Is Syria on the verge of an all-out civil war?

November 1, 2011

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(AP/SANA)
U.S. ambassador Robert Ford, right, with President al-Assad, recently left the country because of alleged threats to his safety.

In Syria, the Arab Spring is looking more violent than ever. With President Assad cracking down on protesters and some dissidents taking up arms against the government, many fear that Syria is slipping into a civil war.

The numbers are grim: the United Nations claims that 3,000 civilians are dead, while the government says it's lost 1,150 members of the military to the violence. Robert Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria and a staunch critic of the regime's crackdown, just left the country after alleged threats to his safety.

In an impressive display of defiance against international criticism, thousands of regime supporters marched last week through the streets of Damascus. Meanwhile, President Assad warned the international community not to align itself with the resistance movement: “Syria is the hub now in this region," he said. "It is the fault line, and if you play with the ground you will cause an earthquake." He added, “Any problem in Syria will burn the whole region. If the plan is to divide Syria, that is to divide the whole region.”

Omar Dahi is a professor of economics at Hampshire College. We spoke to him earlier this year about his fact-finding trip to Syria. Today, he joins us to discuss what may come next in this violent uprising.