Syria: Coup Proof?

Syria was among the most unstable states in the Middle East until Hafez al-Assad came to power in 1970. But, asks James Gelvin, can his son, Bashar, maintain the regime’s iron rule in the face of growing dissent?

President Bashar al-Assad (right) and his brother Maher (centre) attend the funeral of their father Hafez, Damascus, June 13th 2000 (Getty/AFP/Ramzi Haidar)In March 2011 the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad became the latest Arab autocrat to face the wrath of his population. Troubles began when security forces arrested a dozen or so schoolchildren under the age of 14 in the provincial city of Dara‘a for the crime of writing anti-government graffiti on a wall. The government imprisoned and tortured them.

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