Document Type

International Studies and Languages


This paper explores the historic role of tribalism in colonial Iraq and Libya as well as its prevalence and role in the countries today and its effects on democratic state-formation. It discusses the ideology and actions of the Ba’athist Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq and the Jamahiriya under Muahmmar Gaddafi including the regimes' attempts to exploit tribal loyalties to bolster their power. The paper also explores the role of the tribe in the governments of Libya and Iraq after Hussein and Gaddafi were removed from power. It explores problems tribalism poses to democratization in modern-day Libya and Iraq. These threats to democratization include continued corruption and clientelism, a lack of economic stability and administrative capacity, the existence of militias, the inconsistent administration of justice, and continued violence between militias and tribal groups. An understanding of the influence of tribalism on these factors and an analysis of how the US can collaborate with tribes and ensure their representation in new democracies will help to create US policy that decreases continued violence and encourages the formation of stable democratic states.