Jacob Aronson, Paul Huth, Mark Lichbach, and Kiyoung Chang 

From Escalation to Rebel Collapse: Explaining the Varied Outcomes of Low-Level Insurgency 

Our main argument is that the key to understanding the outcomes of low-level insurgency is to focus on the rebel’s collective action problem. Moving from a handful of militants to a larger and effective insurgent army that can escalate to a civil war, force a negotiated settlement, or prevent the state from achieving a military victory requires expanding the available base of support and resources. Resources delivered from foreign state supporters (international rivals in particular) can be critical to rebels in overcoming their collective action problems. In a series of empirical tests on low-level insurgency cases from 1975 to 2009 we find that foreign support to rebels have consistent and strong effects on insurgency outcomes. Foreign support has direct effects on insurgency outcomes through external troop interventions and the provision of foreign bases to rebels. In addition, there are indirect effects in which the provision of military supplies and economic assistance by external states contributes to larger rebel force size and greater territorial control by rebels which, in turn, have strong influences on insurgency outcomes.


Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham, Erin K. Jenne and Stephen M. Saideman 

Emerging Diasporas: Exploring Mobilization Outside the Homeland 

Diasporas politics as a general phenomenon are poorly understood. Most of our understanding comes from a few extreme cases of significant mobilization in support of the homeland. Yet we really do not know what differentiates groups that mobilize from those that do not, and this bears critically on the question of when diasporas exacerbate conflict back in the homeland. This project presents a new dataset every diasporic segment that emigrated to the United States and explores the determinants of mobilization. There is a great deal of variation in the extent to which groups that emigrate from their homeland mobilize in their new host state.  We evaluate a series of hypotheses building on the exiting literature.  We focus on the factors shaping group identity, on the plight of the kin, and on various resources and opportunities that might enhance mobilization.   Our preliminary findings suggest that the conventional wisdom about identity maintenance may not be so helpful, but that identities can still matter.  We find that the plight of the kin matter less than the political resources available to the group in their host country.


Kristin M. Bakke 

Acceptance and Resistance to Foreign Ideas: Transnational Insurgents’ Impact on the Chechen Separatists 

Both scholars and policy makers involved in conflict resolution and mediation efforts increasingly worry about transnational insurgents—foreign fighters who enter a domestic struggle to train, fund, or fight alongside with the domestic rebels. Yet little scholarship has systematically examined the ways in which transnational insurgents matter. Drawing on the transnationalism, social movement, and intrastate conflict literatures, this study theorizes the domestic mobilization processes likely to be affected by transnational insurgents, and in turn how those effects shape the violent struggle. Empirically focusing on the Chechen wars, the study emphasizes how transnational insurgents’ influence on framing of goals and tactical innovation may lead to counter-reactions from the local population, pending on local elites’ efforts at fostering resonance. The implication is that it is not a given that the outside actors strengthen the domestic insurgents in their fight against the state, and the presence of transnational insurgents can greatly complicate conflict resolution efforts.


Erika Forsberg and Niklas Karlen

Bombs to Brethren, Cannons to Comrades: Kinship Ties and External Rebel Support

Previous research has pointed to the possible importance of transnational kinship ties for explaining why some regimes provide external support to rebel movements. In this paper, we argue that kinship ties can both increase or decrease the willingness of outside states to give rebel movements support depending on the characteristics of the kinship tie. In addition, we differentiate between several types of kinship ties (based on ethnicity, religion and ideology) to see if all or just certain types of transnational constituencies actually matters. To identify which regimes provide support, we utilize a dyadic research design and new time-varying data on all rebel groups involved in armed conflicts in the 1975-2009 period. Our preliminary findings indicate that ethnic kinship ties between a rebel movement and a government in a neighboring country increase the probability that a rebel group is supported by that government. In contrast, kinship ties based on religion or ideology seem to matter little as determinants of external support from governments in neighboring states.


Artak Galyan

Political Institutions, Ethnic Diversity and Political Violence in Divided Societies: a Conjunctural Perspective

The field of institutional design, dominated with the theoretical debates on the efficiency of ideal models of institutional design and empirical research of net effects of separate political institution and social conditions on the occurrence of political violence in divided society has largely overlooked complex investigations into the causes of intrastate conflicts in ethnically divided societies. This gap in the literature has also led to the lack of theoretical understanding and empirical evidence on the effects of hybrid configurations of political institutions and social conditions leaving us without a holistic explanation of (re)occurrence of political violence in divided societies. This paper makes an attempt in fulfilling this gap by developing a framework for investigating conjunctural effects of configurations of the electoral system, type of the executive, type of the territorial organization and the ethnic diversity in divided societies operationalized through the degree of ethnic polarization, geographical dispersion of the cleavage groups and presence or absence of ethnic dominance.

