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Civil-Military Relations in the Arab-Majority World: The Impacts on Democratization and Political Violence

How did unbalanced civil-military relations affect democratization and political violence trends in the Middle East and North Africa? This article analyses why the “Arab Spring” failed to develop democratic control of armed state institutions. It outlines the strategic repercussions of such failure on the rising trends of political violence in the region, committed by both state and non-state actors. The article draws lessons from empirical, comparative and historical experiences and concludes with policy implications.

Civil-Military Relations in the Arab-Majority World The Impacts on Democratization
 

Armed Politics in the Arab-Majority World

“We haven’t seen the end of this yet…there is a coming parliament, it may ask questions, and I wonder what will we do about that … we have to prepare to confront this without negatively affecting us,” said General Abdul Fatah al-Sisi to a group of military officers during a meeting.1 The statement summarized the weariness of Arab militaries from elected institutional oversight. It reflects an environment in which the supremacy of armed institutions over other state institutions has been a legacy in the last six decades in most of the Arab-majority world. This legacy was briefly challenged during the 2011 uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Syria. But in most of the aforementioned countries, armed state institutions and armed non-state actors have reasserted their supremacy in an unprecedentedly violent fashion.

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