Processes of Cohesion and Fragmentation among Arab Tribes During the Syrian Civil War

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With the rise of ISIS in eastern Syria after 2014, there was a discussion among Western powers about the possibility of arming Arab tribes to lead the fight against ISIS on the ground. This paper challenges the assumption that tribes are cohesive units and argues that internal differences and contested leadership run counter to the image of tribes as unified groups. While tribes are fragmented, one can, however, observe some examples that testify to the existence of tribal solidarity during the course of the Syrian civil war. Overall, this paper attempts to answer the following questions: What caused fragmentation among members of the Syrian tribes during the Syrian Civil War? What inspired cohesion in other instances? It argues that multiple factors, such as violence, patronage networks with internal and external authorities, and competition among leaders to represent the group internally and externally, can have a fundamental effect on the processes of cohesion and fragmentation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jan 2024


Dive into the research topics of 'Processes of Cohesion and Fragmentation among Arab Tribes During the Syrian Civil War'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this