This article investigates the role of religious institutions in the countering and
prevention of violent extremism (C/PVE) in Nineveh province, Iraq. It addresses a
major gap in the literature that offers largely descriptive accounts of C/PVE
policies, without considering the different stakeholders involved in their
implementation and the complex network of relationships among them. The
actions and legitimacy of religious institutions are analysed against the
background of the post-2003 Iraqi state apparatus. The hybridity of the new
political system of the second republic (2005-present) justifies the focus on the
initiatives of both formal and informal religious institutions towards key C/PVE
sectors such as education and peace-building. Building on 59 interviews
conducted in Hamdaniyyah and Tel Afar four years after the official victory over
the Islamic State, this paper introduces new data and innovative insights into the
relationships between religious institutions, state apparatus and civil society. The
findings suggest that i) while the legitimacy of religious institutions is contested
across Nineveh province, there is a consensus on the need for these institutions to
be involved in C/PVE; ii) interactions between religious institutions, political
systems, and civil society have increased but remain limited; and iii) the
fragmentation of the state apparatus is reflected in uncoordinated and unregulated
C/PVE strategies. The importance of religious institutions in fostering community
resilience to violent extremism in Nineveh province should not overlook the need
for a transversal and inclusive approach to healing the scars left by two decades of
rampant conflicts.

Note: Article published in Journal for Radicalization.

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This report presents the methodology and socio-demographic data gathered by the Open Think Tank (OTT) as part of its research on the interplay between state and religious actors and their influence on community vulnerability or resilience to patterns of violent extremism (VE) in Iraq. The focus of this study is to understand the extent to which the rise of violent extremism is linked to or influenced by the absence or dysfunction of state/governance institutions in affected communities, as well as the role of inactive and mistrusted formal religious institutions.

The analysis presented in this report is based on 59 interviews conducted between June and November 2021. The research team selected two case studies, namely the Hamdaniyyah and Tal Afar districts, which encompass the main cities in each district located in Nineveh Province, Iraq. The cities of Qaraqosh and Tal Afar were chosen as they have experienced significant impacts of violent extremism, particularly under the Islamic State group (IS). Following the liberation of these cities from IS between 2016 and 2017, they witnessed substantial demographic shifts and a process of militarization with the proliferation of armed groups along ethnic and confessional lines.


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This project was prepared and conducted in partnership between Open Think Tank (NGO based in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq) and Konrad Adenauer Shiftung Syria/Iraq Office, with funcding support from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany.

We hereby thank all the people who took time to participate in this survey and all the collaborators who contributed to this project.

If you have questions about this project or would like to additional information, please contact one of the project partners. Copies of this report can be found on the partners' websites:

Open Think Tank website  and Konrad Adenauer Shiftung website


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COVID-19 has attracted much attention in Kurdish neighbourhoods and has been relayed massively by the media across the KRI. Kurdistanis put their trust mostly in television as the most accessible source of information across the region. Conversely, social media was not considered a reliable source of information during the pandemic. The results of this survey highlight a strong lack of trust in federal political figures and institutions. At the regional level, Kurdistanis are divided along lines of political affiliation and geography. While respondents from Duhok and Erbil expressed a high level of trust in the KRG, people of Silemani are openly distrustful of the KRI government. The institutions responsible for mitigating the impact of the pandemic attract the highest level of trust across governorates. This is the case with the KRG Ministry of Health and Ministry of Interior, including the security forces and the police. Conversely, participants expressed strong rejection of both parliaments that sit in Baghdad and Erbil. The legislative body attracted the least trust among the population surveyed. The COVID-19 pandemic has fostered social cohesion in the KRI. The majority of respondents believed that all Kurdistanis, including both vulnerable and non-vulnerable groups, should be
treated equally and should receive the same amount of government support during the pandemic. That being said, a significant number of respondents recognized the importance of caring for those most vulnerable, such as the elderly, Syrian refugees, and International
Displaced Persons (IDPs) more broadly. Finally, respondents have been shown to rely mostly on their social circles and family throughout the crisis, rather than regional and federal
institutions. Those surveyed strongly supported the preventive measures in general imposed by the KRG on the three governorates. Yet, answers to the survey reveal that such measures have had an
impact on the personal economic circumstances of Kurdistanis, especially among the younger portion of the population, who expected to face financial difficulties in the near future as a direct
consequence of the pandemic and its impact.


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OPEN THINK TANK (OTT) organized its seventh conference under the name of Open Debates 7 in partnership with Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS), Syria/Iraq office. The Open Debates is a series of public events such as conferences, meetings, and workshops held by Open Think Tank in collaboration with its partners. The following is the conference report which includes recommendations that were derived from a two-day conference debates, discussions, and questions and answers.

Conference Report by:
Dr. Mohammedali Taha , Revin Mahyad , and Hizel Hidayet

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The referendum for an Independent Kurdistan to be held on 25th of September 2017 is an important issue not only for Iraq but for the entire region and the international community. Despite the results of the upcoming referendum on 25th of September, a deeper discussion has to take place regarding the structure and shape of a Kurdish state agreed by all the population, regardless of gender, education, ethnicity, religion, political party, province and governorate of belonging. How does the new state have to be and look like? How inclusive will it be and what constitutional and legal mechanisms will there be in place? What political, economic, social, cultural etc. orders will the new state build and how much difference will it make when compared to the status quo? This survey is conducted in Kurdistan Region of Iraq three weeks prior to the referendum date to address the above questions. To get access to the survey results click here



This project was prepared and conducted in partnership between Open Think Tank (NGO based in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq) and Konrad Adenauer-Stiftung Syria/Iraq Office. We hereby thank all the people who took the time to participate in this survey and all the collaborators who contributed to this project. If you have questions about this project or would like additional information, please contact one of the project partners.


Get Full Access Report: Click Here

التقرير الكامل: انقر هنا

The scope of the survey is to gain a general overview of the perceptions and attitudes of the teaching personnel from the city of Duhok, regarding the education policy in Kurdistan Region of Iraq and the implementation of this policy on the field. The main assumption in choosing this category of respondents is that the professionals that work in the education field are directly affected by and interested in the system, based on an extensive overall practical knowledge regarding the education policy. Their perceptions and attitudes offer a clear description of the strengths and flaws of the education system. The results of the survey are intended to contribute towards the inception of a general discussion among the broad public and the practitioners involved in the formulation and application of the education policy in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, considering possible improvements and reforms for the near future.


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