A quick note about this. I would say that events on the ground may well have shortened that wall I last discussed considerably.

Neil MacFarquhar does a good job of asking, and at times answering, the big questions. It does seem to me that he puts too much emphasis on the bombing being in Damascus. A regime can survive for a long time with low-grade insurgent violence in the capital – it can lead to successful ethnic cleansing, as happened in Baghdad – but the idea that the inner circle – and not just the Sunni components – may be cracking is a threat.

My friend may think Assad has a year at least, but I think he may be operating under a few assumptions as to how much in control of the Alawi he is. The Alawi have really staked much on the Assads, but i think if it seemed worth while to them, if they felt vulnerable enough or if an alternative seemed alluring enough, they would abandon him. The idea shouldn’t be dismissed, at least, that Assad will fall far quicker than a year. What is to come after, though, may not make many here or there too happy.