Who is winning, the rebels or the security forces?
That’s the ultimate question- and unfortunately, no one has a definite answer. Since the late summer the country has been at full-scale civil war, and violence has been escalating, with foreign onlookers always expecting things to “wind down soon” and for a clear winner to emerge. After three months, these hopes are fading. Bordering nations like Turkey have begun to get involved, firing artillery into Syria in retaliation of the violence spreading over Turkish borders. Many powerful nations including the United States have condemned Syria’s authoritarian president Bashar al-Assad for starting the war by ordering troops to crackdown on demonstrations (as memories of the Arab Spring are still fresh). In this way these nations demonstrate support for the rebels, though the U.S. remains tentative to send arms their way. A real problem with supporting these rebels is the uncertainty of who these rebel groups represent. It seems as if more and more radical Muslim groups are joining the rebel forces, including Al Qaeda fighters, making it difficult for the U.S. and other NATO nations to hold steady their support.
Iran, an ally with Syria, still shows tremendous support for the Syrian government. There’s also knowledge that Russia is aiding the military loyal to Assad, and has made multiple arms sales to those fighting the rebel forces. Russia, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has historically proven to make international security decisions difficult, and by supporting the Syrian government it has forced the UN to tiptoe around its Syrian policies. Thus there seems to be little assistance coming to the rebels, for the powerful nations that may want to assist them are stuck in the web of international bureaucracy. Because both sides of the fighting are such grassroots movements and there is little known of clear leadership on either side, the expectation here is that the violence will continue for a indefinite period, with small groups within each “side” continuing to make attacks in various different cities. Without serious intervention by influential foreign nations, and because other Middle Eastern countries have been the only nations to get even slightly involved in the fighting, there will be no inherent advantage to either side. It seems as if the war will drag out until more of the city is destroyed, and until one side has been utterly and completely crushed. One ultimate (and pessimistic) fear here is that the entire country of Syria turns into a Mogadishu of sorts, a war-stricken land that is incredibly slow to heal.