He may be the most widely reviled of our POY contenders, but there's no doubting Syrian President Bashar Assad's impact on the 2012 news cycle. The world has watched in horror as the 47-year-old strongman has waged a vicious military campaign against his opponents in a 20-month-long civil war that has already claimed upwards of 30,000 lives. Few would have bet a year ago that Assad would still be in power as 2012 draws to a close. His political survival, and the dilemma it poses for the international community, is one of the major news stories of the year.
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