Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Islamists and Nationalists: Rebel Motivation and Counterinsurgency in Russia's North Caucasus

  • MONICA DUFFY TOFT (a1) and YURI M. ZHUKOV (a2)

Abstract

This article offers the first disaggregated, quantitative comparison of Islamist and nationalist violence, using new data from Russia's North Caucasus. We find that violence by Islamist groups is less sensitive to government coercion than violence by nationalist groups. Selective counterinsurgency tactics outperform indiscriminate force in suppressing attacks by nationalists, but not Islamists. We attribute this finding to rebels’ support structure. Because Islamist insurgents rely less on local support than nationalists, they are able to maintain operations even where it is relatively costly for the local population to support them. These findings have potentially significant implications for other contemporary conflicts in which governments face both types of challenges to their authority and existing political order.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Monica Duffy Toft is Professor of Government and Public Policy, Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford (monica.toft@bsg.ox.ac.uk). 10 Merton Street, Oxford, UK OX1 4JJ.
Yuri M. Zhukov is Assistant Professor of Political Science and Faculty Associate at the Center for Political Studies, University of Michigan (zhukov@umich.edu), 5700 Haven Hall, 505 South State Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1045.

References

Hide All
Anderson, Benedict. 1991. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, rev. ed. London: Verso.
Asal, Victor, and Rethemeyer, R. Karl. 2008. “The Nature of the Beast: Organizational Structures and the Lethality of Terrorist Attacks.” Journal of Politics 70 (2): 437–49.
“Aslan Maskhadov: Voina zakonchitsya togda, kogda uydut te prishel s voynoy [Aslan Maskhadov: The war will end when those who came with war leave].” 2003. Kavkazskiy Uzel, March 26.
Azam, Jean-Paul. 2005. “Suicide-Bombing as Inter-Generational Investment.” Public Choice 122 (1–2): 177–98.
Barrett, Richard. 2014. Foreign Fighters in Syria. New York: Soufan Group.
“Bastrykin naschital na Kavkaze poltory tysyachi boevikov [Bastrykin counts 1,500 rebels in the Caucasus].” 2009. Lenta.ru. May 20. http://lenta.ru/news/2009/05/20/boevicks/ (Accessed October 16, 2014).
Batuev, Valeriy. 1999. “Shamil Basaev: ya vzyal Islamskiy flag v svoi ruki [Shamil Basaev: I took the Islamic flag into my own hands].” Moskovskiy Komsomolets, March 1.
Becker, Gary S. 1974. “Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach.” In Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, eds. Becker, Gary S. and Landes, William M.. New York: National Bureau of Economic Research, 154.
Berman, Eli, and Laitin, David. 2006. Hard Targets: Theory and Evidence on Suicide Attacks. Washington, DC: National Bureau of Economic Research, no. w11740.
Berman, Eli, and Laitin, David D.. 2008. “Religion, Terrorism and Public Goods: Testing the Club Model.” Journal of Public Economics 92 (10): 1942 67.
Blattman, Christopher, and Miguel, Edward. 2010. “Civil War.” Journal of Economic Literature 48 (1): 357.
Bloom, Mia. 2005. Dying to Kill. New York: Columbia University Press.
Brown, Michael E., Cote, Owen R. Jr., Lynn-Jones, Sean M., and Miller, Steven E., eds. 1997. Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Bueno de Mesquita, Ethan. 2005. “The Quality of Terror.” American Journal of Political Science 49 (3): 515–30.
Caplan, Bryan. 2006. “Terrorism: The Relevance of the Rational Choice Model.” Public Choice 128: 91107.
Collier, Paul, and Hoeffler, Anke. 2004. “Greed and Grievance in Civil War.” Oxford Economic Papers 56 (4): 563–95.
Fearon, James, and Laitin, David. 2003. “Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War.” American Political Science Review 97 (1): 7590.
Felter, Joseph, and Fishman, Brian. 2007. Al-Qa’ida's Foreign Fighters in Iraq: A First Look at the Sinjar Records. West Point, NY: Combating Terrorism Center.
Hassner, Ron. 2003. “To Halve and to Hold: Conflicts over Sacred Space and the Problem of Indivisibility.” Security Studies 12 (4, Summer): 133.
Hassner, Ron. 2011. “Sacred Time and Conflict Initiation.” Security Studies 20 (4): 491520.
Hassner, Ron, and Horowitz, Michael C.. 2010. “Correspondence: Debating the Role of Religion in War.” International Security 35 (1, Summer): 201–08.
Hegghammer, Thomas. 2010/2011. “The Rise of Muslim Foreign Fighters: Islam and the Globalization of Jihad.” International Security 35 (3, Winter): 5394.
Hegghammer, Thomas. 2013. “Should I Stay or Should I Go? Explaining Variation in Western Jihadists’ Choice between Domestic and Foreign Fighting.” American Political Science Review 107 (1): 115.
Hoffman, Bruce. 1998. Inside Terrorism. New York: Columbia University Press.
Hoffman, Bruce. 2006. “From the War on Terror to Global Counterinsurgency.” Current History (December): 423–29.
Horowitz, Michael C. 2009. “Long Time Going: Religion and the Duration of Crusading.” International Security 34 (2, Fall): 162–93.
Iannaccone, Laurence R., and Berman, Eli. 2006. “Religious Extremism: The Good, the Bad, and the Deadly.” Public Choice 128: 109–29.
