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Why Syria matters

The longer the Syrian chaos continues, the more dangerous will be the likely consequences. Commentators have been announcing the demise of the Assad regime for months, but it is not defeated. With the material support of Russia, Iran and Venezuela, and with China cheering on the sidelines and vetoing Security Council resolutions, it could hang on for a long time. The Alawites are terrified of Sunni vengeance; Christian and other minorities that were not molested by the Assads are afraid of a likely Islamist takeover.

Arrayed on the other side are Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, each for its own reasons. Europe and the US limit their intervention to anti-regime rhetoric, as if somehow Syria was less important than Libya, whereas just the reverse is true. Syria, depending on what happens, could destabilize the entire Near East, something Libya could not possibly do.

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