What Has Changed in Policing since the Arab Uprisings of 2011? Challenges to Reform and Next Steps

Since 2011, the police have been at the centre of the contestation rocking the Arab world. Part 1 mapped out some of the main modes of contestation and provided a preliminary assessment of their impact on police practices. This paper examines what is still holding up police reform attempts, presents possible future scenarios for policing practices in the region, and assesses the role of donor states, notably Europe, in supporting security sector reforms in MENA

The killing by Minneapolis police officers of George Floyd in May 2020 has ignited large protests across the United States and Europe, blending critique of the police with protest over racial inequality, the distribution of power and poverty. However, in the Middle East and North Africa, the police have been at the centre of the contestations rocking the Arab world since 2011. In countries currently in the throes of conflict, there is a growing desire for the return of the police amidst a high level of lawlessness and a proliferation of armed groups.  Yemenis’ perceptions of policemen as security providers have been improving since 2017,1 Libyans have much more trust in formal security providers (the Security Directorate and the Municipal Council) than in militias,2 and Syrians hope that it will be the police and not the feared Mukhabarat or non-state groups that is responsible for providing security in the future).3

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