International Crisis Group. 2012. “Tentative Jihad: Syria's Fundamentalist Opposition.” Middle East Report (131).
International Crisis Group. 2013. “Mali: Security, Dialogue and Meaningful Reform.” Africa Report (201).
International Institute of Strategic Studies. 2002. “Table 6 Selected Non-State Armed Groups.” The Military Balance 102 (1): 224–31.
“Jihad and the Fields.” 2013. Sharia and Life. Al Jazeera TV. August 2.
Juergensmeyer, Mark. 2000. Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Kalyvas, Stathis. 2006. The Logic of Violence in Civil War. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Lahoud, Nelly, Caudill, Stuart, Collins, Liam, Koehler-Derrick, Gabriel, Rassler, Don, and al-Ubaydi, Muhammad. 2012. Letters from Abbottabad: Bin Ladin Sidelined? West Point, New York: U.S. Military Academy, Combating Terrorism Center.
Lake, David A., and Rothchild, Donald S.. 1998. The International Spread of Ethnic Conflict: Fear, Diffusion, and Escalation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Long, Austin. 2008. “The Anbar Awakening.” Survival 50 (2, April/May): 6794.
Lyall, Jason. 2010. “Are Coethnics More Effective Counterinsurgents? Evidence from the Second Chechen War.” American Political Science Review 104 (1): 120.
Malashenko, Aleksey. 2001. Islamskiye orientiry Severnogo Kavkaza [Islamic Reference Points of the North Caucasus]. Moscow: Gendal’f.
Mason, T. David, and Krane, Dale A.. 1989. “The Political Economy of Death Squads: Toward a Theory of the Impact of State-Sanctioned Terror.” International Studies Quarterly 33 (2): 175–98.
Miller, Greg. 2014. “Airstrikes against Islamic State Have Not Affected Flow of Foreign Fighters to Syria.” Washington Post, October 30.
Moghadam, Assaf. 2008. The Globalization of Martyrdom: Al Qaeda, Salafi Jihad, and the Diffusion of Suicide Attacks. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Moghadam, Assaf. 2008/09. “Motives for Martyrdom: Al-Qaida, Salafi Jihad, and the Spread of Suicide Attacks.” International Security 33 (3, Winter): 4678.
“Official Release of the Statement by Amir Dokka Umarov about the Declaration of the Caucasus Emirate.” 2007. Press Office of the Amir of the Caucasus Emirate, October 7.
O’Loughlin, John, Holland, Edward, and Witmer, Frank. 2011. “The Changing Geography of Violence in the North Caucasus of Russia, 1999–2011: Regional Trends and Local Dynamics in Dagestan, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria.” Eurasian Geography and Economics 52 (5): 596630.
Pape, Robert A. 2005. Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism. New York: Random House.
Sageman, Marc. 2004. Understanding Terror Networks. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Sambanis, Nicholas. 2001. “Do Ethnic and Nonethnic Civil Wars Have the Same Causes? A Theoretical and Empirical Inquiry (Part 1).” Journal of Conflict Resolution 45 (3): 259–82.
Schelling, Thomas. 1966. Arms and Influence. New Haven: Yale University Press.
“Shamil’ Basaev o sobytiyakh v Beslane [Shamil Basaev on the events in Beslan].” 2012. KavkazCenter.com, September 1 http://kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2012/09/01/92818.shtml (Accessed February 14, 2015).
“Statistika pohischeniy i ubiystv v Chechne i Ingushetii [Kidnapping and Murder Statistics in Chechnya and Ingushetia].” n.d. Memorial Human Rights Center. http://memo.ru/hr/hotpoints/n-caucas/misc/razr/razr.htm (Accessed January 22, 2014).
Stern, Jessica. 2003. Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill. New York: Ecco.
Toft, Monica Duffy. 2003. The Geography of Ethnic Violence: Identity, Interests and the Indivisibility of Territory. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Toft, Monica Duffy. 2007. “Getting Religion? The Puzzling Case of Islam and Civil War.” International Security 31 (4, Spring): 97131.
Toft, Monica Duffy, and Zhukov, Yuri M.. 2012. “Denial and Punishment in the North Caucasus Evaluating the Effectiveness of Coercive Counter-Insurgency.” Journal of Peace Research 49 (6): 785800.
Varshney, Ashutosh. 2003. “Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Rationality.” Perspectives on Politics 1 (1): 8599.
Weinstein, Jeremy M. 2007. Inside Rebellion. New York: Cambridge University Press.
White, Jeffrey, and Neuman, Brooke. 2005. “Iraq's Sunnis Play the Election Card.” Washington Institute for Near East Policy (1062, December 13).
Wintrobe, Ronald. 2003. “Can Suicide Bombers Be Rational.” Typescript, University of Western Ontario.
Yarlykapov, Ahmet. 2006. “‘Narodnyi Islam’ i musul’manskaya molodezh tsentral’nogo i severno-zapadnogo kavkaza [‘People's Islam’ and the Muslim Youth of Central and North-West Caucasus].” Etnograficheskoye obozreniye 2 (April): 5974.
Zaitsev, Vadim. 2011. “Naemniki v Chechnye [Mercenaries in Chechnya].” Kommersant, March 21.
Zhukov, Yuri M. 2012. “Roads and the Diffusion of Insurgent Violence: The Logistics of Conflict in Russia's North Caucasus.” Political Geography 31 (3): 144–56.
Type Description Title
PDF
Supplementary materials

Toft and Zhukov supplementary material
Appendix

 PDF (2.8 MB)
2.8 MB

Islamists and Nationalists: Rebel Motivation and Counterinsurgency in Russia's North Caucasus

  • MONICA DUFFY TOFT (a1) and YURI M. ZHUKOV (a2)

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed