Tag Archives: political crisis

Iraq at Crossroads: The Test of State Resilience

The problems of Iraq are multiple, but most of them seem to originate from few deep rooted and long suppressed causes that, once released in 2003, started their uncontrollable tornado-like movement. However, in spite of their scary manifestations, neither the problems nor their effects are inherently deadly—they do not pose an existential threat to the present Iraqi state. There is a real danger though, that if not properly addressed they would keep unfolding and paralysing the state and the society and, as a result, bringing more dysfunctionality, misery and suffering.

VIDEO: Top Iraqi Cleric’s Followers Continue Protest inside Green Zone

Popular protests in Baghdad’s Green Zone demanding govenrnment reform, February 2016

Two alternatives

The only way out of the current impasse is for the country’s polity, backed by regional and global powers, to negotiate and enforce a set of political arrangements that reflect both the historic tradition and political culture, and the aspirations of contemporary Iraq’s diverse populations. Theoretically, there are two alternatives to consider:

— One is to disintegrate, partition into independent states with dominant ethnic or sectarian population in each. There are three scenarios: two states—Arab and Kurd; three states—Sunni, Shi’a, and Kurd; and four states–Sunni, Shi’a, Kurd and Turkmen.

— Another alternative is to preserve the Iraqi state in terms of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, through undergoing political reforms. Under this alternative one can distinguish two scenarios: to create a fully federal state with much power devolved to autonomous entities; and to strengthen resilience of the present state through institution building and decentralisation.

Neither of these alternatives is easy, straightforward or free from limitations and controversies. They will demand a commitment to concerted and sustained effort of all major sides concerned.


Although it may look to some as a quick-fix solution, the partitioning of Iraq does not appear a feasible solution when brought to close light, for a number of reasons.

First, the issue of borders is contentious. Each side claims more ground (and thus more resources) than others would give up. Mosul is the case in point. Unsettled land and border disputes have caused tensions and fighting in the past and present. Moreover, no third party would dare engaging in this dispute.

Second, it does not solve the issue of minorities, ethnic and sectarian divides, since the population elsewhere across the country is heterogeneous. Therefore, the sense of insecurity will remain as it cannot be solved automatically in such a set-up, and inter-group tensions will be inherited by now newly established states. Exchange of population runs risks of abuse, forceful deportation bordering with ethnic cleansing.

Third, divisions within each ethnic or sectarian group won’t disappear with the creation of new states. To the contrary, chances are high that once left on their own the local factions will fight each other for controlling the power even more fiercely. This rivalry tends to be quite violent and destructive, considering that each group has own militia at disposal.

Further, there is a risk that violent confrontation will weaken and put their survival as sovereign states into question. On the one hand, various extremist groups will take advantage and fill the power vacuum. On the other hand, small states with predominantly mono-ethnic or mono-sectarian population and weak political institutions may easily become satellites of influential neighbours.

There is also an international dimension to partitioning. Creation of new states based on ethnic and sectarian principle would raise tensions in the region: inspire calls for independence and alert the governments which are afraid of those aspirations as threatening the integrity of their states. Think of sectarian minorities across the Middle East and North Africa region. Think also of reactions of the governments in Ankara, Damascus and Tehran to creating an independent Kurdistan state. Today no one is ready to deal with this issue, under constraint of other pressing problems and the uncertainty of outcome—neither among various Kurdish groups, nor in the countries with Kurdish population in the region and in Europe, United States and Russia.

And finally, from economic perspective this option does not look attractive either. The new economies will be vulnerable due to their heavy reliance on oil and non-mineral exports. Industrial production and agriculture are at rudimentary levels, while for building technology-driven production and services they lack basic components such as communications infrastructure and skilled labour. The fact is that today the Iraqi economy is immature and thus cutting it in smaller pieces and distorting even those tiny existing value chains will further expose weaknesses and limit the capabilities for economic regeneration and growth in those states.

