Assad's Cruel Calculus

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Abstract

On January 31, 2011, at the height of the protests in Egypt, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal. He spoke of how he was reading his country's political map correctly. He said he would soon announce reforms—because, in this day and age, Arab leaders must match their aspirations to the will of the people. Assad also declared that Syria was different from Egypt, and that, thanks to his anti-American and anti-Israeli stance, his position was better than Mubarak's. His policy, the Syrian president said, brought him the support of the Arab street in general and of the Syrian street in particular. Though the interview was clearly detached from reality, Assad was correct in one respect: Syria is not Egypt. February 2012 marked the first anniversary of the protests and popular uprising in Syria, and yet the conflict between Assad and his own people rages on with no end in sight. So why has the Assad regime managed to weather the sustained domestic uprising of the past year—and so successfully thwarted the discontent that claimed its counterparts in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya? The answers lie in the unique dynamics of Syrian society, and the vested political stakeholders now working diligently to preserve the Assad regime's grip on power.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-36
Number of pages6
JournalThe Journal of International Security Affairs
Volume22
StatePublished - 5 Jun 2012

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