June 11, 2020


Is Assad About to Fall? (CHARLES LISTER, 06/11/2020, Politico)

"We promised to keep things peaceful ... but if you want bullets, you shall have them."

That was the wording of a message issued to Bashar Assad by the Druze community in Syria's southern Suwayda province on Tuesday after three days of intensifying protests. Since then, its opposition to the Assad regime has only heated up, despite a pro-regime counterprotest on Wednesday, in which local state employees were threatened by secret police should they not participate. Demonstrators took to the streets against Assad again on Wednesday and Thursday, some bearing flags of the Syrian revolution.

Until recently, the Druze, a minority sect, had largely stayed out of Syria's bitter nine years of conflict, but the nation's spiraling economic crisis has forced them onto the street. Addressing Assad directly, protesters chanted "curse your soul, we are coming for you," and expressed their solidarity with the 3 million-strong opposition community in Idlib, the last holdout of the armed rebellion against Assad.

As remarkable as they are, the protests unfolding in Suwayda are merely a symptom of a far greater crisis striking at the heart of the Assad regime and its prospects for survival. Assad's decision to sack his prime minister, Imad Khamis, on Thursday was a clear indication that economic collapse and newly vocal opposition posed a real challenge to his legitimacy.

For some time, it has become commonplace to declare Assad the victor of the war in Syria--a dictator who managed to survive nearly a decade of rebellion and civil war by brutally suppressing dissent and exploiting the support of Russia and Iran to keep his grip on a burning country.

But that has never been an accurate way to see Syria. Assad may have crushed the opposition to his dictatorial rule in 60 percent of the country, but in 2020, every single root cause of the 2011 uprising is not just still in place, but has worsened. 

Posted by at June 11, 2020 6:29 PM