Dilemmas of Reform: Policing in Arab Transitions

This article by Yezid Sayigh from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace analyses the dilemmas and challenges facing security sector reform in Arab states. Struggles over the security sector have been central to the politics of every Arab state that has undergone transition in the wake of armed conflict or political upheaval since the early 1990s. And wherever pre-transition elite coalitions have been neither forged anew nor replaced, security sectors no longer clearly serve a dominant political, social, and economic order. In these contexts, generic Western models of security sector reform cannot adequately resolve the dilemmas revealed by Arab states in transition and can do no more than alter these sectors superficially. Systemic change is needed, but the political and institutional brittleness of Arab states in transition presents a significant obstacle.

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