Friday, July 20, 2012

Bashar al-Assad: fight or flight?

After high-profile defections and the loss of four key advisers, the Syrian president's options are shrinking, writes Ian Black

Ian Black, Middle East editor, Friday 20 July 2012

" ......Speculation is rife about what Assad will do next. One scenario has him holding on for now but fleeing in the end with Asma and the children. "He saw what happened to Gaddafi," said Zisser. "I would argue that he will try to escape."

Whether the so-called "Dacha option" is still viable depends on whether the ever-loyal Russians will continue to help him if he is forced to step down.

Another possibility is more dramatic. "I think Bashar might fight to the end," said the former government official. "He seems to be more defiant and that makes it less likely he will be able to find an escape route. I don't think he will. Earlier on in the crisis he could have gone to the UAE. But now I doubt whether any Arab country will take him in. He's too toxic."

Joseph Bahout, a Lebanese-French political analyst, said: "It's dangerous to over-psychologise but having said that, Bashar's character is important. If Maher had been killed too he probably would have collapsed. My guess is that he is much shaken but that as long as Maher is still there he may go for a suicidal solution involving massacres and ethnic cleansing. I just don't see these guys negotiating"."

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