Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-59b7f5684b-j5sqr Total loading time: 0.331 Render date: 2022-09-25T03:14:44.873Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "displayNetworkTab": true, "displayNetworkMapGraph": false, "useSa": true } hasContentIssue true

Rebel Groups between Adaptation and Ideological Continuity: The Impact of Sustained Political Participation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 November 2018


The question of how involvement in institutional politics and governance affects rebel groups’ behaviour is pertinent when studying violent non-state actors, both during and in the aftermath of conflict. This is especially the case when participation in the political system becomes sustained over time. The interactions between the political and governance practices of a rebel group and its overall ideological orientation and state-building aspirations are not sufficiently analysed in the literature, especially in the context of hybrid armed-political organizations operating in latent, frozen or protracted conflicts. This article aims to begin to fill this gap by examining how involvement in institutional politics has shaped both Hamas’s and Hezbollah’s branding, interpretation and reliance on their own constitutive ideological manifestos, with an emphasis on both organizations’ dynamic processes aimed at reconciling political participation with their previous ideological rejection of the legitimacy of the political system and their constitutive calls to dramatically restructure the political order. Based on these detailed accounts, this article reflects on how the complex relationship between politics, electoral competition, governance and ideological principles can shape an armed group’s political identity.

© The Author(s). Published by Government and Opposition Limited and Cambridge University Press 2018 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



Benedetta Berti is a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, Philadelphia, USA. Contact email:


