Nonstate Actors in Intrastate Conflicts

Nonstate Actors in Intrastate Conflicts

Nonstate Actors in Intrastate Conflicts

Nonstate Actors in Intrastate Conflicts


Intrastate conflicts, such as civil wars and ethnic confrontations, are the predominant form of organized violence in the world today. But internal strife can destabilize entire regions, drawing in people living beyond state borders--particularly those who share ideology, ethnicity, or kinship with one of the groups involved. These nonstate actors may not be enlisted in formal armies or political parties, but they can play a significant role in a conflict. For example, when foreign volunteers forge alliances with domestic groups, they tend to attract other foreign interventions and may incite the state to centralize its power. Diasporan populations, depending on their connection to their homeland, might engage politically through financial support or overt aggression, either exacerbating or mitigating the conflict.

Nonstate Actors in Intrastate Conflicts takes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the ways external individuals and groups become entangled with volatile states and how they influence the outcome of hostilities within a country's borders. Editors Dan Miodownik and Oren Barak bring together top scholars to examine case studies in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Israel/Palestine, and Turkey in order to explore the manifold roles of external nonstate actors. By shedding light on these overlooked participants--whose causes and consequences can turn the tide of war-- Nonstate Actors in Intrastate Conflicts provides a critical new perspective on the development and neutralization of civil war and ethnic violence.

Contributors: Oren Barak, Chanan Cohen, Robert A. Fitchette, Orit Gazit, Gallia Lindenstrauss, Nava Löwenheim, David Malet, Dan Miodownik, Maayan Mor, Avraham Sela, Gabriel (Gabi) Sheffer, Omer Yair.


Dan Miodownik and Oren Barak with Maayan Mor and Omer Yair

Intrastate armed conflicts, whether of low or high intensity, are the most pronounced form of organized violence in the world today. Thousands of people are killed, wounded, or displaced every year in intrastate conflicts that range across the globe, from Sudan, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Iraq, Libya, and Syria.

Intrastate conflicts are often viewed as stemming from, and revolving mainly around, domestic factors and issues. To the extent that scholars and policymakers explore the involvement of external actors in domestic disputes, most attention is devoted to states (including the immediate neighbors of the disrupted state and other states) and to international organizations (especially the UN), examining their stabilizing or destabilizing role in these contexts.

Less attention, however, is given to the role of external nonstate actors— which are neither sovereign states nor international (that is, interstate) organizations— in intrastate conflicts. This volume addresses this critical void and focuses on the role of external nonstate actors— particularly foreign volunteers and members of diasporas—in intrastate conflicts. Although the focus is on the contemporary Middle East, we argue that the book’s findings are relevant to other regions of the world and to earlier periods in history.

Before proceeding farther, however, let us explain why the Middle East is especially relevant for this discussion. First, several intrastate conflicts in the region, beginning with the Palestinian Arab revolt against the British Mandate and the Jewish community in Palestine (1936–1939) and the First ArabIsraeli War (1947–1949), attracted foreign volunteers and members of . . .

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