Syria's Assad No Longer in Vogue

What Everyone Got Wrong About Bashar al-Assad

Courtesy Reuters

It was slow in coming, but the Arab revolutionary wave of 2011 has reached Syria. Its arrival has forced a reassessment of the Bashar al-Assad regime’s domestic legitimacy and prospects for survival. Over the past few months, many commentators have maintained that the regime would remain sheltered from regional turmoil. As the prominent Syrian dissident Suhair Atassi lamented, her country is “a kingdom of silence” dominated by fear.

Now, the story line has changed dramatically. Events in the southern city of Deraa have challenged the conventional wisdom about Syria’s stability. Protests began on March 18, after security forces detained 15 children for spraying anti-regime graffiti on walls there. Seeking to nip any ideas of revolution in the bud, Assad’s security forces attacked the protesters, killing four.

The next day, thousands took to the streets, torching the ruling Baath Party headquarters, several other government buildings, and the local branch of the

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