Alagha, J. (2005), ‘Hizballah After the Syrian Withdrawal’, Middle East Report, 237(Winter): 3439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Alagha, J. (2006), The Shifts in Hizbullah’s Ideology: Religious Ideology, Political Ideology, and Political Program (Leiden: Amsterdam University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Alagha, J. (2011) (ed.), Hizbullah’s Documents: From the 1985 Open Letter to the 2009 Manifesto (Amsterdam: Pallas Publications).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Allison, M. (2006), ‘The Transition from Armed Opposition to Electoral Opposition in Central America’, Latin American Politics and Society, 48(4): 137162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Arjona, A. (2014), ‘Wartime Institutions: A Research Agenda’, Journal of Conflict Resolution, 58(8): 13601389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Arjona, A., Mampilly, Z. and Kasfir, N. (2016), Rebel Governance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).Google Scholar
Berti, B. (2010), ‘Salafist-Jihadist Activism in Gaza: Mapping the Threat’, Combating Terrorism Center (CTS) Sentinel, United States Military Academy at West Point, 3 May. Scholar
Berti, B. (2011), ‘Armed Groups as Political Parties and Their Role in Electoral Politics: The Case of Hizballah’, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, 34(12): 942962.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Berti, B. (2013), Armed Political Organizations: From Conflict to Integration (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press).Google Scholar
Berti, B. (2016), ‘Rebel Politics and the State: Between Conflict and Post-Conflict, Resistance and Co-Existence’, Civil Wars, 18(2): 118136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Berti, B. and Heifetz Knobel, A. (2015), ‘Reframing War to Make Peace in Northern Ireland: IRA Internal Consensus-Building for Peace and Disarmament’, International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Negotiation, 3(1), Scholar
Börzel, T. and Risse, T. (2010), ‘Governance Without a State: Can it Work?’, Regulation and Governance, 4: 113134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cammett, M. (2014), Compassionate Communalism: Welfare and Sectarianism in Lebanon (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press).Google Scholar
Collier, P. and Hoeffler, A. (2004) ‘Greed and Grievance in Civil War’, Oxford Economic Papers, 56: 563595.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Curtis, D. and Sindre, G. (2018), ‘Former Armed Movements, Ideology and State Transformation – Introduction to Special Issue’, Government and Opposition: An International Journal of Comparative Politics, 54 (in this issue).Google Scholar
Downs, A. (1967), Inside Bureaucracy (Boston, MA: Little, Brown).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
El Husseini, R. (2010), ‘Hezbollah and the Axis of Refusal: Hamas, Iran and Syria’, Third World Quarterly, 31(5): 803815.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Finn, J. (2000), ‘Electoral Regimes and the Proscription of Anti-Democratic Parties’, Terrorism and Political Violence, 12(3): 5177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Flanigan, S.T. (2008), ‘Nonprofit Service Provision by Insurgent Organizations: The Cases of Hizballah and the Tamil Tigers’, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, 31(6): 499519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gunning, J. (2008 ), Hamas in Politics: Democracy, Religion, Violence (New York: Columbia University Press).Google Scholar
Hamzeh, A. (2004), In the Path of Hizbullah (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press).Google Scholar
Hamzeh, N. (2000), ‘Lebanon’s Islamist and Local Politics: A New Reality’, Third World Quarterly, 21(5): 739759.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Harb, M. and Leenders, R. (2005), ‘Know Thy Enemy: Hizbullah “Terrorism” and the Polities of Perception’, Third World Quarterly, 6(1): 173197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Harik, J.P. (2006), Hizballah: The Changing Face of Terrorism (London: I.B. Tauris).Google Scholar
Herzog, M. (2006), ‘Can Hamas Be Tamed?’, Foreign Affairs (March/April), Scholar
Hira, A. and Hira, R. (2000), ‘The New Institutionalism: Contradictory Notions of Change’, American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 59(2): 267282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Holmqvist, C. (2005), ‘Engaging Armed Non-State Actors in Post-Conflict Settings’, in A. Bryden and H. Hänggi (eds), Security Governance in Post-Conflict Peacebuilding (Geneva: Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF)): 4568.Google Scholar
International Crisis Group (2006), ‘Enter Hamas: The Challenge of Political Integration’, International Crisis Group Middle East Report 49, 18 January (Amman/Brussels: International Crisis Group).Google Scholar
Ishiyama, J. and Batta, A. (2011), ‘Swords into Plowshares: The Organizational Transformation of Rebel Groups into Political Parties’, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 44(4): 369379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Juergensmeyer, M. (2000), Terror in the Mind of God (Los Angeles: University of California Press).Google Scholar
Khashan, H. and Mousawi, I. (2007), ‘Hizbullah’s Jihad Concept’, Journal of Religion and Society, 9: 119.Google Scholar
Khatib, L. (2011), ‘Hizbullah’s Political Strategy’, Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, 53(2): 6176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Klein, M. (2007), ‘Hamas in Power’, Middle East Journal, 61(3): 442459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Klein, M. (2009), ‘Against the Consensus: Oppositionist Voices in Hamas’, Middle Eastern Studies, 45(6): 881892.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Knight, K. (2006), ‘Transformations of the Concept of Ideology in the Twentieth Century’, American Political Science Review, 100: 619626.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kristianasen, W. (1999), ‘Challenge and Counterchallenge: Hamas’s Response to Oslo’, Journal of Palestine Studies, 28(3): 1936.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kurz, A. and Nahman, T. (1997), ‘Hamas: Radical Islam in a National Struggle’, Memorandum No. 48 (Tel Aviv: Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University).Google Scholar
