+ Winning Hearts and Minds in Civil Wars: Governance, Leadership Change, and Support for Violent Groups in Iraq (with Christoph Mikulaschek and Beza Tesfaye) (2019). Forthcoming. American Journal of Political Science

The ‘hearts and minds’ model of combating rebellions holds that civilians are less likely to support violent opposition groups if the government provides public services and security. Building on this model, we argue that a political event that raises popular expectations of future public service and security provision increases support for the government and decreases sympathy for violent opposition groups. 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 from the violent opposition to the government. In line with our argument, this realignment was due to rising optimism among Sunnis that the new government would provide services and public goods - specifically security, electricity, and jobs.
Link: Paper Download

+ 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.
Link: Paper Download

+ The Frontier Crimes Regulation in Colonial India: Local Critiques and Persistent Effects (2018). South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 41(4): 789-805

In their pursuit of self-serving goals, sometimes governments create and use various instruments as the means to relatively short-term ends. Such instruments, however, can be tenacious, and have perverse, long-lasting impacts. This paper focuses on one such instrument 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 colonisers 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 colonised population foresaw the potentially 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 (FATA) of Pakistan today.
Link: Paper Download


+ Terrorism and State Sponsorship in World Politics (2019) (with David Carter). In Erica Chenoweth, Richard English, Andreas Gofas, & Stathis Kalyvas (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Terrorism (pp.494-515). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press

The state sponsorship of terrorist groups poses significant risks to international security. Accordingly, a growing body of scholarship focuses on understanding different aspects of the relationship between the patron state, the sponsored 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. Existing research 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 connections 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.


+ Explaining Militancy Among Marginalized Minorities (2019)

When does militancy emerge among minorities? Arguing that existing frameworks fall short in explaining the variation, this paper presents an understudied but relevant dynamic and develops a formal model to illustrate the political conditions influencing minority militant mobilization. Minorities face the threat of indiscriminate retaliation if violent transgressions are committed by someone from their community. Insufficient protection from this threat incentivizes minority members to police their group in order to prevent militancy from emerging within their community. The strategic tensions in this protection-group policing dynamic occur within the minority group and between the minority group and the state. I thus develop a formal model to study how state capacity and state willingness can influence the onset of minority militancy. The model can account for the variation in the types of militancy and also counterintuitively demonstrates how low-capacity states can provide a less conducive environment for minority militancy than high-capacity states.

+ Partisan Alignment and Security Outcomes: Evidence from Turkey (2019) (with Deniz Aksoy)

We explore the extent to which local governments’ partisan affiliation influences local level security outcomes where the national government is in conflict with domestic militant groups. Do localities where the local government is controlled by the party in national government (i.e., government aligned localities) experience more or less violence than others (i.e, opposition aligned localities)? To answer this question we use data on local election results and geocoded data on attacks conducted by the Kurdish militant group PKK in Turkey. Using a regression discontinuity design, we compare the volume of militant attacks in districts where the mayoral candidates affiliated with the party in national government and the main Kurdish opposition party narrowly lost or won local elections. Regression discontinuity allows us to credibly estimate the impact of local governments’ partisan affiliation on local levels of violence.


+ Explaining Support for ISIS: Evidence from List Experiments in a National Survey in Iraq (with Christoph Mikulaschek and Beza Tesfaye)

+ Discrimination and Militancy (with Vessela Daskalova and C. Christine Fair)

+ Extremism in Tajikistan (with Dustin Gamza and Audrey Sacks)

+ Biological Origins of the Varieties of Nationalism (with Prerna Singh, Slimane Dridi, and Alberto Micheletti)