Der Speigel reports that Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), is now predicting that Syria's Assad will maintain power, and even make gains against rebels. From the story:
... the situation has changed dramatically, the BND believes. Schindler used graphics and maps to demonstrate that Assad's troops once again possess effective supply lines to ensure sufficient quantities of weapons and other materiel. Fuel supplies for tanks and military aircraft, which had proved troublesome, are once again available, Schindler reported. The new situation allows Assad's troops to combat spontaneous rebel attacks and even retake positions that were previously lost. The BND does not believe that Assad's military is strong enough to defeat the rebels, but it can do enough to improve its position in the current stalemate.So, absent an assassination, Assad may be able to stay in power for the near future.
Severing Rebel Supply Lines
The assessment appears to be consistent with recent reports from Syria, where government troops have been able to regain the upper hand in the region stretching from Damascus to Homs, including coastal areas near Homs. Furthermore, fighters loyal to Assad have expelled rebel fighters from several districts on the edge of Damascus and cut off their supply lines to the south. Currently, the regime is in the process of severing rebel supply lines to the west.
Meanwhile, the BND believes that rebel forces, which include several groups of Islamist fighters with ties to al-Qaida, are facing extreme difficulties. Schindler reported that different rebel groups are fighting with each other to attain supremacy in individual regions. Furthermore, regime troops have managed to cut supply lines for weapons and evacuation routes for wounded fighters. Each new battle weakens the militias further, the BND chief said.
Should the conflict continue as it has in recent weeks, says Schindler, government troops could retake the entire southern half of the country by the end of 2013. That would leave only the north for insurgent fighters, where Kurdish rebels have tighten control over their areas.