Bashir Assad: How Long Can he Hold Out?

Despite warnings of government reprisal, demonstrators have become emboldened in recent days, escalating demands from the kind of changes Mr. Assad has announced to louder calls for the end of the regime. “The window of opportunity is closing for Assad. The government got behind in this race,” said David Lesch, a Syria expert and professor of Middle East history at Trinity University. “The opposition is not a monolithic mass and many of them have different agendas and objectives but more and more they are coalescing around the idea that Assad must go.”


Over 80 dead are reported in the government crackdown on Friday April 22. The government is struggling to contain the demonstrations. Some think that they would not grow indefinitely were the government to permit them to go ahead. Who knows? Clearly the government is not prepared to find out. Many Syrians fear chaos and are staying inside. It is hard to figure out how many are coming out to demonstrate; the numbers continue to grow. The Maydan district at the heart of traditional Damascus was the site of several killings. [Correction the day after - Reuters: "In Damascus, security forces fired teargas to disperse 2,000 protesters in the district of Maydan." No deaths are reported today in the Maydan and only small numbers of demonstrators. This can be read as "good news"  for the regime because the demos were very small, or "bad news" because demos began in the heart of traditional Sunni Damascus.] -  Syrian Comment

Dozens were killed as protests in over 10 Syrian cities showed no sign of letting up.  Hundreds braved police lines in Damascus before being beaten back, as opposition forces clearly rejected the ending of the Emergency Law as too little too late.   Assad has failed miserably to strike a balance between repression and granting reforms to quell the opposition.   Now the democracy advocates want an end to the Assad regime.

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