IraqSlogger: Iraqi Papers Saturday: Arming the Tribes

IraqSlogger: Iraqi Papers Saturday: Arming the Tribes: “Under the US occupation and the Maliki government, tribes are being reinvented in Iraq, for the third time in less than a century. Under the British mandate in the 1920’s, tribal institutions were reinforced and used by British and Iraqi officials as a way to “rule by proxy,” especially in the Iraqi south. As a result, the waning authority of tribal chiefs was given a new impetus, with them becoming large landowners and state representatives; in effect, Britain created a feudal system in southern Iraq with tribal leaders (and Sayyids, and Aghas in the Kurdish north) as feudal lords – with devastating consequences for the Iraqi farmers.
Saddam Husain in the 1990s also used tribal networks to supplant his fledgling authority, following the 1991 Gulf war. Breaking with a Ba’thi tradition that viewed tribalism as anathema to the modern state and a sign of “backwardness,” the Saddam regime recasted tribes as an “authentic” constituent of Iraqi society and –naturally- a loyal ally to the state.
Today, with tribes being armed and organized into militias; and with tribal chiefs given the authority to govern entire provinces, a new form of tribal institutions is being promulgated throughout Iraq, especially in the Sunni center.”


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