Syria is four wars in one that threaten the region, the world's energy prices and the global economy. This conflict is confusing and involves many players and origins. Each fight varies in terms of cause, intensity, possible outcomes and estimated duration so here is the playbook to help understand the headline.
There is no discernible tactical benefit to the U.S. getting involved in Syria. In fact, there is every reason to stay away -- to let two enemies continue their war against each other to the bitter end, then re-evaluate how to engage (or not) whomever emerges. The only good reason for the Americans to get involved is humanitarian.
As the civil war in Syria continues, a significant number of Syrians remain loyal to the embattled government of Bashar Al-Assad. One Christian friend explained to me that although they didn't like the current regime, they considered it inevitable that, should it fall, Syria would descend into a state of violent chaos reminiscent of Afghanistan or Somalia.
The Sunday before last, a bomb exploded in Bab Touma Square in the middle of the morning, killing 13 people and injuring several others. While bombings of government targets and public spaces have become increasingly common over the last few months, this attack constituted the first of its kind in the old city since Syria's political crisis began in March last year.
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the country as a direct result of the violence that has engulfed the country since the outbreak of the civil war. Meanwhile, many of those that have so far escaped the violence are suffering the economic consequences of the crisis and are thus trying desperately to find a way to escape the country.
The sound of violence in surrounding suburbs has become a feature of life in Central Damascus. While the central parts of the capital have, for the most part, been spared the fighting that has beset some outer suburbs in recent months, residents here are frequently reminded of their precarious situation by the sound of explosions and gunfire emanating from surrounding suburbs.
Replacing Bashar al-Assad in Syria is not sufficient. Shedding known problems for ones that are unknown is difficult. In Damascus, the ancient capital, or Aleppo, the nation's economic hub, exchanging a known set of difficulties (even terrible ones), for an unknown state of affairs is a fearful choice. But after the killing of four senior security officials in the very center of Damascus, the shelling of Damascus and the wholesale bombardment of Aleppo, perhaps the risk of doing nothing will finally outweigh the risk of the unknown.
Now that the UN has finally acknowledged that Syria is in a "full blown civil war," it's even more reason why we of the Western alliance should stay out of it. Harsh as it may seem, intervention would be a mistake. If we (meaning Western democracies) entered the fray, it'll be war by proxy and wouldn't curb bloodshed, but spread it.