|Teddy Lishan Desta, PhD|
As the Arab Spring - the popular uprising for democratic rights in the Middles East is commonly known- gathered momentum in early 2011; Syria was not exempted from the political ferment rattling the region. After 17 months of sustained popular uprising and armed struggle, an estimated 15,000 Syrians have lost their lives, thousands more have been maimed, and still many more have left their country to take refuge in neighboring countries.
If his interview with British journal, the Daily Telegraph,[i] says anything, President al-Assad is quite determined to 'wage war" against his opponents. However, they too are determined to resists his efforts and fight on - the very recipe for a protracted armed civil conflict in Syria.
On the other hand, the Iranians all along were wiser than the Russians when it comes to the Syrian crisis. From the outset they were advising Bashir al-Assad to listen to the people. Of course, the Iranians will also play a strong "behind the scene" role to press the Syrian regime to make realistic concessions to the opposition. So through whatever left of the old regime, Iran too will be able to keep some of her influence in the new Syria. Hence, the "soft coup" will be in the interest of Iran as much as that of Russia.