Why are some civil wars more lethal than others? The effect of pro-regime proxies on conflict lethality

Aliyev, H. (2020) Why are some civil wars more lethal than others? The effect of pro-regime proxies on conflict lethality. Political Studies, 68(3), pp. 749-767. (doi: 10.1177/0032321719862752)

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Previous large-N studies on conflict lethality have focused in large part either on structural factors or on the properties of key conflict protagonists – governments and rebels. This article challenges the dyadic two-actor approach to studying conflict lethality that examines exclusively the key actors of the dyad, and – on the example of pro-regime militias – hypothesises that participation of extra-state actors in civil wars can exert significant influence on battlefield lethality. It is proposed here that pro-regime militias can swell the number of combat deaths through, first of all, acting as ‘extra boots’ on the ground, providing governments with auxiliary forces and local intelligence, and enabling incumbents to launch more effective and often more deadly attacks on insurgents. Militias also affect the number of battle deaths by forcing rebels to protect their civilian support bases, which exposes insurgents to lethal government attacks. This assumption is empirically tested on 88 civil wars from 1981 to 2015 with militia presence. The findings show that the presence of pro-regime militias in civil wars is highly conducive to the incidence of high-casualty conflicts.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This study has been funded by the Lord Kelvin Adam Smith (LKAS) Research Fellowship at the University of Glasgow.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Aliyev, Dr Huseyn
Authors: Aliyev, H.
Subjects:J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Central and East European Studies
Research Group:Statehood, Nationhood and Identity
Journal Name:Political Studies
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN (Online):1467-9248
Published Online:12 July 2019
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 The Author
First Published:First published in Political Studies 68(3): 749-767
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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