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Why Rebels Govern: Explaining Islamist Militant Governance And Public Goods Provision

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Technical Report

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Rebel groups and insurgencies have been an important topic of study for several decades, particularly with the rise and success of groups like Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, Hamas, and the Islamic State. When rebel groups such as these are discussed in the media and in popular culture, they are generally portrayed purely as violent organizations bent on imposing strict religious doctrines on an unwilling population. Often missing in these discussions are the nuances of how rebel groups actually act and operate. There are numerous cases of rebel groups gaining territory and governing over their constituents effectively and efficiently sometimes better than the official state government. Using across-case and within-case analysis of Hezbollah, Hamas, and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula AQAP, this thesis explains why Islamist militant groups choose to provide governance and public goods to a population instead of primarily using coercive violence to achieve their goals. Ultimately, this thesis finds that rebel legitimacy and territorial control along with overall group capability are the most important factors behind rebel governance.

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  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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