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2003 January 22 Wednesday
Tribalism Is Alive And Well In Iraq

For many years Saddam Hussein actively worked to undermine the authority of tribal leaders. But starting around the time of the Gulf War Saddam switched course and began to actively support tribes as power centers. This promises to make US occupation and creation of a democracy much more difficult.

"The government even came to my family and said, 'We'll give you land, money, weapons and salaries to reorganize your tribe, but your allegiance will be for the government, for the Baath Party and President Saddam Hussein,' " said Hassan, the sociology professor. "They were ready to give us a tribal seal and a stick and a shroud, and even a monthly salary."

Residents of Baghdad have increasingly begun identifying with their tribal groups, sometimes choosing the places they shop and eat by the owner's tribal affiliation. Jassim, whose village is about 25 miles north of Baghdad, said many members of his tribe live in the city but regularly return to the village for tribal ceremonies and to resolve disputes.

"If you have a car accident, you don't sort it out in the courts anymore," said Wamidh Nadmih, a professor of political science at Baghdad University. "Even if you live in the city, you sort it out in the tribe."

If you understand why tribalism is an obstacle to democratization and are interested in the prospects for democratization of the Iraq be sure to read the full article. Also, be sure to read Stanley Kurtz on the reasons why the creation of liberal democracy in Islamic lands is so problematic.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 January 22 08:24 PM  Mideast Iraq Human Nature


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