A key lesson of the Arab Spring is that the coherence of the security services and their continued support for the ruler are crucial for regime stability. The close ties between the Assad family and the security apparatuses, constructed over decades, are a major reason why the Syrian regime has remained in power in the face of growing opposition across the country. The assassination of top military officials this week marks a critical juncture in the Syrian civil conflict. This is the first time that opposition forces have struck at the heart of the regime and this will likely propel further defections of high-level military officers.
Revolutions are complex and inherently unpredictable, yet this turn of events increases the likelihood that the Assad regime will collapse. The end of the Assad regime will be welcomed by many elements of Syrian society and by some of its neighbors and Western powers, yet what comes next is not clear. The opposition encompasses diverse elements which will not easily agree on how to construct Syria’s future, and externally driven state-building efforts are ill-fated.