+ Power Sharing "Discontinuities": Legitimacy, Rivalry, and Credibility (2018). Journal of Theoretical Politics 30(1): 147-177

Power-sharing arrangements between a leader and a popular outsider can be mutually beneficial and threatening. The literature has focused primarily on the former’s trade-off where a leader gains legitimacy when sharing power with a respected outsider but also subsequently creates a rival who could challenge their rule. Yet, this outsider also faces a simultaneous trade-off between power and credibility in acquiescing to the leadership. I incorporate both coinciding trade-offs in developing a formal model to examine such power-sharing arrangements which have been prevalent historically and currently. I illustrate a “discontinuity” in optimal power-sharing where a leader either shares nothing or shares a specific amount to compensate the rival for their lost credibility. Counterintuitively, I further show that the leader should share more power with less trustworthy rivals to reduce their strong incentive to challenge. I then revisit the Investiture Controversy in Medieval Europe using these insights from the model.
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+ The Frontier Crimes Regulation in Colonial India: Local Critiques of the Black Law (2018). Forthcoming. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies

In their pursuit of self–serving goals, sometimes governments create and use various instruments as means to relatively short–term ends. Such institutions, however, can be tenacious, and have perverse, long–lasting impacts. This paper focuses on one such institution, created during the British Raj: The Frontier Crimes Regulation. Often, the literature on the Regulation focuses on the rationale for its creation from the perspective of the colonizers and refers to the long-term consequences in hindsight, thereby ignoring local voices. However, I show that in 1901, at the time of the drafting of the Regulation, the local colonized population foresaw the potentially long–lasting pernicious effects stemming from it and voiced their concerns. I demonstrate that these local voices can help us understand the roots of the problems in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas today.
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+ Winning Hearts and Minds in Civil Wars: Governance, Leadership Change, and Support for Violence in Iraq (with Christoph Mikulaschek and Beza Tesfaye) (2017). [Revise and Resubmit at American Journal of Political Science]

The ‘hearts and minds’ model of counterinsurgency holds that civilians are less likely to support an insurgency if the government provides basic public services and security. Building on this model, we argue that a major political event that raises popular expectations of future public service and security provision will increase support for the government and decrease sympathy for the insurgency. To test this argument, we leverage a unique research design opportunity that stems from the unforeseen announcement of the resignation of Iraq’s divisive prime minister in August 2014 while an original survey was being administered across the country. We show that the leadership transition led Iraq’s displeased Sunni minority to shift support away from the insurgency to the government. In line with our argument, this realignment was due to rising optimism among Iraqi Sunnis that the new government would provide basic services and public goods - specifically security, electricity, and jobs.
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+ Weapon of the Weak? The Use of Non-State Actors in Interstate Territorial Disputes (with David Carter) (2017) [Book Chapter]

The state sponsorship of terrorist groups poses a significant risk to international security. Accordingly, a growing body of scholarship focuses on understanding different aspects of the relationship between the patron state, the beneficiary terrorist group, and the target state. This chapter first reviews the findings and arguments in this literature, exploring both the theoretical and empirical work over the strategic dynamics of and the effects of state support. This work contains numerous insights and provides some counterintuitive advances to our understanding of the different manifestations of sponsorship, the rationale for sponsorship, and the impact of sponsorship on both the terrorist group and the target state. Yet, there is much more work that remains to be done in this field. Specifically, we propose that further study on the connection between sponsorship and other important security issues in world politics is necessary to better understand the broader role that sponsorship plays in international relations. To promote this end we empirically demonstrate the connection between territorial disputes, the state sponsorship of militant groups, and the onset of interstate conflict. This evidence is preliminary but opens a potentially promising new avenue for research on the effects of state sponsorship of terrorist groups.
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+ Mob Violence and Militancy: The Case of Indian Muslims (2018)

When does militancy arise among marginalized minorities? Muslims are a minority in India who face substantial and wide-ranging marginalization. Yet, militant groups, who exploit such grievances, have only been able to create relatively little militancy among Indian Muslims. This is especially puzzling given that marginalized minority Muslim populations in other parts of the world do not exhibit this same reluctance towards militancy. Due to the limitations of existing explanations, I instead posit a novel theoretical framework that highlights a key factor determining the extent of militant mobilization within aggrieved minority groups: the group’s perception of protection. Using this framework, I argue that minority Indian Muslims police themselves to prevent militancy within their community because they fear retaliatory indiscriminate mob violence, and this fear stems from a lack of confidence in the state to definitively protect Muslims from the mob. I then develop a formal model of the relationship between confidence in the state and militant mobilization among marginalized minorities which counterintuitively illustrates that improving perceptions of the state can lead to more militancy. I go through some applications of the insights from the model and theory by briefly examining current and historical episodes of militancy or the lack thereof among marginalized minorities.
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+ Explaining Support for ISIS: Evidence from List Experiments in a National Survey in Iraq (with Christoph Mikulaschek and Beza Tesfaye) (2018)

The existing literature indicates that civilian attitudes about insurgents and counterinsurgents are critical in determining the outcomes of civil conflict. One question that then follows is how does the type and character of insurgent and counterinsurgent operations affect civilian attitudes during an ongoing civil war? To help answer this question we fielded a survey to a large national sample in Iraq in 2015, and administered the first list experiments in Iraq in order to attain reliable measures of Iraqi attitudes about ISIS, the Iraqi government, and U.S. airstrikes. We find that Iraqi civilians do not engage in a binary choice between supporting the insurgency or the government. Our list experiments show that victimization by ISIS is associated with a lower probability of sympathy for ISIS and stronger support for the Iraqi government. At the same time, victimization at the hands of government forces does not shift support away from the government and toward the insurgency. Instead, it is associated with stronger support for U.S. airstrikes against ISIS – but only among respondents who view the airstrikes as independent of the government. In contrast, by experimentally varying the cue about the government's endorsement of the airstrikes in the list experiment, we demonstrate that victimization by government forces is associated with lower support for U.S. airstrikes only when these strikes are tied to the government.

+ Political Parties and Militancy in Turkey (with Deniz Aksoy) (2018)

In this paper, we explore the extent to which partisan alignment at different levels of government influences local level security outcomes in democracies that suffer from terrorism and political violence. Do localities where the local government is dominated by the party in national government (aligned localities) experience less violence than others? To answer this question we use data on local election results and data on terrorist attacks in Turkey. Using a regression discontinuity design, we compare districts where the party in national government, lost or won local elections with a narrow margin and estimate the impact of partisan alignment on security outcomes. We find that districts aligned with the nationally incumbent party experience fewer terrorist attacks than other districts.