As the death toll in Syria’s civil war approaches 50,000 and the almost certainty that Bashar Assad will use chemical weapons and Scud missiles if necessary to keep himself and the Alawite sect in power, the conflict has become not only a religious war, but also has taken on some of the characteristics of a proxy war much like the Spanish Civil War of the mid-1930s. Sunni Muslims have come from all over the Arab world and their states, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, are financing and arming the rebel jihad, with some encouragement from the U. S. Meanwhile, Assad increasingly relies on Shiite Iran and Hezbollah, with tacit backing from Russia. The analogy with Spain in 1936 is eerily striking, where the leftist Republican forces were backed by the Soviet Union, while Franco received arms and assistance from Nazi Germany, in a precursor to the world wide confrontation that was to follow. Let’s hope and pray that Syria is not a warm up for something much bigger, but I wonder what our strategy is and what role the U. S. is willing to play to prevent it.
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