The more we learn about ISIS the more similar it gets to the Assad regime from the belief in its divine right to rule to the way it treats its opponents, including torture, kidnapping, beheading and stoning, and the way its makes money. Terrorists in Syria come in different guises, but their actions betray them all, at least to those of us who are unwilling to be willingly blind. Terror invites terror. You can ignore one set of atrocities, you endorse all.
Now that our plight has become the butt of jokes on late night comedy shows in the United States and Europe, and a variety of “light” newspaper editorials, we can rest assured that our misery will not end any time soon, and that our aspirations for freedom will have to be consigned to the farthest of the backburners currently burning. Pardon me if I cannot bring myself to laugh. The pain of it all aside, the joke is simply too old and predictable.
The reason why the Assad regime survived for so many decades, and why in particular it has survived for the last three years, has little to do with how smart its leaders are. Cruelty and Machiavellian tactics are signs of intelligence. Moreover, the Assads simply came to grasp, in time, an obvious fact about their position, namely that they have become in charge of a country where change in leadership and system of governance requires consent from a variety of regional and international actors, and is not a purely domestic affair. They also understood that regional and international rivalry will make consensus in regard to change in Syria well-nigh impossible to achieve, a fact that gave them ample leeway to do what they wanted internally, and to occasionally engage in some regional adventurism of their own.
Through their reactive kneejerk policies over the last few years, policies that conform both to their inherent nature and parochial interests, Russia, Iran, the Assad regime, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and all other Middle Eastern regimes managed to create a situation in Syria where the United States had no choice but to intervene to midwife a process that will eventually secure the interests of most of these regimes, most of which will survive the current mayhem with little or no change.