Five Reasons Why the Assad Regime Survives

Syria's conflict has morphed into a civil war whose fault lines and consequences are quite different from other Arab rebellions

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EPA / SANA HANDOUT

A handout photo made available by the official Syrian Arab News Agency shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaking during an interview with the pro-government Addounia TV in Damascus, Syria, 29 August 2012

5. The End Game Has Grown More Complex

While there are various exercises underway in Washington and Berlin involving Syrian dissidents in extensive if hypothetical planning for a post-Assad Syria, the operating assumption of much of the thinking and planning assumes that doing away with the dictator takes care of most of the problem: Sure, there would have to be outreach to communities that traditionally supported Assad and some form of reconciliation process to avoid the violent retribution that so many are expecting; and hopefully the rump of the police and national army can be maintained intact to avoid repeating America’s mistakes in Iraq, by ensuring order and avoiding chaos. But generally, the discussion assumes that Syria as we’ve known it will remain intact, albeit with a different and more democratic distribution of power.

(PHOTOS: As Syria Grieves: Photographs by Nicole Tung)

Assad, of course, has had other ideas, and has plunged Syria into a vicious sectarian civil war in which neighboring communities have turned on one another in scenarios sometimes reminiscent of the collapse of Yugoslavia in the early ’90s. After 18 months of conflict, it’s worth asking whether what we’re seeing is simply the death throes of a despot, or a new dynamic in which the regime has chosen to fight on a terrain that at once diminishes its power and tacitly abandons its claim to rule all of Syria, but which allows it to survive in that diminished form for a more protracted period?

The growing danger is that the military and communal trajectory being followed by the conflict deals a fatal blow to prospects of stitching Syria back together again, instead creating a situation analogous to Lebanon from the late ’70s, where a protracted civil war left a fractured state that could no longer be ruled by any one power center. It’s not yet clear whether Syria has reached that point, but it is increasingly evident that it has eluded the full gamut of outcomes that ended the Arab rebellions of the past two years.

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46 comments
0bserver1
0bserver1

I don't wanna live in a country where presidents lie, normal healthcare is accessible to only rich people, where all my taxes go for funding war which I really don't care. At the same time I don't wanna live in a country run by some religious fanatics and practices medieval laws.  First one reminds me of a country that is trying to turn other countries into the second country.

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HerrDirlewanger
HerrDirlewanger

Iran runs Lebanon now, and they'll be running Syria before long, along with Iraq.

 As usual Iran is running rings around our amateur politicians in the west and their arab financiers in the gulf.

wimroffel
wimroffel

The article gives a false interpretation of what happens in Syria.

What Syria faces is an uprising by Sunnite fundamentalists. That is only a small fraction of the population. But when supported with weapons from the outside it can still wreak havoc (see Afghanistan where the Taliban would only get 10-12% in open elections). To broaden its base the opposition has tried to reframe its uprising as a Sunni-Alawite conflict. Before the conflict started that was certainly not true as Assad was quite popular among the Sunni. Since then the FSA has succeeded to a limited extent, but as we saw when the FSA entered Aleppo there are still lots of Sunni who don't buy its hate mongering. 

That brings me to the WP. I am sorry to see that the WP is spreading here FSA propaganda that is so obviously false. This way it is obstructing peace as the clue to nay peace will be to give a voice to the moderates who are ignored by the West at the moment. 

Deadarab
Deadarab

They are arab rebellion from the hell arabian deserts!! 

Do you think the government or you can feed them all and sacrifice your own people?

How about 100,000 bodies occupy your country before death in your country?

And what have muslims with their islam done until now?

Just praying after making violence to force the primitive laws and feel holy by killing their own nation and making wars to the other religions also training terrorists to destroy peace before building more noisy mosques on there to feel arrogant by the dead mosques stones to revive sorrows from the past?

There is No salvation but only sorrow in islam.

For Human Beings Destroy islam the trouble maker the root of problems.

Ivan Durden
Ivan Durden

ASSAD IS BETTER THAN A "PUPPET" LIKE IN IRAQ!

