Krigets många ansikten: Att förstå hur konflikter hänger samman

Tidsperiod: 2016-01-01 till 2019-12-31

Projektledare: Desireé Nilsson, Desirée Nilsson

Finansiär: Vetenskapsrådet

Bidragstyp: Projektbidrag

Budget: 6 136 000 SEK

Currently, a few extremely violent civil wars – such as those in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and South Sudan – are so devastating that together they represent the vast majority of all people killed in armed conflict each year. Although these civil wars are distributed across several continents and have their roots in a diverse set of grievances they all share one important attribute: these civil wars do not only consist of a struggle between a government and rebels, but tend to comprise an interlocking patchwork of conflicts between rivalling political actors on several different levels. The Syrian crisis is a case in point, where Assad’s regime is locked in combat with rebel groups (state-based armed conflict), but where tensions between Shia and Sunni Muslims (communal conflict), fighting between rebel groups (inter-rebel conflicts), and transnational interventions (cross-border conflicts) are all integral parts of the civil war. In many other countries –such as Chechnya, Egypt, and Peru– the main fault line remains between government and rebels. However, the literature on peace and conflict research has largely failed to examine why some civil wars become complex interlinked patchworks of different conflict types while others do not.The purpose of the project is to contribute to filling this gap by exploring the following research question: why and how do some state-based armed conflicts become inter-linked with other types of conflicts, and how does this influence the resolution of these conflicts? In particular, this project will provide key insights into the inter-linkages between state-based armed conflict and three forms of organized violence that commonly plague civil wars: 1) communal conflicts between ethno-linguistic groups; 2) conflicts between rebel actors, and 3) cross-border conflicts. The research project covers four years and includes three scholars with highly complementary skills and specialties, well suited for the research task. The project seeks to develop a novel theoretical framework that focuses on conflict interlinkages, paying attention to both actor characteristics, such as ethnic ties between actors, and structural factors, including political institutions. We will use quantitative and qualitative methods combined to address this pivotal research question. The qualitative analyses will consist of in-depth case studies (within and between case comparisons) of Syria and Lebanon, and Sudan and South Sudan, respectively, which will be instrumental to tease out the causal mechanisms and help us validate and develop our theoretical framework. The quantitative analyses will utilize unique disaggregated civil war data, which will allow us to map out and explore patterns of inter-linkages between these different types of conflicts across sub-national units and over time.In the first phase of the project we will develop the theoretical framework and conduct the first field trips, and make the initial mapping of conflicts linkages. In the second phase, we expect to have conducted the main analysis from the first round of fieldwork, and have a substantially expanded theoretical framework. This will serve to guide the statistical analyses both in terms of identifying relevant factors and explore if the findings from the case studies also apply more generally. In the final phase of the project, we will do another round of fieldwork, begin finalizing the case studies, and further explore the general patterns of how these conflicts interlink. The project aims to produce a book containing our developed theoretical framework, and an analysis of the global patterns, as well as four in-depth case studies. We will also publish our results in four peer-reviewed journal articles (two qualitative and two quantitative). We believe that our project will contribute towards a multi-layered and more comprehensive understanding of contemporary civil wars, which will not only push the research frontier forward, bu