Knudsen, A. (2005), ‘Crescent and Sword: The Hamas Enigma’, Third World Quarterly, 26(8): 13731388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Løvlie, F. (2013), ‘Explaining Hamas’s Changing Electoral Strategy, 1996–2006’, Government and Opposition: An International Journal of Comparative Politics, 48(4): 570593.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mac Ginty, R. (2006), No War, No Peace: The Rejuvenation of Stalled Peace Processes and Peace Accords (New York: Palgrave Macmillan).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mampilly, Z. (2011), Rebel Rulers: Insurgent Governance and Civilian Life during War (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press).Google Scholar
Manning, C. (2007), ‘Party-Building on the Heels of War: El Salvador, Bosnia, Kosovo and Mozambique’, Democratization, 14(2): 253272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Maqdsi, M. (1993), ‘Charter of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) of Palestine’, Journal of Palestine Studies, 22(4): 122134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Marzook, M.A. (2007), ‘Hamas’ Stand’, Los Angeles Times, 10 July.Google Scholar
Matesan, I.E. (2012), ‘What Makes Negative Frames Resonant? Hamas and the Appeal of Opposition to the Peace Process’, Terrorism and Political Violence, 24(5): 671705.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Meshal, K. (2009), ‘Transcript: Interview with Khaled Meshal of Hamas’, New York Times, 5 May.Google Scholar
Middle East Eye (2017), ‘Hamas in 2017: The Document in Full’, Middle East Eye, 1 May.Google Scholar
Mishal, S. and Sela, A. (2000), The Palestinian Hamas: Vision, Violence and Coexistence (New York: Columbia University Press).Google Scholar
Noe, N (2007), ‘Interview with Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah Al-Watan Al-Arab, September 11 1992’, in N. Noe (ed.), Voice of Hezbollah: The Statements of Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah (London: Verso): 88.Google Scholar
Norton, R.A. (2007), Hezbollah (Princeton: Princeton University Press).Google Scholar
O’Donnel, G. and Schmitter, P. (1986), Transitions for Authoritarian Rule: Tentative Conclusions about Democracy (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press).Google Scholar
Palestinian Information Centre (2005), ‘Political Platform of the Reform and Change Movement’, Palestinian Information Centre, 14 January, available through LexisNexis.Google Scholar
Petrasek, D. (2000), Ends and Means: Human Rights Approaches to Armed Groups (Versoix: International Council on Human Rights Policy).Google Scholar
Qassem, N. (2005), Hizbullah: The Story from Within (London: Saqi).Google Scholar
Rapoport, D. (1984), ‘Fear and Trembling: Terrorism in Three Religious Traditions’, American Political Science Review, 78(3): 658677.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Roy, S. (2000), ‘The Transformation of Islamic NGOs in Palestine’, Middle East Report, 214.Google Scholar
Roy, S. (2011), Hamas and Civil Society in Gaza: Engaging the Islamist Social Sector (Princeton: Princeton University Press).Google Scholar
Saad-Ghorayeb, A. (2002), Hizbu’llah: Politics and Religion (London: Pluto Press).Google Scholar
Sandal, N.A. (2012), ‘The Clash of Public Theologies? Rethinking the Concept of Religion in Global Politics’, Alternatives: Global, Local, Political, 37(1): 6683.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sanín, F.G. and Wood, E.J. (2014), ‘Ideology in Civil War: Instrumental Adoption and Beyond’, Journal of Peace Research, 51(2): 213226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Saouli, A. (2014), ‘Intellectuals and Political Power in Social Movements: The Parallel Paths of Fadlallah and Hizbullah’, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 41(1): 97116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sartori, G. (1969), ‘Politics, Ideology, and Belief Systems’, American Political Science Review, 63: 398411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schneckener, U. (2009), ‘Spoilers or Governance Actors? Engaging Armed Non-State Groups in Areas of Limited Statehood’, Governance in Areas of Limited Statehood, New Modes of Governance , Working Paper Series 21 (Berlin: Research Center (SFB)), Scholar
Schwedler, J. (2007), ‘Democratization, Inclusion and the Moderation of Islamist Parties’, Development, 50(1): 5960.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Shikaki, K. (1998), ‘Peace Now or Hamas Later’, Foreign Affairs, 77(7): 2943.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Shikaki, K. (2002), ‘Palestinians Divided’, Foreign Affairs, 83(1), Scholar
Skocpol, T. (1979), States and Social Revolutions: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia and China (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sukhtian, L. (2005), ‘Hamas Turns Focus to Political Campaign Ahead of Municipal Elections’, interview with spokesman Sami Abu Zahra, Associated Press Worldstream, 25 January, available through LexisNexis.Google Scholar
Szekely, O. (2015), ‘Doing Well by Doing Good: Understanding Hamas’s Social Services as Political Advertising’, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, 38(4), 275292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Taif Agreement (1989), The Taif Agreement (signed on 22 October and ratified on 4 November).Google Scholar
Van Engeland, A. and Rudolph, A.M. (2008), From Terrorism to Politics (Aldershot: Ashgate).Google Scholar
Wiegand, K. (2009), ‘Reformation of a Terrorist Group: Hezbollah as a Lebanese Political Party’, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, 32: 669680.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Yaghi, M. (2006), ‘Abbas, Hamas, and the Referendum Trap’, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, June, Scholar
Zahhar, M. and Hijazi, H. (1995), ‘Hamas: Waiting for Secular Nationalism to Self-Destruct. An Interview with Mahmud Zahhar’, Journal of Palestine Studies, 24(3): 82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Rebel Groups between Adaptation and Ideological Continuity: The Impact of Sustained Political Participation
Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Rebel Groups between Adaptation and Ideological Continuity: The Impact of Sustained Political Participation
Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Rebel Groups between Adaptation and Ideological Continuity: The Impact of Sustained Political Participation
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *