TiA: In the book, you note that rebel governments must consider the needs and positions of civilians as well as their group’s internal divisions and the role of transnational actors. In this respect, what makes one rebel movement more successful than another?
Mampilly: There is a complex interplay between the actions and capacity of rebel leaders and the realities of contemporary battlefields. We've swung from one model that interpreted everything through the ideological orientation of the leadership to a more recent focus on the economic, political and/or geographical conditions that seem to predetermine civil war outcomes. The reality is somewhere in between. Rebel leaders do face a number of constraints initiated by a variety of actors and circumstances beyond their control. But they also make consequential choices.
Take for example the LTTE under Prabhakharan. At several points during the conflict, he seemed to misread the degree the international situation had changed after 9/11 and how this had direct impacts on the viability of the insurgency. Due to restrictions on diaspora fundraising and limits on rebel mobility outside of Sri Lanka, the LTTE leader probably should have accepted an autonomy offer in the early 2000s that would have been celebrated by the Tamil community, especially in contrast to the bloodbath that ended the war (and the Tigers) in 2009. But these calculations can be extraordinarily complex to make, especially since as I describe in the book, rebel leaders are engaged in so many negotiations (violent and non-violent) with so many different actors each operating according to its own logic.