The Saudi war machine put to the test by its own ambitions

Berghezan Georges

This report aims to present the major features of Saudi Arabia’s defence and security apparatus. One of the main findings of this study is that, especially since Prince Mohammed bin Salman became head of the Ministry of Defence in 2015, the kingdom is no longer content to be the best customer of arms dealers in the world, as it has been for decades. 

Mexico: López Obrador’s Security Policy, an impossible demilitarization?

Luntumbue Michel

Mexico is in the grip of a major security crisis. Over the past decade, it has resulted in an exponential increase in insecurity and homicides linked to organized crime. The pivotal position of the country between the United States and Central and South America is one of the determining factors of this crisis. Mexico remains the transit country for drug trafficking from South America, American arms, and Central American migratory flows to the United States. While crime remains a challenge for Mexican democracy, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was elected in July 2018 on the promise of a pacification policy that breaks with the logic of militarization of his predecessors. This Analysis Note offers a perspective on the security approach of the new Mexican president, in light of the challenges encountered during his first year in office

Photo credit: Président López Obrador (

Monitoring of regional Stability in the Sahel region and in West Africa - January to March 2020

Dusoulier Amandine

This quarterly monitoring, published by GRIP since 2011, aims to monitor the security situation in West Africa with a focus on Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Senegal. It examines in particular broad internal security issues, regional tensions, and cross-border and transnational crimes.

Photo credit: Demonstration of the FNDC movement in Conakry in 2019 (source: Acte2FNDC)

Means, Drivers and Limits of the Indonesian Military Industrial Ambitions

Quéau Yannick

Since the end of the 2000s, the Indonesian government has designed and implemented an ambitious arms modernization strategy, which seeks to develop its defence industry. A decade after the announcement of this project, it is time to assess the country’s progress in regards to its arms modernization goals. This research paper identifies the drivers of arms procurement in Indonesia and takes into account both regional and national dynamics and how these developments have impacted Djakarta’s ambitions. It sets out the terms for the development of an Indonesian defence industrial and technological base and concludes by commenting on the limits of the model followed.

Photo credit:  President University


Scope and limits of Saudi Arabia Military’s strategy

Fleurant Aude-Emmanuelle Quéau Yannick

Considering its significant investment in defence, Saudi Arabia’s attempts to create a national arms industry capable of supplying equipment to the Saudi military have historically produced limited results. To change this, Riyadh designed in 2017 a public strategy named “Vision 2030” for economic reorganization and diversification with a military-industrial component. This research paper provides an overview of the issues related to this ambition of Riyadh. It presents the main determinants of the arms market, emphasizing the profile and characteristics of the supply. It also provides an overview of the situation of Saudi Arabia in terms of arms supply from 1970 to 2010. Finally, it sets out the process of developing military production capabilities over the last decade.

Photo credit : Wikimedias Commons. Saqr-1, first saudi armed drone developed by  KACST (King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology).

La participation des pays tiers au sein de la PESCO

En 2017, les États membres de l’Union européenne (UE) ont mis en place de nouvelles politiques pour renforcer leurs engagements dans le domaine de la sécurité et de la défense. Parmi les plus importantes figure la Coopération structurée permanente (ou en anglais Permanent Structured Cooperation PESCO). Il s’agit d’un dispositif intergouvernemental comprenant 25 pays membres de l’UE, axé sur le développement capacitaire et opérationnel, et qui repose sur une approche volontaire et modulaire...

Gender-based violence and arms exports: the case of the EU Common Position

Camello MariaGéhin Léo

The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) requires that the risk of transferred weapons being used to commit gender-based violence be taken into account in the granting or denial of exports licences. However, this risk is not stated as such in the criteria of the European Common Position, the European instrument for the assessment of arms exports (which is supposed to comply with the obligations of the ATT, following its recent revision). This Analysis explores the approach of EU states, all members of the ATT, to gender considerations in the assessment of their arms transfers. Furthermore, is there a unanimous definition of gender-based violence? And what methods are available to assess this risk in the European context?

Photo credit : DRC 2011_Maison Anuarite drop in centre group in silhouette_PC Zute Lightfoot



Colombian Peace Agreement: a slow and challenged implementation

Camello Maria

In 2016, after four years of negotiations in Havana, the government of Juan Manuel Santos and FARC reached a peace agreement with six key objectives. However, barely three years later, a series of events have called into question the scope and legitimacy of the Agreement. On the one hand, with Iván Duque's appointment as President, its implementation was frozen because he was hostile to its terms. On the other hand, recurring episodes of violence claimed more than 700 lives since the signing of the Agreement, and the guerrilla dissidents announced the resumption of arms. All this shows that the promised real and tangible peace is still far from being achieved. This Analysis takes stock of the progress made in the implementation of the six key points of the Colombian Peace Agreement. It also assesses the impact of the above-mentioned events on the peace process in the country.

