With the Syrian crisis escalating and outside agencies becoming increasingly involved, Andrew Small considers where the conflict might lead and how wildly it might spin out of control.
From a plain vanilla civil war, the Syrian conflict has now transmogrified into an ethno-religious confrontation across geo-political fault-lines with al-Qaeda-linked fighters playing an increasingly important role.
And with the first strikes by Israel into Syrian territory in more than 40 years, this is a confrontation that could spin off in any number of directions.
But with every passing month the Western strategy of trying to patch together a coalition of groups opposed to President Bashar al-Assad has looked less credible as an offering; meanwhile the regime remains an essentially strong government mechanism that is carrying on with business as usual, starting off the new school year and drawing up a national budget.
Recognising the bankruptcy and failure to deliver of the Syrian National Council (SNC), the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with her activist Qatari allies, has now launched the Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces (SNCORF) as the second iteration of the now familiar formula, which was such a hit in the Libyan shenanigans.
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