The opposition: The Libyan rebels, for all their military shortcomings, quickly grabbed a swathe of eastern Libya and major air and seaports in Benghazi and Tobruk that became their resupply hubs. The Free Syrian Army (FSA), at best, controls a few neighborhoods in Homs and elsewhere.

‘The FSA has established very small slices of liberated territory,” says Derek Flood, who has just left Idlib province close to the Turkish border. He says the FSA is poorly armed; he was told the price of weapons on the black market has soared, “with a used AK-47 fetching as much as $2,000 – $3,000.” Flood says the FSA in that area wants a 5 kilometer buffer zone inside Syria to provide protection from regime forces.

Crucially, the regime retains control of Syria’s frontiers, and its armed forces appear cohesive, according to analysts in the region. There have been military defections, mainly of low-rank conscripts, but not of entire units with their armor.