Insurgents in motion: Counterinsurgency and insurgency relocation in Iraq

P-H. Wong

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Recent studies in general are positive regarding the effectiveness of US
counterinsurgency programs in Iraq. The right mix of coercion, ethnic
strategy, and public goods provision, it is argued, makes Iraqis less
likely to rebel against the US army and the Iraqi government, thus
reducing insurgent violence. In fact, the number of insurgent attacks
dramatically declined shortly after the change in the counterinsurgency
strategy in 2007. How robust is the positive finding? A common
assumption behind previous analyses is that insurgent attacks have a
strong local root and is unlikely to be reproduced in other areas.
Violation of this spatial independence assumption, however, can
potentially bias towards the positive result. Based on the novel spatial
dynamic panel data (SDPD) model, my analysis shows that spatial
dependence should be addressed and cannot be assumed away. Results based
on the new model also reveal that, conditional upon other strategies,
the effects of a counterinsurgency strategy vary considerably both in
magnitude and direction, suggesting that some policy mixes could be
counterproductive. Policy makers seeking to adopt similar strategies in
Afghanistan should take the relocation into account in their policy
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationMaastricht
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

Publication series

SeriesUNU-MERIT Working Papers

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