There is little reason to be optimistic about the future of Syria. Both the largely Sunni opposition and the minority Alawite regime have their backs to the wall. If the opposition ends the protests—even for a short time—the regime will spare no effort to hunt down its leadership and thwart any attempt to restart the protests later. If the Asad regime were to transition to democracy, then the Alawites who support the regime will lose their grip on the military. As a result, they would lose their position of privilege and become vulnerable to terrible retribution.While in theory, the sides could reach an agreement that would lead to a slow transition to democracy while protecting the civil and human rights of the Alawites, any such agreement would be stillborn. The reason: neither side can give an ironclad guarantee that it will not simply take advantage of such an agreement in the short-term, only to renege on their promises once they have asserted their grip on power over the country.