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Thread: It's the Tribes (merged thread)

  1. #41
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    CSMonitor article focusing on the Anbar Salvation Council and the Bu-Fahed subtribe in Hamdhiyah in particular.

  2. #42
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    Does anybody have this book? It looks like a potentially promising purchase, but I'd be curious to see if the 30 years since it was first published has outstripped its relevancy. Thanks.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/086...=3BV4R4OFS2ZIM

  3. #43
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    Default More on Anbar

    24 May The Belmont Club post - More on Anbar.

    ... Isn't this what we are seeing in Anbar? A tribe that is allied with the US is much more similar to Hezbollah than it is to a nation-state.

    Here's the real takeaway though: this never would have happened without some sort of American presence in Iraq. It was not diplomats that turned the tribes, it was military officers. That is the secret that will be hard to swallow: we are in an age wherein the opposite of the 'exit strategy' will have to be the lynchpin of strategy: presence, not early exit, is what is required in these broad swaths of the world that where instability threatens US interests. The key will be not to figure out whether to be there or not, which is the current debate. The key will be to figure out how much to be there and in what form: soldier, diplomat, spy, or some other category that has yet to be determined: perhaps a combo of all three, or perhaps some privatized version of any one of them.

  4. #44
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    The link to this study no longer works, but I have it saved. However this document is FOUO - in light of recent changes to regs, I have doubts if this is kosher to put up on the internet. Anyone know for sure?

  5. #45
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Tequila,

    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    The link to this study no longer works, but I have it saved. However this document is FOUO - in light of recent changes to regs, I have doubts if this is kosher to put up on the internet. Anyone know for sure?
    I agree, it is probably verboten. Does this mean I will have to delete it from my laptop before entering the US ?

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
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  6. #46
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Another interesting article about tribal mobilization - possibly moving beyond Anbar.

    Iraqi tribes shift from hurdle to help - MilitaryTimes, 25 April.
    Several weeks ago, Lt. Col. Kurt Pinkerton came face to face with the leading edge of a movement that senior coalition officials say has significant potential to shift the war against al-Qaida in Iraq in their favor.

    Pinkerton, commander of 1st Cavalry Division’s 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, was meeting a tribal sheikh in the Baghdad suburb of Abu Ghraib.


    “The battalion commander goes to meet with this sheikh,” said Gen. David Petraeus, head of Multinational Forces-Iraq and the senior U.S. commander in country.


    Pinkerton knew that the sheikh and his tribesmen were “sort of on the edge” of those who had been fighting the coalition.


    “These guys are more resistance than hard-core insurgency,” Petraeus said. “They’re a tribe, and the tribe has sort of helped the insurgents a bit.”


    But the sheikh had a surprise for Pinkerton. He told the lieutenant colonel the tribe was ready to take up arms against al-Qaida.


    “What makes you think you could possibly turn out volunteers?” Pinkerton asked him, according to Petraeus.


    “Well, come out back,” the sheikh replied.


    When Pinkerton stepped outside, Petraeus said, he found roughly 2,000 tribesmen staring back at him. “And they all want to be provisional police,” the general added ...

  7. #47
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    Default Iraq Tribal Study – Al-Anbar Governorate

    Todd et al, Iraq Tribal Study – Al-Anbar Governorate: The Albu Fahd Tribe, The Albu Mahal Tribe and the Albu Issa Tribe (2006, recently released by DoD), via Pat Lang's blog here.

    Based on an examination of the identity and history of Iraq’s tribes and attempts to influence them; case studies of influence of other Middle East tribes; and an analysis of a wide range of counter insurgencies, a number of insights on influencing Iraq’s tribes have emerged. These insights are key to successful tribal engagement and influence operations aimed at the Sunni Arab tribes of al-Anbar Governorate...

  8. #48
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    Default Glubb’s Guide to the Arab Tribes (Part 1)

    Glubb’s Guide to the Arab Tribes (Part 1) by Dan Green at the SWJ Blog.

