Managing Civil-Military Relations in Times of Armed Struggle

© Craig J. Shell

For the political transitions underway in the Arab world, different lessons may be drawn from experiences of countries that have passed through democratic transitions. While Tunisians may look for best practices in security sector reform from among peaceful past transitions, the Syrian opposition, currently embroiled in major conflict, may be looking for very different lessons: how to build trust among opposition forces, how to prepare for negotiations, or how to plan for future reintegration of a country divided into armed camps.

The Arab Reform Initiative is pleased to share two papers, one focused on South Africa and one on Kosovo, about managing civil-military relations in times of armed struggle. The Kosovo paper, by Veton Surroi, analyzes how armed forces can work together with political leaders to forge a common front for bringing an end to conflict. The paper on South Africa, by Gavin Cawthra, describes how the South African transition is seen by some as a model for managing security during transition, but was in reality a highly uncertain and volatile experience. The incoming leadership, having negotiated a political resolution to their armed struggle, was cautious in reforming the security sector, and had to trust the outgoing regime’s forces to maintain order during a turbulent transition.