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Protracted social conflict (PSC) is a theory in which we learn about latest
types of wars and it was developed by Edward Azar. Edward Azar born in Lebanon in 1938 but the migrated to the United
States as a graduate international relations pupil and afterwards specialized
in what was at first largely a quantitative examination of interstate conflict
(Rambotham, 2005) He is also known as one of the fathers of conflict
resolution,  Azar considers that the acute
aspect in protracted social conflict was that it characterized a persistent and
also a violent skirmish by communal groups for basic desires such as security,
recognition and acceptance along with the rational access to political organizations
and commercial participations. Protracted conflict is a very lengthy term procedure
of conflict in which both sides at one time are willing to continue their disagreements
due to some normative or extensive ideals or to sustain their historic
identity. Azar’s theory of Protracted Social Conflict suggests that social
conflicts are universal which are clearly visible in our societies and in the
whole world. Protracted social conflicts at the same time are also vital as
they are very complex in terms of providing them a proper resolve. Azar’s
protracted social conflict further contains the four clusters of variables acknowledged
as prerequisites to intense battle. Edward Azar proposes that the most valuable
unit of study in protracted social conflict circumstances is the set of
identity and the civilizations that can be branded as having a multi communal composition,
which may have racial, religious, ethnic and cultural factors. Multicultural
societies no matter designed as a outcome of divide and rule strategies of
former colonial supremacies or through ancient enmities often caused due to supremacy
of one group over the other, which according to Azar’s thesis is being branded
by disarticulation between the state and society as a whole. With respect to
its 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 the
hindrance or approval of individual and identity group needs. In former
colonies, different entities were classically described by the exploitation of
political authority by a specific identity group, whose main concern was to maximize
their own benefits. Azar’s fourth variable points to the role of how it is not
simply governance at the state level that ponders to communal groups being incapable
to access their simple human necessities, security or recognition but the amount
to which interior procedure is dictated by universal associations. When anticipating
ferocious conflict across the duration of human communication, a probability
between actors will arise. There are, however, certain violent skirmishes that violate
the expected standard that human interface is predominately nonviolent and
diplomatic. As such, the misfortune of protracted social conflicts (PSCs) may
be located in their capability to accumulate great cost of life, the demolition
of property, optimisms, and visions of the individuals and civilizations that
are obligated to live in their hub. Azar’s category of PSC
of 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 Sri
Lankan Civil War:

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Protracted social conflicts are the
actual causes of catastrophes and armed conflicts as well as resisted
structural violence and underdevelopment (Davies & Kaufman, 2002).  Edward Azar with regard to the reference in
the conflict resolution sphere established the theory of protracted social
conflict by presenting the following definition which state that protracted
social conflicts arise when different societies are deprived of fulfillment of
their basic desires on the basis of their common identity. However, the deprivation
is the consequence of a composite fundamental sequence that involves the role
of the state along with the outline of global associations. Social protracted
theory can be discussed with regard to Sri Lankan conflict as the conflict in
Sri Lanka has a longer past of communal conflict with the vast amount of
structural violence against a particular ethnicity. Edward Azar termed the
protracted social conflict to define many other conflicts that share similarity
to those that have been present in Sri Lanka since 1984 (Winslow & Woost,
2004). In addition, Sinhalese violence against the Tamils continued even after
the ethnic violence in 1983. According to Human Rights Watch, after 1983, tens
of 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 epistemic
ethnic enclaves in the country (Uyangoda, 2006). Thus, the origin of the Sri
Lankan protracted conflict could be traced to the era of colonialism, which
introduced beliefs about racial and superiority and identity. This controversy
led ultimately resulted in two oppositions between two groups. Sri Lanka was a
colony under Portuguese (1505), Dutch (1656-1796) and later under the British
rule (1796-1948).The conflict between the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE
has its origin in nationalist politics that can be traced back to the marginalization
of Tamil minority that began after the country’s independence from the British
colonial rule in 1948. The central government and ruled support from the
Sinhala majority introduced different linguistic and religious restrictions
that had severe consequences for the Tamil minority. The racial dimension that the Sinhalese and Tamil identities
acquired in the 19th century was backed by the rise of racialist theories in
Europe, which linked linguistics to origin. The similarity of Sinhalese with Sanskrit
and north Indian languages created a connection between the Sinhalese people
and the Aryan race. They started to develop anti-Tamil feelings. On the evening
of July 23rd 1983, the LTTE ambushed a military patrol in Jaffna and massacred
13 soldiers. Not to draw the attention, the government decided to bury the
soldiers in Colombo on the 24th, skipping the formal procedure of burying army
members in their home villages. However, Sinhalese civilians who had found out
about the ambush formed mobs and began attacking the Tamils, burning their cars
and their properties. It was widely believed that the authorities were also
involved, since the attackers had voter registration lists which helped them
accurately identify the Tamil homes. Another famous example sustaining this
theory would be the case of over thirty Tamil prisoners detained under the
Prevention 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. The
cycle of terrorist activity, responded to by Security Force crackdown, which
leads to more terrorist activity, shows how once violence became normalized, it
became mutually reinforcing and only heightened the divide between Sinhalese
and Tamil. This can be seen as the last factor which guaranteed that the ethnic
conflict would turn out to be a blood-spattered and violent secessionist
movement, with little compromise and no mercy involved (Obriain, 2012).