    To enable one country to appreciate what another people really thinks and desires is both the most difficult and the most vital task which confronts us. -- John Bagot Glubb, Britain and the Arabs: A Study of Fifty Years 1908-1958, (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1959), p. 147

    As military units prepare for service in the Middle East, it is not uncommon for them to consult the published works of British military personnel and diplomats who played such a large role in the politics of the region in the 1910s to the 1930s. It is already customary for deployers to consult the works of T.E. Lawrence and Gertrude Bell and for those who have read more expansively, perhaps even the writings of Sir Alec Kirkbride , Sir Percy Cox, or even General Aylmer L. Haldane. Collectively, these various authors have taught our military personnel a great deal about working in the region, fighting alongside Arab irregulars, working with tribes, building governments, fostering development, and combating insurgents. The reason I've written this brief essay is to bring to your attention another great British soldier and diplomat, John Bagot Glubb, whose experience is as expansive if not more so than many of the aforementioned authors. His robust experience of thirty-six years in the great deserts and Bedouin tents of Iraq and Jordan greatly informs our current operations. I have written a brief biography of Glubb in order to familiarize the reader with his achievements and then compiled a collection of his observations, thoughts, and musings taken from his published writings about working with the Arab tribes, fighting guerillas, service to the nation, and on operating in the Middle East. Glubb's views are as useful today as when he made them, incorporating them into our operations in the Middle East will greatly improve our chances for victory...
    Dan Green works at the U.S. Department of State (DOS) in the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism. He served a year as a Political Advisor to the Tarin Kowt Provincial Reconstruction Team in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan, for which he received the DOS's Superior Honor Award and the U.S. Army's Superior Civilian Service Award. He also received a letter of commendation from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Peter Pace. The views expressed in this article are his own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Bush Administration, the DOS, the U.S. Navy, or the Department of Defense. Mr. Green recently returned from Iraq where he served as a tribal liaison officer (US Navy Reserve).

    -----

    Part 2 - John Bagot Glubb's Published Works and The Tribes of Arabia to be posted 3 November.

  9. #49
    Council Member bismark17's Avatar
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    Default Re:

    That is very interesting. Thanks for posting this!

  10. #50
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    Default good but not perfect

    This study is good but there are some errors....I used in country and benefited greatly but was initially frustrated with the few mistakes. What I realized is you will never get the tribes of Iraq, Arabia, and perhaps the entire world completely figured out.

    Don't get me wrong, its a great read.

  11. #51
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    Default Iraqi tribes and the "neighbors"

    A colleague of mine is involved in a research project on the role of Iraqi tribes, with a particular focus on the role (or not) of neighboring countries. Among the issues of interest are:

    • To what extent do neighboring states seek to influence Iraqi politics through particular connections to the tribes?
    • How is such influence exerted, and to what ends?
    • How effective is this, and how has influence changed over time?
    • Some tribal leaders relocated to Jordan (etc) for reasons of safety after 2003... how did this affect their influence?


    Does anyone on SWC have any thoughts of this—especially if you have boots-on-the-ground experience with tribal engagement? He is especially interested in Jordan (and western Iraq), but information on the role of Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia would doubtless would be welcomed.

    Also, "as far as I know the neighbors were largely irrelevant in my AOR" is just as important as any other response, so if that was your experience please say so!
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


  12. #52
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    Default It's the Tribes

    Gentlemen, as the security agreement requires that US forces withdraw from all cities to the rural areas, this brings a very serious shortcoming to light. First, we don't have a mastery of how the Iraqi tribal system works. Secondly, we are moving from the cities, where tribalism is weaker, to the rural areas, where it is stronger. As insurgent sanctuaries are generally in rural areas, they are engaging the tribes to coexist with and recruit from them.

    It is imperative that we as Americans fighting the war in Iraq gain some mastery on how to interact with the Iraqi tribal system. When we are in harmony with the culture with which we coexist on a tactical level, it saves soldiers' lives, and it also is a powerful counter to insurgent information operations.

    To that, please have a look at www.theiraqitribalsystem.com. It's not the answer to all questions...but it is the first more comprehensive treatment of the subject, with applied methodologies for leveraging the tribal data contained in the book for the purpose of establishing strong relationships with tribal leadership that are based on respect, humility, and trust.

    If are able to fill the gap between what we think is intelligence and what causes cultural phenomena such as the insurgent groups in Iraq, we are will be well on our way to helping the Iraqis themselves towards state formation.

    That's victory!

    Respectfully,

    Sam Stolzoff
    www.theiraqitribalsystem.com
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 05-23-2009 at 11:35 PM. Reason: Duplicate thread to entry on 'What are you reading' thread. PM to author as this is effectively an advert for their own book.

