By Nic Robertson (CNN)-When Bashar Al Assad appeared on Syrian TV at the beginning of this year, he ended months of speculation over his intentions.
He vowed to stay and fight rebels; terrorists as he calls them, and has given no indication since that he's changed his mind.
Iran and Russia have stood behind him..
But that is going to change, Russia's backing is for the first time beginning to look shakey. The state Duma deputy speaker hinted Assad may have to re-think his future. "The current government in Syria must fulfill its functions but time has shown that it is not up to the task."
Rebels are unequivocal. No peace talks until he's gone. The US, Europe, his neighbors Turkey and Jordan, say he must go too.
And as rebels increasingly make more military gains, as backing from international allies strengthens, the question is beginning to be asked will Assad stay and fight to the end as he has said or will he go?
His biographer David Lesch met him many times.
"There is an air of resignation about his fate that he is going to leave his office one way or another and this may indicate to me that instead of the regime fighting to win now, that perhaps he is fighting to improve his bargaining position."
For now his options, go or stay, are open and there are plenty of lessons from the Arab spring.
Unlike Muamar Gadhafi the toppled Libyan leader. Assad has no international arrest warrants limiting his travel.
He still has time to do what the Tunisian leader Ben Ali did at the beginning of the Arab spring. Make a run for it. He fled to Saudi Arabia, unlikely Assad would go there however.
"I cannot think of too many places that would house him and probably the most viable option would be Iran, I don't think knowing him personally that would be a terribly desirous option."
Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak left it too late, fled to his palace at the port city of Sharm al Sheikh, still in Egypt and he was arrested, ending up in court amid humiliating scenes lying in a hospital bed.
Gadhafi, called it completely wrong. He went on the run after balking, despite the advice of one aid at cutting a deal that would allow him to flee the country. He paid with his life.
The key question for Lesch, Who advises Assad now?
"He has listened a great deal to his wife over the years; she has been one of his primary advisors as has his mother and again from what I have heard, the mother is still a stay and fight and make her way though his type of personality, perhaps more so than his wife and that fits in more clearly with those in his inner circle.."
What is for sure, if he does run, he'll want to know the leader there isn't about to be toppled.
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