A twenty-one-month old civil war in which over 40,000 people have been killed has changed the politics of Syria irrevocably. Whatever the outcome of the conflict, the iron-fisted rule of the 40-year old Asad regime has received a devastating blow, as have its carefully planned regional and international alliances. Should the rebels succeed, they will face a formidable task: establishing democracy and a new social contract, reviving the economy and finding a place and a role for the new Syria in the post-Arab Spring Middle East.

The swift downfall of the Asad regime has been predicted for months by its opponents, but the army and security forces continue to defend it despite setbacks and defections. Nonetheless the rebels do not have one head which can be eliminated or one representative organization with which to negotiate, and are therefore difficult to deal with. In a private meeting with senior Jordanian politicians last November, King ‘Abd Allah II bin al-Husain said that the regime can resist militarily for two more years, but can hold on economically for no longer than four months. (CONTINUED - 1175 WORDS)