Iraq after ISIL: Local and Sub-State Forces in Iraq

As the Islamic State of Iraq swept through Iraq in 2014, Iraqi forces crumbled and a range of local, sub-state, and hybrid security forces (LHSFs, as we refer to them) mobilized to fill the gaps. In a three-year project funded by the Netherlands Research Organisation, GPPi and IRIS at the American University in Sulaimaini examined the role and impact of these local and sub-state forces. We mapped the forces that mobilized and examined the role they have played in 11 geographic areas from 2014 to 2018. We then explored how these forces influenced both local and national dynamics – from stabilization and local control to local reconciliation, civilian protection, or displacement and return. In addition to the mapping and research on Iraq below, the main page and Afghanistan page for this project offer additional comparative learning and analysis.

Key Questions and Analysis

Commentary and Background Reading

Geographic Research Summaries

Iraq After Isil Main Map Cropped

A team of national and international researchers documented LHSF patterns from 2014 to August 2017 in the Iraqi governorates of Kirkuk, Ninewa and Salah ad-Din. These initial research findings are shared in 11 geographic research summaries listed below.

Project Team

Erica Gaston

Non-Resident Fellow

Mario Domisse

Circle of Friends

Philipp Rotmann


András Derzsi-Horváth

Non-Resident Fellow

Funding & Partners

This project was commissioned and financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands through WOTRO Science for Global Development of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO-WOTRO). It was developed in collaboration with the Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law (KPSRL) as part of the Ministry’s agenda to invest in knowledge and to contribute to more evidence-based policymaking. The project is jointly implemented by the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi) in Berlin, the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN), and the Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS) at the American University in Sulaimani in Iraq.