Most probably, this all will lead to even more inequality in wealth distribution, higher poverty and disenfranchisement of ordinary people. To sum up, the partitioning risks creating three failed states in place of the one struggling to avoid failing.


By the constitution of 2005, Iraq is a federal state whereby Kurdistan region is an autonomous federal unit with its own government. The relations between Baghdad and Erbil haven’t been always smooth and have been marked by numerous tag-of-war-like situations when important decisions and pieces of legislation were blocked in the Parliament or in the Council of Ministers. This rather tactical manoeuvring notwithstanding, it is right to say that federalism in Iraq has survived its test thus far.

Under this scenario Iraq would comprise three or four federal units with majority ethnic/sectarian population, respectively. This set-up is not impossible but requires a new constitutional arrangement with new devolved powers clearly stipulated. If properly designed and, most importantly, respected and implemented afterwards this constitution and the system it introduces may well work. It will to certain degree equalise the rights of Kurds, Sunni and Shi’a Arabs, in exercising the power and control of resources while (again, to certain degree) guaranteeing the rights of minorities in each federal unit. What it will not solve in and by itself is patrimonialism, corruption, divides between the country’s multiple political players, and the inefficiency of its public administration.

There are two features of federalism that must be accepted by Iraq’s political elites (especially its Shi’a establishment) before they all decide to endeavour in this direction. One is that, although federalism offers a solution through decreased ethno-sectarian tensions (especially in a short term), it also encourages and fosters demands for secession over time. To borrow from the English constitutional theorist A.V. Dicey, ‘there is no midway between federalism and independence.’  This is already an issue in Kurdistan, where the leadership has announced their intention to take course on the independence referendum—a move that makes Baghdad’s political establishment feeling uneasy. How would they react if two entities decide to secede one day? These are not easy things to digest. Therefore, accepting a legitimate right of each federal entity to break away through a popular vote at some point is one precondition to this scenario.

Another feature is about the degree of decentralisation. How much power does the federal government retain? In which policy and decision making domains, areas? And how deep down the hierarchy the power would devolve (entity, region, province, municipality, community)? What about tax collection? Which provisions would allow federal government taking full control and command and how do they define those exceptional and extraordinary circumstances (like wars and natural disasters)? These questions sound rather technical, but as ever the devil is in this sort of details. Finding the right balance between the empowering of federal units and the limiting of central government’s powers is a delicate business, but also vital one for the functionality of the future federal state. More clarity is there from the start, more of these are agreed upon and stipulated formally higher chances are that it will work smoothly.


Institution building

The real problem of Iraq lies in its institutions, which struggle to adapt to the changed regime type, on the one hand, and to the fast evolving external circumstances, on the other hand. This puts the state’s resilience under serious test. Iraq is undergoing an evolutionary process, albeit under extreme circumstances, where it has to transition into a stable and modern democratic state. Take, for example, the recent political deadlock when the attempts of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to reform to improve the effectiveness of government were met with unanimous resistance of political elites who benefit from existing institutional arrangements. The fact that the collision between political decay and regeneration has taken an extreme, at times violent, forms does not change or deny the nature of this process—which is and remains inherently dialectical.

This scenario therefore aims at strengthening the regenerational, reformist forces within the Iraqi political system. It will do so by institution building and strengthening the resilience of current government apparatus without attempting to change the country’s constitutional set-up. In fact, it has been recognised by practitioners and in academic literature that the Iraqi constitution has all provisions in it to ensure democratisation and devolved governance, to guarantee the rights of minorities.  The problem, as frequently the case, is not with the constitution itself but with its implementation.

There are four factors necessary for the success of any reform. First is about the constellation of power—that is, how strong are the pro-reform forces, how well organised and cohesive is their coalition, and how inclusive it is in covering the geographic and administrative areas as well as various segments of society. Second is about the independence of bureaucracy (understood in Weberrian, technocratic terms) from undue political influence—that is, the ability of civil servants and public employees to do their job without being significantly constrained by political parties and blocs. Third factor is about technical capacity of government to perform. It concerns both the capacity of individuals and the quality of administrative processes. Fourth factor is about domestic ownership. It is driven by commitment to reform of politicians, public and private employees, entrepreneurs, citizenry at large and their organised groups who see the change necessary, not merely desirable.

