Warning, not for the squeamish.
So the UN Security Council find themselves unable to issue a resolution and instead make a statement, with one temporary member (Lebanon) dissociating themselves from it. The world’s diplomats not exactly covering themselves in glory. This hides a far stronger resolve from America and Europe. They can see that Bashar al-Assad is finished, he no longer has a mandate to rule. The only reason he can cling on to power is because the Alawite clan, and especially his immediate family, hold firmly on to all the strings of state, especially the brutal security apparatus.
The Alawites are a branch of Shia, which the West is not particularly happy with because it is a religion centred in Iran, who are now the centre of the axis of evil. We prefer to buddy up to Sunni Muslims like those paragons of democracy and human rights, the Saudis. Sunnis also happen to be the majority in Syria, who have been horrendously oppressed there by the Assads for decades. Which makes this partly a religious civil war.
Bashar al-Assad is finished because in the long run you cannot rule against the will of the majority of the people and it is blatantly obvious that most Syrians want him out. They are so fervent in this belief that very many thousands of them regularly put their lives at risk to demonstrate their opposition.
The civil war in Syria has been going for a few months now and has two very striking characteristics. The first is that the more that Assad brutally tries to oppress it the bigger it gets. Every time his security people run amok it just brings more people onto the street to vent their disapproval of him. The second characteristic is that the protesters are largely unarmed, except for when soldiers defect to their side. So Assad’s brave security forces are mainly killing unarmed people by randomly using combat weapons against the civilian population.
Of course the majority of the army is Sunni, so most conscripts must be very unhappy with what is going on. The elite officer corps is Alawite and thus far have mainly remained in control. Most of the brutality being handed out does not appear to be coming from the regular army, perhaps because they would revolt if asked to engage against their fellow Sunnis. Instead it is special army units and the secret police who are doing most of the killing. These organisations are relatively small and cannot snuff out every protest across the country at the same time, they tend to concentrate on one city at a time. In other words, despite having all the guns, the Assad dictatorship doesn’t have all that much real power. It would only take a small revolt of the regular army and it would all be over for them.
Currently in Syria it is Ramadan, this year it is in August with long daylight hours which means even longer hours of fasting without even water allowed. This in stifling heat. Which has a huge bearing on the attitudes of both sides in the conflict and explains the recent escalation. Obviously Assad could see himself losing authority during this religious period so he has acted to prevent this, whilst the crowds are coming out of the mosques all fired up and ready to vent their frustrations with the regime.
As with all these things the conflict could drag on for months, or even years. Or it could all be over this afternoon. Whatever the timescale, the outcome is certain, Bashar al-Assad will go. He must already know this.