Conflict Scenarios Point To Turbulent Decade Ahead
BMI View: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his regime are fighting for their survival, but regardless of whether it endures or is overthrown, Syria is likely to remain highly unstable for many years to come.
As of September 2013, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Ba'ath party regime are fighting for their survival after two years and half of civil conflict, which has resulted in more than 100,000 deaths, two million refugees and four million internally displaced people. The conflict long ago assumed sectarian characteristics, given that the Assad regime hails from the Alawite Shi'a sect (which forms around XX% of the population), whereas the rebels are mainly drawn from the Sunni majority (around 74% of the population). Caught between the Alawites and Sunni Arabs are significant minorities of Christians, Kurds, and other ethnicities, who fear that their positions would be jeopardised if the Assad regime were to collapse.Even if Assad manages to cling on power over the coming quarters, we believe the regime will have been substantially weakened, and it is unlikely to regain full control of the country (Note: when we refer to 'regime', this need not necessarily entail Assad as president. It could be led by a transitional figure with the bulk of the state's other top officials remaining in situ.). However, prospects for a negotiated settlement or an outright victory by the opposition also appear unlikely at this stage. Overall, we reiterate our view that Syria will remain highly unstable for many years to come.
Below, we outline the main scenarios for political change.