When the New York Times editorializes about the future of Syria, even the sages at the old Grey Lady must be realizing that it is all over in Syria except for the tragic body count. (It is a bit ridiculous given the contents of their editorial that entitled it “ If President Assad Falls in Syria”.)
The chaos that is coming is probably more dangerous than what has occurred throughout the Arab world. The fighting between the indigenous tribal leaders is almost guaranteed: Assad’s remaining Alawites, their Shiite brothers, the Sunni majority, the Christians and Druze minorities are all likely to start major gang warfare. Whether the rebels can create any form of stability amidst what undoubtedly will be a humanitarian tragedy is unlikely. If the U.S. and the West do intervene—presumably for humanitarian reasons—there is no guarantee that peace and tranquility will be restored. Wishing that the U.N. could stabilize the situation is sadly nothing more than blowing out hot air. The Arab leaders themselves know that intervention will not bring stability.
What the Times offers, correctly is for the U.S. to be prepared for all eventualities, unlike what happened in Iraq, to help create stability after Assad leaves. That having been said, why is the Times so naïve? Do the Times editors believe that once Assad goes the Sunnis, the Shiites, the Alawites, and the Christians will all sit down and make nice with each other? They have been kept together until now because Assad was their common enemy. Does the Times think that Hezbollah, Iran, Al Qaeda, and other jihadists will join them for coffee? Do the editors believe that Turkey and the Kurds are about to relax once Assad is gone? It will be shades of “whose got the conch” in Lord of The Flies, except they will be “playing” with chemical and biological weapons!
How difficult would it be for Iran to ferry in forces to take over Syria or, as is more likely, it would be no problem for Iran (and probably the Russians) just to pour in supplies and military equipment to support the Shiites? Finally, did it not occur to the Times editors in their discussion of the destabilizing consequences following Assad’s departure, as to what might be the upshot between Syria and Israel? It is precisely along the Golan Heights and against Israel that all these various forces might be able to align themselves into a unified force; when in doubt blame the Jews (read Israel).