Rivalry and State Support of Non-State Armed Groups (NAGs), 1946–2001


  •  Authors’ names are listed in the alphabetical order. Both contributed equally to the article. A previous version of this paper was presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, New York, February 2009. We wish to thank James Lee Ray, the anonymous reviewers, and Karen Rasler for their comments on previous drafts.

  •  The replication data and a Stata do file are available at: http://home.ku.edu.tr/~bakca/.


Maoz, Zeev and Belgin San-Akca. (2012) Rivalry and State Support of Non-State Armed Groups (NAGs), 1946–2001. International Studies Quarterly, doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2478.2012.00759.x
© 2012 International Studies Association

This study examines the conditions under which states engaged in strategic rivalries choose to support Non-state Armed Groups (NAGs) that target their rivals. NAGs include ethnic or religious insurgents, guerilla organizations, and terrorists. We develop a rational choice model of state support for NAGs. We focus on state support of NAGs as cooperation between states and NAGs emerging out of a mutual and purposive decision-making process. The model suggests that decisions of states to support NAGs targeting a rival are affected by dissatisfaction with the status quo and the expected risk of retaliation. Rivalries create opportunities for NAGs that operate against one of the rivals, allowing them to acquire resources to sustain their operations. The presence of rivalry increases the likelihood of state-NAG cooperation. In turn, state-NAG cooperation increases the likelihood of rivalry escalation. We test the propositions of the model using an original data set that includes observations for 175 NAGs and 83 state supporters in the post-WWII period. We find consistent support for our propositions. We discuss the implications of these results for the theory and practice of international relations.2