This paper contends decline of Bashar al-Assad’s governing authority and the concomitant accretion of increasingly complex militia organizations suggests a future of petty militia fiefdoms affecting an Islamic veneer ruling the Syrian space. Geography, including its human domain, sustains the qualitative patterns of militia development and interactions across Syria’s rural and urban spaces and defines the geographic areas of dominance of these militia fiefdoms. The concurrence of severe drought, the Arab Spring, and the availability of social media ignited the Syrian rebellion in 2011. The rebellion itself ultimately became a militarized arena for conflict between outside powers as foreign fighter enhanced Salafi Jihadist Organizations displaced aspirational moderates to dominate the armed opposition to the Assad regime. The civil war ultimately became demarcated by hundreds of militias separated generally into a three sided contest between Iranian, al-Qaeda affiliated and Islamic State affiliated militias establishing petty fiefdoms while attempting to govern the Syrian space.
The Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence