Transnational Insurgencies Have Something In Common : They Win

Pocket Advice

—“Although transnational insurgencies comprise highly diverse groups across different conflicts and eras, they still have much in common. For one, such forces are winning: transnational insurgencies have won nearly half of the civil wars in which they have fought, almost twice the success rate of insurgencies overall. Several Israeli prime ministers have acknowledged that Israel’s victory in 1948 relied on the World War II veterans who aided the fledgling state against Arab armies. In other conflicts throughout history, prominent foreign fighters were either instrumental in extending insurgencies or making them costlier to suppress: the Marquis de Lafayette, the French general who fought for the American rebels during the Revolutionary War; the Italian general Giuseppe Garibaldi, who supported the Republican uprising in Brazil in the 1830s; and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who formed al Qaeda in Iraq under the U.S. occupation. “—

–“The patterns of recruitment for such disparate fighters are broadly similar and, because of that, they all have the same Achilles’ heel…. Insurgent groups … use despair rather than optimism to recruit members. Generally, they tell recruits that they are losing a war of survival and that they face an existential threat.”–

–“It might not seem like the most persuasive pitch, particularly for fighters who, if they join, must violate a number of laws and take up arms in an unfamiliar territory. But it works. …. The strategy works best with foreign recruits who share the movement’s ideology, ethnicity, or religion but who, unlike local fighters, do not have immediate communities and families in the line of fire.”–

–“Such fighters are often persuadable because of their weak affiliations with their own country and national identity,”–

–” In these conflicts, the foreign fighters, driven by the belief that they are fighting a desperate battle to the end, act more aggressively than local insurgents — even when their side is actually winning. It’s no accident that most suicide missions in Afghanistan and Iraq were carried out by foreign fighters rather than local militants. “–

–“Some insurgent groups, such as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria, have taken advantage of this dynamic by using foreigners to target civilians when the local combatants will not. “–

Leave a Reply