Untangling the Gordian Knot The Socio-Cultural Challenge of Syria
Joint Military Operations Department Newport United States
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Terrorist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant ISIL and Jabhat al-Nusra JN have capitalized on the Syrian Civil War to seize territory and build support for transnational jihadist terrorism. This paper seeks to illuminate the socio-cultural tensions within Syria that are root causes of the current conflict and thus enabling the growth of ISIL. The six major tensions examined in this paper are modernism-traditionalism, socioeconomic antagonism, ethnic conflict, Islam-Islamism, takfiri driven conflict, and sectarianism. This paper traces the development of the underlying issues feeding the current conflict, and posits a conflict of identity has been the root problem. The conclusion notes the divergent views of the anti-Assad and anti-ISIL factions, and suggests secular ideologies such as Arab nationalism and Kurdish nationalism provide the strongest counter narrative to ISILs jihadi-Islamism.