Saurabh Pant

  Tuesday, 5th March 2019

  13:30 - 14:30

   CESS Seminar Rooms - 3 George Street Mews

   Winning Hearts and Minds in Civil Wars: Governance, Leadership Change, and Support for Violence in Iraq


The ‘hearts and minds’ model of counterinsurgency holds that civilians are less likely to support an insurgency if the government provides basic public services and security. Building on this model, we argue that a major political event that raises popular expectations of future public service and security provision will increase support for the government and decrease sympathy for the insurgency. To test this argument, we leverage a unique research design opportunity that stems from the unforeseen announcement of the resignation of Iraq’s divisive prime minister in August 2014 while an original survey was being administered across the country. We show that the leadership transition led Iraq’s displeased Sunni minority to shift support away from the insurgency to the government. In line with our argument, this realignment was due to rising optimism among Iraqi Sunnis that the new government would provide basic services and public goods – specifically security, electricity, and jobs.