The Formalization of the Mahdi Army in Iraq and the Role of Videos before Social Media
In 2003, the United States occupied Iraq and dissolved all its state institutions and military. In this volatile situation, various political actors including the US government itself, tried to assert their legitimacy and capitalize on the large unemployed (and armed) Iraqi youth. One of such actors was the Sadrist movement under the guide of Muqtada al-Sadr, son of the famous Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr. Out of this violent competition for legitimacy emerged the Mahdi Army, a loosely organized group that functioned as a resistance and paramilitary force. An important factor during the formalization of the Mahdi Army by the Sadrist movement, was the professional mass distribution of violent ‘music-videos’ between 2003 and 2008. An impressive number of videos were produced and distributed almost unimaginable of an era before contemporary social media. This presentation will explain the content and function of these videos with the aim of understanding the mechanisms of legitimacy in the formalization of this paramilitary force.