The Challenges of Arab Counterinsurgency by Florence Gaub, Al-Ahram Weekly
The Arab War on Terror is in full swing. Never has the region seen as many terrorist networks, guerrilla groups and militias fighting against governments as now. In Egypt, Iraq, Algeria and Yemen, central governments are struggling with insurgencies of one type or another, with Western governments providing tacit or overt support.
Unfortunately, counterinsurgency is a difficult business for Arab states – for all states for that matter.
Egypt’s Sinai campaign is now in its fourth year; Yemen’s Houthis have come back with a vengeance after a decade in which six military campaigns were run against them; Algeria fought an outright war against Islamist networks in the 1990s but low levels of terrorism have persisted since then and are now on the rise.
Years of training and $25 billion in aid failed to produce an Iraqi security force capable of eradicating, or even containing, a proto-state organisation like ISIS. The Libyan and Syrian forces did not manage to put down the uprisings they were supposed to quell.
So why is it that counterinsurgency does not come easily to regimes in the Middle East and North Africa? …