Assad's most likely option is to retreat into mountains

Last Updated: Mon, Dec 10, 2012 15:15 hrs

Washington: After 20 months of confrontation, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's hold on power is looking increasingly frail, leaving him and his regime with few remaining options.

"There is no doubt that the regime's capacity is declining and that the FSA continues to become ever stronger and better armed," a European diplomat closely following developments in Syria said.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, the current status of the regime is uncertain and it is not even clear if Assad is still in charge.

The diplomat said that Assad appears to have become a "prisoner of his own system," no longer playing an active leadership role and confined to his palace.

Instead, there are indications that an informal 'security council' has emerged consisting of between 50 to 100 top regime and military figures drawn from the minority Alawite community, which is handling the daily confrontation against the armed opposition, the report said.

The regime is steadily losing ground as the rebels attempt to encircle Damascus for an apparent final push into the city center, leaving Assad with three possible choices.

The first, although least likely, option is to remain in the presidential palace to the bitter, and probably bloody, end, fulfilling a promise he made last month in an interview with Russian television to "live and die in Syria", the report said

A second possibility is to escape Damascus with his family and seek asylum in a third country, perhaps Iran or Venezuela, the governments of which openly support the Syrian regime.

Faisal Miqdad, Syria's deputy foreign minister, was reported to have visited Venezuela, Cuba, and Ecuador recently.

Ecuador subsequently announced that it was not entertaining the idea of granting asylum to Assad.

The most likely option, however, and one that appears already to be under way, is for the regime and the core of the army and security forces to retreat to the Alawite-populated mountains on the Mediterranean coast, the report added.

More from Sify: