The intelligence discourse no longer deals with the question of whether Assad will go, but rather, with what will happen the day after. The assessment is that the war in Syria won't end even after Assad's departure. The Alawites won't surrender. They will continue to fight for their lives.
Meanwhile, as time passes, the struggle between Syria's Alawites and Sunnis becomes clearer. The great defection from the army is mostly by Sunni officers and soldiers. The rhetoric of the defecting officers is becoming increasingly Islamist, and this is no coincidence.
The officers, who are not religious, are talking about eliminating the Alawite hegemony. This shows us that even after Assad, the two sects will continue to spill each other's blood.
Another testament to this can be seen now already if we map the main combat theaters. It is no coincidence that Homs and its environs have become a brutal focal point of fighting. Alawites and Sunnis live right next to each other in the area. Homs is the gateway to Syria's Alawite region – the coastal area where the Alawites are fighting without compromise, in order to safeguard their homes.
The Alawites have reached the point of forming independent militias that operate in the Alawite area in order to suppress any hint of rebellion. They don't trust the army to stand by them forever. For them, this is a war of survival.
Russia prepares for evacuation
Assad can take comfort in the fact that the other minorities – the Druze, the Kurds, the Christians – have not yet joined the ranks of the rebels. The Druze, who thus far lost some 150 soldiers in fighting against the rebels, fear the radical Sunnis. Indeed, young and educated Druze support the uprising, yet the great mass fears the message brought by the Salafites among the rebels who are supported by radical Islamic elements.
The Syrian Kurds as well, and most certainly the Christians, still view Assad's regime as a protector.
The erosion in the regime's pillars is already shifting from the periphery to the large cities like Aleppo and Damascus. Indeed, once in a while we see the outbreak of fighting in the more central neighborhoods, yet most combat is still confined to the poor, more remote suburbs. The Sunni bourgeoisies in Aleppo are locked up at home or head overseas, but they don't come out against the regime.
In Damascus we see a new phenomenon of fighting in middle class neighborhoods, which are closer to the center. In recent days, there has been fierce fighting in a more remote and poorer neighborhood, Tadmun, many of whose residents are Golan Heights refugees. These are people treated by the regime as second class citizens for many years, and now they are rising up against it.
The Russians are preparing for evacuating their people from Syria in the coming weeks. They may know something that President Assad is still unaware of. He still enjoys enough military power and enough militia forces in order to keep spilling blood.
However, this is a temporary situation. The forecast for the day after Assad refers to the possibility of chaos and a civil war among sects. The Alawites are already starting to talk about the option of withdrawing into their own autonomous area.