Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Government and International Affairs

Major Professor

Earl Conteh-Morgan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Festus Ohaegbulam, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Abdelwahab Hechiche, Ph.D.


Al Qa'ida, Ansar al Sunnah, Che Guevara, Mao Tse Tung, 21st Century


Insurgency is considered to be the principal form of conflict in the world today. Since the end of WWII, large-scale conventional war between states has been minimal. In Iraq, a band of insurgents are attempting to defy the strongest power in the world. This insurgency in Iraq may be the beginning of a new phenomenon of insurgency conflict.

This thesis argues that the Iraqi insurgency has no center of gravity, with no clear apparent leader or leadership. As seen in other examples of insurgency throughout history, no leadership has emerged in response to any of the conditions present in Iraq. There is no attempt to seize and actually hold territory, and no single, defined, or unifying ideology. Most important, through the research of this project, there has been no identifiable insurgent organization. It is true that there are multiple organizations involved, such as Al Qa’ida and Al Ansar, but there is no clear indication of any cohesion in the insurgency.

This insurgency involves small groups who communicate, coordinate, and conduct their campaigns without a precise central command. The command and control is a very loose environment where individuals gravitate toward one another to carry out armed attacks, exchange intelligence, trade weapons, and then disperse at times never to operate together again.

The immediate goal of the insurgency in Iraq is to disrupt the political process and drive US forces out of Iraq. However, each element of the insurgency is also driven by its own unique motivations. No matter the differences, they fight together for a common cause. Their strategy is to seize power by draining the Coalition financially and winning popular support through coercion and fear. Their resources may be unlimited, and with support coming in from all corners of the earth, they may be unstoppable. The future will determine whether or not the insurgency in Iraq is a new type of insurgency. If the Iraqi example fails to spread to other countries, then it can be said that the insurgency in Iraq was a phenomenon unique only to Iraq and its conditions.