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The army and politics relations theories

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Taibi Ghomari
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The soldier, the state and the Arab uprisings The army and politics relations theories attempted with Huntington, Finer, Janowitz, Clapham and Philip to explain and understand the civil military relations, they regrouped these relations in types, which are taken nowadays as conceptual and analytical tools in this field in order to define the specific logic of these relations, so that we can anticipate its consequences as well as any disruption in it. The critical studies of these theories show it is limited in understanding the Arab realty, and the relations between Arab armies and politics. Even if we can apply these typologies to the Arab situation in time of peace, it is very difficult to do it during crises, as the ones which confronted Arab regimes and societies during the Arab spring. As we have noticed, during these revolutions, the Arab armies reacted differently to the uprisings, leading to a failure in expecting all the reactions. I think that the main limit of these theories is due to their attempts to analyze the Arab armies as if they correspond to the standards of the occidental armies. A good observation of the Arab reality reveals that the Armies have been influenced and obey to the history and nature of the political systems adopted in the Arab world as well as the socio-anthropological evolution of the whole society in the Arab world, each one of these armies is unique with its own specificities, leading to specific reaction(s) to the uprisings. So what are the circumstances that contributed to the formation of the Arab armies? And what is the analytical tool which can explain the Arab army’s reactions to the upheavals? In this paper, I will present and criticize these theories, and then I will present my own analytical tool trying to explain the civil-military relations, and how each one of these armies reacted to the Arab spring separately. Using this method, I argue that we have no specific types, but different cases only, which cannot be understood unless if we analyze: 1- the history and the place of the army within the state building process; 2- the relation of the ruling regime with the ethnic and religious component of the society; 3- The two previous points will highlight the regime coup-proofing; 4- The sum of these understandings can in the final step explain the reaction of each one the five cases (armies) studied in this paper. The first case is Libya: Kadafi came to power after a military coup, in a country highly tribal in its structure; his strategy consisted in the marginalization of the regular army and the creation of several parallel militias, leading, after the uprising, to the destruction of his state. The second case is Egypt. Once again this regime came to power after a coup. The army remains strong, thus confiscating the state due to the fact that the army engineered all what happened after the uprising, in order to remove Moubarek, and be able to maintain his political and economic benefits. Syria is the third case. Within this multi-religious and multi- ethnic state, the regime in power chooses to integrate the army in the regime, so that the destiny of the army will always be bound to the surviving of the regime. The fourth case is Yemen, where Ali Abdullah Sallah chooses to limit the power (weaken) of his army, in order to rule a very complex society, leading to a bad response of the army to uprising. The last and not the least case is Tunisia. In this country the army had never participated in politics, it has always been independent, free and neutral in its characteristics; consequently, its reaction was professional, constituting a very good example of a peaceful transition.