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Why Rebels Collide: Factionalism and Fragmentation in African Insurgencies Michael Woldemariam PhD Candidate, Department of Politics, Princeton University.

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Presentation on theme: "Why Rebels Collide: Factionalism and Fragmentation in African Insurgencies Michael Woldemariam PhD Candidate, Department of Politics, Princeton University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Why Rebels Collide: Factionalism and Fragmentation in African Insurgencies Michael Woldemariam PhD Candidate, Department of Politics, Princeton University Africanist Doctoral Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

2 Agenda The empirical puzzle The empirical puzzle Why should we care? Why should we care? Concepts and Definitions Concepts and Definitions Existing explanations Existing explanations A new theoretical frame: Rebel fragmentation and the “problem of cooperation” A new theoretical frame: Rebel fragmentation and the “problem of cooperation” Fragmentation and Coups Fragmentation and Coups Conclusions Conclusions

3 The Empirical Puzzle Why do some organizations of violence maintain a high degree of solidarity while others succumb to the vagaries of political factionalism? Why do some organizations of violence maintain a high degree of solidarity while others succumb to the vagaries of political factionalism? More specifically, what explains spatial and temporal variation in the splintering of rebel organizations? More specifically, what explains spatial and temporal variation in the splintering of rebel organizations? A positive theory of rebel fragmentation A positive theory of rebel fragmentation Generalizable theory Generalizable theory

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6 Why should we care?: Rebel fragmentation and the story of state failure Casual observations suggest that the fragmentation of rebel organizations is closely linked to patterns of state failure in late twentieth century Africa Casual observations suggest that the fragmentation of rebel organizations is closely linked to patterns of state failure in late twentieth century Africa In many of Africa’s failed states of the 1990’s, state failure was in part brought on by the inability of one or two original rebel organizations to seize and consolidate state power In many of Africa’s failed states of the 1990’s, state failure was in part brought on by the inability of one or two original rebel organizations to seize and consolidate state power As the institutional edifice of the old state collapsed, rebel organizations often split into several opposing camps, turning what should have been a successful- albeit violent- political transition, into endemic chaos and chronically failing state institutions As the institutional edifice of the old state collapsed, rebel organizations often split into several opposing camps, turning what should have been a successful- albeit violent- political transition, into endemic chaos and chronically failing state institutions

7 Why should we care? Rebel fragmentation and the story of state failure? However, this all too common story stood in stark contrast to what we witnessed in several other African countries, where rebel organizations maintained internal cohesion, and successfully seized control of the apparatus of the state as the old regime collapsed However, this all too common story stood in stark contrast to what we witnessed in several other African countries, where rebel organizations maintained internal cohesion, and successfully seized control of the apparatus of the state as the old regime collapsed These different trends are closely related to the distinction that Chris Clapham (1996) has drawn between “state consolidating” and “state subverting insurgencies” These different trends are closely related to the distinction that Chris Clapham (1996) has drawn between “state consolidating” and “state subverting insurgencies” If we care about contemporary phenomenon of state failure, we should understand the causes of rebel fragmentation If we care about contemporary phenomenon of state failure, we should understand the causes of rebel fragmentation

8 Somalia: An illustration While there were several rebel organizations operating in Somalia following the collapse of the Siad Barre regime in Mogadishu in January of 1991, the most likely to assume power were the Somali National Movement (SNM)- who occupied what is now Somaliland- and the United Somali Congress (USC)- who had taken Mogadishu and most of Central and Southern Somalia While there were several rebel organizations operating in Somalia following the collapse of the Siad Barre regime in Mogadishu in January of 1991, the most likely to assume power were the Somali National Movement (SNM)- who occupied what is now Somaliland- and the United Somali Congress (USC)- who had taken Mogadishu and most of Central and Southern Somalia

9 Somalia: Cont’d However, leadership disputes between Ali Mahdi and Mohammed Farah Aideed lead to a bitter split in the USC along Hawiye sub-clan lines, and sectarian conflict in Mogadishu However, leadership disputes between Ali Mahdi and Mohammed Farah Aideed lead to a bitter split in the USC along Hawiye sub-clan lines, and sectarian conflict in Mogadishu By contrast, the SNM held together, maintained its internal discipline, and effectively filled the political vacuum in Somaliland created by Barre’s departure By contrast, the SNM held together, maintained its internal discipline, and effectively filled the political vacuum in Somaliland created by Barre’s departure As a result, Somaliland transitioned into a period of sustained peace and prosperity, while the rest of Somalia remained mired in conflict. As a result, Somaliland transitioned into a period of sustained peace and prosperity, while the rest of Somalia remained mired in conflict. Mohammed Farah Aideed Ali Mahdi

