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The following research paper will investigate the most significant organizational developments of the terrorist organization known as Jabhat al-Nusra (recently rebranded into Jabhat Fateh al-Sham), the second largest jihadi faction currently fighting in the Syrian civil war against the Assad regime. To better discern how the structure of such a group has evolved from its birth in 2012 to its most recent progresses in the current year, this paper will be built on the attempt to answer the following research question: “what accounts can be made from al-Nusra Front’s organizational developments since 2012?”. As the above research question puts forward, the ultimate attempt of the following paper will be to assess how the group’s internal dynamics, relationships with al-Qaeda central, the Islamic State, and the various opposition forces of the civil conflict, can best clarify al-Nusra’s strategic goals, and most likely behaviours when faced with different decision junctions.
In order to best accomplish the research objective mentioned above, the following paper will be structured as follows: the first section will be dedicated to analysing al-Nusra’s changing structure and alliances from its birth in 2012 to the latest rebrand in July 2016; built on the various insights provided in the first section, this paper will then discuss what are the specific accounts that can be made when discussing al-Nusra’s internal dynamics as shaped according to the group’s objectives and strategical priorities. In the third and final part, three different scenarios will be put forward along with al-Nusra’s most likely decision processes as understood from the analysis of both its internal dynamics, and what said dynamics have to be accounted for.