Continuing an annual tradition, and born of a concern rooted in contemporary political developments in the Arab world, the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies will host the fifth annual Conference on the Democratic Transition: the Army in Politics During Democratic Transition from October 1-3, 2016. Previous conferences within the same series were held in Doha: “Islamists and Democratic Governance”, October 6-7, 2012, and “Islamist Movements and Questions of Citizenship”, September 28-30, 2013; Jordan: “Sectarianism and the Creation of Minorities in the Greater Arab Mashreq”, September 13-15, 2014; and Tunisia: “Violence and Politics in Contemporary Arab Societies”, September 12-14, 2015.


The 1-3 October, 2016 conference will build on the tradition of academic rigor which those previous meetings upheld. With particular attention to the situation of many Arab countries today, the meeting will focus on the theoretically problematic nature of the relationship between the military and political establishments during periods of social transformation, in particular during democratic transitions. It is therefore not intended as a solely historical conference. Further details are available in the background paper (available here in Arabic). Specific themes which the conference participants will address include:


·         The military and coups d’état through history

·         The military during the period of Arab liberalism

·         Military doctrines: ideology in the ranks and the case of the Free Officers

·         The relationship between militaries and socio-political movements and parties: Islamist, Nationalist, leftist and Communist

·         The military in the midst of Arab civil wars and prolonged civil conflicts: Yemen, Lebanon, Sudan, Syria and Iraq

·         The officer ranks as a fraternity: internal codes of conduct and economic interests

·         Burgeoning military budgets: factors behind the increasingly significant share of state budgets and Gross National Product given to the military

·         Special and elite units within the military, and relations to the army overall

·         The army and militia

·         The military and societal groups: the role of regional, sectarian and other sub-national belongings as a criterion in the recruitment and enlistment of individuals into the military; the relationship with the socio-political structure of a country

·         Public confidence in the military

·         The political roles of the military; military attitudes towards the present-day democratic transitions

·         Rehabilitating the standing of the militaries in internally divided Arab societies following prolonged civil conflicts; the ascendancy of a rhetoric of saving the state through preservation of the military