Long road to freedom: Seven reasons why Syrian protesters have so far failed to topple Assad

Physical repression isn't the only reason Syrian protesters have suffered serious setbacks. Middle East expert Bilal Y. Saab of The University of Maryland gives us seven other factors that explain why things might get worse before they get better for the Syrian opposition in its quest to topple Assad.

6. US and Western policy

Analysts continue to debate whether US and Western policy toward the crisis in Syria is helping or hurting the opposition. Even Syrians themselves are divided on this issue. Some say that a more activist approach that clearly calls for Assad to step down (Washington, Rome, London, and Paris have yet to do so) would constitute the “kiss-of-death” to the opposition.

Others disagree and have asked for a more assertive US and Western approach that leaves Assad no choice but to leave. A good case can be made for a unified Western policy that unequivocally calls for Assad to step down. Such a stand could encourage the Syrian army to revisit its cost-benefit calculations and possibly decide to side with the protesters.

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