It's the cities, stupid

From Juan Cole: "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..."
Read the rest here. (Informed Comment)

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