so, who’s next?

oh, yes. saudi arabia. due for a “day of rage” tomorrow. (does that mean we’ll see the return of islamic rage boy?! oh, goodie! remember, tho — those folks don’t like to be made fun of!)

just don’t get fooled by the reports of sectarian violence and sunnis versus shias and all that. what it’ll be is tribal violence. it ain’t got nuthin’ to do with religious sects. it might seem so, but all that’s only on the surface. the sectarian divide(s) are just reflecting tribal (i.e. genetic relatedness) divides.

a lot (most?) of the shia minority in saudi arabia is found on the persian gulf. these people are baharna tribes — just like the shia in bahrain. there are some also other shias found in the south towards yemen.

the ruling saud family, and the wahhabis and salafis, are all related tribes from the central part of arabia. they are not (so) related to the baharnas or the folks down towards yemen. they’re all arabs, sure, but they’re all from different tribes. the sauds, et. al., are ruling over (somewhat) unrelated peoples who might just be getting fed up with the sitch. they are the ones that are gonna be spreading all the rage.

i would guess some of the saudi citizens along the red sea might also join in the action. these are the hashemite tribes who lost out to the al sauds when the “nation” of saudi arabia was founded. i’m guessing they might be generally p*ssed off, too.

and now … your daily hadith:

Narrated Wathilah ibn al-Asqa: I asked, “Messenger of Allah! What is tribalism?” The Prophet, peace be upon him, replied, “That you help your people in wrongdoing.”

[Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 41, Number 5100]

previously: aígyptos, baharnas and ajams and howalas, oh my! and libya – land o’ tribes

update: see also “Saudi Arabia without King Abdullah” for a good breakdown of who’s who in saudi arabian tribal politics.

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family feud

update 05/31/12: if you’re looking for info on the hatfield and mccoy feud, see here. (^_^)

sooooo … the whole sunnishi’a split just started as a family argument, huh?

lemme see if i got this straight:

muhammad, of the banu hashim branch of the quraysh tribe, dies.

his followers — a lot of them who are ALSO members of the quraysh tribe — disagree on who his successor should be.

on the one hand, muhammad’s closest family (wife and kids) and closest followers) want ali, muhammad’s paternal cousin AND son-in-law**, ANOTHER member of the banu hashim, to be the new leader of islam.

muhammad’s enemies, primarly the members of the umayyad family, aka the banu abd-shams, which is a DIFFERENT branch of the quraysh tribe, support abu bakr as the new leader of islam. abu bakr was muhammad’s father-in-law and a member of the banu taym branch of, again, the quaraysh tribe.

the umayyad branch of the family and their allies won, and they and all their fellows became sunnis. muhammad’s closest family and the banu hashim lost out, and they and all their fellows became shi’as.

so, we’ve got a minimum of three branches of ONE tribe (the quaraysh tribe) — the banu hashim on one side vs. the umayyad family and the banu taym — fighting over the succession.

afaics, then, the whole sunni-shi’a split started as one great arab hatfield-and-mccoy battle to secure supremacy over mecca and other territories as well as over any other clan-branches|clans|tribes that had happened to convert to islam at that time. no?

click for LARGER view:


“Me against my brother, me and my brother against my cousin; me, my brother, and my cousin against the world.”

**notice the inbreeding.

previously: cousin marriage conundrum addendum

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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.


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.


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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baharnas and ajams and howalas, oh my!

so, tptb in bahrain are shooting @ the protestors:

Bahrain royal family orders army to turn on the people

“…Most of the protesters are members of Bahrain’s long-marginalised Shia majority.

“They say they are not demanding the abdication of Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s Sunni king, but they are calling for a constitutional monarchy that would treat the Shia fairly and make them equal subjects in his kingdom.

“But they are demanding the resignation of his uncle Khalifa bin Sulman Al Khalifa, who has served as prime minister for 39 years.

“During his rule, the protesters say, the Shia have been turned into second class citizens, deprived of jobs in the army, police force and government while Sunnis from abroad have been given Bahraini citizenship to alter the kingdom’s demographic balance….”

“sunni” and “shia” are really just code words for a couple of populations of unrelated peoples that don’t get along.

in bahrain, the shia — who are probably 66% of the population — are the baharna, the arabs indigenous to the area. they happen to have as allies the ajam, some persians who settled in bahrain within the last 100 years.

i imagine that these two groups are allied together against the ruling “sunnis” just for convenience’s sake. they’d probably have a go at one another given the chance. kinda like how blacks and hispanics here in the u.s. are allied politically … for now ….

the sunni — who are probably 33% of the population — are in charge. they’re other arabs from an area in the center of the arabian peninsula. in other words, they’re really not related at all to the local baharna. they’ve been in bahrain for a couple of hundred years.

it’s kind-of like if the poles went and invaded and took over bulgaria. sure, they’re all slavs (arabs) so they’re related in one way, but clearly the poles (sunni arabs in bahrain) are not really bulgarians (baharna).


the king of bahrain, the prime minister, and roughly half of the cabinet are all members of the al khalifa clan, i.e. they’re all some of these non-bahraini arabs from central arabia.

allied with these sunni arabs that are in charge are the huwala, who were a bunch of sunni arabs from a bunch of different areas who migrated to persia at one time but then came back to the arabian peninsula. (there’s some persians mixed into that group just to add to the confusion.) and, also, the descedants of the african slaves that had belonged to the al khalifas once-upon-a-time are allied to them. oh, there’s also some bedouin tribes in bahrain that are allied to the sunnis in charge.

so, there’s the “bahrainis for dummies” breakdown for you, as far as i understand it.

don’t let THEM throw you off with all this “sunni”/”shia” nonsense. religion and religious sects ain’t got nothing to do with it. not ultimately anyway. there’s a minority of foreigners (+ their allies) ruling over a majority of natives (+ their allies), and the natives are a little fed up, especially since the rulers have been busy electing a new people.

oh, and yes the clans in bahrain inbreed, too. the first- plus second-cousin marriage rate in 1989 was 31.8%.

previously: cousin marriage conundrum addendum and aígyptos

update: from The Menas Associates Blog

“During the 1990s, there were several years of Shi’a rioting and low level violence mostly in rural areas against a constitution that allowed them virtually no representation. When King Hamad took power in 1999 he offered a new deal whereby the Shi’a appeared to be able to vote freely for a Lower House which would have the main say in parliament. He later altered this to an equal voice to the Upper House. Election arrangements for the Lower House are organised (i.e. gerrymandered) to ensure that the Shi’a are under-represented….

“There are also strong suspicions that the regime has been granting nationality to Sunni from Jordan and other countries in an effort to increase Sunni demographic size…..”

update 02/21: see also steve sailer’s Bahrain—Electing A New People…And Shooting The Old One

update 02/22: see also IAmA Bahraini Citizen, and I will tell you what’s REALLY going on in Bahrain.

update 03/11: from“The way that government officials are appointed reflects the importance of tribal connections. Members of the ruling family are accommodated first, followed by families and tribes with whom the rulers have been traditionally allied. In Bahrain, for example, the ruling Al Khalifa have given the major positions in the bureaucracy to Sunni Arabs from tribes that helped them rule the island in the nineteenth century. The Al Khalifa have given lesser positions to Shia Arabs from merchant families with whom they engaged in the pearl industry but with whom they had no tribal alliances. But the Al Khalifa have been reluctant to give positions of authority to Shia farmers of Iranian descent to whom they had neither tribal nor economic ties.”

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