  13. #53
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    Default The Importance of Tribes

    Greetings SWJ Members,

    My name is Sam Stolzoff, and I am an Iraq analyst that supports the United States Army. I am a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and with four years of experience in Iraq, I have come face to face with both our successes and failures in counterinsurgency.

    The most acute issue is our lack of understanding of the tribal system - which I am sure has hampered us in other areas of operation as well. In 2007, after finally breaking just one entire tribe into its many sub tribes and organizing it hierarchically, I began my search for a culturally correct source for tribal data in the English language. I was shocked that I couldn't find it. The Brits have some of this data, but the spelling isn't standardized and it was filtered through a western prism of tribal studies. In other words, I couldn't make any sense out of it, and given the lack of real tribal analysis throughout the western world (no joke), I sought resources in Arabic.

    I found a treasure trove. After translating 'Abbas Al-'Azzawi's 4 volume set of tribal hierarchies into English in a culturally correct manner that could be easily used by anybody with a little bit of training, I compared it to what I learned operationally since 2003.

    The data was good - and way more complete than I ever expected. So I began to collect other Iraqi tribal studies in Arabic, and have translated them, as well, so that they could be put in databases and analyzed sensibly.

    For example, why is Nuri ((Al-Maliki)) the prime minister? How was he elected? What is his power base? What I found is that as we imposed a democratic model of government on the tribal system, that the ((Al-Maliki)) phenomenon, and many other phenomena were grounded in the tribal system, which exists in much the same way that it has for thousands of years.

    Further, I wonder why we didn't have this information 6 years ago, when we needed it the most. It is for that reason that I encourage you all to please begin to study the Iraqi tribal system in depth. The tribal system leads to many fruitful paths with respect to targeting in a counterinsurgency, and explains why our western paradigmatic targeting method has a tendency to fall short of out right victory over insurgent forces, as it can't get down to the root of the problems - which are found in small entities called sub tribes.

    I encourage open discussion on this subject. I am not the master of all things tribal, but what I have for you is a substantial amount of data and the analysis thereof, which seems to be in harmony with events on the ground as we are able to perceive them through the news media.

    Thanks for reading this - and thanks in advance for your kind participation.

    Very Respectfully,


    Sam Stolzoff
    www.theiraqitribalsystem.com

  14. #54
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tribeguy View Post
    Gentlemen, as the security agreement requires that US forces withdraw from all cities to the rural areas, this brings a very serious shortcoming to light. First, we don't have a mastery of how the Iraqi tribal system works. Secondly, we are moving from the cities, where tribalism is weaker, to the rural areas, where it is stronger. As insurgent sanctuaries are generally in rural areas, they are engaging the tribes to coexist with and recruit from them.

    It is imperative that we as Americans fighting the war in Iraq gain some mastery on how to interact with the Iraqi tribal system. When we are in harmony with the culture with which we coexist on a tactical level, it saves soldiers' lives, and it also is a powerful counter to insurgent information operations.

    To that, please have a look at www.theiraqitribalsystem.com. It's not the answer to all questions...but it is the first more comprehensive treatment of the subject, with applied methodologies for leveraging the tribal data contained in the book for the purpose of establishing strong relationships with tribal leadership that are based on respect, humility, and trust.

    If are able to fill the gap between what we think is intelligence and what causes cultural phenomena such as the insurgent groups in Iraq, we are will be well on our way to helping the Iraqis themselves towards state formation.

    That's victory!

    Respectfully,

    Sam Stolzoff
    www.theiraqitribalsystem.com

    Mr Stolzoff,

    I appreciate you want to sell your book; I enjoy my royalty checks as well.

    As a retired FAO for the Middle East and Africa, I have long dealt with tribal cultures and offshoots ala Rwanda.

    As somene currently engaged in the theater, I can assure you that our understanding of the tribes is quite good and grows better everyday. A variety of factors play in the current state of affairs; the tribes are one of them and one to which we pay close attention.

    Thanks

    Tom
    Last edited by Tom Odom; 05-24-2009 at 08:00 AM.

  15. #55
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    Thumbs up Tribes

    Sam.

    Welcome aboard, your specialism will arouse interest and maybe some will buy your book.

