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Old 05-03-2007   #41
tequila
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CSMonitor article focusing on the Anbar Salvation Council and the Bu-Fahed subtribe in Hamdhiyah in particular.
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Old 05-25-2007   #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
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Old 05-25-2007   #43
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Default More on Anbar

24 May The Belmont Club post - More on Anbar.

Quote:
... 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.
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Old 05-25-2007   #44
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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?
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Old 05-25-2007   #45
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Hi Tequila,

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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
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Old 05-25-2007   #46
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Another interesting article about tribal mobilization - possibly moving beyond Anbar.

Iraqi tribes shift from hurdle to help - MilitaryTimes, 25 April.
Quote:
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 ...
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Old 09-10-2007   #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.

Quote:
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...
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Old 05-01-2008   #48
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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.
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Old 02-28-2009   #49
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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!
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Old 05-23-2009   #50
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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.
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Old 05-24-2009   #51
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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
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Old 05-24-2009   #52
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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.
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Old 05-24-2009   #53
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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?

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Old 05-24-2009   #54
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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
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Old 05-24-2009   #55
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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.
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Old 05-24-2009   #56
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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
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Old 05-24-2009   #57
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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.
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Old 05-24-2009   #58
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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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Old 05-24-2009   #59
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Dr. Tyrell - that is good - but what are the names, specifically of the noble tribes in Iraq, and what role to they play in Iraqi society, specifically?

Another question: what do Abu Umar Al-Baghdad I, II, and III have in common? What can we learn in terms of AQ's recruitment and tribal engagement strategy from this?

Respects,

Sam

Hi Tom:

(I know the answers to these questions - but I ask them to prove the point - which is who cares if I know? The important thing is for "us" to know. Hence this thread.)

I am looking forward to your posts on the noble tribes. There is a good deal of Arabic scholarship on the subject. I promise you that this area will bear fruit, but I caution all that hard and fast rules and inflexible thinking are the enemy.

Iraqi society is incredibly complex, and so are its people. If somebody represents that they are a tribal "expert," or that they "really understand the tribes," think again. That's why I have translated so much arabic scholarship on the tribes, and most particularly their hierarchies. It differs greatly from its western counterpart, and leads to analytical paradigms that are much more incisive, since they are organic to the culture.

Our paradigms and such, whether or not they were part of the institutional culture (I agree, they weren't) still would only bear so much fruit as they filtered through the way that we as outsiders see the Iraqi tribal system.

I am trying to break through that "outsider" barrier. I've had some successes and some failures in that area. Bottom line - I don't have the answers, but I have a lot more questions.

Keep up the good work - stay curious on the subject of tribes. This subject doesn't exist in a vacuum. I have seen that tribalism permeates every aspect of Iraqi society. That's why I started this thread.

I spent 4 years on the ground in Iraq, and will be returning in the near future. I suspect that our paths may have crossed before.


Marc,

I agree that it is a simple concept, until you bring it down to a "what should we do" level of thinking. Just because we think we know a concept doesn't mean that we can apply it.

So, that is the reason that I asked which are the noble tribes of Iraq.

V/r,

Sam

Last edited by Jedburgh; 05-26-2009 at 01:35 AM.
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Old 05-24-2009   #60
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Hi Sam,

Quote:
Originally Posted by tribeguy View Post
I agree that it is a simple concept, until you bring it down to a "what should we do" level of thinking. Just because we think we know a concept doesn't mean that we can apply it.

So, that is the reason that I asked which are the noble tribes of Iraq.
Get's us back to Clausewitz doesn't it ? Yeah, I agree that the devil is in the details when it comes to applying the concept. Personally, I don't know who the ones in Iraq are... then again, I've never claimed to have that granular level of knowledge .

The entire issue, though, does raise some interesting points. For example, even without knowing the specifics in an area, and what the actual meaning(s) of those specifics is/are (i.e. what does it actually mean today in terms of operations), if you have the concept, you can get the data either by asking people who know (that's the Socratic in me!) or by looking for structural similarities / analogs. Of course, figuring out what it means is crucial and how it gets transformed is critical to actually using it .

The flip side is getting hung up on concepts and structures that are much less operationally relevant and focusing on them to the detriment of the long term goal. One of the problems that I've noticed with a lot of political / military writing about cultural phenomenon is the implied assumption that culture is static rather than constantly being negotiated (another problem is the naive idea that "We" aren't ruled by it, but "They" are - hah! We should get Rob Thornton in on this one ).

Anyway, I've got to get back to work (sigh).

Cheers,

Marc
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