From Civil Resistance to Civil War: Nonstrategic Mechanisms of Militarization in the Syrian Uprising

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A recurrent logic in most research on nonviolent relative to violent resistance is that groups choose violent or nonviolent means depending on the likelihood of success of each approach. On the contrary, this article analyzes the militarization of the Syrian revolution and argues that it was not a strategic decision by the Syrian opposition, but rather emotional, material and practice mechanisms that initially paved the way for counter violence. Revolutionaries were motivated to take up arms by emotional mechanisms of revenge and fear. Moreover, material mechanisms, in particular the relatively high availability of weapons in Syria can explain the more militant counter response to the ongoing repression. Finally, violent or nonviolent actions were shaped by practice mechanisms, where revolutionaries already experienced in violence (from the beginning of the uprising) argued in favor of and sometimes conducted violent resistance, whereas other groups engaged in nonviolent resistance.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
JournalPeace and Change: A Journal of Peace Research
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)256-286
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

ID: 218723037