Bottom Line: Watch now as the original Syrian rebels float back to Assad, who becomes the “savior” of Syria and the only force capable of dealing with the radical, al-Qaeda-linked elements.
Analysis: The Free Syrian Army (FSA) is disintegrating quickly, with its original, legitimate rebel members dealing with the Assad regime and making a clean break with the radical “rebel” forces connected with al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra. Key FSA rebels from Aleppo are said to be meeting with a representative of the Assad regime in Damascus to talk peace. The deal in the works would see the reopening of public institutions in Aleppo (like schools) in areas controlled by rebel forces and possibly in parts of Homs province. The al-Nusra forces have recently launched some high-profile, very bloody attacks on Christian churches and villages, and its growing desperation in the wake of a US decision to back down from strikes on Syria is likely to lead to more such incidents. These incidents do not sit well with the moderate members of the FSA—the original Syrian rebels fighting Assad.
Recommendation: What is happening, essentially, is that growing numbers of rebels—disillusioned by the inaction by the West—are joining the ranks of the radical al-Nusra, and this is turn is causing the original, moderate rebels to become fearful of the implications and choose Assad as the lesser evil. What is also happening is that Russia, the US and Iran are increasingly on the same side in Syria—all interested now in getting rid of the al-Nusra plague. And the kingmaker now, suddenly, will be Assad, who will likely be re-empowered to help get rid of al-Qaeda. So another enemy becomes a game-changing ally in the Middle East. This is no longer a war between the government and opposition, as put most succinctly recently by a Kremlin voice.