Perhaps another way to view Syria is not simply as a two-sided contest. From the inside, Assad is acting rationally within the options he has been given–and inside a regime that from the beginning appears to have chosen a death struggle over any negotiation.
A Russian political analyst with contacts at the Foreign Ministry said that “people sent by the Russian leadership” who had contact with Mr. Assad two weeks ago described a man who has lost all hope of victory or escape.
“His mood is that he will be killed anyway,” Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of a Russian foreign affairs journal and the head of an influential policy group, said in an interview in Moscow, adding that only an “extremely bold” diplomatic proposal could possibly convince Mr. Assad that he could leave power and survive.
“If he will try to go, to leave, to exit, he will be killed by his own people,” Mr. Lukyanov said, speculating that security forces dominated by Mr. Assad’s minority Alawite sect would not let him depart and leave them to face revenge. “If he stays, he will be killed by his opponents. He is in a trap. It is not about Russia or anybody else. It is about his physical survival.”