Tribal Welfare

by Chris Bodenner
In response to my post on bribes, a reader writes:

Commanders I knew in Anbar province during my time there (2005-2006) called money a "combat multiplier."  It was a tactic.  ... The Anbar tribes have always been on the dole.  I was told by the Sheikhs and Imams in Fallujah that Saddam Hussein had been paying them off for years, to keep them quiet and keep violence down.  He had the same problems with Anbar that we've had.

In fact, just the fact that we call it "bribes" betrays our Western, post-enlightenment, rule-of-law, frame of reference.  Arab tribal leaders have always shared their bounty with their followers, it is seen as a responsibility of leadership.  It is just a different cultural perspective.  And there is no doubt that Maliki must realize that he will have to pick up the slack in handouts (payoffs, whatever you call them) when we leave.  If he doesn't do so, you can bet it is a deliberate move to antagonize the Sunni chiefs.