Allure of the Army? Recruiting Rural Youth in the Lebanese Armed Forces
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The role of armies as principal employers and the allure of a career in the military have been largely understudied, especially in the Arab world. This chapter examines the social, demographic and economic basis for the recruitment of Lebanese Armed Forced (LAF) personnel in rural North Lebanon. It finds that youth seek an army career mainly for the social security provided, and thereby the prospects for social mobility. The many benefits of recruitment – social, educational, economic – are reasons why bribes (wasta) are offered to political patrons to help candidates circumvent sectarian quotas. However, army careers are attractive only to deeply impoverished households that are dependent on the unprofitable agrarian economy. Lack of employment alternatives drives young Muslims towards military careers, challenging selection criteria and confessional quotas.
The authors would like to thank Ms. Samara Youssef and Mr Ahmad Jahjah, who were members of the research team and who led the fieldwork in Akkar.
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