The west may wish to view the Middle East and African turmoil as a battle between youthful “tweeters” yearning to breathe free vs. tyrannical dictators, but the situation is far more complex than that. How many times have we seen it: A dictator in power for decades has plundered his country amassing a vast personal fortune, while suppressing the “rights” of untold numbers of his countrymen?
I am very aware that when the political tides finally shift and the end is seemingly inevitable, people in power refuse to step down – preferring even to throw their countries into bloody civil war. People in the West view these “leaders” as characteristically evil. And yet, surely there is something deeper at play in those western countries than simple wickedness. A lot has been said like; an evil person would simply take his fortune and run to a luxurious “exile.” Why do these despots cling to power so tenaciously, even at the risk of losing everything – including their lives, even believing that they are “right” to do so?
I believe that one of the answers to these questions of debate lies in the prevailing political and cultural force in much of the Middle East and in Africa. It is a force that is largely unappreciated by Americans in particular, for it plays little role here. That force is TRIBALISM – the loyalty felt and owed to members of one’s own tribe, over the myriad other tribes with which it competes for power and resources. It is a much stronger force than patriotism because it is rooted in blood and the kinship of extended families. Westerners view this as “corruption” – graft, nepotism and illegal patronage is considered not just the norm, but a duty in these countries. Other tribes may resent the leader in power for patronizing his own, but given the opportunity, they would do the same. The tribe comes first.
The importance of tribalism to the awareness of these “leaders,” can hardly be overstated. Tribalism was at the root of the genocidal carnage in Rwanda between the Hutus and Tutsis. It is why the Baathists in Iraq, whose senior members were part of Saddam Hussein’s AlbuNasir tribe, fought fiercely to protect his regime – and their privileged position in it. It is why Gaddafi’s tribe, the Qadhafa, or the Syrian President Assad’s tribe, the Alawites, will fight just as fiercely to support them. It is why Gbagbo in the Ivory Coast clung to power until he was forcibly ousted (and why the violence didn’t stop with his departure): It is their DUTY to their tribe on which they have bestowed decades of munificence and have received their loyalty and support in return. Abdicating power also means ceding the authority and privileges of the entire tribe. This cultural imperative is all the stronger in leaders of military background, for whom the soldier’s concepts of duty and honor are bound together with tribal allegiance.
This reminds us also why colonialism has been so destructive in these regions. Mixing these tribes together in some artificial geopolitical entity that we call a “country,” and expecting them to “share” its resources “democratically” is a purely Western concept. It is a recipe for continuous strife until one tribe gains sufficient power to install a “strongman” in the leadership role and forcibly suppresses other tribes in this reproduction “country,” plundering its resources for himself and his tribe. It is a winner-take-all system, and always has been. “Peace” lasts only until another tribe, or temporary alliance of several tribes, obtains sufficient power to overthrow the existing order in favor of their own. This is what is occurring in many countries in Africa and the Middle East today. I want to clearly state that until the West at least appreciate this seemingly alien concept of tribalism, they risk blundering into these conflicts. They may think that they are protecting innocent civilians, but they are also taking sides in what are essentially tribal civil wars, some of which have been ongoing for centuries.
Bil laden’s has left a lot of contradiction in people’s minds and still questioning is it true he is dead or there is something still being untold and If that is the case then we still have a big problem to solve. To my surprise while watching Al Jazeera there was a meeting in Rome Italy for looking at ways of financial mechanism to support rebels in Libya why can’t we finish one problem at a time instead of tackling different countries and leaving them in danger. Why can't they seat and discuss on how they can sort out the root cause of these problems.
Aren't westerners creating more harm than good to these countries where they have participated in wars and the world at large. We have no doubt that Al qaeda has affiliated with other groups in the world is it the end of the war or we are get more in danger than we have been. This may lead to retaliated attacks because we must be sure that he has not been acting alone, therefore we better focus on quickest options that can solve problems other than funding wars.