The US blueprint for operations in Syria included a “by, with, and through” approach to working with local proxies to fight ISIS insurgents. The approach also formed the framework for the United States–Syrian Democratic Forces partnership. However, the US–SDF relationship was never stable and ultimately broke down. In this paper Dylan Maguire examines the inherent challenges in the US–SDF relationship, as well as potential improvements that could be made to the US proxy selection framework to ensure more effective and sustainable proxy relationships in the future.
"A Perfect Proxy?" is the latest contribution to the Proxy War Project, which aims to develop new insights for resolving the wars that best the Arab world. PWP is jointly directed by Ariel Ahram (Virginia Tech) and Ranj Alaaldin (Brookings Doha Center) and funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.Book Details
The civil war in Yemen is less a single war than a mosaic of interlinked conflicts. Although the conflict is often framed as a proxy war between Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, Yemeni actors tend to follow their own internal logic. This paper examines how international agendas intersect with Yemeni agendas and the impact this has on war and peace. It focuses on both Iranian-aligned groups, such as the Houthis, and the various groups that have entered into alliance with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, such as the Hadi government, various Salafi-inspired groups, and southern separatists.Book Details
This paper examines the impact of foreign interventions on Libya’s civil wars since the 2011 uprisings. Although Libya’s conflict is often described as a battle between the Government of National Accord in Tripoli and General Khalifa Haftar’s forces in the east, the war is actually an agglomeration of microconflicts. This paper reviews how disparate militias in Libya have engaged with foreign sponsors, including the US, France, Russia, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and others. Libyan actors have consistently used foreign assets to pursue their own agenda, making them unruly and unreliable proxies in the greater Middle East contest.Book Details
Iraq has seen an efflorescence of both terrorist groups, like Al-Qaeda in Iraq and the Islamic State, and progovernment militia forces, like the Popular Mobilization Forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga. The US and Iran compete for influence by providing training, financing, and direct military support to progovernment militia forces. Yet neither outside actor has been able to assert hegemony over these Iraqi forces. Iraqi actors may accept outside support, but they also fiercely guard their independence and autonomy.Book Details