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From Manama to Baghdad and Kyiv: Limiting the Risk of Violent Intervention by Authoritarian Neighbors

March 14, 2022
Erwin van Veen


In analysis for Political Violence At A Glance, an IGCC-supported blog dedicated to political violence and its alternatives, Erwin van Veen, Senior Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute, investigates what makes countries more susceptible to invasion by authoritarian neighboring countries.

Much has been written over the past few years about the global decline of democracy and the growing repression of political pluralismStrongmen such as Erdogan, Putin, Modi and Xi Jinping—and perhaps even Ali Khamenei and Mohammed bin Salman—dominate regional or global politics and offer the world an alternative political and economic model based on authoritarian control. Not only do these autocrats rule in their own countries, they push their model into what they consider their spheres of influence—places such as Georgia and Belarus for Russia; Hong Kong and Taiwan for China; Iraq and Syria for Iran; and Yemen and Bahrain for Saudi Arabia.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine underlines a point that recent history has made several times already: Strongmen that intervene militarily in neighboring countries to impose or restore authoritarian rule reveal the shaky foundations of their own political order and increase its vulnerability if they fail. Putin is showing the world that notions of Russia as the linchpin of “Slavic brotherhood” and custodian of “Kievan Rus” get their meaning mostly from the barrel of a gun. And yet the Russian regime itself derives some of its legitimacy from such imperial notions.

Read the full blog post at Political Violence At A Glance.