What constitutes an effective and realistic strategy for dealing with non-state armed groups? This question has bedevilled states the world over. Whether in Colombia, Turkey, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel-Palestine or the Democratic Republic of the Congo, governments have struggled either to fight or negotiate their way to a conclusion. The conflicts in Northern Ireland and Sri Lanka are the exceptions.
Fighting armed groups is an uncertain business, and so is negotiating. Doing both alternately, concurrently or selectively, is highly demanding. This book develops a framework to help analysts and policymakers understand the challenges of using a combination of coercion and diplomacy in dealing with armed groups. It considers which complexities have proved most inhibiting, and which have been worked around. What are the obvious traps that states fall into? What appear to be the smarter moves?
Thinking in terms of ‘military’ or ‘political’ solutions is unhelpful – a strategic approach requires a fusion of coercion and negotiation. Drawing on ten disparate cases, this Adelphi book draws clear lessons for the creation and execution of a coherent strategy for states involved in such conflicts, which often run for generations.