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Militarization and Militia-ization: Dynamics of Armed Group Proliferation in Egypt and Libya


This paper analyses the drivers behind some of the different types of proliferation of armed groups in power and politics that have taken place in the Middle East and North Africa after 2011. Based on thick empirical description and analysis of the highly distinct ways that armed groups have proliferated in Egypt and in Libya since 2011, the paper pinpoints two key dynamics: first, a process of “militarization of contention” in which regime-orchestrated repression drives forth a transformation of contentious politics from non-violent to armed forms of action. Second, a process of “militia-ization of politics” in which warfare, foreign interventions and the weakness of nascent state institutions drives forth a process in which armed actors are allowed to consolidate and expand their influence politics without necessarily sharing ideology or political agendas. The paper ends by drawing a number of policy-oriented conclusions with the aim to inspire international and local actors who seek to engage in tackling these threats and challenges.

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