Over the weekend Assad's thugs massacred over 100 people in Houla, a town neighboring resistance hub Hama. It's the largest single mass-murder to date in the revolution. Syrian social media immediately exploded with anger. Juan Cole hopes some good can come out of it:
The outcome in Houla is so horrific that it may turn the stomachs of the remaining Syrians who are on the fence, and produce a new backlash against the regime. The revolution in Syria is a contest of wills between the regime on the one hand, and on the other the revolutionaries (who have a civil and a military wing that seldom agree). The revolutionaries have remained steadfast in the face of massive brutality, for over a year. Their will seems strong. The regime seems to be popular in fewer and fewer places. The will of all but its devoted cadres is being shaken.
Marc Tracy looks to next steps:
There is much talk of the "Yemen model"—oppressive leader of Arab country is ousted by threats from outside, but power is handed to a member of the ousted leader’s regime, who assumes a transitional role. And the most important thing to know about the Yemen model is that it is also known as “the Yemenskii Variant,” because that’s how crucial Russia is to it being adopted. Russia looks askance whenever the West topples dictators, and is additionally unhappy by the prospect of a situation like Libya, in which said dictator was killed, or Egypt, in which said dictator is being prosecuted and is literally caged in.
Gideon Rachman is on the same page:
If the US and the Syrian opposition were to give Russia explicit guarantees that its security interests would be respected in post-Assad Syria, the Russians might just be persuaded to join a diplomatic push to winkle the Assads out of power. The ruling family is simply the figurehead for a network of military, ethnic, party and business interests that is profoundly threatened by the Syrian uprising. That is why any negotiated transition would have to involve members of the existing regime in a transitional administration, before the holding of free elections.
Walter Russell Mead hopes Russia might be shocked into action:
Russia and the US have both had unsatisfactory experiences with their Syria policy. Russian defense of Assad has isolated Russia — the Arabs, the Turks and the Europeans are all furious with the Kremlin. Assad’s mix of brutality and weakness — he is brutal enough to kill thousands of people but too weak to crush the resistance — makes him a less useful ally and it looks increasingly as if he will ultimately fall. Russia, the Obama administration hopes, is ready to look for a change.
Daniel Serwer pinpoints the main reason that the killing continues:
It is hard to picture the violence ending and politics beginning without dealing somehow with Alawite fears that they will end up massacred if Bashar al Assad leaves power. That would be a tragedy not only for the Alawites but for the Middle East in general. Let there be no doubt: past experience suggests that those who indulge in abusive violence often become the victims of it when their antagonists get up off the ropes and gain the upper hand. It would be far better for most Alawites, the relatively small religious sect whose adherents are mainstays of the Assad regime, if a peaceful bridge can be built to post-Assad Syria.
And this is an anti-Assad protest the day after the massacre – in Houla: