President Assad’s accusations of “outside influences” exacerbating the trouble in Syria in 2011, although regarded as risible at the time, have become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Initially, it seemed clear that anti-Assad rebels were pitting themselves against supporters of the regime. Now, it is not so simple: it is no longer a simple matter of pro-Assad forces against anti-Assad protestors; now, the conflict is factional, sectarian and ideological.
Syrian cities and towns are being systematically destroyed by people fighting in the street, funded by foreign money and weapons, for reasons ever further removed from the legitimate discontent that origi- nally sparked the conflict. There is chaos and mayhem and an ever-spiralling death toll that shows no signs of abating.
The death toll is put at 20,000-30,000, while somewhere between half a million and a million refugees have been forced over Syria’s borders with neighbouring countries. Currently there is sympathy and hospitality for the displaced but compas- sion in such cases is time limited, lasting usually only as long as there remains a realistic prospect of imminent return.
There are those who hold on to the hope President Assad can remain in power and that peace will return, and then there arethe rest. Unfortunately, “the rest” are becoming ever more difficult to identify as it becomes clear that Syria is being used as a battlefield to settle old scores between adversaries that have no legitimate business on Syrian soil. The situation does not auger well, either regionally or internationally.