Peer-Reviewed Articles (4) "Restrained Insurgents: Why Competition Between Armed Group Doesn't Always Produce Outbidding," Texas National Security Review, with Stephen Rangazas. Abstract: Contemporary civil wars frequently involve numerous armed groups. How do armed groups compete with rival organizations for popular support? Existing research posits that militant organizations operating in the same conflict will often compete for support by outbidding rivals with escalatory acts of violence. However, evidence from various conflicts suggests that armed groups often forgo violent escalation in competitive environments, presenting themselves as more moderate alternatives to the local population. Armed groups may strategically limit, rather than escalate, their levels of violence during competition to differentiate themselves from rivals. In doing so, they can carve out a niche of support that differs from that of their rivals and avoid the negative backlash that may result from violent escalation. In order to advertise their relative moderation, armed groups may restrict the lethality of violence against civilians and moderate their rhetoric. Examining these arguments, we utilize Arabic-language primary sources and event-level data to analyze competition between prominent jihadist groups in Algeria (1998-2004) and Yemen (2015-2021).
(3) "Go Arm Me: How Militant Fragmentation Affects External Support," International Interactions, with Iris Malone Abstract: Over the last fifty years, civil conflicts have grown increasingly complex due to the proliferation of new armed groups and rebel fragmentation. Yet, existing research on external support for armed groups often ignores this multi-actor dimension, overlooking the unusual amount of discretion sponsors have in deciding whom to support in any given target state. This paper explores how multi-militant conflict environments impact foreign state sponsorship decisions. Conventional wisdom predicts that shared ethnic and ideological ties increase the likelihood of external support for an armed group because these ties signal a lower risk of misuse (agency slack). In contrast, this paper highlights how an increasing number of armed groups in a conflict setting can decrease the importance of shared ties between state sponsors and militants. We argue this change occurs because multi-militant environments reduce a group's willingness to misuse support and improve a sponsor's options to shift support if misuse occurs. We utilize a mixed-methods approach to examine this logic, drawing on an original dataset of 1,402 armed groups and qualitative evidence from Iraqi during Saddam Hussein's rule. The results advance understanding of the consequences of conflict fragmentation and external support for non-rebel actors.
(2) "Jihadist Journalism: Analyzing the Geographic Coverage of al-Masra Newspaper," Terrorism and Political Violence, with Sam Biasi and Tyler Parker. Abstract: Recent terrorism research has explored jihadist groups’ discourse surrounding different countries by exploring the content of various magazines. We build on existing literature by examining al-Masra, an Arabic-language newspaper linked to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). We created an original dataset from 1,250 articles in 58 al-Masraeditions, utilizing content analysis to code for each article’s main country of focus. Overall, we found that 54 countries formed the central focus of at least one al-Masra article. Although the United States was the most covered country, the combined coverage provided to countries in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa far outweighed al-Masra’s concentration on “the West.” Despite al-Masra’s stated commitment to covering global Muslim affairs, however, a number of countries with large Muslim populations, including Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Nigeria, received little attention. Interestingly, al-Masra’s focus on certain countries varied over time. While coverage of Libya, Somalia, and Syria decreased during 2017, al-Masra’s concentration onthe United States increased over time, especially following Donald Trump’s electoral victory. This article contributes to research on terrorist media campaigns and framing strategies by examining an understudied Arabic-language jihadist publication and its propaganda related to dozens of countries.
(1) "The Middle East and North Africa in Political Science Scholarship: Analyzing Publication Patterns in Leading Journals, 1990-2019," International Studies Review, with Anum Pasha Syed. Abstract: We examine publications on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in nine leading political science journals across three decades (1990-2019) to evaluate the scope of political science engagement with the region since the 1990s and analyze trends in research interests, developments in the use of empirical methods, and authorship patterns. Our data highlight significant gaps in the geographic and substantive scope of extant scholarship. Specifically, the disproportionate focus on non-Arab countries and limited engagement with certain topics, including identity, nationalism, and state formation, raises concerns about selection bias and causal misidentification. Nevertheless, we find encouraging trends with respect to methodological developments; however, the methods and data sources employed appear to be determined by case selection to some extent. We also note that few MENA-based scholars currently publish in these journals. These findings have important implications for the integration of MENA studies with and knowledge production in political science.