Syria itself was the product of a "Great Game" among rival empires. The nation-state we know as Syria today was invented by France and Britain, which carved it out of the old Ottoman province of Syria (which back then included all of Lebanon, Israel/Palestine and much of Jordan) while sharing the victors' spoils at the close of World War I. Today, the country's fate may rest once again on the outcome of power games in distant capitals.
Arab Spring faces a deadlock in Damascus. Not because of Syrian lack of revolutionary zeal, but because of international powers. Russia and China are against NATO/UN intervention. Turkey and Iran have their political ambitions for the region. Assad gains from this great game. Syrians pay the price.