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APSR Article Compares Islamist and Nationalist Counterinsurgency Measures in Russia’s North Caucasus

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Islamists and Nationalists: Rebel Motivation and Counterinsurgency in Russia’s North Caucasus

Monica Duffy Toft and Yuri M. Zhukov

From the Abstract: This article offers the first disaggregated, quantitative comparison of Islamist and nationalist violence, using new data from Russia’s North Caucasus. We find that violence by Islamist groups is less sensitive to government coercion than violence by nationalist groups. Selective counterinsurgency tactics outperform indiscriminate force in suppressing attacks by nationalists, but not Islamists. We attribute this finding to rebels’ support structure. Because Islamist insurgents rely less on local support than nationalists, they are able to maintain operations even where it is relatively costly for the local population to support them. These findings have potentially significant implications for other contemporary conflicts in which governments face both types of challenges to their authority and existing political order.

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