It is so very difficult trying to fathom Syria because there are so many players. If and when the opposition wins the battle against Bashar al-Assad it is unlikely that Syria will be under the control of the Iranians, especially after the Syrians captured something like 40 Iranians believed to be a part of the Republican Guard who have been in Syria helping Assad put down the rebellion. I imagine that when this phase is over, it will be payback time. I do not know whether or not the Syrians will maintain ties with either Russia or China after Assad is removed from power. This could be good news for the rest of the world if Syria is neutralized (just like Libya appears to be neutralized).
However, there is no reason to get one’s hopes up about what might happen when Assad is inevitably forced from holding power. From what I understand of the situation, there is likely to be a civil war in the future of Syria. This is because there are many disparate forces who have joined together for the short term so that their goal of defeating Assad becomes a reality. It is also because there are Islamists and Islamists. This is where the tribes come into play.
Assad belongs to the Alawite tribe, which is an offshoot of Shia Islam. Under the Assad regime Syria has been a puppet of Iran, and a sponsor of both Hezbollah and Hamas as well as being a middle-man for Iran in the West Bank as well as in Lebanon. A majority of the Syrians are Sunni and as such they are either members of the Ba’ath Party or they are associated with Al Qaeda. This is the bad news for Syria.
However, let’s look a little more closely at what some of those leaders who are fighting are actually stating and maybe we can take a little bit of comfort from the words of such a person (I just do not know whether these are just weasel words or not). Reuters has an article from one of the leaders who is fighting in Syria, and perhaps what he has to say will give us a little bit of comfort (but I remain wary about him anyway).
The part of the story that I want to highlight is the comment from the Syrian commander stating that he is an Islamist and that he wants a conservative style of Islam that is similar to what is found in Turkey. It seems that at the present time they are prepared to tolerate the jihadi extremists, but they also seem to not want them involved. They want to establish an Islamic state in the future, complete with Sharia law, but they want to bring people on board before it is established. It sounds very much like they are trying to follow the Libyan example.
However, there is not enough known about these people to be able to draw any kind of conclusions. It seems to me that they really do not want the extremism, and they do not want an Iranian style theocracy. On the other hand they are fighting not just against Assad but also the Iranians. Maybe that will shape their way of thinking in the future. There are simply too many unknowns to draw any safe conclusions at this point in time. Obviously they are allowing the foreign jihadis because they bring some expertise as well as necessary equipment, but they do not seem to want to work with these same people. It is a very odd situation.
This is why there is good news and bad news, but mostly it is bad news.