Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date



Why do individuals sympathize with others’ wars, an antecedent of the decision to become a foreign fighter? By collecting original public opinion data from Lebanon, in 2015, and Turkey in 2017, about the actors of conflict in Syria, we test the argument that an ethno-religious cleavage at home shapes the proclivity of individuals to support others’ wars. Individuals may perceive a war abroad as endangering political and social balance of power at home – and hence own survival. Therefore, when transnational identities map onto a national cleavage, as in the Sunni–Shia cleavage in Lebanon, and Turk – Kurd cleavage in Turkey, individuals are more disposed to show sympathy for others’ wars both to help their kin and to protect the balance of power at home. Our findings imply that efforts to end the trend toward citizens becoming foreign fighters must start at home by mending the relations between ethnic and religious groups.


This is the authors' manuscript of an article originally published in International Interactions Empirical and Theoretical Research in International Relations, available at



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.