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Thread: It's the Tribes (merged thread)

  1. #121
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    Quote Originally Posted by tribeguy View Post
    I am disheartened by the fact that in the US all of 6 people graduated in 2004 with degrees in Arabic. I am pretty sure that none of them are here, although some seem to have a bit of skill with the language.
    I agree. But I think in theatre experience is far more valuable than class room study. I myself learned Arabic in Yemen and quickly discovered that practice far outstrips theory when on a travel to the lawless wild east of hadramout myself and my friend found ourselves not only mis-understood but sometimes not understood at all. Learning on the job in theatre is IMO far better than class room study simply for the reason that context, subtleties et al are often far more important in threat identification than grammar.

    As for tribes I apologies if I appeared to denigrate the importance of your project I just think that in some cases Jordan, Saudi, Iraq, Yemen tribes genuinely are more in,portant within the political/military matrix. But that is not always the case. Nonetheless, I find many of your findings fascinating if only as confirmation or negation of previous classroom study.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tribeguy View Post
    Let's see here - Hezballah exists in order to establish a caliphate.
    Not so much--being Twelver Shi'ites their views derive from their notion of the occulted/hidden Imam, and their support for the notion of Vilayat-e Faqih expounded by Khomeini. Unlike Sunni Salafist groups, they don't really call for the establishment of global Caliphate.

    Quote Originally Posted by tribeguy View Post
    Caliphates must be ruled by direct descendants of Muhammad the prophet. Noble tribes are descendants of Muhammad the prophet. Noble tribesmen feel that they have a right and religious obligation to rule. Their supporters feel the same - it's the shari'a that compels them, and their pride. You can throw up the Israel thing as being Hezballah's raison d'etre, but it aint. They want power - and they'll either take it through the democratic process or through violence - whatever is easiest.
    The "Israel thing" is big for Hizbullah, and I don't really know any major analyst (or, for that matter, member) of the organization who thinks otherwise. As for power, they want veto power in Lebanon so as to protect their interests, but actually refrain from maximizing their claim to either parliamentary or cabinet seats because it better serves them to not take on a major governing role. They certainly recognize that, given the sectarian complexity of the country, they will never be in a position to seize complete and direct power. This is why the brief May 2008 display of armed power, followed by Doha, the elections, and the 15-10-5 (with one of the 5 leaning towards the 10) cabinet formula works so well for them.

    Quote Originally Posted by tribeguy View Post
    However, I wouldn't be amazed if found that the majority of Hezballah's members come from the poorest Shi'ite Arab tribes in Lebanon, and that their recruitability stems largely out of economic need, perhaps MORE than the sectarian appeal. I hate to say it, but there is a social marxist theoretical application here that requires further exploration as well. Knowing the history of Lebanon and the concurrent "oppression" of shi'ites therein, this has to be a factor.
    Very few Shi'ites in urban Lebanon think of themselves in tribal terms (hamula is likely to be more important), although you'll certainly find it in the Biqa. Hizbullah has traditionally recruited from among the poorest segment of the population precisely because it positioned itself as a movement of the downtrodden--a point that everyone recognizes--although today I would say that their support is probably relatively constant across all socioeconomic strata.

    Quote Originally Posted by tribeguy View Post
    I'm fairly certain that tribalism is an overlooked aspect in Lebanon's Hezballah, but not because it is irrelevant. It's because we drink too much progressive pan-Arabist kool aid, and because we are lazy and too prone to think that our Lebanese counterparts are "just like us." As if Hezballah is really just a political organization in modern clothes that isn't trying to get their version of a caliphate established...
    If anything, Hizbullah is probably Lebanon's only functioning meritocracy. This isn't to say that kinship linkages don't have some effects, but it is to say that they do not play a substantial role in policy development and implementation within the organization with regard to important matters.
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


  3. #123
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tribeguy View Post
    Interesting subject - us Americans are just beginning to start studying tribes. The Brits were better at it 100 years ago, but they are as bad as we are now.
    I don't know how bad Americans are, but I can tell you that having travelled or lived in Algeria, Tchad, Niger, Jordan, Israel and the Sinai, from 1984 to the present day, you'll find Brit Anthropologists researching tribes.

    As I am sure you know, the largest Archive of English Language Research into Arab Tribes in the Middle East is in Jerusalem - and far outstrips that recorded in any other language - and 90% of it done by Brits, and still being done!

    Hezbollah:
    As Rex, - someone extremely familiar with Hezbollah - notes, the tribal issue is almost certainly a "so what." If indeed you can trace a tribal structure to Hezbollah, where does it get you?

    Extended family structures seem to have pretty thin within the PLO and PFLP. Yes, certain families/Clans backed the PLO at certain times, but I never spoken to anyone who has ever reference those affiliations within the organisation. - Rex may add to that.

