Protracted social conflict (PSC) is a theory in which we learn about latesttypes of wars and it was developed by Edward Azar. Edward Azar born in Lebanon in 1938 but the migrated to the UnitedStates as a graduate international relations pupil and afterwards specializedin what was at first largely a quantitative examination of interstate conflict(Rambotham, 2005) He is also known as one of the fathers of conflictresolution, Azar considers that the acuteaspect in protracted social conflict was that it characterized a persistent andalso a violent skirmish by communal groups for basic desires such as security,recognition and acceptance along with the rational access to political organizationsand commercial participations. Protracted conflict is a very lengthy term procedureof conflict in which both sides at one time are willing to continue their disagreementsdue to some normative or extensive ideals or to sustain their historicidentity. Azar’s theory of Protracted Social Conflict suggests that socialconflicts are universal which are clearly visible in our societies and in thewhole world. Protracted social conflicts at the same time are also vital asthey are very complex in terms of providing them a proper resolve. Azar’sprotracted social conflict further contains the four clusters of variables acknowledgedas prerequisites to intense battle.
Edward Azar proposes that the most valuableunit of study in protracted social conflict circumstances is the set ofidentity and the civilizations that can be branded as having a multi communal composition,which may have racial, religious, ethnic and cultural factors. Multiculturalsocieties no matter designed as a outcome of divide and rule strategies offormer colonial supremacies or through ancient enmities often caused due to supremacyof one group over the other, which according to Azar’s thesis is being brandedby disarticulation between the state and society as a whole. With respect toits significance as a condition to the cultivation of a conflict prone land,Azar views the part of state and governance as a perilous feature in thehindrance or approval of individual and identity group needs. In formercolonies, different entities were classically described by the exploitation ofpolitical authority by a specific identity group, whose main concern was to maximizetheir own benefits. Azar’s fourth variable points to the role of how it is notsimply governance at the state level that ponders to communal groups being incapableto access their simple human necessities, security or recognition but the amountto which interior procedure is dictated by universal associations.
When anticipatingferocious conflict across the duration of human communication, a probabilitybetween actors will arise. There are, however, certain violent skirmishes that violatethe expected standard that human interface is predominately nonviolent anddiplomatic. As such, the misfortune of protracted social conflicts (PSCs) maybe located in their capability to accumulate great cost of life, the demolitionof property, optimisms, and visions of the individuals and civilizations thatare obligated to live in their hub. Azar’s category of PSCof effective involvement in short comprises four distinct features of PSC: who joins in PSC,how they join, how long violent conflict must undergo to be measured as a PSC, and also the series of violence.The Case of SriLankan Civil War:Protracted social conflicts are theactual causes of catastrophes and armed conflicts as well as resistedstructural violence and underdevelopment (Davies & Kaufman, 2002). Edward Azar with regard to the reference inthe conflict resolution sphere established the theory of protracted socialconflict by presenting the following definition which state that protractedsocial conflicts arise when different societies are deprived of fulfillment oftheir basic desires on the basis of their common identity. However, the deprivationis the consequence of a composite fundamental sequence that involves the roleof the state along with the outline of global associations. Social protractedtheory can be discussed with regard to Sri Lankan conflict as the conflict inSri Lanka has a longer past of communal conflict with the vast amount ofstructural violence against a particular ethnicity.
Edward Azar termed theprotracted social conflict to define many other conflicts that share similarityto those that have been present in Sri Lanka since 1984 (Winslow & Woost,2004). In addition, Sinhalese violence against the Tamils continued even afterthe ethnic violence in 1983. According to Human Rights Watch, after 1983, tensof thousands of people ended their life in prison cell (Imtiyaz & Stavis,2008).
The protracted war and violence has also frozen ethnic identities,reinforced hostilities among ethnic communities, and has even created epistemicethnic enclaves in the country (Uyangoda, 2006). Thus, the origin of the SriLankan protracted conflict could be traced to the era of colonialism, whichintroduced beliefs about racial and superiority and identity. This controversyled ultimately resulted in two oppositions between two groups. Sri Lanka was acolony under Portuguese (1505), Dutch (1656-1796) and later under the Britishrule (1796-1948).The conflict between the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTEhas its origin in nationalist politics that can be traced back to the marginalizationof Tamil minority that began after the country’s independence from the Britishcolonial rule in 1948. The central government and ruled support from theSinhala majority introduced different linguistic and religious restrictionsthat had severe consequences for the Tamil minority. The racial dimension that the Sinhalese and Tamil identitiesacquired in the 19th century was backed by the rise of racialist theories inEurope, which linked linguistics to origin.
The similarity of Sinhalese with Sanskritand north Indian languages created a connection between the Sinhalese peopleand the Aryan race. They started to develop anti-Tamil feelings. On the eveningof July 23rd 1983, the LTTE ambushed a military patrol in Jaffna and massacred13 soldiers. Not to draw the attention, the government decided to bury thesoldiers in Colombo on the 24th, skipping the formal procedure of burying armymembers in their home villages.
However, Sinhalese civilians who had found outabout the ambush formed mobs and began attacking the Tamils, burning their carsand their properties. It was widely believed that the authorities were alsoinvolved, since the attackers had voter registration lists which helped themaccurately identify the Tamil homes. Another famous example sustaining thistheory would be the case of over thirty Tamil prisoners detained under thePrevention of Terrorism Act who were murdered by Sinhalese prisoners using knives.
The result was the worst violence yet in the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. Thecycle of terrorist activity, responded to by Security Force crackdown, whichleads to more terrorist activity, shows how once violence became normalized, itbecame mutually reinforcing and only heightened the divide between Sinhaleseand Tamil. This can be seen as the last factor which guaranteed that the ethnicconflict would turn out to be a blood-spattered and violent secessionistmovement, with little compromise and no 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.