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.