Assad and Reform: Damned if He Does, Doomed if He Doesn’t

Assad and Reform: Damned if He Does, Doomed if He Doesnt
Once upon a time, Syria erected a formidable barrier of fear that kept its citizens in check for decades. Today, however, authoritarian Baathist rule isn’t looking all that insurmountable anymore. If anything, the regime’s tactics may now be hemming it in rather than its people. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may be damned if he meets all of the antigovernment protesters’ demands — and perhaps doomed if he doesn’t.

April 22 was another bloody Friday across the country. Dozens of people were killed on a day dubbed Great Friday . Tens of thousands of protesters defied their 45-year-old leader to brave the streets despite a heavy security presence. The chants for reform have increasingly been replaced with the call that has ricocheted across the Middle East from Libya to Yemen and now Syria: Ash-sha’ab yurid isqat an-nizam! — “The people want the fall of the regime.”