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Bigmack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 09:18 PM
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Think Shia/Sunni split is big?...
How about clan and family divisions? Most Americans don't have any idea about how thoroughly divided Iraqi society is. This short piece talks about the clan relationships that underlie everything.
Dumbya and his moron buddies had NO idea what they were getting into.
- - - -
Why cousin marriage matters in Iraq
Clan loyalty fixed by cousin marriage was always bound to undermine democracy in Iraq.
By Anne Bobroff-Hajal

All too often, the US carries out foreign policy with little comprehension of the societies it confronts. This can lead to unintended - often destructive - results.

STEVE ANSUL In the Christian Science Monitor Friday, 12/29/06

One central element of the Iraqi social fabric that most Americans know little about is its astonishing rate of cousin marriage. Indeed, half of all marriages in Iraq are between first or second cousins. Among countries with recorded figures, only Pakistan and Nigeria rate as high. For an eye-opening perspective about rates of consanguinity (roughly equivalent to cousin marriage) around the world, click on the "Global Prevalence" map at .

The US can't deal with a problem it doesn't recognize, let alone understand.
Anthropologist Stanley Kurtz has described Middle East clans as "governments in miniature" that provide the services and social aid that Americans routinely receive from their national, state, and local governments. No one in a region without stable, fair government can survive outside a strong, unified, respected clan.

I have been struck since early on in the Iraq war by how little Americans know about the groups the US so vaguely labels "insurgents." US ignorance is now further camouflaged by the label "chaos." I wonder whether, if US citizens took the time to "know thy enemy," they would learn that there are many forms of logic in the layers of Iraq's so-called chaos. I wonder if the almost daily discovery of 40, 50, or even 60 Iraqi bodies, kidnapped and tortured before being murdered, are clans battling one another.

The debacle in Iraq reinforces the idea that to have a positive relationship with any foreign society, America needs to know how its various elements work and interrelate. It must fully understand the social glues that sustain human life within particular geographic, economic, and social constraints - especially the adhesives that seem strangest and least comprehensible to us.
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Syncronaut Seven Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 09:33 PM
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1. Dumbya and his moron buddies didn't care
The object was genocide all along. Saddam was nothing more than a US pawn. Ever.
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Cleita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 09:38 PM
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2. I think they want this. Julius Caesar's mantra was "divide and
conquer". It would keep the war going for the benefit of the profiteers. What if it has the opposite effect? What if these Iraqi clans who are usually fighting with each other suddenly realize that we are the enemy and they should join together to fight us? It has happened before in WWI. The normally battling clans and tribes joined together to defeat their Turkish overlords and drive them out of the Middle East.
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alfredo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 09:41 PM
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3. When the Neocons set out to create chaos, they were thinking
through a modern industrialized westerner's eyes.
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Igel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 11:09 PM
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4. In 2002 there were a few myths circulating.
Things that had been true, but which had ceased to be true.

Iraq had a highly educated workforce. In the '80s the education system suffered and illiteracy was rising quickly, even among boys. By 2002 the previous 10-15 graduating classes had about average illiteracy rates for the region.

Iraq had a good infrastructure. The Iran-Iraq war drained resources, and the electrical grid, water systems, and sewer systems that were exemplary (for the region) in the '60s and '70s and early '80s were no longer so. Baghdad, where reporters were, had good everything, at the expense of the rest of the country.

Iraq was secular. To a large extent, sure, and in the '70s and '80s Salafist thought wasn't encouraged at all--Arab nationalism was. But the Ba'thists had cozied up with the Salafists among the Sunni tribes in the '90s, converted Shi'ite mosques to Sunni use, and embarked on a large mosque-building spree. It was the secularist Saddam that put "Allahu akbar" on the Iraqi flag. It may have not been heartfelt, but the consequences don't depend on his personal attitude in this case; he knew that Arab nationalism was being replaced by Muslim nationalism, both traditional and based on Qutb and Taymiyya.

Tribalism. In the '70s and '80s Saddam waged a kind of war with the tribes, stripping them of power and moving lots of Sunnis from their tribal regions into Baghdad. Tribal affiliations weren't a mark of prestige, and it was fashionable to ignore tribal loyalties. In the '90s the tribes were fully re-enfranchised, money was routed through them, and Saddam looked to them for loyalty--especially the Sunni tribes; fashion shifted, and those that really didn't like the tribal patchwork across the country were left in the cold. When Saddam fell, the sheikhs lost a lot of authority and money; they resented it.

Few understood how Iraq had suffered in the '80s and '90s, how tribalism was encouraged and how it worked, how Salafist Islam was courted and strengthened, or how the Iraqi honor system worked. Even here you still hear the myths touted as though they were true in 2002, or even now. Change happens, and it isn't always good.
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