"Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
Fareed speaks with Fawaz Gerges, professor of Middle Eastern Politics and International Relations at the London School of Economics, about the state of the al-Assad regime in Syria.
Does Assad have an incentive to make peace?
Yes, I think he does. Of course, on his own terms. He wants a political solution. He wants, basically, Syria to be in charge of this particular political solution. He wants the outside opposition to be marginalized.
He basically believes that the external powers, particularly Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, are funding the most extremist elements in the opposition.
And obviously he wants to stay in power.
Oh, absolutely. I’ve no doubt in my mind that he and his associates believe that they are winning the fight. They have survived more than two years a very powerful campaign by regional international powers. They have gone on the offensive. They tell you, if you meet with Assad's people, they tell you they are winning this war. And any political settlement will most likely reflect the balance of power on the ground inside Syria. That's what it means.
And do you buy that? You've been there. You know lots of people. On the ground right now, do you think Assad has regrouped and is actually in a stronger position?
Well, look, I have to say, Assad is not winning, but the opposition also is not winning. Assad has survived some of the most two brutal years any particular dictator can face. His military machine remains intact.
In fact, he has gone on the offensive. He has made some major gains on the ground. His allies, Hezbollah and Iran, are deeply committed to his survival. Iran and Hezbollah have made it very clear, Assad is a red line. The Russians are deeply invested in Syria and he has a social base of support. And the emergence of radical elements within the opposition, I would argue, has consolidated the social base of support for Assad.