2016 is a critical year for Syria, 15 March will mark the fifth anniversary of the Syrian civil war. It is in all our interests, but especially the people of Syria, that 2016 is the year when we see a turning-point in this crisis. The UK will continue to play a leading role in international efforts to end the suffering of Syrians.
Assad has bought himself years of effective non-interference in Syria's domestic affairs, including his ongoing quest to crush his opponents. But this does not presuppose his long-term victory -- the international community's brief romance with Moammar Gaddafi ended swiftly when the Benghazi rebels looked like a sure bet to overthrow his regime.
The footage of purported victims of recent chemical weapons attacks in Syria shows a distressing number of children's corpses... but then both Saddam Hussein and Hezbollah have been accused of stockpiling such corpses in the past to reserve for media events. The Syrian National Front might be no different.
It is befuddling when columnists, whose job is to express opinions and interpret matters they have some background in for readers -- and who do so with evident inaccuracy for years on end -- are always unrelievedly mistaken but don't change their message or alter their analytical technique. The New York Times is a hotbed of such people, and the Times itself has been mistaken about every single serious issue in American life for decades. But the in-house champion of this genre of habitual error is now Tom Friedman.
Syrian activist Hadeel Kouki is wanted by the country's intelligence. Yesterday she received a message: "We are going to displine you like dogs, you traitor, even if you hide on Mars, Assad's Shabiha will get you. We know all of your activities and we got the green light from your relatives. Your beautiful face will be burned by acid."