Crédit photo : enregistrement d'armes appartenant aux FARC, en présence d'observateurs des Nations unies (UN Photo / Hector Latorre)


Valeur des licences en hausse, l'Arabie saoudite reste n°1 : décryptage du Rapport annuel 2018 sur les exportations d’armes wallonnes

En vertu du Décret de 2012, les autorités wallonnes doivent présenter annuellement un rapport relatif aux transferts d’armes à la Sous-Commission de contrôle des licences d’armes du Parlement de la Région. Le 5 février 2020, le gouvernement de la Région wallonne vient de le faire… pour l’année 2018, soit plus d’un an après la période couverte.

France's defence space strategy: Continuity and development of the French military space programme

Villafranca Izquierdo Lou

On 13 July 2019, on the eve of the military parade on France's National Day, President Emmanuel Macron announced new prospects for the country's military space programme. The announcements were embodied in a Space Defence Strategy publicly revealed a few days later, on July 25, by the Ministry of the Armed Forces. What stage does the announcement of this defence strategy mark? How can it be placed in the development of “La France de l'espace”? This Analysis argues that France's defence space strategy, while continuing the development of the country's military space activities, reflects a paradigm shift that is both organisational and operational and should be questioned.

Crédit photo : maquettes des deux satellites Syracuse 4. Présenté au salon du Bourget 2017 au stand de la DGA (Licence Creative Commons / Tiraden)

Conversion of blank-firing and alarm weapons: a look at the EU Response

Géhin Léo

The European Union’s (EU) strategy to tackle arms trafficking and firearm-related crime took a new turn in 2017. EU Member States agreed to overhaul the decades-old Directive 91/477 which had established common rules on firearms detention and acquisition for civilians. As part of the package, they addressed a growing trend in arms trafficking across the continent: the illicit conversion of blank-firing and alarm weapons to lethal and live firing ones. This phenomenon had spread among various types of criminal users, with a potential to ultimately reach terrorist circles. For that reason, the new Directive has brought these alarm weapons into the scope of EU regulation on firearms to apply them the same controls. However, its implementation, almost three years in the making, has faced both opposition and delays from Member States which threaten to derail its action on arms trafficking.

Photo credit: Start of the Brussels 20 km race in 2017, given by Princess Astrid with a blank starting gun. The detonation caused minor injuries to Prime Minister Charles Michel (left), who suffered temporary deafness. Source: RTBF. 


Les sociétés militaires privées : des acteurs au cœur des conflits

Depuis le début de l’instabilité au Sahel et l’intensification de la violence, les opérations militaires nationales, sous-régionales et internationales se sont multipliées. Les sociétés militaires privées (SMP) font partie des acteurs sécuritaires déployés dans ce contexte...

European defence: access of third countries to the EDF

Santopinto Federico

This Analysis addresses one of the sensitive issues of the European Defence Fund (EDFEF): that of third countries. In what terms can the latter be associated with the European Union's (EU) capability ambitions?

The EU has already partly answered this question. It is ready to open the doors of the Fund, but only on its terms. However, the requirements imposed are not suitable for everyone. They were received coldly across the Channel and were considered unacceptable across the Atlantic. Washington has thus activated its relays to push the Union to change the rules of the game.

Pressure from the United States is a major challenge for Europeans. At a time of Brexit and "Trumpism", the Fund's eligibility criteria are a crucial issue for the EU. They refer to both the means and the end of its integration project.

Crédit photo :

Nepal’s fight against the use of child soldiers

Camello Maria

During Nepal's civil war (1996-2006), Maoist groups massively recruited children into their ranks in order to fight against government forces. After the signing of the Peace Agreement in 2006 between the fighting forces, the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of the youngest combatants gradually achieved progress. The efforts of the national authorities, together with those of international organizations and local groups, made it possible to put an end in 2013 to the active participation of boys and girls in armed groups. This Analysis looks back at how Nepal addressed the problem of child soldiers. It assesses the results achieved on the basis of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes implemented to that end.

