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MPSA Draft: Constituency Ties and the Rebel Group Behavior Amidst Natural Disasters

Natural disasters are increasingly overlapping with ongoing conflicts creating what scholars call dual disasters. However, these disasters also create’windows of opportunity’for the government and the rebels to take unprecedented actions. While the existing literature focuses on how governments deal with natural disasters, the rebel response to such exogenous shocks remains an understudied area. We seek to explain the heterogeneity of rebel behavior in this context by asking: why do some rebel groups facilitate the official relief operations during natural disasters while others obstruct them?This behavior, we argue, is a product of the strength or weakness of the ties between the rebel groups and their constituencies in the pre-disaster settings. We show that rebels having strong ties with the people they claim to represent are more likely to facilitate relief operations by operationalizing constituency relations in terms of ethnic affinity, resource dependency, services provision, and the use of indiscriminate violence. We test out theory using a novel data on rebel behavior amidst natural disasters.

This is the initial draft from December 2018. Contact me if you would like to review the latest version. I’ll be presenting this paper (with my colleague Mehmet Halit Sezgin) at the Midwest Political Science Association’s Annual Conference on 4 April 2019 at 11:30 am. 

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