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The Libyan Armed Forces between Coup-proofing and Repression

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Although seen by many as an unequivocal supporter of Gaddafi's power basis, the Libyan military's reaction to the 2011 uprising was far from unified: plagued by desertion as well as disintegration, the regime managed to rely only on the hard core of its armed forces. This was mostly a result of the regime's decade-long coup-proofing measures which rendered it in large parts militarily useless. Weakened at the micro level, the Libyan military was incapable of acting at the macro level in any meaningful way. Sitting at the analytical intersection between internal and external features of the armed forces, the Libyan case provides useful insights on the study of the armed forces.
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The Libyan Armed Forces
between Coup-proofing and
Repression
Florence Gaub a
a NATO Defence College, Rome, Italy
Version of record first published: 07 Feb 2013.
To cite this article: Florence Gaub (2013): The Libyan Armed Forces
between Coup-proofing and Repression, Journal of Strategic Studies,
DOI:10.1080/01402390.2012.742010
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The Libyan Armed Forces between
Coup-proofing and Repression
FLORENCE GAUB
NATO Defence College, Rome, Italy
ABSTRACT Although seen by many as an unequivocal supporter of Gaddafi’s
power basis, the Libyan military’s reaction to the 2011 uprising was far from
unified: plagued by desertion as well as disintegration, the regime managed to
rely only on the hard core of its armed forces. This was mostly a result of the
regime’s decade-long coup-proofing measures which rendered it in large parts
militarily useless. Weakened at the micro level, the Libyan military was incapable
of acting at the macro level in any meaningful way. Sitting at the analytical
intersection between internal and external features of the armed forces, the
Libyan case provides useful insights on the study of the armed forces.
KEY WORDS: Libya, Military, Conflict
The study of Arab armed forces had their heyday in history in the two
decades following World War II. As governments succumbed to coups
in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Egypt, the military came to be
considered by Western social scientists a vanguard of modernization
and a possible antidote to feudal societies. The academic focus at the
time zeroed in on the military’s potential capacity to unite pluralistic
societies, reform autocratic systems and generally trigger innovation.
1
It was argued that ‘the institutions of government (. . .), with which the
new states have begun their sovereign careers are being resisted by the
1
Lucian W. Pye, ‘Armies in the Process of Political Modernization’, in John J. Johnson
(ed.), The Role of the Military in Underdeveloped Countries(Princeton UP 1967);
Edward Shils, ‘The Military in the Political Development of the New States’, in
Johnson, ibid. ,13–18;. William Gutteridge, Military Institutions and Power in the New
States (London: Pall Mall Press 1964); Le´o Hamon, Le roˆ le extra-militaire de l’arme´e
dans le tiers monde: Entretiens de Dijon (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France 1966);
Morris Janowitz, Military Institutions and Coercion in the Developing Nations (Univ.
of Chicago Press 1977); Samuel P. Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies
(New Haven, CT: Yale UP 1968).
The Journal of Strategic Studies, 2013
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01402390.2012.742010
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old societies which they must govern’, because these old societies are
marked by rural backwardness, strong kinship ties, regional or ethnic
loyalties. They therefore resist being turned into modern citizens and
represent an obstacle to the formation of a nation.
2
It was not
surprising then that ‘[I]n these early stages of political modernization,
the military officers play a highly modernizing and progressive role.
They challenge the oligarchy, and they promote social and economic
reform, national integration (. . .), they assail waste, backwardness, and
corruption, and they introduce into the society highly middle-class
ideas of efficiency, honesty, and national loyalty.’
3
Huntington thus
endorsed the highly politicized military as the bearer of modernization,
explaining military coups as a normal step towards modernity. He
claimed that once the military accomplished its role as midwife, stable
institutions would be established and the armed forces would naturally
retreat into the barracks.
Such expectations of the military were hardly realized. By and large,
Arab armies in power turned out to be disappointing. Not only did
their modernizing impact proved to be limited, their experiences in
managing governments were insufficient and their suppression of
opponents brutal. Their strategic failure against Israel only added to the
general perception of ineffectiveness. Even though the military in power
civilianized itself eventually, shedding the uniform and taking on
civilian titles, the armed forces in Arab political systems were
subsequently considered an integral part of the regime structure and
therefore supportive of the central authoritarian power.
4
Study of Arab
military forces died down as a result of this rather static conception.
This assumption was challenged during the uprisings of 2011, when
Arab military forces performed differently from what analysts had
commonly expected. Not only did the Egyptian and the Tunisian
military side with the protesters, but the Syrian and the Libyan armed
forces suffered considerable attrition during the uprising they brutally
attempted to crush. In sum, none of the Arab militaries confronted with
the massive social dislocation behaved in the expected way, namely
unequivocally standing by the regime and suppressing the uprisings.
The Arab Spring hence raised anew the question of the role of
military forces in the Arab world and how to study it. Yet military
sociology has struggled with the appropriate framework for analysis; as
it tends to divide the study of armed forces into micro- and macro-level,
it fails to grasp in this particular case the whole dimension of Arab
armed forces. Hence a different framework is needed to study the
2
Shils, ‘The Military in the Political Development of the New States’, 13–18.
3
Huntington, Political Order, 203.
4
Kees Koonings and Dirk Kruijt, Political Armies (London: Zed Books 2002), 18.
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position of the military in politics and society during times of
considerable political tumult. Any discussion about the role of the
armed forces in a given society must take both internal and external
characteristics of the military into account as explanatory variables,
combining the societal with the institutional level.
The societal level analyzes the position the military has within a
wider social system, how it is connected to other societal bodies (such
as the government), what is its image and so forth. Crucial questions
related to this level are, for instance, whether the military represents, in
society, the regime in power or the state as such; how was its role in the
state conceived; and on what societal narrative the armed forces can, or
cannot rest. An armed forces which is seen, and sees itself, as an agent
of the state, for instance, will have very little difficulty dissociating itself
from any given government if necessary, for example, as in the case of
Egypt. A military institution representing a particular regime, however,
will connect its own survival to the regime and question and hence act
as such, as was the case of Libya.
At the institutional (and even less studied) level, key questions are of an
internal nature but pertaining to the armed forces’ external performance.
Questions of cohesion, leadership, professionalism and command
structure might strike some as technical yet will ultimately decide whether
a military force will be able to execute its mission as tasked. An
unprofessional and non-cohesive armed force will find it difficult to fight
any battle,but will also struggle with making the distinction between state
and regime at the macro-level. As an armed force relies on a clear vision of
its mission, a blurred perception of the latter will affect cohesion and as a
consequence, desertion and disintegration will take place. By the same
token, underdeveloped professionalism levels are more likely to result in
violence against civilians. Essentially, this approach combines the
institutional view of Huntington’s Soldier and the State and the systemic
perspective of Janowitz’s The Professional Soldier. As the former
emphasized internal characteristics in order to depoliticize armed forces,
the latter argued that the military, as part of a social system, will always be
politicized to some extent.
5
5
Morris Janowitz, The Professional Soldier: A Social and Political Portrait
(Glencoe, NY: The Free Press 1960) 435. Samuel P. Huntington, The Soldier and
the State: The Theory and Politics of Civil-Military Relations (Cambridge, MA: The
Belknap Press of Harvard UP 1957), 83–84, 96–97. See also: Jacques van Doorn,
‘The Officer Corps: A Fusion of Profession and Organization’, European Journal of
Sociology 6/2 (1965), 262–82. Gwyn Harries-Jenkins, ‘The Concept of Military
Professionalism’, Defence Analysis 6/2 (1990), 117–130. Giuseppe Caforio and
Marina Nuciari, ‘The Officer Profession: Ideal-type’, Current Sociology 42/3 (Winter
1994), 33–56.
The Libyan Armed Forces between Coup-proofing and Repression 3
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One of the few areas of study where these two levels of analysis meet
is the phenomenon of coup-proofing. While coup-proofing is a
technique to prevent military forces from staging a coup, it is a very
clear expression of the nexus existing between internal military features
and external societal factors. Aimed at minimizing the possibilities of
small groups leveraging the system to stage a coup, it encompasses a set
of procedures such as (1) the exploitation of individual loyalties or
identities; (2) the creation of paramilitary structures; (3) the establish-
ment of security agencies which monitor the loyalty of the military; (4)
the focus of expertness in the military; and (5) the financing of such
measures.
6
The target of these measures is particularly the leadership,
as it is the officer corps which initiates the overwhelming majority of
coups. States applying coup-proofing measures use internal features of
the armed forces to ensure a certain place of the military in society at
large. It is hence a deliberate mechanism meddling with the micro-level
for macro-level purposes.
As we study the military as an organization, special attention should
be paid to its exceptionalism both inwardly, as well as to the outside.
Not only does the military and its (sometimes theoretical) monopoly of
violence symbolize the state like no other governmental institution, it is
also, internally, a profession very different from others. Its fusion of
occupation and profession makes for very specific outlooks, attitudes,
socialization, identity formation as well as structures, procedures and
rules of conduct that we do not find elsewhere. Ignoring this aspect will
result in an only partial understanding of the military, and in this
particular case of the Arab armed forces’ behavior during the Arab
Spring.
When combining these two levels of analysis, essentially four options
are possible as outlined below. Whereas the general assumption located
most Arab forces in the cohesive/regime-supporting camp, the spectrum
of possibilities is far wider, which ultimately explains the armed forces’
behavior during times of social dislocation.
Of course any armed force can migrate from one box to another due
to political events, training programs and changes in the geopolitical
context. Perceiving the Arab military institutions as statically assigned
to one category has proven wrong when anticipating their behavior
during the Arab Spring. This article analyses the Libyan armed forces
along the lines laid out above, namely on both the internal as well as
societal level, dividing the time line in two: from the coup of 1969 to
the eve of the uprising in 2011, and from the uprising to 2012 in order
6
James T. Quinlivan, ‘Coup-proofing: Its Practice and Consequences in the Middle
East’, International Security 24/2 (Fall 1999), 133.
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to take a closer look at the armed forces’ behavior during and after the
conflict.
The Libyan military, from its inception as the army of the Sanussi
order (called the Libyan Arab Army) in its struggle against Italy which
had colonized Libya since 1912, to Captain Muammar Al-Gaddafi’s
coup, has had difficulties finding its place in a state.
7
King Idris, the
former leader of the Sanussi order and first head of state of independent
Libya, distrusted his Royal Libyan Army – and the state as a construct,
for that matter.
8
Although the armed forces had emerged from the
Sanussi army fighting against Italy and therefore could have been
considered loyal, the King viewed any national (as opposed to tribal or
regional) institution with suspicion. As a consequence, he dragged his
feet on the formation of a regular armed force, spending eight years in
creating a small army of 6,500 volunteers. He manned the command
posts with loyal yet unqualified fellow Cyrenaicans and armed it
lightly. While Libyan GNP started to explode with the take off of oil
sales, the military saw rather little of this, its budget remaining rather
steadily around 5per cent of the GNP.
9
In addition, Idris created two
paramilitary units which were not only manned by 14,000 Bedouins
loyal to the Sanussi order, but also heavily armed with armored cars,
artillery and helicopters. Although the purpose of these units was to
keep the regular army in check, they made very little effort to thwart
the coup which was carried out by the Libyan Army on 1 September
1969.
10
This heritage of mistrust regarding the Libyan armed forces
characterized the successor regime as well.
Table 1. Situating Arab Armed Forces in Social Context
Cohesive/professional Non-cohesive/non-professional
Allegiance to state Egypt
Tunisia
Iraq (after 2003)
Lebanon
Allegiance to regime Bahrain
Algeria
Libya
Syria
7
Kenneth Pollack, Arabs at War: Military Effectiveness 19481991 (Lincoln: Univ. of
Nebraska Press 2002), 358.
8
Dirk Vandewalle, A History of Modern Libya (Cambridge: CUP 2006), 43–76.
9
J.C. Hurewitz, Middle East Politics: The Military Dimension (Boulder, CO:
Westview Press 1969), 237.
10
Dirk Vandewalle, Libya Since Independence: Oil and State-Building (Ithaca, NY:
Cornell UP 1998), 56.
The Libyan Armed Forces between Coup-proofing and Repression 5
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The Libyan Military’s Role in State and Society under Gaddafi
The Libyan armed forces have occupied a rather peculiar place in a
rather peculiar societal structure from its very inception. Although part
and parcel of regime change in 1969, the military represented
throughout the four decades under Gaddafi’s regime the state and as
such a construct Gaddafi not only resented but actively sought to
abolish. While necessary for regime stabilization (and as it turned out,
for war), the armed forces were logically also seen as a potential threat
since it could bring to power a group just as much as it could topple it.
Its strength as the only Libyan group capable of formulating a
corporate interest across tribal boundaries (most of the officers
involved hailed from smaller tribes) ultimately turned it into a threat.
Gaddafi, on the societal level, mistrusted the armed forces whose role
was deliberately made ambiguous.
