# Most Arab countries are a patchwork of different tribes and groups, and Arab leaders survive by playing one group off against another. Loyalty is to one's group, not the nation. Most countries are dominated by a single group that is usually a minority (Bedouins in Jordan, Alawites in Syria, Sunnis in Iraq, Nejdis in Saudi Arabia). All of which means that officers are assigned not by merit but by loyalty and tribal affiliation. This continues in democratic Iraq, where political parties or powerful politicians strive to control individual police or army units.A total of 14 examples of such difficulties are recounted. They are well worth reading.
# Islamic schools favor rote memorization, especially of scripture. Most Islamic scholars are hostile to the concept of interpreting the Koran (considered the word of God as given to His prophet Mohammed). This has resulted in looking down on Western troops that will look something up that they don't know. Arabs prefer to fake it, and pretend it's all in their head. Improvisation and innovation is generally discouraged. Arab armies go by the book, Western armies rewrite the book and thus usually win. Despite years of American advice on this matter, many Iraqi police and military personnel stick with the old, less effective, traditions.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Leadership in Iraq
Many people find the Middle East and its people difficult to understand (For an excellent introduction to the region listen to Scott Powell's The Islamist Entanglement). In particular one gets the sense that our former President George W. Bush was under the impression that there are no significant cultural differences between Iraqi Arabs and Americans (what our current President Barack H. Obama thinks is really too depressing to dwell on). Strategypage.com reviews the reality encountered by American soldiers in the field. Their experiences do not inspire much hope. Here are two examples: