Mar 05, 2014
The Popular Committees of Abyan, Yemen: A Necessary Evil or an Opportunity for Security Reform?
In early 2011, Yemeni youths took to the street to demand the downfall of the regime and much-needed democratic reforms. This eventually led to the removal of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh from power later the same year. The political turmoil associated with the uprising has resulted in an alarming deterioration of the security situation throughout the country, most notably the seizure of two major cities in the southern governorate of Abyan by Ansar al-Shariah (AAS), an offshoot of al-Qa`ida. Backed by the Yemeni government, the Popular Committees (PCs), local armed resistance groups, pushed AAS out of major cities in Abyan.
Mar 12, 2014
Libya on the Brink: Insecurity, Localism, and the State Not Back In
The Libyan uprising launched almost three years ago has yet to produce the promised transition to a new post-Qaddafi political order. The moment of unity generated by toppling the tyrant has fragmented due to the fact that, unlike Tunisia or Egypt, no state apparatus existed to take over from the victorious rebels. Transitional authorities under the National Transitional Council (NTC, March 2011-August 2012) were too weak to govern and acquire legitimacy. Their successor 200-member constituent assembly, the General National Congress (GNC) elected in July 2012, has not fared much better due to dysfunctional politics, factional disputes, pervasive distrust, a legacy of institutional destruction, and sporadic resistance by former members and supporters of the toppled regime, as well as historical, regional, and tribal cleavages.
Mar 13, 2014
South Korea’s Immature Professionalism in the Security Sector
It is widely accepted that South Korea has successfully consolidated democracy. For example, U.S. President Barack Obama cited South Korea as an exemplary case of economic growth and democracy in his famous speech at Cairo University on June 4, 2009. Two years later, when Egypt underwent a civil uprising that brought to an end the country’s decades-old Mubarak regime, he lauded South Korea’s democracy once again, suggesting that “Egypt could transform itself into a democracy on the model of Indonesia, Chile, or South Korea.” By 2013, however, alleged election fraud in South Korea had damaged the international reputation of its mature democracy. The Democratic Party—the country’s main opposition—publicly called the 2012 presidential election unfair because the National Intelligence Service (NIS) had manipulated public opinion prior to the election, leaving disparaging comments about opposition candidate Moon Jae-in on popular websites.
Mar 18, 2014
Obstacles to Civilian Control of the Security Sector in Thailand
Over 30 military coups and coup attempts have taken place in Thailand since 1932, when absolute monarchy was overthrown, the latest of which was in 2006. Clearly, achieving democratic civilian control over Thai security forces remains a daunting challenge. When we talk about Thai security forces, we are referring to the country’s army, navy, air force, police, and paramilitaries. The army is much larger than the other services, although the police force is also quite sizeable. Soldiers and police have tended to obey elected civilian authorities due to partisan connections or simply because the appearance of compliance is convenient. But in actuality the security forces are generally insulated from the sanction of elected governments.
Mar 28, 2014
Democratization and Building a Democratic Army: Lessons from South Korea
Democratization in a country is not just about electing new leaders through free, fair, and competitive elections; it entails a much more comprehensive political overhaul, including deposing ruling elites from the previous autocratic regime, building workable democratic institutions with a new constitution, reaping support from pro-democracy civil society groups, and managing national security and order. Possibly the most significant factor in the success or failure of a state’s democratic transition and subsequent consolidation is establishing a firm and democratic control over the armed forces. Without depoliticizing the once-politically dominant military and making top military officials politically neutral and subordinated under democratically elected leaders, the post-democratization political process of a nation is destined to be highly unstable and most likely will derail from the route to democratic consolidation.
Apr 03, 2014
Challenges to State Building after the Fall of Qaddafi
The fall of the Qaddafi regime and the loss of the state monopoly on violence gave way to a duopoly of power in Libya whereby rudimentary “national” forces—under the control of the National Transitional Council (NTC) from March 2011 to August 2012—were established in competition with the non-state “Revolutionary Brigades,” which had borne the brunt of the military struggle against Qaddafi’s forces. Since then, the Revolutionary Brigades have sought to assert themselves in the political arena.
Apr 08, 2014
Maliki and the Security Sector in Iraq
Burak Bilgehan Özpek
It would be unfair to argue that democracy fails to provide stability in divided societies or that democracy cannot work in Iraq. Instead, the term “democracy” should be redefined to take free market principles into consideration. As the Iraq case shows, any political group, party, or figure can manipulate the democratic system if the state apparatus controls the distribution of economic resources. If, as in the case of Iraq, a political arrangement, constitution, or power-sharing formula results in a specific group gaining control of the distribution of economic resources, this imbalance will be reflected in the composition of the security forces as well as in their mission and activities, and it will likely result in the emergence of (armed) actors in opposition to them.
Apr 16, 2014
Civilianization of Politics in Turkey
Nil S. Satana
From the standpoint of Turkish civil-military experts, the concern has never been whether Turkey should civilianize but rather what civilianization would lead to when it was finally achieved. Following the 2013 Gezi protests and the government’s harsh response to the protestors, Turkey’s success in the civilianization of its politics is quickly snowballing into uncertainty.
May 14, 2014
Closing the Channels of the Military's Economic Influence in Turkey
Steven A. Cook
After a decade of working to subordinate Turkey’s military establishment so that it cannot influence the trajectory of Turkish politics, closing the channels of the military’s economic influence has been part of this process. Despite early expectations, the AKP has not forged a more democratic and liberal Turkey, but there is no denying the critical importance of its successful effort to institutionalize civilian control of the armed forces.
May 09, 2014
Security Sector Reform in the Philippines
Allan A. delos Reyes, Maria Anna Rowena Luz G. Layador
The Philippines is often described as having one of the most vibrant civil societies in Asia. In the last three decades, the country has been home to two mass mobilizations that led to regime change. These mobilizations and other robust civil society initiatives have been attributed to “both political and social [movements] that were nurtured by politicized sectors of society for almost half a century.”
May 12, 2014
The Egyptian Military’s Economic Channels of Influence
Egypt’s new constitution grants the country’s generals greater autonomy and an increased formal political role. The draft authorizes military trials for civilians (Article 204) and ensures that the military’s budget be beyond civilian scrutiny. The most significant change is that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) will have the final say in choosing or dismissing the defense minister for two presidential terms (Article 234).
May 14, 2014
Civilianizing the State: Reflections on the Egyptian Conundrum
The military, though it has been the most powerful and influential actor during Egypt’s transition since 2011, is not the great deus ex machina of the Egyptian system. Rather, it is an actor that, since the fall of Mubarak, has managed to maintain some organizational coherence and legitimacy and has served as the convener for various and changing forces that are the crux of a new ruling coalition. Consequently, civilianizing the Egyptian state will require that security sector reforms be embedded in a broader set of political reforms.
Jul 29, 2015
The Military Muzzling of Thailand and the Quandary of Demilitarization
Over a year has passed since the latest military coup in Thailand. On May 22, 2014, then-Army Commander Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha led a putsch against civilian Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. The coup followed six months of demonstrations against Yingluck and her brother, fugitive ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The protests, centered in Bangkok, were reportedly protected by military elements.
Nov 19, 2015
Egypt’s Military Business: The Need for Change
The Egyptian state today faces one acute crisis after the other. To be fair, the Egyptian military cannot be held responsible for creating these crises. However, it is unlikely that Egypt will be able to resolve them unless and until the armed forces divests itself of the power and the privileges associated with the immense economic power and privileges it has accumulated.
Jan 21, 2016
The State and Security in Asia
While there are a surprisingly large number of regionally-based political initiatives of one sort or another, some with a specific mandate to address security issues, East Asia’s potential to act collectively is a function of the countries that compose it. The willingness of the members act in concert is constrained by some very specific, historically contingent factors that continue to cast a long shadow over contemporary events. Trying to make sense of why it has proved so difficult to resolve or even talk about some of the region’s most enduring security problems involves looking at the general trajectory of historical development that has made East Asia a region like no other.
Jan 28, 2016
Myanmar: The Transition from Social Control to Social Contract
This essay demonstrates that the new Myanmar leadership’s intent to enter into a social contract with its citizens requires an analysis of the mechanisms of social control, which is the evolution of the means of power rather than its nature. The essay examines how the model of totalitarian normality has functioned in practice in Myanmar for over five decades marked by ongoing ethnic conflicts, sectarian violence and ruthless repression of civil society. By closely observing the normalization process lying ahead, the essay explores the complexity of the change process to civilianize Myanmar.
Feb 23, 2016
Explaining the Military's Ruling Ambition in Egypt and Thailand
Hipolitus Yolisandry Ringgi Wangge
The military took advantage of political crisis to remove civilian governments in Egypt in 2013 and Thailand in 2014. This essay discusses three important features of the Egyptian and Thai political systems that have fostered the military's ruling ambition in both cases.
Jan 25, 2017
Big News! Conscription in the Gulf
The introduction of the draft in Gulf monarchies — after decades of sovereign statehood — presents an interesting puzzle. What are the reasons behind the newly implemented conscription? What broader implications does this phenomenon have for the Gulf? This essay addresses these questions.
Jun 06, 2017
Updating Algeria's Military Doctrine
Francis Ghilès and Akram Kharief
Algeria today possesses a number of assets that endow it with the potential to be a regional power and to serve as an anchor of stability. After Algerian security forces succeeded in crushing the decade-long Islamist insurgency and in the context of rising regional instability, American and European officials came to regard Algeria as being a potentially valuable security partner in the Maghreb and the Sahel. However, as this essay shows, Algeria’s military doctrine must be updated for this partnership to truly flourish — and for Algeria itself to thrive.
Jun 27, 2017
The Influence of North African Militaries in Foreign Policy-Making
This essay looks at five North African states, arguing that the armed forces — for a variety of often case-specific reasons — are actually not as politically powerful and thus influential in foreign policy-making as one might expect. It first discusses the political strength of the military establishments of five North African states — Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt — and then investigates the difference, if any, that the recent Arab upheavals have made in their involvement in foreign policy-making.
Nov 13, 2018
Community Policing in Lebanon
This article discusses the fundamental shortcomings of US and UK-promoted police reform in Lebanon. First, it presents two separate community policing projects implemented in Lebanon supported by the United States and Britain. Then, drawing on recent experiences with community policing in the United States, it argues how, why and to what extent these projects in Lebanon are not contributing to human security, but rather increasing the insecurity of local communities.
Jan 23, 2019
Security sector reform and the Internal Security Forces in Lebanon
This article examines the results of international-donor-backed police reform efforts in one district in Beirut and explores the broader challenges facing security sector reform in Lebanon. It argues that despite the myriad challenges to the fair and effective provision of policing, such as the troubled relationship between the state and the people and competition from non-state actors, early signs suggest that moves to adopt a community policing model have increased residents’ sense of safety and trust in the police.
Feb 19, 2019
Everyday Violence and Security in Tunisia
Rikke Hostrup Haugbølle, Ahlam Chemlali
Since the intensive campaign of civil resistance that culminated in the January 2011 ousting of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali after 24 years in power, Tunisia has undergone a political transition that has produced a new constitution, unharnessed civil society, and delivered much-needed political and economic reforms. Although the transition process has also included security sector reform (SSR), Tunisians remain insecure — subjected to a steady, unabated diet of everyday violence.
March 26, 2019
Restarting Police Reform in Tunisia: The Importance of Talking About Everyday Security
Police reform has lagged in Tunisia’s transition. Police violence, police impunity and a national sense of insecurity remain substantial concerns. The problems facing the Tunisian economy have drawn attention away from police reform, which had seen some positive change in 2011-2012. Since then, police unions have managed to stymie the reform process and have insulated the police from change. In addition, although the potency of the securitization argument (i.e., the police must be freed from civilian “interference” in order to fight terrorism) has waned, it remains a significant obstacle to reform. Challenging this argument and transforming the relationship between the police and the people requires expanding platforms for discussing day-to-day local security issues.
June 11, 2019
Security Sector Change: Georgian and Jordanian Transitions
This piece is an edited transcript of a conversation between Khatia Dekanoidze and Omar Al Rafie hosted by Alex Walsh on the margins of the Conference on the Future of Arab Policing in Amman, Jordan in March 2019. The participants discuss the transformation of the police during Georgia’s political transition, the lessons that could be drawn from this experience that might be applicable to Jordan, and the role of Community Policing as a tool to engage the community and bring about positive change.
July 16, 2019
The Abu Dhabi Policing Laboratory: Building Security, Forging Community
Over the past decade, police reform in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region has been mainly implemented through community policing programs, gender inclusion, and youth and expatriates outreach, with the overarching purpose of promoting a positive image of the police. This article discusses the case of Abu Dhabi, the re-branding of whose police forces aims to boost a carefully tailored nation-building process in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) while supporting the federal messages of tolerance and happiness.
Resources on Security Sector Reform (SSR)
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