This happened gradually, however. The first years after the coup
turned out to be a honeymoon phase between the new regime and the
Libyan military which was rightly seen as the most important pillar of
the new system. After a purge of every officer above the rank of colonel,
as well as every Sanussi officer regardless of rank, the size of the Libyan
armed forces virtually doubled over night and its equipment was
replaced. In no time, the Libyan armed forces had the highest ratio of
military to equipment in the Third World and had turned into the
prime vehicle for Libyan social advancement.
11
This changed however
in 1975.
As Gaddafi developed his vision for a political system, later published
in his Green Book, ideological rifts appeared in the Revolutionary
Command Council (RCC). Both sides of the RCC reached out into the
armed forces soliciting support: troops loyal to Gaddafi surrounded
Tripoli in July 1975, but an actual coup attempt by the two RCC
members, Bashir Hawadi and Umar al-Muhayshi was uncovered a
month later. The coup, carried out by about 20 to 30 army officers who
allegedly hailed mostly from Misrata, failed when the plotters were
discovered, subsequently arrested, and executed two years later.
12
This event redefined the role of the armed forces in Libya’s political
structure. No longer the undisputed backbone and facilitator of the
regime, Gaddafi henceforth recognized the pivotal capacity of the
military to change power relations – to his advantage or disadvantage.
Although his now consolidated power continued to rest in part at least
11
Ronald Bruce St John, Historical Dictionary of Libya (Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow
Press 1998), 40.
12
John Cooley, Libyan Sandstorm: The Complete Account of Qaddafi’s Revolution
(New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston 1982), 167.
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on the armed forces, his relationship with the military remained
ambivalent bordering on the mistrustful. His statement that ‘neither the
ASU (Arab Socialist Union) nor the army were authorized to guide the
popular revolution’
13
clearly underlines his attempt to rebut the role of
the armed forces in the political structure he had designed for Libya,
and his continuous concern about a coup. As Gaddafi began Libya’s
transformation into a Jamahiriya (a state managed directly by the
people), he thus had to manage the armed forces in a way that allowed
for maximum regime support while at the same time limited its actual
capacity in order to curtail its power.
The political system of the Jamahiriya, designed to extenuate the
shortcomings of conventional democratic systems, aimed at direct
control by the people on all levels of society through committees and
congresses respectively for executive and legislative matters. Ranging
from basic committees and congresses to municipal and general ones,
the system aimed to put all decisions pertaining to management of
public life to the people, and essentially abolish the state which Gaddafi
viewed as an aberration of social structure.
Curiously, this system had some holes which allowed the regime to
control society regardless of the direct democratic system created. As
‘popular rule’ abolished separation of power, it nevertheless excluded a
number of issues for the committees and congresses. These included the
armed forces as well as foreign policy, but also the police, budget and
petroleum sector. In other words, popular rule applied only to those
areas that were not crucial for state survival. With the implementation
of the new popular system in 1977, the RCC was abolished. Its
members, however, retained key positions: Gaddafi and Abu Bakr
Yunes Jabr served as heads of the Libyan military, Khuwaylidi al-
Hamidi as commander of the police and Mustafa al-Kharubi as chief of
staff.
As a result of the armed forces’ exclusion from popular control,
issues related to it were never subject of debate within the popular
structure. Civilian control of the armed forces did not exist within a
system which claimed to hand all control directly to the citizens. It is
important to note that although the military was tantamount to regime
stabilization, it was never formally tasked with regime protection such
as guarding its personnel and institutions or taking on tasks of internal
nature, such as policing.
14
In this decidedly anti-state system, the armed forces as a classical
state institution remained an outsider insofar as in a perfect Jamahiriya
world, no need for it would have existed as the people would defend
13
Quoted in Vandewalle, Libya Since Independence, 86.
14
Vandewalle, A History of Modern Libya, 43–147.
The Libyan Armed Forces between Coup-proofing and Repression 7
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themselves. It is for this reason that Gaddafi developed, from 1975
onwards, the idea of mass mobilization as opposed to a standing and
professional armed force. As Article 9 of the Proclamation of People’s
Power stated, ‘defending the country is the responsibility of every
citizen’. The ‘concept of armed people’ (al-sha‘b al-musallah’) was
inspired by popular Libyan resistance against Italian occupation as well
as the Bedouin practice of collective self-defense, and led to the
establishment of general military training in 1978 as well as the
militarization of society at large. From middle school onwards, Libyans
were integrated in some form of military structure early on, be it in the
form of basic military instruction in school, military service or the
People’s Militia which comprised men ages 45–55. However, the role
of the People’s Militia never reached the level Gaddafi might have
imagined, as it comprised only a small age group and was supposed to
protect buildings in times of crisis.
15
In order to institutionalize control of society (as well as the military),
the regime soon developed a parallel structure to ‘popular rule’ not
mentioned in Gaddafi’s Green Book or the Proclamation of People’s
Power: the revolutionary committees, which were, not surprisingly,
headed by the remaining members of the RCC. Designed to protect the
revolution, their primary purpose was to ‘act as foil to any group,
including the army, that could threaten the regime and to hunt down
opposition figures inside and outside the Jamahiriya.’
16
Acting as
ideological surveillance, these revolutionary committees infiltrated
people’s congresses, committees as well as the military and acted as a
spearhead to the split Gaddafi acknowledged in 1979 between those in
power (i.e. the people) and those guiding the revolution. Flanked by a
military wing of 3,000 troops, the Revolutionary Guards, they quickly
turned into the key element in controlling society.
It is this divide between two complexes of power (the people versus
the revolution) in Gaddafi-era Libya which explains best the almost
schizophrenic position of the armed forces within the Libyan system; in
contrast to other institutions, the Libyan military formed a part of both
complexes as the regime decided to maintain it as one of several pillars
to control society. Not only was it somewhat integrated into the
revolutionary structure as it floated freely outside the popular
committee structure and remained under the regime’s direct control,
but it was also subject to intense control by the revolutionary
15
Hanspeter Mattes, ‘Challenges to Security Sector Governance’, Paper presented at the
Workshop on ‘Challenges of Security Sector Governance in the Middle East’, Geneva
13–15 July 2004, Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, 5.
16
Vandewalle, Libya Since Independence, 100.
8Florence Gaub
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committees. This control had its limits however, due to the ambiguous
position of the military in the Libyan power system.
While some assert that the revolutionary committees did ‘effectively
outrank all others in the army’
17
, others maintain that ‘the army
remained the ultimate power source’.
18
Yet both statements are not in
contradiction, as they highlight the equivocal role the military played in
Gaddafi’s Libya. As the source of power it had a privileged status; but
for the same reason it needed to be controlled more than any other
organization. Its unabated influence became clear in 1986, when the
revolutionary committees not only failed to mobilize the masses to
participate in anti-American demonstrations after the bombing of
Tripoli and Benghazi, but the armed forces also had to crush a scattered
unrest throughout the country which followed the events. As a result,
the power of the revolutionary committees declined, and their weekly
magazine Al-Zahf Al-Akhdar (‘The Green March’) ceased the publica-
tion of articles critical of the armed forces.
