon published and unpublished autobiographical materials by Turkish veterans and former Communist camp translators. Furthermore, it gathered personal diaries and letters that were sent from the front line and the prisoner camps by Turks to their families some of which were published by Turkish press. It also used illustrative material from oral history interviews the author conducted with Turkish veterans and ex-prisoners. This research will contribute both to the histories of the Cold War by examining how the political realities of the Turkish POW’s experiences fitted into the Cold War propaganda which was being ladled out by the Chinese, and Turkish studies by analysing the Turkish military archives on religious training and propaganda which have never been before examined.
  • The Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt and the Fethullah Gulen Network of Turkey have shaped politics, economics, and society in their home countries in the last decades. Both networks had achieved considerable success until 2013 and have since been banned in their respective territories and faced immense pressure from their authoritarian governments. The Muslim Brotherhood and the Gulen Network are designated as terror organizations by their home countries: tens of thousands of their members have been imprisoned, assets seized, and others have gone into exile. Additionally, the groups’ charities, media outlets, and schools have been shuttered and their property confiscated. Despite the similar crackdowns, the reactions of the two groups differ. Unable to obtain a voice through political or civic participation, some members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood considered splitting into radical factions and resorting to violence. However, within the Gulen Network, there is no discussion of using violence, despite the fact that more than 50 thousand of them were veteran police and military personnel who were purged by the government, who could quickly resort to violence. The literature on political violence stresses the lack of available political and civilian channels; however, despite this lack of possible channels, the Gulen network still does not consider violence. This paper argues that the nature of organizational structure (populist vs. elitist), political discourse, expectations, and experiences correlate with whether a network resorts to violence or not. This paper adopts the qualitative method, including content analysis of official statements, social media posts, and the media outlet of the networks and focus-group interviews with the Gulen and the Muslim Brotherhood networks.