By Rami G. Khouri
"....The most significant of trends is probably the more aggressive or assertive role of regional actors, as international players find that they have very limited means of influencing Syrian government actions. This is linked to the slow transformation of Syria from a leading actor that often defined key political realities around the Middle East, into a more passive player whose domestic troubles have suddenly clipped its regional wings.
The third big change is Syria’s sudden vulnerability at home, causing other regional powers to start working more diligently to either protect their interests or to make sure they are well positioned to take advantage of any forthcoming changes in Syria.
All of this has happened in just over four months. However, it is in fact the delayed and inevitable consequence of four decades of autocratic rule where the extended Assad family, security services and business interests badly gutted and corrupted Syria’s governance institutions. This helped expose the hollowness and weaknesses of the ruling edifice once a domestic challenge erupted. Syria’s ruling establishment remains strong and broadly unified for now, but its end is certain if it uses no other means than military force to respond to the populist national uprising that challenges it.....
For now, the most interesting and historically important aspect of the situation in Syria is less the behavior of the top-heavy, security-based Assad regime – an endangered global species – and more the continued awakening of regional powers intervening in Syrian affairs more openly, as major global powers watch the people and regimes of the Middle East (still two different phenomena in most countries) retake control of their destinies."