Article

International Support For Nonstate Armed Groups

Belgin San-Akca

in International Relations

ISBN: 9780199743292
Published online September 2016 | | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199743292-0185
International Support For Nonstate Armed Groups

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The international arena has been plagued by violence involving nonstate armed groups (NAGs) at an increasing pace in the post–Cold War era. NAGs refer to organizations that primarily use violence to pursue political objectives against states they choose as targets. Those objectives include territorial autonomy, secession, toppling an existing leadership or government, and regime change. NAGs do not have formal affiliation with states, that is, they are not under the formal command structure of a state’s army. Pro-government militias do not qualify as NAGs in this sense, since they have organic ties with governments and state security apparatus, such as the police force, gendarmerie, and army. NAGs use various tools to pursue their goals, such as terrorism and guerrilla warfare. The most recent and commonly known examples include the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and Euskadi ta Astasaguna (ETA), the Basque separatist group in Spain. They are referred to as militants, rebels, insurgents, terrorists, and guerrillas depending on the context of study. Yet labeling them in terms of the primary means used, namely violence, allows generalization across these types without entering into a futile discussion about whether to call them terrorists or freedom fighters. The research on international support of NAGs is still in its infancy. Researchers have just started disaggregating internal strife into warring factions, thus making it possible to study states and armed rebel groups as autonomous actors shaping and being shaped by the international environment. Since NAGs have been studied by a diverse group of scholars in political science under various substantive themes, such as revolution, insurgency, terrorism, civil war, and ethnic strife, no unified body of research examining the international support of NAGs exists. A newly emerging body of research builds on approaches and methods from various fields of study, such as comparative politics, civil war, terrorism, and international relations. The sources cited in this article aim to capture this diversity by organizing them under meaningful categories. The review begins with presenting a general overview of the evolution of the study of international support for NAGs. Then the topic is examined under five main themes: Approaches to Framing “International Support for NAGs”, Causes And Sources Of International Support For Nags, Context of International Support for NAGs, Consequences of International Support for NAGs, and Termination of International Support for NAGs.

Article.  13164 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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