The regime of Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad has resorted to escalating levels of violence and intimidation in order to weather mass street protests, reportedly having already killed more than 1,100 and arrested more than 10,000 Syrians. Given that a fall of the Assad regime could break the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas axis, and thus prove a potential game changer in the Middle East, we would like National Journal experts to weigh in on the Assad regime's chances for surviving the crisis, and the most likely scenario if he does not.
Given support and encouragement from Iran, can Assad actually hang on to power and return to something like the previous status quo, as Iran did after its 2009 protests? Is there still a chance that Assad will introduce democratic reforms that mollify the protesters? Facing an ever-tightening noose of international sanctions, might Syrian security forces abandon Assad and cut a deal with opposition figures, as happened in Egypt? What are the chances that the protests devolve into outright civil war, as has happened in Libya recently, and Iraq and Lebanon in the past? How do you rate Syria's chances of transitioning to a functioning democracy in a post-Assad period? Finally, what if anything should and could the Obama administration do to try and facilitate Assad's ouster?