Democratic-Autocratic Military Interventions in the MENA Region

Libya, Syria and Iraq, and Yemen are in the middle of inter­nationalized military conflicts, with several states and (trans­national) non-state actors being involved as conflict parties. Even though the three cases are very different, they have one aspect in common: both demo­cracies and auto­cracies have intervened – and they have done so at least partially “on the same side”. This means that these military actions are marked by some form of democratic-autocratic cooperation. 

While demo­cratic warfare is well-researched, the same does not hold true for autho­ritarian states, in par­ticular when it comes to the legitimation of inter­ventions. Importantly, the role of the counter-terrorism frame­work for the external use of force by authoritarian states has not been systematically explored yet. Finally, the current shifts in inter­vention arrange­ments may be indicative of a larger trans­formation of actors and forms of regional security, as well as inter­vention practices and norms more generally.

Among others, the project aims at answering the following questions:

  • How do Arab auto­cracies legitimize their engage­ment in and the initiation of external military interventions vis-à-vis international, regional, and domestic audiences?
  • How do mature demo­cracies legitimize these inter­ventions vis-à-vis inter­national, regional and domestic audiences, in particular with respect to democratic-autocratic cooperation?
  • How and why does democratic-autocratic cooperation take place in these military inter­ventions? What role does the counter-terrorism framework / war on terror-narrative play in this form of cooperation?