arab autumn

i’m just soooo glad we helped to bring democracy to egypt and libya — especially since they wanted it so much. so how’s all that working out for us anyway?:

“US official dies in Libya consulate attack in Benghazi”

“An American has been killed and at least one other wounded after militiamen stormed the US consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi, officials say.

“It is believed the protest was held over a US-produced film that is said to be insulting to the Prophet Muhammad.

“The building was set on fire after armed men raided the compound with grenades.

“Protests have also been held at the US embassy in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

“In the attack in Benghazi, unidentified armed men stormed the grounds, shooting at buildings and throwing handmade bombs into the compound.

“Security forces returned fire but Libyan officials say they were overwhelmed….

“The film that sparked the demonstration is said to have been produced by a 52-year-old US citizen from California named Sam Bacile, and promoted by an expatriate Egyptian Copt….

“‘Abuse freedom of speech’

“Thousands of protesters had gathered outside the US embassy in the Egyptian capital.

“Egyptian protesters condemned what they said was the humiliation of the Prophet of Islam under the pretext of freedom of speech…..”
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you know, they just have to get over it. they don’t like freedom of speech and they don’t want it in their countries? — fine. but we have it in ours and they’re just gonna have to deal with it.

and we’d better not apologize for any of this, either! oh, wait. too late:

“The US embassy earlier issued a statement condemning ‘the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions’.”

sheesh.
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update 09/12: posting these, from this 2012 pew survey of egypt, in response to peter’s comment below. see my response:

(note: comments do not require an email. omg! it’s mohammed!)

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swedish gal wins eurovision!

if you think she looks more berber than swedish, that’s ’cause she is. (don’t even ask me about the lipstick(?). as a woman of the female persuasion, i got a lot of thoughts on that but … no comment.)

(note: comments do not require an email. here are some actual SWEDES who won the eurovision! oh wait … i think at least one of them is norwegian. same difference! (~_^) )

clans in the news

i like to keep an eye out for clan/tribal stories on google news. here are some of the more fun ones i came across lately:

Tunisian clan fighting injures 18
May 14, 2012

TUNIS: Violent clashes between rival clans in Tunisia have left 18 people injured, one of them seriously, the TAP agency reported on Monday.

The clashes occurred Sunday night and Monday morning in the Feriana region in the centre-west of the north African country and erupted over a dispute over iron trafficking from neighbouring Algeria, according to the interior ministry.

Police and the army intervened to stop the fighting, it said.

Violent, sometimes deadly clan clashes are common in areas of Tunisia bordering Libya in the east and Algeria in the west where trafficking of arms and other goods is common.

tunisia is full of mostly berbery-araby people, so these aren’t any crazy tuaregs or anything. these are just some of your typical tunisians behaving in a typically clannish way. tunisians marry their cousins, of course — 2009 consanguinity rate=24.8%.

meanwhile: Tunisian ex-ruling clan member loses fight for Canadian residency, seeks refugee status
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Over 150 Families in Ingushetia Give Up Vendetta – Leader
13/05/2012

A special reconciliation commission in Ingushetia has prevented vendetta conflicts between 150 families over 42 months, the leader of the Russian Islam-dominated republic in the Caucasus said on Sunday.

At a meeting with religious and public figures in the capital Magas, Ingush leader Yunus-Bek Yevkurov praised the efforts of the commission set up at his initiative to resolve disputed issues and conflicts between Ingush families and consolidate society.

“Thanks to the mercy of the Almighty and the shared efforts of the commission and the PR department of the republic’s administration, we have settled a vast number of conflicts between teips [clans],” he said. “We have reconciled over 150 vendetta families.”

He also paid tribute to the council of teips and proposed involving female public organizations in the process.

traditionally, the ingush married outside the clan but within the (broader) tribe (see also here) — dunno how much they’re still doing that nowadays — so that’s a rather endogamous but not an inbred mating pattern. they’re not marrying their father’s brother’s daughters.
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Bo Xilai’s Clan Links
April 23, 2012

Extended family members of Bo, then commerce minister and now ousted Chongqing Communist Party boss, have also had positions in such firms as alternative-energy company China Everbright International Ltd. (257), according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

While the accumulation of influence is commonplace among relatives of politicians worldwide, the Bo family fortune of at least $136 million may fuel perceptions of corruption in the Communist Party and deepen social tensions over China’s widening wealth gap. The party has sought to cordon off from politics the investigations of Bo and his second wife, arrested on suspicion of murder, with an official commentary stating that the inquiry is solely a matter of law.

“The danger for them, the Chinese, is that the whole of the Politburo and their Central Committee colleagues will be exposed as a new property-owning class,” said Roderick MacFarquhar, a Harvard University professor who focuses on Chinese politics. “It’s already got out of hand. The problem for the regime is that it is now out in the public sphere….”

to be honest, i couldn’t figure out who all the bo-extended-family members were that were mentioned in this article: there are sons and brothers and second wives and i don’t know who. maybe one evening i’ll sit down and try to work it out. bo xilai, though, is one of today’s “princelings” of china. and we know that for literally millennia the chinese have been cousin-marrying/marrying endogamously, and that they still have a clannish society today, so it’s not very surprising to find out that the extended families of communist party leaders in china are reaping the benefits of such a connection in very big ways.

and some more news on chinese clans:

Hainan clan elections set to be heated affair
May 17, 2012

Sparks look set to fly this weekend, as two long-time arch rivals go head-to-head in the Hainanese clan association elections….

chinese clan associations, or kongsi, are: “…benevolent organizations of popular origin found among overseas Chinese communities for individuals with the same surname. This type of social practice arose, it is held, several centuries ago in China…. In the Chinese spirit, derived in large part from Confucian ideals, these kongsi members or their descendants prefer not to boast so much of their wealth but to take pride in earning worldly and financial success through their work ethic and the combined efforts of many individuals devoted to group welfare.”
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Jaafar Clan Kidnaps Syrian Opposition Members in Retaliation to their Abduction of Family Member

Members of the Free Syrian Army abducted overnight two Lebanese citizens and a Syrian national, reported Voice of Lebanon radio on Saturday.

Khodr Hussein Jaafar, Ahmed Medlij, and Syrian Abdullah al-Zein were kidnapped for their alleged role in persecuting Syrian opposition members in Syria, reported the daily al-Mustaqbal on Saturday.

The Jaafar clan retaliated by abducting some 50 members of the opposition in the Syrian border towns of Zeita and al-Burhaniyeh, it added….

seems like everyone has since been released.

clans know no boundaries. sounds like the jaafar clan knows how to take care of business. clans/tribes and cousin marriage are important in syria — and in neighboring lebanon, too.

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libyans on democracy: meh

“National survey reveals Libyans would prefer one-man-rule over democracy”

“The first ever National Survey of Libya suggests that the population would still prefer one-man-rule over alternatives like democracy. The publication of the survey of over 2,000 Libyan people coincides with the anniversary of the first protests triggered by rebel forces against Gaddafi, which ended after months of fighting when he was killed in October 2011. Despite the widespread hatred of the Gaddafi regime, this survey of public opinion reveals that in five years’ time 35 percent would still like a strong leader or leaders for the country. Only 29 percent of those surveyed said they would prefer to live in a democracy….”

oxford research international

previously: democracy-in-libya schedule

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democracy-in-libya schedule

a couple of political scientists writing in foreign affairs think that libya shouldn’t rush into democracy — that the nation might not be quite ready for it yet. i gotta say that i agree with them:

“For democracy to take hold, a country needs parties and civic organizations that bridge traditional divides.”

absolutely!

“[P]ost-electoral violence is significantly less likely when the country has had a chance to build up impartial, rule-based, and non-corrupt institutions, including courts, police, and other governmental bureaucracies. It is generally better to wait to hold elections until administrative institutions are strengthened, as measured by the bureaucracy’s level of expertise, its autonomy from political pressure, and the professionalization of recruitment and training methods.”

hear, hear!

but the u.n. has crazy other plans:

“An internal UN document, meanwhile, envisions a two-stage transition to democracy in Libya. The first would be a loosely specified period of time during which ‘political preconditions’ for elections — establishing public security, building public trust in the impartiality of police, and electing a Provisional National Council within six to nine months to write a constitution — would be satisfied. That would be followed by a six-month period during which the NTC would set up Libya’s new electoral machinery, with help from the United Nations.”

well, unless that “loosely specified period of time” is about … oh, say … 1000 years — AND involves libyans not inbreeding anymore, then yeah — i’d say the u.n. plan is a winner!

maybe — maybe — the libyans would be ready for some local elections (town councils, pta representatives) in about 500 years, but for national elections, i’d guesstimate 1000. Forty generations of outbreeding? sounds about right.

previously: “hard won democracy” and libya – land o’ tribes

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number of libyan tribes…

…is rising exponentially, apparently.

last time i heard, there were around “140 different tribes and clans in Libya.” now i read that the tribal leaders from 851 tribes and tribal factions just got together for a little pep-rally! and these are just the ones (supposedly) supporting gaddafi:

Libyan Tribes Call for End to Armed Uprising
06/05/2011

“Journalists were told that about 2,000 chiefs representing 851 tribes and tribal factions were in attendance, at the convention that was organised by the tribes, not the regime. However it seems that the convention drew only limited participation, with only tribal chiefs from three regions of western and central Libya were present….”

number of tribes in libya? a LOT. (guess it depends on how you slice it.)

previously: libya – land o’ tribes

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“the arabs in tripoli”

by alan ostler. published in 1912.

here are some bits about, not the arabs, but the berbers in tripolitania (pp. 144-59):

“I am much intrigued by the Berber problem. Who are these people; whence did they come into the North African mountains and least fertile deserts; why does their race, so scattered and so broken, still keep for the most part aloof and distinct from its Arab vanquishers?

“The position of the Arab population of Northern Africa is very like that of the Teutonic conquerors of Britain, when the Saxons held the fertile plains, and drove the Britons to the hills and fens. The Arab hordes, sweeping westward over Africa with the impetus of their faith, dispossessed the people who then held the land, and drove them up into the mountains and the heart of the Sahara. So that, to-day, the population of the great Atlas range is Berber; Berbers (Kabyles) hold the mountains of Algeria and Tunis; Berbers (Susi and Tuareg) are the scourge of the Sahara and southern Barbary states….

“What I know of the Berbers has so many points in common with what is known of the pre-Aryan population of Europe—or at least, of North-Western Europe—that I have come to believe it more than probable that it was against the ancestors of these very Berbers that our Keltic forefathers fought for the possession of western Gaul, of Spain, and of the British Isles….

“Scattered all over Europe we find traces of this ancient woman-reverence—a cult which outside religious matters, in which prophetesses, sybils, and vestal virgins still held influence, was destined to be lost or greatly obscured until the rise of chivalry.

“Among the ancient Iberians, women were recognised as chieftainesses of the clans, and as heads of families.

“As late as in the eighteenth century women inherited property among the Basques, to the exclusion of males.

“The epitaphs of the Etruscans name only the mother of the dead—a significant tribute to the social standing of women.

“I believe that I am right in saying that the Georgians — non-European inhabitants of the Southern Caucasus from time immemorial — admitted women until comparatively recently to their councils, and in time of war left the administration of the villages in the hands of female authorities.

“Now, in the Berber world, woman holds a singularly high, if not the very highest, place. Her position is the more marked by contrast with that of her Arab sister, who, as is the case throughout the Mohammedan world, is, at best, the most useful animal known to man. I have on more than one occasion visited Berber villages, particularly on the border-land that separates the Djebala territory from the Gharb, in the north of Morocco, and have been received and entertained, in the absence of the sheikh, or kaid, by his mother, who appears to be invested with full authority and responsibility for the village and people of her son….

“In a purely Arab village the place of the absent chief would have been filled by a council of old men.

“The very title of a married woman amongst the Berbers is significant. In the Shilhah dialect the word is tamghart — the feminine form of amghar, which means sheikh, or headman. (Tamdort, the Djebala term for woman in general, is obviously the same word.)

“Incidentally one may add the significant fact that amongst the Tripolitan Berbers all manner of mystic and occult powers are ascribed to women, and that in many villages they are the keepers of the unwritten tribal traditional histories….

“It was the physical aspect of an individual Berber, as he trotted at the tail of a pack-mule through the great argan forest north of Agadir, that seemed to reveal to me in one momentary flash more of the history and qualities of the Berber race than any reading and research could teach me. I had known that ‘the Berbers are the ethinic substratum of the greater part of Northern Africa.’ But the knowledge was no more than just that dry, instructive phrase, until I looked into that strange, wild visage, with its light-hued, glittering eyes; and felt with a sudden shock that I was face to face with a type of perhaps the oldest of the races of mankind.

