Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Political Science

First Advisor

Timothy Nordstrom

Second Advisor

Yael Zeira

Third Advisor

Benjamin Jones


University of Mississippi

Relational Format



Under what conditions will a third party intervene covertly in a civil conflict? Scholars have researched the motivation and strategies used by states in third party intervention in civil war. However, little research explores the type of intervention meaning covert or overt. This paper aims to fill the gap in that literature and provide a theory and preliminary evidence to explain the conditions under which a third party would choose to intervene covertly versus overtly in a civil conflict. The domestic audience of the supported actor in the civil conflict will determine the type of intervention available to the external party through three mechanisms: perception of foreign intervention, in-group/out-group status of the intervening actor, and the reputation of the external actor as perceived by the supported actor’s public. Two cases will be contrasted to provide initial evidence for this theory: the Soviet-Afghan war and the Greek civil war. The Afghan public did not provide the Soviets any way to justify an overt intervention in the years leading up to the full invasion. Conversely, the Greek public welcomed American support during the Greek conflict. This paper will explain the difference. The theory developed will contribute to the literature on third party intervention in civil conflict, but will also fit nicely into the burgeoning literature on covert intervention alongside existing theories for covert intervention in interstate war and covert intervention for regime change.



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