The Politics of Militant Group Survival: A Conversation with Ora Szekely (S. 5, Ep. 31)

On this week’s POMEPS podcast, Marc Lynch speaks with Ora Szekely, an assistant professor of political science at Clark University. Szekely’s recent book, The Politics of Militant Group Survival in the Middle East, compares the performances of four key non-state actors in the Arab-Israeli conflict ecosystem: the PLO, Hamas, Hizbullah, and Amal.

“Why is it that you can have two militant groups— fighting against the same adversaries, same territory— and yet you get these really different outcomes?” said Szekely. “The answer to that—or at least the answer we see embedded in a lot of reporting on the Middle East or on non-state actors in general is…this sort of implicit assumption that how well these guys do is basically a function of how much material resources they have. But when you look a little bit more closely, it turns out that even groups that have pretty similar amounts of equipment can have really different outcomes. What I found is that it’s not so much the stuff— it’s how you got it in the first place that really matters in shaping how you’re going to do in the long run.”

Music for this season’s podcast was created by Feras Arrabi. You can find more of his work on his Facebook and Instagram page.

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Read more from Szekely:

A Friend in Need: The Impact of the Syrian Civil War on Syria’s Clients (A Principal–Agent Approach)
Doing Well by Doing Good: Understanding Hamas’s Social Services as Political Advertising
Hezbollah’s Survival: Resources and Relationships