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Navigating Novel Hostilities: A Story of Cooperation between Armed Political Groups and Their Perception of Threat
AuthorOzbek, Dilara B.
AdvisorMartin, Susanne N.
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This research engages the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. In 2011, the region fell under the influence of a revolutionary wave known as the Arab Spring. Almost a decade later, effects of pro-democracy uprisings, which have challenged some of the long standing authoritarian regimes in the region, are still experienced. While some states have established their respective stability, in others, such as Syria, the conflict still persists. The instability influencing the region for so long has also created new opportunities for some armed political groups and reinforced the post-Cold War perception of threat associated with the rise of non-state actors. While the relative power that these groups have gained has led nation-states within and outside of the region to rethink their perception of threat, this has also altered incentives for cooperation and competition between these armed political groups in the region. These groups and their changing incentives for cooperation are the main focus of this analysis.This research offers a descriptive analysis of the changing incentives for cooperation between armed political groups faced by a new threat inflicted from another political actor(s). The study derives from the type of cooperation occurred between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and Democratic Union Party in 2014. Before 2014, while a form of alliance limited to ideological support was present between the groups, why and how the groups’ strategies changed regarding cooperation, especially in the case of a new threat. It uses qualitative case study analysis to determine to what extent perceived threats play a role in changing the incentives for cooperation between previously independent armed political groups. It proposes a theoretical model derived from the cases. This research finds some support for the idea that incentives for cooperation are altered by the rise of a common threat when it provides new opportunities and benefits for the groups involved.