When surveying the press in the Middle East it shows that intelligence services are no longer dealing with the question of if President Bashar Assad of Syria will go – but when, and what will come after him.
The consensus is that there will be civil war.
This conflict is largely ethnically based between the ruling minority Alawites and the majority Sunnis – and has a long bloodied history.
Even if Mr. Assad would step down the fighting will continue. Numerous editorials have commented on the possibility of chaos and ethnic civil war.
Note that defecting army officers, all of whom are Sunni, say that, “The Alawite hegemony must be eliminated.”
For most of this conflict the fighting has been heavy in and around the city of Homs. It is a mixed city and the gateway to the main Alawite areas in Syria.
Part of the reason that Assad has survived this long is the fact that the other minorities – Druze, Kurds and Christians, have not in any significant way joined the rebels.
Why – because when this is all over, if the Sunnis are in leadership, there will likely be a Sunni Muslim Brotherhood-led government put into place and the minorities do not trust them.
Even their fellow Sunni middle class population of Aleppo are staying out of the fight – because the Assad regime has provided a degree of prosperity and stability over time (in addition to bloodshed).
The Alawites, many of whom fear for their lives if Assad, an Alawite himself, should fall, will not allow this to happen.
This is why President Assad is still in place. He still has sufficient military and militia forces to be able to keep control.
But it is fair to say that this may be a temporary situation.
Middle East Correspondent