When the "Friends of Syria" gathered in Turkey with US Secretary of State John Kerry to brainstorm next steps this weekend, a mere eleven friends bothered to send representatives.
There seems to be concern among many former friends that being a "friend" of the Syrian opposition means being a friend of al-Qaeda. This has become an increasingly awkward optics problem for the US in the year since the al-Nusra Front came to prominence.
Without the involvement of the extremists, the armed struggle against Assad would have collapsed long ago. Yet the US thinks it that it can continue to quarterback the anti-Assad forces with the nonsensical claim that it only sends "humanitarian" aid to the rebels.
Today Kerry announced another $123 million in "non-lethal" aid that will include armored vehicles and night-vision goggles, but America's hands remain clean because the actual guns and bullets are delivered to al-Qaeda by US proxies.
Meanwhile, Turkish journo Murat Yetkin invokes the Malian template as a model for direct intervention. While things appear to be moving in that direction, (note the assignment of an American HQ unit to Jordan in the past two weeks) there is an obvious flaw in the Mali model.
It hasn't worked.