The end of Syria’s Baathist dictatorship?

Fred H Lawson
Le Monde Diplomatique

As Syria’s civil war enters its sixth year, President Bashar al-Assad finds himself steadily gaining strength relative to the country’s disparate collection of opposition forces. Government troops continue to advance into previously rebel-held areas across the northwestern provinces, and have all but encircled the key northern metropolis of Aleppo. In the south, forces loyal to the regime regained control of the strategic crossroads town of Shaikh Miskin at the end of January. And in the far northeast, the Syrian armed forces have resumed the offensive against ISIS (so-called Islamic State), in conjunction with an assortment of Kurdish, Christian and tribal fighters.

Even so, it is unlikely that the dynamics of governance that characterized the Baath Party-dominated political-economic order that existed prior to the popular uprising in March 2011 will ever reappear.  Syria’s domestic politics have changed in a half-dozen ways over the course of the civil war, and whatever type of political system emerges once the fighting comes to an end will be compelled to reflect these new realities.

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