Bashar al-Assad: The Survivor

(Foreign Policy) Randa Slim - The Assad regime has proved stubbornly resilient. While the rebels have succeeded in liberating territories in Syria's northern provinces, they are still not in control of one major Syrian city. The attrition rate in the Syrian army is at best around 5 to 10% - not enough to seriously erode its fighting capacities. Moreover, when given the option, many military defectors are returning home rather than joining the Free Syrian Army. Moreover, Assad's losses in military personnel have been made up by the increase in the ranks of the paramilitary shabiha. These mainly Alawite fighters are increasingly becoming a skilled fighting force thanks to training by Hizbullah operatives. Syria's Alawite community remains hostile to the uprising. Any hope for regime implosion rests on Alawites' delinking their physical survival from Assad's political survival, but there are no signs that this process has even started. Finally, the Syrian opposition remains fractured. Syrian opposition groups signed a tentative agreement on Nov. 11 to unite all anti-Assad factions under one umbrella coalition. But the diverse funding streams available to the opposition have exacerbated competition, not collaboration. The writer is a research fellow at the New America Foundation and a scholar at the Middle East Institute.

2012-11-14 00:00:00

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