Here are what I hope are a fairly complete laundry list of the issues:
- NATO member Greece has collapsed, triggering regional banking meltdown concerns
- Banks of Cyprus collapsed, Russian offshore banking haven taken out by Greek troubles
- Russian ally Assad’s Syria is failing, loss of Tartus would exclude them from the Med
- Assad regime is the only Iran friendly outpost in the area
- Syrian revolt is funded in part by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, other Sunni majority regimes
- KSA & Qatar funds come /w Salafist radicalization built into the deal
- NATO members Greece & Turkey are at odds over Cyprus partition
- Syrian instability is spilling into Iraq, fueling Sunni/Shia violence, some refugees
- Syrian instability is spilling into U.S. ally Jordan, many refugees
- Syrian instability is spilling into NATO member Turkey, many refugees
- Israel is concerned over weapons transport to Hezbollah in Lebanon
The Syrian civil war has been metastasizing into all of its immediate neighbors – Iraq, Turkey, and Lebanon have all seen violence precipitated by this festering conflict. Regional powers Iran and Russia have connections to the failing Assad regime and have taken indirect steps to protect the status quo. Regional Salafist funders Saudi Arabia and Qatar are funneling support and pushing ideology on Sunni Syrian rebels. I do not envy Israeli policy makers and the menu of unpleasant options that reality has provided them.
Russia has drawn a red line of their own – no NATO intervention in Syria. They’ve backed it up with a naval presence and the transfer of advance anti-aircraft systems to the Assad regime. The Syrian civil war is a multifaceted, multipolar regional issue and there are no soundbite sized prescriptions that will end it.