by Yezid Sayigh, Carnegie Middle East Center
This memo was prepared for ‘The Arab Thermidor: The Resurgence of the Security State’ workshop held at LSE on 10 October 2014 in collaboration with POMEPS.
The civil-military relationship has proven central to the politics of many Arab countries, both those that underwent transition in 2011 and those that did not. The attempt to renegotiate constitutional frameworks and set up new political arrangements under conditions of profound uncertainty notably intensified existing patterns in their civil-military relations, to the point of transforming them. Those transformations also come in response to the longer-building crisis of the state, structural trends of social transformation and changes in global military affairs and security agendas pre-dating the Arab Spring.
The breakdown of authoritarian control and transition in systems of governance weakened political and legal constraints on the military in the Arab Spring countries. In Egypt and Tunisia, characterized by relatively strong state institutions and highly formal militaries, this enabled the latter to play a major political role. In Libya and Yemen, with their weak states and mutual penetration by strong societal forces, in contrast, the uprisings deepened tribal and regional cleavages within the military, accentuating its paralysis and disintegration. The outcome, in every case, has gone beyond changes in degree, to usher in a qualitatively new phase in civil-military relations.
Other available memos in the series
‘The Authoritarian Impulse vs. the Democratic Imperative: Political Learning as a Precondition for Sustainable Development in the Maghreb’, John P. Entelis, Fordham University
‘Elite Fragmentation and Securitization in Bahrain’, by Toby Matthiesen, University of Cambridge
‘Arab Transitions and the Old Elite’, by Ellis Goldberg, University of Washington
‘Explaining Democratic Divergence: Why Tunisia has Succeeded and Egypt has Failed’, Eva Bellin, Brandeis University
‘Is Libya a Proxy War?’, Frederic Wehrey, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
‘Fiscal Politics of Enduring Authoritarianism’, Pete W. Moore, Case Western Reserve University
‘The Role of Militaries in the Arab Thermidor’, Robert Springborg, Sciences Po
‘Mass Politics and the Future of Authoritarian Governance in the Arab World’, Steven Heydemann, United States Institute of Peace
‘Security Dilemmas and the ‘Security State’ Question in Jordan’, Curtis R. Ryan, Appalachian State University
‘Authoritarian Populism and the Rise of the Security State in Iran’, Ali Ansari, University of St Andrews
‘A Historical Sociology Approach to Authoritarian Resilience in Post-Arab Uprising MENA’, Raymond Hinnebusch, University of St Andrews
‘The Arab Thermidor’, Marc Lynch, George Washington University