    - now Clans and extended families are extremely important in the "internal politics" of the West Bank - and to some extent Gaza - but again not really relevant to that part of thier politics that cause a problem - opposing Israel.
    If they were not fighting Israel, they would and some days do, kill each other in quite large numbers.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

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    Default Hizballah and tribes, useful networks for vetting

    I was mulling this over. Given the ethnic and sectarian bases of Hizballah's power base I am sure that the tribal network is useful in terms of the vetting of potential recruits, information sharing and counter-intelligence. Much harder to break into Hizballuh if you have no-one to vouch for you. That said, I think the tribal issue is peripheral to Hizballah's internal political/military structure or system of mobilisation but that doesn't mean it doesn't have a role to play.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tukhachevskii View Post
    I was mulling this over. Given the ethnic and sectarian bases of Hizballah's power base I am sure that the tribal network is useful in terms of the vetting of potential recruits, information sharing and counter-intelligence. Much harder to break into Hizballuh if you have no-one to vouch for you. That said, I think the tribal issue is peripheral to Hizballah's internal political/military structure or system of mobilisation but that doesn't mean it doesn't have a role to play.
    Absolutely concur and very much supported by the Israelis utilisation of studying extended families within the Middle-east.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    The whole "tribal warfare" thing irritates me a bit.
    I know "tribal warfare" as warfare composed of raids for loot, done by semi-permanent warbands that are led by a charismatic leader.

    It shouldn't be difficult to identify those who benefited of loot or to identify a well-known charismatic leader.

    It shouldn't be very difficult to make raids less profitable.
    Actually, I don't see where there's loot to be had in attacking outposts and burning fuel trucks.

    So maybe it's not as much tribal warfare as it is about highwaymen (taxation of civilian truckers at checkpoints), racketeering and smuggling (drugs, weapons, whatever) that keep the enemy (note I don't wrote 'Taliban') up economically?

    Wouldn't "Mafia" be a better description than "tribe"?

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    Council Member M-A Lagrange's Avatar
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    So maybe it's not as much tribal warfare as it is about highwaymen (taxation of civilian truckers at checkpoints), racketeering and smuggling (drugs, weapons, whatever) that keep the enemy (note I don't wrote 'Taliban') up economically?
    I do not know how it works in Afghanistan, but in Sudan, the tribes conduct razzia to exchange cattles against weapons from Somalia and Erithrea...
    It is the youth that conduct such actions without any elderly support. The trick is that they need to proove the are men and warriors.
    Also, the business men from Kenya are in the loop. Most of the razzia are done with already someone to purchase the cattle heads.
    You mix that with politics... And you have endless stories.
    If the situation in Afghanistan as the same characteristics concerning the razzia, then you may have an impact on the economical ressources of the ennemy. But you have to be carefull on the political aspect.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tukhachevskii View Post
    I agree. But I think in theatre experience is far more valuable than class room study. .

    ............Nonetheless, I find many of your findings fascinating if only as confirmation or negation of previous classroom study.
    Thanks for the props - and I agree that field work is the key. I spent four years in Iraq dealing with tribesmen - and it took me many years to understand how and why tribesmen think the way that they do. My work is currently giving predictive power that I wasn't expecting.

    Tribal analysis offers us a secular doorway of dealing with extremist phenomena.

    As for lack of tribal identification, but rather identification with Hamula, or clan, or whatever - these are are all tribal identifications. (you didn't bring this up, but somebody else did) Semantic nit noiding aside, there is no doubt that tribal counterinsurgency TTPs are in their nascent state in the west, including Britain. The problem is in the language - and there is no place to start but in the classroom. Regardless of how many British anthropologists are working in Africa or elsewhere, there aren't enough of Americans or Brits that really speak Arabic.

    And there is no better way to create misunderstanding than to hire interpreters from 7-Eleven or liquor stores and try to use them to bring understanding between two members of radically different cultures and mindsets. Anybody who has any experience in the middle east knows the importance of relationships. Most interpreters ruin the possibility of this - and the answer is for us to learn their languages if we hope to get anywhere at all.

    And none of this is worth doing unless we are successful.

    Tribeguy

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    Default Here's the so what

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    As Rex, - someone extremely familiar with Hezbollah - notes, the tribal issue is almost certainly a "so what." If indeed you can trace a tribal structure to Hezbollah, where does it get you?
    Sir, it gets you secular lines of communication and influence over those who are working for extremist thugs.

    I think you can connect the dots from there.

    -Tribeguy
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 10-18-2009 at 10:09 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Absolutely concur and very much supported by the Israelis utilisation of studying extended families within the Middle-east.
    And that doesn't have any application to Hezballah?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tribeguy View Post
    Sir, it gets you secular lines of communication and influence over those who are working for extremist thugs.

