Saturday, March 15, 2014

don giovanni may have gotten ghadafi, but he won't get assad...,


WaPo |  Three years into the revolt against his rule, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is in a stronger position than ever before to quell the rebellion against his rule by Syrians who rose up to challenge his hold on power, first with peaceful protests and later with arms.

Aided by the steadfast support of his allies and the deepening disarray of his foes, Assad is pressing ahead with plans to be reelected to a third seven-year term this summer while sustaining intense military pressure intended to crush his opponents.

The strategy is not new, but in recent months it has started to yield tangible progress in the form of slow but steady gains on several key fronts on the battlefield that call into question long-held perceptions of a stalemate.

Most notably, the government has pushed the rebels back or squeezed them into isolated pockets in large swathes of the territory surrounding Damascus, diminishing prospects that the opposition will soon be in a position to seriously threaten the capital or topple the regime.

For those who joined the effort to unseat Assad three years ago, flush with the fervor of the Arab Spring protests sweeping the region, the realization that the rebellion is faltering is “deeply depressing,” said Abu Emad, a student activist who has watched as the government has steadily crushed the armed rebellion in his hometown of Homs, once regarded as the epicenter of the revolt.
Saturday marks the third anniversary of the initially tentative anti-government demonstrations that spiraled into civil war, and many Syrians are wondering whether the 140,000 deaths and the displacement of millions of people were worth the price, he said.

“More than ever there is no hope. Not on the ground and not politically,” Abu Emad said, using a pseudonym to protect his identity. “For the rebels to win, it will take a miracle.”