The strained bipartite relationship between the state and the tribes has formed since the mid-19th century, an important part of Iraq’s modern socio-political history. In this study, the author hypothesizes that these relations have continued through the dual process of conflict and cooperation and the tension between modernization and tradition. The state failed to make progress in the integration of groups with subcultures and to create a unified political culture. Modernizing institutions such as education and the army, as well as the tyranny of the sheikhs and the poverty of the countryside, helped to bring about the partial disintegration of the tribal structure. This did not, however, entirely do away with the pattern of tribal thinking, rather tribal culture permeated the cultural fabric in numerous guises and managed to embellish its slogans through the party and the sect.