Protracted social conflict (PSC) isa theory, which explain new types of wars and it was developed by Edward Azar.
Azarbelieves that the critical factor in protracted social conflict was that itrepresented a prolonged and often violent struggle by communal groups for suchbasic needs as security, recognition and acceptance, fair access to politicalinstitutions and economic participations. Protracted conflict is a long termprocess of conflict in which both parties are willing to continue theirdisputes because of some normative or substantial values or to uphold theirhistoric identity. E. Azar’s theory of Protracted Social Conflict.
Socialconflicts are everywhere which are visible in our societies and even in theworld. But protracted social conflicts are crucial as they are very complicatedin terms of giving them a proper resolution. Known as one of the fathers ofconflict resolution, Edward Azar born in Lebanon in 1938, moved to the UnitedStates as a graduate international relations student, and subsequentlyspecialized in what was at first a mainly quantitative analysis of interstateconflict (Rambotham, 2005) Azar’s protracted social conflict contains the fourclusters of variables identified as preconditions to violent conflict. E. Azarsuggests that the ‘most useful unit of analysis in protracted social conflictsituations is the identity group” societies that can be characterized ashaving a multi communal composition) racial” religious, ethnic culturaland others. Multicommunal societies” whether formed as a result of divide andrule policies of former colonial powers or whether through historical rivalriesoften resulted in the dominance of one group over the other which Azar statesas being ‘characterized by disarticulation between the state and society as awhole.
$n regards to its importance as a precondition to the cultivation of aconflict prone territory” Azar views the role of state and governance as acritical factor in the ‘frustration or satisfaction of individual and identitygroup needs. $n former colonies” states are typically characterized by themonopolization of political authority by a particular identity group” whoseprimary interest is to maximize their own interests. Azar’s fourth variablepoints to the role of how it not simply governance at the state level thatleads to communal groups being unable to access basic human needs, security orrecognition but the extent to which internal policy is dictated by internationallinkages.
When contemplating violent conflict across the span of humaninteraction, there is an expectation that eventually, these conflicts will endand that “normal”, peaceful (nonviolent) interaction between actors will ensue.There are, however, violent conflicts that violate the assumed norm that humaninteraction is predominately peaceful. As such, the tragedy of protractedsocial conflicts (PSCs) can be found in their capacity to amass tremendous lossof life, the destruction of property, hopes, and dreams of the individuals and societiesthat are forced to live in their midst. Azar’s category of PSC of effectiveparticipation includes four separate aspects of PSC: who participates in PSC,how they participate, how long violent conflict must endure to be considered aPSC, and cycles of violence.
The Case of SriLankan Civil War:Edward Azar, a reference in theconflict resolution domain, developed the theory of protracted social conflict,introducing the following definition: “In brief, protracted social conflictsoccur when communities are deprived of satisfaction of their basic needs on thebasis of communal identity. However, the deprivation is the result of a complexcausal chain involving the role of the state and the pattern of internationallinkages. Social protracted theory can be discussed with Sri Lankan conflict.
SriLankan conflict has a longer history as a communal conflict and a result ofstructural violence. Protracted social conflicts are breeders of crises andarmed struggles as well as struggled structural violence and underdevelopment(Davies & Kaufman, 2002). Edward Azar coined the protracted social conflictto describe conflict partners similar to those that have been present in SriLanka since 1984 (Winslow & Woost, 2004).
In addition, Sinhalese violenceagainst the Tamils continued even after the ethnic violence in 1983. Accordingto Human Rights Watch, after 1983, tens of thousands of people ended their lifein prison cell (Imtiyaz & Stavis, 2008). The protracted war and violencehas also frozen ethnic identities, reinforced hostilities among ethniccommunities, and has even created epistemic ethnic enclaves in the country(Uyangoda, 2006). Thus, the origin of the Sri Lankan protracted conflict couldbe traced to the era of colonialism, which introduced beliefs about racial andsuperiority and identity. This controversy led ultimately resulted in twooppositions between two groups. Sri Lanka was a colony under Portuguese (1505),Dutch (1656-1796) and later under the British rule (1796-1948).The conflictbetween the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE has its origin in nationalistpolitics that can be traced back to the marginalization of Tamil minority thatbegan after the country’s independence from the British colonial rule in 1948.The central government and ruled support from the Sinhala majority introduceddifferent linguistic and religious restrictions that had severe consequencesfor the Tamil minority.
The racialdimension that the Sinhalese and Tamil identities acquired in the 19th centurywas backed by the rise of racialist theories in Europe, which linked linguisticsto origin. The similarity of Sinhalese with Sanskrit and north Indian languagescreated a connection between the Sinhalese people and the Aryan race. Theystarted to develop anti-Tamil feelings. On the evening of July 23rd 1983, theLTTE ambushed a military patrol in Jaffna and massacred 13 soldiers. Not todraw the attention, the government decided to bury the soldiers in Colombo onthe 24th, skipping the formal procedure of burying army members in their homevillages. However, Sinhalese civilians who had found out about the ambushformed mobs and began attacking the Tamils, burning their cars and their properties.
It was widely believed that the authorities were also involved, since theattackers had voter registration lists which helped them accurately identify theTamil homes. Another famous example sustaining this theory would be the case ofover thirty Tamil prisoners detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act whowere murdered by Sinhalese prisoners using knives. The result was the worstviolence yet in the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. The cycle of terrorist activity,responded to by Security Force crackdown, which leads to more terroristactivity, shows how once violence became normalized, it became mutually reinforcingand only heightened the divide between Sinhalese and Tamil. This can be seen asthe last factor which guaranteed that the ethnic conflict would turn out to bea blood-spattered and violent secessionist movement, with little compromise andno mercy involved (Obriain, 2012). The period from 1983 to 2009 iscommonly referred to as the Sri Lankan civil war, during which nearly 100,000people died according to estimates of the United Nations, and hundreds ofthousands of people were internally displaced or fled to neighboring countries.Both parties to the conflict committed killing.
The Tamil Tigers organizedattacks on police, military and civilian targets. Their tactics included trapsand suicide bombers, and they were famous for their use of child soldiers(Ruff, 2015). In this protracted civil war, it had created major terrors inbetween not only Sinhalese and Tamil but also among Muslims despite of gender,age, religion and cast.
LTTE attacks were always creating tension and massdestruction among the civil areas and in 1983, The LTTE killed thirteen SriLankan soldiers through the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). TheseShock waves from this assault spread within the majority Sinhala community.Sinhala gangs killed nearly 5000 Tamils in this bloodletting, often as the policelooked on (Nalapat, 2011). This drastically set examples of the terror and thefear created by the Sri Lankan protracted conflict which threaten the lives ofhuman and other species in this land. Children were used prominently in theLTTE protracted guerilla and terrorist campaigns and according to the SriLankan Directorate of Military intelligence, 60% of fighters are below 18years. Over 100 of the women killed belonged to the dreaded Black Tiger suicidesquad.
Former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on the nightof May 21, 1991, during an election rally at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu byDhanu, a woman suicide-bomber of the LTTE. This is precisely shows how thisprotracted conflict created fear among nations even with the internationally lengthenedterror. The LTTE and Sri Lankan forces have had severe fights in this war and itcreated several types of social structures and it dramatically changed itscontents.
In May 2009, the Sri Lankan president publicly announced victory overthe LTTE through military defeat after 26 years of war, marking the beginningof a new era. Many statistics have been issued trying to estimate the cost ofthe Sri Lankan ethnic conflict. Whereas the economic cost is easier toapproximate and has been estimated at around 200 billion dollars26, the humancost is harder to explain. Of course, figures have been presented counting thenumber of casualtiesConclusion:According to Azar, the state’s roleand state governance are crucial factors in satisfying or frustrating individualand identity group needs. In PSCs the monopolization of power by the dominantsocial group limits the state’s ability to meet the needs of all social groups.Following this framework has provided interesting insights into the functioningof the state and local government in Sri Lanka. Local authorities, the island’sform of local government, make up an extensive and relatively well-organizedsystem of governance. They are embedded in the formal structures of power and asystem of power devolution and democratic governance is in place with theestablishment of the 13th Amendment and the Provincial Council Act.
Theimportance of also taking the central government into consideration isespecially valid in the case of a victor’s peace as well as in the case of a unitarystate such as Sri Lanka. Since this protracted war in Sri Lanka created fear,distrust and the division of social structures, the terrorism has been defeated.But still Tamil people likely to have no faith with the Sinhalese rulers ofSri Lanka and do not trust the military to protect them. Azar’s wholeperception is based on the view that it is the relationship between the stateand identity groups. This is achieved through the ‘mobilization of groupinterests and identities by ruling elites and through the reactive counteridentification of excluded minorities.
The analysis of Azar’s model of PSCsshowed how far some conflict analysis implicitly opens up some limited, butpromising ontological space to discuss gender. Given the three-foldunderstanding of gender as an analytical category, the analysis focused on thespace to theorize identity as social construction, social change and historicalvariability and hierarchical power structures and their taken-for-granted distribution.The Sri Lankan civil war is an example-case of the dimensions interculturalconflicts can acquire, if the root causes are ignored and the management of theconflict is focused on “solving the problem” instead of addressing the issuesthat have generated the conflict in the first place. Protracted conflicts arenot easily solved through mediation and this is the case as well.
The militaryvictory of the Sinhalese Army over the Tamil Tigers was achieved with animmense human cost and has left behind a scarred society. Even though the war hasofficially ended in 2009, it will take many years to heal, if ever. In a timewhen social conflict appears to be an ever-increasing problem in the internationalcommunity and the utility of Political Science research is called intoquestion, it is imperative that scholarly work touches the real world. As such,this theoretic frame offers utility to the scholarly community and thepractitioners of Political Science alike.
Only by gaining a betterunderstanding of what PSC is and what sustains over time it can we hope tomitigate and stem its dreadful costs.