Erica Chenoweth

Erica Chenoweth is assistant professor of government at Wesleyan University and director of Wesleyan’s Program on Terrorism and Insurgency Research, which she established in 2008.

Recent Articles

The Syrian Conflict is Already a Civil War

The headline of Anthony Shadid’s article in Sunday’s New York Times reads “Fear of Civil War Mounts in Syria as Crisis Deepens.” The Arab League’s Secretary General, Nabil el-Araby, is quoted as saying “I fear a civil war, and the events that we see and hear about now could lead to a civil war.” Others concur, while stopping short of saying that Syria is currently in a state of civil war. But by most standards, the conflict in Syria has been a civil war for quite awhile (see, for instance, Nicholas Sambanis ‘ thorough analysis of civil war’s competing definitions). Although there is some controversy surrounding the definition, scholars typically consider a conflict a civil war when: two or more armed groups are fighting within state borders over some incompatibility (change of leadership/government, territory, or major policy issue); one of the combatant groups is the government; at least 1,000 people have died due to combat; and at least 100 people have died on either side of the...

How Important is Turkey’s Support of the Free Syrian Army?

This week, the New York Times reported that Turkey has begun to actively support the Syrian Free Army by providing shelter in a camp guarded by the Turkish military. From the Times : Turkey is hosting an armed opposition group waging an insurgency against the government of President Bashar al-Assad , providing shelter to the commander and dozens of members of the group, the Free Syrian Army, and allowing them to orchestrate attacks across the border from inside a camp guarded by the Turkish military. Two questions immediately emerge: 1) How will the provision of sanctuary affect the rebels’ chances of defeating Assad; and 2). What are the long-term regional consequences of providing sanctuary to a rebel organization? The answer to both questions: rebel group sanctuary can be a game-changer. Regarding the first question, a number of scholars have previously found that external sanctuary is associated with insurgent success. Jeffrey Record, for instance, reviewed a number of...