Syrian President Bashar Assad’s popular support may be waning, but he retains strong support in the nation’s military, making his ouster a difficult proposition. This support is a result of decades of stacking the nation’s key security positions with members of the Alawite sect, to which the Assads belong.
The Alawites stand to lose much if the regime falls, and free elections sweep the powerful majority of Sunnis into power. This has left their leadership beholding to the regime for decades, and ensured their loyalty.
At the same time, Assad has announced some concessions to the Sunni Islamist factions that are involved in the opposition against him. This included lifting a ban on teachers wearing full Islamic veils and a pledge to close a newly opened casino, the only one in the nation.
The concessions may placate some factions, but are unlikely to stop the broader opposition. Rather, this seems to be an attempt to split the opposition, or at least calm the portions of it most likely to lead a violent uprising against the regime.