As the world celebrated the dawn of 2013, in Syria, the regime and the rebels were fighting for the suburbs of Damascus. President Bashar al Assad’s reportedly launched air raids that struck across the country, killing at least 160 people. Aleppo’s International Airport shut down, said AFP, reportedly after a rebel assault. The bottom line: more deadly fighting, with neither side really able to take control.
All the predictions for a new year in Syria have been bleak. Nearly 50,000 people have been killed to date; UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi warned another 100,000 people could lose their lives this year. Analysts say President Bashar al Assad could go on fighting for months. A round of voices, including rebels on the ground, tell us that even if the regime falls, it’s likely the fighting won’t stop. There’s been too much bloodshed, weapons flooding the country, and religious rivalries – Sunni vs. Alawite – turning into active fault lines.
In major cities, food and fuel are scarce, people are going hungry and freezing inside there homes. Syria’s social fabric has been torn to shreds. Brahimi himself warned of a failed state in Syria – hellish conditions, if there’s no solution soon.
There’s a flurry of diplomatic headlines: hope for UN peace deal, Russia and the Assad regime talking about talks. But the rebels are skeptical, to say the least – it’s hard to negotiate, when each side harbors no trust for the other.
The trends we saw in 2012 have carried over: diplomats and world powers keep talking, people in Syria keep dying, and the chaos on the ground keeps mounting – in ways that get harder and harder to eventually control.