Year of revolt fails to loosen Assad grip
Blood could spill for the long term
BERLIN | Middle East analysts acknowledge that they underestimated Syrian President Bashar Assad, who remains in power and on the offensive a year after protests against his regime erupted.
They say that with continued backing from Russia and China, Mr. Assad could cling to power for years.
“In contrast to the crisis in Libya, regional and international variables have complicated and exacerbated the situation in Syria, and that is why one year later, Assad is still there,” said Fawaz A. Gerges, director of the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics.
“We underestimated the staying power and strength of Assad’s regime.”
Neighborhoods that had become strongholds for opposition groups have been decimated swiftly. The United Nations reported that more than 8,000 people have been killed in the brutal crackdown over the past year.
But thousands of Syrians across the country still take to the streets in protest, and further violence in the region has led analysts to fear that the conflict could turn into an all-out sectarian civil war or even a drawn-out guerrilla war.
Daniel Long (top), 20, takes flight with Robert Bane (middle), 17, and Seth Trevvett, 18, as they jump into the James River from a rope suspended from train tracks in Richmond on Monday.