|dc.description.abstract||This thesis is focused on the strategic use of legitimacy sources in establishing civilian compliance by an armed group. It zooms in on the case study of Hashd al-Shaabi in Ninewa governorate, Iraq. This armed group mobilized in 2014 through a fatwa issued by the highest Shia leader of Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, with the purpose of defeating Islamic State (IS) on Iraqi territory. During the successful fight against IS, Hashd al-Shaabi became increasingly active in governance and was recognized as official government organization.
Academic literature suggests that in order to establish control and authority, armed actors will seek civilian compliance, which can be based on coercive strategies or persuasive means. Because authority based on pure coercion is not sustainable and very costly, armed actors are expected to move towards persuasion instead, thereby focusing on acquiring legitimacy. Starting from this theoretical debate, this thesis operationalizes legitimacy along the lines of symbolic sources of legitimacy (such as myth-symbol complex, grievances and external threat) as well as performance-centred sources (charismatic leadership, sacrifice and martyrdom, personal loyalties, providing services and formalization).
Although coercion is an important element in Hashd al-Shaabi’s attempts to establish civilian compliance, and large parts of their governance system are based on their military power, three legitimacy sources are strategically used. These are myth-symbol complexes, partly linked to grievances, sacrifice and martyrdom and personal loyalties. Through a qualitative research method of policy document analysis, in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, field notes and observations, this thesis has added empirical insight in debates on legitimacy, civilian compliance and governance by armed actors. Its focus on local developments provide a useful approach to avoiding reductionism and advocates for further research into these complex actors, contexts and issues.||