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Mordechai Kedar: Tribalism in the Middle East – The Real Thing

Arab leaders meet

Arab leaders meet
Photo Credit: Mohammed Al-Ostaz/Flash 90

Sudan:

In July, 2011, Sudan was officially divided into two states: North Sudan and South Sudan. The North is ruled by Arab Muslims, while most of the population in the suburbs is Christian and Animist (Pagan). The Darfur region has been seeking independence for years, and another region, Kordofan – seeks to secede from the Northern state and be included into the framework of the periphery.

Yemen:

Twenty years ago, two states were merged – The Republic of South Yemen, and North Yemen. Today, most of the demonstrations that are held in the cities of the South – Aden, Taiz and Ibb – are held because of the demand to renew their independence, that is, to divide the state on a tribal basis.

Syria:

Syria is another hapless state in which there are several ethnic groups: Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen; and a few religious groups: Muslims, Christians, a few remaining Jews, Alawites and Druze. The Muslims are divided into Sunni and Shia – Ismaili, and a few Christian sects. The Islamists see all of them, especially the Alawites, as heretics. The problem of the Alawites being in power is not only that they are comprise only a tenth of the residents of Syria, but also that they are heretics, who must, according to Islam, choose Islam or be slaughtered.

Bahrain:

Bahrain is an island in the Persian Gulf, most of whose residents are Persian Shi’ites. But power is held by a minority, an Arab Sunni tribe that the British brought in order to rule the Shi’ites. During the past several years – mainly in 2011 – we have seen many demonstrations result in injuries and fatalities.

The Palestinians:

Gaza is a separate state from Ramallah, and I think that the romance between them will not last many days, because of the cultural differences between the Bedouin of Gaza and the intelligentsia of Ramallah; a different outlook. The sons of Hebron do not marry the daughters of Nablus, and the sons of Qalqilya do not marry the daughters of Jericho, because of the tribalism that flows in their veins.

Iran:

The population of this state is composed of Persians, Azeri, Kurds, Balochi, Arabs and Turkmen, and would have broken up long ago if it had not been a dictatorship – secular in the days of the Shah and religious in the days of the Ayatollahs, since 1978. The Iranian public is secular up to its ears, and many Iranians have no idea at all how the inside of a mosque looks. As the religious oppression increases, the religious level of the people decreases, and with it, the legitimacy of the regime.

Turkey:

The population of Turkey comprises Turkmen, Kurds, and Arabs, and the Kurds have been fighting for independence for many years. Recently, as a result of the slaughter of Muslims that the Alawites are carrying out in Syria, the Muslims in Turkey have begun to kill Alawites in revenge. Erdogan is furious about the abuses of Assad for this, because the last thing that Erdogan needs is to have an additional internal front in his country – between the Muslims and the Alawites. Most of the states in our area comprise groups of different sorts: ethnic, tribal, religious, and sectarian, and many are the eternal conflicts among them; that’s why these are failed states. In the Arab Middle East, there is only one group of stable states, the states of the Gulf: Kuwait, Qatar, and the seven states of the United Emirates. Each of these are stable for one reason and one reason only: each of these states is a state of one tribe, that represents only itself. In these states there are no elections for a national leader because the leadership is traditional, accepted and legitimate, therefore there is no reason for elections.

From all that is stated above, one clear conclusion can be drawn: if for demographic reasons Israel wants to exclude from citizenship as many Arabs as possible, we must establish seven city-states for the Arabs in Judea and Samaria: Jericho, Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarem, Qalqilya and the Arab section of Hebron. The “eight state solution” – Gaza and seven in Judea and Samaria – is the only plan that is based on the clear sociology of the region, not on rosy, but impractical dreams of a “two state solution”, which should have been ditched a long time ago, both because of the Palestinian non-compliance with conditions of existing agreements and more importantly because it is not sociologically suited to the Middle East. Instead of establishing a failed Palestinian state that will have internal conflicts, it is preferable to establish eight emirates that are based on Arab tribes, with Israel keeping the rural area forever, so that it will not turn into Hamas Heights.

Photobucket Tribalism in the Middle East is the “real thing”, and the population of the area is miserable because of the foreign ideologies that have penetrated into it. Any real and workable solution must be based upon this sociological fact – that tribalism and loyalty to traditional religious and sectarian frameworks are the cultural and political framework of the Middle East.

About the Author: Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Ph.D. Bar-Ilan U.) Served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. A lecturer in Arabic at Bar-Ilan U., he is also an expert on Israeli Arabs.


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3 Responses to “Mordechai Kedar: Tribalism in the Middle East – The Real Thing”

  1. Lori Lowenthal Marcus says:

    Kedar is both brilliant and extremely knowledgeable. He understands the Arab mentality in a way that most westerners, especially leadership, refuse to absorb. That is unfortunate for all of us because western policies would be very different, and much more successful, if they integrated Kedar’s explanations.

  2. Steve says:

    That’s one reason why we are having his writings made accessible to the English speaking crowd.

  3. Lori Lowenthal Marcus says:

    Then you will be providing a great service. Thank you.

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