Research & Politics

Predicting the duration of the Syrian insurgency

Ulrich Pilster, Tobias Böhmelt


While there were several relatively short uprisings in Northern Africa and the Middle East during the Arab Spring, the dispute between the rebels and government forces in Syria has evolved into a full-scale civil war. We try to predict the length of the Syrian insurgency with a three-stage technique. Using out-of-sample techniques, we first assess the predictive capacity of 69 explanatory variables for insurgency duration. After determining the model with the highest predictive power, we categorize Syria according to the variables in this final model. Based on in-sample approaches, we then predict the duration of the Syrian uprising for three different scenarios. The most realistic point prediction is 5.12 years from the insurgency’s start, which suggests an end date between the end of 2016 and early 2017.

  • Civil war
  • event history models
  • insurgency
  • prediction
  • Syria

Article Notes

  • Declaration of conflicting interest The authors declare no conflict of interest.

  • Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Supplementary material The replication files are available at:

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