Contemporary “premodern” conflicts, or “new wars” are characterized by the de-professionalization of the use of force and the emergence of various non-state actors: warlords, paramilitary units, sectarian militias, proxies, etc., and their growing role as security providers. This paper examines the status, activities and effectiveness of a non-state actor, Dwekh Nawsha (DN), as a security provider in northern Iraq during the Daesh (aka the so-called “Islamic State”) invasion.
The author investigates DN’s status as a self-defense group and ethno-religious militia; its independence and proxy status; its effectiveness in realizing self-assumed tasks of providing security to the local population; and group participation in combat operations and in the coalition counter-terrorism endeavors.
This article is based on the results of qualitative investigation methods, i.e., interviews with the DN members conducted by the author in Duhok, northern Iraq, in March 2015, follow-up e-mail and telephone exchange, social media analysis, complemented with an overview of existing academic reports, literature, and the news.
The research results allow us to conclude that non-state actors can be of various use to local communities, and not necessarily only combat-related, but also self-assurance for the local population and propagation of their challenges in the international media. However, in order for such a group to exist, it may be necessary to assume patronage and thus become someone’s proxy. Considering DN’s overall limited potential (modest manpower, lack of equipment, diverse training, operational limitations), the author favorably assesses (proportionally to its capacity) the group’s role as a security provider in the Daesh-occupied Iraq.
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