    Iraqi tribes are not my special subject, nor Iraq. In the UK I have relied on the work of Dr Toby Dodge, an academic (his webpage: http://www.politics.qmul.ac.uk/staff/Dodge/index.html ) and as IISS expert ( http://www.iiss.org/about-us/staffex...dr-toby-dodge/ ). I am sure on my bookshelf is a post-invasion Adelphi paper on Iraqi tribes.

    Maybe worth connecting with him?

    davidbfpo

  16. #56
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    Hello Sam,

    Quote Originally Posted by tribeguy View Post
    Further, I wonder why we didn't have this information 6 years ago, when we needed it the most.
    Well, there are a lot of reasons why that material was not part of the available information, although most of them boil down to a simple one: it didn't fit with the main stream institutional paradigm (organizational culture if you will) of most of the US forces. Tom, as an ex-FAO, is one of the outliers .

    Quote Originally Posted by tribeguy View Post
    The tribal system leads to many fruitful paths with respect to targeting in a counterinsurgency, and explains why our western paradigmatic targeting method has a tendency to fall short of out right victory over insurgent forces, as it can't get down to the root of the problems - which are found in small entities called sub tribes.
    I assume you are referring to what Anthropologists call a segmented lineage system? We (Anthropologists) have know about and written about that in some detail since the 1930's (cf Evans-Pritchards The Nuer and, latterly, most of the political Anthropology of Africa from the 1950's). There is also an extensive literature on the evolution of tribal organizations and their interactions with and adaptations to the urban environment in archaeology (the late 1980's - early 1990's debates on the "world war" of ~3500 bce come to mind) amongst other places.

    From the sounds of it, you have managed to get and translate some really good data - something that is often scarce . Glad to have you here, and i'm looking forward to your input.

    Cheers,

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    Hi Tom- thanks for the kind comments. One quick note about 'our understanding of the tribes is quite good." I beg to differ - but then again, I've worked in different places in Iraq for over four years, and with me, there is no language barrier. I think I am on solid ground when I say that we don't understand the tribal system.

    If we do, then I pose this question. What is a noble tribe, an what is its role in society, an how are noble tribes empowered or disenfranchised by the democratic system?


    Dr. Tyrell,

    Please see my question below. If the detail to which you refer assists you in your answer, please answer away! Of course, I am familiar with the writings to which you refer- and some are quite good. That was a different time, though.

    I own Dr Dodge's books. I hope that what I bring to the table opens up some other fruitful realms of thought for you.

    - Sam
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 05-26-2009 at 01:34 AM.

  18. #58
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Sam,

    Quote Originally Posted by tribeguy View Post
    Please see my question below. If the detail to which you refer assists you in your answer, please answer away!
    About noble tribes? Pretty simple concept which, depending on locale, refers to a "sacred" lineage. It shows up around the world in various forms and with different criteria for membership (most often descent, but sometimes via phenotypic characteristic and / or "special" abilities). Sometimes it gets conflated / expanded out into castes or classes (such as the Brahmin / Kshatrya divide in India), other times it is located in specific descent inheritance (sometimes matrilineal, sometimes patrilineal).

    Quote Originally Posted by tribeguy View Post
    Of course, I am familiar with the writings to which you refer- and some are quite good. That was a different time, though.
    True, it was a different time, but a lot of the structural models and insights are quite applicable today.

    Cheers,

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  19. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by tribeguy View Post
    If we do, then I pose this question. What is a noble tribe, an what is its role in society, an how are noble tribes empowered or disenfranchised by the democratic system?
    Good question. If it applies to the Bedouin in Jordan, or the Negev, I'll ask my wife for you! Otherwise I am sure there are others here who can help you out.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

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    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
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  20. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by tribeguy View Post
    Hi Tom- thanks for the kind comments. One quick note about 'our understanding of the tribes is quite good." I beg to differ - but then again, I've worked in different places in Iraq for over four years, and with me, there is no language barrier. I think I am on solid ground when I say that we don't understand the tribal system.

    If we do, then I pose this question. What is a noble tribe, an what is its role in society, an how are noble tribes empowered or disenfranchised by the democratic system?

    - tribeguy
    As I am currently on the ground and working the out of the cities issue --including issues with the tribes--I will hold to my original statement.

    We can agree to disagree on the extent of that knowledge. I tend to focus on the necessary. Understanding tribal relations is only part of it.

    Good luck with your book.

    Tom

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