Analysis: Assad’s Grip on Syria Has Become Tenuous
The Assad family’s grip on Syria has never looked so tenuous.
After 17 months of violence and an estimated 17,000 people killed, a lightning-quick turnaround in the momentum of the civil war has put President Bashar Assad’s forces on the defensive, a sign that his once-impenetrable family dynasty is wobbling.
For the first time, the rebels have brought a sustained fight to Damascus, the seat of Assad’s power, in a powerful signal that the regime cannot protect its own capital. On Friday, reports of intense fighting in Aleppo, Syria’s second city, suggest the rebels are making a run on another major government stronghold.
And now, more than ever before during the four-decade Assad dynasty, there are signs that the inner circle is unraveling. A stunning rebel bombing that killed four of Assad’s top lieutenants Wednesday was a strike that almost certainly involved the hand of a trusted insider.
The coming days will be crucial to determining whether the regime can recover from blow after devastating blow, which have eviscerated any sense that the head of one of the Middle East’s most autocratic states can hold on indefinitely.
Trying to retain their grip on power, regime forces are stretched to the limit. The government is pulling its most powerful troops from around the country to reinforce Damascus, which allows rebels to swoop in and take over key areas after the soldiers abandon their positions or leave them only lightly guarded.