President Bashar al-Assad would have never imagined what would become of his country, when a year ago, on March 15, a few dozen protesters demonstrated on the streets of the Syrian capital Damascus, demanding serious national reforms, as a series of uprisings swept the region in what has been dubbed the Arab Spring.
Assad was confident that his government was on the same page as the people, but those demonstrations would swell into the most violent revolt of the region, that shows no signs of relenting. International powers continue to search for whatever necessary measurements are needed to put an end to bloodshed and Assad rule in Syria which has spanned four decades.
Although leaders of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, were consequentially ousted from power, Assad has remained headstrong in preserving his grip on national power, using all means necessary to quell the anarchy that engulfed the country.
Army tanks, security forces, and assailants launched assaults from town to town, killing thousands in the towns of Homs, Hama, Idlib, and Daraa. Men, women, and children have been allegedly killed by forces loyal to the president, while condemnation from the United Nations, European Union, and the Arab League mounts.
The Syrian president however has the support of Russia and China, as the two countries have vetoed resolutions by the United Nations over the past several months. The U.S. and Europe have increasingly imposed sanctions in a bid to weaken and isolate Assad, such as oil export embargoes which has plummeted the economy.
Members of the opposing Syrian National Council have been gaining momentum in a bid to takeover Assad’s government, with the Free Syrian Army, comprised of defectors, have gained international recognition.
The death toll unfortunately continues to rise, with the United Nations estimating it to stand at 8,000. Syrians have been voicing their criticism of international effort to topple Assad, as attacks are resilient and ongoing. Merely last month the city of Homs was demolished and hundreds were killed in a span of a week.
One thing appears certain and that is that Western powers are hesitant to intervene militarily. But with concerns over an imminent civil war, opponents are also dreading the future of Assad’s ouster, which could occur either with ultimate economic turmoil, a coup, or a loss of state control in Aleppo or Damascus where Assad has predominant control.