19
Yet this influence only heightened Gaddafi’s distrust of the military,
from which at least four coup attempts were staged after 1975.
Although part and parcel of the regime’s power basis, the armed forces
were also an expression of popular discontent with the political
situation. Attempts to overthrow the regime originated almost
exclusively in the armed forces: in 1983, five officers were executed
for plotting a coup, in 1984, fighting broke out in barracks over a
similar plan, leading to the arrest of several thousand soldiers. In 1985,
60 officers were arrested for a similar cause. The same year, Colonel
Hassan Ishkal, the military governor of Surt, was executed for
disagreeing over the role of the revolutionary guards within the armed
forces. In 1993, another attempt failed.
20
As a result, Gaddafi resorted
to the Revolutionary Guard Corps rather than the military to
crush riots and Islamist activism in the early 1990s. Rumors about
the armed forces’ loyalty persisted, particularly in Cyrenaica where it
was said to follow tribal rather than national (or rather: regime)
allegiances.
21
17
Omar El-Fathaly and Monte Palmer, ‘Institutional Development in Qadhafi’s Libya’,
in Dirk Vandewalle (ed.), Qadhafi’s Libya, 1969–1994(New York: St Martin’s Press
1995) 259. Hanspeter Mattes, ‘The Rise and Fall of the Revolutionary Committees’, in
Vandewalle, ibid.
18
Vandewalle, Libya Since Independence, 102.
19
Ibid., 123.
20
St John, Historical Dictionary of Libya, 55.
21
Luiz Martı´nez, The Libyan Paradox (New York: Columbia UP 2007), 71.
The Libyan Armed Forces between Coup-proofing and Repression 9
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The Institutional State of the Libyan Military under Gaddafi
As a result of his consistent distrust of the Libyan armed forces,
Gaddafi proceeded to weaken precisely those elements of the military
which could jeopardize the regime, namely all of those which could
provide a platform for collective identity and interests. His targets
were hence not only cohesiveness, but also leadership as well as
command and control structure – in other words, all of the human
elements which make or break the armed forces, rather than its
equipment.
Morale, e´lan, esprit de corps or cohesion all encompass ‘the bonding
together of members of an organization/unit in such a way as to sustain
their will and commitment to each other, their unit, and the mission’.
22
Cohesion can hence be measured best at the smallest unit level, where
troops live and fight together. The organization’s function in this
context is to not only provide these units with a purpose, but also with
a structure which allows for cohesion. Such a structure generally de-
emphasizes the individualism of the soldier, allows for extended
maintenance of a certain group formation in order to give time for
bonding experience and pursuit of common goals. Furthermore,
leadership plays a crucial role in the fostering of cohesion as it is the
bond between officers and soldiers which will transmit norms,
organization objectives and values down to the smallest units.
23
A
military institution seeking cohesion will thus ‘use a unit rotation
system rather than individual replacements, emphasizing personnel
stability within units; (. . .) prohibit soldiers from belonging to
autonomous groups with possibly deviant norm; (. . .) reduce centra-
lized, bureaucratic control over the good things in the soldier’s life and
give control of these to the immediate leaders of the individual
soldier’.
24
(e.g. pay, promotion, leave). Cohesion is a variable that is
difficult to measure positively, while its absence is measured easily by
disintegration and desertion.
But the Libyan regime had no intention of creating strong cohesion in
its military force. After all, it was the cohesiveness of the Free Officers
Movement that produced the coup of 1969. As a result from this
insight, the regime proceeded to weaken the Libyan military in a
number of ways directly opposed to those cohesion-fostering measures
mentioned above, a process which is part of systematic coup-proofing
22
John H. Johns et al.,Cohesion in the US Military (Washington DC: National Defense
UP 1984), 9.
23
Darryl Henderson, Cohesion: The Human Element in Combat (Washington DC:
National Defense UP 1985), 10–12.
24
Henderson, Cohesion, 21.
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As discussed earlier, coup-proofing consists of deliberate measures that
will affect the armed forces’ functioning from the inside in order to
ensure a certain position in society at large. As a side effect of all these
measures, the armed forces’ core capacity was harmed, namely to
conduct war in the most effective manner. As a result of coup-proofing,
officers develop lesser leadership skills because promotion and assign-
ment is based on ethnic or religious affiliation rather than on merit, and
because centralized structures discourage individual initiative. In
addition, frequent rotations of officers in particular will prevent the
establishment of cohesive ties between leadership and enlisted
personnel. As an overwhelming result of these efforts, the Libyan
armed forces suffered tremendously in terms of cohesiveness, and
therefore also in terms of war-fighting capacity.
Concrete measures taken by the regime included the creation of
parallel security structures as well as a systematic erosion of the Libyan
military’s professionalism. Although on paper the armed forces
benefitted greatly from the regime (by growing from 7,000 in 1969
to 85,000 in 1988, as well as by receiving large amounts of modern
weapon technology), in reality it was weakened. Gaddafi’s methods to
undermine the establishment of cohesion included frequent rotations of
the leadership, strong centralized structures which allowed him to
determine every single promotion, and the use of tribal affiliation to his
advantage.
Particularly the latter aimed at reducing the role Libyan nationalism
had played in the military right before the 1969 coup; it was because of
a transcendent sensation of Libyanness that the armed forces, especially
the officer corps, had grown into the most cohesive group in Libya at
the time, as opposed to all other social formations. Gaddafi’s initial
attacks on tribal and regional affiliations, which he considered as
obstructive to social advancement and Arab unity, were a logical
continuation of his own experience in the armed forces. However, with
the growing awareness of the armed forces’ dangerous potential, the
regime began to undermine precisely those elements which had
facilitated regime change, and used tribalism to its advantage.
For any armed force to function properly a number of mechanisms
and norms have to be respected; among these are the principles of
hierarchy, of course, but also of meritocracy. Political meddling with
promotions and posts is generally resented by any armed force as it
circumvents the very principles the military is built on, and therefore
affects cohesion significantly. As Gaddafi heavily influenced the
distribution of personnel loyal to him in the military, he manned
important posts in classical divide et impera fashion, so that no single
group – be it tribal, political or religious – could gain a security
monopoly in any bracket. As tinkering with the leadership hollowed
The Libyan Armed Forces between Coup-proofing and Repression 11
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out one of the key principles of the armed forces, cohesiveness was
weakened considerably. When put to test, such as in Chad or during the
uprising of 2011, the Libyan armed forces’ cohesion proved to be
feeble.
