"Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
All the features of Syria's civil war that are supposedly the result of U.S. nonintervention bloomed in Iraq despite America's massive intervention there. In Iraq under U.S. occupation, jihadi terrorist of all stripes flourished. They employed tactics that were brutal beyond belief – putting electric drills through people's heads, burning others alive and dumping still breathing victims into mass graves.
These struggles get vicious for a reason: the stakes are very high. Joshua Landis, America's leading scholar on Syria, points out that Syria is the last of the three great minority-ruled regimes in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the first, the Christian minority was displaced in a fifteen year bloody civil war. In Iraq, the US displaced the Sunni minority, but they then fought back brutally – again a long, bloody civil war. Syria is following precisely that pattern.
The minority regime fights to the end because it fears for its life once out of power. The Sunnis of Iraq fought – even against the mighty American military – because they knew that life under the majority Shiites would be ugly, as it has proved to be. The Alawites – the ruling sect – in Syria will fight even harder because they are a smaller minority and have further to fall.