IZA DP No. 14023: Ethnic Divisions and the Onset of Civil Wars in Syria
While most civil wars seem to have an economic basis, they are generally pushed by political, ethnic, and religious differences. This paper attempts to identify the drivers of the Syrian civil war of 2011 by investigating the role of ethnic divisions in starting a conflict. We integrate a variety of variables such as excluded population, power-sharing, anocracy, ethnic groups in addition to a number of economic factors. The main results indicate that ethnicity does not seem to be a very important factor in starting both the civil and ethnic conflict in Syria, but it shows that the lack of power-sharing to be the most significant factor. Therefore, where power in Syria was not inclusive and shared among different demographic segments, such as religious or urban groups, it created upheavals between different groups, as some groups disidentify with the state, paving the way to causing the conflict. Economic factors also provide an explanation of the onset of conflicts in Syria. The paper offers detailed policy suggestions that could serve as a recovery mechanism for the Syrian crisis and a preventive measurement for its reoccurrence.