People seem fairly optimistic about the likelihood of Assad going down.  I’m not so sure, for the reasons that Andrew Reynolds explains:

That nation is poised on a knife edge: it could plunge into civil war or come to rest in a valley of repression where Bashir al-Assad’s opponents have fallen. The entrails of the Arab Spring suggest that Assad will be the fifth dictator to fall only if the Syrian military irrevocably splits or if international military force intervenes on the side of the opposition.

Neither looks likely. The Syrian army is dominated by Assad’s Alawite minority and foreign powers have demonstrated no stomach to insert themselves into the quagmire of a civil war in Syria which would spark tensions, not just between Turkey, Israel and Lebanon, but would ominously see NATO, Russia and China picking sides.

If it weren’t for Western intervention, Gaddafi would still have Libya. If it weren’t for the decision of the Egyptian Army to withdraw its support, Mubarak would likely still be atop Egypt. In Syria, as Reynolds suggests, neither outcome is particularly likely. I would guess that a coup is slightly more likely than international military intervention, although the development of a strong, militarized opposition may actually be counter-productive on this score; it gives the military something to do, and ties the fate of the military chiefs more tightly to the regime. I also wonder whether the fact that many military leaders would likely already be subject to international prosecution reduces the likelihood of a coup. In any case, there’s little reason to believe that the Syrian military would be as (minimally) favorable to the creation of a democratic state as the Egyptian Army. And so if your the compulsive type that just has to bet…

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