By George Friedman
Several years into its civil war, Syria is less its own country and more a loosely defined area where other countries advance their interests. There are now six powers involved there: Russia, Iran, Turkey, the United States, Israel and the Syrian government itself. (I exclude the British and French, who only sometimes visit.) There are also several stateless groups, such as the Islamic State and the Syrian Kurds, that are trying to carve out some space for themselves. Their territories expanded and contracted, but the basic reality is that Syria is in chaos, and the chaos was tacitly agreed upon.
Several major powers, each with their own uncertain goals, forged and broke their alliances in an endless swirl of activity. No one had the inclination, let alone the strength, to resolve the conflict. No one wanted to absorb the political cost of withdrawing. The old Mafia phrase, “once in, never out,” applied to all from the outside but much more to those on