Since March 2011, observers of the Syrian conflict watched with anticipation the behavior of Syria’s security forces, hoping that they would eventually follow the examples of the Tunisian, Egyptian, or Libyan security forces during the heady days of the Arab spring. Yet after five years, the Syrian security forces remain largely loyal to the Assad regime, with no shift in sight. Indeed, the Assad regime’s endurance is explained by the steadfast loyalty of the top brass of the Syrian Arab Army and the myriad security and intelligence agencies. Their refusal to abandon the regime’s pursuit of a security solution — despite pleas by peaceful protestors from the early days of the uprising for the army to stand with them — can now be seen as one of the main reasons that ensured this civil war would be a long one.

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