Part of his tactics included the promotion of junior officers from
Gaddafi’s own tribe, the Qadadfa and allocation of sensitive posts such
as the responsibility for the Cyrenaica region; military security;
responsibility for the Benghazi sector; command of armaments and
munitions, of domestic security and many others. The air force was
staffed almost exclusively by members of this tribe. But other tribes that
were considered loyal to the regime, such as the Warfalla and Maqarha
received preferential (though secondary) treatment as well. One would
be mistaken to think that these were the only tribes in the armed forces,
as the careful balance of this system needed to be constantly revised,
and loyalties were never certain – the 1993 coup attempt was allegedly
supported by the Warfalla tribe.
25
In addition, military leadership was regularly rotated through the
seven military regions in order to avoid the formation of close ties
between officers and enlisted personnel; and the armed forces were kept
busy with the conflict on the border with Egypt, in Uganda and Chad.
The enormous amount of money the regime poured into military
equipment was in part designed to sooth the military which had felt
neglected under King Idris and his restrained spending on military
equipment.
The effects of this policy on the Libyan military became particularly
visible during its conflict with Chad from 1978 to 1987. Claiming the
Aouzou Strip in northern Chad as part of Libya (based on a 1935
colonial treaty between France and Italy which had never been ratified),
the armed forces were sent to occupy it in 1972 following a secret
agreement between Gaddafi and Chadian President Tombalbaye. In
addition to territorial expansion, Gaddafi sought to establish a client
state in Chad, useful for his African policy and eventually modeled on
the Jamahiriya. When Tombalbaye was removed in a coup in 1975,
Chad reclaimed the strip, leading to a decade long confrontation which
would involve France and to some extent the United States. In 1993,
the International Court of Justice recognized the Aouzou Strip as part
of Chad.
The conflict in Chad proved to be challenging to the Libyan military.
As the armed forces were not allowed to train with live ammunition, or
to conduct military exercises above the level of company, the military
proved incapable of coordinating the efforts of artillery, armor and
25
Alarabiya News, ‘Warfalla, Libya’s largest tribe’, 1 Sept. 2011, 5www.alarabiya.
net/articles/2011/09/01/164993.html4.
12 Florence Gaub
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infantry.
26
The areas most affected, however, were leadership, and as a
side effect, cohesion. ‘Throughout the nine years of direct Libyan
involvement in Chad, Qaddafi’s legions suffered high rates of desertion
among units deployed there. (. . .) When morale was high, unit cohesion
was stronger and more soldiers were willing to risk their lives for their
comrades and their missions. But when they were dispirited, units
broke under less pressure, and fewer troops were willing to sacrifice for
their mission or one another.’
27
Overall, the Libyan military never
managed to overcome the side effects of extensive coup proofing, and
remained an institution weak not only in terms of cohesion, but as a
result also in terms of battle performance. Its performance during the
war in Chad, but ultimately also its reaction to the uprising were a
logical continuation of its internal disarray, and shows the clear impact
of coup-proofing on military effectiveness.
28
Role of the Libyan Military during the Uprising of 2011
When the uprising began in February 2011, the Libyan military had
rarely been used to crush riots (in contrast to the Revolutionary Guards
and the police) and hence was confronted with a set of challenges new
not only in terms of tactics, but also in terms of loyalty. More
importantly, its position within the regime’s power structure had
internal implications which rendered it in large parts incapable of
dealing with the crisis.
Nowhere did the nexus between internal and external level of
analysis, between macro- and micro-level become clearer than within
the Libyan military in the months of 2011. To recall, the Libyan regime
had styled the armed forces as a crucial pillar in its power structure. By
the same token the regime weakened those characteristics necessary for
an armed force to function as a cohesive force. However, cohesion in
the armed forces was fostered primarily in those units deemed loyal to
the regime. In these units, loyalty to the regime and unit cohesion were
almost identical features. Ultimately, the armed forces’ reaction to the
large-scale social unrest was therefore determined by institutional
variables which had been created by the regime.
Hence, the military reacted in broadly three ways to the uprising:
individual exit as individual soldiers deserted, collective exit as units
26
Pollack, Arabs at War, 358–424.
27
Ibid., 404.
28
Ulrich Pilster and Tobias Bo¨ hmelt, ‘Coup-Proofing and Military Effectiveness in
Interstate Wars, 1967–99’, Conflict Management and Peace Science 28/4 (2011), 331–
50.
The Libyan Armed Forces between Coup-proofing and Repression 13
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disintegrated en bloc in order to join the rebel forces and loyalty as
some units remained in the armed forces to crush the revolt.
There is a difference between desertion and disintegration. The
former is first and foremost an expression of discontent of an
individual, albeit being the loudest form of questioning an army and
its legitimacy; it is also always more the product of the military
institution rather than the society it is embedded in.
29
This does not
mean that desertion is always politically motivated, however, as other
variables in its motivation are accommodation, violence within the
army, and the military’s relationship with society. Sometimes, desertion
indicates how soldiers perceive the likely outcome of a conflict and take
sides in time.
30
Generally, the rank and file rather than the officers
deserted.
31
Disintegration, however, is on a totally different scale than desertion.
Disintegration is the disengagement of a whole unit, expressing not
only the individual’s discontent with his circumstances. Disintegration
reflects strong cohesion within that particular group as it takes a
collective decision. It is for this reason that disintegration automatically
has a far more political twist to it than desertion, and it is therefore
much more damaging. ‘Disintegration may be considered so damaging
to the army, the government, to that most delicate fabric, the national
psyche, that the event’s documentation is put under lock and key for
generations.’
32
Four reasons can be identified for disintegration: the first is failure of
leadership, the second collapse of primary groups, meaning cohesion.
As Janowitz and Shils
33
have shown, it is the primary group, the
buddies, that makes or breaks cohesion. Whenever these groups
collapse, no political ideology can uphold fighting morale. The third
reason for disintegration is alienation: when ‘individuals within
primary groups are suddenly confused as to what they ought to
29
Ulrich Bro¨ ckling and Michael Sikora (eds), Armeen und ihre Deserteure:
Vernachla¨ssigte Kapitel einer Milita¨ rgeschichte der Neuzeit (Go¨ ttingen: Vandenhoeck
& Ruprecht 1998), 9.
30
Arnold M. Rose, ‘The Social Psychology of Desertion from Combat’, American
Sociological Review 16 (1951), 614.
31
Christoph Jahr, ‘Der Krieg zwingt die Justiz, ihr Innerstes zu revidieren’: Desertion
und Milita¨ rgerichtsbarkeit im Ersten Weltkrieg’, in Bro¨ ckling and Sikora, Armeen und
ihre Deserteure, 190–4.
