Almost every report coming in from Syria right now is contradicted by another report. The only claim for which there appears to be good evidence is that the capital is in chaos with gunfights and explosions being heard.
The government claims that the defense minister and President Assad's brother in law were killed by a suicide bomber is contradicted by claims of responsibility by the Free Syrian Army and Liwa al-Islam, an Islamist group. And those are not the only people claiming responsibility.
According to an alternative version of events, the defense minister was killed by his own bodyguard. If that is true it is possible that the attack was actually an attempt at a coup, a Syrian version of the Stauffenberg bomb plot against Hitler.
According to the BBC World Service, Russia and even Iran are losing patience with the Syrian regime. But these reports have to be read with some skepticism as the BBC World Service exists to promote the world view of the UK Foreign Office. The Russian Ambassador to the UN is extremely clear that Russia opposes and will veto any Security Council resolution under Chapter 7, that is one that would authorize military intervention.
Russia is in a particularly weak diplomatic situation right now, having been on the losing side in (almost) every single international crisis since 1979: The invasion of Afghanistan, the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Yugoslav civil war and most recently Libya.
The Arab Spring can be seen as a vindication of the 'domino theory', the revolution in Tunisia led to the uprisings in Egypt, Sudan and Libya. The fall of Libya has put renewed pressure on Syria. If Syria falls it is quite likely that there will be renewed unrest in the Gulf states, but what is likely to worry Russia rather more is the possibility that it would spread northward to the Caspian sea region.
With fighting in the capital, it now appears to be a question of when and how Assad falls rather than if he falls. Russian interests would certainly be best served if Assad was removed from the scene.
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