Assad’s hollow victory Syria will poison the region for years to come
Bashar al-Assad is on the verge of retaking Idlib province, the last rebel stronghold. But that will not end the chaos he has wrought at home and abroad
“Assad or we burn the country.” For years Bashar al-Assad’s troops have daubed that phrase onto walls in the towns they recapture. The insurgents pushed the dictator to the brink. But Mr Assad shrugged off the empty threats of Western leaders, and enlisted the help of Iran and Russia. True to his slogan, he destroyed whole cities and gassed and starved his own people. What rebels remain are holed up in Idlib province. It, too, will soon fall. Against all the odds, the monster has won.
Yet it is a hollow victory. Far from bringing order to the country, as the Russians and Iranians claim, Mr Assad has displaced half the population. Eight years of civil war have destroyed the economy and cost 500,000 lives. Mr Assad has nothing good to offer his people. His country will be wretched and divided. The consequences will be felt far beyond its borders.