The Syrian Tipping Point

During World War II, Winston Churchill famously drew a distinction between “the end of the beginning” and “the beginning of the end.” That distinction is equally applicable to the unfolding Syrian crisis.

TEL AVIV – During World War II, Winston Churchill famously drew a distinction between “the end of the beginning” and “the beginning of the end.” That distinction is equally applicable to the unfolding Syrian crisis. Recent events – the growing number of high-level defections from the regime’s leadership, the killing of three of President Bashar al-Assad’s most senior officials in a bomb attack, and the rebellion’s spread into Damascus itself – suggest that, after a long period of gradual decline, the Assad regime is now approaching collapse or implosion.

The Syrian crisis has been raging since March 2011. After several months of mostly quiet demonstrations and brutal suppression, a pattern emerged. The political opposition – divided and ineffectual – was reinforced by a hybrid and loose military wing operating under the banner of “The Free Syrian Army,” and by hundreds of jihadis who entered Syria through porous borders and began to launch both military action and terrorist activity. The opposition, political and military, could not topple the regime, and the regime could not quash the opposition.

The regime benefited from the active support of the Alawite community and the passive stance of other minorities, as well as of the bourgeoisie in Damascus and Aleppo, whose members feared the regime’s fall and its replacement by Islamists or other radical groups. Externally, Russia and Iran acted as the regime’s main supporters, while Western countries, Turkey, and Arab states like Saudi Arabia and Qatar extended limited support to different opposition groups.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/f4JSXbd;
  1. China corruption Isaac Lawrence/Getty Images

    The Next Battle in China’s War on Corruption

    • Chinese President Xi Jinping knows well the threat that corruption poses to the authority of the Communist Party of China and the state it controls. 
    • But moving beyond Xi's anti-corruption purge to build robust and lasting anti-graft institutions will not be easy, owing to enduring opportunities for bureaucratic capture.
  2. Italy unemployed demonstration SalvatoreEsposito/Barcroftimages / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

    Putting Europe’s Long-Term Unemployed Back to Work

    Across the European Union, millions of people who are willing and able to work have been unemployed for a year or longer, at great cost to social cohesion and political stability. If the EU is serious about stopping the rise of populism, it will need to do more to ensure that labor markets are working for everyone.

  3. Latin America market Federico Parra/Getty Images

    A Belt and Road for the Americas?

    In a time of global uncertainty, a vision of “made in the Americas” prosperity provides a unifying agenda for the continent. If implemented, the US could reassert its historical leadership among a group of countries that share its fundamental values, as well as an interest in inclusive economic growth and rising living standards.

  4. Startup office Mladlen Antonov/Getty Images

    How Best to Promote Research and Development

    Clearly, there is something appealing about a start-up-based innovation strategy: it feels democratic, accessible, and so California. But it is definitely not the only way to boost research and development, or even the main way, and it is certainly not the way most major innovations in the US came about during the twentieth century.

  5. Trump Trade speech Bill Pugliano/Getty Images .

    Preparing for the Trump Trade Wars

    In the first 11 months of his presidency, Donald Trump has failed to back up his words – or tweets – with action on a variety of fronts. But the rest of the world's governments, and particularly those in Asia and Europe, would be mistaken to assume that he won't follow through on his promised "America First" trade agenda.