Syria’s political reality is changing from a unified state into a fragmented series of regions. A Sunni enclave is developing in the north and east, a regime controlled area in the west and south, and a Kurdish autonomous area in the northeast. Kurdish autonomy will help bolster Turkish influence in the region while a US-led strike against the regime will only solidify the Balkanizing process in Syria.
Al-Qaeda branches in Syria are consolidating their holds over Sunni areas in North and East Syria. Its strategies include displacing local Sunni sheikhs by controlling governance and the economy, while ethnically cleansing Shia population centers. Further escalating tensions are Iranian media campaigns that influence Shia militias to go fight Sunni rebels in Syria.
With fighting in Syria escalating, Hezbollah has openly began assisting the Syrian regime in the battle for the strategic city of Qusayr. Sunni rebel groups, including the al-Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front, are retaliating by beginning violent campaigns in Lebanon. Al-Qaeda in Iraq is attempting to capitalize on the chaos in Syria by bombing Shia population centers in Iraq. An analysis of these recent developments illustrates the short- to mid-term forecast of events in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.