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The most useful forms of outside support for an insurgent movement include safe havens, financial support, political backing, and direct military assistance. Because states are able to provide all of these types of assistance, their support has had a profound impact on the effectiveness of many rebel movements since the end of the Cold War. However, state support is no longer the only, or indeed necessarily the most important, game in town. Diasporas have played a particularly important role in sustaining several strong insurgencies. More rarely, refugees, guerrilla groups, or other types of non-state supporters play a significant role in creating or sustaining an insurgency, offering fighters, training, or other forms of assistance. This report assesses post-Cold War trends in external support for insurgent movements. It describes the frequency that states, diasporas, refugees, and other non-state actors back guerrilla movements. It also assesses the motivations of these actors and which types of support matter most. This book concludes by assessing the implications for analysts of insurgent movements.

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Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    State Support for Insurgencies

  • Chapter Three

    Diaspora Support for Insurgencies

  • Chapter Four

    Refugee Support for Insurgencies

  • Chapter Five

    Other Non-State Supporters of Insurgencies

  • Chapter Six

    Assessing the Impact of External Support

  • Chapter Seven

    Implications for the Analysis of Insurgency.

  • Appendix A

    Outside Support for Insurgencies, 1991-2000

  • Appendix B

    The LTTE's Military-Related Procurement

Book Review Excerpts

"… The book's seven chapters provide a helpful introduction to the topic of outside support for insurgent groups… This brief study is a useful primer on the subject of how insurgencies garner support from a growing range of backers. It will assist those analysts who are interested in understanding the diffuse manner in which insurgencies are capable of surviving and sometimes thriving."

- Comparative Strategy

"A short study…on an important subject. Insurgency does not normally survive without some kind of external support… Here the authors make an important point: external support comes not only from states but increasingly from nonstate actors, particularly diasporas and substate organizations. These groups are initially less dangerous than states, but they are also less amenable to disruption or coercion, which augurs ill for the perpetuation of a peaceful status quo in many parts of the world."

- Foreign Affairs

"Daniel Byman, Peter Chalk, Bruce Hoffman, William Rosenau, and David Brannan effectively collaborate to produce a cold, hard, meticulous look at state support, incitement, and sponsorship of insurgencies from the Cold War era through modern globalization… An incredibly timely book given the world situation today and the American commitment to eradicate rogue, state-supported international terrorism, and written at a college level with heavy research and annotation, Trends in Outside Support for Insurgent Movements is a fascinating, albeit disturbing, look at political machinations around the world."

- Internet Book Watch

The research described in this report was performed under the auspices of RAND's National Security Research Division.

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