Title

Battle Stalemates and Rebel Negotiation Attempts in Civil Wars

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Security Studies

Volume

29

Issue

1

Publisher

Routledge

Publication Date

1-10-2020

First Page

64

Last Page

91

Abstract

This manuscript examines how battlefield events influence belligerents’ pursuit of negotiated settlements in civil wars. We argue that successive stalemates are most likely to precipitate rebel demands for negotiations because they offer groups both the opportunity and willingness to push for a compromise settlement. Unlike rebel losses, stalemated battles demonstrate that rebels can offer military resistance to the state. Yet, unlike rebel battle gains, draws do not raise the prospects of a rebel war victory. Using monthly data on rebel demands for negotiations and battle outcomes for 63 African dyads fighting between 1997 and 2010, we find support for this argument; more battlefield stalemates decrease the time until a proposal to negotiate by rebels. Additionally, we examine whether the same battlefield dynamics explain the onset of formal negotiations. The results reveal only a relationship between rebel battle gains and the onset of talks. The contrast in these findings suggests that rebels and governments may conceive of battlefield outcomes, especially stalemates, differently. Although rebels perceive a window of opportunity from a battlefield deadlock, governments appear to be influenced most by rebel gains.

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