Syria may not be a democracy in the mould of Athens - Index Mundi classes it as a "republic under an authoritarian regime" - but under its 2012 Constitution it does have (as well as a President) a Prime Minister, a unicameral legislature and multi-party elections.
Now look at the alternative, as illustrated by this Facebook video from SyriaOnline (CAUTION: contains graphic scenes of murder). The putative Al-Nusra Front terrorists in that compilation state cheerfully that they intend to kill the Syrian Alawites (the sect to which the Assad family belongs) and re-establish the Muslim Caliphate - all the way to Spain.
Human rights in Syria have long been a concern. However, consider the challenges of running a country where many people don't "agree to disagree" or consider themselves bound by the will of the majority, but will kill to have their way and glory in the slaughter.
What would you do? It's not like governing Britain or America - not that either of those is slow to use force to maintain internal authority. So, a black-leather-glove democracy versus a violent theocratic revolutionary horde - your choice?
Then there's a fog of conflicting assertions about the use of chemical weapons, the artillery strike on eastern Turkey (from which, allegedly, the Free Syrian Army is waiting to invade) and so on. It seems as though people have become far more skeptical since Iraq - and Libya.
Underneath the fog seem to be economic and geopolitical motives - Qatar wishing to extend the Arab Pipeline northwards through Syrian territory and into Turkey, Assad wanting to refresh the east-to-west Kirkuk-Banias Pipeline, the Saudis and the US keen to complete and make secure the Nabucco pipeline in competition with Russia's Gazprom network in Europe (connected with the alleged 2008 "Pythia" plot against the then Greek Premier Kostas Karamanlis, who was negotiating with the Russians re a branch of the South Stream to cross northern Greece - see the Gazprom site here).
According to a Turkish colleague of mine, Erdogan's out at the next election, having upset so many of the populace - but if Turkey should ever decide to throw in her lot with the Islamists, we might wish Karamanlis had concluded the South Stream deal, after all.
|South Stream: http://www.gazprom.com/about/production/projects/pipelines/south-stream/2012/|
|The old Trans-Arabian Pipeline: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-Arabian_Pipeline|
|The Kirkuk-Banias Pipeline: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirkuk%E2%80%93Baniyas_pipeline|
|Nabucco and others: http://www.economist.com/node/14041672|
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