I won’t speculate on the parameters under each factor, but analysis of available information and personal observations allow saying that all four factors are present in Iraq today, although neither is strong enough to make it through without sustained, long-term, and quite intensive and targeted effort.

The success of this scenario is strongly conditioned on performance and tangible outcomes. The government will need to achieve and convincingly demonstrate results continuously, in order to prove its effectiveness and maintain its legitimacy and credibility. To do so, the government, along with resources, will have to (a) fight the systemic corruption effectively; (b) endeavour in meaningful justice and rule of law reforms to enable reconciliation and enhance the sense of patriotism that crosses the ethnic and sectarian divides; and (c) adopt flexible approaches that would enable it to manage by discovery, timely adapt to the changing circumstances and to build the overall resilience of the system.

*                  *                  *

I do not conclude this piece with traditional summary of findings and recommendations; the aim was to outline the options with certain degree of detail on their advantages and limitations—this all is a work-in-progress, after all. However, it is clear from the above that I favour the institution building scenario.

Because political history of Iraq as a modern independent state in the course of last hundred years, since the end of World War I, makes a strong case for its resilient capabilities and thus, backs this scenario. From the Hashemite royalty set up by the British colonial rule, through pan-Arabism to Ba’athism, and most recently extremist political Islamism the Iraqi statehood has been put at test. The processes within these contestations have complicated the religious, ethnic, linguistic, national and regional identities. Nevertheless, every time Iraq struggled but bounced back to preserve its integrity.

Also, because this scenario points clearly to the way forward without grand theories behind (hardly anyone would agree that they are suited for Iraq today) and instead rests on a series of relatively small but manageable tactical interventions. And finally, because it is the only option which is practically implementable to deliver tangible results in the immediate term—and time matters.

A full version of this article was first posted on PolicyLabs under the title This is Iraq’s Call: The Road to Take. It is the last in a series of Political Crisis in Iraq: The Things Must Change.

Part I: Political institutions, Politics, Governance

Part II: Economic institutions, Financial stability

Part III: State security, Human security

Part IV: Alternatives, Scenario

I would like to thank Dr. Munqith Al Baker and Dr. Richard Huntington for their substantive comments, valuable conceptual insights and factual contributions made in the course of the work over this series of articles.

Syrian ‘Perfect War’: A Game Changer

Children ride in carts on the third day of Eid al-Adha in the rebel controlled city of Idlib

Children ride in carts on the third day of Eid al-Adha in the rebel controlled city of Idlib, Syria September 14, 2016. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah

What is happening in Syria today is not yet ‘another violent conflict fought in the volatile Middle East’. It started five years ago in line with scenario played in many other places over centuries. However, due to internal political dynamics, regional rivalries and cross-border influences, competing geopolitical interests of many actors, as well as the active presence of global terrorist organisations this conflict has grown in something the world has not seen before—it is surely moving toward becoming a Perfect War, the kind of world war of the twenty-first century.

Ending the Syrian War by traditional methods is already impossible; it has been proven by numerous failures and the deterioration further into the abyss of uncontrollable fighting. New approaches must be explored and tested on the ground—this will demand new, unorthodox ways of decision making, cooperation, and implementation.


  • There are many wars fought in Syria today, with different agendas and actors involved, but all have one thing in common—they are driven by political power and influence.
  • These wars become increasingly integrated and evolve toward becoming one single multifaceted violent conflict, which no one can control and with no end in sight.
  • Solution to this conundrum is only one—to abandon the idea of achieving a comprehensive peace in one move and instead decompose the problem into small parts, and implement sets of limited tasks to effectively address them, in order to progress toward the ultimate goal over time.

