Syrian president Bashar al Assad’s hold on power is looking more tenuous. “There is no doubt that the regime’s capacity is declining and that the FSA (Free Syrian Army) continues to become ever stronger and better armed,” said a European diplomat with regime and opposition contacts in Damascus.
It is not even clear if Assad is still in charge. Some sources suggest he is effectively a prisoner in his palace, no longer playing an active leadership role but unable to flee with his family.
With the FSA drawing closer to the centre of Damascus, Assad appears to have three choices.
The first is to remain in the palace to the bitter end, fulfilling a promise he made last month to “live and die in Syria”.
A second option is that the remnants of the regime and the Alawite core of the army retreat to the mountains on the Mediterranean coast, home to the Alawite community that is the regime’s backbone.
Third, Assad may attempt to flee Damascus with his family and seek asylum abroad, possibly in Venezuela, Cuba and Ecuador
Faisal Miqdad, Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister, was reported to have visited Venezuela, Cuba and Ecuador in the past week carrying letters from the President.
If Assad is unable to escape Syria by air, he may cross the border with Lebanon, 30km to the west, departing from Beirut Airport to a possible new home.