The parallel example for Syria is not Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya -- it's Bosnia. Like the Syrian conflict today, Bosnia saw horrific atrocities, unprecedented numbers of refugees and an exorbitant death toll. Like Syria, the crisis in the Balkans was thought unsolvable and intractable. Bosnia's strongest allies worried that action to protect civilians could escalate the conflict regionally and even globally.
The Economist recently highlighted the contrast between post-revolt Asian societies and Middle Eastern and North African societies in the woes of a pro-longed, messy and bloody transition that is pockmarked by revolt and counter-revolt, sectarianism, the redrawing of post-colonial borders, and the rise of retrograde groups as revolutionary forces.
As rebel forces advance towards the mountainous Druze stronghold in Idlib province, Israel has to decide whether it should intervene in the Syrian civil war by arming the Druze while Saudi Arabia is faced with the choice between realpolitik and its religious doctrine which views the Druze as heretics.
It's almost a year since a US-led coalition launched air strikes and increased support of Iraqi and Kurdish military forces in a bid to degrade and destroy the self-styled Islamic State; yet the jihadist group that has conquered a swath of Syria and Iraq has demonstrated resilience despite suffering significant losses.