Is Syria’s Assad as Weak as He Appears?

A portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Old City of Aleppo, Sept. 27, 2019 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).
A portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Old City of Aleppo, Sept. 27, 2019 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

It might seem like an all-too familiar story: With its economy cratered by civil war, and new pockets of anti-regime resistance, Syria is on the verge of state collapse. President Bashar al-Assad isn’t just on the back foot; he is weaker than ever. Is he about to fall? You might have read this before—back in 2015, perhaps, before Russia intervened to save Assad. Indeed, in May 2015, I wrote about just that, as Syria’s army showed more signs of fracturing and the economy sank further. The value of Syria’s currency that month had hit a record low against the U.S. […]

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