Syria on a cliff edge between Assad and Al Qaeda

The collapse of the Eid al Adha truce brokered by UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi left Syria careening into unknown territory.

The powers which castigate Bashar Assad for butchering his people refuse to abandon their hands-off policy for clipping his wings. On this point, there is little difference between US President Barack Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney, except that the latter says Syrian rebels ought to be given heavy arms for defense against Assad’s army, tanks and air force.

Even America’s allies in the region are being held back from direct military confrontation with the Assad regime. Turkey was on the verge of expanding its border clashes with Syria into active backing for the rebels with a view to carving out a buffer strip, a safe haven and a no-fly zone on and over Syrian soil. But then, last week Obama sent the Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint US Chiefs, to Ankara to hold Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan back from any cross-border action. He was followed by his deputy.

Assad, the Syrian rebels – and al Qaeda too – sense that the country is now up for grabs. This realization is shared by their various sponsors, including Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan and the Emir of Qatar.
The Syrian ruler therefore feels he is sitting pretty with no one around who is willing or able to stop the indiscriminate air bombardment of urban areas which he began to intensify in the last week.

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