Criminals and insurgents the role of ethnicity in state responses to internal resource competitors
Novack, Edward W.
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A government facing an ethnicity based insurgency competing with it for natural resources faces different threats based upon the level of ethnic homogeneity of the insurgent elements. Where a mono-ethnic insurgent threat develops, the government faces a potential separatist movement seeking secession from the country as a means to address its grievances. The government will have no option other than counterinsurgency to manage this threat. Where a multi-ethnic insurgent threat develops, the threat of separatism may be thwarted due to the disparate nature of the insurgent elements and the tendency of these groups to compete with each other. In this scenario, the government has the ability to "criminalize" the insurgents, thereby enabling the government to justify safeguarding its resources while taking minimal steps to resolve the grievances of the communities. An examination of the approaches taken by Indonesia and Nigeria in addressing their insurgencies in Aceh and the Niger Delta respectively is illustrative of the advantages and drawbacks of these approaches. In the end it is shown that counterinsurgency is more difficult though decisive, while criminalization ultimately risks the creation of a new ethnic identity born of economic hardship, around which an ethnic nationalist movement might vie for secession.
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