Category: Non-state Conflict Actors

Suicide Bombing ≠ Religious Fervor

  Is it just religious fanatics who blow themselves up as suicide bombers? Bernt Hagtvet, Professor of Political Science at the University of Oslo, has been active in the Norwegian media lately, stating that only religion (he focuses mostly on Islam) brings the fervor to commit suicide attacks as part of a political struggle –… Read more »

Governments Don’t Outsource Atrocities to Militias. Here’s What Really Happens

Refugees are fleeing Syria in such astonishing numbers because armed groups continue to target civilians with violence. That’s what we heard in September when the U.N. Human Rights Council discussed the most recent report of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria. The commission’s chair, Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, made a plea for international action to end… Read more »

The Threat from ISIS is not Military

For more than a decade, alarmists have essentially argued that, because the 9/11 attackers proved to be good with box-cutters, they would soon be able to fabricate nuclear weapons. And now, after the dramatic and horrible Paris terror attacks, a similar process of alarmed exaggeration seems to be happening with ISIS. In a reactive pose… Read more »

How Can States and Non-State Actors Respond to Authoritarian Resurgence?

Two weeks ago, the Monkey Cage ran a piece by Matthew Baum and Phil Potter suggesting that the policy of “democracy-promotion” has gone out of style.[1] I think they’re right that in many circles democracy-promotion is politically passé and that, more broadly, democracy advocates are really having a tough couple of years. In the midst… Read more »

The “Resister’s Toolkit”

In his article in the May 2015 issue of APSR, Evgeny Finkel makes a splash by arguing that exposure to “selective repression” (such as surveillance, beatings, arrests, and torture) helps dissidents to develop a robust skill set with which to maintain enduring resistance later on. He supports this argument with data from an unlikely case—Nazi… Read more »

Is Boko Haram a Roving Bandit?

In recent months, Boko Haram has devastated a number of communities across a vast swath of Northern Nigeria, and even reaching into Chad, Cameroon and Niger. Although Boko Haram has some territorial control in the border regions near Lake Chad, its attacks do not occur in a consistent geographic area, but rather devastate communities with… Read more »

Boko Haram does not have the Fire Power of the Islamic State

Boko Haram’s influence and cruelty is still increasing. On the 3rd of January the Islamist group first attacked Baga, situated at the riverside of Lake Chad in the north of the State of Borno. They then came back several days later and demolished the entire city and its surrounding villages. The attack reportedly caused more… Read more »

How did the Paris Killers Acquire their Guns?

At present we have very little information on the guns used last week by Saïd and Chérif Kouachi to commit a massacre at the offices of the publication Charlie Hebdo; and by Amedy Coulibaly in several shootings in Paris. They were armed with Kalashnikov pattern guns, however as nearly 200 different versions of the Kalashnikov… Read more »

The Taliban are an Organized Fighting Force

A new UN report blames the Taliban for a sharp rise in violence against civilians. The Taliban are an organized fighting force. They combine a relatively strong central command with a networked structure in which each of the various factions operate with considerable independence. Establishing control over certain territories has been a main rationale for the… Read more »