"The government of President Bashar al-Asad in Syria faces strong pressure from its neighbors and the Western powers. In the background is the fall in 2011 of longstanding governments in Tunisia and Egypt to popular protests and, of course, the overthrow of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi in a civil war backed by North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military action. It is not clear if Asad will fall or if he will hold on to power. It is fair to say that because his hold on power is sufficiently in doubt, it is well worth examining what would be the strategic consequences if he fell and what would be the strategic implications if he is able to muddle through Syria's current difficulties. Moreover, given the many sudden and unpredicted Middle East developments in 2011, such an examination should note which low-probability developments might have major impacts on the region and on U.S. interests."
Strategic Forum No. 276
National Defense University: http://www.ndu.edu/