To keep your friends close and your enemies closer

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The rise of the Islamic State caliphate in the Middle-East has led to an influx of foreigners who joined the organization. When in 2019 Islamic State lost its last pocket of land in Syria, some of these foreigners were captured and put in local prisons. Both the authorities that captured them, and the foreigners themselves asked to be repatriated back to their state of origin. Few states have done so, and it remains unclear why some states repatriate and others not. Within this thesis a theory is suggested that the existence of a pre-existing internal conflict and the mobilization potential within its population can explain why states repatriate their civilians. Through a case study on the United States, which repatriated all known US-civilians from Syria, this theory is put under scrutiny. The result shows that at first no internal conflict seems present within the US. After closer examination it will be argued that the War on Terror comprehends a transnational conflict with characteristics of multiple conflict types, including those of intrastate conflict. Through this argument the case of US repatriation efforts can be explained.
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