The Washington Post reports: Six years after the eruption of the armed rebellion aimed at toppling President Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian war is limping toward a conclusion — one that leaves many questions unanswered and many battles still to be fought, but a resolution of sorts nonetheless.
That Assad would prevail on the battlefield has been evident for years — since at least 2015, when Russia intervened to prop up his flagging army, and probably well before that, after the rebels failed to capitalize on their early momentum.
The absence of resolve on the part of the international community to prevent an Assad victory has also been clear for some time, perhaps as early as the first failed Geneva peace talks in 2014 and certainly since the government’s recapture of Aleppo in December heralded the collapse of the Obama administration’s diplomacy.
Those realities are now in the process of being cemented, bringing the blurred outlines of an endgame into view.
“The war as we knew it is over. What’s left now is dividing the cake,” said Joe Macaron, an analyst at the Arab Policy Center in Washington.
Under the scenario that is emerging, Assad remains in power indefinitely, there is no meaningful political settlement to remove or redeem him, and the war grinds on.
It is a bleak outlook, foreshadowing an unstable Syria mired in at least low-level conflict for years to come, its towns and cities in ruins, its people impoverished, and its economy starved of the funding it needs to rebuild the country. [Continue reading…]