Three faces of the Syrian opposition and 'externalisation' of contention

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter maps out the developments within the broadly defined Syrian opposition in the early to middle phase of the conflict. Drawing on frameworks of contentious politics, I demarcate the opposition into three broad, sometimes competing categories: local non-violent (represented by the Local Coordination Councils); exiled-political (the Syrian National Council, later replaced by the National Coalition of Opposition Forces); and internal-military (the Free Syrian Army). The chapter explains the relationship between these categories of opposition, and how they supported or challenged each other’s goals. Secondly, brief comparisons are made to explain why Syria’s contentious path was different to that of opposition movements in other ‘uprising’ Arab states, to argue that Syria’s contentious movement was subjected to a far greater degree of ‘externalisation’, which in turn had a negative impact in deepening and prolonging the war. And finally the chapter provides a case study for existing literature on revolutions and contentious politics. While much of the opposition movement’s goals and efforts seem to have been waylaid and effectively crushed by the ascendancy of the Asad regime in the latter phase of the conflict, it is necessary still to consider the role the opposition played in the trajectory of the uprisings-turned-conflict even if they may appear disempowered to observers – not just for the sake of historical record, but also I would argue because evolved components of the movement will have a bearing on Syria’s future political and social landscape; as Tilly argued, while regimes may shape contentious action, they too are shaped by the contentious action of opposition (Tilly, 2008: 179).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationActors and dynamics in the Syrian conflict's middle phase
Subtitle of host publicationbetween contentious politics, militarization and regime resilience
EditorsJasmine K. Gani, Raymond Hinnebusch
Place of PublicationAbingdon, Oxon
PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781000545920
ISBN (Print)9781032185026, 9781032185125
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2022

Publication series

NameRoutledge/St. Andrews Syrian studies series


Dive into the research topics of 'Three faces of the Syrian opposition and 'externalisation' of contention'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this