This morning there was a car bomb in Aleppo. Yesterday saw two explosions in Damascus with heavy casualties. Syria is descending into the kind of communal madness that produces bloodbaths and anarchy; it is looking more like Iraq and civil war era Lebanon every day.The violence seems to be coming both more sectarian and more personal: killings across religious and ethnic lines intensify the hatred and suspicion these groups feel for one another, and waves of killings are launched as each round of murder inspires the relatives and friends of the dead with the lust for revenge.The killing could go on for some time and become even worse. The Syrian opposition remains inchoate, factionalized and incompetent a year after the protests began. The Syrian government shows no signs of being able either to crush its opponents or compromise with them. The “international community” is as usual divided, risk averse and given to blending fine words with shabby deeds. The neighbors have no idea what to do.The Syrian government and its opposition are each their own worst enemy. Butcher Assad is the worst of all combinations: a bumbling murderer. He can and will kill, but he cannot govern. Yet the opposition has lost credibility even as Syrians put their lives on the line every day. Its inability to organize a coherent alternative to the government underlines the key point of Assad propaganda: that the only alternative to the goon squad currently in power is anarchy and, perhaps, genocidal wars of revenge by fanatical sectarian killers.The longer this tragedy continues, the more dangerous it becomes — for Syrians and for others in the region. A new wave of fanatical sectarian zealots is emerging from the horror of Syria: there is no better recruiting ground for the agents of Al-Qaeda like movements than a fight of this kind. The violence shows signs of spreading into Lebanon and Iraq. Not even Turkey is immune from the spillover of passion (to say nothing of refugees).At the moment, there seem to be three possible outcomes. The government can fall, with or without outside forces supporting the rebels, and the rebels can establish a reasonably stable government in place of the Assads. The government can crush the rebels, going on to rule a sullen and embittered, but cowed, population for some time to come. Or the current violence can continue indefinitely, going through phases of greater and lesser intensity.At the moment, the latter scenario of indefinite chaos and bloodshed seems most likely — either in a country divided between rebels and the current government, or in a weak and divided country following the overthrow of the Assads and the failure of the opposition to establish a viable regime in place of the Baathist nightmare now in control.The Russian and Chinese position (of encouraging a peace process leading to some kind of compromise between government and opposition) has the merit of recognizing that the current state of affairs is both dangerous and destabilizing. It also recognizes that the regime is stronger and the opposition is uglier, weaker and less competent than the humanitarian hawks in the west have wanted to admit.The Russian-Chinese initiative, however, is not likely to succeed. Neither the government nor the opposition are ready to settle.Worse, the ugliest, most sectarian wing of the Syrian opposition is going to have a lot of support. Sunni chauvinists fighting the sectarian war against heresy and Shiism can draw on support from more mainstream figures in the Gulf who hope to defeat Iran in Syria and then use a Sunni Syria to further pressure Iran and its Shiite allies in Iraq. This is not a movement that seeks democracy or liberalism; it is an old fashioned (and powerful) mix of sectarian hatred and Realpolitik.Sensing a Sunni surge across the region, the sectarians aren’t ready to compromise over Syria. Obsessed both by the Iranian threat and by what looks to some like US unwillingness to confront it, the Realpolitikers also aren’t in a compromising mood. That combination, with or without open official backing, is fully capable of keeping enough money and support flowing to keep the rebellion alive as long as the Syrians are willing to fight.The most likely outlook at this point: continuing and even worsening violence, with a growing potential for contagion in Lebanon and Iraq. The best policy option for the US: watch, wait and work with others to try to build the Syrian opposition into a viable political force that at least conceivably could govern the country with some kind of minimal effectiveness. That, and do our best to monitor the financial and arms flows to understand new terror networks that may be taking shape — and keep a close eye on the people involved.