Syria's regime is quietly preparing for the possibility that a UN investigation will implicate it in a Lebanese leader's murder, consolidating its power, preparing a public relations counteroffensive and even taking steps to guard against possible tough sanctions.
Many opposition figures and analysts view the moves as a sign that the regime, while not very popular, is determined to stay in power even if a UN investigation implicates it in the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Many Syrians, however, wonder how long the regime can last, especially if the probe's findings, due to be released by Oct. 21, hit close to home.
Some believe President Bashar Assad would turn over officers who served in Lebanon during Syria's 29-year military presence there, if the report offers irrefutable evidence of their involvement. But most believe he would stop at handing over family members.