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The Syrian army did not turn on the regime in the face of popular protests, contrary to its Egyptian and Tunisian counterparts. Yet, the Syrian army lost its ability to keep the country together. This CMI Insight focuses on the Syrian army’s co-optive political function. Drawing on interviews with defected military officers, it provides a window to observe how the Assad regime has used the army to maintain stability in Syria. The interviews also help us understand the root causes of the nation’s fragmentation. 
Control over the repressive apparatus is the sine qua non of regime survival. Yet, the military’s ability to maintain stability goes beyond the prevention of the occurrence of coups. This CMI Insight argues that the Syrian army has mattered for stability in ways that has gone beyond the enforcement of repression, serving as a balancing instrument and a privilege distribution tool.