Thinking Aloud: “The Syrian Conflict’s Foreign Fighters,” Part II

Thinking Aloud: “The Syrian Conflict’s Foreign Fighters,” Part II

Not What You Might Think

June 1, 2014 by Darius 

[As the Syrian conflict continues to metastasize beyond its borders, international security concerns are also on the rise.  Two days ago, I saw two panels discuss “The Syrian Conflict’s Foreign Fighters: Concerns at Home and Abroad.”  Yesterday, I shared the insights from the first panel; today’s post will be about the second panel.]

Aaron Zelin, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, outlined the scale of the foreign fighter issue.  Between 1979 and 1992, an estimated 5,000 foreigners traveled to fight in Afghanistan.  Between 2003 and 2007, about 4,000 went to Iraq.  By comparison, 12,000 foreign fighters have gone to Syria in the last two years.  Why?  Zelin gave a number of reasons.  First, Syria is very accessible to foreigners: all they need to do is buy a plane ticket to Turkey and cross the border into Syria.  Second, previous conflicts (like…

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