Military and politics in the Mediterranean

Authored by: Aurel Croissant , Tanja Eschenauer

Routledge Handbook of Mediterranean Politics

Print publication date:  August  2017
Online publication date:  August  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138903982
eBook ISBN: 9781315696577
Adobe ISBN:


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The Mediterranean with its variety of different regime types and patterns of political–military relations serves as a natural laboratory for scholars of political–military relations. In this chapter, we look at the varying political roles of militaries in Mediterranean politics from the early post-World War II era until the recent wave of anti-regime uprisings in the Arab world. For this purpose, we develop a conceptual framework that differentiates between: i) the military’s role in state- and nation-building; ii) the military’s role in organizing and exercising political power; and iii) the military’s role in revolutions and regime transitions. Our comparative analysis finds that the political roles of Mediterranean militaries have underwent significant transformations since World War II. While many militaries regularly interfered in the political process, dominated politics or served as the actual ruler until the 1970s, today, most Mediterranean militaries are servants of the civilian authorities under political control. Yet militaries in the Arab countries of the Mediterranean constitute an exception as Arab armed forces still play influential roles in politics and, as the Arab Spring demonstrated, are decisive for the political survival of authoritarian regimes.

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