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Rebel Leaders, Internal Rivals, and External Resources: How State Sponsors Affect Insurgent Cohesion by Dr Henning Tamm (University of Oxford)

  • Seminar Room G, Manor Road Building, Manor Road Oxford OX1 3UQ (map)

A light sandwich lunch is served at 12.50pm before the seminar. 

External support for rebel groups is a pervasive feature of civil wars. Why do state sponsors encourage insurgent cohesion in some cases while fostering organizational splits in others? This presentation provides an answer by focusing on how the allocation of external resources affects the intra-group distribution of power between a rebel leader and an internal rival. Sponsors that help maintain or invert an imbalance of power facilitate cohesion or an internal coup, respectively. By contrast, a split becomes more likely as sponsors contribute to balancing power. The presentation uses numerous examples from across the world to develop these arguments. It then examines in more detail two major insurgent groups—the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army and the Lebanese Hezbollah—whose trajectories cannot be accounted for by existing explanations focused on a group’s battlefield performance or its social bases.

Henning Tamm is a Postdoctoral Prize Research Fellow at Nuffield College, University of Oxford. He previously completed a doctorate in International Relations at Oxford and a pre-doctoral fellowship with the Program on Order, Conflict, and Violence at Yale. Henning is a co-founder of the Oxford Central Africa Forum and has conducted fieldwork in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda.