2003 December 26 Friday
Five Extended Families Behind Iraqi Resistance

The practice of consanguineous marriage finds its expression in the organization of the Iraqi resistance.

TIKRIT, Iraq -- As U.S. forces tracked Saddam Hussein to his subterranean hiding place, they unearthed a trove of intelligence about five families running the Iraqi insurgency, according to U.S. military commanders, who said the information is being used to uproot remaining resistance forces.

Senior U.S. officers said they were surprised to discover -- clue by clue over six months -- that the upper and middle ranks of the resistance were filled by members of five extended families from a few villages within a 12-mile radius of the volatile city of Tikrit along the Tigris River. Top operatives drawn from these families organized the resistance network, dispatching information to individual cells and supervising financial channels, the officers said. They also protected Hussein and passed information to and from the former president while he was on the run.

Surprised at the importance of family ties and the powerful influence of cousin marriage in a Middle Eastern Arab Muslim society? Not if you are a long time ParaPundit reader. If you are a more recent reader then start here: John Tierney On Cousin Marriage As Reform Obstacle In Iraq and also click back to previous posts which that post references.

The importance of family ties in the Iraqi resistance is illustrated by the "al-Douri" and "al-Tikriti" at the ends of the names of top resistance suspects that are still being sought.

Those on the top 55 list who are still at large include Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, his son Ahmed and Hani Abd al-Latif Tilfah al-Tikriti, all of whom are thought to be involved in the guerrilla war against the U.S.-led occupation, U.S. officials said.

Knowledge of family ties is now useful to let US forces to know where to focus their investigative efforts. But the five extended families which are the focus of this investigation are just a small fraction of all the extended families in Iraq. Members of all the other extended families in Iraq feel the same tugs of loyalty toward family. The role of family ties all over in Iraq will serve as a powerful corrupting influence on government workers and elected officials in the new democracy that the United States and its allies hope to establish in Iraq.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 December 26 04:51 PM  Mideast Iraq

Patrick said at January 1, 2004 3:58 AM:

Does this mean that the destruction of extended families world wide, via the collapse of birthrates and especially the Chinese one-child-policy and its less forced Indian equivalent, will help reduce corruption which is, long term, one of our greatest threats?

Randall Parker said at January 1, 2004 10:34 AM:

Destruction worldwide? Is this destruction happening in the Middle East? You have some URLs for that contention?

Patrick said at January 1, 2004 11:51 PM:

Maybe not the middle east. Certainly in China, South East Asia, India, South America, and certainly throughout Europe and the USA. That's pretty world wide, if not universal.

And destruction is probably the wrong word, I mean more the phasing out, as generations with only one or two children each will mean, over decades, that the range of extended cousins now common will be very rare indeed.

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