Great to see my new article with @HuangReyko and Benjamin Acosta at @ISQ_Jrnl.

We examine rebel leaders' pre-leadership international experiences and how they help leaders obtain external support during rebellion.

A 🧵on study, new database, & results…
Motivation: While there is a wealth of research on how *state* leaders matter in IR and Poli Sci more generally, there is little on how the attributes and experiences of *rebel* leaders influence world politics. We aim to help fill this gap.
Theory: We argue that rebel leaders' pre-leadership experiences abroad (study, work, military training, and exile) help them obtain foreign support for rebellion. The theory is about transnational elite networks; like leaders of any field, rebel leaders often "tap" past contacts.
Design: the analysis is mixed methods!

Qualitatively, we do brief case studies on John Garang (SPLA), Paul Kagame (RPF), Hasan di Tiro (GAM), and Foday Sankoh (RUF). The cases illustrate how each of the four types of international experience help leaders obtain foreign support.
Quantitatively, we use data on rebel leader biographies from our newly assembled Rebel Organization Leaders (ROLE) database. These data cover all rebel leaders in civil wars active from 1980-2011. ~60% had significant international life experiences before leadership.
Results: We find that rebel leaders' experience abroad is among the strongest predictors of foreign state support. Other leader attributes are important predictors too. We throw a lot at these results to check their robustness, and they hold up well.
Takeaways: our results show that rebel leaders and their experiences abroad shape external backing.

For scholars, this pushes us to consider what else rebel leader attributes explain. For policymakers, they should beware rebel leaders with close personal ties to power!
Lastly, this is the debut article for the ROLE database! Stay tuned for more -- including a data intro piece and website -- soon! We look forward to what the field can do with rich biographical data on rebel leaders!

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