High level defections from the Syrian military, and most notably from the Air Force, indicate a turning point in Syrian instability. As tensions rise between Syria and Turkey, in light of the downing of Turkish military aircraft, the response from Turkey and the invocation of the NATO alliance bears watching.
While the international community appears to lack the appetite for direct military intervention in Syria, there is little chance for a negotiated settlement. The examples of Taylor, Milosovich, Mubarek and many others show that any agreement of secured exile will land them either in the International Criminal Court or repatriated to stand trial in their former state.
This is a major reason why Quaddafi and Hussein chose to fight and hide, rather than choose a show trial in Kangaroo Court. It didn’t work out as planned for either of them, yet neither has any recent attempts at abdication. With this and Saif al-Islam Quaddafi’s uncertain fate prescient within the minds of the Al Asad family, little incentive exists to finesse an exit strategy.
With little chance of negotiated peace and the unlikelihood of a full military invasion from NATO, covert action and indirect support to resistance groups are the key options for external actors interested in regime change.