11 Dec 2019

Salafi jihadi armed groups and conflict (de-)escalation

The case of Ahrar al-Sham in Syria

In the Syrian civil war, the Salafi jihadi armed group Ahrar al-Sham was one of the largest and most powerful non-state armed groups. This report outlines the development of Ahrar al-Sham and explores the conditions that led to its de-escalation and analyses as a second step the role and challenges of dialogue engagement.


Authors

Karin Göldner-Ebenthal, Ahmed Elsayed

 

The report analyses three strategic shifts of de-escalation and the organisational, ideological and external factors that contributed to these shifts. The report then outlines the experiences of third-party dialogue efforts with Ahrar al-Sham, analysing the challenges of such endeavours for third parties but also for Ahrar al-Sham. As a borderline Salafi jihadi armed group that was not terror listed, the report offers valuable insights into the challenges of negotiations with more extreme Salafi jihadi armed groups. In the case of Ahrar al-Sham the main challenges resulted from the internal group dynamics and the rivalry with other insurgents on the Salafi jihadi spectrum.

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