The Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies presents:


Good Rebel Governance: Revolutionary Politics and Western Intervention in Syria


Thursday, April 11, 2024


1512 International Affairs Building 

Reception Following


Chaired by Page Fortna, Director, Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies; Harold Brown Professor of US Foreign and Security Policy, Department of Political Science, Columbia University

With Dipali Mukhopadhyay, co-author, Good Rebel Governance; SIWPS Affiliate; Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies; Commissioner, Afghanistan War Commission

Panel Discussion with:

Lisa Anderson, Special Lecturer, James T. Shotwell Professor of International Relations Emerita, School of International and Public Affairs

Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Director of the Kent Global Leadership Program; Arnold A. Saltzman Professor of Practice in International and Public Affairs, School of International and Public Affairs

Yasser Munif, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the Institute of Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies, Emerson College

Jack Snyder, Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Relations, Department of Political Science, Columbia University



When a revolutionary uprising erupted in Syria during the spring of 2011, pockets of local resistance and the nascent institutions therein transformed into clusters of rudimentary participatory politics and service delivery. Despite the collective fatigue induced by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States and its allies embarked on an effort to encourage liberal, democratic politics amid the Syrian conflict. As a result, the project of “good rebel governance” became the latest attempt at Western democracy promotion. This book moves the scholarship on insurgent rule forward by considering how governing authority arises and evolves during violent conflict, and whether particular institutions of insurgent rule can be cultivated through foreign intervention. In so doing, the book not only theorizes about the nature of authoritative rebel governance but also tests the long-standing precepts that have undergirded Western promotion of democracy abroad.


About the Authors:

Dipali Mukhopadhyay is Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota. She authored Warlords, Strongman Governors, and the State in Afghanistan (Cambridge University Press, 2014). She was a member of the junior faculty at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs from 2012 to 2020. She is a senior expert on Afghanistan at the US Institute of Peace and Vice President of the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies.

Kimberly Howe is Assistant Research Professor at the Friedman School and Research Director of Conflict and Governance at the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University. She has conducted conflict-focused research in over a dozen countries and regularly pro- vides consultation to governments, international organizations, and NGOs on their humanitarian, development, and stabilization policies and initiatives.