Conflict, Crime, and the State in Postcommunist Eurasia

Conflict, Crime, and the State in Postcommunist Eurasia

Conflict, Crime, and the State in Postcommunist Eurasia

Conflict, Crime, and the State in Postcommunist Eurasia

Synopsis

In the years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and its zone of influence, few insurgent groups had the resources necessary to confront regular armies. At the same time, state-sponsored financial support for insurgencies dramatically decreased. The pressing need to raise funds for war and the weakness of law enforcement in conflict zones create fertile conditions for organized crime; indeed, there is a mounting body of evidence correlating armed conflict and illicit economy, though the nature of this link and its impact on regional politics has not been well understood.

Conflict, Crime, and the State in Postcommunist Eurasia explores the relationship between ideologically motivated insurgents, profit-motivated crime, and state institutions in eight conflict zones. Through detailed case studies, the contributors demonstrate how the operations and incentives of insurgents may emerge and shift over time: for some armed groups, crime can become an end in itself beyond a financial means, but not all armed groups equally adapt to illicit commerce. They also show how the criminalization of state institutions is a lingering concerns even after armed conflicts end. Conflict, Crime, and the State in Postcommunist Eurasia places the case studies along a continuum of political and criminal behavior, examining the factors that motivate insurgents to seek out criminal alliance, how this connection affects the dynamics of conflict, and what risks remain during postconflict transition. These findings will provide a better understanding of the types of challenges likely to confront peacekeeping and statebuilding endeavors in other parts of the world.

Contributors: Jana Arsovska, Svante Cornell, Johan Engvall, Michael Jonsson, Alexandru Molcean, Niklas Nilsson, Murad Batal al-Shishani, Natalie Verständig.

Excerpt

Over the past decade, the political economy of armed conflict and terrorism has been accorded increasing attention by both academic and policy circles. Indeed, following the end of the bipolar world order, a symbiosis has appeared to develop between organized crime, on the one hand, and nonstate violent actors, on the other. Conflict diamonds in Africa, narco-guerrillas in Colombia, and narco-terrorists in Afghanistan have all entered the vocabulary of the international media.

Indeed, the end of the Cold War led to a dramatic decrease in state support for insurgency and terrorism. The “East” lost its financial ability to support insurgent groups abroad; the “West” lost its interest in doing so. Insurgent groups have therefore to a larger degree been on their own, forced to fend for themselves and raise the money for their insurgencies from other sources than foreign funding. Many have done so through donations from diaspora groups; others have turned to self-financing, looting natural resources or engaging in illicit forms of commerce.

In a globalized world where organized crime can move across national boundaries with increasing ease, the weakness of law enforcement in conflict zones provides suitable conditions for such crime. But crime and conflict do not only coexist in a geographic space. Indeed, there is a mounting body of evidence suggesting the systematic involvement of conflicting parties in . . .

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