Photo credit: Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue - Népal 

Tackling (Arms)Diversion: Challenges for European States

Diversion is at the core of the proliferation of illicit weapons. It is the main form of arms and ammunition supply for non-state armed groups, paramilitary groups or transnational criminal organisations, all of which cannot have access to this kind of equipment in any other way. The diversion of conventional arms and ammunition contribute to increasing insecurity and instability in countries and regions affected by conflict or showing high levels of criminality, undermining in this way any sustainable development efforts.

Guinée : origines et risques de la crise constitutionnelle

Bien qu’épargnée par les menaces terroristes qui submergent la région sahélienne, la Guinée Conakry fait face depuis plusieurs mois à une crise politique cristallisée autour des velléités de changement de Constitution qui permettrait au président Alpha Condé de briguer un troisième mandat en 2020.

3D printing: a means of illicit firearms proliferation?

Géhin Léo

Manufacturing processes consisting in adding layers of material, widely referred to as ‘3D printing’, have been used in many industrial sectors for decades. With the development of printing material aimed at facilitating ‘individual’ production among laymen came some concern about a possible 3D printed proliferation of firearms. In the wake of the much publicized manufacture of a plastic-made, 3D printed gun by a young American hobbyist in 2013, EU law enforcement agencies began watching over the phenomenon so as to assess its potential. Although it poses risks to marking and identification, illicit 3D manufacturing of firearms has failed to entrench itself as a significant source of supply for criminal end-users. 3D printed prototypes suffer such key shortfalls as lack of reliability, underperforming characteristics incompatible with criminal requirements while they have to compete with other illicit sources of supply. However, it remains crucial to keep following with technical, technological and economic developments of 3D printing in order to best anticipate any game-changer in the illicit proliferation picture.

Photo credit: The 3D-printed "Liberator" gun designed by Defense Distributed (source :

Kenya: East Africa’s drug getaway

Claustre Julie

Since the 1990s, drug trafficking networks have been infiltrating Kenyan communication and economic infrastructures. Forced to divert from their main routes, networks have found in Kenya the key elements they needed to transit drugs from Asian producers to European consumers. Since Kenya is an indirect transit hub, the development of drug trafficking has gone relatively unnoticed until the 2010s. From then onwards, increased seizures along the maritime routes, and an upsurge in drug consumption in Nairobi and Mombasa, have started alerting national and international actors. This Analysis demonstrates that far from being a second-class route, Kenya presents endogenous elements on which traffics thrive. The country’s communication and transport infrastructures, coupled with crippling corruption problems and high capacity deficiencies within the police forces and the judicial system, prevent any viable counter-trafficking action. Moreover, exogenous factors foster traffics in Kenya:  its large uncontrolled maritime front and borders allow traffics, redirected from the main routes, to go unnoticed.

Crédit photo : saisie de drogue au Kenya (source : FILE)


Conflict in Ukraine: Zelensky's turning point

Quéau Yannick

The conflict in Ukraine is no longer in the headlines in Western Europe and yet the situation cannot be described as a frozen conflict. In recent years, ceasefire violations have been a daily occurrence and, despite some timid progress, the implementation of the Minsk Accords has largely stalled. Last April, Ukraine experienced a change of leadership following elections won by an unexpected candidate, Volodymir Zelensky, a Russian-speaking successful comedian whose political line remains difficult to define. Zelensky made the end of the conflict in Donbass one of his priorities without revealing how to achieve it. Nine months after Zelensky's election, what assessment can be made of this new presidency at a time when events seem to be accelerating in eastern Ukraine, with very rapid progress in the peace negotiations?

Photo credit: Volodymyr Zelensky at his investiture ceremony on May 20, 2019. (Licence creative commons)


La Chine au Nicaragua et au Panama : une nouvelle branche des routes de la soie en Amérique centrale ?

Kellner ThierryWintgens Sophie

Malgré sa faible visibilité en Europe, l’intérêt chinois pour l’Amérique centrale, notamment dans le cadre de l’initiative des routes de la soie (Belt and Road Initiative/BRI), s’est considérablement renforcé ces dernières années. C’est ce que démontrent, dans le présent rapport, les deux cas étudiés : le Nicaragua et le Panama.

Monitoring of regional Stability in the Sahel region and in West Africa – October to December 2019ember2019

Achik Sabrina

This quarterly monitoring, published by GRIP since 2011, aims to monitor the security situation in West Africa with a focus on Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Senegal. It examines in particular broad internal security issues, regional tensions, and cross-border and transnational crimes.

Photo credit Demonstration against a third mandate, in Boffa (