Reports on rifts within the Syrian leadership

Published March 28th, 2011 - 06:43 GMT

Observers question the absence of Syrian President Bashar Assad, despite the announcement that he would address the Syrian people on Sunday evening. He stays in hiding during the protests that threaten his 11 year presidency. At least 61 people were killed during the crackdown against the protesters in many cities across the country.

Damascus was calm on Monday as speculation continued regarding disputes among the top members of the Syrian leadership. Thus, many of the Syrians out of Damascus decided to remain in their homes, fearing more protests and more bloodshed. Rumors about the rifts within the leadership have been surfaced recently. The government fueled the speculations by sending mixed messages regarding its willingness to reach compromise with the protesters but also with voicing threats about the further use of force.

There is also confusion about the regime's intention to cancel the emergency law. Buthaina Shaaban the Syrian presidency spokeswoman told reporters in Damascus that the law will be abolished soon, but did not say when.

Analysts said the wave of protests is a big concern for the Syrian leadership in particular because it broke out in the strongholds of the regime. Daraa region includes Sunni tribes who have been a long time supporters for the ruling elite. It is a home to senior officials in the army and the government, including Vice President Farouk al-Shara. Latakia is one of the few areas in Syria, which is predominantly by Alawis. If the protests spread to large cities with majority of Sunni Muslims, the entire regime could collapse, as happened in Tunisia and Egypt. 

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