Western media outlets have been publishing reports of President Bashar al-Assad’s plummeting approval rate, but Franklin Lamb, an international lawyer based in Beirut, begs to differ.
“I think that has never been in real doubt for people who go to Syria and talk to people first hand and not rely on the internet in exchanging and repeating the same themes,” Lamb said.
“But I think in the last two to three months I’ve noticed when visiting there - more support - and it’s because of the disappointment with the opposition; it’s because the government is actually doing quite a lot to soften the immoral and illegal US-led sanctions,” he added.
The expert highlighted the “devastating effect” of foreign economic pressure on the Syria population, particularly in the capital of Damascus - where the government’s efforts, he said, have earned Assad more popular support.
Lamb said he believed that the week, divided Syrian opposition coalition which Arab and Western government rushed to endorse has disappointed its foreign supporters, who are now facing al-Qaeda-linked extremism getting momentum in the country.
“That shows us the difference between the wishes of the Americans and the reality, which they are now accepting because of the desperate and weakened and non-convincing so-called coalition - it’s lost the support of the people significantly,” he said.
“I think there will be a deal and I think the deal will allow for the Syrian people to choose in the 2014 election who they want," the analyst speculated, noting that Assad’s opponents abroad have realized that a regime change in Syria is not as easy as they supposed.