Reuters reports: Bashar al-Assad, who only a month ago faced the likelihood of U.S. missile strikes that could have tipped the balance of Syria’s war against him, has won a reprieve.
His supporters, political sources in Damascus say, are jubilant, convinced the threat of regime change has lifted and that the Assads can face down opponents they consider weak – U.S. President Barack Obama and France’s President Francois Hollande among them – just as they saw off their predecessors.
“I think they feel that they can live this out and wait for leaders like Hollande and Obama to leave office, just as they did with Jacques Chirac and George W. Bush,” said one well-placed source in Damascus, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“I think Assad feels that the chemical weapons actually saved his regime, rather than brought it down.”
The mood shift is a consequence of the world’s confused response to a sarin gas attack on rebel suburbs of Damascus last month, the sources say. Russian President Vladimir Putin, Assad’s ally in the 30 months-old conflict, conjured up a diplomatic process to confront the atrocity. [Continue reading…]