The Arsenal Of Insurrection: Explaining Rising Support For Rebels

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Security Studies


Recent scholarship has established several key dynamics in civil wars: since the nineteenth century, rebel victories have increased in likelihood; external support is one of the most significant predictors of rebel victory; and rebel groups have become increasingly likely to receive foreign backing. What is missing is an explanation of why patterns of third-party aid to rebels changed over time. Data on foreign assistance to rebels over the last two centuries reveals the odds of groups receiving aid increased from about one in five to about four in five. The nature of the patron also altered significantly, from great powers, to lesser states, and then nonstate actors. We explain these patterns using three variables: (1) great-power competition; (2) norms of national self-determination; and (3) globalization. This paper explores this theory with a case study of aid to rebel groups in Algeria since the 1830s.

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