February 22, 2011 / 9:36 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 1-FACTBOX-Tribal ties key to Gaddafi rule

  (Adds Warfalla tribe rejects Gaddafi)
 Feb 22 (Reuters) - Muammar Gaddafi, facing an unprecedented
popular revolt, has stayed in power for four decades in part
because of his adept manipulation of tribes, centres of power in
what remains a conservative, sparsely-populated desert country.
 Historians say the veteran ruler has used economic
privileges, marital alliances and the threat of force to build
ties to tribes commanding varying degrees of loyalty among most
of the six million population.
 Gaddafi's own tribe, the Al-Gaddadfa, one of more than 20
tribes in the country, is based around the Mediterranean coastal
city of Syrte in the northern middle of the country's territory.
 Despite its small size, its location - in the heart of the
Syrte basin rich in oil - gave the tribe pre-eminence and led to
claims by its descendents that they trace their lineage directly
from Prophet Mohammad, some historians say.
 The tribal view of politics in Libya is heavily marked by
the violence of the country's modern history, especially during
Italian colonisation from 1912-43, which made many elders
generally wary of the concept of a central authority.
 Gaddafi managed to pacify the tribes, or at least obtain
their cooperation, mainly through crushing violence or the fear
of it, exemption from the payment of taxes for the majority of
those tribes that rely on pastoral activities, and alliances
through marriages or economic privileges.
 Gaddafi focused his effort to build alliances with tribes in
the Tripolitania region, which in the Ghadamis basin holds some
of the country's most significant oil deposits.
 Al-Zuwayya tribe, whose leader threatened on Sunday to cut
oil exports if the violence is not stopped, is located in both
the Cyrenaica and Al-Kufra regions whose joint oil production
accounts for little compared to the rest of the country.
 On Feb. 20, Akram Al-Warfalli, a leading figure in the 
Warfalla tribe, one of Libya's biggest, told Al Jazeera: "We
tell the brother (Gaddafi), well he's no longer a brother, we
tell him to leave the country." 
 A source in the Warfalla sent a message to the same effect
in a statement to Reuters on Feb. 21.
 Following are the main tribes in Libya.
 TRIPOLITANIA REGION: Warfalla, Awlad Busayf, Al-Zintan,
 CYRENAICA: Al-Awagir, Al-Abaydat, Drasa, Al-Barasa,
Al-Fawakhir, Al-Zuwayya, Al-Majabra
 SYRTE-GIBLAH: Al-Gaddadfa, Al-Magarha, Al-Magharba,
Al-Riyyah, Al-Haraba, Al-Zuwaid, Al-Guwaid
 FEZZAN: Al-Hutman, Al-Hassawna, Tibbu, Tuareg
 AL-KUFRA: Al-Zuwayya, Tibbu
  (Writing by Souhail Karam; Editing by Jon Hemming)

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