Iraq and Syria: Complex, Dynamic and Divided

  • Andrew GlazzardEmail author
  • Sasha Jesperson
  • Thomas Maguire
  • Emily Winterbotham


The conflicts in Iraq and Syria are the result of catastrophic governance failures as repressive regimes were either removed or came under unprecedented popular pressure. Salafi-jihadist groups have thrived in these environments. This case study focuses on three Sunni Islamist groups: ISIL, Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham, comparing them with each other and with Shia militant groups including the Badr Organisation in Iraq. This study clearly illustrates the finding that Salafi-jihadists are different from other conflict actors in their global ambitions, transnational participation in conflict, cosmic framing of the conflicts and record of entering these conflicts from overseas and radicalising them. In other respects, all conflict participants appear to be broadly similar and concerned with defending their constituencies, controlling populations, acquiring resources, recruiting troops and projecting their power militarily and through propaganda. Moreover, not even violent Islamist groups have the same aims or use the same tactics.


Iraq Syria Al Qaida Islamic State (ISIL) Jabhat al Nusra (JaN) Ahrar al Sham (AaS) Shia militias 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew Glazzard
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sasha Jesperson
    • 2
  • Thomas Maguire
    • 3
  • Emily Winterbotham
    • 4
  1. 1.National Security and ResilienceRoyal United Services InstituteLondonUK
  2. 2.Centre for the Study of Modern SlaverySt Mary’s UniversityLondonUK
  3. 3.Department of War StudiesKings College LondonLondonUK
  4. 4.National Security and ResilienceRoyal United Services InstituteLondonUK

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