The violence and unrest in Syria are rapidly reaching a boiling point. Hundreds of people have been killed just in the past few days, and the Arab League has halted its monitoring of goings on inside the country out of concern for the safety of its monitors.
No one knows for sure how many former Syrian Army soldiers and officers have defected and joined the Free Syrian Army, a loosely-knit coalition of defectors and militia groups on the side of the opposition, but it is a significant number.
Israel in particular is observing developments in Syria with alarm, fully aware that if the thuggish regime of Bashar al-Assad collapses, extremists and terrorists could easily gain control of Syria. It would be, as the expression goes, jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Or, as is also a good possibility, fighting will continue as those formerly allied to topple Assad will fight amongst themselves.
As usual, predicting what might happen in the Middle East is a crapshoot. Attempting to analyze what might transpire if the Assad regime is overthrown is difficult, because there are so many other "moving pieces" evolving as I type: Egypt, Libya, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and untold numbers of shadowy terrorist groups not named al Qaeda that operate under the radar and are wont to do their own thing.
I've always said that Islam leads the league in "loose cannons" that are impossible to rein in, let alone to predict. A reformation would be nice, but calling for such an event assumes a central authority, which, as we all know, is absent in the so-called "Religion of Peace."
Here are a few considerations, and you can concoct your own conclusions or deductions.
1) Assad and his fellow regime thugs belong to the Alawites, a Shia Islamic sect. But the vast majority of Syria's population consists of Sunni Muslims. Assad's regime has aided and abetted Hezbollah and Hamas in their efforts to menace Israel.
2) If Assad is overthrown and Sunnis prevail in the struggle to take control of the country, that would seem to portend carte blanche for al Qaeda.
3) Directly to the east of Syria are Iraq and Iran, both of which are Shia-dominated countries. Could it possibly be a blessing in disguise to have a Sunni-dominated government in Syria if that is what transpires? Perhaps. But as always, don't rely too much on that "IF."
4) Don't EVER underestimate the Mossad. They appear to have played a role in assassinating several nuclear engineers in Iran as that nation marches on toward developing nuclear weapons. I believe there's a good chance this top-notch Israeli intelligence agency will have some influence on what shakes out in Syria.
I wish I could offer some monentous counsel on what the near future holds for Israel and Syria. But I am going to admit that I am wholly inadequate to the task. Just keep an eye on developments. The year 2012 is going to be critical. But NOT because of the Mayan calendar. Rather, because the pandemonium in the Middle East will eventually charter the world's march toward greater liberty or toward a dark, backward repressive state of affairs that promises more volatility and bloodshed.