One of the standard responses to any question during our Foreign Affairs Counter-insurgency Training in Washington DC prior to coming to Iraq, was -- "It's complicated." I've been in Iraq since February 2008 and the complexity of the society, the issues that trigger conflict, and how we work with the Iraqis to help them find their own way is still a huge issue. I'm sure the situation is the same Afghanistan, and in any tribal society. The graphic below is something I put together from a couple of maps of tribes and paramount sheiks nationally and in one region of Iraq.
This site is also dedicated to Stan Sargent. Stan and I grew up in Grenada, Mississippi, and both of us left for college at about the same time. Stan served in Vietnam while I joined the Peace Corps. Stan won the Silver Star for heroism. Read Stan's story (1 MB download pdf).