Even if Bashar al-Assad doesn’t want to publicly acknowledge it, the al-Assad dynasty is coming to an end. The big question is, what will the al-Assad-led government be replaced with? Perhaps another secular government that will almost immediately be opposed by the Syrian rebels and Islamic State? Putin and Obama have plans to implement a draft constitution by August, 2016.

A secular Islamic government that has been hastily implemented by foreign governments is doomed to fail. True legitimacy can only come from the people of Syria. However, with all the foreign and domestic stakeholders fighting to get a piece of Syria and a grasp of power, how will a successful government form? Will Syria choose to be a secular state or one committed to religious conservatism? Have the past several decades pushed Syria into supporting a conservative theocracy? Will Syria lean more toward a Russian-backed socialist or a U.S.-backed democratic government?

The only identity Syria has known following the fall of the Ottoman Empire and end of the French Mandate has been a secular Islamic and socialist government ruled by fear and the constant threat of violence. The Baath Party rose to power after the secession from the far reach of Egypt and Nasser’s United Arab Republic. Originally, the Baath party gained popularity based on a newfound sense of Arab nationalism and unity. The Baath party ruled Syria with the help of a council of military officers. One by one, they were eliminated by coups, murders, prison, and suicide, until only Hafez al-Assad was left to rule. Eventually reaching the position of president, he turned the country into a quasi-monarchy that was ultimately passed down to his son, Bashar al-Assad. Bashar was never groomed like his eldest brother, Bassel al-Assad, to take control of the government, but was thrust into the position following the deaths of his brother in 1994 and his father in 2000. Hafez al-Assad and Bashar al-Assad have both controlled and ruled over the Syrians through fear and violence.

Bashar al-Assad originally brought the promise of ushering Syria into the next generation, as many of the original generation of Baath party members had passed away or were too old to maintain power. He promised to revive Syria by bringing in democracy, yet failed to deliver. His reign was hindered by economic struggles, a failed occupation of Lebanon, and growing hostility among the population. Compared to his father, Bashar’s time in office has been relatively short. After five years of war, he will be forced to step down and a new Syrian government will be formed.