Leadership changes and rebels’ goals in Areas of Limited Statehood (ALS) in the Middle East
The post-Cold War period has been characterized by an outbreak of nationalism and the accentuation of national and religious identities. Since the end of the Cold War, the types of actors involved in major hot-spots of violent conflict have changed; issues in dispute have shifted; and methods and technologies of warfare have evolved. One of the regions most affected by those changes has been the Middle East. The political turmoil that swept over the region has left it in a tenuous state of shifting relations, where much of this turbulence has entailed leadership overturns. In some cases, leader overturns were internally triggered by popular uprisings or military coups, as occurred in Tunisia and Egypt. At other times, external forces intervened to take down one government and replace it with another, as occurred in Iraq in 2003 and in Libya in 2011.
In this chapter I examine the impact of leadership change on the prospects for mediation in internal conflicts. I ask whether the goals that rebel groups fight for have any impact on the propensity of these groups to accept mediation efforts by third parties, and furthermore, how the pursuit of various goals like independence, irredentism, power sharing, or government overthrow affects the probability of groups engaging in mediation attempts. Do these probabilities change when there is a leadership change in a rebel group? And, most importantly, how do leadership changes in rebel groups, and mediation efforts, affect postwar governance in Areas of Limited Statehood (ALS)? To test these questions empirically, I will look at three cases – Libya after Gaddafi was deposed (and killed) in 2011; Yemen during the ongoing civil war that started in 2015; and Egypt following Mubarak’s ousting in 2011.