American Conservative, February 28, 2013
The tale of what is going on in Syria reads something like this: an insurgency active since March 2011 has been funded and armed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar and allowed to operate out of Turkey with the sometimes active, but more often passive, connivance of a number of Western powers, including Britain, France, Germany, and the United States. The intention was to overthrow the admittedly dictatorial Bashar al-Assad quickly and replace him with a more representative government composed largely of Syrians-in-exile drawn from the expat communities in Europe and the United States. The largely ad hoc political organization that was the counterpart to the Free Syrian Army ultimately evolved into the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (Syrian National Coalition) in November 2012, somewhat reminiscent of Ahmad Chalabi and the ill-starred Iraqi National Congress. As in the lead-up to regime change in Iraq, the exiles successfully exploited anti-Syrian sentiment among leading politicians in Washington and Europe while skillfully manipulating the media narrative to suggest that the al-Assad regime was engaging in widespread atrocities and threatening to destabilize its neighbors, most notably Lebanon. As in the case of Iraq, Syria’s possession of weapons of mass destruction was introduced into the indictment of al-Assad and cited as a regional threat.
If there was a model for what was planned for Syria it must have been the invasion of Iraq in 2003 or possibly the United Nations-endorsed armed intervention in Libya in 2010, both of which intended to replace dictatorial regimes with Western-style governments that would at least provide a simulacrum of accountable popular rule. But the planners must have anticipated a better outcome. Both Libya and Iraq have become more destabilized than they were under their autocrats, a fact that appears to have escaped everyone’s notice. It did not take long for the wheels to fall off the bus in Syria as well. As in Iraq, the Syrian exiles had no real constituency within their homeland, which meant that the already somewhat organized resistance to al-Assad, consisting of the well-established Muslim Brotherhood and associated groups, came to the fore. Al-Assad, who somewhat credibly has described  the rebels as terrorists supported by foreign governments, did not throw in the towel and leave. The Turkish people, meanwhile, began to turn sour  on a war which seemed endless, was creating a huge refugee and security problem as Kurdish terrorists mixed in with the refugees, and was increasingly taking on the shape of a new jihad as foreign volunteers began to assume responsibility for most of the fighting.