32
Bruce Allen Watson, When Soldiers Quit: Studies in Military Disintegration
(London: Praeger 1997), 2.
33
Edward A. Shils and Morris Janowitz, ‘Cohesion and Disintegration in the
Wehrmacht in World War II’, Public Opinion Quarterly 2(1948), 280–315. Omer
Bartov rejects this hypothesis in his book Hitler’s Army: Soldiers, Nazis and War in the
Third Reich (New York: OUP 1991).
14 Florence Gaub
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believe’, a shifting of values takes place and makes the individual
reconsider. If the whole group follows in this reconsideration,
disintegration soon may follow. The fourth reason is desperation over
a hopeless situation.
34
As the analysis of the Libyan case shows, the large majority of men
opted for the first option, namely desertion without joining the rebel
forces. The further the uprising moved from East to West, these
desertions grew, particularly along lines of geographical and tribal
loyalty. Areas where regime support was traditionally stronger (in Sirte,
in tribal areas of the Qadhadhfa, Warfalla and Maqarha), desertions
were less frequent whereas they were higher in areas in the East
traditionally considered pockets of resistance against Gaddafi. The
longer the conflict lasted, however, the more the regime’s circles of
support eroded to the point where formerly loyal tribes (such as the
Warfalla) switched sides, and triggered even more desertions.
In the first month of the uprising, 8,000 soldiers had reportedly
defected in the East, and by June 2011, four months into the uprising,
the Libyan military had allegedly shrunk to somewhere between
10,000 and 20,000 (from its original 51,000). The exact numbers
are unclear, as official numbers from before the conflict have very likely
been inflated just as much as the actual numbers of deserters.
35
Suffice
it to say that desertions were substantial, and depended essentially on
three variables: the actual location of the unit, which could or could not
offer the individual safety, the individual’s opinion of the conflict and/
or the regime, and the cohesion of the unit in question.
As a result, units deployed in areas that had been overtaken by the
rebels found it a lot easier to desert than those posted in Tripoli which
fell only in August 2011; in addition, troops deployed in the areas in
which they came from deserted quicker when tasked to brutally
suppress the uprising. Loyalty to one’s local identity prevailed over
loyalty to the regime. Desertions occurred in Benghazi where the
uprising had begun, and continued to spread in the rebel-held territories
in the East, where deserters could assume safety for themselves and
34
Watson, When Soldiers Quit, 156–63.
35
‘Gaddafi’s Libyan army collapsing, say defectors’, The Australian, 5 June 2011,
5www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/gaddafis-libyan-army-collapsing-say-defec-
tors/story-e6frg6so-12260695002574. The International Institute for Strategic Studies,
The Military Balance 2011(London: Routledge for IISS 2011), 320. Florence Gaub,
‘Libya in Limbo: How to Fill the Security Vacuum’, NATO Defence College Research
Report, 31 Aug. 2011, 3. ‘Rebels in Libya Gain Power and Defectors’, New York Times,
27 Feb. 2011, 5www.nytimes.com/2011/02/28/world/africa/28unrest.html?pagewan-
ted¼all4.
The Libyan Armed Forces between Coup-proofing and Repression 15
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their family, more so than in areas controlled by Gaddafi.
36
This is not
to say that desertions did not occur in the West: considerable numbers
of officers deserted as early as March in Zintan, located in the West,
while other officers based in the West collaborated with the rebels while
remaining in their actual post.
37
Geographical constraints hence played
a role in the decision to desert.
Second, desertions increased as the conflict dragged on and it became
increasingly clear to the soldiers that the regime would eventually fall;
taking sides at the right time would play as much a role as the
unwillingness to crush a revolt of the people this armed force was
supposed to protect and from which it hailed.
Ultimately, desertion is however always a product of the armed
force, and so was the outcome of systematic weakening of leadership
and cohesion as part of Gaddafi’s coup-proofing system.
Those who remained either in the armed forces or left as a collective
were those who actually professed the highest degrees of cohesion; the
majority of cohesive units were found, not surprisingly, in the 32nd
Brigade (approximately 10,000 troops), but there were also a few units
(approximately 1,000 troops
38
) which left the military and joined, as
intact units, the National Liberation Army. These units often followed
leading generals such as Major General Abdel Fattah Younis, the
Minister of Interior, who urged the Libyan Army to ‘join the people
and respond to their legitimate demands’,
39
He later became the
commander-in-chief of the rebels’ National Liberation Army. These
units proved to be the best trained and organized and contributed
significantly to the rebel forces’ success. Nevertheless, they were eyed
with suspicion as many rebels doubted their loyalty.
However, many militias never became part of the new armed forces,
and claimed that their contribution to the eventual success of the
36
International Crisis Group, ‘Holding Libya Together: Security Challenges
After Qaddafi’, Middle East/North Africa Report No.115, 14 Dec. 2011, 1,
5www.crisisgroup.org/*/media/Files/Middle%20East%20North%20Africa/North%
20Africa/115%20Holding%20Libya%20Together%20–%20Security%20Challenges
%20after%20Qadhafi.pdf4.
37
E.g. Al-Barrani Shkal, commander-in-chief of Qaddafi’s military compound at Bab
Al-Aziziya, who passed on information on weapons stores and command centers to the
rebels., ‘In a new Libya, ex-loyalists race to shed ties to Qaddafi’, New York Times,7
Sept. 2011, 5www.nytimes.com/2011/09/08/world/africa/08tripoli.html?pagewanted¼
all4.
38
Civil-Military Fusion Centre, ‘The Libyan Rebels: Evolution of a Fighting Force’, July
2011, 2.
39
‘Nations’ feedback on Libyan uprising’, Tripoli Post, 23 Feb. 2011, 5http://
tripolipost.com/articledetail.asp?c¼1&i¼54634.
16 Florence Gaub
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uprising was more important than those of the defected troops. An
example of this difficult cooperation between military deserters and
rebels is certainly the assassination of Younis in July 2011. Regardless
of this infighting, the defection of closed units was facilitated by the
leadership skills of generals such as Salim al-Hasi, the comparative
cohesion as well as the location in the ‘liberated’ country’s East.
The remnants of the armed forces were clustered in the 32nd Brigade
of the Libyan Army. Commanded by Gaddafi’s son Khamis, these units
continued to fight against rebels until the fall of Tripoli. In contrast to
other, less privileged units, the so-called Khamis Brigade had high levels
of morale and cohesion, which explains its comparatively low levels of
desertion despite ongoing casualties. These units were almost exclu-
sively drawn from the Qadhadhfa tribe, who were loyal, well-equipped
and constituted one of the main regime pillars within the military
structure.
