Last week, fighters from the Sheitaat tribe took on ISIS in the oil-rich Syrian province of Deir Ezzor. In a Syria Deeply article published 1 August entitled 'As ISIS Advances in Eastern Syria, Local Tribes Stand in Its Way', Dawn Chatty discussed the complicated, shifting alliances between Syria's tribes and the various factions involved in the war.
As Professor Chatty explained, the first priority for the tribes is to protect and support their communities, whether against government forces or extremist groups such as ISIS. When peace negotiations finally come, she believes the tribes will play a vital role in keeping the country together:
What this fighting has done is make people realize that they represent 10 to 15 percent of the population, they're very well educated, and that they have been, in a way, the glue holding everything together rather than allowing it to splinter. If we have a concerted effort towards transitional justice and reconciliation, they will play a large part in that.
Syria's Bedouin Enter the Fray
Syrian tribes, national politics and the uprising
Refugees from Syria: Transitional Justice and Reconciliation