Peer-Reviewed Articles (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.
(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.
(3) "Go Arm Me: Ideology and State Sponsorship of Armed Groups," with Iris Malone (forthcoming). Abstract: Why do states sponsor some armed groups, but not others? Conventional wisdom suggests that states support ideologically- or ethnically-similar armed groups to mitigate moral hazard problems. However, 64% of sponsored groups display no shared ties with their state backer. To explain this variation, we argue that a state sponsors different armed groups conditional on its desired foreign policy goals. Shared ideological ties are critical when a state aims to project and expand its influence abroad, but less necessary when aiming to subvert rivals. We identify under what conditions states pursue these different strategies and how these considerations shape selection decisions. Quantitatively, we use an original dataset for 1,432 armed groups to examine the relationship between different types of shared ties and state support. Qualitatively, we use internal documents from Saddam Hussein’s regime to trace Iraqi sponsorship decisions. The results advance understanding of proxy warfare and foreign policy decision-making.
Under Review (1) "Forgoing Violent Outbidding: Strategic Restraint and Competition among Jihadist Groups," with Stephen Rangazas. Abstract: Insurgencies across the world are frequently populated by numerous armed groups. Existing research posits that armed groups operating in the same domestic conflict will often compete for public support through outbidding rivals with increased levels of violence. However, evidence from various conflicts suggests that armed groups often forgo violent escalation in competitive environments. This study presents a theory of armed group strategic restraint. We contend that armed groups may strive to limit, rather than escalate, their own violence during competition. The presence of heterogeneous preferences among supporters allows armed groups to effectively differentiate themselves from rivals by employing lower levels of violence. Empirically, we illustrate our arguments through analyzing competition between jihadist groups in Algeria and Yemen, drawing on Arabic primary sources and attack data. This study has important implications for understanding armed group competition, terrorism, and rebel movements.