Thursday, November 23, 2006

Miscellaneous updates

Al-Hayat publishes a lengthy account of statements by Sattar abu Risha (or Rishawi), head of the Al-Anbar Salvation Council, the main point being the following: Abu Risha said he now has a plan to bring together tribal leaders from all over Iraq in a council which will be called the Unity Assembly, with the aim of applying traditional tribal methods to the problems of sectarian violence. His next task in this, he said, will be to travel through central and southern Iraq to convince tribal leaders in those regions to join. He said the idea is his own "personal" one, will be under tribal auspices, and there won't be involvement by any other parties, governmental or non-governmental. The reporter doesn't offer any comments, either his own or those of anyone else.

In other comments, Abu Risha rejected offers by some other leaders to negotiate a settlement of his lawsuit with Harith al-Dhari of the Association of Muslim Scholars, insisting on a public apology first. On another issue, he said there has now been issued an official document by the Interior Ministry relating to the battalions of the Salvation Council, without indicating what that document says. Presumably it is some sort of acknowledgement of their legality in the eyes of the Interior Ministry. He discussed at length the question of what the battalions will be wearing, noting this is something he is responsible for personally, "although their other requirements will be supplied by the Ministry". He said a uniform resembling that of the current police forces was rejected on the basis it "lacks dignity", and he has chosen instead the uniform that was worn by the Special Forces under the prior [Saddam] regime. Abu Risha also made remarks about what percentage of various regions of Anbar his group already controls, and promised a statement soon about the complete freeing of the province from AlQaeda.

Meanwhile, Harith al-Dhari, head of the Association of Muslim Scholars of Iraq, is in Cairo, where he made statements that the Iraqi newspaper Azzaman takes up as its front-page top story this morning (Thursday November 23). Unfortunately, it appears "missing links" has itself missed a link or two here, resulting in my inability to make it crystal clear what al-Dhari is talking about. Nevertheless, in the expectation we will be able to fill in any gaps later, here is what today's report said:

"[Al-Dhari] said he was cutting off any participation-links with the Accord Council which is expected to meet next year bringing together the different Iraqi groups, saying 'We met with them twice and we agreed with them, but the other parties are not comitted'". The problem here is the Accord ("wifaq") Council: What is it?

In any event, the reporter observes: Efforts to arrive at a meeting of the minds between the various groups that oppose the political process while the occupation continues, have failed all year long, which would seem to imply that the Accord Council is an attempt to unify the resistance to the occupation, or one of the attempts.

Moving on to another topic, the reporter says Al-Dhari included in his statement something that appears to represent a change of position. He is a person who has been known for his absolute rejection of the presence of foreign troops in Iraq. But in yesterday's statement he called for foreign troops not to be withdrawn before there is a national Iraqi security force that isn't accused of being under the control of the governing political parties.

Finally, Al-Dhari accused Maliki of working for the separation of Iraq [into regions].


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could someone explain what exactly a "Tribe" is?

What is the criterion used to determine what tribe one belongs to? Is one born into a tribe or does one join. What is its hierarchy? How does one become a tribal leader?” How cohesive are they? Do people identify more with a tribe than a religions or state? "Tribe" to Americans brings to mind Native Americans like the Apaches. Are Iraqi tribes similar?

I could go on; but, I think my drift is clear.

8:43 AM  
Blogger badger said...

Unless someone comes forward, anon., I would like to deputize you to check around and enlighten us. It is becoming a timely issue. For instance in today's NYT piece about Cheney going to Riyadh, it says the US has been trying to get Saudi to use its tribal influence with tribes in Iraq. What's that all about? I asked first. There's a Wikipedia on Tribes in Iraq, but it looks as if the major reference works are from the 50s and not on-line. There are some good maps at, but we need explanations to go with them.

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An old teacher's ploy - when the student asks a question; have the student long up the answer.

Ok for openers try

I look for more and get back to you

11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


the above site about tribes in Iraq is copied from Wikipedia.

back to the library

11:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tribes in Iraq:

this is very good!

