The utter disaster that is Syria is reaching new heights of atrocity and suffering. The Assad regime continues its savage war against its own people. Islamist extremists continue to try to hijack the rebellion in the name of jihad. Different Muslim sects – the Alawites, Sunnis and Shiites – along with Christians are at war with one another. The future looks worse than bleak.
What is most distressing is the suffering. Women, children and even infants are being brutally murdered. Torture is commonplace. Homes are destroyed, businesses are burned and utilities are shut off. Thousands upon thousands of refugees are making their way to Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.
The war threatens to expand into Lebanon and Israel.
Behind it all are the regimes of the Assad family, first the father and now the son, who have ruled Syria with an iron hand for 42 years. A year after the “Arab Spring” began, opponents went into the streets in peaceful demonstrations. Unlike the rulers in Egypt and Yemen, Assad would not step down to popular demand. Instead he decided to destroy the revolution with force.
Simple repression exploded into tanks, artillery, missiles, plane and finally chemicals being used against the population. The rebels fought with few weapons, little organization and minimal help from the outside world.
Any appearance of normalcy among any of the combatants is now completely shredded. The United States has held back distributing arms to the rebels because it cannot identify who should get them. Who is a potential friend of the U.S.? Who is a potential enemy? Great Britain and France are sending arms into rebel forces.
President Obama said the U.S. would act militarily if Syria crossed a “red line” in the use of chemical weapons. Some observers believe there is abundant evidence that chemicals are being used against civilians. Mindful of the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the President is waiting for “hard proof” that chemicals are being used.
The Alawites are the smallest religious sect in Syria, but they rule the country. Most of the country is Sunni. They struggle eternally with the Shiites over which of their versions of Islam is legitimate. However, it made sense for all the factions to unify to overthrow the Assad regime. That is not happening; rivalries are getting worse.
What is the world doing? The United States and Russia continue to discuss bringing the different forces to the negotiating table. Most observers say the chance for meaningful dialogue is remote.
Syria is headed toward the total destruction of its people, institutions, infrastructure and finally its civilization.