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On this week’s POMEPS podcast, Marc Lynch speaks with Reinoud Leenders about the origins of the Syrian conflict. Leenders is a reader in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London.

“In the beginning, it was a question of who would move first, and where.” Leenders says. “Why it happened in certain places and not others, it is because of local characteristics.” Aleppo, Leenders says, held back. “It was a very conservative, middle class [place] that felt it was too much to get involved and put a stop on mobilization initially.”

“In hindsight, lots of people have said it was a mistake of the [Syrian] regime to have applied such vast levels of repression,” Leenders said. “But I think that, beyond moral considerations, I don’t think the repression as such was a mistake…The brutality of the regime touched on some really sensitive registers, include dignity and honor of women.”

Even as Leenders’s research focuses on the parsing out the conflict through the lens of two narratives, “We are five years down the road, and every day the conflict goes on, I get more questions than answers.”

Listen to Leenders’s full conversation on iTunesSoundCloud, or below:

Read more from Leenders:
Master Frames of the Syrian Conflict: Early Violence and Sectarian Response Revisited May 4, 2016 From Mobilization to Counter-Revolution: The Arab Spring in Comparative Perspective. The Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)

The Origins of Syria’s Crisis: POMEPS Conversation 72 with Reinoud Leenders

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