More than two months ago on March 21, demonstrators in Daraa set fire to the ruling Baath Party’s headquarters and government buildings. Police officials started gunning down the crowd reportedly killing hundreds by March 24. The total may have exceeded 5,000 now, human rights activists say.

The demonstrations are still taking place despite a government crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

Demonstrators demanded freedom from the 48-year emergency law, release of political prisoners, trials of those who have shot and killed protesters, and they wanted an end to corruption in their country.

What will happen in Syria after President Bashar al- Assad? Is the country capable of surviving the Baath Party regime's collapse?

The pertinent question is whether there is a leader who can take the country out of its depths of destruction and win over people who are cynical with the current government?

Assad takes after his father Hafez al-Assad, when it comes to insurgencies in the country. His father had ordered the Hama massacre in February 1982.

During the revolt by the Sunni community against the regime of Hafez al-Assad, the Syrian army conducted a scorched earth policy (destroying anything that might be useful for the enemy) in the city of Hama to crush the revolt.

Hafez al-Assad remained in power till his death in 2000 he ruled Syria for 29 years and his son Bashar is in power for more than a decade.

There is no alternative to his power

Syria’s opposition the Arab Socialist Movement was part of the Baath Party but is scattered and leaderless. The opposition meeting scheduled in Turkey on May 30 has brought forth divisions among the leaders of the Syrian uprising. There is no real opposition that can take Assad's place, if he is deposed.

The current regime has convinced the Christian minority which is only 10 percent population that without Assad, Syria may follow the path of civil war as in the case of Iraq and Lebanon.

The regime might not be in any danger of immediate collapse since the Syrian army is determined to protect the Assad regime.

The main troops who are better trained and equipped than rest of the army, are trusted loyalists who will fight till the end. Syria is unlike Tunisia or Egypt where the armies had refused to open fire on protesters after the collapse of the police.

Second, the neighboring countries of Syria are scared to rock the diplomatic boat of political pragmatism. The neighboring countries are of the opinion if they are involve it might ruin their peace and security in their own countries.

Despite tensions between Syria and Israel, Israel is not keen on Assad leaving and is happy with the present status quo on Golan Heights. Any new leader might change this comfortable equation between Israel and Syria.

The Jordanian King Abdullah II is against a democratic uprising to succeed in his neighboring country as that would start a rebel against him in Jordan.

Turkey has close relations with Assad, after the zero problems with neighbors” policy also fears chaos on its 700km long border.

Unlike the Egypt revolution, where Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was quick to denounce Hosni Mubarak, has not spoken a word about the current uprising in Syria.

If the Assad regime is overthrown, their powerful and well-armed ally Lebanon might also be worried. Syrian troops are stationed in Lebanon and have exerted a political influence in the nation.

so far, the Syrian protesters have failed to disrupt any ordinary life except in the two big cities, of Damascus and Aleppo.

NATO is also wary about getting involved in another conflict too soon after Libya which is surrounded by many controversies and criticism.

The United States and European Union last week imposed sanctions on Assad and 10 of his top officials, also asking him to stop violence on the demonstrators.

However, it remains to be seen if Assad will go Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak way or will continue to fight like Libya’s Moammar Gaddafi.


Possible post-Assad scenario:

  • A national reconciliation with a vision of a democratic state should be provided before the imminent collapse.
  • Such an event would be dominated by Syrians in exile, but there could be a concerted move to reach the preferences and views of those who are still living in the country.
  • There is need for an intermediary council which will be elected with half its seats reserved for insiders who will be appointed once Assad is gone.
  • The people of Syria should be assured of a possible future in post-Assad politics and protection from Assad's Alawite community.
  • The situation demands that a provisional constitutional draft be drawn with the United Nations to help organize the elections.