The Syrian Civil War represents an extreme outlier in terms of the number of insurgent groups which have been engaged in the fighting. These groups have also been remarkably persistent over time, partly due to the fact that rebel in-fighting has been relatively contained. They have also targeted civilians far less than the Syrian Army. These stylized facts run counter to much of the existing literature on multi-party civil wars, which has emphasized the influence of the balance of power on group dynamics. In this article we instead draw upon balance of threat theory, along with insights from the economics of industrial organization, to understand insurgent behavior in the Syrian Civil War, based on a newly compiled dataset of rebel violence. Our research suggests that conflict scholars need to account for factors beyond the balance of power if they are to adequately explain inter-rebel dynamics.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
- Sociology and Political Science
- Safety Research
- Political Science and International Relations