The civilians have been all but sidelined in the question of Syria’s future, as Western-backed military defectors clash with the existing power structure in the nation’s increasingly bloody civil war.
But what comes next? Whether Assad or the rebels win, and both sides are adamantly they will, how will they bring Syria under control and indeed, can they? With both sides guilty of war crimes and the nation roughly split in two, resentment is going to linger for decades.
Some are accusing Assad of deliberately trying to turn Syria into a “fractured nation” in an attempt to keep power, but the reality is that this is indistinguishable with the results of a protracted civil war anyhow, so the “why” is less important than figuring out what shape post-war Syria will take.
The most recent example isn’t a good one, and that’s Libya. Though NATO was fairly efficient in ousting the old regime and nominally installing a new one, the nation remains a war-torn mess, with random villages attacking one another on a near weekly basis, and people just waiting for the violence to pick up to full scale war again as new factions emerge and are destroyed.