MESOP Syria Analysis: Why Do Young Syrians Join Extremist Groups? – A REPRESENTATIVE RELEVANT STUDY BY THE “INTERNATIONAL-ALERT” GROUP
International Alert, a peace-building organization, offers answers based on the experiences of 311 young Syrians, their families and community members in Syria, Lebanon and Turkey. The research also includes study of online forums, and monitoring and evaluation from projects in 13 locations.
The study concludes — in contrast to many of the headlines in international media — that political and religious “radicalization” is not the primary cause of young people join factions such as the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra.Instead, the economic and social situation of each person is the key factor. Unsurprisingly, once you get beyond misleading generalizations, the catalysts are the effects of violence and the lack of education and opportunity. SUMMARY :
Vulnerability among young Syrians is being generated by an absence of a means to serve basic human needs. In many instances, violent extremist groups are effectively meeting these needs.
The most vulnerable groups are adolescent boys and young men between the ages of 12 and 24, children and young adults who are not in education, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees without supportive family structures and networks.Radicalization is not an explanation for joining a violent extremist group per se. For Syrians, belief in extreme ideologies appears to be – at most – a secondary factor in the decision to join an extremist group. Religion is providing a moral medium for coping and justification for fighting, rather than a basis for rigid and extreme ideologies.The ongoing conflict creates the conditions upon which all vulnerability and resilience factors act. Addressing these factors without addressing the ongoing conflict is unlikely to succeed in preventing violent extremism in the long term.
The main factors that drive vulnerability are:
- lack of economic opportunity;
- disruptive social context and experiences of violence, displacement, trauma and loss;
- deprivation of personal psychological needs for efficacy, autonomy and purpose; and
- degradation of education infrastructure and opportunities to learn.
Resilience exists to the extent that the vulnerability factors are addressed in combination (that is, one factor alone will not provide resilience). Alert’s research suggests that the main factors that underpin resilience are:
- alternative and respected sources of livelihood outside of armed groups, which give individuals a sense of purpose and dignity;
- access to comprehensive, holistic and quality education in Syria and in neighbouring countries;
- access to supportive and positive social networks and institutions that can provide psychosocial support, mentors, role models and options for the development of non-violent social identities; and
- avenues for exercising agency and non-violent activism that provide individuals with a sense of autonomy and control over their lives, as well as a way to make sense of their experiences.
Read full pdf Document of the relevant study : www.international-alert.org