Der Spiegel has an extensive and detailed analysis of the complex geopolitics at stake in the conflict in Syria. Ostensibly a conflict between the Assad regime and rebel forces, the war also involves ISIS and several Middle Eastern governments—participating both openly and covertly—and is a proxy for the boiling tensions between the US and Russia. Der Spiegel suggests that it's not outside the realm of possibility for the Syrian conflict to escalate into a world war in the future. Here's an excerpt from the piece:
Even if the Syrians are the ones being forced to suffer, for many of those involved, the conflict is no longer about Aleppo or even Syria. Of this, the Babylonian mixture of languages spoken on the frontlines and in the air above is just one of many indications. "I have the feeling that we have become laboratory rats for Russian, Iranian and Syrian weapons -- and for the West's political experiments," says Sharif Mohammed, a civilian who is holding out in eastern Aleppo.
In its sixth year, the conflagration has become a kind of world war in three respects. Firstly, for the last four years, large numbers of foreigners have been flowing into the country to join the fight. More than 20,000 radical Sunnis have joined Islamic State (IS) and about three times that many Shiites from a half-dozen countries are thought to be fighting on behalf of the Assad regime.
Secondly, the conflict has destabilized the entire region, a development that has helped Islamic State expand its influence in addition to heating up the civil war between the Kurdish PKK and the Turkish government.
Thirdly, Syria has become a proxy war between the US and Russia. At stake is the role America wants to play in the world -- and the role that Russia can play in the world.
Image via Der Spiegel