Erin K. Jenne, Milos Popovic, and Levente Littvay

Nested Security as a Prerequisite for Effective Third Party Conflict Mediation

This paper develops and tests a theory of nested security, which holds that low-intensity sectarian conflicts are unlikely to be suppressed before first ensuring that the conflict is nested in a stable regional and hegemonic environment, not unlike Matryoshka nesting dolls. We test this hypothesis using quantitative analysis of a new UCDP dataset of managed low-intensity intra-state conflict, which codes third party mediations of low-level civil conflicts from 1993 to 2004. Specifically, we test for whether such mediated conflicts are likely to yield success when the wider regional environment has been stabilized—namely when where is no civil war in a neighboring state, there are no significant refugee camps or rebel bases over the border of the state in question, and whether there is an ongoing conflict between the host government and a neighboring state. By conducting hierarchical analysis on these data, using these key independent variables in addition to a number of controls we test for whether there are strong associations between stabilized regional environment and mediation success. We find, among other things, that the existence of a neighbor state rivalry is strongly positively associated with escalating conflict, but negatively associated with suppression of conflict. This provides strong initial support for the nested security model of conflict mediation.


Sara McLaughlin Mitchell

Cross-Border Troubles? Interstate River Conflicts and Intrastate Violence

Research on civil wars has examined the relationship between natural resources, such as oil, diamonds, and fisheries, on the onset and duration of civil conflicts (Fearon and Laitin 2003Lujala, Gleditsch, and Gilmore 2005; Buhaug, Gates, and Lujala 2009; Ross 2003, 2004; Theisen 2008; Hendrix and Glaser 2011).  Scholars have also considered the relationship between climate change and civil wars, using measures such as average rainfall and migration due to climate displacement (Barnett and Adger 2007; Reuveny 2007; Hendrix and Glaser 2007; Burke et al 2008; Buhaug 2010; Hendrix and Salehyan 2012).  However, the relationship between conflicts over cross-border rivers and intrastate violence has not been analyzed with a large-N sample of cases.  Analyses of specific river basins (Homer-Dixon 1994; Klare 2002) suggest several possible causal mechanisms between river conflicts and civil wars including unequal access to water resources, displacement due to dams, and increases in population leading to higher demands for fresh water. This paper explores the relationship between interstate conflicts over rivers and the influence of cross-border diplomatic disagreements over rivers on the chances for intrastate violence. Using data from the Issue Correlates of War (ICOW) project on river claims, the author examines if states that are involved in interstate river claims have higher chances for domestic conflict (civil wars, riots, protests, etc.).  The paper also determines if characteristics of the river basin and the nature of the contested issues influence the likelihood of conflict. For example, the paper will determine if the presence of dams along the river and diplomatic disagreement over the dams is more likely to produce civil conflict than other types of water quality or water quantity issues.  The paper will build upon the work on transnational factors that influence civil wars (Salehyan and Gleditsch 2006; Thyne 2007; Gleditsch 2007).


Will H. Moore

Protest, Violence, or Both? Minority Groups's Tactical Choice, Endogenous to Government Coercion

In a recent study Asal and colleagues move forward our understanding of the tactical choices of minority groups that challenge the state, showing that groups's beliefs about the appropriate role of women in society influences groups's willingness to violence. Large-N comparative research on groups's use of protest, violence, or a mix of the two is relatively nascent. Relatedly, statistical analyses of non-violent direct action have been few and far between. Yet one weakness of the studies that do exist is their implicit treatment of state coercion and discrimination as an independent, rather than, endogenous, variable. Recent theoretical and empirical work (e.g., Pierskalla 2010, Ritter 2013, Young 2013) has modeled dissident behavior and government coercion as endogenous to one another, and in this paper we statisically explore the interdependent relationship between minority groups's choice of non-violent and violent tactics and the states's response. We use the Middle East Minorities at Risk Organization Behavior (MAROB) dataset as a source for our analyses.


Natalia A. Peral

Riding the Tide of post-war reconstruction in Bosnia: Jajce and Bugojno between 1995-2012

This paper assesses the prospects of minority return and minority representation in Bugojno and Jajce for the period 1995-2012, in order to evaluate the possibility of ethnic reintegration as a post-conflict scenario. The findings show that in order for ethnic reintegration to take place, the political legacy of war and the ethnic spoils system needs to be dismantled. For such a task, the timely and strong engagement of third parties is necessary with efforts destined to disrupt elite obstructionism within minority and majority groups as well as with efforts to empower tide riders as alternative sources of leadership. The paper concludes that intervention’s timing may change considerably the outcomes of minority return and generate alternative post conflict scenarios that actually reinforce the ethnic spoil system. If this is so, the third party engagement in a post war setting might be pointless.

Milos Popovic

Intervention Gone Wrong: When Rebels Turn Against Their State Sponsors?

