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North Africa Aflame – Indigenous Nations at the Center

Published: March 28, 2011, Author: Rÿser Rudolph C.

From Tunisia to Egypt to Yemen, and Libya the untold story fundamental to the unrest is about the hundreds of indigenous nations, communities and groups that have suffered long suppression by dictators.  Libya is a clear example of a state where a leader of one small indigenous nations–the Gaddafi Tribe centered in the city of Sirte–has taken control of a state after a long battle for decolonization resulting in authoritarian rule over other indigenous nations and metropolitan populations.  Members of the Gaddafi Tribe have been the primary beneficiaries of state power, wealth and influence with Muammar Gaddafi as Libya’s ruler. Despite the Gaddafi Tribe’s historical insignificance and it’s non-existent role in the fight against colonialism, this small tribe has had a controlling influence because of Colonel Gaddafi. The Gaddafi tribe has remained steadfast in support of Muammar Gaddafi even as they have been called on to join the opposition in the current conflict. The Gaddafi Tribe is centered between the cities of Tripoli and Benghazi.

The Misurata tribe wields powerful influence in the cities of Benghazi and Darneh in the east of Libya while the Kargala, Tawajeer and Ramla tribes exercise considerable clout in the Cyrenaica region.  Like many tribes or nations in the world families have a great influence linking families and nations together in alliances and cultural bonds. The el-Mahjoub family, Zamoura, and families of the Dababisa, Zawaiya and al-Sawalih include members who want to practice traditional ways while others seek to live an urban and often more secular way of life.

The so-called “civil-war” into which Britain, France, Italy and other European states have inserted themselves along with the United States and NATO involves mortal contests for power, influence and defense between the many indigenous nations and tribes.  With more than 140 indigenous nations where one (Gaddafi Tribe) demands control over the state with limited power shared through appointments with a few other tribes one is not seeing a “civil-war” but a “Fourth World War.” over control of a state. NATO is now part of the inter-national conflict favoring the Misurata tribe.

When the question is asked by US, European, and Arabic leaders, “Who is being defended and who is the enemy?” one must look into the history, ground level realities of Northern Africa and particularly Libya.  Clearly in Libya the Benghazi revolt has at its core the various indigenous nations. Only 15 percent of the Libyan population has no tribal affiliation. They are mainly Berber, Turks, Greeks and descendents of Romans. Indigenous nations must be considered the central part of the solution to conflict in Libya and other states and state diplomacy must now employ “nation diplomacy.”

Fourth World Geopolitics is at work in Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Afghanistan, Syria, Jordan, Israel and the West Bank and Bahrain. With fear of al Quaida in their hearts leaders of states’ governments have plunged militarily into situations that require nuanced “nation diplomacy”–meaning a clear understanding of the family relationships in various indigenous nations and tribes as well as relationships between nations and tribes and the state and the history of these nations.  Lacking this knowledge, states’ governments blunder and awkwardly step into historically complex situations from which they are unable to extricate themselves.  As we have noted in this column many times before, governments like the United States, Britain and France must retool their diplomatic skills to deal with a multi-lateral world not only of states’ governments where there are many new power centers (read: China, India, Brazil, Singapore, South Korea), but the multi-lateral political world is populated by many hundreds of indigenous nations whose decisions, actions and interests now play larger roles in events often determining the security or existence of a growing number of modern states. Such is the environment defining the events of North Africa and in particular Libya.

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