There are only two kinds of state in the Near and Middle East: authoritarian or autocratic regimes, and states that are very weak, at times to the point of falling apart.
In the authoritarian states, the security sector, which guarantees the permanence of the regime, is in the hands of the highest state authorities, ensuring a situation of total deadlock. In the weak states, on the other hand, chronic political instability encourages the different elements within the security sector to split along community lines, thus preventing the state’s control over them. This naturally leads to further instability, in a continuing cycle.
Lebanon, along with Palestine and Iraq, belongs to this latter category. However, the country of the Cedar possesses an additional characteristic: the feudal-confessional structure of its society. This creates a situation where a wide range of foreign influences are able to support one or another of its component groups in order to advance their own political interests. First of all, an analysis of the very structure of the security sector is required in order to determine to what extent it may be suitable for a process of SSR. In particular, the possibilities of civil supervision are to be studied, taking into account both legal and pragmatic considerations.
Next, the stages of a possible SSR are to be examined, as well as the possibility of including within such a process the issue of its impact on women. Finally, all this has no value without a deep understanding of the factors that influence – positively or negatively – the process of Security Sector Reform. Foreign influences are the most significant of these factors, be they exercised by countries or by international organisations.
The views represented in this paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Arab Reform Initiative, its staff, or its board.