Political Role of Tribes : Analysis of Tribalism, Islamism and Gender in Iraq, Jordan and Yemen

The institution of the tribe continues to represent a major component of social structure throughout the Middle East, particularly in Iraq, Jordan and Yemen. Tribal relations are deeply intertwined with political relations. In a country like Yemen, for example, the tribe constitutes a formidable challenge to - and at times even appears stronger than - the state. When countries such as Jordan and Yemen adopted political pluralism, the political parties that were brought into existence reflected tribal influence, some of them becoming mere extensions of tribal institutions. In Iraq, occupation by the Coalition forces provided fertile ground for the growth of tribalism, ethnicity and sectarianism. Animosities between the three main groups (Shi'a, Sunni and Kurdish) unleashed by the ousting of Saddam Hussein's regime aggravated contests for control of the country and its political organization.

This project will endeavor to understand how clans and tribes act as political units and how their participation in the political system promotes or impedes good governance and the sense of active citizenship. They will also look at the relationship between tribes and Islamism, and the impact of tribes on the participation of women in policy processes.

The study is expected to result in practical recommendations for integrating tribes into a modern political system.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Sunday, July 1, 2007

End Date

Friday, January 15, 2010


24 months

IDRC Officer

El-Rifai, Roula

Total funding

CA$ 692,900


Iraq, Middle East, Jordan, Yemen, Central Asia, Far East Asia, South Asia


Foundations for Innovation

Project Leader

Hosham Dawod


Gulf Research Center Foundation

Institution Country


Institution Website


Project Leader

Dr. Adel Mujahid Al-Shargabi


Yemeni Observatory for Human Rights

Institution Country


Institution Website


Project Leader

Mr. Mohammed al-Masri


University of Jordan

Institution Country


Institution Website