Peace Processes and the Integration of Pro-Government Militias: The Case of Village Guards in Turkey

Evren Balta (Lead / Corresponding author), Murat Yüksel, Yasemin Gülsüm Acar

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Militia groups have only recently started to attract scholarly attention in the literature on internal conflicts. This attention is mostly focused on either the causes of their emergence or their functions and performance during the conflict. The role of militia groups in post-conflict processes, however, has not been adequately addressed. This article intends to fill this gap by analyzing the case of village guards, a type of pro-government militia system in Turkey, based on qualitative evidence from field research. While the dominant narrative in the literature identifies militia groups as spoilers in peace processes, the article shows that militias do not act as spoilers under certain conditions. In the case of the village guard system in Turkey, the permanent integration of militias into the state’s regular military apparatus prevented militia groups from acting as spoilers. It then argues that the permanent integration of wartime militia systems is a consequence of two factors: militia networking and a lack of comprehensive peace-building structures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205–227
Number of pages23
JournalArmed Forces and Society
Issue number1
Early online date18 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • peace process
  • pro-government militias
  • Turkey
  • village guards

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Safety Research


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