10 Ethiopia and Eritrea Neighboring Ethiopia and Eritrea also presented a useful contrast to what was happening in Mogadishu in early 1991 Neighboring Ethiopia and Eritrea also presented a useful contrast to what was happening in Mogadishu in early 1991 In Eritrea, the Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front (EPLF) maintained its internal cohesion and successfully filled the power vacuum left by the collapse of the communist regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam In Eritrea, the Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front (EPLF) maintained its internal cohesion and successfully filled the power vacuum left by the collapse of the communist regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam In Addis Ababa, the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) emulated the EPLF’s success in consolidating state power In Addis Ababa, the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) emulated the EPLF’s success in consolidating state power Events in Chad and Liberia at the end of the Cold War led to far different outcomes Events in Chad and Liberia at the end of the Cold War led to far different outcomes Eritrea and Tigray Region of Ethiopia

11 Why should we care? Splintering tends to tends to lengthen civil wars, because it creates veto-players (Cunningham 2006) whose agreement is necessary to implementing a peace agreement Splintering tends to tends to lengthen civil wars, because it creates veto-players (Cunningham 2006) whose agreement is necessary to implementing a peace agreement Fragmentation can impact the effectiveness and ultimate success of rebel organizations Fragmentation can impact the effectiveness and ultimate success of rebel organizations Civil war literature tends to treat rebel group as black box whose members have uniform preferences and common identity (Kalyvas 2003) Civil war literature tends to treat rebel group as black box whose members have uniform preferences and common identity (Kalyvas 2003)

12 Concepts and Definitions: What is a rebel organization ? The PRIO Armed Conflict Dataset defines a rebel organization as The PRIO Armed Conflict Dataset defines a rebel organization as A non-governmental group of people, formally organized, having announced a name for their group A non-governmental group of people, formally organized, having announced a name for their group Group should have used armed force to influence the outcome of the stated incompatibility Group should have used armed force to influence the outcome of the stated incompatibility Group’s military activity must be part of a planned political campaign rather than spontaneous violence Group’s military activity must be part of a planned political campaign rather than spontaneous violence Group must be involved in military event resulting in at least 25 casualties Group must be involved in military event resulting in at least 25 casualties

13 Concepts and Definitions: What is a rebel organization ? The sample of organizations that this study analyzes are the 160 odd African rebel organizations that PRIO has identified in the period , in addition to several other rebel organizations that have been identified over the course of this research The sample of organizations that this study analyzes are the 160 odd African rebel organizations that PRIO has identified in the period , in addition to several other rebel organizations that have been identified over the course of this research

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15 Concepts and Definitions: How do we define rebel fracture/fragmentation? Fracture occurs when a non-trivial portion of a rebel organization formally exits that organization and either Fracture occurs when a non-trivial portion of a rebel organization formally exits that organization and either A) Establishes a new rebel organization or A) Establishes a new rebel organization or B) Joins another existing rebel organization B) Joins another existing rebel organization Key issue: What does “non-trivial” mean? Key issue: What does “non-trivial” mean?

16 Existing Approaches Civil war literature doesn’t really address rebel fragmentation Civil war literature doesn’t really address rebel fragmentation Old civil wars vs. new civil wars? Old civil wars vs. new civil wars? “Most versions of the distinction between old and new civil wars stress or imply that new civil wars are characteristically criminal, depoliticized, private, and predatory; old civil wars are considered ideological, political, collective, and even noble. The dividing line between old and new civil wars coincides roughly with the end of the cold war” (Kalyvas 2001)

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19 Existing Approaches Weinstein (2006) suggests that the structure and cohesion of rebel groups is a function of it’s resource base- a path dependent story Weinstein (2006) suggests that the structure and cohesion of rebel groups is a function of it’s resource base- a path dependent story Problem: Addresses the propensity of movements to fragment but not the timing of fragmentation- that latter would require a more dynamic variable that can explain sudden events and rapid change Problem: Addresses the propensity of movements to fragment but not the timing of fragmentation- that latter would require a more dynamic variable that can explain sudden events and rapid change

20 Existing Approaches Gates (2002) argues that geography and ethnic composition exacerbate principal agent problems within rebel organizations and make it more difficult to police defection Gates (2002) argues that geography and ethnic composition exacerbate principal agent problems within rebel organizations and make it more difficult to police defection Shapiro (2007) suggests that state repression increases insecurity of rebel organizations, forcing decentralization and exacerbating principal agent problems, and making it more difficult to police defection Shapiro (2007) suggests that state repression increases insecurity of rebel organizations, forcing decentralization and exacerbating principal agent problems, and making it more difficult to police defection Problem: Focus on the capacity to fragment, rather than the motivations for fragmentation Problem: Focus on the capacity to fragment, rather than the motivations for fragmentation

