Accessibility navigation

Dealers and brokers in civil wars: why states delegate rebel support to conduit countries

Karlén, N. and Rauta, V. ORCID: (2023) Dealers and brokers in civil wars: why states delegate rebel support to conduit countries. International Security, 47 (4). pp. 107-146. ISSN 1531-4804

Text (Open Access) - Published Version
· Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.
· Please see our End User Agreement before downloading.

[img] Text - Accepted Version
· Restricted to Repository staff only
· The Copyright of this document has not been checked yet. This may affect its availability.


It is advisable to refer to the publisher's version if you intend to cite from this work. See Guidance on citing.

To link to this item DOI: 10.1162/isec_a_00461


External state support to non-state armed groups is commonly seen as a direct relationship between a state sponsor and a rebel group. But powerful states often use third-party states as conduits of military aid. These intermediary states are secondary, subordinate principals that are part of extended chains of “dual delegation.” Because intermediaries are likely to have their own separate agendas, powerful states often face a double principal-agent problem when providing material support to rebel groups. The difficulties and problems associated with controlling the agent are reflected in the relationship between the principal and the intermediary. States need to identify the alignment of interests at an early stage, or risk strategic failure. There are two ideal types of intermediaries—dealers and brokers. Case studies of the United States’ support to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan and to UNITA in Angola (channeled through Pakistan and Zaire, respectively) demonstrate that intermediaries affect the provision of external support. States engaging in counterterrorism need to look beyond sponsors of terrorism and explore the role of all states involved in the process of conflict delegation. That states use intermediaries when providing support to non-state armed groups indicates that holding states accountable for violating the nonintervention principle under international law should be reconsidered.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Politics and International Relations
ID Code:109774
Publisher:MIT Press


Downloads per month over past year

University Staff: Request a correction | Centaur Editors: Update this record

Page navigation