There was an excellent article outlining two possible scenarios for Syria on AP mobile news last week, neither of them good. To quote:
“One scenario: a bloodbath as Syria’s majority Sunni population, which has led the uprising against Assad, seeks vengeance against the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam that forms the backbone of Assad’s regime. The conflict’s already increasing sectarian overtones suggest any power vacuum could usher in a direct fight between the two communities.
Another possibility is a free-for-all fight among the “victors” – the patchwork collection that makes up the anti-Assad revolt but has no common vision for the future. Among them are opposition figures in exile who have some political weight abroad but often haven’t set foot in the country in years; political defectors like the prime minister; military generals who broke with the regime; the thousands of low-level soldiers who also defected and are doing much of the fighting in the rebel Free Syrian Army; and Syrian Islamists who have formed militias that nominally fight under the banner of the FSA but do not share the secular vision of some of its other members.”
My view is that option 2, an intra-opposition civil war, is the most likely, one that could drag on for the foreseeable future, much like Iraq.
Hillary Clinton has done a better job than most but, she is as prone as others in the West to pillory and fear only Assad. The opposition has shown it is just as capable of atrocities as Assad’s forces and the lip service it gives to democracy is, just that, lip service. She said she had spoken with the leaders of the opposition movements and they have assured her they want to implement democracy. Well, what else would one expect them to say when they want arms and supplies from the US? How gullible Americans are.
The facts are simply that the opposition is rife with radicals of all stripes and amongst them, battle tested Jihadists and Al-Qaeda, all of whom can bring their expertise in making mischief from Pakistan, Iraq, and Lebanon. For the West this is a no-win situation. Best stand back and let them fight it out.
Syria and Iraq have considerable similarity. Iraq is divided along Sunni-Shia lines and so is Syria with the Alawites who are Shia with a different name, the difference being that their roles are reversed with regard to majority and minority in the two countries. Neither of them are willing to cede anything to the other and the only prospect for some sort of peace is partition. There is too much bad blood between them for a unified government.
Partition also may be expecting too much and I think it is more likely the conflict will worsen with the real possibility of drawing in neighbors such as Turkey and Iraq, the latter having already shown its support for the Alawites. One wonders too how long Jordan will manage being in the middle. Jordan is exceptionally stable with an enlightened leadership but it also has a very large population of disaffected Palestinian refugees that could pose a problem.
Much like earlier Islamic history the whole of the Middle East today seems to be developing into a similar struggle for dominance as that between the Abbasid and Umayyad in the 700s, albeit for different reasons. Conflicts between the Shia and Sunni are everywhere in the region – Iraq, Bahrein, Yemen, Palestine, even Saudi Arabia.
With Netanyahu beating the drums of war on Iran on almost a daily basis, there is a distinct possibility of an attack before US elections. That period would be the most propitious for Israel as neither US political party would want to risk alienating Jewish electoral support by opposing Israeli action.
Stay tuned and stock up on oil and petrol….