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Transnational Operations, International Reactions, and Legitimacy: The Case of Turkey and Saudi Arabia

Israel Nyaburi Nyadera, Md. Nazmul Islam


Maintaining global peace and security remains an essential concern for many actors in the international system. To achieve this goal, both states and international organizations commend that action needs to be taken against perceived threats to national and international security. However, how to respond to these threats continues to divide the world. The declining role of the UN in peace enforcement, emergence of non-state actors, new forms of threats, and increasing unilateral actions by states have raised questions over the legitimacy of who, when, and how these actions can be taken. This article seeks to examine how international actors respond to transnational counterterrorism events. It adopts a comparative case study to discuss how regional and international actors reacted to Saudi Arabia’s Operation Decisive Storm in Yemen (2015) and Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring in Northern Syria (2019). It draws important similarities in the justification of both countries’ actions and the varying responses and attitudes these countries have received for their actions. The study identifies the lack of international consensus on transnational counterterrorism as a catalyst in the crisis being witnessed in crisis resolution. Factors such as timing, universality of the threat, prevailing circumstances, actors involved, and mode of operation shape international response on transnational actions.

Keywords: International counterterrorism, legitimacy, transnational operations, conflict, Turkey, Saudi Arabia

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pp. 317–338