The conflict in Syria is fast becoming a struggle not just to remove a tyrant, but also to prevent al-Qaeda from establishing a base in a failed state at the heart of the Middle East. The U.S. and its allies are responding more actively as events on the ground gather speed. However, the Obama administration remains too cautious after 22 months of fighting and an estimated 50,000 deaths. Now, as more military bases fall to the opposition and U.S. intelligence suggests that the increasingly desperate regime is deploying Scud missiles against the insurgents, the end of President Bashar al-Assad’s rule, if not of the war itself, may be getting closer. Even Russia, which has been Assad’s stalwart defender, has acknowledged that the opposition may win.