Looking Beyond the Events:

There are many wars fought in Syria today, with different agendas and actors involved, but all of them are about political power and influence. Today, Syria is a battleground for a number of wars. Each has it its own contexts, underlying conflict drivers, prize at stake, and actors involved directly and covertly. They are fought by a large group of local, regional, national, and transnational actors. Many are involved in more than one war and the aims they pursue and alliances they make in each war are different. Therefore the phrase Syrian War refers to conglomerate of wars closely related to and reinforcing each other.

Three wars are fought for direct power control in Syria. One is civil war. It started from the violent confrontation between the opposition-turned rebels and the authoritarian regime of Bashar al-Assad, in 2011. The government does not intend to give up the power while the opposition wants to take it all. This zero sum game has a number of implications. More protracted it is, more resources it demands, more atrocities are committed, and fewer chances are left for its ultimate resolution (which extends to post-war stabilisation, reconciliation, and rebuilding the country).

Another war is initiated by militant Islamist groups who took advantage of power vacuum and mess created by civil war in pursuit of their own goals: ISIL to establish a self-ruled caliphate; al-Qaeda and other jihadists to exert influence over Syrian state. Originally it alien to Syrian political context, but in the course of five-and-half years managed to become part of it.

Initially in the shadow of these two but growing prominent and creating yet another set of proxy wars is the war of Syrian Kurds. The Kurds, too, aim at reshaping the power balance in Syria in their own favour—getting a recognised autonomous region. By establishing Rojava under their control in the north, they advanced their cause but further complicated the issues for external actors working to end the war (e.g. two NATO members, Turkey and the US).

Proxy wars derive from those three wars and are overlapping, confusing and conflicting with each other. Take a few examples. Regime of Assad is supported by Russia and Iran, while the opposition is backed by the US, Saudi Arabia and Persian Gulf countries. On the other hand US, Turkey, Russia and Iran fight against ISIL. Saudi Arabia also backs non-ISIL Islamist groups which in turn support al-Qaeda’s affiliate. It appears that Saudi Arabia and Turkey are also backing jihadist groups that fight Assad. The US strongly backs the Kurdish forces, but Turkey has drawn its troops to the north to counter them under premise of fighting ISIL. And the list goes on and on, with these and many other smaller players entering the game.

The wars become increasingly integrated and evolve toward becoming one single multifaceted violent conflict, with no end in sight. The wars overlap geographically and in their drivers, incentives, and aims. They overlap in terms of actors involved, from government forces, to various governments sponsored militia, to mercenaries and terrorists on almost all sides. They keep adapting to fast changing circumstances on the ground, pursuing their goals by multiple tactical means, switching sides, merging campaigns with those whom they have seemingly irreconcilable differences at strategic level—and thus contributing to increased integration of wars.

The uncompromising stand of Syrian government and opposition only strengthens the hand of those who want to proliferate from this situation, by offering them an opportunity to dig deeper into political process at the expense of Syrian moderate opposition groups. Jihadists gradually become part of the civil war, mix with rebels and thus pose a risk of highjacking the political contest.

Syrian opposition movement has not been homogeneous from the outset. However, certain categorisation of them, in terms of ideologies and the means they employed was still possible. Today, it is very difficult to distinguish between ‘moderate’ rebels and ‘extremists’ as the former are increasingly radicalised and in desperation many of them join forces with jihadist groups.

The result of this integration is that, by compensating each other’s limitations, the Syrian wars evolve into one self-sustaining conflict—the Perfect War—that is fought for its own sake, is self-sufficient in terms of attracting resources and satisfying its needs, and can last permanently.

Solution to this conundrum is only one—to abandon the idea of achieving a comprehensive peace in one move and instead decompose the problem into small parts and develop and implement a series of limited tasks to address them. The situation in Syria is out of control and there is no such power in the world—individual or collective—that can control it. Before the full integration of Syrian wars a fundamentally new approach to finding solution must be employed.

In complex situations with high risk and uncertainty, many alternatives, and small information available the decision making shall be simple and tactical. For that, small manageable tasks are adapted to environment and then multiple moves carried out simultaneously or subsequently, in various places and directions. Another condition is that the tasks shall be decoupled (but well coordinated) to extent possible so that to isolate their failures from affecting other tasks. This is where less becomes more, in terms of outcome.

