In the Shadow of Rivalry: Rebel Alliances and Civil War

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How does competition and rivalry within alliances affect outcomes and processes in civil wars? Towards addressing this inquiry, this dissertation presents a formal theory of alliance formation that takes into account both internal and external threats. The theory, presented in Chapter 2, focuses on how allying parties make decisions regarding resource mobilization for conflictual purposes, in the presence of both internal and external hazards. The model indicates that intra-coalition division should serve not only as a source of instability but also as a wellspring of strength for aligning militant groups. This leads to a peculiar result, whereby the internal factors enabling groups to overcome the problem of collective action may also contribute to the "conflict trap." Testable implications are derived and examined empirically via a new dataset on alliances between rebel groups during civil wars from 1944 to 2001. The series of logistical models in Chapter 3 indicates that alliances marked by rivalry and competition are indeed more likely to lead to rebel victories. Yet, the analysis also demonstrates that these types of arrangements are also significant predictors of war recurrence. The latter result holds irrespective of how the original conflicts terminate. Additionally, Chapter 4 of this dissertation presents a comparative analysis between two cases of civil war marked by competitive alliances. In addition to other factors, the cases suggest the relative size of alliance members, the influence external actors, and the presence of electoral institutions may either exacerbate or mitigate competition issues within alliances.





Zeigler, Sean (2013). In the Shadow of Rivalry: Rebel Alliances and Civil War. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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