I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Pittsburgh. I study political violence, civil conflict processes, conflict management and resolution with a particular focus on civilian agency, violent political behavior, and local peacemaking. My dissertation examines the determinants and consequences of local peace agreements between violent actors and civilian communities in civil wars. My dissertation project is part of a larger substantive research that seeks to understand the role of civilians in conflict management, local peacemaking, and relationship between external intervention and conflict duration. I am also interested in the development and application of quantitative methods and use text-as-data, time-series analysis, survival analysis, and spatial analysis in my research.

Previously, I received my BA in Political Science and International Relations in 2017 at Bogazici University and MA in International Relations in 2019 at Koc University, Turkey. I received my MA in Political Science at the University of Pittsburgh in 2021 with specializations in International Relations and Political Methodology. I expect to receive my PhD in Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh in 2025.

Please contact me at mek200@pitt.edu.


Under Review

[1] A Rebel with a Sanction: UN Sanctions against Non-state Armed Groups and Civil Conflict Duration (with Omer Zarpli)

Existing research has mostly focused on state-targeted economic sanctions in civil wars. However, rebel groups have been sanctioned more than states in civil conflicts after the Cold War. Yet, no other study has systematically examined whether these sanctions reach the intended goal of hastening conflict resolution. We argue that mainly due to uncertainties over enforcement, sanctions would exacerbate information asymmetries, leading to prolonged conflict. The sides would hold out and continue fighting to acquire more information about how the relative power would be affected. But in cases where there is less uncertainty, the sanctions would not lead to longer conflicts. We find empirical support from the analyses of all civil conflicts between 1990-2017. Further analyses provide support for the causal mechanisms. Parties tend to refrain from entering into negotiations after the rebels are sanctioned. The findings have important implications for the scholarly literature on economic sanctions and civil conflict, as well as policy communities.

[2] International Rival, Military Intervention, and Duration of Civil War (with Jungmin Han)

Does military intervention extend the duration of civil war? To answer this question, extant studies have focused on the impact of one-sided vs. two-sided interventions on conflict duration, but their results are mixed. We attribute the inconsistent outcomes to the lack of scholarly attention to the relationship between external interveners. Specifically, we argue that two-sided intervention prolongs civil wars when the intervening two states are rivals. The competitive relationship motivates the intervenors to maintain or reinforce their sponsorship of protégé, which would make the civil war longer by exacerbating the commitment problem between the warring parties domestically. We test our argument with multiple survival models on civil wars between 1975 and 2017, and the findings are consistent with our theoretical expectations. The civil wars with two-sided military interventions lasted longer when two intervening parties were in a rival relationship. Also, we were able to check the mechanism by finding that the rival intervenors stay longer in civil wars than the others. Overall, this study contributes to our understanding of the impact of the intervention on civil war by looking at the relationship between intervenors instead of their number.

Working Papers

[1] Mitigating Violence Locally: The Effects of Local Agreements on Violence in Civil Wars [Draft Available Upon Request]

[2] The Logic of Local Agreements in Civil Wars

[3] Peace or Retribution? The Role of Warfare on Public Opinion Toward Peace in Colombia

[4] Child Recruitment and Rebel Groups' Legitimacy Seeking in Civil Wars (with Isil Idrisoglu)


My teaching interests focus on international relations, international law and institutions, political violence, civil war, peacekeeping and peacemaking.

Instructor of Record

  • [Summer 2024] International Relations, University of Pittsburgh
  • [Summer 2023] International Law, University of Pittsburgh
  • [Summer 2022] International Relations, University of Pittsburgh
  • Guest Lecturer

  • [Fall 2023] Civil Wars, “Civilian Agency in Civil Conflict”, University of Pittsburgh
  • [Fall 2021] Civil Wars, “Participation and Recruitment", University of Pittsburgh
  • Teaching Fellow

  • [Fall 2020] International Relations, University of Pittsburgh
  • [Spring 2021] International Relations, University of Pittsburgh
  • Teaching Assistant

  • [Summer 2018] Intro to International Relations, Koc University
  • [Spring 2018] Terrorism, Insurgency, and World Politics, Koc University
  • [Fall 2017] International Relations Capstone, Koc University
  • [Spring 2017] Intro to Turkish Politics, Bogazici University
  • CV