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Networks of Cooperation: Rebel Alliances in Fragmented Civil Wars


When rebels make alliances, what informs their choice of allies? Civil wars are rarely simple contests between rebels and incumbent regimes. Rather, rival militant networks provide the context in which these fragmented conflicts unfold. Alliances that emerge within this competitive landscape have the power to alter conflict trajectories and shape their outcomes. Yet patterns of interrebel cooperation are understudied. The existing scholarship on rebel alliances focuses on why rebels cooperate, but little attention is given to the composition of those alliances: with whom rebels cooperate. We explore how power, ideology, and state sponsorship can shape alliance choices in multiparty civil wars. Employing network analysis and an original data set of tactical cooperation among Syrian rebels, we find compelling evidence that ideological homophily is a primary driver of rebel collaboration. Our findings contribute to an emerging literature that reasserts the role of ideology in conflict processes.

Publication Information

Full Citation:

Gade, Emily Kalah, Mohammed M. Hafez, Michael Gabbay, and Zane Kelly. 2019. "Networks of Cooperation: Rebel Alliances in Fragmented Civil Wars." Journal of Conflict Resolution (February).  https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0022002719826234

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