International Organization

Research Article

Explaining External Support for Insurgent Groups

Idean Salehyana1, Kristian Skrede Gleditscha2 and David E. Cunninghama3

a1 University of North Texas, Denton, and the Centre for the Study of Civil War, Peace Research Institute Oslo. E-mail: [email protected]

a2 University of Essex, Colchester, England, and the Centre for the Study of Civil War, Peace Research Institute Oslo. E-mail: [email protected]

a3 University of Maryland, College Park, and the Centre for the Study of Civil War, Peace Research Institute Oslo. E-mail: [email protected]

Abstract

Many rebel organizations receive significant assistance from external governments, yet the reasons why some rebels attract foreign support while others do not is poorly understood. We analyze factors determining external support for insurgent groups from a principal-agent perspective. We focus on both the supply side, that is, when states are willing to support insurgent groups in other states, and the demand side, that is, when groups are willing to accept such support, with the conditions that this may entail. We test our hypotheses using new disaggregated data on insurgent groups and foreign support. Our results indicate that external rebel support is influenced by characteristics of the rebel group as well as linkages between rebel groups and actors in other countries. More specifically, we find that external support is more likely for moderately strong groups where support is more likely to be offered and accepted, in the presence of transnational constituencies, international rivalries, and when the government receives foreign support.

Idean Salehyan is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of North Texas, Denton, and Research Associate at the Centre for the Study of Civil War, Peace Research Institute Oslo. E-mail: [email protected]

Kristian Skrede Gleditsch is Professor of Government at the University of Essex, Colchester, England, and Research Associate at the Centre for the Study of Civil War, Peace Research Institute Oslo. E-mail: [email protected]

David E. Cunningham is Assistant Professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland, College Park, and Research Associate at the Centre for the Study of Civil War, Peace Research Institute Oslo. E-mail: [email protected]

Footnotes

The authors are listed in inverse alphabetical order, and equal authorship is implied. This research was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation (SES-0351670), the Research Council of Norway (180441/V10), and the U.K. Economic and Social Research Council (RES-062-23-0259). Replication data are available at International Organization's replication data Web site. Previous versions of this article were presented at the 104th Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 3–6 September 2009, the Centre for the Study of Civil War, PRIO, Norway, 16 October 2009, and the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden, 21 May 2010. We thank Sabine Carey, Michael Colaresi, Stephen Gent, Hugh Ward, and three anonymous reviewers for helpful comments.