War in Libya and Its Futures – Tribal Dynamics and Civil War (2)

Throughout their history (see “Tribal Dynamics and Civil War (1)“), Libya’s tribes have not been based exclusively on systematic tribalism, but rather on a flexible tribal ideology that is grounded in identity and shifts according to circumstances and practical opportunities. This shifting tribal ideology makes the non-Arab tribes different from the majority of the actors in Northern Libya, who are more or less bound by religious or political ideology – and thus ally with similar groups. Furthermore, tribalism naturally produces “nepotism and favoritism” amongst tribal groups and families (Varvelli, ISPI, May 2013), but Libya’s minority tribes have also shown that they can unite to protest shared grievances, as we shall see below. The Amazigh (Berber), Toubou, and Tuareg tribes have been […]

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War in Libya and Its Futures – Tribal Dynamics and Civil War (1)

Tribalism in Libya’s civil war is a powerful dynamic that must be analyzed and understood before endeavoring foresight. Libya comprises 140 tribes, of which an estimated 30 to 40 have political influence, making it “one of the most tribal nations in the Arab world” (Kurczy and Hinshaw, The Christian Science Monitor, February 24, 2011; Varvelli, ISPI, May 2013). As a result, if a few or many of them side with one or the other warring groups, then this will impact the war. Tribal identity and its product of favoritism are dynamics that can have a profound effect on political allegiances (see section on Creating Grievances). Because tribes are inclusive and often have extended familial ties, they are naturally predisposed to favoritism […]

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