+ Power Sharing "Discontinuities": Legitimacy, Rivalry, and Credibility. Forthcoming. Journal of Theoretical Politics (2017)

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.
Link: Paper Download


+ 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.
Link: Paper Download


+ The Frontier Crimes Regulation and Colonial India: The Local Voices Against the Black Law (2017)

Institutions can have perverse long-lasting impacts. This paper focuses on one particular institution in the British Raj: The Frontier Crimes Regulation. Often, the literature focuses on the rationale for institutional choices from the perspective of the colonizers and refers to the long-term consequences in hindsight thereby ignoring local voices. However, I show with regards to this legal instrument, the local colonized population foresaw the potentially long-lasting pernicious effects stemming from this system and voiced their concerns. I further show that these past local voices could help us understand the roots of the problems in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas today.
Link: Paper Download

+ Weapon of the Weak? The Use of Non-State Actors in Inter-State Territorial Disputes (with David Carter) (2017)

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.
Link: Paper Download


+ Mob Violence and Militancy: The Case of Indian Muslims

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.
Link: Paper Download

+ Developing Risky Partnerships: The Relationships Between Militant Groups

How do militant groups build and manage relationships with one another? Existing explanations are incomplete for two reasons. First, they cannot fully account for the empirical variation in militant group relationships. Second, they do not explain the timing of when a militant group would publicly announce such relationships. I address these shortcomings by developing a theory and formal model of militant partnership-building that help us to understand the different dynamics involved in the establishment of a working relationship between militant groups. Using insights from organizational economics, industrial organization, and the economics of crime, the model helps us to understand what determines the depth of a partnership and to understand when a militant group would publicly extend their franchise. I show that the uncertainty regarding another group’s motives not only prevents groups from choosing efficient levels for their partnership, but it can also help explain the delays in a group publicly declaring their working relationship with another.