Can Insurgents Capture Aid through Credit Claiming? Evidence from Afghanistan

Jori Breslawski*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The provision of development aid has become a favored counterinsurgency strategy, with governments reasoning that the delivery of needed services will improve civilians’ perceptions of the government, and consequently decrease civilian collaboration with insurgents. However, this reasoning relies on the critical assumption that civilians attribute projects to the government, and not to the very insurgents that the government seeks to defeat. In information poor environments like civil wars, it may be relatively easy for armed groups to capture the reputational benefits of aid by engaging in credit claiming. Drawing upon on a survey experiment in Afghanistan, I find that civilians who are told that the Taliban allowed a project in their village to occur are more likely to identify the Taliban as a facilitator of development projects, in spite of their own, real-life, experiences. While the effect size is modest, the finding points to the ability of armed groups to capture the reputational benefits of aid through purely rhetorical strategies, with implications for the viability of development aid as a counterinsurgency strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberogad019
JournalJournal of Global Security Studies
Volume8
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2023

Keywords

  • Taliban
  • aid
  • civil war
  • credit claiming
  • insurgents

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