21 Existing Approaches A revamped, more interesting theory of rebel fragmentation, should explain the timing of fragmentation- and thus its precipitating causes- as well as the motivations of those who seek to splinter A revamped, more interesting theory of rebel fragmentation, should explain the timing of fragmentation- and thus its precipitating causes- as well as the motivations of those who seek to splinter

22 A plausible theory? Rebel fragmentation and the problem of cooperation While one could view fragmentation from a variety of perspectives, I would argue that fragmentation represents a breakdown in a previously cooperative relationship between a leader and organizational elites While one could view fragmentation from a variety of perspectives, I would argue that fragmentation represents a breakdown in a previously cooperative relationship between a leader and organizational elites Cooperation in rebel organizations exists because the interaction between a rebel leader and organizational elites is based on an implicit or formal contract through which the leader provides benefits to organizational elites, and in turn, organizational elites recognize the authority of the leader and obey his directives Cooperation in rebel organizations exists because the interaction between a rebel leader and organizational elites is based on an implicit or formal contract through which the leader provides benefits to organizational elites, and in turn, organizational elites recognize the authority of the leader and obey his directives

23 A plausible theory? Rebel fragmentation and the problem of cooperation The fact that organizational elites challenge the authority of a leader through splintering, then, suggests that the conditions that sustained cooperation as an equilibria no longer obtain The fact that organizational elites challenge the authority of a leader through splintering, then, suggests that the conditions that sustained cooperation as an equilibria no longer obtain For whatever reason, certain shocks have occurred that change the underlying incentives that certain organizational elites have to remain in a rebel organization under the current leadership- in other words, cooperate For whatever reason, certain shocks have occurred that change the underlying incentives that certain organizational elites have to remain in a rebel organization under the current leadership- in other words, cooperate By treating the fragmentation of insurgent organizations as a breakdown of intra-organizational cooperation, we can create a more fine-grained explanation that accounts for the timing of fragmentation as well as the motivations of those who choose to splinter By treating the fragmentation of insurgent organizations as a breakdown of intra-organizational cooperation, we can create a more fine-grained explanation that accounts for the timing of fragmentation as well as the motivations of those who choose to splinter

24 Two paths to a breakdown of cooperation Preference divergence Preference divergence Ideology, policy differences Ideology, policy differences Sudan- SPLA, Somalia- WSLF, Eritrea- ELF, OLF-Ethiopia Sudan- SPLA, Somalia- WSLF, Eritrea- ELF, OLF-Ethiopia Economic rewards (Collier and Hoeffler 2000) Economic rewards (Collier and Hoeffler 2000) Liberia-NPFL, Somalia-USC Liberia-NPFL, Somalia-USC

25 Two paths to a breakdown of cooperation Commitment Problems (Shepsle 1991) Commitment Problems (Shepsle 1991) Motivationally credible Motivationally credible Somalia- USC Somalia- USC Imperatively credible Imperatively credible Sudan- SPLA Sudan- SPLA

26 A second piece of the puzzle? Fragmentation vs. coups If splintering is an “extra-legal action that subordinates use to usurp and challenge the ultimate authority of a rebel leader,” then why choose splintering over a coup? If splintering is an “extra-legal action that subordinates use to usurp and challenge the ultimate authority of a rebel leader,” then why choose splintering over a coup? In fact, a coup may often be the less costly option for subordinates dissatisfied with status quo In fact, a coup may often be the less costly option for subordinates dissatisfied with status quo Yet, if the success of a coup, either in the short or long term, is unlikely, fragmentation becomes the preferred option Yet, if the success of a coup, either in the short or long term, is unlikely, fragmentation becomes the preferred option Furthermore, fragmentation may be a second order, unintended effect of a failed coup- Sudan, (SPLA) Furthermore, fragmentation may be a second order, unintended effect of a failed coup- Sudan, (SPLA)

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28 Conclusions Variation in the fragmentation of rebel organizations represents an empirical puzzle Variation in the fragmentation of rebel organizations represents an empirical puzzle The fragmentation of rebel organizations is an important research question- both practically and theoretically The fragmentation of rebel organizations is an important research question- both practically and theoretically In order to understand why rebels collide, we need to understand how and why they cooperate In order to understand why rebels collide, we need to understand how and why they cooperate We need to think about relationship between the fragmentation of rebel organization and coups We need to think about relationship between the fragmentation of rebel organization and coups

29 Towards the future Comparative case studies of rebel organizations in the Horn of Africa Comparative case studies of rebel organizations in the Horn of Africa Statistical analysis? Statistical analysis?

