The loyalty trap : regime ethnic exclusion, commitment problems, and civil war duration in Syria and beyond
Article [Accepted Manuscript]
Is part ofSecurity studies ; vol. 27, no. 2, pp. 296-317.
Publisher(s)Taylor and Francis
This article examines the impact of the ethnic exclusiveness of regimes on commitment problems and hence on civil conflict duration. It argues that members of privileged in-groups in highly exclusive regimes can be trapped into compliance with the regime. Ethnic exclusion helps to construct privileged-group members as regime loyalists. They therefore fear rebel reprisals even if they surrender or defect and consequently persist in fighting. The article finds in particular that, in ethnically exclusive regimes, privileged-group members mistrust even rebels who mobilize on a nonethnic agenda and regard rebel reassurances, including nonethnic aims, as suspect. Exclusion therefore induces privileged-group cohesion, an effect more resistant to rebel reassurances than previously recognized. A case study of the Syrian civil war shows this dynamic at a micro level, and a cross-national statistical analysis gives partial evidence that it lengthens civil conflicts on a larg`e scale.