Every so often in the past year, we hear a dull rumble late in the evening. Its the unmistakable sound (at least to us Israelis) of war planes flying overhead. Sometimes we read the next day about a bombing in Syria and sometimes it just reflects growing tension in the North.
Until a few weeks ago it seemed certain that Assad was due for a rapid exit, but now, with help from his three allies, Russia Iran and Hezbullah he seems to be hanging on, at least for the moment. He has suddenly woken up the the fact that Israel was bombing with impunity in Syria and threatened to retaliate. I'm inclined to believe him, because without a response his credibility will be zero, though he will probably try and prevent escalation. This raises the spectre of Hezbullah fighting Israel using Syria as a proxy - instead of, as was true for so many years, the reverse.
The nightly news analysis on Israel's channel two now says that Assad may survive. As a political scientist I have this to say: He may survive this time, but the next uprising will be better organized, better funded, will fight harder and sooner or later he will go. Its still over for Assad.
There now seems to be clear evidence that the Syrian "regime" has used chemical weapons during the fighting. There is a kind of irony in this: Both Syria and Iraq under Saddam shared a common ideology: Ba'athism (renaissance in Arabic), an ideology formed by a man called Michel Aflaq. Both used chemical weapons against their own civillians.
Now that chemical weapons are out there in use, I wonder how long before some poorly educated, moronic Islamic group gets hold of them and how Israel should respond if we are attacked with chemical weapons, even if it is a small-scale localized attack.
It is not often discussed but I have for many year felt that Ba'athism is a form of Fascism. To give a few pointers it shares an intense nationalism, sexism and corporate government with limited free trade, worship of the leader and no commitment to equality. And is, of course, intensely violent towards dissenters. The issue is discussed on the Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ba'athism, on the Jewish Agency website: http://www.jewishagency.org/JewishAgency/English/Jewish+Education/Compelling+Content/Eye+on+Israel/Current+Issues/Peace+and+Conflict/The+Baath+Party+and+Fascism.htm and also in the New Republic: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/world/magazine/107238/baathism-obituary#. It has also been suggested that this description applies to Gaddhafi's Libya.
Incidentally a number of far-left groups in England were instrumental in supporting Saddam in the Eighties, including Corin and Vanessa Redgrave. Plenty has been written about their immoral support for Arab Fascism and you can see it here: http://www.standpointmag.co.uk/node/2975/full.