And moving now to Syria

Lifted frm Al Jazeera’s liveblog on Syria:

3:55pm
Following are some comments (via Reuters) on what may lie ahead for Syria.

Maha Azzam, associate fellow at Chatham House: “Frictions will increase between the Assad regime and some in the army. But it is difficult to say what direction the army will take. It has been closely controlled by the regime and it has vested interests in the status quo. If it sees the Assad family as a liability, the army may feel it is in its interests to move against the regime. But I think you would need a greater momentum on the streets for that to happen. For now they’ll wait to see if the regime can bring reforms. My view is that the reforms would have to be drastic to be accepted by the people.”

Faysal Itani, deputy head of Middle East and North Africa Forecasting at Exclusive Analysis: “The regime really doesn’t have any good options. It is placing enormous pressure on the mainly Sunni army by ordering it to fire on Sunni demonstrators. With the exception of the Alawi Republican Guard, the army is a Sunni conscript force. If the unrest continues at this pace the Syrian army is not going to be able to maintain cohesion.”

Karim Emile Bitar, research fellow at the Paris-based Institute for International and Strategic Relations: “The Syrian regime will have to reform itself radically if it wants to survive. No country in the region is immune in the face of this revolutionary wind that is blowing from the Atlantic to the Gulf. The Syrian regime is attempting to make promises such as a potential lifting of the state of emergency, which has been in place since 1963, a record in the Arab world. But if this happens it will be the end of a whole system, prisoners will have to be released, the press will be free … when this kind of regime considers relaxing its grip, it also knows that everything could collapse. I think the army and the secret services will remain faithful to al-Assad right until the end, for reasons that are essentially sectarian (i.e. preservation of minority Allawite rule).”

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