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The Endgame in Syria

In the context of concerns about Syria’s chemical weapons and renewed speculation about President Bashar al-Assad’s final days, four trends will determine if and when there will be an endgame in Syria, and what that might look like.
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (R) meets U.N.-Arab League peace envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi in Damascus October 21, 2012, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA. International mediator Brahimi, who is pressing for a temporary ceasefire in Syria's civil war, met Assad in Damascus on Sunday, state television said. REUTERS/Sana (SYRIA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST MILITARY POLITICS CONFLICT) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE

Reports of progress by the Free Syrian Army and that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may be readying his chemical weapons gave grist to the media mill this week that Assad’s final days may once again be imminent. The meetings between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and among UN Special Envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov renewed expectations that there may be a diplomatic plan afoot.

As the "post-Assad era" has been predicted for nearly 20 months, it is worth carefully examining four trends that might signal if and when there is an endgame in Syria — and what that endgame would be.

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