Militias in Internal Warfare: From the Colonial Era to the Contemporary Middle East

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
239 Downloads (Pure)


Although it is a tenet of political science that the modern state possesses a ‘monopoly of violence’, governments have repeatedly used militias outside the formal chain of command of their armed forces when waging counter-insurgency (COIN), and in recent conflicts the USA, UK and other Western powers have used irregular forces when fighting insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan. War-weariness and financial austerity is likely to encourage American and allied policy-makers to rely on auxiliaries as proxies, despite the fact that historical experience demonstrates that the use of militias in COIN can have counter-productive consequences, not least for state stability. This article also concludes that the tendency of some Middle Eastern states (notably Iraq and Syria) to ‘coup-proof’ their militaries renders them even more dependent on militias in the face of a sustained internal revolt, as their regular armed forces collapse under the stress of combat. In this respect, there is a direct link between ‘coup-proofing’, dependence on irregular auxiliaries in civil war, and the erosion of the state’s integrity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-225
JournalSmall Wars and Insurgencies
Issue number2
Early online date21 Mar 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Mar 2016


Dive into the research topics of 'Militias in Internal Warfare: From the Colonial Era to the Contemporary Middle East'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this