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April 17, 2008
Michael Totten on Working with the Tribes in Anbar
Embedded journalist Michael Totten was recently in Anbar province and spoke to one of our key people on the ground who is working closely with the tribes to improve daily life for Iraqis.
Marine Captain Quintin Jones, commanding officer at Outpost Delta in the city of Karmah is someone you never hear quoted on the news or profiled in newspapers. But he may one of the most important Americans in Iraq as Totten points out in this fascinating interview:
MJT: So who has more power? The sheikh or the mayor?
Captain Jones: The sheikh. Al Anbar is really tribal in everything that it does. Although they've had a city council in the past, a mayor in the past, a lot of the people in the city want to go to the rule of law through tribal law. Making that transition is really tough. It's a delicate line that we have to walk.
MJT: How compatible is tribal law with a democratic system? Are they merging the two systems, or basically still using the old-world authoritarian model?
Captain Jones: The way to approach it is, there is still a need for the tribal way of life, but we're trying to make it more democratic at the same time. They're parallel. The true part is run by the democratic process. If you look at countries like Bahrain or Dubai – the UAE – they still have a strong tribal base, but they’re somewhat democratic in their governance and the way they approach things. You can't move forward or progress as a country if you're stuck in the tribal way of life.
MJT: Right. But how do they merge them? I mean, nobody elected Sheikh Mishan.
Captain Jones: No. It's just passed down through generations.
MJT: So are some of the people below him elected democratically? Like the mayor. Was he elected, or was he appointed?
Captain Jones: A little bit of both. [Laughs.]
Once again, Michael Totten shows that he and the other embeds who risk their lives in Iraq to get the story no one else will tell are doing an invaluable service to the American people and the cause of journalism.
Another embed, Bill Ardolino will be going to Baghdad and Sadr City to embed with 2/1 Stryker Calvary Regiment - a unit that has seen action recently fighting the Mahdi Army of Moqtada al-Sadr.
Totten and Ardolino can only do their important work by soliciting donations from readers like you and me. They are not funded by any media outlet or the US government.
If you want to continue to receive the best information on Iraq - news the MSM won't or can't report - visit the links above and give generously to their efforts.