Learning from failure


Authored by: Robert Springborg

The Routledge Handbook of Civil–Military Relations

Print publication date:  September  2012
Online publication date:  November  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415782739
eBook ISBN: 9780203105276
Adobe ISBN: 9781136253218


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Militaries reacted to the “Arab Spring” uprisings of 2011 in a variety of ways: By stepping aside to facilitate a transition to democracy, as in Tunisia; by attempting, with greater or lesser success and degrees of fragmentation, to defend the incumbent regime, as in Libya, Yemen, Syria, and Bahrain; or, as in the case of Egypt, by seizing power, at least temporarily, in what may be termed a “coup-volution”—a preemptive coup intended to abort the further intensification of conflict and at least preserve, if not upgrade, the military's privileged political and economic position. 1 As the hyphenated term suggests, the Egyptian military's intervention did not appear to be a traditional coup, in that military leaders declared they were acting on behalf of the protesters and pledged to facilitate a speedy transition to civilian democracy. Unique, at least for the Middle East, this “coup-volution” provides novel evidence for the study of civil–military relations in a region in which militaries have been described as “ruling but not governing.” 2

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