Panel Paper: Spatial Analysis of the Burmese Government's Accessibility and Its Recent Brutal Counter-Insurgency Strategy in Rakhine

Friday, March 9, 2018
Burkle 14 (Burkle Family Building at Claremont Graduate University)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Ashley Farah Halabi, University of California, San Diego

State capacity and accessibility to remote areas are essential for a government to maintain political stability in all the country’s regions.[1] Insurgents thrive in situations where government reach and law enforcement is weak.[2] They are also advantaged if the region they operate in is characterized with a mountainous terrain or a dense forest cover.[3] States that do not have a sufficient institutional reach in rural and remote areas suffer from challenges to their authority. There is enough literature that focuses on state capacity and its effect on insurgency.[4] Likewise, there is a spatial analysis research testing this theory on Africa.[5] This paper uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and geo-located data on important factors that proxy for inaccessibility of government to analyze the prospects of local conflicts in Burma’s Rakhine State. It tests the theory of government inaccessibility and the likelihood of civil conflict in which the government represents one of the sides. By using spatial analysis to measure distance, locate conflicts, and conduct a geographically weighted regression, the paper tests these hypotheses that claim that government inaccessibility increases the likelihood of civil conflict. Finally, the paper applies this hypothesis to a recent case study which analyzes the counter-insurgency strategy that the Burmese military used in Rakhine state against Rohingya-dominated villages that host the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).

[1] Fearon, James D., and David D. Laitin. "Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War." (2003). P.81

[2] Ibid,

[3] Ibid, p. 85

[4] Ibid,

[5] Andreas Forø Tollefsen, Halvard Buhaug; Insurgency and Inaccessibility


Andreas Forø Tollefsen, Halvard Buhaug; Insurgency and Inaccessibility1, International Studies Review, Volume 17, Issue 1, 1 March 2015, Pages 6–25,

Fearon, James D., and David D. Laitin. "Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War." American Political Science Review 97, no. 01 (2003): 75-90. doi:10.1017/s0003055403000534.