Interestingly, this approach is already being tested in the Syrian war framework. Take, for example, the successful attempts of US and Russia (in spite of principal differences in stands with regard to the future of Assad) to establish a ceasefire in Aleppo, to allow delivering humanitarian aid and to share the US intelligence in order to target Jabhat Fateh al-Sham. Or consider the recent deal between the Syrian government and the rebels, on surrendering the Damascus suburb Daraya. These examples prove that small-scale, localised tasks are manageable.

The adversaries have been ahead of the game in terms of decoupling, though. Their recent manoeuvring with rebranding Jabhat al-Nusra into Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (thus pretending to dissociate from al-Qaeda) and subsequent ‘defection’ of a fraction from it to create their own group clearly demonstrate that.

The goal of establishing lasting peace in Syria can be achieved by redefining the engagement strategy. Large scale military campaigns are one of a means to an end: pulling out ISIL form occupied territories and decapitating militant groups are necessary but not sufficient. Neither are high-level (presumably representative and all-inclusive) peace talks. The daily job of progressing toward the desirable end-state in Syria is through numerous, random, tactical interventions aimed at searching for, understanding, and building on the existing opportunities for peace and strengthening local resilient capacity.

Full version of this post was published on PolicyLabs: A Potential Game Changer in Syrian ‘Perfect War’.

For the analysis of scenarios see: The Syrian War: How to Move from Chaos to Peace  

Security in Africa: perspectives for 2016!

The past year, had its “crop” of crises and victims on the African continent. The security balance sheet of year 2015 is thus mitigated enough. If we trust the 2015 Global Peace Index (GPI), published by Institute for Economics and Peace, insecurity globally stagnated from a point of view of its intensity. According to the GPI, we count among the most secure countries : Ghana, Botswana, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Tanzania and Gabon. It should be noted, that Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea-Bissau, demonstrated the most remarkable national security level improvements. On the other hand, we notice among the “bad pupils” : South Sudan, CAR, Somalia, DRC, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Mali, South Africa and Burundi.

Several factors allow to estimate the level of safety on the continent. The threats are multiple and strike the African countries in diverse ways and with a relative intensity. Terrorism remains the major threat affecting countries as Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria and Mali. Politico-military crises (political instability) also affects countries such as Burundi, DRC, South Sudan and CAR. A high level of criminality also strikes Nigeria, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Angola and Libya. The small weapons illicit traffic affects all the regions of the continent, given the conflicts which occurred there and which continue (Libya, Mali, CAR, etc.). Maritime piracy, also continues to weaken exchanges in the African waters, especially in the Gulf of Guinea and Gulf of Aden (Somalia, etc.). Finally, the questions of the security sector governance, remain a concern, because the security systems of several African states, are failing and require in-depth reforms. We do not pretend, to cover all the issues which threaten those states, but this brief assessment allows us to realize the urgency, to take into account very quickly all these challenges by building a strong security sector governance and reinforcing the regional and international cooperation.

In 2015, we made a few recommendations based on a 2014 security assessment in Africa. Today, it seems  crucial to assess if those recommendations have been carried out and if so, how effective they have been?

1/ With regard to the issue of political violence and political crises generally, it should be noted, that several elections were positively conducted on the continent in 2015. Ivory Coast moreover surprised the international community by its political maturity. On the other hand, countries as Burkina Faso which finally held calmed elections at the end of the year, endured military coups, bringing disorder. The Year 2016 will be too, rich in presidential elections in particular in Gabon, DRC,  Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda and Benin. The conditions around some of these elections remain shady and conflicting. We thus recommend, in order to prevent pre-electoral, electoral and post-election tensions, the following : a) the signature of a charter of acceptance of democratic alternation by all political parties, to reiterate their respect for the democratic game; b) the signature of a charter of inviolability of the constitution by all political actors, to avoid any unconstitutional violence; c) the UN and AU support in the follow-up of the pre-electoral and electoral process by the installation of surveillance missions. These missions could include nationals of countries which had successful elections in 2015, such as Ivory Coast, Guinea and Burkina Faso; d) a strong mobilization of the civil society following the example of the ” Balai Citoyen” in Burkina Faso. Indeed, citizen mobilization so as to ensure transparent and democratic elections is more than necessary in Africa. Citizen watch has to express itself in the respect for the law and be taken into account by national leaders.

