An uncharacteristically heavy snowfall in the Middle East heralded a “day without death” in Syria this week – without death by fighting, at least. As pristine white snowflakes blanketed the war-torn territory, the refugees huddled in the brutal cold hardly had the same privilege, with several perishing in Syria and elsewhere.
On Friday, opponents of Assad’s regime organized the 200th protest against the president’s rule – this time, amid the heavy storm that hit the area. “Refugee camps confront the snow,” was the protest’s slogan, reminding the world of the suffering of those most heavily affected by nearly four years of ceaseless fighting.
Will 2015 bring an end to the civil war? According to The Huffington Post’s James Zogby, it will only end when Syria’s adopts the philosophy that helped neighbouring Lebanon pull itself out of the mire of war – “no victor, no vanquished.” But with bigger players like Iran and Russia there to back him up, will Assad ever put down his guns?
Recent op-eds suggest that Iran’s involvement in Syria will enable the Assad regime not only to survive, but to go on fighting, creating yet more refugees and bringing the already staggering death toll of roughly 200,000 people to new and troublesome heights. David Axe of Reuters suggested that the “terrible conflict” would go on for at least another year, thanks to Tehran’s help in transforming Assad’s army into a militia. Alessandria Masi of International Business Times stated that Iran was involved in Syria on such a large scale that this situation would persist “even if Assad were to be deposed.”
Over at the LA Times, Hugh Shelton opined that Iran couldn’t be part of the solution to the Syrian crisis, as it is a “major part of the challenges we face” in ending the violence and restoring stability (unsurprisingly, Tehran recently said just the opposite).
The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, meanwhile, didn’t mince words. “Iran is Getting Away with Murder,” he titled his recent op-ed on the Syria war, writing that in empowering Shi’ite Iran and in choosing to stay out of the conflict, Washington had enabled Assad to “get away, quite literally, with murder” – and Iran to feel “strong and ascendant” at the prospect. “No victor, no vanquished?” – more like win-win for Tehran and Assad, and lose-lose for the tens of thousands of refugees trying to get through the winter, holding out for a better tomorrow.