The Tyranny of Supply: Natural Resources and
Rebel Territorial Control in Civil Conflicts
Article: [.pdf TBA]
Aronson, Jacob, Michael G. Findley, Kyosuke Kikuta, and James Igoe Walsh. Forthcoming. "The Tyranny of Supply: Natural Resources and Rebel Territorial Control in Civil Conflicts." International Studies Quarterly.
Abstract: The logic of territorial control is central to the study of internal conflict. Existing studies consider the consequences of territorial control without answering a critical question: what motivates rebel territorial control in the first place? Territorial control requires careful explanation. While it confers important benefits it is also costly to achieve and exposes rebels to state attack. This paper argues that benefits exceed costs when territorial control provides rebels with a reliable source of organizational supply. High-value lootable natural resources—resources available in abundance that are easy to extract and transport for sale—represent key components of a rebel’s supply chain. To test the theory’s implications, we introduce new cross- and sub-national time-series data on territorial control in sub-Saharan Africa and couple it with a new dataset of local natural resource values. We use an instrumental variable approach to address core endogeneity concerns. Results both substantiate our theoretical approach and provide evidence running contrary to existing arguments. These findings demonstrate that valuable natural resources, logistical supply constraints, and, more broadly, rebel military strategy, are critically important and need to be incorporated into work on civil war, territorial control, and rebel governance.
Replication Data: [.zip TBA]
Appendix: [.pdf TBA]