2/ Concerning the fight against terrorism, the continent mobilized militarily speaking. Indeed, several initiatives were taken or are in the course of execution, both at the coordination and operational levels, in particular the creation of a multinational mixed force ( 8700 men) by the Lake Chad Basin Commission and the G5 Sahel which organizes the installation of a joint integrated general staff. In a pragmatic way, all the current initiatives are essentially military, in regard to regional cooperation or combat equipment assistance or intelligence support or still in terms of capacity building of the African armies by the western armies. The civil dimensions of this merciless fight against terror spread by the Islamic State, Boko Haram, el Shabbab or Aqmi, remains neglected. Thus we recommend for 2016 the following measures: a) a regional and national mobilization for the implementation of sensitization and awareness politics, towards populations to thwart the psychological warfare engaged by these terrorist groups; b) the actual setting up at the national level, of watch groups in all the communities, to alert the authorities in case of threats; c) the increase of the Human Development Index (HDI), in every African country to break the link “ignorance-poverty-terrorism”; d) a greater commitment of the Muslim communities, in the fight against terror, by creating watch committees in order to foster awareness and sensitization; e) the effective creation of elite units specialized in counter terrorism, would be a main advantage; f) the formulation and implementation of national policies aimed at preventing and repressing any religious radicalisation!

3/ Concerning the post-crisis tensions which affect few countries, such as Burkina Faso, we suggest the following : a) the pursuit of any Security Sector Reforms (SSR) national program, in countries such as Mali and Ivory Coast. The formulation and implementation of a SSR national policy in countries as Burkina Faso, enduring a paralysis of its security systems is necessary. The SSR must be regularly monitored, by an independent mechanism, to ensure its coherence and its efficiency; b) the institution of viable mechanisms of human development, allowing to fight against the impoverishment of the African societies and so to reduce their vulnerability; c) the acceptance of the rules of good governance is critical for these countries, which in a context of recovery also have to create a mechanism in charge of promoting on one hand, integrity, transparency, ethics and accountability and on the other hand, sanctioning any breach in these principles.

4/ Regarding training and capacity building, the creation of civilian think tanks dedicated to strategic thinking, is on the agenda more than ever. Indeed, reflection remains the heart of anticipation and prevention. Several centres or institutes already exist regarding security on the continent in particular, The Institute for Security Studies (ISS, South Africa), the Moroccan Centre of Strategic Studies (CMES, Morocco) or still the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC, Ghana) and the Institute for Strategic Studies and Defence (IESD, Ivory Coast). The interaction between these centres and states, is critical to enrich research on the highly strategic matters. However, it is crucial that these centres are not just the consequence of a trend. Indeed, the example of the IESD is edifying, because since the launch of its activities in June, 2015, no activity was organized. Worse, the IESD does not have a management team, no recruitment was made, it has no headquarters and no training program. It is almost an empty shell.

5/ Finally, with regard to borders control, the African states are more than ever vulnerable, because having excessively permeable borders. Indeed, this porosity favors the traffics of every type from drug trafficking, to human trafficking. It is time for the African countries to consider borders control as an absolute priority. Sound national borders control policies must be formulated and implemented. The cross-border cooperation owes, too to be reconsidered and improved in particular in the monitoring of migration flows! Moreover, a better control of the borders contributes widely to the fight against several plagues of which terrorism.

