It is ironic that Syria’s embattled President Bashar-al Assad was heralded as a freedom-touting reformer when he first took office in 2000. Eleven years later, Assad launched a brutal military crackdown on his own people in response to rising public protests, tearing the nation apart and killing thousands. The ongoing crisis in Syria has been amplified by growing international tensions due to Assad’s close economic and diplomatic ties with nations like Iran, China, and Russia. While the entrenched Syrian president may pose little direct threat beyond his own borders, his indirect influence on the global stage could be profoundly dangerous. The Syrian people would be the first to agree.