Syria’s Next Battle: The Jockeying for Influence by Outside Powers by Ned Temko - Christian Science Monitor
Only two grisly questions remain in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s fight against his civil war rivals: how long before the last major armed resistance, in the northwestern province of Idlib, is crushed; and how many of the estimated three million civilians there will escape.
Yet even amid the preparations for a final assault, a different battle has been taking shape: among outside powers in the seven-year war, each with its own interests. How that ends will have implications not just for Syria, but the wider Middle East, Europe, and for the balance of power between Russia and the United States.
Even were this political wrangling to resolve itself, it could be years before Syria recovers, much less reconciles. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed, many in attacks on residential areas, hospitals and aid workers. More than half the country’s pre-war population of 22 million has been forced to flee: to neighboring Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon; to Europe; or elsewhere inside Syria…