‘A must-read book for all those seeking to understand the
importance of armies in the rise and fall of states in the Arab
world and the critical role that they have played historically
and since the uprisings of 2011, written by one of the leading
experts on the subject.’ — Paul Salem, Vice President for
Policy and Research, the Middle East Institute, Washington DC
Guardians of the Arab State explains clearly and concisely how and why military organisations become involved in politics across the Middle East and North Africa, identifying four key factors: a high degree of organisational capacity, clear institutional interest, a forgiving population and weak civilian control.
Looking at numerous case studies ranging from Iraq to Mauritania, the book finds that these factors are common to all Arab countries to have experienced coups in the last century. It also finds that the opposite is true in cases like Jordan, where strong civilian control and the absence of capacity, interest, or a positive public image made coup attempts futile. Gaub convincingly argues that the reasons are structural rather than cultural, thereby proving a counter-narrative to conventional explanations which look at Arab coups along religious or historical lines.
In essence, the questions addressed in this groundbreaking book lead back to issues of weak statehood, legitimacy, and resource constraints — all problems the Arab world has struggled with since independence. It picks up where previous literature on Middle Eastern military forces dropped the debate, and provides an updated and insightful glimpse into the soul of Arab armies.
‘A masterful analysis of the complex and critical relationship
between Arab leaders and their militaries, which should be read by
anyone seeking to understand the Arab world — its history, the
catalysts for the Arab uprisings, and its trajectory for the future.’
— Mara E. Karlin, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense