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Misreading Syria

The United States misjudged the ability of the Syrian army to evolve and adapt, with assistance from Hezbollah and Iran, leading to faulty predictions that Bashar al-Assad’s days were numbered.
A man takes a photo of his friend in front of a poster of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad at Umayyad Square in Damascus May 16, 2014. Syria is holding a presidential election for June 3, preparing the ground for Assad to defy widespread opposition and extend his grip on power, days after he said the civil war was turning in his favour. Opponents have dismissed the vote as a farce.   REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT) - RTR3PGCV

While Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad prepares to stand for re-election on June 3, and his forces edge toward military victory, it is no secret that the Barack Obama administration initially underestimated their staying power.

One former intelligence official said that Assad’s advances were reaching the stage where they might prove hard to reverse, and despite the mounting violence, Assad was staying and there was no end in sight for the war.

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