By Fareed Zakaria, CNN
Earlier this year, I thought the Syrian regime would be able to persevere. It has been extraordinarily brutal and, unfortunately, if governments are willing to open fire on their people with utter disregard for human life, it often works. Crowds disburse; people stop gathering. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been about as brutal as you can get. So I thought that, as sad as it is, his regime would be able to endure.
Furthermore, I noted that the opposition did not have a geographic foothold in the way that the Libyan opposition did. In Libya, you had a divided country; the opposition, generally speaking, came from the East. They were able to take Benghazi. That provided them with a base of support. Syria's opposition doesn't seem to have that.
In the face of all of this, the courage of the Syrian people is just stunning. They keep protesting. They keep organizing. And it appears that the Syrian security forces are actually suffering significant setbacks.
But a big reason I think the Assad regime will fall is simple: It's running out of money.
Remember, Syria is not an oil regime. It doesn't have that much cash. It has always relied on trade and smuggling and some money from Iran. The United Nations sanctions are actually quite effective in cutting down trade. And Turkey is now going to impose its own sanctions on Syria, which is very significant. It will squeeze Assad even tighter.
Assad leads a minority regime that has been able to stay in power by bribing key members of the Sunni elite in both the business community and the military. At the end of the day, that game becomes much more difficult to play once the money runs out.
For this reason, I think we are now seeing the beginning of the end of Assad's rule. It may still take a year to run its course. But I now think this regime is going to collapse after all.