The period from 1983 to 2009 is
commonly referred to as the Sri Lankan civil war, during which nearly 100,000
people died according to estimates of the United Nations, and hundreds of
thousands of people were internally displaced or fled to neighboring countries.
Both parties to the conflict committed killing. The Tamil Tigers organized
attacks on police, military and civilian targets. Their tactics included traps
and suicide bombers, and they were famous for their use of child soldiers
(Ruff, 2015). In this protracted civil war, it had created major terrors in
between not only Sinhalese and Tamil but also among Muslims despite of gender,
age, religion and cast. LTTE attacks were always creating tension and mass
destruction among the civil areas and in 1983, The LTTE killed thirteen Sri
Lankan soldiers through the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). These
Shock waves from this assault spread within the majority Sinhala community.
Sinhala gangs killed nearly 5000 Tamils in this bloodletting, often as the police
looked on (Nalapat, 2011). This drastically set examples of the terror and the
fear created by the Sri Lankan protracted conflict which threaten the lives of
human and other species in this land. Children were used prominently in the
LTTE protracted guerilla and terrorist campaigns and according to the Sri
Lankan Directorate of Military intelligence, 60% of fighters are below 18
years. Over 100 of the women killed belonged to the dreaded Black Tiger suicide
squad. Former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on the night
of May 21, 1991, during an election rally at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu by
Dhanu, a woman suicide-bomber of the LTTE. This is precisely shows how this
protracted conflict created fear among nations even with the internationally lengthened
terror. The LTTE and Sri Lankan forces have had severe fights in this war and it
created several types of social structures and it dramatically changed its
contents. In May 2009, the Sri Lankan president publicly announced victory over
the LTTE through military defeat after 26 years of war, marking the beginning
of a new era. Many statistics have been issued trying to estimate the cost of
the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict. Whereas the economic cost is easier to
approximate and has been estimated at around 200 billion dollars26, the human
cost is harder to explain. Of course, figures have been presented counting the
number of casualties

Conclusion:

According to Azar, the state’s role
and state governance are crucial factors in satisfying or frustrating individual
and identity group needs. In PSCs the monopolization of power by the dominant
social group limits the state’s ability to meet the needs of all social groups.
Following this framework has provided interesting insights into the functioning
of the state and local government in Sri Lanka. Local authorities, the island’s
form of local government, make up an extensive and relatively well-organized
system of governance. They are embedded in the formal structures of power and a
system of power devolution and democratic governance is in place with the
establishment of the 13th Amendment and the Provincial Council Act. The
importance of also taking the central government into consideration is
especially valid in the case of a victor’s peace as well as in the case of a unitary
state 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 of
Sri Lanka and do not trust the military to protect them. Azar’s whole
perception is based on the view that it is the relationship between the state
and identity groups. This is achieved through the ‘mobilization of group
interests and identities by ruling elites and through the reactive counter
identification of excluded minorities. The analysis of Azar’s model of PSCs
showed how far some conflict analysis implicitly opens up some limited, but
promising ontological space to discuss gender. Given the three-fold
understanding of gender as an analytical category, the analysis focused on the
space to theorize identity as social construction, social change and historical
variability and hierarchical power structures and their taken-for-granted distribution.
The Sri Lankan civil war is an example-case of the dimensions intercultural
conflicts can acquire, if the root causes are ignored and the management of the
conflict is focused on “solving the problem” instead of addressing the issues
that have generated the conflict in the first place. Protracted conflicts are
not easily solved through mediation and this is the case as well. The military
victory of the Sinhalese Army over the Tamil Tigers was achieved with an
immense human cost and has left behind a scarred society. Even though the war has
officially ended in 2009, it will take many years to heal, if ever. In a time
when social conflict appears to be an ever-increasing problem in the international
community and the utility of Political Science research is called into
question, it is imperative that scholarly work touches the real world. As such,
this theoretic frame offers utility to the scholarly community and the
practitioners of Political Science alike. Only by gaining a better
understanding of what PSC is and what sustains over time it can we hope to
mitigate and stem its dreadful costs.

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