I'm trying to make sense of the alignment of the forces in the Syrian civil war. Dr. Basher (Assad) is the hereditary head of the secular/socialist Baath party. He is fighting against reactionary/clerical rebels like Al-Nusra and Al-Qaeda, whose program is to install an obscurantist Islamic regime. To this point, the model seems to be a classic ideological controversy. Then one has the ethnic angle: the country is ruled - through the Baath - by the Alawi ethnic minority, and the opposition is the Sunni/Arab majority. A civil war of this four (but basically only two) forces is comprehensible.
Now, lets see the Alawite secular regime's allies, which are Iran - a Shiite clerical dictatorship - and Hizballah, a Shiite clerical non-state army. Iranian and Lebanese Shiites are no friends of godless Alawites, but all fear the Middle East Sunni majority. And Russia, which doesnt know what it wants, except keeping its naval base.
What the Brits, who since the Falkland war are dying to get the chance to punch somebody in the face, want? They consider themselves the legitimite and traditional hegemons of the Eastern Mediterranean, and now that they feel rejuvenated - they would not stay out of this jolly mess. And the Americans? They are considered superpower and they have to defend day-to-day their prestige, which has been put on line by Obama's careless comment that the use of gas would be a red line. Now he has to act or be shamed forever.
Michel Weiss paints a very weakened Asssad, with only 100 planes still operational. Apparently America can destroy him without ground troops. What does Israel want? To be let alone. What do I want? I want Syria (and the rest of the Arab Middle East) occupied and ruled by the Brits. Pic.: Commonwealth (Australian) forces in Syria 1941.