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The Syrian situation is expanding once again. Although one could never truly say that the civil war was entirely confined to the country, with jihadi soldiers from abroad often taking up roles among the rebel forces and fears that the conflict is becoming an increasingly religious affair. Furthermore, arms are continuing to flow into the country from nations that have no part in the war – Russia is arming the Syrian government, and the EU has recently lifted restrictions on selling arms to the rebel forces. Further adding to the tension are the actions of other powers in the region, with Hezbollah in Lebanon now involved in the conflict, having taken the border town of Qusair from the rebel forces, and Israel occasionally targeting weapons convoys and eyeing the situation warily.
It is already clear that this war will not end in the same manner as the uprisings in other nations affected by the ‘Arab Spring.’ The conflict has been able to brew for far too long, and, with a lack of any diplomatic solution or real external pressure, the conflict has become yet another war that will continue to expand. It is increasingly likely that Lebanon will find itself in conflict, with conflict between Hezbollah and Syrian rebels overflowing into Lebanon following their involvement. Pro-Hezbollah leaders have recently survived an assassination attempt, which one of the targets believed to be linked to his support for “Hezbollah’s jihad” in Syria.
Israel has occasionally been getting involved in the situation, which arguably isn’t helping with tensions in the region. Israel is still eyed with suspicion or flat-out not recognised as a state by other countries in the region, and getting further involved in the conflict is likely to start raising questions from those who would rather Israel no longer existed. However, you can see their concern, as the conflict in Syria gives a risk of conventional or chemical weapons falling into the hands of these same people to be used against the Israeli people. However, this will not help the situation in Syria, which is now visibly going wildly out of control.
And finally, the outside influence of the EU and Russia are simply fanning the flames of further conflict. In continuing to provide arms to both sides, we are not only prolonging the war instead of pushing for a more diplomatic solution, but also filling Syria with arms that may be used in future wars by those parties that are in the region. As jihadi soldiers pour into Syria and the fight takes on more religious overtones, it is increasingly likely that weapons sold to either side will fall into the hands of religious extremists, and this may eventually come back to haunt soldiers fighting in other regions. It may not be long before soldiers in Afghanistan are being attacked with weapons provided by the European Union.
A diplomatic solution is unlikely. However, this war will not end without outside involvement. Both sides have seemed reasonably evenly matched, despite the presumed advantage of the Syrian government in terms of manpower and arms. This war needs to be brought to a close, and diplomatic compromise needs to be found, otherwise it is likely that the war will boil over into the larger region. Either a diplomatic solution is found and the war is allowed to die, or it will continue to expand throughout the Middle East.