Proxy Warfare and Long-Lasting Violence Spiral in the Middle East

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Hatice ORHON OZDAG, Beykent University, Turkey
Restructuring of the Middle East in the wake of the Iraq invasion and the Arab uprisings have had two important socio-political effects in the region: Authorities of regional powers weakened and different ethnic groups, that are the inhabitants of this region, appeared as local powers. These new local powers, covertly or overtly, operate as proxies for core states or wittingly or unwittingly act in accordance with the policies of core states.

Since Iraq war and subsequent rearrangements met with strong international reactions, the cost of invasions and direct wars increased, and the core states started to be seen as the primary suspect for the destabilization of the region, the core states withdrew from the region to organize and equip their proxies and to give mandate to them. Proxy warfare provide some crucial advantages for the core states. Through this new warfare, these states can easily overcome the institutional obstacles in their domestic politics, can minimize the public reactions, and can mobilize the groups existing in their rival states to widen their own hegemony or to disturb the rival state’s production of consent.

However, proxy warfare creates a multi-level violence spiral in the region. Firstly, arming existing ethnic groups means investing long-lasting violent struggle of these groups which eventually undermines peaceful conflict resolution options. Secondly, since the Arab uprising’s promising democratic transformation opportunities are damaged the peoples of Middle East lose their faith in democratic transformation. Thirdly, since the regional powers attempt to manipulate existing proxy wars or to create their own proxies, armed actors in the region diversify. Lastly, since the regional powers concern their own security and territorial integrity, they may hold on to some strict measures which may eventually escalate the violence in the region.