Tribes in MENA politics

The Levant case

Authored by: Dawn Chatty

The Routledge Handbook to the Middle East and North African State and States System

Print publication date:  November  2019
Online publication date:  November  2019

Print ISBN: 9780367358877
eBook ISBN: 9780429342486
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9780429342486-9

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Abstract

Although references to tribes, especially Bedouin tribes, have been largely missing from contemporary Arab political discourses, there is convincing evidence that these social groups of the Levant, or “Greater Syria” (modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Israel/Palestine) have never actually disappeared with the rise of the modern states in the middle of the twentieth century. They were simply not officially acknowledged by the new states. In Syria, the Bedouin tribes were delegitimized in 1958; in Lebanon, the vast majority did not exist in state records; while in Jordan, they were a remote minority closely attached to and privileged by the monarchy. In recent years, however, Bedouin tribal self-identification has grown exponentially in Syria and Lebanon while in Jordan their status and association with the Hashemite monarchy weathered the transfer of leadership from King Hussain to his son Abdallah. With the events which engulfed the region starting in 2011, the Bedouin tribes of the Levant have moved from the margins to significant players in the politics of the Arab Uprising.

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