According to Joshua Landis at Syrian Comment, 29 Islamist militias have set up a rival command to the unified command recently announced elsewhere and supported by the West, Turkey and others. .What wil happen once Assad falls?
It is unlikely jihadis can win control of Syria but what counts is their growing perception they can do so. It gives reason to stick around and fight against secularism and democracy. Whether Islamists win or are driven out, it is inevitable that they will target those nations who aided jihadis by prolonging Assad's survival. Iran and Russia should never forget the democratric goals sought by the the opposition movement which became more radicalized as the conflict continued, along with related destruction, bloodshed and atrocities.
My best bet is a prolonged civil war which the jihadis cannot win-- years of bombing attacks on minorities, women, intellectuals, musicians, restaurants, stores and nightclubs. Communities that fall directly under hard-line Islamist rule in the interim will experience life at its hardest.
THE UPSIDE: ENDURING IMMUNIZATION TO ISLAMIST RULE
Alas, direct experience is the usual prerequiste. Thus Khamenei's "Assad in a turban" experience has removed Iranian illusions that "holy men" can be trusted to be less corrupt, venal and murderous than secular rulers if given similar absolute power. Everyone knows the IRI could not survive a free, open and fair referendum after so many crimes.
Only when enough Sunnis in the Middle East-need to experience the dubious "benefits" of clerical rule will they become as enlighted as Iranians today. Egyptian voters--far less sophisticated than Syrians-- entrusted their welfare to Morsi, the Brotherhood and the Salafists. Thanks to Morsi's high-handedness and its visible similarity to Khoumeini's post-revolutionary moves, they are experiencing disillusionment a much accelerated rate than happened in Iran.
How will Islamists do in a post-Assad Syria that was far more secularized and westernized, when the eruption? Since then a fair-sized minority have become too impressed by the relative military successes of jihadi units against a hated dictator and alienated by the West's failure to provide military help. Such Syrians forget the capacity to wage war successfully is unrelated to the capacity to govern successfully. Otherwise, Hitler and Stalin had ideal governments.
IRAN (1979) VS. SYRIA (2013). CRITICAL DIFFERENCES
1. Iran: a majority once believed the promises of an Islamist Utopia. as demonstrated ina fatal referendum. Syria: a minority would have to impose Islmist regime by force.
2. Iran: Islamist seized control of the entire country, vastly aided by the American Embassy seige. Syria: Islamists lack the capacity to do so but they will manage to rule over parts of Syria until driven out.
3. Iran: The mullahs didn't have to deal with foreign military obstacles. Syria: An Al Queda-ruled Syria would represent an intolerable national security threat to the West, Turkey, Russia and Iran--all of whom would have a direct interest in aiding the Syrian majority against the jihadis.