Retribution or Reconciliation? Attitudes Toward Rebel Collaborators in Iraq
47 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2019
Date Written: September 4, 2019
Rebel groups require the cooperation of many civilians who are commonly perceived as “collaborators” after conflict ends. The limited empirical work in this area focuses on fighters, ignoring the need for more nuanced understandings of proportional justice for civilian collaborators. Through a survey experiment in an Iraqi city that experienced governance by the Islamic State, we find that social identity—expected to trigger in- group favoritism—is a weak determinant of preferences for punishment and forgiveness compared to the type of collaboration itself. Our results also fail to provide support for the hypothesis that exposure to violence drives a desire for revenge. Instead, the perceived volition behind an act is important, although its effect varies depending on the type of collaboration. Our research offers uniquely fine-grained data and insights into the factors that shape perceptions of individual rebel culpability, with important policy implications for balancing accountability with the need for reconciliation.
Keywords: Transitional Justice, Rebel Governance, Survey Methodology, Iraq
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