The debate has raged for several years over whether the Assad regime is on the verge of collapse. But there is a more important question not being asked.
The gruesome death of a long-time Syrian intelligence and military officer raises questions about the internal cohesion of the embattled Syrian regime and whether Bashar al-Assad can hold on much longer.
Assad seems to be giving up on the reintegration of rebel-held Syria into the state apparatus. Thus, entrenching himself among the militias and what remains of his army, he has precious little left to offer anyone else—no carrot, only stick.
One of the leading French experts on Syria, Fabrice Balanche, explains his methods of mapping the Syrian conflict and presents his views of the situation.
Kurdish-Arab clashes in Syria’s civil war have a history of flaring up violently and then dying down with little fanfare, including in Hasakah. But if the fighting continues, it may have a serious impact on the military balance in the city and the surrounding countryside.
By agreeing to the Moscow talks, the Syrian regime is portraying itself as more flexible than the opposition, at a time when the international community has lost patience with the intransigence on both sides.
There are no indications that Assad is ready to let anyone not under his control join the new government in his third term as president. Genuine power sharing in Syria will remain as distant as ever.
To ask whether the June 3 Syrian presidential election results will lead to any change within the government betrays a misunderstanding of the situation: what just played out in Syria was not an election—it was a demonstration of power in which the presidency was the active subject, rather than the people.
A key objective for Bashar al-Assad in his third presidential term is presenting his crackdown on Syrian opposition groups as a fight against jihadism. In doing so, Assad is betting on the eventual support of the international community in this new “war on terror,” which would secure his position in power.
The upcoming presidential elections will be no different from previous elections under the Assad regime. Even if the elections were democratic and transparent, Bashar al-Assad would win based on his constitutional powers alone.
Syria’s oil and gas resources are too small to be considered a prize in the struggle over the country’s destiny, but energy issues still play an important part in the conflict.
As one of many cousins of Bashar al-Assad, Hilal al-Assad was perhaps on the outskirts of absolute power, but his death will still have come as a chilling reminder to the elite in Damascus of how precarious their position really is.
It is hard to imagine a solution to the Syrian crisis that does not involve Russia. However, despite the long-standing ties between the two countries, even Russia's most-qualified Syria expert may have little insight into the Syrian regime's inner workings.
Today, the Baath Arab Socialist Party in Syria is a mere arm of the ruling apparatus, with no more intellectual independence than a police force or a ministry. But it started as a highly ideological movement of protest against French colonial control, led by the Arab nationalist philosopher Michel Aflaq.
While the Syrian regime has seen some important success recently, it continues to be hobbled, and might eventually be undone, by a serious manpower problem.
In the past three years, Russian influence in Syria has swelled dramatically and Moscow has acquired a new hand to play in regional politics.
The Hatay region, located on the coast north of Latakia, was originally a part of Syria, but Turkey annexed the region in 1939. While Hatay has made a forceful comeback in Syrian media, nothing suggests that the new rhetoric is indicative of a deeper change in the view that has quietly guided Syrian policy ever since 1939.
President Bashar al-Assad sent a delegation to Geneva II composed largely of veteran diplomats, politicians, and media specialists. According to the Syrian president, they are going to the talks in order to discuss the best way to “fight terrorism” in Syria.
The Baath Battalions, a militia controlled by the ruling Baath Arab Socialist Party, has started to show up at government checkpoints and roadblocks in Damascus, with aims to support the Syrian Arab Army and the security services.
The Syrian war has attracted thousands of foreign volunteers who now fight on almost every front.