Syrian War Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Long Reads

Syria’s Shattered Mosaic

Thanks to support from Russia and Iran, Bashar al-Assad’s regime no longer faces collapse – and thanks to support from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, Assad’s various opponents continue to hold large swaths of territory. When will the war end, and how will the outcome shape the regional and global politics?

At some point, Syria’s civil war – now in its sixth year – will end. But how? As Abba Eban, Israel’s foreign minister during the Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973, once said: “History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives.”

Sadly, the actors in the Syrian tragedy have yet to reach that point. Thanks to support from Russia and Iran, Bashar al-Assad’s regime no longer faces collapse. Thanks to support from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, Assad’s various opponents continue to hold large swaths of territory. And though the Islamic State (ISIS), sworn enemy not just of Assad but of all regimes, is losing ground, it remains powerful – and is demonstrating an alarming capacity to incite terrorist attacks in both Europe and the United States.

The military stalemate is mirrored by a political and diplomatic deadlock. Talks in Geneva have been an exercise in verbose frustration. A ceasefire painstakingly negotiated between the US and Russia in September ended in horrific bloodshed: on September 19, a United Nations humanitarian convoy was destroyed, either by Russian or Syrian jets (America’s accusation) or by rebel ground-fire (Russia’s assertion).

To continue reading, please subscribe to On Point.

To access On Point, log in or register now now and read two On Point articles for free. For unlimited access to the unrivaled analysis of On Point, subscribe now.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/wmRFVgU;
  1. Trump visits China Thomas Peter-Pool/Getty Images

    China’s New World Order?

    • Now that Chinese President Xi Jinping has solidified his position as China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, he will be able to pursue his vision of a China-led international order.

    • But if China wants to enjoy the benefits of regional or even global hegemony in the twenty-first century, it will have to prove itself ready to accept the responsibilities of leadership.
  2. Paul Manafort Alex Wong/Getty Images

    The Fall of the President’s Men

    • There can no longer be any doubt that Donald Trump is the ultimate target of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sweeping investigation of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. 

    • But even if Mueller doesn’t catch Donald Trump in a crime, the president will leave much human and political wreckage behind.
  3. Painted portraits of Chinese President Xi Jinping and late communist leader Mao Zedong Greg Baker/Getty Images

    When China Leads

    For the last 40 years, China has implemented a national strategy that, despite its many twists and turns, has produced the economic and political juggernaut we see today. It would be reckless to assume, as many still do in the US, Europe, and elsewhere, that China’s transition to global preeminence will somehow simply implode, under the weight of the political and economic contradictions they believe to be inherent to the Chinese model.