Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 05/2015

Taming the Militias: Building National Guards in Fractured Arab States

Frederic Wehrey, Ariel I. Ahram

May 2015

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


Since the eruption of the Arab Spring in 2011, centralized military power has broken down in North Africa, the Levant, and Yemen, and several weak Arab states have turned to local militias to help defend regimes. While these pro-government militias can play important security roles, they have limited military capacity and reliability. Transitioning militia fighters into national guard forces with formal ties to the national command structure can overcome some of these limitations, but the shift must be accompanied by a wider commitment to security sector reform and political power sharing.