Guest
Guest

All those, who are now criticizing  Assad should be aware that these so called rebels are in fact more hostile to freedom than the bad Assad. Now, already some cruelties of the rebels surfaced.

But when you meddle in politics of other countries without really knowing the social, political, ethnic and religious culture background of said then you cannot really complain about unexpected results (Afghanistan in the 1980s/2001,  Iraq 2003 to name few). Now, Iran might be the next in line.

If US  attacked Iran, that would be in terms of population the biggest country they'd attack  since world war II. (In WWII, Germany had 60 million people, in Vietnam war, Vietnam had just roughly 40 million people. The rest of the countries the US attacked/intervened in were smurfs in comparison.)

Mirel Masic
Mirel Masic

"The connection has been more direct in Lebanon, where the city of Tripoli has seen 17 people killed and more than 120 wounded in fierce clashes between local Sunni supporters of the Syrian rebellion and local Alawite supporters of Assad."

Tripoli is in Libya.

Sukumar Devaguptapu
Sukumar Devaguptapu

... And a small change in the wind direction, will tilt all the 5 reasons against..  and the regime falls...!

RebeccaH
RebeccaH

If Syria gets divided into ethnic enclaves, so much the better.  It weakens Iran's influence, and Greater Syria's malevolence.  It won't be a stable situation for a long time, but it lessens Iran's ability to do mischief in the region, since many of the factions do not trust, and will not align with, Iran's nutball mullahs.

mdshams22
mdshams22

US  cooking  receipe is  not very   popular  and   is not working. Tide  is against US-KSA-ISRAEL. The Labrov phrase ' Bombing Democracy'  is not working because little yellow chinese and Grisely bear  are  standing  on their path  toward 'NO FLYZONE'. The rsult  of Conflict is  already  drwan conclusion protracted civil war and  Assad seems  like a little bit of

relaxed now a days and Saudi king-queena are  little  bit worried.

Yvonmoua
Yvonmoua

Let freedom for every country, the world population is over, may God need to trim some. Let who don't have country get on too. Oh God it is time to destroy this dirty world right now, Devil always against your idea and  no peace for the innocent at all.

Phoenix31756
Phoenix31756

Wait until it happens here in American and I bet this scumbag will be having the Last Laugh too !

Daniel Garigan
Daniel Garigan

Seems to be an insightful and excellent assessment of the state of play.  The moves could have been made on a chessboard and Mr. Assad is fairly accomplished (eg the Kud region on the Turkish border)  Nonetheless there is a changing moon in the sky as my fingers hit the keys.

This is the first day that I can see that this military operation has "morphed" into an international conflict. To be sure there will be few to no measures passed by the UN Security Counsel ... one way or the other.  That said, the Iranian position that it is normal that the Syrian military should have weapons aplenty seems a bit sophmoric... and then to say the "rebels" should disarm, is dementia or sheer idiocy.  Soo what?Watch the next round... it is what it should never have been. The UN process has been a failure, and allows that anyone can blame someone; the result remains... FAILURE. This is no longer likely to be Civil War... or even a Regional war..   The UN be damned.  We need something new beyond the end of a gun barrel. Meanwhile all are left to their devices.  This work order seems to be a 3rd Order Partial Differential Equation, and will result in something beyond expectations, but will subsequently seen and "obvious".  Maybe I will next predict an economic recovery in the USA?  after all even your man the honored Mr. Krugman has recently noted that the New Deal was NOT sufficient to enable a recovery... he left it at the exports to Europe as it bloomed into WWII; it was the USA a war that fully animated the US economy.  War usually has that effect... unless you lay siege for 4-6 years or simply lose.

drorbenami
drorbenami

Hey tony baloney, I too have 5 reasons:

1) Instead of focusing on children having their throats cut in Syria, Karl Vick and his wife write stories about a ten year old trial in Israel about a girl hit by a tractor.

2) Instead of exposing atrocities in Syria, Tony Baloney is constantly tweeting about football games.

3) Instead of focusing on the killing actually taking place in Syria, Tony Baloney focuses on Netanyahu merely discussing the need for future actions in Iran.

4) Instead of focusing on the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees today, Tony Baloney focuses on Palestinian refugees from 64 years ago.

5) Instead of writing articles exposing the abuses of dictators like Assad for the last 20 years, Tony Baloney has been criticizing a democracy like Israel which has had at least 5 changes of government in that period of time....

 

hardworker777
hardworker777

The level of propaganda spewed by Western media outlets and the koolaid drinking within the American political establishment is truly mind boggling. This Time.com admission that the rebellion "won't succeed in the near future" is not news to anyone else. In fact, not only is the rebellion not succeeding, but major players such as Turkey are beginning to realize they have overplayed their hand. Look to some kind of rapprochement between a chagrined Turkey and emboldened Iran. Iran perfectly played its hand, was fully cognizant of the reality on the ground and dealt with situation realistically, as U.S. diplomats ran around like headless chickens trying to pump air into something that was leaking on all sides...  

Xeno Giraffe
Xeno Giraffe

Assad is an old fashioned strongman with a modern western demeanor.  By restricting the population in their voting for leader of country - Assad assured that eventually there would be civil war in Syria.  This will only lead to greater sorrow and hardship for HIS people.  He blew it.  Now, if he lives, he will be reviled, and will be a pariah to all the leaders in the middle east and world.  Syria is now on the road to self destruction. We could see the country dissolve. 

jsmithcsa
jsmithcsa

There's only one reason Assad remains in power: he's willing to kill every man, woman and child in the country to stay in power while the rest of the world does nothing.

Obamarrhoids
Obamarrhoids

It's interesting that as Arabs ethnically cleanse each other the world's media, including Time, is more critical of Israel for correctly vindicating a bulldoze driver of accidentally running over a violent communist radical agitator. By the way when was the last time Obama said the word Syria? Obama has much more vocal and fervent criticism of Israel when they legally build houses for their citizens than he does when radical Islamist's take over Arab countries and when Arab dictators ethnically cleanse their countries with mass murder. How telling.....

PietKlaassen
PietKlaassen

Assad is supportED by a relative majority of moderate Sunni Muslims, and by nearly all urban Sunni Muslims, who are used to living side by side with Shiite Muslims, Alawites, Druze and Christians. Also, the role of CIA, MI6, Turkish intelligence, French and German spies and foreign Salafist mercenaries and Al-Qaeda in Levant is not mentioned. I am ashamed to live in a NATO state arming Salafists against tolerant Assad regime despite its democratic deficits.

PietKlaassen
PietKlaassen

President Bashar al Assad is supporting even by a relative majority of moderate Sunni Muslims. The uprising is a combination of Salafist Sunni radical rebels, alongside disenchanted Sunni Army officers and the defection of a few Sunni diplomats and government officials bought over by and brought over to Qatar with its petrodollars. The reality of massive flight of scared hundreds of thousands of Syrian Christians to relatively safe Damascus, Latakia and Beirut is never mentioned in our Western media. I expect more from Time on this subject. Assad is a secular Arab nationalist and Arab socialist rational ruler, the Alawites are not a sect against Sunnis. Syria is not Libya, not Iraq even.

JamesTee56
JamesTee56

It will be interesting to watch the response of the al-Assad regime if they appear to be losing control of Syria.  Despite their recent announcement that they would not use chemical weapons against their own citizens, they do possess the largest volume of chemical weapons in the Arab world and have the means to create and deliver more as shown here:

http://viableopposition.blogsp...

Jason Bras
Jason Bras

poor analysis.  the so called "Assad's days are over" mantra is an US led propaganda.  Syria is fighting a civil war, not a "freedom" or "democracy" movement.  every country except US knows this. 

IQMinusOne
IQMinusOne

Your logic is funny. If he kills every man, woman and child in the country he will have no power left, except maybe just power over his horses.

Xeno Giraffe
Xeno Giraffe

Obama has been following the polices of Bush and Clinton in regards to Israel.  The US helped to start Israel.  It is not the fault of the US that Jews and Muslims do not get along.

O_Pinion
O_Pinion

He could always put his support to the test and have a free election.

Robert Sellers
Robert Sellers

When has a geurilla movement survived w/o popular support?  You should probably re-think you're presumptions. 

Jthemover
Jthemover

Tolerance =  shelling women and children?  I don't get it....

Mike P
Mike P

hey Jason...call it whatever you want cuz nobody cares

in reality, its just another muslim-controlled rathole

aceblazin247
aceblazin247

 Assad is oppressing his own people. So what do you expect the people to do? Sit around like ducks and get shot at? People need to stand up amp; fight for freedom.

18235
18235

i guess that means you, and your likes, love russia and iran.

Robert Sellers
Robert Sellers

It is definitely the direction he is heading.  He even shoots at refugees as they flee across his border.

VT
VT

Or that Israel is unendingly greedy -- true. Still, various US administrations have been spineless in unceasingly allowing Israel to get away with its self-righteous land-grab and vicious treatment of Palestinians.

Obamarrhoids
Obamarrhoids

Your response is odd because you didn't really address anything I said but I'll address what you said. Anyone who thinks Obama has followed the same policies as ANY other American president regarding Israel is ignorant or dumb.  Your president comes from an anti-Semitic cesspool of communists, radical Islamist's and Jew haters and his statements, policies and attitudes reflect that clearly. What American president bows to a Saudi prince but doesn't even visit Israel while in office. Critical thinking isn't a bad thing.  Sheep like you that blindly believe the BS that Obama spews are dangerous. I hope you can't vote.

dave
dave

Please cite these oppressions.

What I call oppressive is when the US government ships foreign terrorists in to Syria and then has their media call them "peaceful protesters" .. I have news for you; peaceful protesters don't blow up buildings and carry rifles.

This so called "Free Syrian Army" is comprised of US funded, foreign terrorists.  Who do you think shipped them in?  You think they all just walked in to Syria?  NATO shipped them in.  These are the same people that were paid to overthrow Libya.  Now that place is a genocidal warzone.

Stop eating up propaganda.

IQMinusOne
IQMinusOne

Well people fight and if they win, they set up a regime to oppress other people. So what do you expect the other people to do? More fight.

Obamarrhoids
Obamarrhoids

Arabs don't want freedom. Islam prohibits it. 

thomjefferson76
thomjefferson76

What is so evil about Iran Syria and Russia? Seems to me that they're all just people with problems in their own countries as much as we have problems in America or Israelis have problems in their country. Maybe Syria and Iran are tired of western countries forcing solutions upon them and want to create solutions on their own. Much like how we should be creating solutions for our 14 trillion dollar debt, 8% unemployment and the coming fiscal cliff. There's more than enough problems we should be solving in our own country. Spending more money we clearly do not have on intervening in Iran on the basis of nuclear weapons from a signed member of the Nuclear Non Proliferation treaty, or Syria in the midst of a civil war that has nothing to do with us is not going to fix our problems here at home.

27
27

 No, it just means we have no business in a civil war.  I'm not sure what the intent of your comment is, other than to troll.

ZabaDa
ZabaDa

Assad,the worse dictator I ever seen.

peaceBwidya
peaceBwidya

Your reponse to Xeno Giraffe shows your dearth of focus on the issue at hand, and what you are really about - shoveling a litany of impertient, ad hominem, falsified attacks. I doubt you have any comprehension of the complexities of US-Israel relations, and the ambivalences of past US Presidents.

FedsMadeSarahPalinClick4Proof
FedsMadeSarahPalinClick4Proof

 Our government is running the online conversation desperately trying to conceal the truth from leaking out about the coup and cover up.

18235
18235

well thank you, troll27,  for explaining jason b's obscure, anti-american rant.

the "us led propaganda" and "every other country except US" mistakenly  led me to believe evil russia and evil iran continued to be allied with evil syria.