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

Is Syria’s Assad as Weak as He Appears?

Thursday, June 18, 2020

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. dollar: 315 pounds, and worth even less on the black market. It was about 47 pounds before the war. I noted that the collapsing currency “was the latest sign of the Assad regime’s growing troubles, as a string of rebel victories and rumors of internal discord exposed more weaknesses in the regime.” ...

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