So as to conclude, we have in a few words, covered critical issues to be addressed in 2016. It is up to African states, to welcome the strategic reflection with open arms, in order to enrich the existing state capacities. Besides it is urgent that the resolutions stemming from various meetings on security held in 2014 and 2015 (Dakar Forum , Tana Forum, etc.), see a beginning of implementation. To finish, the task can seem extremely difficult, however to reflect Antonio Gramsci’s famous quote,  ” even if we are pessimists because of intelligence, we have to be optimists because of will “.


Post-crisis stabilization: Case study of Burkina Faso!

The events currently striking Burkina, just reflect how much the post-crisis stabilization process was not conducted in a positive manner. The military coup which started on Wednesday, September 16th, 2015, shows one more time the destabilizing role of the African armies, when they are instrumented. Burkina which was about to finalize its transition, finds itself in a catastrophic situation with this military takeover by force.

The armies are very often, the engines of destabilization of the African regimes. The causes were widely examined, but the main ones remain the political instrumentalization and the lack of civic virtue. Mali was destabilized by its army, the same goes for many countries of which Ivory Coast in 1999. Indeed, many servicemen are actors of the destabilization of their countries, but not all of them. It is not a question of saying that all the servicemen are instrumented and to throw depreciation on the profession. Quite the opposite, it is a question of reminding how much responsible the African Armies are in the instability of the continent. The case of Burkina is very interesting, because while we are writing this post, the armed forces (army, gendarmerie and air force) are intervening to bring the transition back to its initial point, due to the unsatisfactory ECOWAS agreement proposal with the rebels (RSP). The RSP (elite presidential force) which conducted the military coup is facing the rest of the defense and security forces.

Countries in post-crisis situation or which are in full reconstruction, often overestimate their stabilization process. Some, consider themselves even stable, without all the prerequisites being taken into account. It is exactly this excess of confidence in a galloping economy, in some positive signs of recovery, that deceive the decision-makers and their vigilance.

The armies which are often affected by the interference of politics in the military affairs, find themselves compromised and partial. Moreover, an “elite unit” (RSP of Burkina), is often excessively armed and affiliated with a regime. However, it is good to underline that the army is in principle, the emanation of the nation and thus its reflection. A divided nation has a vulnerable army. On the contrary, A united army, worried of serving the Nation and apolitical, reflects a solid and constructed nation. How many African countries can boast to have such defense and security forces? Little, except some exceptions such as, South Africa, Ghana, Morocco and Senegal.

We shall now recall what we consider as being the major points of any post-crisis stabilization process, by emphasizing the fact that there are no “miracle solution” :

1/ The question of the national ownership of multisectorial stabilization is major. Indeed, several countries essentially built their stabilization process around an economic recovery program which is naturally insufficient (Cote d’Ivoire, etc.). Post-crisis stabilization is multidimensional and has to be considered as such! For instance, some countries implemented a heavy and expensive DDR program with mitigated results.

2/ Economic recovery, reconciliation and pacification of the territory must be concomitantly driven. In many cases, one is achieved to the detriment of the others, which has the effect of weakening the whole social reconstruction effort.

3/ To be successful, post-crisis stabilization and recovery must be inclusive. It is up to the political decision-makers to allow that any process of stabilization takes into account all the national stakeholders (civil society, NGOs, etc.). The marginalization of any of them, would weaken the whole process. Only an inclusive stabilization process is viable.

4/ Stability relies upon justice, reconciliation, good governance, social and economic reconstruction, political will from the “winner” and Security Sector Reform (SSR) implementation. The case of Burkina Faso, illustrates the necessity of an in-depth reform of its security and defense systems. An army which contributes constantly to destabilize a country is in distress. SSR brings coherence and professionalism in the defense and security sector.

5/ Mediation from exterior partners is vital. For instance the role of France in contributing to achieve stability in Côte d’ivoire is noteworthy. More than that, the role of international actors like Human Rights Watch, the United Nations and others to monitor the evolution of major issues in post conflict countries is also noticeable. Regional actors are as important. In the case of Burkina Faso, the involvement of ECOWAS is necessary.

6/ The inestimable financial and technical contribution of exterior partners, is an important factor of a successful post-crisis stabilization process. Indeed, the role of the international organizations and the bilateral partners is not to be underestimated. Very often, it is the exterior stakeholders who create the conditions of return to normality by accompanying countries afflicted by many years of conflict.

So as to conclude, we must keep in mind that once Burkina Faso will come out of this major crisis, the country will have to implement its transition process until the elections take place. Then, a post-crisis stabilization process could be conducted in a sustainable manner by being inclusive and comprehensive.

From crisis to emergence

African countries all seek emergence a way or another. The path to emergence is long and tortuous. unfortunately “scourges” like corruption,  political crisis and military conflicts negatively affect that “hope for development”.

The case of Senegal is a good example of an African country seeking development and reaching its goal. Senegal is always cited as an example of good governance and good practices compared to many other countries. A Senegalese NGO created an indicator (mackymetre.com)  to measure the level of implementation of President’s Macky Sall presidential program. The Senegalese note their president’s program in terms of what has effectively been achieved since Macky Sall is in power. As of today, 100 key actions have not been executed, 23 are being implemented and 15 have been achieved. 9.6 per cent of the Senegalese are satisfied with the implementation level while 31.2 per cent are not! Those results just confirm the world bank latest “doing business” ranking regarding Senegal which ranks 178 out of 189 countries. On the other hand, Mo Ibrahim’s Foundation for Governance, ranks Senegal 10 out of 52 countries in 2013.

This Senegalese progress and governance indicator should become a reference in west Africa and be implemented as much as possible in order to foster governance good practices and democratic scrutiny.

Although Senegal still faces the Casamance crisis, the country is reaching development at a reasonable pace despite a difficult business environment!

Another country that deserves our attention is Cote d’Ivoire. The country came out of it’s political crisis in 2011 and is growing fast in specific fields and is slow in others!

Cote d’Ivoire is still in a post crisis environment because stabilisation is not achieved yet. Indeed, major fields like Governance, social reconstruction and economic recovery, Security Sector Reform (SSR), Justice and Reconciliation are unevenly taken into consideration.

President Ouattara announced emergence in 2020. This announcement was made without any public consultation to make sure people understood what “emergence” meant exactly?

In fact the best way to assess the level of implementation of the President’s presidential program is to monitor it’s key actions until today. A way to do so is to ask the people themselves. In order to reach emergence, we should have asked the people what their expectations were and their assessment of the President’s program implementation.

So Cote d’Ivoire is performing great regarding major investments but insufficiently regarding small and medium businesses involved in economic recovery. Justice is still unevenly applied, social reconstruction is more or less on it’s way, governance needs to be strengthened, SSR is hardly implemented because of a lack of national ownership and a lack of independent monitoring/assessment mechanism. At last, reconciliation is stalling because the major actors concerned are lacking political will and the origins of the crises that stroke the country are not tackled efficiently and entirely.

Indicators like Mo Ibrahim and Transparency International, rank Cote d’Ivoire among the worst countries despite the World Bank promising analyses (Doing business).

The stabilisation process will continue to stumble and stall unless problems that led to all the crises are solved a way or another. It is precisely the lack of involvement of the actors which slows down the whole recovery process that should if achieved lead Ivoirians to emergence in 2020.

Finally, in the case of Mali a political crisis melt with a terrorism issue. Mali is far from emergence therefore efforts are being made in that end. The major issue for now is pacification of the territory and solving the issue with MNLA. Recovering the territories is the priority and fighting Al Qaida is a prerequisite to peace and prosperity in the country and furthermore in the region.

The Malian government is tackling the stabilisation process with the help of international experts. One must bear in mind that a successful stabilisation process in the country is a prerequisite to its development. Reconciliation with the “Tuareg people” is also a prerequisite to stability in the country.

From those three specific examples taken in west Africa, one can easily assess the need for a sound, coherent and inclusive stabilisation and recovery program in a post conflict environment in order to reach emergence.