Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Government and International Affairs

Major Professor

Earl Conteh-Morgan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Peter Funke, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Abdelwahab Hechiche, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Richard Wilber, Ph.D.


Global Jihad, Intrastate conflict, Domestic, Regional, International Circles


The ongoing Syrian conflict has been subject to considerable amount of political polemics. Nevertheless, little scholarly work has been conducted in order to comprehend the complexities as well as underlying reasons behind the intensity, scope, and duration of the conflict in Syria. Through qualitative methodology, this research examines the character of the Syrian conflict, by conducting an in-depth and nuanced case study of the Syrian civil war. While some theories of intrastate conflict and civil wars, concentrate on the domestic character of internal conflicts within states, transnational theories focus on external factors in examining intrastate conflicts. Both theoretical framework fail to take into account the broader picture of intrastate conflict and civil war. This study makes a contribution to the intrastate and civil war theories by introducing an expanded model for analyzing intrastate conflicts and civil wars. With respect to the Syrian conflict, utilizing this approach is instrumental in order to more efficiently and thoroughly comprehend the character of the Syrian conflict. Secondly, this study determines that states, which are multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural, and geostrategically and geopolitically significant, tend to have protracted civil war and intrastate conflict. This research concludes that the unrecognized character of the Syrian conflict is unique due to the notion that it is operating, and being influenced, by four concentric forces of tensions, which are occurring simultaneously. In addition, it is critical to understand the interactions, contradictions, and excesses created by these four concentric circles of tensions. These interactions, contradictions and excesses shape the nature, scope, intensity, violence, death toll, and duration of the conflict and civil war in Syria.