The die is cast in Syria. Assad has not responded seriously to interventions by the Arab League and its neighbour, Turkey, to behave reasonably to popular protests. Defections from the military are growing. Last week, defectors attacked key installations near the capital. Here, a group of officers declares a break with Assad:
This is what happens when a government orders troops to kill civilians. Some segment will disagree and they will find popular support to grow in numbers, rapidly. They may even get air support from Turkey because Turkey does not want Syrian military action anywhere near its borders with Syria. Ordinary civilians are still risking bombs, bullets and wholesale arrests by protesting publicly.
A tipping point has been reached. Assad has no legitimacy with a large segment of his population and many other states. Even China and Russia who supported Syria are appalled. There is only so far they are willing to go to support an obviously unpopular regime. There is only so far the world will go to tolerate repression. Syria has passed that limit. Expect escalating sanctions and a Libyan-like uncivil war. The violence will increase a great deal before it abates. The end result will not be a continuation of the Assad regime. The only real question is whether Assad and his partners in crime want to go to the bitter end or will they find some way to exit the situation while they still can. The end of the Gaddafi regime should have been an educational moment for Assad but there is no sign he is paying attention.
I fear we have only seen the beginning of repression and desperate responses to repression in Syria but I expect the result will be the overthrow of the regime sooner or later, probably sooner. Anyone in Syria who has not picked a side by now will have little choice soon. Artillery does not respect fence-sitters.