Polarization, Foreign Military Intervention, and Civil Conflict

61 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2017

See all articles by Suleiman Abu-Bader

Suleiman Abu-Bader

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev - Department of Economics

Elena Ianchovichina

World Bank

Date Written: November 20, 2017

Abstract

In a behavioral model of civil conflict, foreign military intervention alters the resources available to warring groups and their probability of winning. The model highlights the importance of distributional measures along with the modifying effect of the intervention for conflict incidence. The paper confirms empirically the finding in the literature that ethnic polarization is a robust predictor of civil war, but it also finds evidence that religious polarization is positively and significantly associated with civil conflict in the presence of foreign military intervention of non-humanitarian and non-neutral nature. Such external interventions exacerbate religious polarization, leading to high-intensity conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa region, but not in the rest of the world. These results suggest that, unlike in the rest of the world, where civil conflicts are mostly about a public prize linked to ethnic polarization, in the Middle East and North Africa they are mostly about a sectarian-related public prize. The results are robust to allowing different definitions of conflict, model specifications, and data time spans, and to controlling for other types of foreign military interventions.

Keywords: Conflict and Fragile States

Suggested Citation

Abu-Bader, Suleiman and Ianchovichina, Elena, Polarization, Foreign Military Intervention, and Civil Conflict (November 20, 2017). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 8248. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3074912

Suleiman Abu-Bader (Contact Author)

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev - Department of Economics ( email )

Beer-Sheva 84105
Israel

Elena Ianchovichina

World Bank ( email )

1818 H. Street, N.W.
MSN3-311
Washington, DC 20433
United States
202-458-8910 (Phone)
202-522-1159 (Fax)

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