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Alaaldin et al: The Rise and the Future of Militias in the MENA Region

Tags: papers



  • Conventional western models of DDR and SSR appear irrelevant or unenformcable in countries where competition in fractured societies and the absences of strong institutions preclude their implmentation - p 9
    • calls on dialogue

1 - The Past, Present & Future of Militias - Raaj Alaaldin

  • Interventions in kosovo and iraq paved the way for weakneing of the international system
    • Undermined principals of soveriengty and created an environment where other world powers can pursue their own interests under the guise of same legal and normative arguments
  • Violence between states has disappeared
  • West has engaged in optimistic, at times unrealistic policy making
  • questions of the fragility of the state and rehabilitation frames the question, whereas militias are the result of long-standing pre-war legacies of dysfunctional governace and authoritarianism
    • It is not the conflict or the immediate aftermath, but longstanding greviances and a sense of injustice
  • argues that civil society is better positioned to challenge the promience of militias and can constitute a means through which to discourage the youth from joining armed groups
  • demographics of the region, especially through youth bulges and growing population rates
  • hezbollah paradoxically bridged the gap by providing services where the state couldn’t, but also hinder the state’s remergence
    • transnational shia militia groups have transitioned in iraq have transition into socio-political organizations
      • asks us how can we separate these?
      • assertion that it is good goverenance the building of institutions that can remedy instability and conflict
        • conventional military and policing institutions are at risk of being dominated by armed groups
  • cycle of draining state resources -> enriches miltias Akdedian et al: State atrophy and the reconfiguration of borderlands in Syria and Iraq
  • IO’s are still unable to establish the parameters of its engagements with ASNAs
  • Argues that the international community should start esriously condisdering laws and guidelines for engaging with armed groups
    • especially in contexts where these actors are pivotal to defeating terrorist groups
    • forms of otherness, lack of belonging
    • vetting and purging of institutions
  • reintegration is not about giving up guns, but rather about incorporating them into a social dialogue
  • says that armed groups work in a legal void -> without laws to channel and

hezbollah: the superior militia - Mohanad Hage Ali

  • hezbollah has filled the void caused by the disintgration of the state
  • now contributes to hindering the state’s reemergence by being part of government
  • under syrian regime control (1990-2005) - hezbollah focused on improving military capacity, religious institutions, and welfare network
  • has subcontracted internal security challenges to local actors and allies,threating the use of force to achieve political ends


  • amal and hezbollah civil war in the 1990’s was largely seen as a iranian-syrian showdown over who controls the Lebanese Shiites
  • syrian dominated order took shape under taif
  • syrian domination required the Rafik Hariri prime minister post
  • strong internal security aragement with iran to fight against israel
  • back in 1989, hezbollah was marginal to taif agreement
  • by 1990’s hezbollah’s institutions grew into microbanking, lower and higher education, health services, construction, assistance to families, scouts, and militia
  • hezbollah was the informal non-state representation for lebanese shiites, amal claimed the share in government
  • party officialy joined gov in 2005, as part of the al-Hilf al-Rubaii alliance, prioritized the weapons


  • surivial in 2006 war undermined the state
  • may 7th, 2008 - hezbollah took over west beirut
  • pushed Hariri out of power in 2011
  • entered the syrian conflict in 2012
  • hezbollah founded the lebanese brigades of resistance in 1997 to incorporate non-Shiite members

Resistance or the System

Changing the syrian Conflict Alibi

  • Joined the syrian conflict to “deter” the emerging threat
  • hassan nasrallah stated in 2013 that the conflict requires a wider engagement to prevent syria from falling into american hands

Fair al-Jurood

  • july 21st, 2017 - hezbollah launched the first operation against islamic state (is/isis/isil) and al-nusra
    • partnered with syrian military
  • lebanese military launched its own campaign in august
  • lebanese campaign threatened hezbollah’s raison d’etre because hezbollah’s arms requires the assumption that the army is incapable of defending the country alone


  • narrative that the state’s inability to defend itself gives hezbollah power
    • what can we think about artificial state narratives and iraq?

Janus in the Land of the Two Rivers: What Role for Militias in iraq? - Andrea Plebani

The hashd al-shaabi (PMF): an assessment

  • Still difficult to undestand whether they could represent a resource for the iraqi state or whether they will contribute to further destabilization
  • different geographical, ethnic and religious backgrounds, including mixed forces
  • also legitimized various underground militias
  • first reforms attempted in 2016
    • recongized the pmf as independent military formation within iraqi secuirty forces, haider al-abadi tried to pass a bill establishing a national guard (national guard law (2015)) to counterweight the PMF
    • eventual passing of the Hashd law on Nov 26, 2016
  • new decree in march 2018 (executive order 85 (2018))
    • entitled the PMF to the same compensation as as the ministry of interior and ministry of denfese
  • july 2019 degree called for formal PMF integration into state apparatuses

Critical Resources, Spoilers, or What?

  • pmf still maintains significant levels of autonomy at multiple levels
  • most powerful pmf networks have adopted a multi-pronged strategy at guarenteeing their influence within the Iraqi system
  • institutionalization and integration has represented an opportunity to plunder the state
  • significant influence by the iranian aligned ones gives them say in distributing of state resources
  • further consolidation can actually risk the cohesion of the security system
  • border activities still generate profit
  • sayroon and fatah (political party)

Conflict Resolution in Libya: How to Deal with Militias? Federica Saini Fasanotti, Arturo Varvelli

Hamas and the “Hezbollah model” in the Gaza Stripe - Giuseppe Dentice

  • does the transition of hamas into a political actor mean it is adopting a hezbollah model?
  • hamas is deeply centralized, but has grown more flexilbe over time
  • talks about how hamas has only shown minimal capability in institutionalizing state structures
  • hamas has tried to promote a gradual and constant process of transformation
    • seeks to be more independent than hezbollah
  • talks about the nature of democratic centralism
  • ultimately hezbollah and hamas are similar but not the same
    • both use resistance as a core principal
    • both consider military resistance
    • hamas has weaker military and political capacity
  • hamas is fully embedded in the arab-israeli context
  • islamism is a tired pretext, needs to fully transition into a political party if it wants to follow the hezbollah model