June 8, 2011 | Quote

Sectarian Violence in Syria?

“Early on in the uprising the regime dispatched Mustafa Talas to negotiate with the locals in Rastan,” says Tony Badran, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “The negotiations obviously failed, and the townsfolk tore down a statue of Hafez, supposedly the biggest one in Syria. The regime has focused on this area, since it’s where the Syrian army draws a lot of its Sunni recruits. Deraa, where the uprising started, and Rastan are rural Sunni towns where the regime used to draw its support by co-opting rural Sunnis. And now these areas are in open rebellion.”