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The Geneva II peace conference, to be held on Jan. 22, will take place against a backdrop of singularly appalling numbers: Syria's brutal civil has left an estimated 130,000 dead, 2.3 million refugees registered in neighboring countries, and some 4 million more internally displaced.This vacillation contrasts starkly with the position taken by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, which have steadfastly supported the Sunni opposition to Assad, and that of Shiite Iran and its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, which have been equally resolute in supporting the regime.Syria's civil war has crystallized the complex geopolitical problem that has long characterized the region: the Sunni-Shiite cleavage. The radicalization of Syria's opposition, however, has complicated the situation even further, nesting one problem within another – much like Russian matryoshka dolls.The main concern now seems to have shifted to defeating Al-Qaeda, rather than Assad.Indeed, 10 years after the start of the war in Iraq, groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda have taken control of key Iraqi cities, including the symbolically important city of Fallujah.
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