The political marketplace

Fascinating interview with Alex de Waal, setting out how the “political marketplace” is a useful concept through which to understand conflict in Africa and elsewhere. Think about the political business manager, juggling incomings and outgoings. It seems to be a powerful tool to understand intervention and analyse the rise of groups such as Isil…

Take for example, a lot of attention has been given to the sources of finance to the Islamic State. People have been discussing about the ways it is generating money by way of taking hostages, or receiving money from Qatar, or by liquidating the assets in the region. But I have not seen anyone look at the other side of the story, which is expenditure. What is its political budget? What is its security budget? To what extent is it actually producing public goods? These questions matter because this particular group is not functioning like a regular terrorist group mainly because it controls territory and is functioning as a territorial insurgent. A territorial insurgent has to provide public goods. Without understanding these aspects it will be difficult to analyze the problem itself.

Well worth reading the whole thing (PDF), in Fletcher Security Review, published by Tufts.

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