By Jacob Shapiro
Just six months ago, the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had been left for dead. According to various reports, half of the Syrian army had either defected or been destroyed. Rebels in northwest Syria were advancing on the Alawite coastal stronghold, directly threatening majority Alawite territory in Latakia. The Islamic State was blowing up historical monuments in Palmyra, and there were fears that IS’s dream of taking over Damascus could become a reality. The Syrian civil war had become a war of attrition, and eventually Assad would either have to give himself up or suffer the same fate as Moammar Gadhafi.
Since Russia began carrying out airstrikes against Syrian rebels in September, the situation on the ground has changed. The Assad regime is not yet safe, but it has made significant gains in recent months. If one looks at the world from Assad’s perspective, survival no longer has to be the sole goal. For Assad and his allies, it is not hubris to