This was their basic government: The elders of the community acting as leaders and decision makers, the young providing the brute force of police and military action, and the senior elder acting as judge.
The system had many great benefits. There was no divide between police and the people because everyone either was or lived with a police officer. Since every household had a police officer, if a stranger came to town, someone always noticed and notified the patrol. Although surrounded by violence on all sides, in my seven months in Iraq that is the only town where I could walk the streets without body armor and enjoy relaxing dinners without fear of being attacked.
There was a strongman directly to the north of the village who dominated his area as a tyrant extorting money from businesses and households. He never once made a move against this village. If he had attempted to extort money from one house or shop, every able-bodied man would have emerged armed with an AK-47 ready to fight.
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