40
Coup-proofing measures never affected this brigade, and
having been set up by Khamis Gaddafi himself, went through extensive
training. It is precisely for this reason that this unit was used extensively
during the conflict: sent to Benghazi as early as 19 February, it also was
held responsible for the assault on Misrata, and ultimately attempted
the defence of Tripoli.
41
As the military continued to lose troops to
desertion, the brigade was supported by non-national militias, mostly
from sub-Saharan Africa.
42
Thanks to its privileged training, this
brigade was capable of anything to save the regime, such as deliberate
targeting of civilians, torturing and executing captives, and using
indiscriminate weaponry such as cluster bombs and land mines.
43
As a force that had been consistently weakened in terms of
cohesion, the Libyan military was hardly prepared for a situation
which can be challenging for any armed force, namely to act against its
own people.
40
‘Son’s unit may be one of Gaddafi’s last lines of defense’, Reuters.com, 25 Feb.
2011, 5www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/25/us-libya-commandos-idUSTRE71N8GT
201102254.
41
BBC News, ‘Profile: Khamis Ghaddafi’, 4 Sept. 2011, 5www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-
africa-147230414.
42
International Crisis Group, ‘Holding Libya Together’, 1.
43
Amnesty International, ‘The Battle for Libya: Killings, Disappearances and Torture’,
London 2011, 5www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE19/025/2011/en4. United
Nations Human Rights Council, Report of the International Commission of Inquiry
on Libya, New York, 2 March 2012, 5www.ohchr.org%2FDocuments%2FHRBo-
dies%2FHRCouncil%2FRegularSession%2FSession19%2FA_HRC_19_68_en.doc&
ei¼6VxrT_3RFMXOsgaU2pGtAg&usg¼AFQjCNFQAOsidSQiRewVmC5_8gxQtSO
GdA4.
The Libyan Armed Forces between Coup-proofing and Repression 17
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The Libyan Military in the post-Gaddafi Era
Reconstructing the security sector, in particular the armed forces and
police, became one of the major challenges after the fall of the Gaddafi
regime in October 2011. Once the uprising’s objective was achieved,
security fragmentation accelerated just as fast as infighting between the
different factions. At the time of writing, Libya is in a process of
Somalization, counting several hundred militias, an armed force in the
process of reconstruction, and a central government without any
authority to enforce a monopoly of violence.
The National Transitional Council (NTC), an unelected body which
represented the revolution from its beginning, has lacked the legitimacy
to not only reform security in the months since the last regime’s fall, it
also has been incapable of bridging the serious divisions (be they
regional, political or tribal) existing in society. As a result, Libya is
awash with weapons as well as militias, and incapable of securing its
borders or holding perpetrators of human rights accountable. NTC
announcements that disarmament of the militias would begin on 21
September did not materialize, while its order to all militias to disband
and disarm by 31 December was ignored altogether; so far only
60 per cent of the police forces are back at work.
44
Militias are
therefore proliferating in a general atmosphere of lawlessness, whereas
tensions are rising all over the country. As early as November, tribal
tensions near Tripoli resulted in 13 deaths; security started to implode
all over the country.
45
In this context, the reconstruction of the armed
forces is a slow and politicized process.
The core of the new armed forces is the National Liberation Army
(NLA) which emerged from the uprising largely as the collection of
units that had defected from Gaddafi’s military, mostly in the East. This
NLA did not comprise other militias, which preferred to co-exist rather
than being integrated with the NLA during the conflict. It has been
deployed several times since the regime’s fall to intervene in clashes
between militias and tribes, with much success.
46
The army is widely
seen as an Eastern brigade rather than a national force and lacks
44
International Crisis Group, ‘Holding Libya Together’, 17.
45
Aljazeera.com, ‘Tribal tensions high in Libya’, 15 Nov. 2011, 5www.aljazeera.com/
news/africa/2011/11/20111115113515817196.html4; BBC News, ‘UN concerns over
Libya militias and secret detention’, 26 Jan. 2012, 5www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-
africa-167352174.
46
‘new Libyan army deployed to settle feud’, Tripoli Post, 15 Nov. 2011, 5http://
tripolipost.com/articledetail.asp?c¼1&i¼7305. BBC Monitoring, ‘Libyan Defence
Minister blames media for coverage of Al-Kufrah clashes’, 15 Feb. 2012, reported
from Libya al-Ahrar.
18 Florence Gaub
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legitimacy because of its past history in Gaddafi’s military, and its
comparatively low participation in the uprising. Presently 8,000-strong
(of which 75 per cent are returnees from the former armed forces), it is
busy vetting Western officers in order to be seen as a national
institution and attempting to integrate militias.
47
In late December 2011, the NTC announced a plan to integrate
former rebel fighters into the military, police and civilian institutions,
but these plans are progressing slowly as most militias request to be
integrated as whole units rather than as individuals. It is not clear how
many of the militias are to be absorbed, but circulated numbers go as
high as 50,000 for an armed force whose total numbers are not
determined yet. A total of 100,000 militiamen have registered for
further employment with the combatants’ committee.
48
In addition, the
armed forces have made retraining mandatory for militia personnel, a
procedure many militias reject. This is not made easier by the fact that
‘former officers typically view the thuwwar (revolutionaries) as
undisciplined, uncoordinated upstarts seeking to advance their narrow
agendas’.
49
At the time of writing, only smaller militias had been
integrated (such as the Eastern Brigade 17 February) in the real sense of
the word. Others, mainly in the East, have formerly relinquished
control to the military but have neither been retrained nor dispersed
within the army. The biggest challenge remain those militias that
control important territories. For example, the airport of Tripoli is
controlled by the Zintan militia. They demand that the government
accept them as the airport’s security unit, a situation in which they
would merely change their name and uniform, but not their structure or
loyalty. The government, in the absence of professional military
expertise, is now in the process of signing several cooperation
agreements with countries such as Jordan or Turkey to retrain the
militias
50
and begin the process of rebuilding the armed forces.
Ironically, the new Libyan Army comprises at this stage too many
officers and too few foot soldiers due to widespread desertions during
the conflict.
47
Reuters.com, ‘Some 5,000 militia men join new Libyan army’, 15 Feb.
2012, 5www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/15/us-libya-militias-idUSTRE81E23H
201202154.
48
Agence France Press, ‘Libya to integrate 50,000 anti-Kadhafi fighters’, 1 Dec.
2011, 5www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hIWIuNlAOLc-Sh8JQJ
t1MnkCJzBQ?docId¼CNG.104a1c9e9c71e179b33042a465c95d6c.8314.
49
International Crisis Group, ‘Holding Libya Together’, 24.
