Foreign Policy interviews Rafik Hariri Center Senior Fellow Frederic C. Hof on whether the recent gains by Syrian rebels are signaling an end to Bashar al-Assad’s regime:
So here we are almost five years on. Is it going to be different this time? Could it be that President Barack Obama’s August 2011 declaration that Assad must step aside is actually going to be realized — largely as a result of a better organized Islamist opposition, fractures within the security establishment, and the difficulty of recruiting Alawites to fight? Could this really be the end?
The answer, of course, is that nobody knows. And it’s really hard to divine tipping points or moments when there really is a significant change in any situation, particularly in a case like Syria when you’re reduced to reading tea leaves and goat entrails for insights into the Assad regime. So, in search of answers and some clarity on what could be one of the most potentially consequential developments in regional politics in the past five years, I decided to ask the experts, the University of Oklahoma’s Joshua Landis and the Atlantic Council’s Fred Hof (formerly Obama’s special advisor for the Syrian transition), two of the finest analysts of Syrian politics I know. Here’s what they told me: