What threat do militias and armed forces which are not under state control pose for its sovereignty? In Iraq, we have seen the establishment of a large number of militias after the Da’ish (the so-called Islamic State) seized Mosul in June 2014. What are the ramifications of the formation of military units beyond the control of the central state?
Max Weber’s well-known definition of the state as the institution which enjoys a monopoly on the use of force within a given territory is increasingly meaningless in the MENA region. Surveying the states of the region, we find that in many either the state is challenged by oppositional military forces or are unable to reign in militias which combat with the national army.
Moving from west to east, we find the Algerian military challenged by an al-Qa’ida affiliate – al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghrib (AQIM). In neighboring Libya, there is only a nominal national army with real power residing in a myriad of militias which are largely tribally and/or regionally based.
Tunisia also faces a threat from a militia which has sworn allegiance to Da’ish in the northwest of the country whole Egypt likewise faces a challenge to national authority in the Sinai Peninsula from the so-called Wilayat Sina (the Sinai Provicnce) which considers itself part of the Da’ish.
In Lebanon, the national army has always been weak in relations tom the militias run by the power brokers (al-zu’ama) of the countries various ethnosectarian groups, whether it be Hizb Allah, the Lebanese Forces, the Druz Militia and many others. In Syria, of course, there is a beleaguered national army which most likely would have collapse in the face of multiple militias throughout the country were it not for Russian intervention on the side of the Bashar al-Assad regime.
Although Turkey boasts the most powerful military in teh MNENA region after Israel, it faces a serious threat from a guerrilla movement, the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), which it has fought from 30 years. Just when it appeared that the conflict might be nearing resolution, the regime of President Rajeb Tayyib Erdogan decided to forsake negotiations for a reintroduction of military forces to bring the PKK and its supporters to heal. ow is this problem mpalying itsdelf in Iraq/HH
Yemen is largely a failed state and all the more so after discriminate bombing by Saudi Arabia. In other words, very few states in the MENA region have control over their territories from a military point of view.