50
BBC Monitoring, ‘Libya to send former rebels to train in Jordan’, 22 March 2012;
BBC Monitoring, ‘Turkey to train Libyan police officers’, 15 Jan. 2012.
The Libyan Armed Forces between Coup-proofing and Repression 19
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Hampering attempts to rebuild the Army are the effects of political
tensions prevailing in the country. The first fissures appeared in
November, when 150 officers and non-commissioned officers decided
to elect Lieutenant General Khalifa Haftar (an officer who served in the
previous armed forces and had acted at some point as a rebel field
commander) as the new Chief of Defense in the Eastern city of Baida.
51
Ignoring this decision, the NTC appointed Youssef al-Manqoush in
December as the Chief of Defense, a decision rejected by an alliance of
Eastern militias called the Coalition of Libyan Thuwar (revolution-
aries) and the Cyrenaica Military Council who had proposed a list of
six candidates, all hailing from the East. Instead, the council named
Salah Salem al-Obeidi as its man to head the new army, a decision that
was equally ignored by the NTC.
52
Manqoush, though born in
Benghazi, hails from a Misratan family which makes him more
acceptable to Westerners, which is probably why the NTC chose him.
This power struggle has yet to be decided. Its persistence obstructs
efforts to reform the security sector and disarm and disband the
militias, Libya’s overall security situation remains a shaky one.
Although the military are occasionally accused of having partici-
pated in Gaddafi’s regime, a large-scale ‘De-Gaddafication’ in this
process has not set in yet, or at least not yet. Although rumors initially
predicted the dismissal of every officer above the rank of colonel, this
seems not to be enforced so far. Significant progress in the
reconstruction of the armed forces can be expected only once a
legitimate central government has been elected; in the meantime,
Libya has been witness to almost one year without proper security
institutions. Whether a new Libyan armed force will be capable of
shedding the legacy of coup-proofing and allowing for cohesion and
leadership remains to be seen.
Conclusion
A study of the Libyan armed forces before and during the Libyan
upheaval of 2011 shows a strong interconnectivity at the two levels of
analysis: while its political place in society from 1969 onwards
originally had been determined by its institutional cohesion which led
51
Agence France Press, ‘New Chief for Libya’s revamped national army’,
17 Nov. 2011, 5www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5i2GtUw73mo
WubwhdFPXQ-ZouMDzg?docId¼CNG.a3f2fe1bf5ddf5725a77594ecefbea23.2114.
52
Agence France Press, ‘Groups of ex-rebels reject new Libyan army chief’, 5 Jan. 2012,
5www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iw5uEervLdiyuHf6kK6Owr29U8-
A?docId¼CNG.7c9ce1de01016033f09da0a23010ea52.5414.
20 Florence Gaub
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to its intervention in politics, it had to be weakened institutionally in
order to curtail further political involvement. The military’s ambiguous
role in society was therefore reflected in its equivocal treatment by the
regime which kept it outside the general Jamahiriya structure, but
tinkered with its organizational features to the extent that it rendered
large parts of its military useless.
As a result, the Libyan military had turned into a hollowed out pillar
of the regime, incapable not only of fulfilling its tasks during the war in
Chad, but also of acting against the upheaval of 2011. A large majority
of the armed forces deserted, but did not join the rebel forces. The
regime possessed an army without cohesion or leadership. The coup-
proofing techniques and distrust of the military backfired just at the
point the regime needed it most.
In a new Libya, the standing position and internal structure of the
armed forces will be largely determined by the ability of the
government to rein in and incorporate the militias which have become
the major security actors on the ground and political power centers in
their own right. Left as is, they will seek to curtail the potential and
power of the armed forces. State-building or rebuilding after extreme
episodes of violence in the Lebanese, Angolan and Bosnia-Herzegovina
cases show clearly that these militias will constitute the biggest
challenge in terms of security sector reform. While the exclusion of
militias from new security forces has led in Angola to the relapse into
civil war, their complete inclusion in their existing formation and
hierarchy will lead solely to a change in status, but not to a change in
power relations. A good example is Lebanon, where a rather symbolic
amount of militias was integrated, mostly from the lowest possible
ranks in order to maintain the Lebanese Armed Forces’ authority at the
officer level. In other words: the right amount, and the right kind of
militia has to be integrated in order to achieve the desired outcome;
otherwise, their impact on state reconstruction is unequivocally
negative.
53
Note on Contributor
Dr Florence Gaub is an Associate Professor at NATO Defense College’s
Middle East Faculty.
53
Roy Licklider (ed.), New Armies from Old: Merging Competing Military Forces after
Civil Wars (forthcoming 2013). Florence Gaub, ‘Multiethnic Armies in the Aftermath
of Civil War: Lessons Learned from Lebanon’, Defence Studies 7/1 (March 2007), 5–
20.
The Libyan Armed Forces between Coup-proofing and Repression 21
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... Indeed, as noted by Ahram (2019, p. 46), "military defections did not come en masse but in splinters." This is often identified as a direct result of coup-proofing under Gaddafi, which weakened the military and created a "parallel security sector" (Gaub, 2013;Lacher & Cole, 2014, p. 20). in 2011 to represent the uprising politically on the international stage. As noted by Hokayem (2014, p. 73), the SNC was beset by internal dysfunction and personal rivalries from its inception, but its main downfall was the lack of political influence within Syria as it had little control over the nascent rebel groups or the LCCs (Ahram, 2019, p. 48). ...
Thesis
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... Examples include McLauchlin, 2010;Bellin, 2012;Lutterbeck, 2012;Makara, 2013 andGaub, 2013. This approach is shortsighted because it neglects the lasting influence of military organization, a structural reality that moves and changes very slowly. ...
Thesis
Full-text available
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... Frequent purges prevent officers from developing the leadership skills and establishing the cohesive ties with their troops and personnel (Brooks, 1998;Powell, 2015;Sudduth, 2016;Narang & Talmadge, 2018) that are required to achieve successful coordinated actions in implementing repression. Moreover, purges would increase grievances among military officers, making them increasingly refuse to obey the leader's orders to repress, or even making them more likely to defect from the regime (Brooks, 2013;Gaub, 2013). Using MPD, I am able to evaluate these competing hypotheses. ...
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Merging competing militaries has become a standard part of negotiated settlements of civil wars recently. Eleven case studies (Sudan 1971, Zimbabwe, Lebanon, Rwanda, Philippines, South Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sierra Leone, and Burundi) with some cross-case chapters. The concluding chapters suggest that there isn't much evidence that this actually makes renewed civil war more likely and that it therefore shouldn't be strongly encouraged by outsiders unless the locals themselves want it.