Two years ago I spent a day with an Afghani woman. During our time together, I asked about her perspective on the Taliban. Her tone was derisive as she said that they're all Pashtun. Her tribe is Uzbek. The whole conflict was a tribal war. The Pashtun have always been more conservative and less educated (in her opinion...) The Pashtun tribe extends from eastern Afghanistan into Pakistan (there's a reason the border is 'porous'. Tribe trumps a line drawn by some Brits).
I've thought alot about that ever since. Why does the news here rarely mention the tribal element? Instead we hear about Pakistan not having control of it's borders.
A couple weeks ago, I heard something in passing about the fact that Quaddafi is part of the Qudhadhfa tribe. Close to a third of the country (maybe less?) is from that tribe. So the reason there are so many 'Quaddafi loyalists' is tribal. He's taken good care of his tribe, so why would they turn on him. The defectors to the rebels are people who were in his government but who aren't part of the same tribe.
I don't have a huge conclusion, but I'm intrigued and saddened by the tribal lens on world events. It somehow makes the conflicts seem more difficult to fully resolve. The solution seems to be what happened in Sudan recently, let countries reshape around tribal lines rather than continue to carry the burden of colonial borders (that were DESIGNED to thwart tribes).