    I think you can connect the dots from there.

    -Tribeguy
    So? Exploiting personal relationships for HUMINT purposes? The Brits were doing that in Northern Ireland for 40 years. The same basic understanding works against organised crime for the FBI, NYPD and many others. Exploiting family ties is something we are good at, have done for years and it's far from new.
    Quote Originally Posted by tribeguy View Post
    And that doesn't have any application to Hezballah?
    It has application against every individual in the world who has an extended family. I assumed that your point was the detailed knowledge of tribes allowed you to craft policy towards them. - and I agree on that, IF it is relevant to the context of the policy.

    I see that as largely irrelevant in Hezbollah's case, because, it does not speak to a policy and they are largely meritocracy - but with strong connections to the Lebanon's organised crime families.

    Yes you can look at some Terrorist groups and see their command structure break down along family/clan/tribe lines. Folks have been doing the same with the Mafia for years. This is not insightful. Everyone working in the Africa, Asia and Mid-East has been doing it for 100's of years - and still does.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Default Akhbar fil-Yemen

    A brief, disjointed, hurried and all round grammatically suspect (but no less reliable) set of field notes regarding tribes and tribal influence from Yemen (c. 2007). Tribes have often been kingmakers especially in Yemen, but they also constitute a shadow/alternative governance structure often at odds with the “legitimate” Government. Saleh owed his power due to the largesse and support of Sheik al-Ahmar (who was also, in tribal terms, Saleh’s superior given that Saleh’s tribe was part of Al-Ahmar’s Hashid tribal confederation). The Yemeni state doesn’t control anything outside the cities and even then places like Aden have a mind all their own (due to it being a Yemeni Socialist Party stronghold). Although to all intensive purposes (King of Queens reference there for all you fans) Ali Abdallah Saleh (be careful how you pronounce that last one) may appear to be a ‘typical’ Arab dictator in fact his power is severely limited to the cities. De facto control in the hinterlands, especially the lawless east opposite the Rub-Al-Khali desert is tribal controlled. The Tribal Shura Council, although lacking legislative authority, wields tremendous power for the above reasons and can rarely be ignored. The GPC / Tribal relationship has often paid dividends in the past (Saleh would never have defeated the South or achieved Union without them) and is currently useful in bolstering his armed forces in the Sa’ada war up north given the unreliability of certain sectors of the army.

    However, the relationship is politically volatile especially when it came to Saleh trying to extract funds from the US for his supposed counter-terrorism effort (which the Ttribes saw as betrayal of Islam and which even the Al-Houthi insurgency in the North managed to capitalise on). Saleh cleverly ensured that the Political Security Organisation (’Amn As-Siyasiia) allowed key prisoners to escape thereby satisfying the tribal sense of sharafi’ (honour). This is the same PSO that is now largely staffed by ex-Iraqi Ba’athists! (I believe Iraq wants them back for trial). The relationship has benefitted the tribes in many ways such as when they insisted that Saleh turn the schools over to fully clerical/Islamic control (he had wanted them partially secular) when unification was finally achieved in 1994 (after the tribes helped Saleh destroy what was left of the South and the YSP’ military apparatus which, incidentally, still exists in the form of disgruntled ex-servicemen angry about the non-payment of their pensions which were promised when Saleh threw them out and replaced them with his own sycophants).

    The Al-Ahmar led Hashid confederation briefly flirted with parliamentary politics by creating the explicitly Islamic (Hizb Al-) Islah reform party which included a wing led by sometime Bin Laden confidant Sheik Ali Az-Zindani (who is very well respected amongst all of Yemen’s Tribes, bar the Zaiydi’s up north). Even though Islah remains largely dominated by Tribal elders the Al-Ahmar Hashid Confederation is still inclined to throw its support behind whomever it considers useful financially and politically thus acting both constitutionally and extra-constitutionally to derive the most benefits and ensure its demands are met. Given that the tribes are overwhelmingly pious (or fundamentalist, depending upon your angle) Muslims those demands are obvious. Indeed, Zindani’s right wing of the Islah party and Al-Ahmar’s Hashid Confederation (amongst others) supported the creation of an extra-judicial morality police, along similar lines to that in Saudi, to patrol the godless streets of the cities (traditionally Saleh’s sphere of influence) even though, legally, they have no power to do so (the government has not stopped them).

