Until Iran and all the other governments currently fanning the flames of war in Syria have accepted that no peace plan can work without a critical mass of armed actors on both sides, Syria’s slow collapse into Somalia-style anarchy will continue.
Syria’s oil and gas resources are too small to be considered a prize in the struggle over the country’s destiny, but energy issues still play an important part in the conflict.
Iran’s approach to power and ideology remains unchanged, and this directly affects its Syria policy. The Rouhani government sees its alliance with Assad in terms of a regional balance of power as well as geopolitics.
Much hinges on how Russia and Iran are approached by the Friends of Syria group, which will have to rethink their approach to opposition representation at negotiations and, more importantly, how a transitional process in Syria will unfold in practice.
The United States and Russia should present Syrians of all persuasions with a practical template against which to measure both the regime’s and the opposition’s willingness to find a genuine political solution.
Isolating Iran from the Syria peace talks is no longer a realistic option.
Israel could find itself engaged in some local conflicts with Islamic extremists along the border or in a limited conflict with Assad if he decides to retaliate the next time Israel attacks targets in Syria.
The Syrian war has attracted thousands of foreign volunteers who now fight on almost every front.
The double suicide attack on the Iranian embassy in Beirut killed at least 23 people and throws yet more fuel on the smoldering political fires of Lebanon. But what is known about the group behind it?