War is never about good and evil.
A lot of people see a morality play in every conflict. Dictators versus freedom fighters, patriots against godless communists, the chosen versus the heathen.
The coverage of the civil war in Syria is no exception, an earnest two-dimensional story of an oppressed populace rising up against the evil central government. If NPR announced tomorrow that Jedi Knights had landed, and were brandishing light sabers to aid the rebels against Assad’s Death Star, I’m not sure anyone would laugh.
This article from Spiegal earlier this month contains some fairly sobering commentary:
“Despite its relative restraint, Turkey is already deeply involved in the war against Assad. The Free Syrian Army, the main rebel military group, operates from territory in Turkey and reportedly has training camps across the border. The rebels’ weapons supply line runs through Turkey. And Assad’s regime accuses Ankara of giving terrorists from Libya, Pakistan and other countries free access to the Syrian border.
“Turkey has been set on ousting Assad for about a year now. But it is doing so not solely out of concern for human rights or selfless support for a supposedly democratic uprising. More than anything else, Turkey sees the Syrian civil war as a chance to expand its influence in the Middle East, should a government emerge from the rubble in Damascus with Ankara’s backing. Like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Erdogan’s government is betting on a victory for the Sunni opposition over the Alawite-dominated regime of Assad. The desire to establish itself as a leading power in a Sunni-dominated Middle East was clear enough at a recent convention of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP). Those appearing alongside the prime minister included exiled Iraqi Sunni leader Tariq al-Hashemi, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and new Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.”
The Saudi king may not have been invited to the party, but surely he raised a toast.