In the Fall of 2011, Ambassador Robert Ford predicted repeatedly that Syrian regime could be overthrown within a year, Assad’s days were numbered
There are more pieces of course than just the items below – from the Fall 2011 period – where Ambassador Ford did in fact predict the coming collapse of Bashar.
He therefore fudges it with Robin Wright the other day by saying “back in 2012” he and State believed the war would drag on (although Hillary Clinton as his principal predicted Assad’s demise in the summer of 2012 here: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2012/07/06/Clinton-Assads-fall-is-certain/29011341556200/).
“...Back in 2012, we in the State Department anticipated that the war was going to become nastier and ever more sectarian, but no one understood how far the Syrian government was willing to go to maintain its control in Damascus. No one foresaw that half the country would be displaced from their homes. No one foresaw that huge refugee flows would become issues for our European allies. We didn’t anticipate that the Al Qaeda organization would split and produce an even more virulent form—that a more extreme form would come to control the eastern portion of Syria going into Iraq…”
— In fact, Ford and others were saying during the critical Fall 2011 period that it would all be over in a year (see below) thus laying the foundations for the widespread belief that a controlled collapse could happen by racheting up military and non-military pressure (a policy that turned out to be wrong, based on an incorrect prediction). When Ford apparently realized in 2012 that the road ahead was much tougher he shifted to eventually supporting the “arm the rebels” approach which I and others argued at the time would also have been a disaster if it had been tried.
— Add to this: There is of course also the famous 2012 DIA memo predicting AQ gains as the course of the war went on which Ford knew about… and the well known analyses from before 2011 and after about exactly how the “Resistance Axis” viewed Syria as absolutely existential.
A nice one from Newsweek September 2011:
“…Ford doesn’t believe Assad will agree to reforms and thinks it’s only a matter of time before the regime falls. He sees “not fissures but perhaps cracks” opening in the ruling elite. Assad’s two regional allies, Turkey and Iran, are urging change; the international sanctions will further damage an economy that, Ford says, is already showing signs of collapse…”
And with Max Boot at about the same time:
“I spoke with Ford on Wednesday. During our conversation, he expressed his conviction that although the Assad regime is not in imminent danger of dissolution, its days are numbered: “Will the regime fall tomorrow? Probably not. Is it stable over the long term? Probably not.”
In support of his conviction that the regime could be overthrown within the year, he cited the willingness of the Syrian people to risk death by continuing to protest, and the growing international isolation of the regime…”