Saturday, January 08, 2005

Tribe or Party?

Ibn Al Rafidain surveys the recent history of Iraq and notes the pull of the Bedouin tribal system.
Iraq with its nowadays geographical area did not exist till the year 1920. The modern state introduced to the Iraqis, and many of the Middle East peoples, by the British. Till then, Mesopotamia was part of the Ottoman Empire and the tribal system was the dominating way of life.
...
After emerging as a new state, Iraq made a notable progress toward modernization till the year 1958 in which a military coup took place. After that coup, Iraqi society started to slow down in its movement toward being civilized one. And since the year 1979, in which Saddam seized power, the Iraqi society witnessed a significant relapse into tribal values.

In times of political uncertainty or oppression, it seems, Iraqis look to their tribe for security. Can a country be both tribal and democratic? I don't know, but I think it would be safe to assume that Iraq and the other Middle Eastern countries, if and when they become democratic, will retain elements of tribalism. What they're looking for, I imagine, is a workable balance.

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Zeyad has written at length on the history of tribes in Iraq.

Iraq's Tribal Society: a state within a state (Part One).

Iraq's Tribal Society: a state within a state (Part Two).

Iraq's Tribal Society: a state within a state (Part Three).

Iraq's Tribal Society: a state within a state (Part Four).

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From her archives, a blog entry by Riverbend on Sheikhs and Tribes that is very informative.

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Look at the Iraq War through the eyes of Iraqis.

An old blog entry in which I examine the primary sources for the civilian perspective of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I wonder where Raed Jarrar is keeping his "war trophy"?

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Return to the past via Mr. Peabody's Wayback Machine and watch Salam Pax, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, and Raed Jarrar hanging out together before the war as they look for new CDs to buy. Gotta have tunes even if there's a war coming.

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Where are they today?

Salam Pax: ex-blogger (sigh)
Ghaith Abdul-Ahad: excellent journalist (all right!)
Raed Jarrar: looooonatic (okay, no change there)

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Sami, an exiled Iraqi Kurd, reports from the Frontlines of the Iraqi Party Scene.
Its been strange as I went to 2 Iraqi engagment parties and 2 seperate Iraqi new years parties.....reason being less about politics more to do with women not getting along I guess....Well I went to both but stayed mostly at the one that was more fun atmosphere wise. I have met Iraqis from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Britian whom I havent seen in years and its been intersting to hear the difference of opinion. Tonight we were at a jazz club and a girl who coincedentally was with me in university in Toronto was there, anyways she was anti war anti western etc though she has lived most her life in Canada. Its like ok u hate the American policies and economic way of life move...... she was telling a story to one of my friends who was intersted only because she was pretty.... she is like a friend of her uncle's got tortured so bad that he got killed....... now i know this girl and if its true then I am sorry to hear that but all night she was trying to aggrevate Iraqis so me being me, I start whispering to my Iraqi friend whose Christian coincidentally.... I told her a bit about her background and how her closest family friends were from a well known tribe from Tikrit so its natural for her to get upset and angry as they lost it all. I was with her in uni for many years and never heard her complaining about how Iraqis were treated until now........ then she moved on to another friend trying the same thing.... i sent him a text message saying watch out this girl lies about everything....... I had to be mean it was my only way............

You gotta like Sami.

And it does add another level of meaning to my title, "Tribe or Party?" Doesn't it?

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Global Soul, a Bahraini now living in Canada, discourses on the history of the Miniskirt in the Middle East (evidentiary photographs included) on her weblog Reflections from Canada.
Why was it acceptable for Middle Eastern women to wear miniskirts some 30 and 40 years ago, while doing so today would be considered an aberration? What happened in those past few decades that changed women’s values, attitudes, and behaviour? What are the social, political, economic, and psychological factors that caused this overwhelming change in lifestyle?

Read her blog entry for the answer.

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Fellow blogger Kat at the Middle Ground has a very good entry on the elections in Iraq, Q & A-style.

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