Governments frequently intervene in armed conflicts by sponsoring rebels against their adversaries. The sponsorship is less costly than direct military intervention, but rebels often defy orders, desert fighting or turn guns against their sponsors. Under what conditions rebels turn against their sponsors? Drawing on organizational theory, I argue that as rebel organizations become less centralized and formalized, the rebels are likely to defect their sponsors. This occurs because non-centralized organizations lack central control and allow for dispersed decision-making, both of which narrow the manipulative capacity of sponsors. Due to these two disadvantages, non-centralized rebel movements are less accountable to their sponsors, cannot credibly commit to rapidly change their policies in response to changes in sponsor’s demands and suffer from frequent and destructive quarrels between the top and lower echelons. My argument is tested through the statistical analysis of a novel dataset on Sponsorship of Rebels (SOR). The findings support my claim that non-centralized organizations are likely to defect their sponsors. Likewise the model demonstrates that shared ethnic ties and weak rebels are associated with defection. Finally, the existence of multiple sponsors and lootable resources does not affect the probability of rebel defection.

Darya Pushkina and Stefan Wolff

Mission Possible? Explaining Success and Failure of UN Interventions in Civil War Settings

This paper examines the track record of UN interventions in civil wars in the post-1989 period. We examine a total of 50 missions in 30 countries and test a wide range of hypotheses to account for their success (or failure). We find that a combination of factors related to UN capabilities (consistent member state commitment combined with effective diplomacy) and conflict context (absence of external spoilers combined with consent/cooperation/commitment from conflict parties) offers the best explanation for mission success. We develop these findings into the outline of theory of intervention that focuses in equal measure on leadership, diplomacy, and mission design.


Idean Salehyan and Anna Batta

Ethnic Discrimination and Conflict after Secession

Most cases of secession involve ethno-nationalist groups which achieve autonomy from the mother state.  However, rarely are these new states ethnically homogenous.  In the immediate aftermath of secession, nationalizing elites face an important dilemma of state building.  While consolidating power for the newly independent ethnic group, they must also craft institutions that protect the rights of minorities in the new state.  The inability to credibly commit to protecting minority rights has been argued to be a significant factor in fostering conflict in secessionist states, yet some countries have protected these rights and avoided renewed conflict while others have not.  We argue that the combination of the demographic balance in the new state and powerful ethnic kin across borders influences both discriminatory practices and ethnic conflict.  In particular, we hypothesize that new states are most likely to face significant challenges of state-building when they face an intermediate level of threat from groups within their borders. We assess these claims through a cross national study of ethnic discrimination and conflict in newly seceded states and discuss implications for state-building in South Sudan.


Monica Duffy Toft and Yuri Zhukov

Islamists and Nationalists: Rebel Motivation and Counterinsurgency in Russia’s North Caucasus

How does religion shape the nature of insurgency? Do Islamist insurgents fight differently from those with secular aims, like national self-determination? Do they select different types of targets, use different military strategies, respond to different types of incentives? Scholarly attention to the role of religion in civil and interstate war has increased in recent years, but there remains little empirical assessment of whether and how religious motivations might influence insurgent strategy and tactics. This paper starts to fill this gap by offering a disaggregated analysis of Islamist and nationalist violence in Russia's North Caucasus. Using a new incident-level dataset, we find that nationalist and Islamist violence share many of the same causes, with several important exceptions: Islamist violence closely tracks the religious calendar, more closely follows international trends, is more geographically dispersed, and is less responsive to coercive pressure than violence by secular groups. Whereas selective Russian counterinsurgency tactics have outperformed indiscriminate force in eliciting compliance from nationalist rebels, this relationship has not held for Islamists. We also find that religiously-motivated violence accounts for only a minority of the unrest in the Caucasus, and conclude that Russia's reliance on indiscriminate tactics – in part driven by the assumption that most of its enemies are irreconcilable jihadists – is making it more difficult to pacify the region.


Brandon Valeriano

Classifying the Ethnic and the Intrastate Dimensions of Dyadic and Complex Interstate Wars

Following work by Vasquez and Valeriano (2010), I seek here to further disaggregate wars by type according to different factors that may have an impact on theory construction.  Prior investigations have indentified the power politics path to war, yet many wars are left unexplained.  The goal of this work is to specify wars by type according to their properties so that one can seek to uncover the theoretical dimensions active in the wars that have been hitherto unspecified.  The quest for a universal theory of war onset must be discarded in favor of dividing wars according to the number of parties fighting, the issues they fight over, and the foreign policy practices they engage in.  This paper will seek to examine if the issue at stake and behavior processes to determine if wars are fought among parties that have different ethnic, language, and intrastate conflict characteristics.  Can the internal attributes of states beyond regime type help explain a certain path to war?  Is there a certain class of war that typically determines when internal issues lead to conflict or are the internal dimensions of statehood important in the classification of war in the first place?