Rebels without Borders

Rebels without Borders: Transnational Insurgencies in World Politics

Idean Salehyan
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Rebels without Borders
    Book Description:

    Rebellion, insurgency, civil war-conflict within a society is customarily treated as a matter of domestic politics and analysts generally focus their attention on local causes. Yet fighting between governments and opposition groups is rarely confined to the domestic arena. "Internal" wars often spill across national boundaries, rebel organizations frequently find sanctuaries in neighboring countries, and insurgencies give rise to disputes between states.

    In Rebels without Borders, which will appeal to students of international and civil war and those developing policies to contain the regional diffusion of conflict, Idean Salehyan examines transnational rebel organizations in civil conflicts, utilizing cross-national datasets as well as in-depth case studies. He shows how external Contra bases in Honduras and Costa Rica facilitated the Nicaraguan civil war and how the Rwandan civil war spilled over into the Democratic Republic of the Congo, fostering a regional war. He also looks at other cross-border insurgencies, such as those of the Kurdish PKK and Taliban fighters in Pakistan. Salehyan reveals that external sanctuaries feature in the political history of more than half of the world's armed insurgencies since 1945, and are also important in fostering state-to-state conflicts.

    Rebels who are unable to challenge the state on its own turf look for mobilization opportunities abroad. Neighboring states that are too weak to prevent rebel access, states that wish to foster instability in their rivals, and large refugee diasporas provide important opportunities for insurgent groups to establish external bases. Such sanctuaries complicate intelligence gathering, counterinsurgency operations, and efforts at peacemaking. States that host rebels intrude into negotiations between governments and opposition movements and can block progress toward peace when they pursue their own agendas.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-5921-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    Idean Salehyan
  4. Introduction: The Global Context of Civil War
    (pp. 1-18)

    The Kurdish Workers’ Party, or PKK, was formed in the 1970s and has been fighting the Turkish government for several decades in its quest to secure an independent Kurdish state. In addition to attacks within Turkey itself, the PKK has bombed Turkish interests in other countries and has mobilized supporters and resources from the Kurdish diaspora in Europe and elsewhere. Importantly, this rebel organization has benefited from bases and training camps in the remote mountainous regions of northern Iraq and Iran. Sanctuaries in Iraq became particularly important following the first Gulf War in 1991, when U.S. and coalition forces created...

  5. 1 A Theory of Transnational Rebellion
    (pp. 19-60)

    Rebellion is risky. Even when grievances against the state run deep, people who are unsatisfied with their lot will face difficulties in organizing collectively when political opposition activities are likely to be met with violence. Poverty and political powerlessness may be bad, but torture, imprisonment, and death are worse. Thus, many analysts have rightly emphasized the importance of constraints on the use of government coercion. If dissidents can evade the power of the state, organizing a rebellion becomes feasible. Of course, some rebel groups may be able to find safe areas within the state—in remote mountains or amid the...

  6. 2 Transnational Rebels and Civil Violence
    (pp. 61-97)

    In the previous chapter, I argued that rebellion will be more likely to occur when conditions in neighboring countries allow rebels to take up extraterritorial bases. International borders and safe havens in neighboring countries allow rebels the opportunity to mobilize their supporters and sustain their forces while being less susceptible to government repression. External rebel bases make conflict more likely to erupt and to endure.

    I also argued that while mobilization in other countries raises the bargaining power of rebel groups that lack sufficient domestic opportunities, it also exacerbates informational and commitment problems, making negotiation more difficult. Although the beliefs...

  7. 3 Transnational Rebels and International Conflict
    (pp. 98-121)

    In June 1982, after an assassination attempt on Shlomo Argov, Israel’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Israel invaded Lebanon. This war, code-named “Operation Peace in Galilee,” was not fought over territory or economic resources but because Lebanon was host to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), a transnational rebel organization responsible for a number of attacks on Israel. The PLO had established its headquarters in Lebanon after it was evicted from Jordanian territory in 1970 and had grown into a formidable insurgent army, primarily recruiting among refugee camps. Israel’s response to the PLO presence in Lebanon initially took the form of...

  8. Introduction to the Case Studies
    (pp. 122-125)

    The quantitative results presented in the previous chapters reveal strong statistical relationships between neighborhood conditions and civil war and between transnational rebellion and interstate conflict. Nevertheless, it is useful to examine a few cases in greater depth in order to look at the underlying causal processes behind the statistical correlations, assess elements of the theory that are difficult to test in a quantitative study, and shed light on additional empirical implications of the theory. The following chapters examine the civil wars in Nicaragua and Rwanda and how these conflicts spread throughout Central America and the Great Lakes region of Africa,...

  9. 4 The Nicaraguan Civil War
    (pp. 126-144)

    Decades of economic mismanagement and authoritarianism under the Somoza regime in Nicaragua led to widespread popular discontent and the formation of the leftist Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) in the early 1960s. The Sandinistas’ name came from a revolutionary, antiimperialist figure, Augusto César Sandino, who during the 1920s and 1930s opposed the conservative regime of Emiliano Chamorro and U.S. interference in Nicaraguan affairs. The FSLN was formed in 1961 out of a number of leftist organizations, including the Nicaraguan Socialist Party, the Nicaraguan Patriotic Youth, and the Frente Revolucionario Sandino, and received inspiration from the recent success of the...

  10. 5 The Rwandan Civil War
    (pp. 145-164)

    Because they involved actors throughout the Great Lakes region of Africa, the civil conflicts in Rwanda exemplify the transnational aspects of war. Tutsis and Hutus are scattered across various states in central Africa, refugee flows contributed to the spread of conflict, and rebels and governments frequently battled one another across national boundaries. The postgenocide government of Rwanda presents an extreme case of a state that was willing to invade a neighboring country’s territory that of Zaire—in order to remove the ruling regime and eliminate transnational rebel groups. Although the government bore considerable costs in taking military action against Hutu...

  11. Conclusion: Improving Theory and Policy
    (pp. 165-178)

    This book improves our understanding of civil and international conflict by examining the transnational dimensions of political violence. Rather than considering events in isolation of one another, this work advances a theory of conflict in which domestic and international processes overlap, actors span national boundaries, and bargaining takes place at multiple levels. What remains is to consider the significance of this research for the study of international politics more generally and for real-world policy discussions. The purpose of this chapter is threefold: (1) to recap the major empirical findings of the book; (2) to discuss how these findings inform theories...

  12. References
    (pp. 179-194)
  13. Index
    (pp. 195-202)