“He had been trotting before me, tirelessly, with bent knees, and long arms hanging, apelike. I had idly noticed his squat, yet smallboned frame, his slightly humped shoulders sparsely tufted with rusty brownish fell; his lobeless ears, faun-like and pointed beneath the shock of thick, coarse hair and the pale, dark hue of his skin. Then, unexpectedly, he looked back across his shoulder; his eyes met mine; and it seemed to me that, with a faintly uneasy qualm, I read at a glimpse the vast, forgotten history of his race. As those smallish eyes, of a chilling paleness, stared from above broad cheek bones into mine, my memory flew back at once to the misty western coast of Ireland. For there, where the last fragments of a race immeasurably old, pre-Celtic, pre-Aryan, still linger in the barren corner of a land once theirs from coast to coast (with many a richer land beside), I have stared uneasily into just such glittering inhuman eyes—eyes set in just such high-cheeked, narrow-chinned faces, peering through just such a tangle of coarse black hair. And I knew my man at once for the bloodbrother of those forgotten folk of whom Europe has lost almost all trace….”

previously: b*d*ss dorobo dudes

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libya – land o’ tribes

so, libya’s got a handful of ethnic groups

“Native Libyans are primarily Berbers, Arabized Berbers and Turks, ethnic ‘pure’ Arabs (mainly tribal desert Arabs ‘Bedouins’), and Tuareg. Small Hausa, and Tebu tribal groups in southern Libya are nomadic or seminomadic.”

(here’s a nice map outlining from whence they hail.)

plus there’s a whole bunch o’ immigrants (some legal, a LOT illegal) from egypt and tunisia and sub-saharan african countries…

“Among foreign residents, the largest groups are citizens of other African nations, including North Africans (primarily Egyptians), and Sub-Saharan Africans. Libya is home to a large illegal population which numbers more than one million, mostly Egyptians and Sub-Saharan Africans.”

simply having all these various ethnic groups in one country would make things really interesting on the political scene (with all those conflicting ethnic genetic interests); but THEN, libya is full o’ tribes, too! tribes, tribes, and more TRIBES! all of the berbers and arabs and arabized berbers are divided into who knows how many tribes and clans and familial-what-nots (i dunno — i couldn’t find a comprehensive list online).

97% of the population is muslim, and 90-95% of them are sunni muslims. so there’s not really any obvious ethnic/tribal divides along religious lines like there is in bahrain.

nope. what there is is TRIBES.

tribes seem to be a complete mystery to (most) contemporary cultural anthropologists, prolly ’cause most of them don’t do science.

however, mr. snappy dresser himself knows what tribes are (pg. 299). in fact, he sounds like he’s been reading a lot of steve sailer!:

“A tribe is a family which has grown as a result of procreation. It follows that a tribe is a big family….” unfortunately “…tribalism damages nationalism because tribal allegiance weakens national loyalty and flourishes at its expense…. It is damaging to the political structure if it is subjected to the family, tribal, or sectarian social structure and adopts its characteristics.

so, he’s not quite as dumb as he looks, eh? not quite.

muammar al gaddafi is a member of the — you guessed it — al gaddafi tribe. i’ve seen the gaddafi tribe described as a both a berber tribe and an arabized berber tribe, so i’m not sure how berber and|or arab m. gaddafi himself is. in his early years he was a big follower of nasser and pan-arabism, so i’m guessing he’s quite arab, but you never know. maybe he was just keen on allying himself with powerful folks in the arab world. (apparently, there are one million members of the al gaddafi tribe in egypt. don’t know if that makes the gaddafis arab tribes or arabized berber tribes or what. -??- i wonder how many of the illegal egyptian immigrants in libya are gaddafis?)

anyway. at the beginning of his glorious revolution, gadaffi apparently tried to get rid of the tribes and tribal sentiments in libya. at the very least, he tried to minimize their power (while appointing members of his own tribe to important positions, of course.) this didn’t work out. the tribes didn’t just miraculously go away just ’cause he instituted a new -ism in libya. (what he should’ve done, of course, if he truly wanted to break the tribes, was to force everyone in libya to marry out of their tribe. ah, well. looks like it’s too late now!)

when that tactic didn’t pan out, gaddafi, in the ’80s, began to (try to) work with the tribes:

