In this chapter, I describe some group relations among Iraqis, present results of scientific research I conducted among Iraqis, and share a few vignettes (as above) to explain how these relate to each other. Are Iraqis doomed to live at war with each other, with no choice to make peace? We will explore that later.\ud \ud I have lived in the Middle East intermittently for the last thirty years, first as a student and then in leadership of relief, development, training, communications, and commercial businesses, in addition to theoretical and applied research. The Middle East is an area with fascinating peoples and with rich, complex history and cultures. My work as a researcher and activist led our team to study social attitudes of Iraqis, both visible and subtle. Our main research question addressed effects of geographic location, class, education, ethnicity, and religion on inter-group relations. Our primary assumption was that conflict between clans, tribes, and sects was based on more than just religious or ethnic differences, and that statements by Iraqis about other groups could give accurate indications of attitudes about other groups.\ud \ud We did a study in 2003 to build a foundation of basic tools and methods useful to explore and communicate about Iraq social systems. Our projects in 2005 added elements of social networks and social capital, giving a deeper look into motivations and support structures of inter-group conflict. Not only quantitative surveys, but also in-depth personal interviews helped us to clarify opinions not easily captured by numerical answers. This also led us into new personal friendships and opportunities to use our own social networks to find jobs and other tangible benefits for survey participants. This research was practical, not merely academic.\ud \ud The most important finding from our studies in 2003-2005 of social conflict in Iraq was that, \ud \ud "Ethnic and religious identities alone do not relate strongly towards \ud feelings about other groups."\ud \ud That is, feelings and opinions about other Iraq groups were not based solely on either ethnic or religious backgrounds of the groups. Conflict between Iraqi groups was not reported to be about religion or ethnicity. Almost all Iraqis surveyed in my work and in that of other researchers reported that Iraqis had no personal hatred or violent feelings towards other social groups. Extreme and violent sectarianism is simply not a part of mainline Iraqi culture. But, we will see how social group animosities do include dimensions of religion and ethnicity. \ud See also: http://civilsociety.seedwiki.com
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