The reason that there’s no plausible end-game in Syria anytime soon — and that thousands more Syrians may be fated to die before the conflict is ended — is that the Assad regime is fighting a very different war to the one envisaged by many of its opponents. For Arab and Western powers, and many Syrians, President Bashar Assad is a doomed despot desperately holding on by force to the power he can never hope to exercise by democratic consent. But for Assad — and more importantly, for the minority Allawite community on which his regime is based — this is an existential struggle against an implacable sectarian foe. A majority of Syrians may be fighting for their rights and dignity; for the ruling minority it’s a battle to avoid the fate that befell Iraq’s Sunnis after the fall of their brutal benefactor, Saddam Hussein.
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