Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tribal Conflict: Diagnostics for a Weak State

 The following article pertains to the ongoing tribal warfare and strife that has occurred proceeding the fall of the Gaddafi Regime. Two tribes, the Guntrara and Mashashya, were 
involved in numerous armed conflicts that claimed 105 lives. Amid the new political order in Libya, the transitional government has not been able to effectively consolidate the use of force within their borders and because of this violence has erupted. The conflict between the two tribes stems mainly from a dispute over land that was redistributed under Gaddafi from one tribe to the other.

 This issue of tribal/ ethnic conflict is extremely important for two main reasons. First, it shows the underlying tensions that exist within Libya as a result of their tribal heterogeneity. These tensions are longstanding in some cases and reactionary in others; this particular conflict is a result of the Ghaddafi's actions while still in power. As a member of a minority tribe, Ghaddafi's favor towards his own tribe as well as partiality towards others has bred conflict amidst the new political order. Ethnic and religious factionalism has been observed as a major cause of civil war in other Islamic countries and is often a result of inequitable rule of the leader. The Iraqi Civil War serves as a great example of factionalism as a product of inequitable rule. Proceeding the fall of Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein, violence became rampant between Shiia and Sunnis as a result of inequitable treatment during 
Hussein’s rule and concerns over representation in the new government. 
 Secondly, the issue is important because it tests the ability of the new transitional government to enforce order within its borders. If strong states are characterized by achieving a monopoly on violence within the state, then the prospect of ethnic war within the country is extremely concerning. 
Relating Issues
This issue correlates heavily to themes in class. Since this tribal conflict seems to have spread from policies under Gaddafi, it points to instrumentalism as the source of the conflict. Additionally, themes of weak vs. strong states are also exemplified. Civil war is identified as the greatest indicator of a failed state and this story represents many of the characteristics found in failed or failing states. Ethnically, Libya is very diverse, containing a multitude of different tribes, some of whom have engaged in armed conflict with one another. The source of the conflict in particular seems to have been the result of Gaddafi's policies. This “political reprisal” for policies under the previous regime is identified as a key characteristic/ cause of failing states.
As suggested in class, I think the best course of action for the Libyan government would be to focus on strengthening their state institutions, specifically their military. Any effective government, whether democratic or not, must have a monopoly of violence within its borders. The new government will be able to achieve little until that is the case.
The following map shows the major ethnicities within Libya. The tribes are a subset of these varied ethnic groups.
Original Article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-18529139

1 comment:

  1. Tribal and ethnic violence has been a re-occuring theme throughout this class. I believe that when certain groups of people feel that they are not being represented fairly in the government, they are very quick to turn to ethnic differences as the cause. Unfortunately, I believe that in many cases they are correct. However I also feel that sometimes jealousy and greed makes people want more than they deserve, and that blaming your problems on someone else who doesn't like you because of your ethnicity is a very easy excuse. However, we have now seen tribal conflict in many different nations and it continues to divide people and influence policy. In response to the "Recommendations" listed here, I am not sure I agree. If the Libyan government strengthened their military, it could send the wrong message to the people who already feel oppressed. I do, however, agree that a governing body must be in control of its state. As with any issue, there are many different factors contributing to the actual problem and solution.