Just when you thought things in Syria were as bad as they can get, they got worse. The apparent involvement of Al-Qaeda and/or its affiliates in the recent Damascus bombings will make international policy even less coherent as poisonously radical forces rear their heads in a worsening conflict.Adam Garfinkle offers a no-holds barred assessment of the US policy failures that contributed to what looks increasingly like a dangerous no-win dilemma. This crisis is likely to spread — as Garfinkle notes, Lebanon’s fragile peace is unlikely to survive given the direction of events in Syria today.
I would be worried right now if I were a Lebanese. It is impossible to say if the Assad regime can hold out against a radicalized Syrian opposition, with volunteer support pouring in from neighboring countries. Most likely, in my view, it cannot. But it could take many months, even a year or two, for this bloody drama to play out. In the meantime, the conflict will pour across borders, including the Lebanese border, as it has already begin to do. If, in the fullness of time, a jihadi-led or strongly influenced state arises in Syria, or parts of it, then it is virtually inevitable that the Shi’a-tilted status quo in Lebanon will be upset. Sunni radicals in Damascus will not get along with Hizballah, and there are homegrown Sunni radicals in Lebanon that “friends” in Damascus would encourage and support on their behalf. The likely result? A new civil war, with a beginning epicenter most like in and around Tripoli.