Enemy of My Enemy, Enemy of My Friend: the United States, the Syrian Kurds, and Proxy War in Syria

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2021-05

Authors

Reppeto, J.P.

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Abstract

An ongoing resurgence of proxy warfare in the world’s conflicts has created an opportunity to reexamine the frameworks used to study it, namely principal-agent theory. In Syria, the United States formed a principal-agent pairing with a local Kurdish militia, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), to defeat the transnational threat posed by the militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Their relationship is but one of several proxy dynamics taking place in Syrian Civil War, with the pressure exerted by different actors such as Turkey and Russia ultimately affecting the US-YPG partnership. This thesis seeks to update principal-agent applications to proxy war by inspecting the impact of third parties on the US-YPG principal-agent relationship.

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