Year of re­volt fails to loosen As­sad grip

Blood could spill for the long term

The Washington Times Daily - - Front Page - BY LOUISE OS­BORNE

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.

ROD LAMKEY JR./THE WASHINGTON TIMES

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.

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