Foreign Sanctuary and Rebel Violence: The Effects of International Borders on Rebel Treatment of Civilians
Rebel groups frequently rely on support from civilian populations to conduct civil conflicts. Why, then, do rebel groups risk alienating civilian populations by committing atrocities against them? Much of the civil wars literature argues that relative rebel capabilities and the source thereof explain rebel group decisions to use violence against noncombatants. In this paper, I examine how international borders, through rebel use of a foreign sanctuary, increase the violent behavior of rebel groups toward civilian populations. I argue that sanctuary constrains cooperative rebel strategies by reducing the level of possible interaction with local populations, and lowers the cost of violence by protecting rebels from government reprisals. Additionally, since violence can be counterproductive to rebel success in the long-run, rebel groups utilizing sanctuary should moderate their violence as a conflict ages. I test these expectations using a quasi-Poisson count model of civilian deaths caused by rebels, and I find support for both of my hypotheses. My findings suggest foreign sanctuary is more powerful in describing variation in one-sided violence than previously researched phenomena, such as foreign support.
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