Us and Them: Ethnic Affinity and the Decision to Intervene in Civil Wars

Open Access
Wieczorek, Robert Michael
Area of Honors:
International Politics
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Douglas William Lemke, Thesis Supervisor
  • Gretchen G Casper, Honors Advisor
  • ethnic affinity
  • civil wars
  • civil war intervention
  • Cyprus
  • Greece
  • Turkey
Current research on the role of third party intervention in civil wars demonstrates that the decision to intervene results from a mixture of strategic interests and domestic politics. Prior to intervention, third parties assess the characteristics of the target state and predict possible outcomes to determine whether the benefits of an intervention will outweigh the costs. Research suggests that transnational ethnic affinities play a significant role in this cost/benefit analysis. Kin dyads that feature a state whose ethnic group in power has ethnic affinity with a marginalized ethnic group in another state where that minority kin group is engaged in a civil conflict, have a higher probability of intervention. This thesis addresses a series of cases of conflict in Cyprus. The analysis finds that ethnic affinity enhances the linkage patterns between the state experiencing the intervention and the potential intervener, and discusses other variables that may influence the decision to intervene. Research into this topic is important because it may be used to indicate which civil wars will be more likely to receive interventions.