'Rebels busy 'liberating''
"...“Absent some dramatic increase in external intervention, Assad could still be there in 2014,” says Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma. “There’s nothing obvious in the current dynamic that’s going to force him out. He has barricaded the major cities with layers of security, allowing the impoverished periphery of some to fall into rebel hands, but then using his air power and artillery to devastate those neighborhoods. Almost two years into the uprising and despite the rebels’ recent momentum, they have not yet taken full control of a single major city or town. That’s a bad sign for the rebels.”
The sectarian character of the civil war has been underscored by Alawites — even many with grievances against the Assads — rallying behind a regime dominated by their minority sect for fear of their fate should the predominantly Sunni rebellion triumph. While opposition analysts predict that the regime will soon run out of money, rebel-controlled areas are even more starved of resources. And the regime, which still maintains an overwhelming advantage in weaponry, appears to be directing attacks in line with a strategy to exacerbate shortages of food and fuel in those areas, assuming that shortages and the competition for scarce resources will alienate the civilian population from the rebel fighters that control their areas — a dynamic that appears to be taking hold according to some reports from Aleppo and elsewhere.
“Despite the confident predictions coming from the rebels and their backers,” says Landis, “nobody in the opposition today can explain how they’re going to win. The regime has the unity, it has all the heavy weapons. Many of the rebels continue to operate on the assumption that the U.S. will intervene to tip the balance for them.”..."