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Inside Insurgency

Inside Insurgency: Violence, Civilians, and Revolutionary Group Behavior

Claire Metelits
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Inside Insurgency
    Book Description:

    Once considered nationalists, many insurgent groups are now labeled as terrorists and thought to endanger not just their own people, but the world. As the unprecedented trends in political violence among insurgents have taken shape, and as hundreds of thousands of civilians continue to be displaced, brutalized, and killed, Inside Insurgency provides startling insights that help to explain the nature of insurgent behavior.Claire Metelits draws from over 100 interviews with insurgent soldiers, commanders, government officials, scholars, and civilians in Sudan, Kenya, Colombia, Turkey, and Iraq, offering a new understanding of insurgent group behavior and providing compelling and intimate portraits of the SPLA, FARC, and PKK. The engaging narratives that emerge from her on-the-ground fieldwork provide incredibly valuable and accurate first-hand documentation of the tactics of some of the world's most notorious insurgent groups. Inside Insurgency offers the reader a timely and intimate understanding of these movements, and explains the changing behavior of insurgent groups toward the civilians they claim to represent.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-5955-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. 1 Insurgents and Civilian-Targeted Violence
    (pp. 1-14)

    This book is about the change in insurgent behavior toward civilians. Unlike much of the recent research on insurgencies, which analyzes these groups from afar, this book takes a different approach. I draw from information I gathered by interviewing over one hundred insurgent soldiers and commanders, government officials, scholars, and civilians in Sudan, Kenya, Colombia, Turkey, and Iraq, as well as from historical analyses and data on civilian deaths. Much of this book is based on information I collected while traveling with detachments of insurgent groups. I also collected information while traveling through insurgent areas of operation and major cities...

  5. 2 Rivals and the Logic of Insurgent Violence
    (pp. 15-30)

    The FARC has its roots in peasant self-defense organizations, having supported—among other issues—better working conditions for agricultural workers in the Tolima region of Colombia. On this basis the group enjoyed a measure of local support. However, the late 1980s saw the FARC quickly evolve into a more violent and locally coercive insurgency with resources stemming from drug trafficking and extortion.²

    Why did the FARC transform into a coercive organization, having begun with the intent to serve and defined peasant communities in parts of Colombia? More generally, why do some insurgent groups that share similar circumstances evolve in very...

  6. 3 “The Elephant Is Not Yet Dead”: The Reform of the SPLA
    (pp. 31-78)

    This chapter details the changes in the behavior of the SPLA in southern Sudan. Following a description of this group’s inception, I trace its evolution from a Marxist group supported by Ethiopian backers to a disunited faction-prone organization to a group with its own constitution and self-proclaimed democratic system of governance. That description is followed by an explanation forwhythese changes occurred and why the belief in this transformation by local citizens and the international community was important for the level of violence in the area as the SPLA evolved.

    Sudan is a diverse and distinctive place.³ Physically, it...

  7. 4 From Jekyll to Hyde: The Transformation of the FARC
    (pp. 79-120)

    The FARC began as a mediating force in rural Colombia, representing peasant communities in the southeastern region of the country. The FARC initially maximized its legitimacy among its targeted membership by providing services for peasants, such as protection against the harsh policies of some large landowners and education in exchange for food and supplies. The group investigated human-rights abuses perpetrated by its own cadres against the local communities it served. At the end of the 1980s, despite its involvement in the illicit-drug industry, the FARC continued to have a contractual relationship with local residents. The group even came close to...

  8. 5 Freedom Fighters or Terrorists? The Ongoing Transformations of the PKK
    (pp. 121-160)

    The convivial image of local cadres just described is at odds with the fractional and often violent images of the PKK portrayed in the media. Today, the PKK is perceived to be returning to its violent beginnings, when it attacked the very civilians it claimed to represent. The divergence between on-site situations as I experienced them and the characterization of the PKK’s leadership under Abdullah Öcalan as violent terrorists illustrates the state of ambiguity that the PKK finds itself in today.² This uncertainty as to the PKK’s future and the lack of unity with other pro-Kurdish groups in Turkey contribute...

  9. 6 The Theoretical and Practical Implications of Active Rivalry
    (pp. 161-176)

    The primary claim in this book is that insurgents treat local citizens violently when they face active rivalry. Therefore, the presence or absence of rivals determines the type of behavior that insurgents adopt. When an insurgent group faces low levels of competition (when the rivals are weak in comparison or when the groups are not competing for the same resource), violence against civilians tends toward the low (contractual) end of the spectrum. The existence of rivalry, not resources, is central to the insurgent-civilian dynamic. Rivals play a crucial role because competition threatens resources, and the lack of resources in turn...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 177-206)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 207-228)
  12. Index
    (pp. 229-241)
  13. About the Author
    (pp. 242-242)