When the state is missing in action

Adnan Hussein

Published: Updated:

Tribes in Iraq have violated the irrigation law, violated each other’s lands, provided a safe haven for wanted men, attacked hospitals where some of their members died during surgery, fought over oil that’s being smuggled outside the country and passing through its areas or over drugs that are being smuggled into the country and protested against judicial verdicts issued against any of its members.

What these tribes are doing is certainly unacceptable as it’s illegal. Nothing justifies this behavior. However, can they be blamed for their acts? Not at all, as when the sun sets, darkness prevails and when the state is absent, people simply resort to illegal acts.

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The Iraqi state is responsible for what tribes are doing. It has simply failed because it is willingly absent and because officials are not interested in founding a strong administration that’s based on justice, equality and national responsibility and that better manages the government and the society.

Their interests are pretty much limited to seizing sources of power, influence and money in any way possible. They act as if their presence within the state is transient and temporary.

Bribing tribal leaders is another means of political and social corruption that has become common these days

Adnan Hussein

Dealing with tribes

Moreover, country’s bloc and party leaders have resorted to flattery when dealing with tribes to gain their votes. Tribal sheikhs, whether real or fake ones (but still ignorant), became worth more than 1,000 people with skills and competencies.

Leaders would dispatch their representatives to gain tribes’ support. Sometimes they would do so publicly before cameras. What a shameful scene! Bribing tribal leaders is another means of political and social corruption that has become common these days.

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Few days ago, a protest was held in the city of Samawah. According to media reports, Bani Huchaim tribes organized it to protest the verdict against anti-corruption activist Bassem Khashan who belongs to it.

The verdict is harsh considering he was sentenced to prison over a freedom of speech case and compared with other verdicts against top officials who were found guilty of administrative and financial corruption and who eventually escaped punishment as they benefited from the bad general amnesty law.

Therefore, the protest must be viewed as a demonstration against double standards which would not have existed if there had been a strong and just state and if the judiciary had been void of defects and flaws.

This article is also available in Arabic.

Adnan Hussein is the executive editor-in-chief of Al-Mada newspaper and head of the National Union of Iraqi journalists. Previously, he has held the position of Managing Editor in Asharq al-Awsat newspaper. He tweets under the handle @adnanhussein.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.