What if no one wins the war in Syria?

Aron Lund writes: Regardless of who is or is not losing the war in Syria, it is safe to say that no one seems to stand any chance of winning it. It is a lazy pattern of thought, but a strong one: wars are always discussed in terms of winners and losers, first shots and capitulations. But what this perspective misses is that many conflicts have no discernible end at all. They simply drag on until readers yawn and reporters leave, and go on to mutate into new forms, settling into spheres of influence and establishing stateless violence as the new normal.

The Syrian war may be one of these conflicts. With half of the population driven from their homes, the economy in irreparable ruin, multisided foreign intervention, and sectarianism at a fever pitch, neither President Bashar al-Assad nor any constellation of rebel groups seems able to put a country called Syria back together again.

At this point, it is almost impossible to envision a realistic and stable (never mind democratic) end state dominated by one of the three major contenders for power in Syria. [Continue reading…]

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