TRADTIONAL METHODS OF RESOLVING CONFLICTS: THE ROLE OF KURDISH AGHAS (TRIBAL LEADERS)
Iraqi Kurdistan comprises many tribes, each with a leader or Agha who is greatly respected by that tribe and many outside it. The position is inherited from the Aghas’ ancestors and, traditionally, conflict resolution is seen as their responsibility. Although primarily Muslim, they have an open-door policy and intervene in all cases of conflict that are brought to them, whether they involve social conflicts (such as blood feuds), family disputes, issues relating to honour killings, or friction between tribes.
The paper explores the ways that Aghas intervene in and resolve the most complicated cases of conflicts as well as working to rebuild the broken relationships among conflicting parties. It explains the processes they follow when resolving conflict and what makes them successful in doing so. Many Aghas have secular ideas and do not make judgements based on religion; consequently, they are also sometimes preferred as referees by non-Muslim communities. While this discussion considers the Aghas’ methods to provide fair and constructive means for resolving conflicts - thus playing a significant role in maintaining stability within the multi-ethnic society of Iraqi Kurdistan, it also suggests ways these methods might be better supported and developed to be more relevant to contemporary society.
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