ARST-573 Comparative Arab Civil-Military Relations
Fall for 2017-2018
Classical Western literature on civil-military relations (CMR) tends to focus on the harmonious interaction between the military and the state. As members of the “profession of the arms,” the military are distinguished by their expertise, responsibility, and corporateness. While this relation has been punctuated by many tensions regarding the balanced democratic civilian control over the armed forces and the implications of civilian influence on battlefield performance, it has mainly revolved around the constitutional prerogatives, acceptance of civilian control, values, status, resources, mission, military effectiveness and organizational structure. However, this general framework lacks relevance to assess the complexity of CMR in the Arab Middle East (AME) where the military engaged in a wave of regime change through coups, although it played a critical role in the state formation process from the early 1950s to the 1970s. In fact, the armed forces as a coercive tool possess the ability to intervene as an arbitrator, kingmaker or ruler in the political sphere and shape the country’s socio-political system. This capability combined with the implementation of liberalization policies in the early 1980s among other factors led somehow to close relationship between ruler and army where the latter enjoyed privileges in exchange for their acquiescence. However, the apparent political disengagement that prevailed until the eve of the popular uprisings cannot be only explained by the clientelist-patronage relationship between the Arab rulers and the military establishments since the level of institutionalization of the military into autocratic bureaucratic systems is critical to understand Arab CMR. This institutionalization implies military involvement through formal and informal channels with civilian elite in regime stability-building and power control. It suggests their interconnection, which is often contentious with other security apparatus such as police and intelligence services, presidential Praetorian Guard, all considered power competitors. This institutionalization within an authoritarian context entails the military serving as a system social welfare provider to their constituencies and a guarantor of their economic interests at the institutional and individual levels.
Beyond the before-mentioned broad variables governing Arab CMR, this class seeks to provide an overview of Arab CMR and their implications in regional political dynamic and national identities. It will discuss key CMR scholarship theoretical concepts and applies them to different cases, from the most prominent ones (Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Mauritania, Sudan, Yemen) to the less politically influential, though critical to the regime survival (Tunisia, Morocco, Lebanon, GCC states). Comparative CMR analyses with African, Latin American and Asian countries will be used to enhance our understanding of the specific nature of CMR within the Arab context. The course will highlight the reactions and behavior of Arab militaries to the challenges of 2010-11 mass-popular uprisings. It will investigate their role in the post-authoritarian era. It will discuss whether or not they will be prone to endure reform through democratic security governance, which implies substantial transformation of CMR as well as the security sector (including domestic security apparatuses), mainly through oversight mechanisms and legitimate democratic control, among others.