Syria: new protests against Assad
Protests against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad have gained momentum in recent days. The devaluation of the currency and the scrapping of subsidies for fuel are exacerbating resentment among the population — and not only in the opposition’s traditional strongholds. In the southern city of Suweida, for example, the local news station has reported protests with hundreds of people such as haven’t been seen since 2011.
Still firmly in control
Although the protests show the desperation of Syria’s population they are unlikely to amount to anything, The Times suspects:
“The protests will not topple Assad’s regime, even if they gather momentum. He is firmly in control of almost all the country, apart from a small exclave next to Turkey and areas where the Kurds dominate in the east. He is backed by Russia, which has a base on the coast and deploys its air force to bomb the opposition, as well as having Wagner mercenaries on the ground — even if they are now leaderless. And he has now been brought back into the Arab fold with Syria’s formal readmission to the Arab League in May and talks already under way with neighbouring states.”
Assad must already be worried
Gazeta Wyborcza sees the first signs of a change of mood in Syria:
“Although Syrian opposition figures abroad hope that a rebellion is once again brewing in the country and could lead to change, the president is in a strong position for the time being. ... However, the growing discontent is a cause of concern for the Shiite dictator, especially because for the first time Alawites, the group from which his entire entourage is drawn, are among the demonstrators. There has been speculation in the past that he would not be able to hold on to power if his own religious community abandoned him.”