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The Assad family has ruled Syria for more than forty years, and throughout that time longstanding ethnic and religious tensions have simmered just below the surface. Now the country is in the middle of massive social upheaval, and in the past few weeks, popular uprisings have reached a boiling point, even in the face of deadly state repression. In an attempt to address popular grievances, President Bashar al-Assad recently said he would end a 48-year "emergency" law and promised further reforms, but these concessions appear to be too little too late for a burgeoning protest movement that's no longer interested in piecemeal reform. On this week's edition of The Breakdown, political analyst and Syria specialist Joshua M. Landis joins The Nation's Chris Hayes to give some background the origins of the current Syrian government and the ways in which it has failed to live up to the expectations of its people.
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