Assad’s Last Days/The crown is slipping

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The crown is slipping
Apr. 30, 2015/The Daily Star

The regime of President Bashar Assad, for many people living in government-controlled areas, appears to be entering its final phases – and even some staunch allies of the embattled Syrian leader are beginning to draw this conclusion. Analysts have been busy counting up the many indications. They range from battlefield losses in the north and south to a manpower crisis for the government’s forces, which have been obliged to rely heavily on paramilitary groups and thousands of non-Syrian fighters.

The rebels have been gaining ground and are beginning to threaten places such as Latakia and Hama province, with a noticeable drop in morale for regime supporters. The country’s defense minister, Fahd Freij, is currently visiting Tehran, in the most high-profile such visit to Syria’s ally since the crisis began.

The developments have seen a prominent Damascus-based dissident, Louay Hussein, flee the country because of the regime’s alarming all-or-nothing stance.

Some observers caution, however, that an imminent collapse of the regime isn’t in the cards. And Assad is trying to bolster this view, by acting as if the situation is under control and ignoring what the war is actually doing to his country, and those who remain there. But the impatience of Syria’s neighbors is impossible to ignore, and there is increasing talk of a deal being worked out, with no role for Assad. Whatever the type of arrangements to come, the developments should send a message to Assad, to cut his losses and pursue negotiations that will allow him to save face, and his country to survive. Pursuing the current military strategy won’t produce any miracles, but it will certainly produce greater calamities down the road.