In the Name of God - or not : A study on how external actor religiosity may affect rebel groups

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för freds- och konfliktforskning

Abstract: This thesis seeks to answer the question of why some rebel movements choose to take on a religious character, and why some do not, even in cases where they share many characteristics. This thesis argues that a religious or secular framing is a tool that can be tactically utilised by rebel groups in order to further their goals and strengthen their position.   Given the fact that rebel groups usually start out at an inherent resource disadvantage, securing external support is paramount for any rebel group to stand a fighting chance. External actors need to be talked into supporting these rebel groups, and are more likely to support rebel groups with whom they share certain characteristics. This thesis argues that one of the main ways in which insurgent groups can seek to lobby or appease external actors is through aligning its religiosity to fit that of the external actor. Through examining the lifespan of two separate ethnic insurgencies in Pakistan, that of the Baloch and of the Pashtun, and tracing that to the religiosity of the latest iterations of insurgent groups within these long-standing conflicts, the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP), which have taken very different paths when it comes to religiosity despite their similar origins, and examining their potential external backers and the influence they may have had, this thesis found that foreign backer religiosity might be a powerful determinant in influencing insurgent religiosity.

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