So there's protests. And the army fires on protesters. Why hasn't the army deserted? Why does the army follow orders? Why are the secret police and security services still able to identify many of the leaders and arrest or kill them?
The answer is that the situation in Syria is not a situation of "regime bad, protesters good" like in Egypt. Ethnic and religious minorities make up approximately 1/4th of the Syrian population and make up probably 90% of the core Army units and security units being used to put down the rebellion by the Sunni majority. What we are seeing, in essence, is a civil war between the Sunni majority and a collection of ethnic minorities -- the most important of which is the Alawi sect to which President Assad and most of his top staff belong.
So why is this important? It's important because the Alawi in particular were horrifically discriminated against by the Sunni the last time the Sunni ran the country, forced to run to the hills to live as brigands and outlaws in parts of Syria that the Sunni didn't want, treated worse than blacks during Jim Crow in the United States with lynchings and with any property they managed to accumulate that was desirable taken from them via legal or illegal means, with multiple attempts at forced conversions of Alawi and so on and so forth. This was also the behavior of the Sunni majority against the *other* minorities in Syria -- the Christians, the Druze, and so forth. And these minorities are concerned that if the Sunni majority takes over power again due to this pro-democracy movement, the result will be genocide of their ethnic minorities -- over three million people dead.
In other words, do not expect the Syrian regime to simply roll over and die. Because they are literally fighting for their lives, in their own eyes, because if the Sunni majority was brutal to them *before* the minorities managed to seize power in Syria... well. They can't be expecting the Sunni majority to treat them better *after* their brutal dictatorship over the Sunni, right?
-- Badtux the Geopolitics Penguin