According to the New York Times, Syria strongman Bashar al-Assad is defiant, promising to continue to crackdown on protestors:

President Bashar al-Assad of Syria dismissed American and European calls for him to step down as “meaningless” on Sunday, and he declared that Syria’s ailing economy could withstand escalating international sanctions.

In an interview with Syrian television, Mr. Assad hardly mentioned the hundreds of thousands of protesters this summer who have posed the gravest challenge to his family’s four decades of rule....

“Syria will not fall unless there will be a crisis that will finish Syria and this can’t happen,” he said, wearing a blue suit and seeming relaxed. “I am reassured that the Syrians will come out of this crisis. I am not worried, and I want to reassure everybody.”

Referring only obliquely to the protests, he suggested that the solution was “political.” But despite insistent calls for him to refrain from using violence against demonstrators, he suggested that the security forces would continue the crackdown.

“The solution is political, but there are security situations that require the interference of security institutions,” he said.

Yesterday, Senator John McCain tweeted: "Qaddafi on his way out, Bashar al Assad is next."

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