Nine months have passed since the uprising in Syria began. But events there have taken a very different path to those followed in the other states involved in the Arab Awakening.
|Key events in the Syrian uprising
March 15 - Uprising begins in the southern city of Deraa
April - Bashar al-Assad ends the state of emergency
May - The EU and the US impose sanctions on Syria
August - Obama calls for al-Assad to step down
November 12 - Arab League suspends Syria's membership
November 27 - Arab League adopts sweeping sanctions against Syria's government
December 2 - The UN calls for international action
December 11 - General strike by the Syrian opposition
December 12 - UN declares the death toll has risen above 5,000 as the Syrian government calls on voters to turn out for local elections
December 13 - Military defectors kill 27 soldiers in one of the largest attacks yet on Syria's security forces
For one, the government of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, remains in power and does not seem to be in any danger of being overthrown by either domestic or international forces.
But the exact situation inside the country remains unclear: the one defining feature of the Syrian situation has been confusion.
The al-Assad government has largely throttled media coverage and the few recent interviews the president has given have flatly contradicted all the claims made by international governments and organisations.
Inside Syria, Al Jazeera's new weekly broadcast examining events in Syria, will attempt to shed as much light as possible on the situation inside the country, albeit from outside Syria.
On this episode we are joined by Samir Aita, the editor of the Arabic edition of La Monde Diplomatique, Patrick Seale, the author of The Struggle for Syria and Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East, and Ammar Waqqaf, a member of the Syrian Social Club, as we ask: Just what direction is Syria heading in?
So, are we witnessing the final days of the al-Assad regime or will the situation there continue as it is now indefinitely? Does Syrian civil society want change and how widespread is the uprising? Do the protesters represent the majority of Syrians? And just what is Bashar al-Assad thinking?
"It is pretty clear that Syrian society is divided on this issues; there are perhaps 30 per cent of the population which very much want a change, and detest the present regime; there's another 30 per cent who perhaps support it and are frightened of an alternative; and I think there's a balance in between - perhaps there's another 30 or 35 per cent who are just frightened of change. They've seen what has happened in Iraq, they've seen [the] total destruction of Iraq with their civil war, and they are sort of a silent majority [who] are just worried, they are neither one side nor the other."
Patrick Seale, the author of The Struggle for Syria
Inside Syria, Al Jazeera's new weekly show examining events inside the country, airs each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 1730; Sunday: 0030, 0730, 1130.