Small Wars Journal

Syria

Being a Proxy: The History of Cooptation Offers Lessons to Learn - Are the Kurds Learning Them?

They know the drill. Emerging threats, foreign intervention, local alliances, and historic letdowns. Abandonment should not come as a surprise. Great powers have instrumentalized Kurdish nationalism for grand strategy, but cooptation implies agency from the proxy—a willingness to offer its strategic advantages for support or protection. U.S. withdrawal in face of the Turkish incursion in Kurdish-controlled northern Syria shines a light on the challenges of proxy warfare.

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A Month After U.S. Withdrawal, What is the State of Play in Syria?

In the month since President Trump’s October 6 phone call with Turkish President Erdogan and the announced U.S. withdrawal from northeast Syria, the picture on the ground has changed immensely. Moscow has emerged as the key power broker in Syria. The Kurds, looking for protection from Turkish forces, are in Russian-brokered talks with the Assad government. These discussions could pave the way for an expanded Syrian government presence in the northeast for the first time in years.

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Should the U.S. Carry Out Punitive Strikes in Reaction to Chemical Weapons Attacks in Syria?

The international community, with the U.S. at the helm, has made it clear chemical weapons attacks are a uniquely abhorrent violation of international norms and laws. One that justifies punitive military strikes against the Syrian regime. Some might wonder if the Syrian regime could be deterred by more significant military action. Probably not.

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Levantistan and The Confederacy of Afghanistan: How Redrawing the Map Can End America’s Wars

Nation-state borders are not sacrosanct. Exchanging land for peace is always a viable option, and this could provide a solution to America’s involvement in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Although multiple solutions are available, we will focus on two: merging nations and fragmenting nations. Merging nations would entail merging Iraq with Syria, and merging Afghanistan with Pakistan. Fragmenting nations would break up the two nations into numerous smaller nations, as happened to Yugoslavia, albeit peacefully.

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How the 2011 US Troop Withdrawal from Iraq Led to the Rise of ISIS

The United States was on the verge of achieving a lasting victory in the Iraq War after a costly seven-year occupation and the deaths of nearly 4,500 U.S. troops. In 2006, Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) had lost its charismatic leader and chief strategist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Over the next few years, the organization lost its base of support as Iraq’s Sunni tribes turned against it and began fighting beside US and Iraqi troops to eject the terrorists from their communities. By 2010, Iraq had emerged from its civil war and AQI had become irrelevant. Then, President Barack Obama made two strategic mistakes that reversed that progress and sent Iraq spiraling back down the path of sectarian violence.

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Northwest Syria: No Room to ‘Reconcile’

The Syrian regime’s application of “reconciliation agreements” in northwest Syria risks accelerating the humanitarian situation for internally displaced persons and destabilizing areas previously liberated from ISIS. There are no longer viable options for relocating individuals from Idlib Governorate given the presence of Turkish or U.S.-led Coalition elements in the other areas that remain outside of the regime’s control.

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