The axis power
Jan 23rd 2013, 20:49 by The Economist | AZAZ
LAST week President Bashar Assad’s aircraft dropped bombs on the market in Azaz, a town near the border with Turkey north of Aleppo, killing 20 civilians. “It’s enough!” shouts Abdullah Mahmoud Haj Saed, standing amid a pile of rubble dotted with household possessions: a shoe here, a telephone there. “Does the world like seeing Syrian blood?”
Almost two years into Syria’s uprising, now a full-blown civil war, misery and despair are growing across the land. Lakhdar Brahimi, the joint envoy of the UN and Arab League who is trying to mediate, is making no progress. A military solution looks far off too. Though rebel fighters continue to make advances in the north and east of the country, Mr Assad’s forces are consolidating along the north-south axis from the capital, Damascus, to the coastal heartland of his Alawite sect. “This is never going to end,” says a usually hopeful rebel commander from the eastern province of Raqqa.
The opposition fears that international support may be dwindling. Members of the Syrian Opposition Coalition, a political body formed in Qatar in November, grumble that pledges of money have yet to be honoured. “It’s unfair,” says a member. “We’re told, ‘do this, do that,’ but then the promises are never fulfilled.” The body has started to distribute money to activists on the ground and has created a committee to set about the creation of a transitional government. But patrons are loth to speed up the flow of support because they are unsure where it will end up. Syria’s opposition, despite the best efforts of the new coalition, remains patently fragmented.
The rebels look mainly to Qatar and Saudi Arabia, since they, unlike the warier Western governments, do provide lethal aid. But they appear to be thinking twice too. Funds for rebel fighters continue to trickle in but at a far slower pace than expected. Saudi Arabia is afraid that, were Mr Assad to fall,...