What concerns me is to what ends the jihadists will use to justify their involvement, besides the probability that what may eventually replace the Assad regime will not be a democratic government. What the Romney campaign of neocon bumblers gives script to their candidate warning of the dream of the jihadists to establish a "caliphate" somewhere is not in Iran but is more possible in a united Sunni nation-state adjacent to their Al Qaeda power base in Iraq. However, of even greater concern will be the massive quantities of WMD that exist in Syria as nowhere else in the Middle East.
The only parallels that the Romney group may be mistakenly but indirectly correct about is not the "Soviet threat" but the possibility of jihadist warfare by proxy in Syria. However arming them with heavy weapons is not, since they may fall into unwanted hands.
The jihadists are attempting to repeatedly paint the situation of the Assad regime's Alawite Shia minority as "occupiers" which is the rallying call for jihadist infiltration acceleration and engagement alongside the Free Syrian Army (FSA), but the FSA has not fallen for this concept as of yet, whilst welcoming the participation of jihadists but downplaying the idea of foreign fighters entering the fray en masse themselves.
The cause of immediate concern for the WMD is illustrated by the pilfering of large quantities of high explosives from the Iraqi depots as well as the unguarded warehouses of military hardware and materiel that was widely seen in Libya.
However, this is not one of the centers of the "Arab Spring" so distant from the bases of jihadist power but adjacent to Iraq and sharing that porous border.
“Last month, a number of Israeli defense officials spoke out about Syria’s chemical stocks. Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh called Syria’s chemical stocks “the world’s largest” and warned that the Assad government would “treat us the same way they treat their own people,” according to a June 11 article in The Times of Israel. Maj. Gen. Yair Golan said Israel needed to continue to gather intelligence on Syria’s weapons stocks but also consider options for possible proliferation scenarios, including whether it would be “wise” or “nonsense” to attack “convoys carrying sophisticated and advanced Syrian weaponry if they are detected ahead of time,” according to a June 4 article in The Jerusalem Post.”
Several difficulties would be encountered in any effort to eliminate Syrian stockpiles if they were threatened by non-state actors. It might not be feasible or even possible to physically defeat all WMD targets using conventional stand-off weapons, since many of the delivery systems and agents remain in what may be deeply buried hardened targets, necessitating use of advanced penetrating weapons with thermobaric payloads. Also, in a conventional attack against such targets, collateral effects may be target (rather than weapon) induced. For example, an attack against a chemical or even biological agent storage or production facility might result in dispersal of hazardous agents over a large area. This effort to eliminate the stockpiles would be a much more intensive effort than simply operating a “no-fly zone”, and requiring constant monitoring and sorties.
“The US Defense Department recently estimated that it would take more than 75,000 US military personnel to guard Syria's chemical weapons. This is, of course, if they could arrive before any WMD were transferred or looted -- a highly unlikely prospect.”
"At least six formal terrorist organizations have long maintained personnel within Syria. Three of these groups PDF -- Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad -- have already attempted to acquire or use chemical or biological agents, or both. Perhaps more troubling, Al Qaeda-affiliated fighters from Iraq have streamed into Syria, acting, in part, on orders from Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. In the past, Al Qaeda-in-Iraq fighters attempted to use chemical weapons, most notably attacks that sought to release large clouds of chlorine gas. The entry of Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups into the Syrian crisis underscores its increasingly sectarian manifestation. Nearly 40 percent of Syria's population consists of members of minority communities. Syria's ruling Alawite regime, a branch of Shia Islam, is considered heretical by many of Syria's majority Sunni Muslims -- even those who are not jihadists. Alawites, Druze, Kurds, and Christians could all become targets for WMD-armed Sunni jihadists. Similarly, Shiite radicals could conceivably employ WMD agents against Syria's Sunnis."
"Last Thursday, James R. Clapper, the Obama administration's director of national intelligence, told Congress that the United States thought Al Qaeda-affiliated fighters were responsible for the most spectacular rebel attacks on Syrian military forces in recent months, including suicide bombings in Damascus in December and January and two attacks earlier this month in Aleppo. The four attacks, which targeted Syrian military or intelligence facilities, killed at least 70 people.
Clapper called the presence of Al Qaeda-affiliated fighters in Syria a "disturbing phenomenon" and warned that the anti-Assad rebels "in many cases may not be aware they are there."
"Formerly, Syrians used to come to fight in Iraq, but now they are fighting in Syria," Adnan al Asadi, Iraq's acting minister of interior, said Feb. 2 in comments distributed to McClatchy last week."
“Syria is a major regional producer of phosphates that could conceivably be used for WMD. The country produces 2 million tons of phosphate per year and has an estimated reserve of around 2 billion tons. In October 2002 it was announced that a major "super" phosphate plant was to be constructed near Palmyra with a partnership between Russia and the state-owned General Company for Phosphate and Mines. A similar project is underway with the Indian firm, Dharmasi Morarji Chemicals Ltd”.