What social and political frameworks does the term ‘tribe’ conjure in contemporary societies undergoing conflict at the local, regional, and at times international level? The Arab Spring led almost all participating states into civil war, which in turn has led to the appearance of new political tendencies including the astonishing ascendancy of extreme jihadi movements on the model of ISIL. Given the weakness, or even collapse of the state in the Arab Spring countries, the margin for action by international powers has shrunk. This has resulted in the growing resort to and reliance on tribal support. Within this political setting, it seems prescient to ask: What is the state of tribal reality? The analysis here deals with tribalism in Iraq, a country that embodies the problematic of political schism and state weakness, extreme jihadist movements, sectarian warfare, and regional and international intervention.