various actors—rural and urban, indigenous and foreign, traditional and modern—the history of tribe-state interaction brings useful concepts to bear upon the question of a united Iraq – itsreality, desirability, solvency, and definition – and should inform policies pursued by the Iraqigovernment, as well as foreign governments engaged in Iraq, as they engage Iraq’s tribes in thefuture.Definition of a set of concepts –
– lends clarity to each of Iraq’s component parts, as well as to the whole. A review of Iraq’s history informed by theseconcepts exposes the dynamic relationships among groups in the production of Iraqi identities.The ideologies, structures, and internal power-balance of the Iraqi tribes and the Iraqi state maychange with each era, but the “ideal constructs” of
remain consistent. Fergusonand Mansbach explain,Today, as in the past, a rich variety of polity types interact across global andregional issues. There is, moreover, great variety within each type – family,tribe, city, and so on. Each is merely an ideal construct, or model, whichmanifests itself in a range of forms in real-world polities during a particular time and also over time.
Indeed, Iraq’s history bears out the consistent relevance of its central social groups and power relationships across distinct periods. These central concepts are closely intertwined: Whereas thestate, tribe and nation are each polities, the state and tribe are also potentially, but notnecessarily, nations. The faultlines that define Iraq’s political world develop where the Iraqistate and indigenous groups contend to either define or to deny the Iraqi nation.
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