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Rebuilding Security in Fragmented Societies: Preparing for Post-conflict Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen

The re-establishment of security is an essential condition to the restoration of trust between different sections of society after a conflict. In such contexts, the reconstruction of security institutions is a major issue in diverse societies. Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen are countries where civil conflict has followed long periods of authoritarian rule. Any reconstruction has to take this into consideration. On the one hand, it must transform the role of the security institutions that have been in the service of the authoritarian states. On the other hand, reconstruction must embody the return to peace in the framework of a DDR process (disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration).

Focusing on Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, the project, running 2015-2017, aims to analyse the governance of security institutions and their behaviour; define the bases on which these institutions can be restructured as well as the link between politics and security; reflect on the organisation of the post-conflict political transition; and determine the provisional or permanent measures to implement in the security sphere. This project builds on previous ARI projects looking at the security sector including Arab Securitocracies and Security Sector Reform (2007-11) and Security in Times of Transition (2011-2014).

The project involves the study of different security organisations in the four case study countries, currently undergoing political upheaval and internal conflict. This involves investigation of the army the police, intelligence services, and non-state actors like militia groups.  Based on an in-depth analysis of the socio-historical context and of the current dynamics on the security scene, the resulting research contributes to the debate on rebuilding security institutions after conflict in deeply divided societies.

The Lebanese case serves as a starting point, providing an example where reconstruction has already taken place. After the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990), several measures were introduced to rebuild the army. Lessons can be learnt from the shortcomings and the successes of this experience.

The project’s specific activities involve:

  • A research paper on each of the studied countries
  • Thematic papers on theoretical framework, the role of regional actors, as well as examples from outside the Arab world
  • Opinion pieces published regularly on specific issues by academics and experts
  • Video and audio interviews with authors of the papers and other experts
  • A 2-day conference to discuss the research. Invitations will go to government officials of the countries, members of political opposition forces, representatives and/or defectors of the military and security agencies, experts and representatives from outside defence ministries, cooperation agencies, regional and international organisations.

ARI expects that this research will be used by officials of the countries, national experts, officials in UN, EU, Arab League, regional and outside powers with special interests and influence in a given context. The research findings will fill a gap in academic production and debate on the rebuilding of security in diverse societies.

Bassma Kodmani, ARI Executive Director, and Nayla Moussa, ARI Researcher, lead this project.

Project sponsor: IDRC - International Development Research Centre, Open Society Foundation

Project Publications
OUT OF THE INFERNO? Rebuilding Security in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen
Without a pre-defined security plan, no political authority is likely to control the countries living in fragmented security and political orders in MENA. The adoption of cooperative security could be a way out of the conflicts of the region.
Florence Gaub
Abdel-Nasser al-Ayed
Bassma Kodmani
Nayla Moussa
Myriam Benraad
Virginie Collombier
Fatiha Dazi-Héni
Libya’s political dialogue needs more security content
The formation of a Government of National Accord (GNA) between Libya’s warring factions has been delayed once more as representatives of the General National Congress (GNC) withdrew from talks a few weeks after refusing to sign the preliminary agreement initialed by all other participants on 11 July.
Virginie Collombier
The Battle for Qalamoun: Hezbollah’s Victories and the Lebanese State’s Defeat
The battle of Qalamoun, a mountainous region of Syria along the border with Lebanon, was announced by Hassan Nasrallah in February 2015. Beginning the first week of May, Nasrallah declared victory on May 16, arguing that Hezbollah intervened to liberate Lebanese land from “Takfiri fighters”.
Nayla Moussa