Friday, June 23, 2006

Tribe or Party Revisited

For Westerners, one of the most confounding aspects we face when trying to analyze and evaluate events in Iraq is the fact that its society is still primarily tribal in organization. Zeyad, you will recall, has written a multi-part series on tribes in Iraqi history (see my blog entry "Tribe or Party" for a good roundup on the subject).

As Iraqis work to create a civil society in which the ultimate source of one's loyalties is contested daily, the subject of tribal organization and tribal values has returned again and sits directly in the crossroads of the future of those people who reside within the political boundaries of the land called Iraq.

Steven Pressfield takes a look at the issue in a recent article, Tribalism is the real enemy in Iraq.

The influence of tribal values and the power wielded by sheikhs will not go away, nor should they. While I have been consistently critical of Riverbend's slanted views on events in Iraq, she has nonetheless written a number of informative blog entries, one of them being one called Sheihks and Tribes, where she writes that Iraqis "can trace their families back for hundreds of years and the need to ‘belong’ to a specific family or tribe and have a sheikh doesn’t hinder education, modernization, democracy or culture. Arabs and Kurds in the region have strong tribal ties and it is considered an honor to have a strong family backing- even if you don’t care about tribal law or have strayed far from family influence."

I imagine that the question of tribe OR party is in fact a false dichotomy. If Iraqis succeed in creating a functioning representative democracy, they will need to create something new where both one's tribal allegiances and political choices are each respected and given free play.

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QUESTION: What does Jeffrey -- the Psycho Sicko American -- wear when he blogs?

ANSWER: Here.

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