The Role of Militaries in the Middle East: A Conversation with Kevin Koehler (S. 5, Ep. 12)

pablo-19On this week’s podcast, Marc Lynch speaks with Kevin Koehler about the role of militaries in Middle East governments and how political scientists study Arab military. Koehler is an assistant professor at the department of political science at the American University in Cairo.

“If you compare the Egyptian military and the Tunisian military, obviously these are two very different institutions from and organizational perspective, but also their understanding of their political role.” Koehler says. “The Egyptian military sees itself as a political institution and has a history of this in their country, which is not true in the same extent for the Tunisian military.”

Koehler also speaks about his research interviewing the Syrian army deserters. “One of the main conclusions which came out of this is that the level of control and supervision— even in the context of the ongoing civil war— is extraordinary, relative to other militaries and what common sense explanations would suggest about what drives desertion and loyalty in the Syrian military.” Koehler says. “It’s much less about identity factors or sectarian factors and it’s much more about the lack of trust.”

Music for this season’s podcast was created by Feras Arrabi. You can find more of his work on his Facebook and Instagram page.

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Read more from Koehler:
Bankrolling containment: Saudi linkages with Egypt and Tunisia, August 2016 (with Ruth Hanau Santini)

Political militaries in popular uprisings: A comparative perspective on the Arab Spring, 2016.

The Syrian military has thousands of deserters. New research tells us why they left, December 2015.

For Money or Liberty? The Political Economy of Military Desertion and Rebel Recruitment in the Syrian Civil War, November 2016.