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States in Disguise: Causes of State Support for Rebel Groups

Non-state violence by rebel groups, including terrorists, has become a major headache for policy makers across the world. San-Akca’s book comes at the right time to contribute to understanding “why and how non-state armed groups emerge, endure and disappear” (p. 10). Essentially, the author investigates the motivating factors behind the unofficial cooperation between states and non-state armed groups, by using an empirical study of 355 cases of states deliberately supporting rebels, and 342 cases of rebels obtaining support by default from states during the period from 1945 to 2010.

Non-state violence by rebel groups, including terrorists, has become a major headache for policy makers across the world. San-Akca’s book comes at the right time to contribute to understanding “why and how non-state armed groups emerge, endure and disappear” (p. 10). Essentially, the author investigates the motivating factors behind the unofficial cooperation between states and non-state armed groups, by using an empirical study of 355 cases of states deliberately supporting rebels, and 342 cases of rebels obtaining support by default from states during the period from 1945 to 2010. The use of the term “cooperation” to describe the state-rebel group’ relationship captures the author’s key argument of viewing rebel groups as active and autonomous actors capable of making decisions independently in this relationship. Moreover, the author argues that her book is a unique triadic analysis of interactions between rebel groups, their targets, and their supporters; hence her contribution brings in the target state which has been neglected by other researchers (p. 16).

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