Saturday, January 28, 2012

Syrian Regime Loosing its Grip on Power

Despite the regime's continued bluster in the face of Arab league and UN diplomatic maneuvering, the events on the ground suggests that its authority is rapidly unraveling. Josh Landis, in a piece with a notable change of tone about the regime, says that it is doomed but it will hang on for another year or two.   It is hard to see how it can last that long.  For several months only parts of Homs were no-go areas for the regime.  Over the last two weeks, several areas across the country have managed keep the security forces at bay with the help of the FSA. Notable areas include the town of Zabadani as well as  Douma and Saqba, minutes from the center of Damascus, the once impregnable seat of Assad's power. This will embolden opposition demonstrators and hasten the flow of deserters from the armed forces. It is also likely to rattle some Bashar's reluctant supporters and many fence-sitters enough to get them to switch sides. The real question is what the regime's insiders will do now that it has become crystal clear that unless forced, Bashar will not alter his "iron fist" policy to accommodate any political transition plan whether it came form AL or the UN. One exception might be Russia as they may have enough leverage with the regime to have them change course. Although given Russia's interest in a continued toehold in the Mediterranean, it may push Bashar aside but will not advocate for  . Several possible end game scenarios have been discussed. One of the options, predicts a palace coup that would replace Bashar and launch a transition process. Most of the others are too depressing to contemplate.

Given the violence and trauma of the last eleven months and given that any predicted transition will very likely involve a period of chaos, I fear the specter of retributive violence and its effect on the fabric of Syrian society.  In preparation for this eventuality, activists and opposition leaders should systematically quash any and all sectarian incitement and emphasize that a representative democratic state is meant to benefit all Syrians, even those who had supported the present regime. The revolution would be considered a failure if it succeeded in toppling the regime and then failed to capture the hearts of all Syrians.

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