It’s the Cities, Stupid
An Iraqi reader writes in to complain about the tendency of Western analysts to focus on “tribes” in their political analyses. He says the action is in the cities, where urban elites are the future of the country.
‘ It is remarkable how the “experts” on Iraq ignore the most important section of Iraqi society: the non-tribal millions centred in Baghdad, Basra, Mosul, Kirkuk and some other large cities. These may well belong to tribes and may even be religious, but are totally independent. They regard their Sheikhs [tribal leaders], if they know who they are, almost as a lower cast: Asha’ir (Tribal people) who are considered clumsy, thuggish, and worst of all obeying the tribes rather than following their principles or the country’s institutions.
Until the 1980’s Iraq enjoyed the best health, education and other governement service, while the tribal areas were, and still are, quite backward and even primitive, while the cities were as advanced as south western Europe. The non-tribal Iraqis, call them Nationalist if you like, have had no place in Bush’s Iraq because the Americans promoted tribalism from day one in the hope of controlling Iraq by buying its Sheiks and Mullahs. This policy worked in Afghanistan and Kurdistan
because these are collections of self-ruled tribal areas, and not real countries, but have failed in Iraq’s large cities with their complex relationships and mobile population.
These urban Iraqis are critical for the future of Iraq because of their skills and patriotism – do not confuse them with the corrupt Ba’athists though. The Iraqi ministries now are paralysed by the corrupt and incomptent relatives and friends appointed by the Mullahs and Sheikhs who now rule Iraq, which is being transormed into a failed state. The militias and terrorists decide what happens to the people of Iraq. The Constitution and state Institutions are irrelevant no matter how much fuss is made about them.
The Nationalists, who are more likely to be highly educated professionals do not have militias, but can leave the country in droves. Thousands already have, and the country can not function without them regardless of who is in power. The bizzare collection of “Iraq Leaders” today are fighting over spoils that do not exist. The Oil money is not enough even for basic needs, and the failed economy and services will sooner or later trigger national revolt. Unlike other nations, millions of ordinary civilians have AK47s in their homes, and plenty of military training. ‘