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Rethinking Armed Groups and Order: Syria and the Rise of Militiatocracies

Voller, Yaniv (2022) Rethinking Armed Groups and Order: Syria and the Rise of Militiatocracies. International Affairs, 98 (3). pp. 853-871. ISSN 0020-5850. (doi:10.1093/ia/iiac047) (KAR id:93103)

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In recent years, the relations between weak central governments and armed groups in the periphery have attracted great attention. Rebels, warlords and other actors have not only undermined the authorities’ grip on power but gradually come to shape the nature of governance and political system in their countries. Warlordism, rebelocracies and aliocracies are just a few of the political systems identified by students of conflict and armed groups. However, the literature has generally overlooked one category of armed groups and their implications on political order: pro-government militias (PGMs). As PGMs have become ubiquitous in civil wars, this study identifies a new political order emerging in countries where central governments have become reliant on PGMs in counter-insurgency operations. This study defines this order as a militiatocracy. Unlike armed groups in other political orders, PGMs do not seek to overthrow, undermine or replace the central government. Instead, in militiatocracies, PGMs and central governments develop symbiotic relations, which on the one hand, help the government to survive an insurgency, but on the other, allow militia leaders to secure an increasing presence in politics. The article illustrates the emergence and nature of militiatocracies by employing the case of Syria during the civil war.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1093/ia/iiac047
Uncontrolled keywords: Pro-government militias; civil wars; warlordism; militiatocracies; Syria
Subjects: J Political Science
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Depositing User: Yaniv Voller
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2022 12:43 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2023 11:17 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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