Relative Legitimacy and Displacement Decisions During Rebel Governance
77 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2019 Last revised: 14 Oct 2019
Date Written: October 14, 2019
What are the conditions under which civilians living in territory captured by a rebel group will prefer its system of governance to that of the incumbent state? Given the opportunity to leave rebel-held territory, who stays and why? Through an original survey of 1,458 residents of Mosul, an Iraqi city governed by the Islamic State for more than three years, I compare the characteristics of “stayers” (those who remained in Mosul for the duration of IS rule) against "leavers" (those who fled). I test and find some support for a theory of "relative legitimacy": Civilians who perceived improvements in the quality of governance under IS rule—in comparison with the Iraqi state—were more likely to stay than those who perceived no change or a deterioration. This finding suggests that weak rule of law and ineffective governance in Iraq may have contributed to civilian cooperation with IS.
Keywords: Civil War, Displacement, Rebel Governance, Islamic State, Iraq
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