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Geopolitics

Why Syria's Splintered Opposition Is Assad's Real Ace In The Hole

Analysis: Bashar al-Assad has benefited from Russian and Chinese support to stay in power. But from neighboring Turkey, where many top Syrian exiles are based, one observer says the splintering of the opposition may be the real force to ensure Assad&#

Key player in the Syrian opposition, Haitham al-Maleh (Freedom House)
Key player in the Syrian opposition, Haitham al-Maleh (Freedom House)
Fehim Tastekin

ISTANBUL - Hafez al-Assad massacred the city of Hama in 1982. Yet this atrocity did not make Assad a ‘butcher" in the eyes of many Syrians. In fact, after the massacre, hundreds of thousands poured into the streets of Damascus to cheer the Syrian leader for his tough response to what was perceived as an Islamist challenge to public order.

Bashar al-Assad is now on the same path as his father, but with one important exception: while Bashar has no qualms about stepping into his father's combat boots, he is still attempting to walk a reformist line.

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Mariateresa Fichele

Fifteen years ago, Francesco kept busy by scamming people. He was a regular visitor to the beaches of Terracina, south of Rome, where he was caught several times selling counterfeit Ray-Ban sunglasses. Then came the drugs, which fed a serious substance-induced psychosis and eventually he tested positive for HIV.

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