Small Wars Journal

proxy wars

Joint Special Operations University Publication: Iranian Proxy Groups in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen: A Principal-Agent Comparative Analysis

Thu, 01/14/2021 - 6:17pm

by Diane M. Zorri, Houman A. Sadri, and David C. Ellis

Synopsis:

Understanding how and why Iran uses proxy forces throughout the Middle East is vitally important for policymakers, military strategists, and operators. The lessons in this volume are not isolated to U.S. approaches toward Iranian use of proxies but have broader implications in great power competition. Russia and China have their own versions of proxies that also seek to compete with the U.S. short of armed conflict. Zorri, Sadri, and Ellis have provided the special operations community with a roadmap to responding to such activities when so many are struggling to find a solution.

 

Full Report: https://jsou.libguides.com/ld.php?content_id=58950053

Simons Center: Proxy Warfare on the Roof of the World: Great Power Competition Lessons from Tibet

Full Report: https://thesimonscenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/IAJ-11-1-2020-pg94-110.pdf

By Steve Ferenzi


 Synopsis: A sponsor may disrupt or coerce an adversary with only a small investment in a proxy force without crossing the threshold to traditional armed conflict. Proxy employment represented a significant component of U.S. policy during the Cold War. As the United States once again relies on this tool to compete with peer state adversaries, it is beneficial to examine past engagements that may inform better ways to outsource national security objectives to proxy forces. Central Intelligence Agency support to anti-Chinese resistance forces in Tibet, the “Roof of the World,” from 1956 to 1974 accomplished the limited objective of disrupting Chinese regional ambitions as part of the global effort to contain Communist expansion. However, success came at the expense of Tibetan casualties and failure to achieve the resistance’s objective of an independent Tibet. This case study offers lessons for future proxy engagements in establishing mechanisms that facilitate proper proxy selection, mitigate deviation from sponsor goals, and optimize proxy capabilities. 

Riley.C.Murray Sat, 01/09/2021 - 12:14pm

Will Rising U.S.-Iran Tensions Spark Afghan Proxy War?

Mon, 02/10/2020 - 12:28pm
Rising tensions between the United States and Iran—illustrated and exacerbated by the January 3 assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani—are rippling out beyond the Middle East. Now, American officials are voicing growing concern about Iranian activities in Afghanistan.

About the Author(s)

Iran’s Strategic Penetration of Latin America: Consequences for U.S. Foreign Policy and National Security

Mon, 01/20/2020 - 1:01am
This essay explores why Latin America is of paramount strategic importance for Iran, and what factors or events gave Iran access to the region so it could pursue its classic rampant penetration of other nations’ governments and cultural institutions.

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In Libya, Peace is Possible if Foreign Interference Ends

Tue, 11/19/2019 - 4:49pm
"If foreign powers ceased their involvement in Libya, the country’s protracted civil war could come to an end quickly, said Mohamed Syala, the foreign minister of the Government of National Accord, in an interview with the U.S. Institute of Peace. The role of outside powers in Libya’s conflict has garnered renewed international attention in recent weeks as Russia has ramped up its support for Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar’s forces."

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

Wed, 11/13/2019 - 3:27pm
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 Hyper-Mobile Defense: Iran’s Novel Strategy to Sustain Proxy Conflicts in the Middle East

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 12:29pm
A hyper-mobile defense’s goal is to shock, not destroy, the enemy through rapid, repeated, multi-directional engagements. The fixed objectives serve to lure in vulnerable tanks, helicopters and armored personnel carriers along pre-planned routes, making them easy targets for the small strike teams. While this shock technique did not entirely destroy the Israeli force, it did disrupt the attacker’s central strategy of a swift, air-covered, armored penetration. The desire of achieving a quick, comprehensive strike for effect has long been the linchpin of effective urban conquest.

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Everything Old is New Again: Russian, Chinese, Iranian and North Korean Use of Proxies Against the United States

Mon, 09/23/2019 - 4:29am
What role do unofficial transnational and criminal organizations play in the global adversarial competition among nations occurring today? How specifically do Russia, China, Iran, North Korea or other specifically named adversary employ unofficial transnational or criminal organizations in its strategic efforts to undermine the United States or its allies?

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Reclaiming the Initiative: Proxy Warfare in the Middle East

Wed, 06/12/2019 - 5:39pm
In today's security reality, proxy warfare represents an especially relevant tool in the state's kit. Iran has employed proxy organizations to great effect, while the American and Israeli militaries currently seem reticent to systematically study and employ proxies. Without fully understanding proxy warfare, the US, Israel, and their allies will struggle to take the initiative against Iran in the region.

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