By Thomas Baron (@TCBaron) The idea that President Assad will step down from power and a secular, peaceful, and democratic coalition government will take his place has long since faded. The Syrian National Council, the group that Hilary Clinton declared in 2011 was the “leading and legitimate representative of Syrians seeking a peaceful democratic transition” is effectively a non-entity at this point and claims that the West should support “moderate rebels” in the country are increasingly met with the unanswerable question as to who such rebels are and where they might be found.
Still, Assad’s reign is increasingly unstable. By spreading his forces too finely in an attempt to maintain control over the entirety of the state he has reduced his ability to win important battles and protect strategically important land. He is now being forced to abandon much of the country to opposition forces and is focusing on protecting the two things that are most important to his continued grasp on power: the capital and the Alawite population.