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The Lebanonization of Syria

There may be nothing the international community can do to save Syria from devolving into a fragmented, proxy battleground like Lebanon, David W. Lesch writes, unless the opposition somehow discovers a truly inclusive leadership that outlines a vision for the future that is representative of the whole population.
A member of the Free Syrian Army rests at a front line in the Hanano area of Aleppo city in northern Syria October 10, 2012. REUTERS/Zain Karam (SYRIA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS)

So what happens now? Neither the Syrian rebels nor the Syrian government forces have the wherewithal right now to land a knockout punch against their opposite number. Unless there is something that is injected into the current equation — such as outside military intervention — that would create an imbalance of power on one side or the other, a stalemate of bloodletting and the disintegration of state and society will continue.

The new UN special envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, has it right. His latest pessimistic report on Syria will not raise unrealistic expectations. The conflict has become so existential and militarized on both sides that no new diplomatic initiative stands a chance. He needs to develop relationships, assess a fluid political and military landscape and prepare for a time when a diplomatic initiative may be worth pursuing.

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