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Will Syria's crumbling economy topple Assad?
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is successfully seizing rebel strongholds and withstanding international pressure. But it's costing him a fortune
 
Two women in a besieged town near Homs: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's brutal crackdown against rebel forces has crippled the nation's economy.
Two women in a besieged town near Homs: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's brutal crackdown against rebel forces has crippled the nation's economy.
CORBIS

A year after rebel Syrians began their uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, the government's ongoing military campaign to wipe out the opposition is grinding the economy to a halt. Army roadblocks have cut off trade. The Syrian pound is plummeting in value, making imported staples unaffordable. Crucial oil revenues have been slashed by international sanctions. If rebels can't oust embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, will his country's deteriorating economy do the job?

Despite recent wins, Assad can't survive economic collapse: "The past few weeks have been good for President Bashar al-Assad," says Britain's Telegraph in an editorial. "His army has crushed the rebels in Homs," he's met with United Nations peace envoy Kofi Annan, and he's made "cardboard" promises to hold parliamentary elections — "all signs of a dictator hitting his stride." This buys him time. But it doesn't come without a cost, and it doesn't change the end game. The "evisceration of Syria's economy" will eventually be Assad's undoing.
"Assad's canny game"

But the hardships strengthen Assad's hand: In some ways, Syria's economic collapse actually helps Assad, says Rick Moran at The American Thinker. "His gangster regime spreads the wealth around to his Alawite followers as well as a series of cronies in and out of the military who control the economy." That fortifies them, and gives them reason to fight on, while leaving "the 90 percent of Syrians who don't benefit by this set up" with nothing but "the blood of martyrs" to show for a year of protests.
"One year anniversary of Syrian uprising marked by pro-Assad rallies"

Assad can't pay off his supporters forever: Nobody believes Assad's promises of reform anymore, says Josef Olmert at The Huffington Post, and his "coffers are dwindling very quickly." Long after Assad runs out of money to keep his ruling Alawite minority happy, his adversaries in neighboring countries will still have plenty to spend on arms and aid for the rebels. At that point, even Assad's allies will abandon him.
"Syria, a year later"

 

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