Assad said he'd step down ‘if there is public consensus’ in an exclusive interview with Yahoo News Chief Investigative Correspondent Michael Isikoff. In the interview in his presidential office, Assad states:
"you can sense, you can feel … and then if you want to do something documented, you can have [a] referendum.”
Assad has also recently stated he'd accept US troops on Syrian soil if they were there to fight terrorists and not support "rebels," and the added caveat of the US respecting Syrian sovereignty.
Thus, a picture is emerging of a post-Assad Syria in the not-so-distant future. The challenge, then, for Assad will be to leave an office tainted by war and dictatorship without being killed or imprisoned while ensuring a smooth transition that leaves Syria stronger then how he left it.
But with so many players vying for a piece of the Syrian geo-political pie, the Syrian people are in serious danger of seeing their country ruled by extremists or a foreign puppet who would sink the country into further sectarianism, chaos and poverty. This is a time when the whole country needs a Syrian who cares about the well being of Syrians to emerge in the leadership role. 6 years of war have nearly flattened the country. The amount of reconstruction and reconciliation needed in Syria is on scale most people could simply not imagine.
The International community will have to show enormous good will to finance such a project, but there is an opportunity for everyone here. To invest in a greener Syrian economy and show that a multi-ethnic country ravaged by war in the Middle East can still return to stability and harmony without falling back into the trap of sectarian or extremist violence.
The stakes are indeed very high. A success in Syria--a country with half it's population displaced all over the globe--would set an important precedent. On a planet where there aren't enough resources to both mitigate climate change, populations pressures AND the waging of endless, pointless wars, human survival depends on our being able to stabilize the countries ruined by foreign policies of the past, and direct limited finances and resources towards activities that promote human survival rather than our collective doom.