Staying out of Syria: inaction risks sectarian warfare and destabilization of neighboring states.

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The year-long government crackdown on pro-democracy activists in Syria will result in protracted civil war if it is allowed to continue. This will heighten sectarian tensions across the Middle East, threaten the stability of neighboring states and draw foreign Islamist fighters to the aid of the Syrian opposition. If the latest round of diplomacy fails to halt the bloodshed, international military intervention against the Syrian government will emerge as the only viable solution to the crisis.

The UN estimates that more than 9,000 people have been killed as a result of the violence so far and the vast majority by the hands of pro-government forces. Western states currently find diplomacy and sanctions to be the most politically tenable
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These foreign paramilitaries are also rumored to be coordinating with loyalist Shi’a Alawi criminal gangs, or Shabiha, in the worst of the atrocities. Amnesty International has said that those who have been captured and detained by pro-government forces during the twelve month crackdown "have been thrust into a nightmarish world of systemic torture".

As Syrian activists put down their banners, take up arms and begin adjusting to the strategic realities of asymmetric warfare, a favorable environment is fostered for the entrance of foreign Sunni fighters into the conflict. Despite initially taking partial control of a large expanse of territory, the fragmented brigades of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) cannot hold ground against armored divisions on their own. Unable to compete in open battle, the rebels will increasingly have to resort to roadside bombs, kidnappings, assassinations and other insurgent tactics. None of these require much in the way of external support, but they also offer little protection against the regime for protesting civilians.

This sort of insurgency has the potential to draw in militants from outside of the country, but also risks spilling over Syria’s borders. Ordinary Iraqi Sunnis may be motivated by anger at their Prime Minister's quiet support for the al-Assad regime, either to cross into Syria

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