    Both Saleh’s presidential party the GPC (General People’s Congress) and the former ruling party of South Yemen (and now Yemen’s real opposition party) the Yemeni Sociality Party flirt with and court the tribes to varying ends; the 2006(?) presidential elections were contested by Islah and YSP in unison even though Shiek Al-Ahmar publically announced his Hashid confederation would “morally” support Saleh. Al-Ahmar died in December 2007 leaving leadership of the Hashid confederation to his son, Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar, who is known to hate Saleh but who is pragmatic enough not to break with him entirely in return for largesse and financial rewards which, given the role of tribal levies (10,000+) in the continuing Sa’ada war is going to be substantial.
    Last edited by Tukhachevskii; 10-19-2009 at 12:00 PM. Reason: slleping mistaskes

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    Council Member Kiwigrunt's Avatar
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    And here's another interesting take on our own tribes (17 min. vid)

    http://www.ted.com/talks/david_logan...eadership.html
    Nothing that results in human progress is achieved with unanimous consent. (Christopher Columbus)

    All great truth passes through three stages: first it is ridiculed, second it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
    (Arthur Schopenhauer)

    ONWARD

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    Default authority, obligation, mobilisation

    Quote Originally Posted by tribeguy View Post
    Tribal leaders in Iraq eventually realized that Al-Qa’ida and other terrorist groups came with the intention of taking away tribal leaders’ authority. This suggests to a counterinsurgent fighting an Islamic extremist group that in the event that no other viable authority exists, finding a viable way to empower tribal leaders against the insurgents may be most wise from a cultural perspective. Taking authority from a tribal leader without compensation is a recipe for disaster, as this certainly played a role in the rapid growth of the Sunni insurgency in 2003.)
    I found the excerpt on the whole very interesting but it was the above proposition that caught my eye. I think one of the things we tend to forget is that structures are constantly in flux with elements of both order and disequilibrium present. Although it may make sense to empower local elders/sheiks/clan leaders this may merely stoke the fires (or dampen them, but that's a contextual issue). What I mean is that if we look at Yemen (tribes) and the Caucasus (Clans) part of the appeal of the Wahhabi style of Islam was that it bypassed the elderly, rigid and largely ossified chains and networks of authority and loyalty which the young felt stifled by.

    In Yemen the threat of AQ Yemeni/Southern Arabian branch is precisely in its ability to appeal to the dissaffected youth who feel constrained by the tribal system. Similarly, young people in the caucasus found their clan based systems of obligation to be politically, culturally and economically stifling. Having to bow to pressures of "elderly elders" who usually bowed to Russian government requestes or saw loyalty to Mosocw as traditional/acceptable meant those same eleders/sheiks were seen as collaborators. The flattening or equalising force of Wahhabism which stressed the indiviual's submersion into the will of Allah and thereby removed any mediating authority was greatly appealing. Thus, a relatively unexamined aspect of the Wahhabi phenomenon is it's demographic underpinnings fuelled by a population explosion of dissafected youngsters who feel constrained by tribes/clans and who thurst for freedom under Wahhabism (it is not, contra Fromm, of Muslims desiring to escape from Freedom but, rather, that they seek social freedom through the levelling effect of Wahhabism).

    It was this, IMO, that forced tribal elders in Iraq to counter AQ; that they would lose control of their own cadres and thus their own systems of nepotism, patronage and influence. This is also, I recall, one of the reasons that Saddam kept an eye out for Sunni extremism. Gievn that he was suppressing, incorporating and balancing the tribes the last thing he wanted was for an alternative non-tirbal source of mobilisation which couldn't be bought off. Interesting excerpt nonetheless, is the book widely avaliable?

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    Default To Retake Cities, Iraq Turns to Sunni Tribes

    Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-18-2017 at 05:09 PM.

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    Default Moderator at work

    This thread has been re-opened for the next post; having been closed in December 2015 Three small threads have been merged in. It now has 119,243views.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default A new book: Tribes and Global Jihadism

    Tribes and Global Jihadism' edited by Virginie Collombier and Olivier Roy, is published by Hurst & Co (London) and their release describes the book as:
    Across the Muslim world, from Iraq and Yemen, to Egypt and the Sahel, new alliances have been forged between the latest wave of violent Islamist groups –– including Islamic State and Boko Haram –– and local tribes. But can one now speak of a direct link between tribalism and jihadism, and how analytically useful might it be? Tribes are traditionally thought to resist all encroachments upon their sovereignty, whether by the state or other local actors, from below; yet by joining global organisations such as Islamic State, are they not rejecting the idea of the state from above? This triangular relationship is key to understanding instances of mass ‘radicalisation’, when entire communities forge alliances with jihadi groups, for reasons of self-interest, self-preservation or religious fervour. If Algeria’s FIS or Turkey’s AKP once represented the ‘Islamisation of nationalism’, have we now entered a new era, that of the ‘tribalisation of globalisation’?
    Link:http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/...bal-jihadism/?


    It might just interest a few here.
    davidbfpo

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