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Reporting period: 2018-09-01 to 2020-08-31

This project explores the changing character of warfare in conflicts involving non-Western states (where Western states play a much smaller role than in recent wars such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan). Conflicts involving Western states over the last two decades have been subject to a good deal of analysis, whereas more recent conflicts where Western states have played a smaller role have been subject to less examination and have not been examined comparatively. This project looked at conflicts in Yemen, Nigeria, Ukraine and Iraq/Syria in particular. Comparative analysis of these conflicts is useful as it a) allows the observation of broader trends across different contexts and b) it allows you to explore how particular conflict dynamics (such as the strategies of insurgents or the responses of governments) differ across conflicts.

Understanding these conflicts is very important as they represent a significant challenge to international and regional security as well as having huge humanitarian costs in terms of the numbers killed and displaced. This research has sought to understand some of the key dynamics better so as to be able to advise governments and other stakeholders on what to do (and what not to) in response to these and other future conflicts.

The overall objective of this project is to assess how the character of conflict involving non-Western military powers differs from general conceptualizations of recent warfare (and each other). It aims also to assess the extent to which these conflicts show similarities and differences from recent Western wars and the similarities and differences between these conflicts themselves.
This project saw a period of initial desk research in 2018 and the first half of 2019, then an intensive period of overseas research in the Autumn of 2019 and a period of writing up and dissemination in 2020. The second round of the interviews for the project due to be completed in spring 2020 were impossible to conduct due to the Coronavirus situation, but the project was continued and utilised the data already obtained to develop new findings and insights. Details of publications are available below. The project also saw a visiting fellowship at the Centre for European Policy Studies in Autumn 2019 and the organisation of two workshop events at Chatham House in London in 2019 and 2020 led by the PI (Dr Stoddard).

The project has developed important insights into the comparative character of jihadist groups in West Africa and the responses of West African states and significant findings into the military practice of militant groups in Iraq/Syria, Yemen and Nigeria. It has also explored the character of 'remote warfare' as conducted by Saudi Arabia and the UAE in Yemen (article currently under review). It also explored how comparative area studies provides an important lens onto these issues. It had so far produced four research articles published and another two under review.

The project has also set in train new research that will continue after the project with the PI winning in Oct 2020 a British Academy/Global Challenges Research Fund to comparatively explore miltant groups in the Sahel.
This project has made some important discoveries particularly in the context of the comparative analysis of insurgency and counterinsurgency. It has explored how different recently active insurgent groups in the Middle East and Africa have employed models of revolutionary insurgent warfare that share considerable parallels with Cold War models of insurgency and show considerable differences when compared with recent insurgent groups in the last decade and the forms of insurgency seen in the Wars on Terror against the US and allies in Iraq. It has also explored some of the failings of and challenges for non-Western states in their responses to these groups and the way these groups have been able to exploit these weaknesses.

The project also has also explored the character of non-Western remote warfare (in the Middle East) and assessed how this compares to recent Western remote warfare. It has also conducted further research on the revolutionary warfare of insurgent violence in Nigeria and the challenges this poses for the Nigerian state.

During this fellowship research was discussed directly with EU officials in Brussels and Lebanon and a range of policy actors in London and at ECOWAS in Nigeria. Short, policy-maker friendly blog pieces were also produced and distributed via popular and well-read sites such as the LSE Africa Blog