“Al-Qadhafi said political parties – whether they are Arab nationalists, communists or religious parties – had failed in liberating, developing or in uniting Arabs. He argued that only tribes can realize such a dream because they are united by high ideals and traditions: ‘We have gone back to tribes because other forces have failed. Where is the Ba’th Party, where are the Arab nationalists, where are other nationalist parties, where are the communist and religious parties? They are all dispersed and they did nothing. They have failed to unite or liberate the nation. Now the modern party is the tribe, and tomorrow’s army is the tribe.'”

apparently, gaddafi was a master at pitting the tribes against one another. up until now.

so, the state of libya now is as it ever was — full of inbred tribes that are all looking out for themselves (not that there’s anything wrong with that! — but democracy ain’t gonna work well in such a place):

“Tribalism remains a key determinant in political allegiances in Libya. Neither oil wealth and modernizing influences nor Qadhafi’s revolution have altered the web of kinship-based loyalties that has characterized Libya’s domestic political scene for centuries. Libya’s tribes are arranged in a pyramidal lineage scheme of subtribal, clan, and family elements.” [source]

from 2002:

“The rivalries among the tribes of Libya extend to an era well before the formation of the modern Libyan state. Such rivalries are most pronounced in the armed forces. Each of the main tribes is represented in the military establishment and the various popular and revolutionary committees. For instance, Qadhafi’s Qadhadfa tribe has an ongoing rivalry with the Magariha tribe of Abdel Sallam Jalloud, the man who was second-in-command in the country for decades until he fell out of favour….

“The Warfalla tribe, which turned against Qadhafi during the coup attempt in 1993, is numerous and is closest to Jalloud’s Magariha tribe. The Al Zintan tribe backed the Warfalla as well. The coup attempt was spearheaded by Warfalla officers in the Bani Walid region, 120 km south-east of Tripoli. The main reason for the coup attempt was that, despite its size, this tribe was poorly represented in the regime and only occupied second-echelon posts in the officers’ corps.

Moreover, Warfalla tribal officers have been excluded from the air force. The air force is reserved almost exclusively to the Qadhadfa tribe, to which Qadhafi belongs. [and now the air force is bombing the protestors. what a surprise!] It was the air force which crushed the coup attempt in October 1993. Jalloud’s Magariha tribe comes next to the Warfalla in terms of numerical strength and is bigger than the Qadhadfa….

If Jalloud’s Magariha, the Warfalla and Islamic militant groups unite against Qadhafi in an all-out confrontation involving the military, they could take over power. But that would soon be followed by challenges from other tribes. Ultimately, if Qadhafi is overthrown, these tribes could fight each other and Libya could be split into several regions.”

confused? i am.

gaddafis. magarihas. warfallas. al zintans. that’s a lot of players to keep track of! right now, the warfallas and another tribe called the al zuwayyas are siding with the protestors. (the al zuwayyas are the ones who threatened to stop the oil exports.)

from the nyt:

“Libyans tend to identify themselves as members of tribes or clans rather than citizens of a country, and Colonel Qaddafi has governed in part through the mediation of a ‘social leadership committee’ composed of about 15 representatives of various tribes, said Diederik Vandewalle, a Dartmouth professor who has studied the country.

“What’s more, Mr. Vandewalle noted, most of the tribal representatives on the committee are also military officers, who each represent a tribal group within the military. So, unlike the Tunisian or Egyptian militaries, the Libyan military lacks the cohesion or professionalism that might enable it to step in to resolve the conflict with the protesters or to stabilize the country.

terrific.

gaddafi needs (needed?) to go ’cause he’s a psychopathic lunatic that has driven his country into the ground with his bizarro political strategies. but, just as in egypt and bahrain, democracy clearly AIN’T gonna make things much better.

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note: no idea what the consanguinity rate for libyans is because of the completely f*cked up health-care system in libya (most of the cousin-marriage research done in the arab world is connected to medical research ’cause of all the genetic diseases|conditions). there is one report which states in the abstract that there is a “high frequency of consanguineous marriages in Libya.” the rate is not in the abstract and, unfortunately, i don’t have access to the journal.

it wouldn’t, i think, be unreasonable to suppose that the consanguinity rate in libya is not unlike its neighbors, egypt and tunisia, which are 38.9% (2000) and 26.9% (1980s) respectively. the moral of the story is: all of those tribes are inbred. and you know what that means.

see also: Libya crisis: what role do tribal loyalties play? and What’s Happening in Libya Explained

previously: baharnas and ajams and howalas, oh my!, cousin marriage conundrum addendum and aígyptos.

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