What will replace these dictatorial regimes once the Arab Spring is over? This is a question luring in the background that is vital to answer. It all relies on how these states transition, aside from the fact that many of these countries, like Libya, are suffering from a power vacuum, which can and has led to the rise of extremists like the Taliban.
How will the new regimes transform, reform, and how will they address corruption in regard to security, institutions, and defense? The key issues at hand are regime consolidation, a successful transition of regimes, and most importantly—consolidation. Without consolidating the new regime another insurgency could occur, even if the new regime is democratic. Consolidating and transitioning to a new more democratic regime is vital. Domestic politics and policies will have a great impact on the security and defense institutions, as well as the viability of regimes.
Today, many new governments have combated corruption through conducting a complete overhaul of the individuals in governmental institutions. Literally, out with the old—in with the new. The old technocrats who participated in corruption or horrendous acts of human rights violations should be taken to The Hague to face the International Court of Justice; unfortunately this is not always the case. As seen in Iraq and now Libya, unjust execution and unfair trials against former leaders is the new international norm. Even Milosevic went to The Hague, but now this has become a foreign concept to implore in reconciliation. The way those responsible are held accountable, and they themselves are not held victim to unjust punishments—as was the case with Saddam Hussein who was tried by an Iraqi court and sentenced to death, or Qadaffi who was killed and then his corpse was portrayed across international media. The justice system of even these offenders is important for the creation of a just government.
The military and police should be replaced if possible by individuals who were not active in the previous regime. This can create a problem however, as in many former-totalizing regimes one had to be a member of the ‘Nazis’ or ‘Ba’ath’ party in order to teach, run a business, or earn decent wages. This lower level involvement should not be punished, as it was necessary for survival. Instead, only those most directly in places of influence should be ousted and tried at The Hague, this includes top ranking military personnel.
It is necessary to chastise the old and revere the new in order to gain support from citizens. The first years of the regime are vital towards state consolidation. Individuals have to feel the acts of the previous oppressors are punished justly and the new government in power is serving their interests. It is important to punish those who committed acts in a way that would coincide with the new governments practices, even in light of horrendous atrocities and human rights violations. Treating them unjust could be cataclysmic for the new regime considering many may still be supportive of the former.
As with any transition, a problem faced is capacity. Do individuals with know-how and experience exist who were not tied to the old regime? This is typically more difficult when the regime has been in power longer. As such the transitions for Egypt and Libya might be exceedingly difficult. However, Egypt has the institutions Libya is lacking. Institutions matter, and without them it is harder to consolidate the state and create a successful succession. Libya is left with a bumpier road to transition as it is without these institutions. It is vital to maintain institutions of governance from the old, but the new order must reform these institutions.
The future for North Africa and the Middle East is murky. Yes monsters like Qadaffi and Mubarak may now be out of power, but what will come next? The next steps are uncertain, but if the transition involves institution maintenance, consolidation of the regime, and a successful transition of regimes via The Hague—the future may indeed be brighter and the security, governmental, and defense sectors will toe the new regimes line, hopefully in the interests of their people.
Martha is a recent graduate from an MSc programme in Comparative Politics-Conflict Studies, at the London School of Economics, and currently a temporary Research Assistant pursuing a more permanent role. She completed a masters dissertation entitled: The Russian Empire Strikes Back! How Russia Controls Hydrocarbon Resources and Energy Access for Europe. As an undergraduate at the University of Central Florida she completed an undergraduate dissertation entitled Resource Conflict in the Caspian Sea Basin. She has also worked for an array of different campaigns, such as: Obama for America and Kendrick Meek for US Senate. Martha has a vested interest in both American politics and international affairs. Martha loves traveling anywhere and everywhere, and just came back from a road trip through the Balkans inclusive of Kosovo, and a trip through Europe and Morocco.