30 Bibliography Clapham, Christopher, ed African guerrillas. Oxford, UK: James Currey Clapham, Christopher, ed African guerrillas. Oxford, UK: James Currey Collier, Paul, and Anke Hoeffler Greed and grievance in civil war. World Bank Polic Research Paper 2355, World Bank, Washington, DC Collier, Paul, and Anke Hoeffler Greed and grievance in civil war. World Bank Polic Research Paper 2355, World Bank, Washington, DC Connell, Dan Against all odds. Trenton, NJ: Red Sea Press Connell, Dan Against all odds. Trenton, NJ: Red Sea Press Cunningham, David Veto players and civil war duration. American Journal of Political Science 50(4): Cunningham, David Veto players and civil war duration. American Journal of Political Science 50(4): Dahl, Robert Polyarchy: Participation and opposition. New Haven: Yale University Press Dahl, Robert Polyarchy: Participation and opposition. New Haven: Yale University Press Flint, Julie Darfur’s Armed Movements. In War in Darfur, ed. Alex de Waal. Cambridge, MA: Global Equity Initiative, Harvard University Flint, Julie Darfur’s Armed Movements. In War in Darfur, ed. Alex de Waal. Cambridge, MA: Global Equity Initiative, Harvard University Gates, Scott Recruitment and allegiance: The microfoundations of rebellion. Journal of Conflict Resolution 46(1): Gates, Scott Recruitment and allegiance: The microfoundations of rebellion. Journal of Conflict Resolution 46(1): Gurr, Tedd Why men rebel. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press Gurr, Tedd Why men rebel. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press Harrision, M. and John Maniha Dynamics of dissenting movements within established organizations: Two cases and a theoretical interpretation. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 17(3): Harrision, M. and John Maniha Dynamics of dissenting movements within established organizations: Two cases and a theoretical interpretation. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 17(3): Hirschman, Albert Exit, Voice, and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations, and States. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press Hirschman, Albert Exit, Voice, and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations, and States. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press Jensen, M, and W. Meckling Theory of Firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs, and ownership structure. Journal of Financial Economics (3): Jensen, M, and W. Meckling Theory of Firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs, and ownership structure. Journal of Financial Economics (3): Kalyvas, Stathis The ontology of “political violence”: Action and identity in civil wars. Perspectives on Politics (1) 3: Kalyvas, Stathis The ontology of “political violence”: Action and identity in civil wars. Perspectives on Politics (1) 3: Kalyvas, Stathis New and Old Civil Wars: A Valid Distinction?.World Politics 54: Kalyvas, Stathis New and Old Civil Wars: A Valid Distinction?.World Politics 54: Kriesi, Hanspeter Political context and opportunity. In The Blackwell companion to social movements, ed. Snow, Soule, and Kreisi. Cornwall, UK: Blackwell Publishing Kriesi, Hanspeter Political context and opportunity. In The Blackwell companion to social movements, ed. Snow, Soule, and Kreisi. Cornwall, UK: Blackwell Publishing Lemarchand, Rene Ethnic conflict and genocide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Lemarchand, Rene Ethnic conflict and genocide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press North, Douglass Institutions, institutional change, and economic performance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press North, Douglass Institutions, institutional change, and economic performance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Olson, Mancur: The logic of collective action: Public goods and the theory of groups. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press Olson, Mancur: The logic of collective action: Public goods and the theory of groups. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press Our Struggle and its Goals, translated text in Liberation (1973) Our Struggle and its Goals, translated text in Liberation (1973) Pool, David The Eritrean People’s Liberation Front. In African guerillas, ed. Christopher Clapham. Oxford, UK: James Currey Pool, David The Eritrean People’s Liberation Front. In African guerillas, ed. Christopher Clapham. Oxford, UK: James Currey Sartori, Giovanni Concept misinformation in comparative politics. American Political Science Review. 64: Sartori, Giovanni Concept misinformation in comparative politics. American Political Science Review. 64: Stedman, Stephen Spoiler problems in peace processes. International Security. 22(2): 5-53 Stedman, Stephen Spoiler problems in peace processes. International Security. 22(2): 5-53 Tarrow, Sidney Power in movement. New York: Cambridge University Press Tarrow, Sidney Power in movement. New York: Cambridge University Press Turner, R. and Lewis Killian Collective behavior. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall Turner, R. and Lewis Killian Collective behavior. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall Weinstein, Jeremy Resources and the information problem in rebel recruitment. Journal of Conflict Resolution 49(4): Weinstein, Jeremy Resources and the information problem in rebel recruitment. Journal of Conflict Resolution 49(4): Weinstein, Jeremy Inside rebellion: The politics of insurgent violence. New York: Cambridge University Press Weinstein, Jeremy Inside rebellion: The politics of insurgent violence. New York: Cambridge University Press

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