12:05 PM  
Blogger badger said...

okay, I'm going to check that right after my nap

12:42 PM  
Blogger badger said...

There's interesting stuff there, but it does date from the Saddam regime. It would be nice to have something more thorough and updated. For instance, this Sattar Abu Risha or Rishawi, that's been in the news reportedly a "tribal leader", I don't see that name mentioned as a major tribe. Could that be one of the Saddam creations they're talking about? Bit of a can of worms you've opened up here.

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't have any academic reference, but i will draw from my own experience since i belong to one. First off tribes are created based on bloodlines, even though one may join a tribe if he immigrates from one arab country to another where he has no blood relatives he will usually act as if he is a blood relative so as to not loose any social prestige. As for the lineage of tribes, arabs are famous for writing down and recording the blood relations between tribes and the arabs are nothing but a big tribe. I have heard but not confirmed that their is a big registry of all the arab tribes in istanbul left over from the turkish rule. Tribes are made up of smaller families which will become tribes in them self once they become big enough. As for leadership it is usually the family with the greatest influence and the person who can benefit the tribe the most who is leader, in the past it used to be the one with more sons today it is usually the one with more political influence and money and they are usually retired, of course by influence i mean respect from others and he doesn't have to be the strongest but he has the respect of the strongest in the tribe and he knows how to compromise ( its better to rule by proxy so he might be a puppet for stronger tribe members ). In arab families the children are taught to blindly respect and follow their elders so even if a person is an army general or CEO he would heed the advice of his tribe elders/leader and i know that from personal experience. You will see this in the whole gulf region and the maghrib (north west africa) and syria/lebanon/palestine even among christian and jewish arabs. You will find a lot of tribe that aren't confined to country borders and that have influence in more than one country and they usually live on the borders of those countries. As for Badgers question of tribes being saddam's creation i don't think that is true he may have empowered a tribe over another (divide and conquer) to strengthen himself but he can't make new tribes and if he did they would dissolve after his removal. Usually every country has a reference for its tribes and their origins and they are usually taught in the universities as part of history. I don't know if Badger is Iraqi or not but his question doesn't indicate that; unless he is Iraqi but never lived there,but if he was he would probably be able to identify the tribes that betrayed the iraqi resistance during the last british invasion and you would find they are the same tribes. Colonial powers also have registries or arab tribe and have had a lot of direct treaties and agreements with them in the past and present. Usually dictators try to align themselves with the strong tribe through marriage if they are from a weak one or by empowering weaker one against their rivals if they are strong, so his tribe can't be directly held responsible for atrocities committed in his name, because tribal feud are registered and outlive governments so they are usually settled even centuries later.
As for the question regarding are they like red indians ? i don't know them but i don't think they were all blood related. Arab tribes are more like irish tribes or scottish tribes. They are more of a social structure to support its members when a government fails to do its duty and can evolve into a military force when war arises.

I have to say that this is just off the top of my head and its from my personal experience, and I'm from an arab tribe that is in north africa but my tribe extends to the arab peninsula as well. I hope this clears up your question even though its bound to add new ones.

9:09 PM  
Blogger badger said...

Thanks for that. Definitely helps us zero in some of the areas we (I) don't know anything about (tribal registries; university history courses...)

By the way, when I referred to Saddam-creations, I was referring to something that was said on that globalsecurity site referred to in an earlier comment. And also on the
Abu Risha/Rishawi issue I vaguely remember reading something about a case where a tribal name existed as an honorable tribal name in history, but no existing tribe, and they just grafted onto the name, but I can't remember ...

4:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tribes in Iraq

"Just off the top of my head.." WOW! I would really love to read what to take time to think about. Very impressive! I very much appreciate your thoughts on the subject. Please continue if you think of something else

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know there are a lot of rifts between the Iraqi tribes. Do any of you happen to know what conflicts are happening between the individual tribes over there, and I mean more than just sectarian or those that support US occupation vs. those that don't or those that support Saddam's verdict vs. those that don't. I have been unable to find specific information in this area.

5:40 PM  

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