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The military and politics in the Middle East

The core topic of this course will be the role of an essential and yet frequently forgotten pillar of political regimes in the Middle East, the military.

The course will first deal with armies in the state, the rise of post-independence armies, the politicization of the officer corpses in the hectic context of great Arab-Israeli wars in the Middle East. That essential background was formative in various polities with the crucial role of coups d'état or at least in other cases the looming threat of coups.

Then, the course will give keys to understand another long period, that of armies under enduring authoritarian regimes: the armed forces adapted themselves to this new setting and defined their new relations with regimes, often made up of political quietism compensated with strong privileges and privileged access to core decision-making circles.

It will thereafter offer glimpses into the post-2011 period where the armed forces, along with another very different intervening factor, namely huge social mobilizations against authoritarian rule, proved crucial actors for the fate of regimes and the re-formation of new kinds of regimes in cases when incumbents were overthrown. And in 2018, armies or what remain from them are key actors at least in Egypt, Libya, Yemen or Syria.